Antifederalist No. 52 ON THE GUARANTEE OF CONGRESSIONAL BIENNIAL
The following essay was signed by Consider Arms, Malichi Maynard,
and Samuel Field. It was taken from The Hampshire Gazette of April 9, 1788.
We the subscribers being of the number, who did not assent to the
ratification of the federal constitution, under consideration in the late state convention, held at Boston, to which we were
called by the suffrages of the corporations to which we respectively belong-beg leave, through the channel of your paper,
to lay before the public in general, and our constituents in particular, the reasons of our dissent, and the principles which
governed us in our decision of this important question.
Fully convinced, ever since the late revolution, of the necessity
of a firm, energetic government, we should have rejoiced in an opportunity to have given our assent to such a one; and should
in the present case, most cordially have done it, could we at the same time been happy to have seen the liberties of the people
and the rights of mankind properly guarded and secured. We conceive that the very notion of government carries along with
it the idea of justice and equity, and that the whole design of instituting government in the world, was to preserve men's
properties from rapine, and their bodies from violence and bloodshed.
These propositions being established, we conceive must of necessity
produce the following consequence: That every constitution or system, which does not quadrate with this original design, is
not government, but in fact a subversion of it.
Having premised thus much, we proceed to mention some things in this
constitution to which we object, and to enter into an inquiry, whether, and how far they coincide with those simple and original
notions of government before mentioned.
In the first place, as direct taxes are to be apportioned according
to the numbers in each state, and as Massachusetts has none in it but what are declared free men, so the whole, blacks as
well as whites, must be numbered; this must therefore operate against us, as two-fifths of the slaves in the southern states
are to be left out of the numeration. Consequently, three Massachusetts infants will increase the tax equal to five sturdy
full-grown Negroes of theirs, who work every day in the week for their masters, saving the Sabbath, upon which they are allowed
to get something for their own support. We can see no justice in this way of apportioning taxes. Neither can we see any good
reason why this was consented to on the part of our delegates.
We suppose it next to impossible that every individual in this vast
continental union, should have his wish with regard to every single article composing a frame of government. And therefore,
although we think it More agreeable to the principles of republicanism, that elections should be annual, yet as the elections
in our own state government are so, we did not view it so dangerous to the liberties of the people, that we should have rejected
the constitution merely on account of the biennial elections of the representatives-had we been sure that the people have
any security even of this. But this we could not find. For although it is said, that "the House of Representatives shall be
chosen every second year, by the people of the several states," etc., and that "the times, places and manner of holding elections
for senators and representatives, shall be prescribed in each state by the legislature thereof," yet all this is wholely superseded
by a subsequent provision, which empowers Congress at any time to enact a law, whereby such regulations may be altered, except
as to the places of choosing senators. Here we conceive the people may be very materially injured, and in time reduced to
a state of as abject vassalage as any people were under the control of the most mercenary despot that ever tarnished the pages
of history. The depravity of human nature, illustrated by examples from history, will warrant us to say, it may be possible,
if not probable, that the congress may be composed of men, who will wish to burden and oppress the people. In such case, will
not their inventions be fruitful enough to devise occasions for postponing the elections? And if they can do this once, they
can twice; if they can twice, they can thrice, so by degrees render themselves absolute and perpetual. Or, if they choose,
they have another expedient. They can alter the place of holding elections. They can say, whatever the legislature of this
state may order to the contrary, that all the elections of our representatives shall be made at Mechias, or at Williamstown.
Consequently, nine- tenths of the people will never vote. And if this should be thought a measure favorable to their reelection,
or the election of some tool for their mercenary purposes, we doubt not it will be thus ordered. But says the advocates for
the constitution, "it is not likely this will ever happen; we are not to expect our rulers will ever proceed to a wanton exercise
of the powers given them." But what reason have we more than past ages, to expect that we shall be blessed with impeccable
rulers? We think not any. Although it has been said that every generation grows wiser and wiser, yet we have no reason to
think they grow better and better. And therefore the probability lies upon the dark side. Does not the experience of past
ages leach, that men have generally exercised all the powers they had given them, and even have usurped upon them, in order
to accomplish their own sinister and avaricious designs, whenever they thought they could do it with impunity? This we presume
will not be denied. And it appeared to us that the arguments made use of by the favorers of the constitution, in the late
convention at Boston, proceeded upon the plan of righteousness in those who are to rule over us, by virtue of this new form
of government. But these arguments, we confess, could have no weight with us, while we judge them to be founded altogether
upon a slippery perhaps.
We are sensible, that in order to the due administration of government,
it is necessary that certain powers should be delegated to the rulers from the people. At the same time, we think they ought
carefully to guard against giving so much as will enable those rulers, by that means, at once, or even in process of time,
to render themselves absolute and despotic. This we think is the case with the form of government lately submitted to our
consideration. We could not, therefore, acting uprightly, consulting our own good and the good of our constituents, give our
assent unto it. We could not then and we still cannot see, that because people are many times guilty of crimes and deserving
of punishment, that it from thence follows the authority ought to have power to punish them when they are not guilty, or to
punish the innocent with the guilty without discrimination, which amounts to the same thing. But this we think in fact to
be the case as to this federal constitution. For the congress, whether they have provocation or not, can at any time order
the elections in any or all the states to be conducted in such manner as wholely to defeat and render entirely nugatory the
intention of those elections, and convert that which was considered and intended to be the palladium of the liberties of the
people-the grand bulwark against any invasion upon them-into a formidable engine, by which to overthrow them all, and thus
involve them in the depth of misery and distress. But it was pled by some of the ablest advocates of the constitution, that
if congress should exercise such powers to the prejudice of the people (and they did not deny but they could if they should
be disposed) they (the people) would not suffer it. They would have recourse to the ultima ratio, the dernier resort of the
But it appeared to us a piece of superlative incongruity indeed, that
the people, whilst in the full and indefeasible possession of their liberties and privileges, should be so very profuse, so
very liberal in the disposal of them, as consequently to place themselves in a predicament miserable to an extreme. So wretched
indeed, that they may at once be reduced to the sad alternative of yielding themselves vassals into the hands of a venal and
corrupt administration, whose only wish may be to aggrandize themselves and families-to wallow in luxury and every species
of dissipation, and riot upon the spoils of the community; or take up the sword and involve their country in all the horrors
of a civil war-the consequences of which, we think, we may venture to augur will more firmly rivet their shackles and end
in the entailment of vassalage to their posterity. We think this by no means can fall within the description of government
before mentioned. Neither can we think these suggestions merely chimerical, or that they proceed from an overheated enthusiasm
in favor of republicanism; neither yet from an illplaced detestation of aristocracy; but from the apparent danger the people
are in by establishing this constitution. When we take a forward view of the proposed congress-seated in the federal city,
ten miles square, fortified and replenished with all kinds of military stores and every implement; with a navy at command
on one side, and a land army on the other-we say, when we view them thus possessed of the sword in one hand and the purse
strings of the people in the other, we can see no security left for them in the enjoyment of their liberties, but what may
proceed from the bare possibility that this supreme authority of the nation may be possessed of virtue and integrity sufficient
to influence them in the administration of equal justice and equity among those whom they shall govern. But why should we
voluntarily choose to trust our all upon so precarious a tenure as this? We confess it gives us pain to anticipate the future
scene: a scene presenting to view miseries so complicated and extreme, that it may be part of the charms of eloquence to extenuate,
or the power of art to remove.
Antifederalist No. 53 A PLEA FOR THE RIGHT OF RECALL
"AMICUS" appeared in the Columbian Herald, August 28, 1788.
Some time before a Convention of the United States was held, I mentioned
in a paragraph which was published in one of the Charlestown papers, that it would be acting wisely in the formation of a
constitution for a free government, to enact, that the electors should recall their representatives when they thought proper,
although they should be chosen for a certain term of years; as a right to appoint (where the right of appointing originates
with the appointees) implies a right to recall. As the persons appointed are meant to act for the benefit of the appointees,
as well as themselves, they, if they mean to act for their mutual benefit, can have no objection to a proposal of this kind.
But if they have any sinister designs, they will certainly oppose it, foreseeing that their electors will displace them as
soon as they begin to act contrary to their interest. I am therefore glad to find that the state of New York has proposed
an amendment of this kind to the federal constitution, viz: That the legislatures of the respective states may recall their
senators, or either of them, and elect others in their stead, to serve the remainder of the time for which the senators so
recalled were appointed. I wish this had been extended to the representatives in both houses, as it is as prudent to have
a check over the members of one house as of the other.
Some persons as object to this amendment, in fact say, that it is
safer to give a man an irrevocable power of attorney, than a revocable one; and that it is right to let a representative ruin
us, rather than recall him and put a real friend of his country, and a truly honest man in his place, who would rather suffer
ten thousand deaths than injure his country, or sully his honor and reputation. Such persons seem to say, that power ought
not to originate with the people (which is the wish, I fear, of some among us); and also that we are not safe in trusting
our own legislature with the power of recalling such senators as will not abide by such instructions - as shall be either
given them, when chosen, or sent to them afterwards, by the legislature of this or any other state, or by the electors that
chose them, although they should have met together in a body for the purpose of instructing or sending them instructions on
a matter on which the salvation of the state depends. That we should insist on the amendment respecting this matter taking
place, which the state of New York has proposed, appears to me to be absolutely necessary, the security of each state may
be almost said to rest on it. For my own part, I would rather that this amendment should take place and give the new government
unlimited powers to act for the public good, than give them limited powers, and at the same time put it out of our power,
for a certain term of years, to recall our representatives, although we saw they were exceeding their powers, and were bent
on making us miserable and themselves, by means of a standing army-a perpetual and absolute government. For power is a very
intoxicating thing, and has made many a man do unwarrantable actions, which before he was invested with it, he had no thoughts
of doing. I hope by what I have said I shall not be thought to cast even the shadow of a reflection on the principles of either
of the members of the federal convention-it is far from being my intention. I wish for nothing more than a good government
and a constitution under which our liberties will be perfectly safe. To preserve which, I think the wisest conduct will be
to keep the staff of power in our own hands as much as possible, and not wantonly and inconsiderately give up a greater share
of our liberties with a view of contributing to the public good, than what the necessity of the case requires.
For our own sakes we shall keep in power those persons whose conduct
pleases us as long as we can, and shall perhaps sometimes wish (when we meet with a person of an extra worthy character and
abilities) that we could keep him in power for life. On the other hand, we shall dismiss from our employ as soon as possible,
such persons as do not consult our interest and will not follow our instructions. For there are, I fear, a few persons among
us, so wise in their own eyes, that they would if they could, pursue their own will and inclinations, in opposition to the
instructions of their constituents. In so doing, they may perhaps, once in a hundred times, act for the interest of those
they represent, more than if they followed the instructions given them. But I wish that we would never suffer any person to
continue our representative that obeyed not our instructions, unless something unforeseen and unknown by us turned up, which
he knew would alter our sentiments, if we were made acquainted with it; and which would make his complying with our will highly
imprudent. In every government matter, on which our representatives were not instructed, we should leave them to act agreeable
to their own judgment; on which account we should always choose men of integrity, honor and abilities to represent us. But
when we did instruct them, as they are our representatives and agents, we should insist on their acting and voting conformable
to our directions. But as they would each of them be a member of the community, they should have a right to deliver to the
houses of representatives of which they were members, their own private sentiments so that if their private sentiments contained
cogent reasons for acting contrary to the instructions given them-the other members of said houses who would not be bound
by said instructions, would be guided by them; in which case, that would take place which would be most for the public good,
which ought to be the wish of all of us.
Antifederalist No. 54 APPORTIONMENT AND SLAVERY: NORTHERN AND SOUTHERN
This four part essay shows both northern and southern dissatisfaction
with "the Great Compromise"
The first is taken from the third essay of "BRUTUS."
The second: from the speeches of Rawlins Lowndes to the South Carolina
ratifying convention on January 16, 17, and 18, 1788.
The third: from the sixth essay by "CATO."
The fourth: from an essay by "A GEORGIAN," appearing in The Gazette
of the State of Georgia on November 15, 1787.
"Representatives and direct taxes shall be apportioned among the several
States, which may be included in this Union, according to their respective numbers, which shall be determined by adding to
the whole number of free persons, including those bound to service for a term of years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three-fifths
of all other persons." What a strange and unnecessary accumulation of words are here used to conceal from the public eye what
might have been expressed in the following concise manner: Representatives are to be proportioned among the States respectively,
according to the number of freemen and slaves inhabiting them, counting five slaves for three freemen.
"In a free State," says the celebrated Montesquieu, "every man, who
is supposed to be a free agent, ought to be concerned in his own government, therefore the legislature should reside in the
whole body of the people, or their representatives." But it has never been alleged that those who are not free agents can,
upon any rational principle, have anything to do in government, either by themselves or others. If they have no share in government,
why is the number of members in the assembly to be increased on their account? Is it because in some of the States, a considerable
part of the property of the inhabitants consists in a number of their fellow-men, who are held in bondage, in defiance of
every idea of benevolence, justice and religion, and contrary to all the principles of liberty which have been publicly avowed
in the late Glorious Revolution? If this be a just ground for representation, the horses in some of the States, and the oxen
in others, ought to be represented-for a great share of property in some of them consists in these animals; and they have
as much control over their own actions as these poor unhappy creatures, who are intended to be described in the above recited
clause, by the words, "all other persons." By this mode of apportionment, the representatives of the different parts of the
Union will be extremely unequal; in some of the Southern States the slaves are nearly equal in number to the free men; and
for all these slaves they will be entitled to a proportionate share in the legislature; this will give them an unreasonable
weight in the government, which can derive no additional strength, protection, nor defense from the slaves, but the contrary.
Why, then, should they be represented? What adds to the evil is, that these States are to be permitted to continue the inhuman
traffic of importing slaves until the year 1808-and for every cargo of these unhappy people which unfeeling, unprincipled,
barbarous and avaricious wretches may tear from their country, friends and tender connections, and bring into those States,
they are to be rewarded by having an increase of members in the General Assembly....
. . . . six of the Eastern States formed a majority in
the House of Representatives. In the enumeration he passed Rhode Island, and included Pennsylvania. Now, was it consonant
with reason, with wisdom, with policy, to suppose, in a legislature where a majority of persons sat whose interests were greatly
different from ours, that we had the smallest chance of receiving adequate advantages? Certainly not. He believed the gentlemen
that went from this state, to represent us in Convention, possessed as much integrity, and stood as high in point of character,
as any gentlemen that could have been selected; and he also believed that they had done every thing in their power to procure
for us a proportionate share in this new government; but the very little they had gained proved what we may expect in future-that
the interest of the Northern States would so predominate as to divest us of any pretensions to the title of a republic. In
the first place, what cause was there for jealousy of our importing Negroes? Why confine us to twenty years, or rather why
limit us at all? For his part, he thought this trade could be justified on the principles of religion, humanity, and justice;
for certainly to translate a set of human beings from a bad country to a better, was fulfilling every part of these principles.
But they don't like our slaves, because they have none themselves, and therefore want to exclude us from this great advantage.
Why should the Southern States allow of this, without the consent of nine states? . . .
We had a law prohibiting the importation of Negroes for
three years, a law he greatly approved of; but there was no reason offered why the Southern States might not find it necessary
to alter their conduct, and open their ports.
Without Negroes, this state would degenerate into one of
the most contemptible in the Union; and he cited an expression that fell from General Pinckney on a former debate, that whilst
there remained one acre of swampland in South Carolina, he should raise his voice against restricting the importation of Negroes.
Even in granting the importation for twenty years, care had been taken to make us pay for this indulgence, each negro being
liable, on importation, to pay a duty not exceeding ten dollars; and, in addition to this, they were liable to a capitation
tax. Negroes were our wealth, our only natural resource; yet behold how our kind friends in the north were determined soon
to tie up our hands, and drain us of what we had! The Eastern States drew their means of subsistence, in a great measure,
from their shipping; and, on that head, they had been particularly careful not to allow of any burdens: they were not to pay
tonnage or duties; no, not even the form of clearing out: all ports were free and open to them! Why, then, call this a reciprocal
bargain, which took all from one party, to bestow it on the other!
Major [Pierce] BUTLER observed, that they were to pay five
per cent impost.
This, Mr. LOWNDES proved, must fall upon the consumer.
They are to be the carriers; and, we being the consumers, therefore all expenses would fall upon us. A great number of gentlemen
were captivated with this new Constitution, because those who were in debt would be compelled to pay; others pleased themselves
with the reflection that no more confiscation laws would be passed; but those were small advantages, in proportion to the
evils that might be apprehended from the laws that might be passed by Congress, whenever there was a majority of representatives
from the Eastern States, who were governed by prejudices and ideas extremely different from ours. . . .
Great stress was laid on the admirable checks which guarded
us, under the new Constitution, from the encroachments of tyranny; but too many checks in a political machine must produce
the same mischief as in a mechanical one-that of throwing all into confusion. But supposing we considered ourselves so much
aggrieved as to reduce us to the necessity of insisting on redress, what probability had we of relief? Very little indeed.
In the revolving on misfortune, some little gleams of comfort resulted from a hope of being able to resort to an impartial
tribunal for redress; but pray what reason was there for expectancy that, in Congress, the interest of five Southern States
would be considered in a preferable point of view to the nine Eastern ones?
.... the mode of legislation in the infancy of free communities
was by the collective body, and this consisted of free persons, or those whose age admitted them to the right of mankind and
citizenship, whose sex made them capable of protecting the state, and whose birth may be denominated Free Born; and no traces
can be found that ever women, children, and slaves, or those who were not sui juris, in the early days of legislation, met
with the free members of the community to deliberate on public measures; hence is derived this maxim in free governments,
that representation ought to bear a proportion to the number of free inhabitants in a community; this principle your own state
constitution, and others, have observed in the establishment of a future census, in order to apportion the representatives,
and to increase or diminish the representation to the ratio of the increase or diminution of electors. But, what aid can the
community derive from the assistance women, infants and slaves, in their deliberation, or in their defense? What motives,
therefore, could the convention have in departing from just and rational principle of representation, which is the governing
prince of this state and of all America?
Article 1, section 2. This section mentions that, within
three years after the first meeting of the Congress of the United States, an enumeration shall take place, the number of representatives
not to exceed one member for every 30,000. This article I believe to be inadmissable. First, it affords to small a representation,
(supposing 48 at the highest calculation) and especially in the southern states, their climate, soil, and produce, . . . not
being capable of that population as in the northern states. Would it not therefore be better to increase the number of representatives,
say one member for every 20,000 for the states north of Virginia, and one for every 15,000 south of the said state, itself
included? Or, secondly, divide the states into districts which shall choose the representatives, by which every part of a
state will have an equal chance, without being liable to parties or factions? Should it be said it will increase the expense,
it will be money well laid out, and the more so if we retain the paying them out of our own bands. And, supposing the voting
in the house of representatives was continued as heretofore by states, would it not be more equal still? At any rate I would
strenuously recommend to vote by states, and not individually, as it will be accommodating the idea of equality, which should
ever be observed in a republican form of government. Or, thirdly, if it was in proportion to the quotas of the states, as
rated in taxation, then the number of members would increase with the proportion of tax, and at that rate there would always
be an equality in the quota of tax as well as representation; for what chance of equality according to the constitution in
question, can a state have that has only one or two votes, when others have eight or ten, (for it is evident that each representative,
as well as senator, is meant to have a vote, as it mentions no other mode but in choosing the president), and as it is generally
allowed that the United States are divided into two natural divisions, the northern as far as Virginia, the latter included
forms the southern? This produces a wide difference in climate, soil, customs, manners of living, and the produce of the land,
as well as trade, also in population, to which it is well observed the latter is not so favorable as the former, and never
can nor will be, nature itself being the great obstacle. And when taxation is in agitation, as also many other points, it
must produce differences in sentiments; and, in such dispute, how is it likely to be decided? According to the mode of voting,
the number of members north of Virginia the first three years is 42, and the southern, Virginia included, 23....
Is human nature above self interest? If the northern states
do not horde the southern in taxation, it would appear then really that they are more disinterested men than we know of.
Antifederalist No. 55 WILL THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES BE GENUINELY
REPRESENTATIVE? (PART 1)
Following are four essays by "THE FEDERAL FARMER"
.... It being impracticable for the people to assemble to make laws,
they must elect legislators, and assign men to the different departments of the government. In the representative branch we
must expect chiefly to collect the confidence of the people, and in it to find almost entirely the force of persuasion. In
forming this branch, therefore, several important considerations must be attended to. It must possess abilities to discern
the situation of the people and of public affairs, a disposition to sympathize with the people, and a capacity and inclination
to make laws congenial to their circumstances and condition. It must afford security against interest combinations, corruption
and influence. It must possess the confidence, and have the voluntary support of the people.
I think these positions will not be controverted, nor the one I formerly
advanced, that a fair and equal representation is that in which the interests, feelings, opinions and views of the people
are collected, in such manner as they would be were the people all assembled. Having made these general observations, I shall
proceed to consider further my principal position, viz. that there is no substantial representation of the people provided
for in a government, in which the most essential powers, even as to the internal police of the country, are proposed to be
lodged; and to propose certain amendments as to the representative branch....
The representation is insubstantial and ought to be increased. In
matters where there is much room for opinion, you will not expect me to establish my positions with mathematical certainty;
you must only expect my observations to be candid, and such as are well founded in the mind of the writer. I am in a field
where doctors disagree; and as to genuine representation, though no feature in government can be more important, perhaps,
no one has been less understood, and no one that has received so imperfect a consideration by political writers. The ephori
in Sparta, and the tribunes in Rome, were but the shadow; the representation in Great Britain is unequal and insecure. In
America we have done more in establishing this important branch on its true principles, than, perhaps, all the world besides.
Yet even here, I conceive, that very great improvements in representation may be made. In fixing this branch, the situation
of the people must be surveyed, and the number of representatives and forms of election apportioned to that situation. When
we find a numerous people settled in a fertile and extensive country, possessing equality, and few or none of them oppressed
with riches or wants, it ought to be the anxious care of the constitution and laws, to arrest them from national depravity,
and to preserve them in their happy condition. A virtuous people make just laws, and good laws tend to preserve unchanged
a virtuous people. A virtuous and happy people by laws uncongenial to their characters, may easily be gradually changed into
servile and depraved creatures. Where the people, or their representatives, make the laws, it is probable they will generally
be fitted to the national character and circumstances, unless the representation be partial, and the imperfect substitute
of the people. However the people may be electors, if the representation be so formed as to give one or more of the natural
classes of men in society an undue ascendancy over others, it is imperfect; the former will gradually become masters, and
the latter slaves. It is the first of all among the political balances, to preserve in its proper station each of these classes.
We talk of balances in the legislature, and among the departments of government; we ought to carry them to the body of the
people. Since I advanced the idea of balancing the several orders of men in a community, in forming a genuine representation,
and seen that idea considered as chimerical, I have been sensibly struck with a sentence in the Marquis Beccaria's treatise.
This sentence was quoted by Congress in 1774, and is as follows:-"In every society there is an effort continually tending
to confer on one part the height of power and happiness, and to reduce the others to the extreme of weakness and misery; the
intent of good laws is to oppose this effort, and to diffuse their influence universally and equally." Add to this Montesquieu's
opinion, that "in a free state every man, who is supposed to be a free agent, ought to be concerned in his own government:
therefore, the legislative should reside in the whole body of the people, or their representatives." It is extremely clear
that these writers had in view the several orders of men in society, which we call aristocratical, democratical, mercantile,
mechanics etc., and perceived the efforts they are constantly, from interested and ambitious views, disposed to make to elevate
themselves and oppress others. Each order must have a share in the business of legislation actually and efficiently. It is
deceiving a people to tell them they are electors, and can choose their legislators, if they cannot, in the nature of things,
choose men from among themselves, and genuinely like themselves. I wish you to take another idea along with you. We are not
only to balance these natural efforts, but we are also to guard against accidental combinations; combinations founded in the
connections of offices and private interests, both evils which are increased in proportion as the number of men, among which
the elected must be, are decreased. To set this matter in a proper point of view, we must form some general ideas and descriptions
of the different classes of men, as they may be divided by occupation and politically. The first class is the aristocratical.
There are three kinds of aristocracy spoken of in this country-the first is a constitutional one, which does not exist in
the United States in our common acceptation of the word. Montesquieu, it is true, observes that where part of the persons
in a society, for want of property, age, or moral character, are excluded any share in the government, the others, who alone
are the constitutional electors and elected, form this aristocracy. This, according to him, exists in each of the United States,
where a considerable number of persons, as all convicted of crimes, under age, or not possessed of certain property, are excluded
any share in the government. The second is an aristocratic faction, a junto of unprincipled men, often distinguished for their
wealth or abilities, who combine together and make their object their private interests and aggrandizement. The existence
of this description is merely accidental, but particularly to be guarded against. The third is the natural aristocracy; this
term we use to designate a respectable order of men, the line between whom and the natural democracy is in some degree arbitrary.
We may place men on one side of this line, which others may place on the other, and in all disputes between the few and the
many, a considerable number are wavering and uncertain themselves on which side they are, or ought to be. In my idea of our
natural aristocracy in the United States, I include about four or five thousand men; and among these I reckon those who have
been placed in the offices of governors, of members of Congress, and state senators generally, in the principal officers of
the army and militia, the superior judges, the most eminent professional men, etc., and men of large property. The other persons
and orders in the community form the natural democracy; this includes in general, the yeomanry, the subordinate officers,
civil and military, the fishermen, mechanics and traders, many of the merchants and professional men. It is easy to perceive
that men of these two classes, the aristocratical and democratical, with views equally honest, have sentiments widely different,
especially respecting public and private expenses, salaries, taxes, etc. Men of the first class associate more extensively,
have a high sense of honor, possess abilities, ambition, and general knowledge; men of the second class are not so much used
to combining great objects; they possess less ambition, and a larger share of honesty; their dependence is principally on
middling and small estates, industrious pursuits, and hard labor, while that of the former is principally on the emoluments
of large estates, and of the chief offices of government. Not only the efforts of these two great parties are to be balanced,
but other interests and parties also, which do not always oppress each other merely for want of power, and for fear of the
consequences; though they, in fact, mutually depend on each other. Yet such are their general views, that the merchants alone
would never fail to make laws favorable to themselves and oppressive to the farmers. The farmers alone would act on like principles;
the former would tax the land, the latter the trade. The manufacturers are often disposed to contend for monopolies; buyers
make every exertion to lower prices; and sellers to raise them. Men who live by fees and salaries endeavor to raise them;
and the part of the people who pay them, endeavor to lower them; the public creditors to augment the taxes, and the people
at large to lessen them. Thus, in every period of society, and in all the transactions of men, we see parties verifying the
observation made by the Marquis; and those classes which have not their centinels in the government, in proportion to what
they have to gain or lose, must infallibly be ruined.
Efforts among parties are not merely confined to property. They contend
for rank and distinctions; all their passions in turn are enlisted in political controversies. Men, elevated in society, are
often disgusted with the changeableness of the democracy, and the latter are often agitated with the passions of jealousy
and envy. The yeomanry possess a large share of property and strength, are nervous and firm in their opinions and habits;
the mechanics of towns are ardent and changeable-honest and credulous, they are inconsiderable for numbers, weight and strength,
not always sufficiently stable for supporting free governments; the fishing interest partakes partly of the strength and stability
of the landed, and partly of the changeableness of the mechanic interest. As to merchants and traders, they are our agents
in almost all money transactions, give activity to government, and possess a considerable share of influence in it. It has
been observed by an able writer, that frugal industrious merchants are generally advocates for liberty. It is an observation,
I believe, well founded, that the schools produce but few advocates for republican forms of government. Gentlemen of the law,
divinity, physic, etc., probably form about a fourth part of the people; yet their political influence, perhaps, is equal
to that of all the other descriptions of men. If we may judge from the appointments to Congress, the legal characters will
often, in a small representation, be the majority; but the more the representatives are increased, the more of the farmers,
merchants, etc., will be found to be brought into the government.
These general observations will enable you to discern what I intend
by different classes, and the general scope of my ideas, when I contend for uniting and balancing their interests, feelings,
opinions, and views in the legislature. We may not only so unite and balance these as to prevent a change in the government
by the gradual exaltation of one part to the depression of others, but we may derive many other advantages from the combination
and full representation. A small representation can never be well informed as to the circumstances of the people. The members
of it must be too far removed from the people, in general, to sympathize with them, and too few to communicate with them.
A representation must be extremely imperfect where the representatives are not circumstanced to make the proper communications
to their constituents, and where the constituents in turn cannot, with tolerable convenience, make known their wants, circumstances,
and opinions to their representatives. Where there is but one representative to 30,000 or 40,000 inhabitants, it appears to
me, he can only mix and be acquainted with a few respectable characters among his constituents. Even double the general representation,
and then there must be a very great distance between the representatives and the people in general represented. On the proposed
plan, the state of Delaware, the city of Philadelphia, the state of Rhode Island, the province of Maine, the county of Suffolk
in Massachusetts, will have one representative each. There can be but little personal knowledge, or but few communications,
between him and the people at large of either of those districts. It has been observed that mixing only with the respectable
men, he will get the best information and ideas from them; he will also receive impressions favorable to their purposes particularly....
Could we get over all our difficulties respecting a balance of interests
and party efforts, to raise some and oppress others, the want of sympathy, information and intercourse between the representatives
and the people, an insuperable difficulty will still remain. I mean the constant liability of a small number of representatives
to private combinations. The tyranny of the one, or the licentiousness of the multitude, are, in my mind, but small evils,
compared with the factions of the few. It is a consideration well worth pursuing, how far this house of representatives will
be liable to be formed into private juntos, how far influenced by expectations of appointments and offices, how far liable
to be managed by the president and senate, and how far the people will have confidence in them....
THE FEDERAL FARMER
Antifederalist No. 56 WILL THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES BE GENUINELY
REPRESENTATIVE? (PART 2)
. . . . Why in England have the revolutions always ended in stipulations
in favor of general liberty, equal laws, and the common rights of the people, and in most other countries in favor only of
a few influential men? The reasons, in my mind, are obvious. In England the people have been substantially represented in
many respects; in the other countries it has not been so. Perhaps a small degree of attention to a few simple facts will illustrate
this. In England, from the oppressions of the Norman Kings to the revolution in 1688, during which period of two or three
hundred years, the English liberties were ascertained and established, the aristocratic part of that nation was substantially
represented by a very large number of nobles, possessing similar interests and feelings with those they represented. The body
of the people, about four or five millions, then mostly a frugal landed people, were represented by about five hundred representatives,
taken not from the order of men which formed the aristocracy, but from the body of the people, and possessed of the same interests
and feelings. De Lolme, speaking of the British representation, expressly founds all his reasons on this union; this similitude
of interests, feelings, views and circumstances. He observes the English have preserved their liberties, because they and
their leaders or representatives have been strictly united in interests, and in contending for general liberty. Here we see
a genuine balance founded in the actual state of things. The whole community, probably, not more than two-fifths more numerous
than we now are, were represented by seven or eight hundred men; the barons stipulated with the common people, and the king
with the whole. Had the legal distinction between lords and commons been broken down, and the people of that island been called
upon to elect forty-five senators, and one hundred and twenty representatives, about the proportion we propose to establish,
their whole legislature evidently would have been of the natural aristocracy, and the body of the people would not have had
scarcely a single sincere advocate. Their interests would have been neglected, general and equal liberty forgot, and the balance
lost. Contests and conciliations, as in most other countries, would have been merely among the few, and as it might have been
necessary to serve their purposes, the people at large would have been flattered or threatened, and probably not a single
stipulation made in their favor. In Rome the people were miserable, though they bad three orders, the consuls, senators, and
tribunes, and approved the laws, and all for want of a genuine representation. The people were too numerous to assemble, and
do any thing properly themselves. The voice of a few, the dupes of artifice, was called the voice of the people. It is difficult
for the people to defend themselves against the arts and intrigues of the great, but by selecting a suitable number of men
fixed to their interests to represent them, and to oppose ministers and senators. . . . [Much] depends on the number of the
men selected, and the manner of doing it. To be convinced of this, we need only attend to the reason of the case, the conduct
of the British commons, and of the Roman tribunes. Equal liberty prevails in England, because there was a representation of
the people, in fact and reality, to establish it. Equal liberty never prevailed in Rome because there was but the shadow of
a representation. There were consuls in Rome annually elected to execute the laws; several hundred senators represented the
great families; the body of the people annually chose tribunes from among themselves to defend them and to secure their rights;
I think the number of tribunes annually chosen never exceeded ten. This representation, perhaps, was not proportionally so
numerous as the representation proposed in the new plan; but the difference will not appear to be so great, when it shall
be recollected, that these tribunes were chosen annually, that the great patrician families were not admitted to these offices
of tribunes, and that the people of Italy who elected the tribunes were a long while, if not always, a small people compared
with the people of the United States. What was the consequence of this trifling representation? The people of Rome always
elected for their tribunes men conspicuous for their riches, military commands, professional popularity, etc., great commoners,
between whom and the noble families there was only the shadowy difference of legal distinction. Among all the tribunes the
people chose for several centuries, they had scarcely five real friends to their interests. These tribunes lived, felt and
saw, not like the people, but like the great patrician families, like senators and great officers of state, to get into which
it was evident by their conduct, was their sole object. These tribunes often talked about the rights and prerogatives of the
people, and that was all; for they never even attempted to establish equal liberty. So far from establishing the rights of
the people, they suffered the senate, to the exclusion of the people, to engross the powers of taxation; those excellent and
almost only real weapons of defense even the people of England possess. The tribunes obtained that the people should be eligible
to some of the great offices of state, and marry, if they pleased, into the noble families; these were advantages in their
nature, confined to a few elevated commoners, and of trifling importance to the people at large. Nearly the same observations
may be made as to the ephori of Sparta.
We may amuse ourselves with names; but the fact is, men will be governed
by the motives and temptations that surround their situation. Political evils to be guarded against are in the human character,
and not in the name of patrician or plebeian. Had the people of Italy, in the early period of the republic, selected yearly
or biennially, four or five hundred of their best informed men, emphatically from among themselves, these representatives
would have formed an honest respectable assembly, capable of combining in them the views and exertions of the people and their
respectability would have procured them honest and able leaders, and we should have seen equal liberty established. True liberty
stands in need of a fostering band,- from the days of Adam she has found but one temple to dwell in securely. She has laid
the foundation of one, perhaps her last in America; whether this is to be completed and have duration, is yet a question.
Equal liberty never yet found many advocates among the great. It is a disagreeable truth that power perverts men's views in
a greater degree than public employments inform their understandings. They become hardened in certain maxims, and more lost
to fellow feelings. Men may always be too cautious to commit alarming and glaring iniquities; but they, as well as systems,
are liable to be corrupted by slow degrees. Junius well observes, we are not only to guard against what men will do, but even
against what they may do. Men in high public offices are in stations where they gradually lose sight of the people, and do
not often think of attending to them, except when necessary to answer private purposes.
The body of the people must have this true representative security
placed some where in the nation. And in the United States, or in any extended empire, I am fully persuaded [it] can be placed
no where, but in the forms of a federal republic, where we can divide and place it in several state or district legislatures,
giving the people in these the means of opposing heavy internal taxes and oppressive measures in the proper stages. A great
empire contains the amities and animosities of a world within itself. We are not like the people of England, one people compactly
settled on a small island, with a great city filled with frugal merchants, serving as a common centre of liberty and union.
We are dispersed, and it is impracticable for any but the few to assemble in one place. The few must be watched, checked,
and often resisted. Tyranny has ever shown a predilection to be in close amity with them, or the one man. Drive it from kings
and it flies to senators, to decemviri, to dictators, to tribunes, to popular leaders, to military chiefs, etc.
De Lolme well observes, that in societies, laws which were to be equal
to all are soon warped to the private interests of the administrators, and made to defend the usurpations of a few. The English,
who had tasted the sweets of equal laws, were aware of this, and though they restored their king, they carefully delegated
to parliament the advocates of freedom.
I have often lately heard it observed that it will do very well for
a people to make a constitution and ordain that at stated periods they will choose, in a certain manner, a first magistrate,
a given number of senators and representatives, and let them have all power to do as they please. This doctrine, however it
may do for a small republic-as Connecticut, for instance, where the people may choose so many senators and representatives
to assemble in the legislature, [representing] in an eminent degree, the interests, the views, feelings, and genuine sentiments
of the people themselves - can never be admitted in an extensive country. And when this power is lodged in the hands of a
few, not to limit the few is but one step short of giving absolute power to one man. In a numerous representation the abuse
of power is a common injury, and has no temptation; among the few, the abuse of power may often operate to the private emolument
of those who abuse it.
THE FEDERAL FARMER
Antifederalist No. 57 WILL THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES BE GENUINELY
REPRESENTATIVE? (PART 3)
. . . . But "the people must elect good men." Examine the system-is
it practicable for them to elect fit and proper representatives where the number is so small? "But the people may choose whom
they please." This is an observation, I believe, made without due attention to facts and the state of the community, To explain
my meaning, I will consider the descriptions of men commonly presented to the people as candidates for the offices of representatives.
We may rank them in three classes.
1. The men who form the natural aristocracy, as before defined.
2. Popular demagogues-these men also are often politically elevated,
so as to be seen by the people through the extent of large districts; they often have some abilities, fare] without principle,
and rise into notice by their noise and arts.
3. The substantial and respectable part of the democracy- they are
a numerous and valuable set of men, who discern and judge well, but from being generally silent in public assemblies are often
overlooked. They are the most substantial and best informed men in the several towns, who occasionally fill the middle grades
of offices, etc., who hold not a splendid, but respectable rank in private concerns. These men are extensively diffused through
all the counties, towns and small districts in the union; even they, and their immediate connections, are raised above the
majority of the people, and as representatives are only brought to a level with a more numerous part of the community, the
middle orders, and a degree nearer the mass of the people. Hence it is, that the best practical representation, even in a
small state, must be several degrees more aristocratical than the body of the people. A representation so formed as to admit
but few or none of the third class, is in my opinion, not deserving of the name. Even in armies, courts-martial are so formed
as to admit subaltern officers into them. The true idea is, so to open and enlarge the representation as to let in a due proportion
of the third class with those of the first. Now, my opinion is, that the representation proposed is so small as that ordinarily
very few or none of them can be elected. And, therefore, after all the parade of words and forms, the government must possess
the soul of aristocracy, or something worse, the spirit of popular leaders.
I observed in a former letter, that the state of Delaware, of Rhode
Island, the Province of Maine, and each of the great counties in Massachusetts, etc., would have one member, and rather more
than one when the representatives shall be increased to one for each 30,000 inhabitants. In some districts the people are
more dispersed and unequal than in others. In Delaware they are compact, in the Province of Maine dispersed; how can the elections
in either of those districts be regulated so that a man of the third class can be elected? Exactly the same principles and
motives, the same uncontrollable circumstances, must govern the elections as in the choice of the governors. Call upon the
people of either of those districts to choose a governor, and it will probably never happen that they will not bestow a major
part, or the greatest number, of their votes on some very conspicuous or very popular character. A man that is known among
a few thousands of people, may be quite unknown among thirty or forty thousand. On the whole it appears to me to be almost
a self- evident position, that when we call on thirty or forty thousand inhabitants to unite in giving their votes for one
man it will be uniformly impracticable for them to unite in any men, except those few who have become eminent for their civil
or military rank, or their popular legal abilities. It will be found totally impracticable for men in the private walks of
life, except in the profession of the law, to become conspicuous enough to attract the notice of so many electors and have
But if I am right, it is asked why so many respectable men advocate
the adoption of the proposed system. Several reasons may be given. Many of our gentlemen are attached to the principles of
monarchy and aristocracy; they have an aversion to democratic republics. The body of the people have acquired large powers
and substantial influence by the revolution. In the unsettled state of things, their numerous representatives, in some instances,
misused their powers, and have induced many good men suddenly to adopt ideas unfavorable to such republics, and which ideas
they will discard on reflection. Without scrutinizing into the particulars of the proposed system, we immediately perceive
that its general tendency is to collect the powers of government, now in the body of the people in reality, and to place them
in the higher orders and fewer hands; no wonder then that all those of and about these orders are attached to it. They feel
there is something in this system advantageous to them. On the other hand, the body of the people evidently feel there is
something wrong and disadvantageous to them. Both descriptions perceive there is something tending to bestow on the former
the height of power and happiness, and to reduce the latter to weakness, insignificance, and misery. The people evidently
feel all this though they want expressions to convey their ideas. Further, even the respectable part of the democracy have
never yet been able to distinguish clearly where the fallacy lies. They find there are defects in the confederation; they
see a system presented; they think something must be done; and, while their minds are in suspense, the zealous advocates force
a reluctant consent. Nothing can be a stronger evidence of the nature of this system, than the general sense of the several
orders in the community respecting its tendency. The parts taken generally by them proves my position, that notwithstanding
the parade of words and forms, the government must possess the soul of aristocracy.
Congress, heretofore, have asked for moderate additional powers. The
cry was give them-be federal. But the proper distinction between the cases that produce this disposition, and the system proposed,
has not been fairly made and seen in all its consequences. We have seen some of our state representations too numerous and
without examining a medium we run to the opposite extreme. It is true, the proper number of federal representatives, is matter
of opinion in some degree; but there are extremes which we immediately perceive, and others which we clearly discover on examination.
We should readily pronounce a representative branch of 15 members small in a federal government, having complete powers as
to taxes, military matters, commerce, the coin, etc. On the other hand, we should readily pronounce a federal representation
as numerous as those of the several states, consisting of about 1,500 representatives, unwieldy and totally improper. It is
asked, has not the wisdom of the convention found the medium? Perhaps not. The convention was divided on this point of numbers.
At least some of its ablest members urged, that instead of 65 representatives there ought to be 130 in the first instance.
They fixed one representative for each 40,000 inhabitants, and at the close of the work, the president suggested that the
representation appeared to be too small and without debate, it was put at, not exceeding one for each 30,000. I mention these
facts to show, that the convention went on no fixed data. In this extensive country it is difficult to get a representation
sufficiently numerous. Necessity, I believe, will oblige us to sacrifice in some degree the true genuine principles of representation.
But this sacrifice ought to be as little as possible. How far we ought to increase the representation I will not pretend to
say; but that we ought to increase it very considerably, is clear-to double it at least, making full allowances for the state
representations. And this we may evidently do and approach accordingly towards safety and perfection without encountering
any inconveniences. It is with great difficulty the people can unite these different interests and views even tolerably, in
the state senators, who are more than twice as numerous as the federal representatives, as proposed by the convention; even
these senators are considered as so far removed from the people, that they are not allowed immediately to hold their purse
strings. The principal objections made to the increase of the representation are, the expense and difficulty in getting the
members to attend. The first cannot be important; the last, if founded, is against any federal government. As to the expense,
I presume the house of representatives will not be in sessions more than four months in the year. We find by experience that
about two-thirds of the members of representative assemblies usually attend; therefore, of the representation proposed by
the convention, about forty-five members probably will attend. Doubling their number, about 90 will probably attend. Their
pay, in one case, at four dollars a day each (which is putting it high enough) will amount to, yearly, 21,600 dollars; in
the other case, 43,200 dollars-[a] difference [of] 21,600 dollars. Reduce the state representatives from 1,500 down to 1,000
and thereby save the attendance of two-thirds of the 500, say three months in a year, at one dollar and a quarter a day each
[would amount to] 37,125 dollars. Thus we may leave the state representations sufficient large, and yet save enough by the
reduction nearly to support exceeding well the whole federal representation I propose. Surely we -never can be so unwise as
to sacrifice, essentially, the all- important principles of representation for so small a sum as 21,600 dollars a year for
the United States. A single company of soldiers would cost this sum. It is a fact that can easily be shown, that we expend
three times this sum every year upon useless inferior offices and very trifling concerns. It is also a fact which can be shown
that the United States in the late war suffered more by a faction in the federal government, then the pay of the federal representation
will amount to for twenty years.
As to the attendance-can we be so unwise as to establish an unsafe
and inadequate representative branch, and give it as a reason, that we believe only a few members will be induced to attend?
We ought certainly to establish an adequate representative branch, and adopt measures to induce an attendance. I believe that
a due proportion of 130 or 140 members may be induced to attend. There are various reasons for the non-attendance of the members
of the present congress; it is to be presumed that these will not exist under the new system...
In the second place, it is said the members of congress must return
home, and share in the burdens they may impose; and, therefore, private motives will induce them to make mild laws, to support
liberty, and ease the burdens of the people, This brings us to a mere question of interest under this head. I think these
observations will appear, on examination, altogether fallacious; because this individual interest, which may coincide with
the rights and interests of the people, will be far more than balanced by opposite motives and opposite interests. If, on
a fair calculation, a man will gain more by measures oppressive to others than he will lose by them, he is interested in their
adoption. It is true, that those who govern generally, by increasing the public burdens, increase their own share of them;
but by this increase they may, and often do, increase their salaries, fees, and emoluments, in a tenfold proportion, by increasing
salaries, forming armies and navies, and by making offices. If it shall appear the members of congress will have these temptations
before them, the argument is on my side. They will view the account, and be induced continually to make efforts advantageous
to themselves and connections, and oppressive to others.
We must examine facts. Congress, in its present form, have but few
offices to dispose of worth the attention of the members, or of men of the aristocracy. Yet from 1774 to this time, we find
a large proportion of those offices assigned to those who were or had been members of congress; and though the states choose
annually sixty or seventy members, many of them have been provided for. But few men are known to congress in this extensive
country, and, probably, but few will be to the president and senate, except those who have or shall appear as members of congress,
or those whom the members may bring forward. The states may now choose yearly ninety-one members of congress; under the new
constitution they will have it in their power to choose exactly the same number, perhaps afterwards, one hundred and :fifteen,
but these must be chosen once in two and six years. So that, in the course of ten years together, not more than two-thirds
so many members of congress will be elected and brought into view, as there now are under the confederation in the same term
of time. But at least there will be five, if not ten times, as many offices and places worthy of the attention of the members,
under the new constitution, as there are under the confederation. Therefore, we may fairly presume, that a very great proportion
of the members of congress, especially the influential ones, instead of returning to private life, will be provided for with
lucrative offices, in the civil or military department; and not only the members, but many of their sons, friends, and connections.
These offices will be in the constitutional disposition of the president and senate, and, corruption out of the question,
what kind of security can we expect in a representation so many of the members of which may rationally feel themselves candidates
for these offices? Let common sense decide. It is true, that members chosen to offices must leave their seats in congress;
and to some few offices they cannot be elected till the time shall be expired for which they were elected members. But this
scarcely will effect the bias arising from the hopes and expectations of office....
But it is asked how shall we remedy the evil, so as to complete and
perpetuate the temple of equal laws and equal liberty? Perhaps we never can do it. Possibly we never may be able to do it
in this immense country, under any one system of laws however modified. Nevertheless, at present, I think the experiment worth
making. I feel an aversion to the disunion of the states, and to separate confederacies; the states have fought and bled in
a common cause, and great dangers too may attend these confederacies. I think the system proposed capable of very considerable
degrees of perfection, if we pursue first principles. I do not think that De Lolme, or any writer I have seen, has sufficiently
pursued the proper inquiries and efficient means for making representation and balances in government more perfect. It is
our task to do this in America. Our object is equal liberty, and equal laws diffusing their influence among all orders of
men. To obtain this we must guard against the bias of interest and passions, against interested combinations, secret or open.
We must aim at a balance of efforts and strength.
Clear it is, by increasing the representation we lessen the prospects
of each member of congress being provided for in public offices. We proportionably lessen official influence, and strengthen
his prospects of becoming a private citizen, subject to the common burdens, without the compensation of the emoluments of
office. By increasing the representation we make it more difficult to corrupt and influence the members. We diffuse them more
extensively among the body of the people, perfect the balance, multiply information, strengthen the confidence of the people,
and consequently support the laws on equal and free principles. There are two other ways, I think, of obtaining in some degree
the security we want; the one is, by excluding more extensively the members from being appointed to offices; the other is,
by limiting some of their powers. These two I shall examine hereafter.
THE FEDERAL FARMER
Antifederalist No. 58 WILL THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES BE GENUINELY
REPRESENTATIVE? (PART 4)
It is said that our people have a high sense of freedom, possess
power, property, and the strong arm; meaning, I presume, that the body of the people can take care of themselves, and awe
their rulers; and, therefore, particular provision in the constitution for their security may not be essential. When I come
to examine these observations, they appear to me too trifling and loose to deserve a serious answer.
To palliate for the smallness of the representation, it is observed,
that the state governments in which the people are fully represented, necessarily form a part of the system. This idea ought
to be fully examined. We ought to inquire if the convention have made the proper use of these essential parts. The state governments
then, we are told, will stand between the arbitrary exercise of power and the people. True they may, but armless and helpless,
perhaps, with the privilege of making a noise when hurt. This is no more than individuals may do. Does the constitution provide
a single check for a single measure by which the state governments can constitutionally and regularly check the arbitrary
measures of congress? Congress may raise immediately fifty thousand men and twenty millions of dollars in taxes, build a navy,
model the militia, etc., and all this constitutionally. Congress may arm on every point, and the state governments can do
no more than an individual, by petition to congress, suggest their measures are alarming and not right.
I conceive the position to be undeniable, that the federal government
will be principally in the hands of the natural aristocracy, and the state governments principally in the hands of the democracy,
the representatives of the body of the people. These representatives in Great Britain hold the purse, and have a negative
upon all laws. We must yield to circumstances and depart something from this plan, and strike out a new medium so as to give
efficacy to the whole system, supply the wants of the union, and leave the several states, or the people assembled in the
state legislatures, the means of defense.
It has been often mentioned that the objects of congress will be few
and national, and require a small representation; that the objects of each state will be many and local, and require a numerous
representation. This circumstance has not the weight of a feather in my mind. It is certainly inadvisable to lodge in 65 representatives,
and 26 senators, unlimited power to establish systems of taxation, armies, navies, model the militia, and to do every thing
that may essentially tend soon to change, totally, the affairs of the community; and to assemble 1500 state representatives,
and 160 senators, to make fence laws and laws to regulate the descent and conveyance of property, the administration of justice
between man and man, to appoint militia officers, etc.
It is not merely the quantity of information I contend for. Two taxing
powers may be inconvenient; but the point is, congress, like the senate of Rome, will have taxing powers, and the people no
check. When the power is abused, the people may complain and grow angry, so may the state governments; they may remonstrate
and counteract, by passing laws to prohibit the collection of congressional taxes. But these will be acts of the people, acts
of sovereign power, the dernier resort unknown to the constitution; acts operating in terrorum, acts of resistance, and not
the exercise of any constitutional power to stop or check a measure before matured. A check properly is the stopping, by one
branch in the same legislature, a measure proposed by the other in it. In fact the constitution provides for the states no
check, properly speaking, upon the measures of congress. Congress can immediately enlist soldiers, and apply to the pockets
of the people.
These few considerations bring us to the very strong distinction between
the plan that operates on federal principles, and the plan that operates on consolidated principles. A plan may be federal
or not as to its organization each state may retain its vote or not; the sovereignty of the state may be represented, or the
people of it. A plan may be federal or not as to its operation-federal when it requires men and monies of the states, and
the states as such make the laws for raising the men and monies; not federal when it leaves the states' governments out of
the question, and operates immediately upon the persons and property of the citizens. The first is the case with the confederation;
the second with the new plan. In the first the state governments may be [a] check; in the last none at all. . . .
It is also said that the constitution gives no more power to congress
than the confederation, respecting money and military matters; that congress under the confederation, may require men and
monies to any amount, and the states are bound to comply. This is generally true; but, I think . . . that the states have
well founded checks for securing their liberties. I admit the force of the observation that all the federal powers, by the
confederation, are lodged in a single assembly. However, I think much more may be said in defense of the leading principles
of the confederation. I do not object to the qualifications of the electors of representatives, and I fully agree that the
people ought to elect one branch.
Further, it may be observed, that the present congress is principally
an executive body, which ought not to be numerous; that the house of representatives will be a mere legislative branch, and
being the democratic on ought to be numerous. It is one of the greatest advantages of a government of different branches,
that each branch may be conveniently made conformable to the nature of the business assigned it, and all be made conformable
to the condition of the several orders of the people. After all the possible checks and limitations we can devise, the powers
of the union must be very extensive; the sovereignty of the nation cannot produce the object in view, the defense and tranquility
of the whole, without such powers, executive and judicial. I dislike the present congress-a single assembly-because it is
impossible to fit it to receive those powers. The executive and judicial powers, in the nature of things, ought to be lodged
in a few hands; the legislature in many hands. Therefore, want of safety and unavoidable hasty measures out of the question,
they never can all be lodged in one assembly properly-it, in its very formation, must imply a contradiction.
In objection to increasing the representation, it has also been observed
that it is difficult to assemble a hundred men or more without making the tumultuous and a mere mob. Reason and experience
do not support this observation. The most respectable assemblies we have any knowledge of and the wisest, have been those,
each of which consisted of several hundred members - as the senate of Rome, of Carthage, of Venice, the British Parliament,
etc. I think I may, without hazarding much, affirm that our more numerous state assemblies and conventions have universally
discovered more wisdom, and as much order, as the less numerous ones. There must be also a very great difference between the
characters of two or three hundred men assembled from a single state, and the characters of that number or half the number
assembled from all the united states.
It is added, that on the proposed plan the house of representatives
in fifty or a hundred years will consist of several hundred members. The plan will begin with sixty-five, and we have no certainty
that the number ever will increase, for this plain reason-that all that combination of interests and influence which has produced
this plan, and supported [it] so far, will constantly oppose the increase of the representation, knowing that thereby the
government will become more free and democratic. But admitting, after a few years, there will be a member for each 30,000
inhabitants, the observation is trifling; the government is in a considerable measure to take its tone from its early movements,
and by means of a small representation it may in half of 50 or 100 years, get moved from its basis, or at least so far as
to be incapable of ever being recovered. We ought, therefore, . . . now to fix the government on proper principles, and fit
to our present condition. When the representation shall become too numerous, alter it. Or we may now make provision, that
when the representation shall be increased to a given number, that then there shall be one for each given number of inhabitants,
Another observation is, that congress will have no temptations to
do wrong. The men that make it must be very uninformed, or suppose they are talking to children. In the first place, the members
will be governed by all those motives which govern the conduct of men, and have before them all the allurements of offices
and temptations to establish unequal burdens, before described. In the second place, they and their friends, probably, will
find it for their interests to keep up large armies, navies, salaries, etc., and in laying adequate taxes. In the third place,
we have no good grounds to presume, from reason or experience, that it will be agreeable to their characters or views, that
the body of the people should continue to have power effectually to interfere in the affairs of government. But it is confidently
added, that congress will not have it in their power to oppress or enslave the people; that the people will not bear it. It
is not supposed that congress will act the tyrant immediately, and in the face of daylight. It is not supposed congress will
adopt important measures without plausible pretenses, especially those which may tend to alarm or produce opposition. We are
to consider the natural progress of things-that men unfriendly to republican equality will go systematically to work, gradually
to exclude the body of the people from any share in the government, first of the substance, and then of the forms. The men
who will have these views will not be without their agents and supporters. When we reflect, that a few years ago we established
democratic republics, and fixed the state governments as the barriers between congress and the pickets of the people, what
great progress has been made in less than seven years to break down those barriers, and essentially to change the principles
of our governments, even by the armless few-is it chimerical to suppose that in fifteen or twenty years to come, that much
more can be performed, especially after the adoption of the constitution, when the few will be so much better armed with power
and influence, to continue the struggle? Probably they will be wise enough never to alarm, but gradually prepare the minds
of the people for one specious change after another, till the final object shall be obtained. Say the advocates, these are
only possibilities. They are probabilities a wise people ought to guard against; and the address made use of to keep the evils
out of sight, and the means to prevent them, confirm my opinion.
But to obviate all objections to the proposed plan in the last resort,
it is said our people will be free, so long as they possess the habits of freemen, and when they lose them, they must receive
some other forms of government. To this I shall only observe, that this is very humiliating language, and can, I trust, never
suit a manly people who have contended nobly for liberty, and declared to the world they will be free.
THE FEDERAL FARMER
Antifederalist No. 59 THE DANGER OF CONGRESSIONAL CONTROL OF ELECTIONS
Alexander Hamilton, in Federalist #59, addresses this same topic
from an opposing viewpoint. This essay was written anonymously by "VOX POPULI," and appeared in The Massachusetts Gazette
on October 30, 1787.
. . I beg leave to Jay before the candid public the first clause in
the fourth section of the first article of the proposed Constitution:
"The times, places and manner of holding elections, for senators and
representatives, shall be prescribed in each state by the legislature thereof; but the Congress may, at any time, by law,
make or alter such regulations except as to the places of choosing senators."
By this clause, the time, place and manner of choosing representatives
is wholly at the disposal of Congress.
Why the Convention who formed the proposed Constitution wished to
invest Congress with such a power, I am by no means capable of saying; or why the good people of this commonwealth [Massachusetts]
should delegate such a power to them, is no less hard to determine. But as the subject is open for discussion, I shall make
a little free inquiry into the matter.
And, first. What national advantage is there to be acquired by giving
them such a power?
The only advantage which I have heard proposed by it is, to prevent
a partial representation of the several states in Congress; "for if the time, manner and place were left wholly in the hands
of the state legislatures, it is probable they would not make provision by appointing time, manner and place for an election;
in which case there could be no election, and consequently the federal government weakened."
But this provision is by no means sufficient to prevent an evil of
that nature. For will any reasonable man suppose-that when the legislature of any state, who are annually chosen, are so corrupt
as to break thro' that government which they have formed, and refuse to appoint time, place and manner of choosing representatives-I
say, can any person suppose, that a state so corrupt would not be full as likely to neglect, or even refuse, to choose representatives
at the time and place and in the manner prescribed by Congress? Surely they would. So it could answer no good national purpose
on that account; and I have not heard any other national advantage proposed thereby.
We will now proceed, in the next place, to consider why the people
of this commonwealth should vest Congress with such a power.
No one proposes that it would be any advantage to the people of this
state. Therefore, it must be considered as a matter of indifference, except there is an opportunity for its operating to their
disadvantage-in which case, I conceive it ought to be disapprobated.
Whether there is danger of its operating to the good people's disadvantage,
shall now be the subject of our inquiry.
Supposing Congress should direct, that the representatives of this
commonwealth should be chosen all in one town, (Boston, for instance) on the first day of March - would not that be a very
injurious institution to the good people of this commonwealth? Would not there be at least nine-tenths of the landed interest
of this commonwealth entirely unrepresented? Surely one may reasonably imagine there would. What, then, would be the case
if Congress should think proper to direct, that the elections should be held at the north-west, south-west, or north-east
part of the state, the last day of March? How many electors would there attend the business? And it is a little remarkable,
that any gentleman should suppose, that Congress could possibly be in any measure as good judges of the time, place and manner
of elections as the legislatures of the several respective states.
These as objections I could wish to see obviated. And I could wish
the public inquiry might extend to a consideration, whether or not it would not be more conducive, to prevent a partial representation,
to invest Congress with power to levy such a fine as they might think proper on states not choosing representatives, than
by giving them this power of appointing time, manner and place.
It is objected by some, that Congress could not levy, or at least,
could not collect, such a fine of a delinquent state. If that is the case, Congress could not collect any tax they might think
proper to levy, nor execute any order whatever; but at any time any state might break through the national compact, dissolve
the federal constitution, and set the whole structure afloat on the ocean of chaos.
It is, therefore, proposed to the public to consider, whether the
said clause in the fourth section of the first article can answer the only purposes for which it is said to have been provided,
or any other which will prove any advantage either to the nation or state.
Antifederalist No. 60 WILL THE CONSTITUTION PROMOTE THE INTERESTS
OF FAVORITE CLASSES?
John F. Mercer of Maryland was the author of this essay, taken from
his testimony to members of the ratifying conventions of New York and Virginia, 1788, (From the Etting Collection of the Historical
Society of Pennsylvania.)
We have not that permanent and fixed distinction of ranks or orders
of men among us, which unalterably separating the interests and views, produces that division in pursuits which is the great
security of the mixed Government we separated from and which we now seem so anxiously to copy. If the new Senate of the United
States will be really opposite in their pursuits and views from the Representatives, have they not a most dangerous power
of interesting foreign nations by Treaty [to] support Their views?-for instance, the relinquishment of the navigation of [the]
Mississippi-and yet where Treaties are expressly declared paramount to the Constitutions of the several States, and being
the supreme law, [the Senate] must of course control the national legislature, if not supersede the Constitution of the United
States itself. The check of the President over a Body, with which he must act in concert-or his influence and power be almost
annihilated-can prove no great constitutional security. And even the Representative body itself . . . are not sufficiently
numerous to secure them from corruption. For all governments tend to corruption, in proportion as power concentrating in the
hands of the few, tenders them objects of corruption to Foreign Nations and among themselves.
For these and many other reasons we are for preserving the rights
of the State governments, where they must not be necessarily relinquished for the welfare of the Union. And, where so relinquished,
the line should be definitely drawn. If under the proposed Constitution the States exercise any power, it would seem to be
at the mercy of the General Government. For it is remarkable that the clause securing to them those rights not expressly relinquished
in the old Confederation, is left out in the new Constitution. And we conceive that there is no power which Congress may think
necessary to exercise for the general welfare, which they may not assume under this Constitution. And this Constitution, and
the laws made under it, are declared paramount even to the unalienable rights which have heretofore been secured to the citizens
of these States by their constitutional compacts. . . .
Moreover those very powers, which are to be expressly vested in the
new Congress, are of a nature most liable to abuse. They are those which tempt the avarice and ambition of men to a violation
of the rights of their fellow citizens, and they will be screened under the sanction of an undefined and unlimited authority.
Against the abuse and improper exercise of these special powers, the people have a right to be secured by a sacred Declaration,
defining the rights of the individual, and limiting by them the extent of the exercise. The people were secured against the
abuse of those powers by fundamental laws and a Bill of Rights, under the government of Britain and under their own Constitution.
That government which permits the abuse of power, recommends it, and will deservedly experience the tyranny which it authorizes;
for the history of mankind establishes the truth of this political adage-that in government what may be done will be done.
The most blind admirer of this Constitution must in his heart confess
that it is as far inferior to the British Constitution, of which it is an imperfect imitation, as darkness is to light. In
the British Constitution the rights of men, the primary object of the social compact, are fixed on an immoveable foundation
and clearly defined and ascertained by their Magna Charta, their Petition of Rights, their Bill of Rights, and their effective
administration by ostensible Ministers secures responsibility. In this new Constitution a complicated system sets responsibility
at defiance and the rights of men neglected and undefined are left at the mercy of events. We vainly plume ourselves on the
safeguard alone of representation, forgetting that it will be a representation on principles inconsistent with true and just
representation; that it is but a delusive shadow of representation, proffering in theory what can never be fairly reduced
to practice. And, after all, government by representation (unless confirmed in its views and conduct by the constant inspection,
immediate superintendence, and frequent interference and control of the people themselves on one side, or an hereditary nobility
on the other, both of which orders have fixed and permanent views) is really only as one of perpetual rapine and confusion.
Even with the best checks it has failed in all the governments of Europe, of which it was once the basis, except that of England.
When we turn our eyes back to the zones of blood and desolation which
we have waded through to separate from Great Britain, we behold with manly indignation that our blood and treasure have been
wasted to establish a government in which the interest of the few is preferred to the rights of the many. When we see a government
so every way inferior to that we were born under, proposed as the reward of our sufferings in an eight years calamitous war,
our astonishment is only equaled by our resentment. On the conduct of Virginia and New York, two important States, the preservation
of liberty in a great measure depends. The chief security of a Confederacy of Republics was boldly disregarded, and the Confederation
violated, by requiring 9 instead of 13 voices to alter the Constitution. But still the resistance of either of these States
in the present temper of America (for the late conduct of the party here [Maryland] must open the eyes of the people in Massachusetts
with respect to the fate of their amendment) will secure all that we mean to contend for-the natural and unalienable rights
of men in a constitutional manner.
At the distant appearance of danger to these, we took up arms in the
late Revolution. And may we never have cause to look back with regret on that period when connected with the Empire of Great
Britain, we were happy, secure and free.
Antifederalist No. 61 QUESTIONS AND COMMENTS ON THE CONSTITUTIONAL
PROVISIONS REGARDING THE ELECTION OF CONGRESSMEN
. . . . It is well observed by Montesquieu, that in republican governments
the forms of elections are fundamental; and that it is an essential part of the social compact, to ascertain by whom, to whom,
when, and in what manner, suffrages are to be given. Wherever we find the regulation of elections have not been carefully
fixed by the constitution, or the principles of them, we constantly see new legislatures modifying . . . [their] own form,
and changing the spirit of the government to answer partial purposes.
By the proposed plan it is -fixed, that the qualifications of the
electors of the federal representatives shall be the same as those of the electors of state representatives; though these
vary some in the several states the electors are fixed and designated.
The qualifications of the representatives are also fixed and designated,
and no person under 25 years of age, not an inhabitant of the state, and not having been seven years a citizen of the United
States, can be elected. The clear inference is, that all persons 25 years of age, and upwards, inhabitants of the state, and
having been, at any period or periods, seven years citizens of the United States, may be elected representatives. They have
a right to be elected by the constitution, and the electors have a right to choose them. This is fixing the federal representation,
as to the elected, on a very broad basis. It can be no objection to the elected, that they are Christians, Pagans, Mahometans,
or Jews; that they are of any color, rich or poor, convict or not. Hence many men may be elected, who cannot be electors.
Gentlemen who have commented so largely upon the wisdom of the constitution, for excluding from being elected young men under
a certain age, would have done well to have recollected, that it positively makes pagans, convicts, etc., eligible. The people
make the constitution; they exclude a few persons, by certain descriptions, from being elected, and all not thus excluded
are clearly admitted. Now a man 25 years old, an inhabitant of the state, and having been a citizen of the states seven years,
though afterwards convicted, may be elected, because not within any of the excluding clauses; the same of a beggar, an absentee,
The right of the electors, and eligibility of the elected, being fixed
by the people, they cannot be narrowed by the state legislatures, or congress. It is established, that a man being (among
other qualifications) an inhabitant of the state, shall be eligible. Now it would be narrowing the right of the people to
confine them in their choice to a man, an inhabitant of a particular county or district in the state. Hence it follows, that
neither the state legislatures nor congress can establish district elections; that is, divide the state into districts, and
confine the electors of each district to the choice of a man resident in it. If the electors could be thus limited in one
respect, they might in another be confined to choose a man of a particular religion, of certain property, etc., and thereby
half of the persons made eligible by the constitution be excluded. All laws, therefore, for regulating elections must be made
on the broad basis of the constitution.
Next, we may observe, that representatives are to be chosen by the
people of the state. What is a choice by the people of the state? If each given district in it choose one, will that be a
choice within the meaning of the constitution? Must the choice be by plurality of votes, or a majority? In connection with
these questions, we must take the 4th Sect., Art I., where it is said the state legislatures shall prescribe the times, places,
and manner of holding elections; but congress may make or alter such regulations. By this clause, I suppose, the electors
of different towns and districts in the state may be assembled in different places, to give their votes; but when so assembled,
by another clause they cannot, by congress or the state legislatures, be restrained from giving their votes for any man an
inhabitant of the state, and qualified as to age, and having been a citizen the time required. But I see nothing in the constitution
by which to decide, whether the choice shall be by a plurality or a majority of votes. This, in my mind, is by far the most
important question in the business of elections. When we say a representative shall be chosen by the people, it seems to imply
that he shall be chosen by a majority of them; but states which use the same phraseology in this respect, practice both ways.
I believe a majority of the states choose by pluralities; and, I think it probable, that the federal house of representatives
will decide that a choice of its members by pluralities is constitutional. A man who has the most votes is chosen in Great
Britain. It is this, among other things, that gives every man fair play in the game of influence and corruption. I believe
that not much stress was laid upon the objection that congress may assemble the electors at some out of the way place. However,
the advocates seem to think they obtain a victory of no small glory and importance, when they can show, with some degree of
color, that the evil is rather a possibility than a probability. . .
It is easy to perceive that there is an essential difference between
elections by pluralities and by majorities, between choosing a man in a small or limited district, and choosing a number of
men promiscuously by the people of a large state. And while we are almost secure of judicious unbiased elections by majorities
in such districts, we have no security against deceptions, influence and corruption in states or large districts in electing
by pluralities. When a choice is made by a plurality of votes, it is often made by a very small part of the electors, who
attend and give their votes; when by a majority, never by so few as one half of them. The partialities and improprieties attending
the former mode may be illustrated by a case that lately happened in one of the middle states. Several representatives were
to be chosen by a large number of inhabitants compactly settled, among whom there were four or five thousand voters. Previous
to the time of election a number of lists of candidates were published, to divide and distract the voters in general. About
half a dozen men of some influence, who had a favorite list to carry, met several times, fixed their list, and agreed to hand
it about among all who could probably be induced to adopt it, and to circulate the other lists among their opponents, to divide
them. The poll was opened, and several hundred electors, suspecting nothing, attended and put in their votes. The list of
the half dozen was carried, and men were found to be chosen, some of whom were very disagreeable to a large majority of the
electors. Though several hundred electors voted, men on that list were chosen who had only 45, 43, 44, etc., votes each. They
had a plurality, that is, more than any other persons. The votes generally were scattered, and those who made even a feeble
combination succeeded in placing highest upon the list several very unthought of and very unpopular men. This evil never could
have happened in a town where all the voters meet in one place, and consider no man as elected unless he have a majority,
or more than half of all the votes. Clear it is, that the man on whom thus but a small part of the votes are bestowed cannot
possess the confidence of the people, or have any considerable degree of influence over them. But as partial, as liable to
secret influence, and corruption as the choice by pluralities may be, I think, we cannot avoid it, without essentially increasing
the federal representation, and adopting the principle of district elections. There is but one case in which the choice by
the majority is practicable, and that is, where districts are formed of such moderate extent that the electors in each can
conveniently meet in one place, and at one time, and proceed to the choice of a representative; when, if no man have a majority
or more than half of all the votes the first time, the voters may examine the characters of those brought forward, accommodate,
and proceed to repeat their votes till some one shall have that majority. This, I believe, cannot be a case under the constitution
proposed in its present form. To explain my ideas, take Massachusetts, for instance. She is entitled to eight representatives.
She has 370,000 inhabitants, about 46,000 to one representative. If the elections be so held that the electors throughout
the state meet in their several towns or places, and each elector puts in his vote for eight representatives, the votes of
the electors will ninety-nine times in a hundred, be so scattered that on collecting the votes from the several towns or places,
no men will be found, each of whom have a majority of the votes, and therefore the election will not be made .... I might
add many other observations to evince the superiority and solid advantages of proper district elections, and a choice by a
majority, and to prove that many evils attend the contrary practice. These evils we must encounter as the constitution now
stands. I see no way to fix elections on a proper footing, and to render tolerably equal and secure the federal representation,
but by increasing the representation, so as to have one representative for each district in which the electors may conveniently
meet in one place, and at one time, and choose by a majority. Perhaps this might be effected pretty generally, by fixing one
representative for each twelve thousand inhabitants; dividing, or fixing the principles for dividing the states into proper
districts; and directing the electors of each district to the choice, by a majority, of some men having a permanent interest
and residence in it. I speak of a representation tolerably equal, etc., because I am still of opinion, that it is impracticable
in this extensive country to have a federal representation sufficiently democratic, or substantially drawn from the body of
the people. The principles just mentioned may be the best practical ones we can expect to establish. By thus increasing the
representation we not only make it more democratical and secure, strengthen the confidence of the people in it, and thereby
render it more nervous and energetic; but it will also enable the people essentially to change, for the better, the principles
and forms of elections. To provide for the people's wandering throughout the state for a representative may sometimes enable
them to elect a more brilliant or an abler man, than by confining them to districts; but generally this latitude will be used
to pernicious purposes, especially connected with the choice by plurality-when a man in the remote part of the state, perhaps
obnoxious at home, but ambitious and intriguing, may be chosen to represent the people in another part of the state far distant,
and by a small part of them, or by a faction, or by a combination of some particular description of men among them. This has
been long the case in Great Britain; it is the case in several states; nor do I think that such pernicious practices will
be merely possible in our federal concerns, but highly probable. By establishing district elections, we exclude none of the
best men from being elected; and we fix what, in my mind, is of far more importance than brilliant talents-I mean a sameness,
as to residence and interests, between the representative and his constituents. And by the election by a majority, he is sure
to be the man, the choice of more than half of them....
THE FEDERAL FARMER
Antifederalist No. 62 ON THE ORGANIZATION AND POWERS OF THE SENATE
Taken from the 16th essay of "Brutus" from The New York Journal
of April 10, 1788.
The following things may be observed with respect to the constitution
of the Senate.
1st. They are to be elected by the legislatures of the States and
not by the people, and each State is to be represented by an equal number.
2d. They are to serve for six years, except that one third of those
first chosen are to go out of office at the expiration of two years, one third at the expiration of four years, and one third
at the expiration of six years, after which this rotation is to be preserved, but still every member will serve for the term
of six years.
3d. If vacancies happen by resignation or otherwise, during the recess
of the legislature of any State, the executive is authorised to make temporary appointments until the next meeting of the
4. No person can be a senator who had not arrived to the age of thirty
years, been nine years a citizen of the United States, and who is not at the time he is elected an inhabitant of the State
for which he is elected.
The apportionment of members of the Senate among the States is not
according to numbers, or the importance of the States, but is equal. This, on the plan of a consolidated government, is unequal
and improper; but is proper on the system of confederation - on this principle I approve of it. It is indeed the only feature
of any importance in the constitution of a confederated government. It was obtained after a vigorous struggle of that part
of the Convention who were in favor of preserving the state governments. It is to be regretted that they were not able to
have infused other principles into the plan, to have secured the government of the respective states, and to have marked with
sufficient precision the line between them and the general government.
The term for which the senate are to be chosen, is in my judgment
too long, and no provision being made for a rotation will, I conceive, be of dangerous consequence.
It is difficult to fix the precise period for which the senate should
be chosen. It is a matter of opinion, and our sentiments on the matter must be formed, by attending to certain principles.
Some of the duties which are to be performed by the Senate, seem evidently to point out the propriety of their term of service
being extended beyond the period of that of the assembly. Besides, as they are designed to represent the aristocracy of the
country, it seems fit they should possess more stability, and so continue a longer period then that branch who represent the
democracy. The business of making treaties and some other which it will be proper to commit to the senate, requires that they
should have experience, and therefore that they should remain some time in office to acquire it. But still it is of equal
importance that they should not be so long in office as to be likely to forget the hand that formed them, or be insensible
of their interests. Men long in office are very apt to feel themselves independent; to form and pursue interests separate
from those who appointed them. And this is more likely to be the case with the senate, as they will for the most part of the
time be absent from the state they represent, and associate with such company as will possess very little of the feelings
of the middling class of people. For it is to be remembered that there is to be a federal city, and the inhabitants of it
will be the great and the mighty of the earth. For these reasons I would shorten the term of their service to four years.
Six years is a long period for a man to be absent from his home; it would have a tendency to wean him from his constituents.
A rotation in the senate would also in my opinion be of great use.
It is probable that senators once chosen for a state will, as the system now stands, continue in office for life. The office
will be honorable if not lucrative. The persons who occupy it will probably wish to continue in it, and therefore use all
their influence and that of their friends to continue in office. Their friends will be numerous and powerful, for they will
have it in their power to confer great favors-, besides it will before long be considered as disgraceful not to be reelected.
It will therefore be considered as a matter of delicacy to the character of the senator not to return him again. Everybody
acquainted with public affairs knows how difficult it is to remove from office a person who is long been in it. It is seldom
done except in cases of gross misconduct. It is rare that want of competent ability procures it. To prevent this inconvenience
I conceive it would be wise to determine, that a senator should not be eligible after he had served for the period assigned
by the constitution for a certain number of years; perhaps three would be sufficient. A further benefit would be derived from
such an arrangement; it would give opportunity to bring forward a greater number of men to serve their country, and would
return those, who had served, to their state, and afford them the advantage of becoming better acquainted with the condition
and politics of their constituents. It further appears to me proper, that the legislatures should retain the right which they
now hold under the confederation, of recalling their members. It seems an evident dictate of reason that when a person authorises
another to do a piece of business for him, he should retain the power to displace him, when he does not conduct according
to his pleasure. This power in the state legislatures, under confederation, has not been exercised to the injury of the government,
nor do I see any danger of its being so exercised under the new system. It may operate much to the public benefit.
These brief remarks are all I shall make on the organization of the
senate. The powers with which they are invested will require a more minute investigation.
This body will possess a strange mixture of legislative, executive,
and judicial powers, which in my opinion will in some cases clash with each other.
1. They are one branch of the legislature, and in this respect will
possess equal powers in all cases with the house of representatives; for I consider the clause which gives the house of representatives
the right of originating bills for raising a revenue as merely nominal, seeing the senate . . . [has the power] to propose
or concur with amendments.
2. They are a branch of the executive in the appointment of ambassadors
and public ministers, and in the appointment of all other officers, not otherwise provided for. Whether the forming of treaties,
in which they are joined with the president, appertains to the legislative or the executive part of the government, or to
neither, is not material.
3. They are a part of the judicial, for they form the court of impeachments.
It has been a long established maxim, that the legislative, executive
and judicial departments in government should be kept distinct. It is said, I know, that this cannot be done. And therefore
that this maxim is not just, or at least that it should only extend to certain leading features in a government. I admit that
this distinction cannot be perfectly preserved. In a due balanced government, it is perhaps absolutely necessary to give the
executive qualified legislative powers, and the legislative or a branch of them judicial powers in the last resort. It may
possibly also, in some special cases, be advisable to associate the legislature, or a branch of it, with the executive, in
the exercise of acts of great national importance. But still the maxim is a good one, and a separation of these powers should
be sought as far as is practicable. I can scarcely imagine that any of the advocates of the system will pretend, that it was
necessary to accumulate all these powers in the senate. There is a propriety in the senate's possessing legislative powers.
This is the principal end which should be held in view in their appointment. I need not here repeat what has so often and
ably been advanced on the subject of a division of the legislative power into two branches. The arguments in favor of it I
think conclusive. But I think it equally evident, that a branch of the legislature should not be invested with the power of
appointing officers. This power in the senate is very improperly lodged for a number of reasons - These shall be detailed
in a future number.
Antifederalist No. 63 ON THE ORGANIZATION AND POWERS OF THE SENATE
. . . . The senate is an assembly of 26 members, two from each state;
though the senators are apportioned on the federal plan, they will vote individually. They represent the states, as bodies
politic, sovereign to certain purposes. The states being sovereign and independent, are all considered equal, each with the
other in the senate. In this we are governed solely by the ideal equalities of sovereignties; the federal and state governments
forming one whole, and the state governments an essential part, which ought always to be kept distinctly in view, and preserved.
I feel more disposed, on reflection, to acquiesce in making them the basis of the senate, and thereby to make it the interest
and duty of the senators to preserve distinct, and to perpetuate the respective, sovereignties they shall represent. . . .
The senate, as a legislative branch, is not large, but as an executive
branch quite too numerous. It is not to be presumed that we can form a genuine senatorial branch in the United States, a real
representation of the aristocracy and balance in the legislature, any more than we can form a genuine representation of the
people. Could we separate the aristocratical and democratical interest, compose the senate of the former, and the house of
assembly of the latter, they are too unequal in the United States to produce a balance. Form them on pure principles, and
leave each to be supported by its real weight and connections, the senate would be feeble and the house powerful. I say, on
pure principles; because I make a distinction between a senate that derives its weight and influence from a pure source-its
numbers and wisdom, its extensive property, its extensive and permanent connections -and a senate composed of a few men, possessing
small property, and small and unstable connections, that derives its weight and influence from a corrupt or pernicious source:
that is, merely from the power given it by the constitution and laws, to dispose of the public offices, and the annexed emoluments,
and by those means to interest officers, and the hungry expectants of offices, in support of its measures. I wish the proposed
senate may not partake too much of the latter description.
To produce a balance and checks, the constitution proposes two branches
in the legislature. But they are so formed, that the members of both must generally be the same kind of men-men having similar
interests and views, feelings and connections - men of the same grade in society, and who associate on all, occasions (probably,
if there be any difference, the senators will be the most democratic.) Senators and representatives thus circumstanced, as
men, though convened in two rooms to make laws, must be governed generally by the same motives and views, and therefore pursue
the same system of politics. The partitions between the two branches will be merely those of the building in which they fit.
There will not be found in them any of those genuine balances and checks, among the real different interests, and efforts
of the several classes of men in the community we aim at. Nor can any such balances and checks be formed in the present condition
of the United States in any considerable degree of perfection. . .
Though I conclude the senators and representatives will not form in
the legislature those balances and checks which correspond with the actual state of the people, yet I approve of two branches,
because we may notwithstanding derive several advantages from them. The senate, from the mode of its appointment, will probably
be influenced to support the state governments; and, from its periods of service will produce stability in legislation, while
frequent elections may take place in the other branch. There is generally a degree of competition between two assemblies even
composed of the same kind of men; and by this, and by means of every law passing a revision in the second branch, caution,
coolness, and deliberation are produced in the business of making laws. By means of a democratic branch we may particularly
secure personal liberty; and by means of a senatorial branch we may particularly protect property. By the division, the house
becomes the proper body to impeach all officers for misconduct in office, and the senate the proper court to try them; and
in a country where limited powers must be lodged in the first magistrate, the senate, perhaps, may be the most proper body
to be found to have a negative upon him in making treaties, and managing foreign affairs.
Though I agree the federal senate, in the form proposed, may be useful
to many purposes, and that it is not very necessary to alter the organization, modes of appointment, and powers of it in several
respects; yet, without alterations in others, I sincerely believe it will, in a very few years, become the source of the greatest
evils. Some of these alterations, I conceive, to be absolutely necessary and some of them at least advisable.
1. By the confederation the members of congress are chosen annually.
By Art. 1. Sect. 2. of the constitution, the senators shall be chosen for six years. As the period of service must be, in
a considerable degree, matter of opinion on this head, I shall only make a few observations, to explain why I think it more
advisable to limit it to three or four years.
The people of this country have not been accustomed to so long appointments
in their state governments. They have generally adopted annual elections. The members of the present congress are chosen yearly,
who, from the nature and multiplicity of their business, ought to be chosen for longer periods than the federal senators.
Men six years in office absolutely contract callous habits, and cease, in too great a degree, to feel their dependence, and
for the condition of their constituents. Senators continued in offices three or four years, will be in them longer than any
popular erroneous opinions will probably continue to actuate their electors. Men appointed for three or four years will generally
be long enough in office to give stability, and amply to acquire political information. By a change of legislators, as often
as circumstances will permit, political knowledge is diffused more extensively among the people, and the attention of the
electors and elected more constantly kept alive-circumstances of infinite importance in a free country. Other reasons might
be added, but my subject is too extensive to admit of my dwelling upon less material points.
2. When the confederation was formed, it was considered essentially
necessary that the members of congress should at any time be recalled by their respective states, when the states should see
fit, and others be sent in their room. I do not think it is less necessary that this principle should be extended to the members
of congress under the new constitution, and especially to the senators. I have had occasion several times to observe, that
let us form a federal constitution as extensively, and on the best principles in our power, we must, after all, trust a vast
deal to a few men, who, far removed from their constituents, will administer the federal government. There is but little danger
these men will feel too great a degree of dependence. The necessary and important object to be attended to, is to make them
feel dependent enough. Men elected for several years, several hundred miles distant from their states, possessed of very extensive
powers, and the means of paying themselves, will not, probably, be oppressed with a sense of dependence and responsibility.
The senators will represent sovereignties, which generally have, and
always ought to retain, the power of recalling their agents. The principle of responsibility is strongly felt in men who are
liable to be recalled and censured for their misconduct; and, if we may judge from experience, the latter will not abuse the
power of recalling their members; to possess it will at least be a valuable check. It is in the nature of all delegated power,
that the constituents should retain the right to judge concerning the conduct of their representatives. They must exercise
the power, and their decision itself, their approving or disapproving that conduct implies a right, a power to continue in
office, or to remove from it. But whenever the substitute acts under a constitution, then it becomes necessary that the power
of recalling him be expressed. The reasons for lodging a power to recall are stronger, as they respect the senate, than as
they respect the representatives. The latter will be more frequently elected, and changed of course, and being chosen by the
people at large, it would be more difficult for the people than for the legislatures to take the necessary measures for recalling.
But even the people, if the powers will be more beneficial to them than injurious, ought to possess it. The people are not
apt to wrong a man who is steady and true to their interests. They may for a while be misled by party representations, and
leave a good man out of office unheard; but every recall supposes a deliberate decision, and a fair hearing. And no man who
believes his conduct proper, and the result of honest views, will be the less useful in his public character on account of
the examination his actions may be liable to. A man conscious of the contrary conduct ought clearly to be restrained by the
apprehensions of a trial. I repeat it, it is interested combinations and factions we are particularly to guard against in
the federal government, and all the rational means that can be put into the hands of the people to prevent them ought to be
provided and furnished for them. Where there is a power to recall, trusty sentinels among the people, or in the state legislatures
will have a fair opportunity to become useful. If the members in congress from the states join in such combinations, or favor
them, or pursue a pernicious line of conduct, the most attentive among the people or in the state legislatures may formally
charge them before their constituents. The very apprehensions of such constitutional charge may prevent many of the evils
mentioned; and the recalling the members of a single state, a single senator or representative, may often prevent many more.
Nor do 1, at present, discover any danger in such proceedings, as every man who shall move for a recall will put his reputation
at stake, to show he has reasonable grounds for his motion. It is not probable such motions will be made unless there be good
apparent grounds for succeeding. Nor can the charge or motion be anything more than the attack of an individual or individuals
unless a majority of the constituents shall see cause to go into the inquiry. Further, the circumstances of such a power being
lodged in the constituents will tend continually to keep up their watchfulness, as well as the attention and dependence of
the federal senators and representatives.
3. By the confederation it is provided, that no delegate shall serve
more than three years in any term of six years; and thus, by the forms of the government a rotation of members is produced.
A like principle has been adopted in some of the state governments, and also in some ancient and modern republics. Whether
this exclusion of a man for a given period, after he shall have served a given time, ought to be ingrafted into a constitution
or not is a question, the proper decision [of which] materially depends upon the leading features of the government. Some
governments are so formed as to produce a sufficient fluctuation and change of members; in the ordinary course of elections
proper numbers of new members are from time to time brought into the legislature, and a proportionate number of old ones go
out, mix, and become diffused among the people. This is the case with all numerous representative legislatures, the members
of which are frequently elected, and constantly within the view of their constituents. This is the case with our state governments,
and in them a constitutional rotation is unimportant. But in a government consisting of but a few members, elected for long
periods, and far removed from the observation of the people, but few changes in the ordinary course of elections take place
among the members. They become in some measure a fixed body, and often inattentive to the public good, callous, selfish, and
the fountain of corruption. To prevent these evils, and to force a principle of pure animation into the federal government,
which will be formed much in this last manner mentioned, and to produce attention, activity, and a diffusion of knowledge
in the community, we ought to establish among others the principle of rotation. Even good men in office, in time, imperceptibly
lose sight of the people, and gradually fall into measures prejudicial to them. It is only a rotation among the members of
the federal legislature I shall contend for. Judges and officers at the heads of the judicial and executive departments are
in a very different situation. Their offices and duties require the information and studies of many years for performing them
in a manner advantageous to the people. These judges and officers must apply their whole time to the detail business of their
offices, and depend on them for their support. Then, they always act under masters or superiors, and may be removed from office
for misconduct. They pursue a certain round of executive business; their offices must be in all societies confined to a few
men, because but few can become qualified to fill them. And were they, by annual appointments, open to the people at large,
they are offices of such a nature as to be of no service to them. They must leave these offices in the possession of the few
individuals qualified to fill them, or have them badly filled. In the judicial and executive departments also, the body of
the people possess a large share of power and influence, as jurors and subordinate officers, among whom there are many and
frequent rotations. But in every free country the legislatures are all on a level, and legislation becomes partial whenever,
in practice, it rests for any considerable time in a few hands. It is the true republican principle to diffuse the power of
making the laws among the people and so to modify the forms of the government as to draw in turn the well informed of every
class into the legislature. To determine the propriety or impropriety of this rotation, we must take the inconveniencies as
well as the advantages attending it into view. On the one hand by this rotation, we may sometimes exclude good men from being
elected. On the other hand, we guard against those pernicious connections, which usually grow up among men left to continue
long periods in office. We increase the number of those who make the laws and return to their constituents; and thereby spread
information, and preserve a spirit of activity and investigation among the people. Hence a balance of interests and exertions
are preserved, and the ruinous measures of actions rendered more impracticable. I would not urge the principle of rotation,
if I believed the consequence would be an uninformed federal legislature; but I have no apprehension of this in this enlightened
country. The members of congress, at any one time, must be but very few compared with the respectable well informed men in
the United States; and I have no idea there will be any want of such men for members of congress, though by a principle of
rotation the constitution should exclude from being elected for two years those federal legislators, who may have served the
four years immediately preceding, or any four years in the six preceding years. If we may judge from experience and fair calculations,
this principle will never operate to exclude at any one period a fifteenth part even of those men who have been members of
congress. Though no man can sit in congress by the confederation more than three years in any term of six years, yet not more
than three, four, or five men in any one state have been made ineligible at any one period. And if a good man happens to be
excluded by this rotation, it is only for a short time. All things considered, the inconveniencies of the principle must be
very inconsiderable compared with the many advantages of it. It will generally be expedient for a man who has served four
years in congress to return home, mix with the people, and reside some time with them. This will tend to reinstate him in
the interests, feelings, and views similar to theirs, and thereby confirm in him the essential qualifications of a legislator.
Even in point of information, it may be observed, the useful information of legislators is not acquired merely in studies
in offices, and in meeting to make laws from day to day. They must learn the actual situation of the people by being among
them, and when they have made laws, return home and observe how they operate. Thus occasionally to be among the people, is
not only necessary to prevent or banish the callous habits and self-interested views of office in legislators, but to afford
them necessary information, and to render them useful. Another valuable end is answered by it, sympathy, and the means of
communication between them and their constituents, is substantially promoted. So that on every principle legislators, at certain
periods, ought to live among their constituents. Some men of science are undoubtedly necessary in every legislature; but the
knowledge, generally, necessary for men who make laws, is a knowledge of the common concerns, and particular circumstances
of the people. In a republican government seats in the legislature are highly honorable. I believe but few do, and surely
none ought to, consider them as places of profit and permanent support. Were the people always properly attentive, they would,
at proper periods, call their lawmakers home, by sending others in their room. But this is not often the case; and therefore,
in making constitutions, when the people are attentive, they ought cautiously to provide for those benefits, those advantageous
changes in the administration of their affairs, which they are often apt to be inattentive to in practice. On the whole, to
guard against the evils, and to secure the advantages I have mentioned, with the greatest degree of certainty, we ought clearly
in my opinion, to increase the federal representation, to secure elections on proper principles, to establish a right to recall
members, and a rotation among them.
THE FEDERAL FARMER
Antifederalist No. 64 ON THE ORGANIZATION AND POWERS OF THE SENATE
Taken from the New York Journal, Nov. 22, 1787 by "CINCINNATUS"
It appears to have been written in answer to James Wilson's Antifederalist # 12)
I come now, sir, to the most exceptionable part of the Constitution-the
Senate. In this, as in every other part, you [James Wilson of Pennsylvania] are in the line of your profession Law], and on
that ground assure your fellow citizens, that-"perhaps there never was a charge made with less reason, than that which predicts
the institution of a baneful aristocracy in the Federal Senate." And yet your conscience smote you, sir, at the beginning,
and compelled you to prefix a perhaps to this strange assertion. The senate, you say, branches into two characters-the one
legislative and the other executive. This phraseology is quaint, and the position does not state the whole truth. I am very
sorry, sir, to be so often obliged to reprehend the suppression of information at the moment that you stood forth to instruct
your fellow citizens, in what they were supposed not to understand. In this character, you should have abandoned your professional
line, and told them, not only the truth, but the whole truth. The whole truth then is, that the same body, called the senate,
is vested with legislative, executive and judicial powers. The two first you acknowledge; the last is conveyed in these words,
sec. 3d.: "The Senate shall have the sole power to try all impeachments." On this point then we are to come to issue-whether
a senate so constituted is likely to produce a baneful aristocracy, which will swallow up the democratic rights and liberties
of the nation. To judge on this question, it is proper to examine minutely into the constitution and powers of the senate;
and we shall then see with what anxious and subtle cunning it is calculated for the proposed purpose. 1st. It is removed from
the people, being chosen by the legislatures-and exactly in the ratio of their removal from the people do aristocratic principles
constantly infect the minds of man. 2nd. They endure, two thirds for four, and one third for six years, and in proportion
to the duration of power, the aristocratic exercise of it and attempts to extend it, are invariably observed to increase.
3rd. From the union of the executive with the legislative functions, they must necessarily be longer together, or rather constantly
assembled; and in proportion to their continuance together, they will be able to form effectual schemes for extending their
own power, and reducing that of the democratic branch. If any one would wish to see this more fully illustrated, let him turn
to the history of the Decemviri in Rome. 4th. Their advice and consent being necessary to the appointment of all the great
officers of state, both at home and abroad, will enable them to win over any opponents to their measures in the house of representatives,
and give them the influence which, we see, accompanies this power in England; and which, from the nature of man, must follow
it every where. 5th. The sole power of impeachment being vested in them, they have it in their power to control the representative
in this democratic right; to screen from punishment, or rather from conviction, all high offenders, being their creatures,
and to keep in awe all opponents to their power in high office. 6th. The union established between them and the vice president,
who is made one of the corps, and will therefore be highly animated with the aristocratic spirit of it, furnishes them a powerful
shield against popular suspicion and inquiry, he being the second man in the United States who stands highest in the confidence
and estimation of the people. And lastly, the right of altering or amending money-bills, is a high additional power given
them as a branch of the legislature, which their analogous branch, in the English parliament, could never obtain because it
has been guarded by the representatives of the people there, with the most strenuous solicitude as one of the vital principles
of democratic liberty.
Is a body so vested with means to soften and seduce-so armed with
power to screen or to condemn-so fortified against suspicion and inquiry-so largely trusted with legislative powers-so independent
of and removed from the people-so tempted to abuse and extend these powers-is this a body which freemen ought ever to create,
or which freemen can ever endure? Or is it not a monster in the political creation, which we ought to regard with horror?
Shall we thus forget our own fetters? Shall we set up the idol, before which we shall soon be obliged, however reluctantly,
to bow? Shall we consent to see a proud aristocracy erect his domineering crest in triumph over our prostrate liberties?
But we shall yet see more clearly, how highly favored this senate
has been, by taking a similar view of the representative body. This body is the true representative of the democratic part
of the system; the shield and defense of the people. . . . Its transcendent and incommunicable power of impeachment-that high
source of its dignity and control-in which alone the majesty of the people feels his sceptre, and bears aloft his fasces-is
rendered ineffectual, by its being triable before its rival branch, the senate, the patron and prompter of the measures against
which it is to sit in judgment. It is therefore most manifest, that from the very nature of the constitution the right of
impeachment apparently given, is really rendered ineffectual. And this is contrived with so much art, that to discover it
you must bring together various and distant parts of the constitution, or it will not strike the examiner, that the same body
that advises the executive measures of government which are usually the subject of impeachment, are the sole judges on such
impeachments. They must therefore be both party and judge, and must condemn those who have executed what they advised. Could
such a monstrous absurdity have escaped men who were not determined, at all events, to vest all power in this aristocratic
body? Is it not plain, that the senate is to be exalted by the humiliation of the democracy? A democracy which, thus bereft
of its powers, and shorn of its strength, will stand a melancholy monument of popular impotence. . . .
"When the legislative and executive powers are united in the same
person, or in the same corps," [says Montesquieu] "there can be no liberty. Because, it may be feared, that the same monarch
or senate will make tyrannical laws, that they may execute them tyrannically." I am aware that this great man is speaking
of a senate being the whole legislature; whereas the one before us is but a branch of the proposed legislature. But still
the reason applies, inasmuch as the legislative power of the senate will enable it to negative all bills that are meant to
control the executive; and from being secure of preventing any abridgment, they can watch every pliant hour of the representative
body to promote an enlargement of the executive powers. One thing at least is certain, that by making this branch of the legislature
participant in the executive, you not only prevent the legislature from being a check upon the executive, but you inevitably
prevent its being checked or controlled by the other branch.
To the authority of Montesquieu, I shall add that of Mr. De Lolme,
whose disquisition on government is allowed to be deep, solid, and ingenious. . . . "It is not only necessary," [says he]
"to take from the legislature the executive power which would exempt them from the laws; but they should not have even a hope
of being ever able to arrogate to themselves that power." To remove this hope from their expectation, it would have been proper,
not only to have previously laid down, in a declaration of rights, that these powers should be forever separate and incommunicable;
but the frame of the proposed constitution should have had that separation religiously in view, through all its parts. It
is manifest this was not the object of its framers; but, that on the contrary there is a studied mixture of them in the senate
as necessary to erect it into that potent aristocracy which it must infallibly produce. In pursuit of this daring object,
than which no greater calamity can be brought upon the people, another egregious error in constitutional principles is committed.
I mean that of dividing the executive powers between the senate and president. Unless more harmony and less ambition should
exist between these two executives than ever yet existed between men in power, or than can exist while human nature is as
it is, this absurd division must be productive of constant contentions for the lead, must clog the execution of government
to a mischievous, and sometimes to a disgraceful degree; and if they should unhappily harmonize in the same objects of ambition,
their number and their combined power would preclude all fear of that responsibility, which is one of the great securities
of good, and restraints on bad governments. Upon these principles Mr. DeLolme has foreseen that "the effect of a division
of the executive power is the establishment of absolute power in one of continual contention;" he therefore lays it down,
as a general rule . . . "for the tranquility of the state it is necessary that the executive power should be in one." I will
add, that this singlehood of the executive is indispensably necessary to effective execution, as well as to the responsibility
and rectitude of him to whom it is entrusted.
By this time I hope it is evident from reason and authority, that
in the constitution of the senate there is much cunning and little wisdom; that we have much to fear from it, and little to
hope, and then it must necessarily produce a baneful aristocracy, by which the democratic rights of the people will be overwhelmed.
It was probably upon this principle that a member of the convention,
of high and unexceeded reputation for wisdom and integrity, is said to have emphatically declared, that he would sooner lose
his right hand, than put his name to such a constitution.
Antifederalist No. 65 ON THE ORGANIZATION AND POWERS OF THE SENATE
(by Gilbert Livingston and John Lansing delivered on June 24, 1788
to the New York ratifying convention)
Mr. G[ilbert] LIVINGSTON rose, and addressed the chair.
He, in the first place, considered the importance of the Senate as
a branch of the legislature, in three points of view:-
First, they would possess legislative powers coextensive with those
of the House of Representatives except with respect to originating revenue laws; which, however, they would have power to
reject or amend, as in the case of other bills. Secondly, they would have an importance, even exceeding that of the representative
house, as they would be composed of a smaller number, and possess more firmness and system. Thirdly, their consequence and
dignity would still further transcend those of the other branch, from their longer continuance in office. These powers, Mr.
Livingston contended, rendered the Senate a dangerous body.
He went on, in the second place, to enumerate and animadvert on the
powers with which they were clothed in their judicial capacity, and in their capacity of council to the President, and in
the forming of treaties. In the last place, as if too much power could not be given to this body, they were made, he said,
a council of appointment, by whom ambassadors and other officers of state were to be appointed. These are the powers, continued
he, which are vested in this small body of twenty-six men; in some cases, to be exercised by a bare quorum, which is fourteen;
a majority of which number, again, is eight. What are the checks provided to balance this great mass of power? Our present
Congress cannot serve longer than three years in six: they are at any time subject to recall. These and other checks were
considered as necessary at a period which I choose to honor with the name of virtuous. Sir, I venerate the spirit with which
every thing was done at the trying time in which the Confederation was formed. America had then a sufficiency of this virtue
to resolve to resist perhaps the first nation in the universe, even unto bloodshed. What was her aim? Equal liberty and safety.
What ideas had she of this equal liberty? Read them in her Articles of Confederation. True it is, sir, there are some powers
wanted to make this glorious compact complete. But, sir, let us be cautious that we do not err more on the other hand, by
giving power too profusely, when, perhaps, it will be too late to recall it. Consider, sir, the great influence which this
body, armed at all points, will have. What will be the effect of this? Probably a security of their reelection, as long as
they please. Indeed, in my view, it will amount nearly to an appointment for life. What will be their situation in a federal
town? Hallowed ground! Nothing so unclean as state laws to enter there, surrounded, as they will be, by an impenetrable wall
of adamant and gold, the wealth of the whole country flowing into it. [Here a member, who did not fully understand, called
out to know what WALL the gentleman meant; on which be turned, and replied, "A wall of gold-of adamant, which will flow in
from all parts of the continent." At which flowing metaphor, a great laugh in the house.] The gentleman continued: Their attention
to their various business will probably require their constant attendance. In this Eden will they reside with their families,
distant from the observation of the people. In such a situation, men are apt to forget their dependence, lose their sympathy,
and contract selfish habits. Factions are apt to be formed, if the body becomes permanent. The senators will associate only
with men of their own class, and thus become strangers to the condition of the common people. They should not only return,
and be obliged to live with the people, but return to their former rank of citizenship, both to revive their sense of dependence,
and to gain a knowledge of the country. This will afford opportunity to bring forward the genius and information of the states,
and will be a stimulus to acquire political abilities. It will be the means of diffusing a more general knowledge of the measures
and spirit of the administration. These things will confirm the people's confidence in government. When they see those who
have been high in office residing among them as private citizens, they will feel more forcibly that the government is of their
own choice. The members of this branch having the idea impressed on their minds, that they are soon to return to the level
whence the suffrages of the people raised them,-this good effect will follow: they will consider their interests as the same
with those of their constituents, and that they legislate for themselves as well as others. They will not conceive themselves
made to receive, enjoy, and rule, nor the people solely to earn, pay, and submit.
Mr. Chairman, I have endeavored, with as much perspicuity and candor
as I am master of, shortly to state my objections to this clause. I would wish the committee to believe that they are not
raised for the sake of opposition, but that I am very sincere in my sentiments in this important investigation. The Senate,
as they are now constituted, have little or no check on them. Indeed, sir, too much is put into their hands. When we come
to that part of the system which points out their powers, it will be the proper time to consider this subject more particularly.
I think, sir, we must relinquish the idea of safety under this government,
if the time for services is not further limited, and the power of recall [not] given to the state legislatures. I am strengthened
in my opinion by an observation made yesterday, by an honorable member from New York, to this effect"that there should be
no fear of corruption of the members in the House of Representatives; especially as they are, in two years, to return to the
body of the people." I therefore move that the committee adopt the following resolution, as an amendment to this clause:-
"Resolved, That no person shall be eligible as a senator for more
than six years in any term of twelve years, and that it shall be in the power of the legislatures of the several states to
recall their senators, or either of them, and to elect others in their stead, to serve for the remainder of the time for which
such senator or senators, so recalled, were appointed."
Hon. Mr. [John] LANSING. I beg the indulgence of the committee, while
I offer some reasons in support of the motion just made; in doing which, I shall confine myself to the point, and shall hear
with attention, and examine with candor, the objections which may be opposed to it. . .
Sir, I am informed by gentlemen who have been conversant in public
affairs, and who have had seats in Congress, that there have been, at different times, violent parties in that body-an evil
that a change of members has contributed, more than any other thing, to remedy. If, therefore, the power of recall should
be never exercised, if it should have no other force than that of a check to the designs of the bad, and to destroy party
spirit, certainly no harm, but much good, may result from adopting the amendment. If my information be true, there have been
parties in Congress which would have continued to this day, if the members had not been removed. No inconvenience can follow
from placing the powers of the Senate on such a foundation as to make them feel their dependence. It is only a check calculated
to make them more attentive to the objects for which they were appointed. Sir, I would ask, Is there no danger that the members
of the Senate will sacrifice the interest of their state to their own private views? Every man in the United States ought
to look with anxious concern to that body. Their number is so exceedingly small, that they may easily feel their interests
distinct from those of the community. This smallness of number also renders them subject to a variety of accidents, that may
be of the highest disadvantage. If one of the members is sick, or if one or both are prevented occasionally from attending,
who are to take care of the interests of their state?
Sir, we have frequently observed that deputies have been appointed
for certain purposes, who have not punctually attended to them, when it was necessary. Their private concerns may often require
their presence at home. In what manner is this evil to be corrected? The amendment provides a remedy. It is the only thing
which can give the states a control over the Senate. It will be said, there is a power in Congress to compel the attendance
of absent members; but will the members from the other states be solicitous to compel such attendance, except to answer some
particular view, or promote some interest of their own? If it be the object of the senators to protect the sovereignty of
their several states, and if, at any time, it be the design of the other states to make encroachments on the sovereignty of
any one state, will it be for their interest to compel the members from this state to attend, in order to oppose and check
them? This would be strange policy indeed....
Sir, it is true there have been no instances of the success of corruption
under the old Confederation; and may not this be attributed to the power of recall, which has existed from its first formation?
It has operated effectually, though silently. It has never been exercised, because no great occasion has offered. The power
has by no means proved a discouragement to individuals, in serving their country. A seat in Congress has always been considered
a distinguished honor, and a favorite object of ambition. I believe no public station has been sought with more avidity. If
this power has existed for so many years, and through so many scenes of difficulty and danger, without being exerted, may
it not be rationally presumed that it never will be put in execution, unless the indispensable interest of a state shall require
it? I am perfectly convinced that, in many emergencies, mutual concessions are necessary and proper; and that, in some instances,
the smaller interests of the states should be sacrificed to great national objects. But when a delegate makes such sacrifices
as tend to political destruction or to reduce sovereignty to subordination, his state ought to have the power of defeating
his design, and reverting to the people. It is observed, that the appropriation of money is not in the power of the Senate
alone; but, sir, the exercise of certain powers, which constitutionally and necessarily involve the disposal of money, belongs
to the Senate. They have, therefore, a right of disposing of the property of the United States. If the Senate declare war,
the lower house must furnish the supplies.
It is further objected to this amendment, that it will restrain the
people from choosing those who are most deserving of their suffrages, and will thus be an abridgment of their rights. I cannot
suppose this last inference naturally follows. The rights of the people will be best supported by checking, at a certain point,
the current of popular favor, and preventing the establishment of an influence which may leave to elections little more than
the form of freedom. The Constitution of this state says, that no man shall hold the office of sheriff or coroner beyond a
certain period. Does any one imagine that the rights of the people are infringed by this provision? The gentlemen, in their
reasoning on the subject of corruption, seem to set aside experience and to consider the Americans as exempt from the common
vices and frailties of human nature. It is unnecessary to particularize the numerous ways in which public bodies are accessible
to corruption. The poison always finds a channel, and never wants an object. Scruples would be impertinent arguments would
be in vain, checks would be useless, if we were certain our rulers would be good men; but for the virtuous government is not
instituted. Its object is to restrain and punish vice; and all free constitutions are for with two views-to deter the governed
from crime, and the governors from tyranny.
Antifederalist No. 66 From North Carolina
Mr. JOSEPH TAYLOR objected to the provision made for impeaching. He
urged that there could be no security from it, as the persons accused were triable by the Senate, who were a part of the legislature
themselves; that, while men were fallible, the senators were liable to errors, especially in a case where they were concerned
themselves. . . .
Mr. [Timothy] BLOODWORTH wished to be informed, whether this sole
power of impeachment, given to the House of Representatives, deprived the state of the power of impeaching any of its members.
. . .
Mr. JOSEPH TAYLOR. Mr. Chairman, the objection is very strong. If
there be but one body to try, where are we? If any tyranny or oppression should arise, how are those who perpetrated such
oppression to be tried and punished? By a tribunal consisting of the very men who assist in such tyranny. Can any tribunal
be found, in any community, who will give judgment against their own actions? Is it the nature of man to decide against himself?
I am obliged to the worthy member from New Hanover for assisting me with objections. None can impeach but the representatives;
and the impeachments are to be determined by the senators, who are one of the branches of power which we dread under this
Constitution.... the words "sole power of impeachment" were so general, and might admit of such a latitude of construction,
as to extend to every legislative member upon the continent, so as to preclude the representatives of the different states
Mr. [William] PORTER wished to be informed, if every officer, who
was a creature of that Constitution, was to be tried by the Senate-whether such officers, and those who had complaints against
them, were to go from the extreme parts of the continent to the seat of government, to adjust disputes. . . .
Mr. J. TAYLOR. Mr. Chairman, I conceive that, if this Constitution
be adopted, we shall have a large number of officers in North Carolina under the appointment of Congress. We shall undoubtedly,
for instance, have a great number of tax-gatherers. If any of these officers shall do wrong, when we come to fundamental principles,
we find that we have no way to punish them but by going to Congress, at an immense distance, whither we must carry our witnesses.
Every gentlemen must see, in these cases, that oppressions will arise. I conceive that they cannot be tried elsewhere. I consider
that the Constitution will be explained by the word "sole." If they did not mean to retain a general power of impeaching,
there was no occasion for saying the "sole power." I consider therefore that oppressions will arise. If I am oppressed, I
must go to the House of Representatives to complain. I consider that, when mankind are about to part with rights, they ought
only to part with those rights which they can with convenience relinquish, and not such as must involve them in distresses....
I observe that, when these great men are met in Congress, in consequence
of this power, they will have the power of appointing all the officers of the United States. My experience in life shows me
that the friends of the members of the legislature will get the offices. These senators and members of the House of Representatives
will appoint their friends to all offices. These officers will be great men, and they will have numerous deputies under them.
The receiver-general of the taxes of North Carolina must be one of the greatest men in the country. Will he come to me for
his taxes? No. He will send his deputy, who will have special instructions to oppress me. How am I to be redressed? I shall
be told that I must go to Congress, to get him impeached. This being the case, whom am I to impeach? A friend of the representatives
of North Carolina. For, unhappily for us, these men will have too much weight for us; they will have friends in the government
who will be inclined against us, and thus we may be oppressed with impunity.
Antifederalist No. 67 VARIOUS FEARS CONCERNING THE EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENT
From the "CATO" letters of George Clinton, taken from The New-York
Journal of November 8, 1787.
I shall begin with observations on the executive branch of this new
system; and though it is not the first in order, as arranged therein, yet being the chief, is perhaps entitled by the rules
of rank to the first consideration. The executive power as described in the 2d article, consists of a president and vice-
president, who are to hold their offices during the term of four years; the same article has marked the manner and time of
their election, and established the qualifications of the president; it also provides against the removal, death, or inability
of the president and vice- president - regulates the salary of the president, delineates his duties and powers; and, lastly,
declares the causes for which the president and vice-president shall be removed from office.
Notwithstanding the great learning and abilities of the gentlemen
who composed the convention, it may be here remarked with deference, that the construction of the first paragraph of the first
section of the second article is vague and inexplicit, and leaves the mind in doubt as to the election of a president and
vice-president, after the expiration of the election for the first term of four years; in every other case, the election of
these great officers is expressly provided for; but there is no explicit provision for their election which is to set this
political machine in motion; no certain and express terms as in your state constitution, that statedly once in every four
years, and as often as these offices shall become vacant, by expiration or otherwise, as is therein expressed, an election
shall be held as follows, etc.; this inexplicitness perhaps may lead to an establishment for life.
It is remarked by Montesquieu, in treating of republics, that in all
magistracies, the greatness of the power must be compensated by the brevity of the duration, and that a longer time than a
year would be dangerous. It is, therefore, obvious to the least intelligent mind to account why great power in the hands of
a magistrate, and that power connected with considerable duration, may be dangerous to the liberties of a republic. The deposit
of vast trusts in the hands of a single magistrate enables him in their exercise to create a numerous train of dependents.
This tempts his ambition, which in a republican magistrate is also remarked, to be pernicious, and the duration of his office
for any considerable time favors his views, gives him the means and time to perfect and execute his designs; he therefore
fancies that he may be great and glorious by oppressing his fellow citizens, and raising himself to permanent grandeur on
the ruins of his country. And here it may be necessary to compare the vast and important powers of the president, together
with his continuance in office, with the foregoing doctrine-his eminent magisterial situation will attach many adherents to
him, and he will be surrounded by expectants and courtiers. His power of nomination and influence on all appointments; the
strong posts in each state comprised within his superintendence, and garrisoned by troops under his direction; his control
over the army, militia, and navy; the unrestrained power of granting pardons for treason, which may be used to screen from
punishment those whom he had secretly instigated to commit the crime, and thereby prevent a discovery of his own guilt; his
duration in office for four years-these, and various other principles evidently prove the truth of the position, that if the
president is possessed of ambition, he has power and time sufficient to ruin his country.
Though the president, during the sitting of the legislature, is assisted
by the senate, yet he is without a constitutional council in their recess. He will therefore be unsupported by proper information
and advice, and will generally be directed by minions and favorites, or a council of state will grow out of the principal
officers of the great departments, the most dangerous council in a free country. . . . The language and the manners of this
court will be what distinguishes them from the rest of the community, not what assimilates them to it; and in being remarked
for a behavior that shows they are not meanly born, and in adulation to people of fortune and power.
The establishment of a vice-president is as unnecessary as it is dangerous.
This officer, for want of other employment, is made president of the senate, thereby blending the executive and legislative
powers, besides always giving to some one state, from which he is to come, an unjust pre-eminence.
It is a maxim in republics that the representative of the people should
be of their immediate choice; but by the manner in which the president is chosen, he arrives to this office at the fourth
or fifth hand. Nor does the highest vote, in the way he is elected, determine the choice-for it is only necessary that he
should be taken from the highest of five, who may have a plurality of votes. . . .
And wherein does this president, invested with his powers and prerogatives,
essentially differ from the king of Great Britain (save as to name, the creation of nobility, and some immaterial incidents,
the offspring of absurdity and locality)? The direct prerogatives of the president, as springing from his political character,
are among the following: It is necessary, in order to distinguish him from the rest of the community, and enable him to keep,
and maintain his court, that the compensation for his services, or in other words, his revenue, should be such as to enable
him to appear with the splendor of a prince. He has the power of receiving ambassadors from, and a great influence on their
appointments to foreign courts; as also to make treaties, leagues, and alliances with foreign states, assisted by the Senate,
which when made becomes the supreme law of land. He is a constituent part of the legislative power, for every bill which shall
pass the House of Representatives and Senate is to be presented to him for approbation. If he approves of it he is to sign
it, if he disapproves he is to return it with objections, which in many cases will amount to a complete negative; and in this
view he will have a great share in the power of making peace, coining money, etc., and all the various objects of legislation,
expressed or implied in this Constitution. For though it may be asserted that the king of Great Britain has the express power
of making peace or war, yet he never thinks it prudent to do so without the advice of his Parliament, from whom be is to derive
his support -and therefore these powers, in both president and king, are substantially the same. He is the generalissimo of
the nation, and of course has the command and control of the army, navy and militia; he is the general conservator of the
peace of the union-he may pardon all offenses, except in cases of impeachment, and the principal fountain of all offices and
employments. Will not the exercise of these powers therefore tend either to the establishment of a vile and arbitrary aristocracy
or monarchy? The safety of the people in a republic depends on the share or proportion they have in the government; but experience
ought to teach you, that when a man is at the head of an elective government invested with great powers, and interested in
his re-election, in what circle appointments will be made; by which means an imperfect aristocracy bordering on monarchy may
be established. You must, however, my countrymen, beware that the advocates of this new system do not deceive you by a fallacious
resemblance between it and your own state government [New York] which you so much prize; and, if you examine, you will perceive
that the chief magistrate of this state is your immediate choice, controlled and checked by a just and full representation
of the people, divested of the prerogative of influencing war and peace, making treaties, receiving and sending embassies,
and commanding standing armies and navies, which belong to the power of the confederation, and will be convinced that this
government is no more like a true picture of your own than an Angel of Darkness resembles an Angel of Light.
Antifederalist No. 68 ON THE MODE OF ELECTING THE PRESIDENT
From a speech by William Grayson given to the Virginia ratifying convention
on June 18, 1788.
Mr. [William] GRAYSON. Mr. Chairman, one great objection with me is
this: If we advert to..... [the] democratical, aristocratical, or executive branch, we shall find their powers are perpetually
varying and fluctuating throughout the whole. Perhaps the democratic branch would be well constructed, were it not for this
defect. The executive is still worse, in this respect, than the democratic branch. He is to be elected by a number of electors
in the country; but the principle is changed when no person has a majority of the whole number of electors appointed, or when
more than one have such a majority, and have an equal number of votes; for then the lower house is to vote by states. It is
thus changing throughout the whole. It seems rather founded on accident than any principle of government I ever heard of.
We know that there scarcely ever was an election of such an officer without the interposition of foreign powers. Two causes
prevail to make them intermeddle in such cases:-one is, to preserve the balance of power; the other, to preserve their trade.
These causes have produced interferences of foreign powers in the election of the king of Poland. All the great powers of
Europe have interfered in an election which took place not very long ago, and would not let the people choose for themselves.
We know how much the powers of Europe have interfered with Sweden. Since the death of Charles XII, that country has been a
republican government. Some powers were willing it should be so; some were willing her imbecility should continue; others
wished the contrary; and at length the court of France brought about a revolution, which converted it into an absolute government.
Can America be free from these interferences? France, after losing Holland, will wish to make America entirely her own. Great
Britain will wish to increase her influence by a still closer connection. It is the interest of Spain, from the contiguity
of her possessions in the western hemisphere to the United States, to be in an intimate connection with them, and influence
their deliberations, if possible. I think we have every thing, to apprehend from such interferences. It is highly probable
the President will be continued in office for life. To gain his favor, they will support him. Consider the means of importance
he will have by creating officers. If he has a good understanding with the Senate, they will join to prevent a discovery of
his misdeeds. . . .
This quadrennial power cannot be justified by ancient history. There
is hardly an instance where a republic trusted its executive so long with much power; nor is it warranted by modern republics.
The delegation of power is, in most of them, only for one year.
When you have a strong democratical and a strong aristocratical branch,
you may have a strong executive. But when those are weak, the balance will not be preserved, if you give the executive extensive
powers for so long a time. As this government is organized, it would be dangerous to trust the President with such powers.
How will you punish him if he abuse his power? Will you call him before the Senate? They are his counsellors and partners
in crime. Where are your checks? We ought to be extremely cautious in this country. If ever the government be changed, it
will probably be into a despotism. The first object in England was to destroy the monarchy; but the aristocratic branch restored
him, and of course the government was organized on its ancient principles. But were a revolution to happen here, there would
be no means of restoring the government to its former organization. This is a caution to us not to trust extensive powers.
I have an extreme objection to the mode of his election. I presume the seven Eastern States will always elect him. As he is
vested with the power of making treaties, and as there is a material distinction between the carrying and productive states,
the former will be disposed to have him to themselves. He will accommodate himself to their interests in forming treaties,
and they will continue him perpetually in office. Thus mutual interest will lead them reciprocally to support one another.
It will be a government of a faction, and this observation will apply to every part of it; for, having a majority, they may
do what they please. I have made an estimate which shows with what facility they will be able to reelect him. The number of
electors is equal to the number of representatives and senators; viz., ninety-one. They are to vote for two persons. They
give, therefore, one hundred and eighty-two votes. Let there be forty-five votes for four different candidates, and two for
the President. He is one of the five highest, if he have but two votes, which he may easily purchase. In this case, by the
3d clause of the lst section of the 2d article, the election is to be by the representatives, according to states. Let New
Hampshire be for him,-a majority of its . . . . .
3 representatives is 2
Rhode Island 1 1
Connecticut 5 3
New Jersey 4 3
Delaware 1 1
Georgia 3 2
North Carolina 5 3
A majority of seven states is 15
Thus the majority of seven states is but
15, while the minority amounts to 50.
The total number of voices (91 electors
and 65 representatives) is . . 156
Voices in favor of the President
are, 2 state electors and 15
representatives ..... 17
that the President may be reelected by the voices of 17 against 139.
It may be said that this is an extravagant case, and will never happen.
In my opinion, it will often happen. A person who is a favorite of Congress, if he gets but two votes of electors, may, by
the subsequent choice of 15 representatives, be elected President. Surely the possibility of such a case ought to be excluded.