POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY IN AMERICA

What we are not talking about already elsewhere

Re: POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY IN AMERICA

Postby thelivyjr » Thu Sep 05, 2019 1:40 p

A Landholder V, continued ...

Oliver Ellsworth

December 03, 1787

To the Holders and Tillers of Land.

To the Landholders and Farmers.

Remarks on the objections made by the Hon. ELBRIDGE GERRY, to the new Constitution, continued ...

We find another objection to be “that the executive is blended with and will have an undue influence over the legislature.”

On examination you will find this objection unfounded.

The supreme executive is vested in a President of the United States; every bill that hath passed the senate and representatives, must be presented to the president, and if he approve it becomes law.

If he disapproves, but makes no return within ten days, it still becomes law.


If he returns the bill with his objections, the senate and representatives consider it a second time, and if two-thirds of them adhere to the first resolution it becomes law notwithstanding the president’s dissent.

We allow the president hath an influence, tho’ strictly speaking he hath not a legislative voice; and think such an influence must be salutary.

In the president all the executive departments meet, and he will be a channel of communication between those who make and those who execute the laws.

Many things look fair in theory which in practice are impossible.

If lawmakers, in every instance, before their final decree, had the opinion of those who are to execute them, it would prevent a thousand absurd ordinances, which are solemnly made, only to be repealed, and lessen the dignity of legislation in the eyes of mankind.

The vice-president is not an executive officer while the president is in discharge of his duty, and when he is called to preside his legislative voice ceases.

In no other instance is there even the shadow of blending or influence between the two departments.

TO BE CONTINUED ...
thelivyjr
Site Admin
 
Posts: 15901
Joined: Thu Aug 30, 2018 1:40 p

Re: POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY IN AMERICA

Postby thelivyjr » Fri Sep 06, 2019 1:40 p

A Landholder V, concluded ...

Oliver Ellsworth

December 03, 1787

To the Holders and Tillers of Land.

To the Landholders and Farmers.

Remarks on the objections made by the Hon. ELBRIDGE GERRY, to the new Constitution, concluded ...

We are further told “that the judicial departments, or those courts of law, to be instituted by Congress, will be oppressive.”

We allow it to be possible, but from whence arises the probability of this event?

State judges may be corrupt, and juries may be prejudiced and ignorant, but these instances are not common; and why shall we suppose they will be more frequent under a national appointment and influence, when the eyes of a whole empire are watching for their detection?

Their courts are not to intermeddle with your internal policy, and will have cognizance only of those subjects which are placed under the control of a national legislature.

It is as necessary there should be courts of law and executive officers, to carry into effect the laws of the nation, as that there be courts and officers to execute the laws made by your state assemblies.

There are many reasons why their decisions ought not to be left to courts instituted by particular states.

A perfect uniformity must be observed thro’ the whole union; or jealousy and unrighteousness will take place; and for a uniformity one judiciary must pervade the whole.

The inhabitants of one state will not have confidence in judges appointed by the legislature of another state, in which they have no voice.

Judges who owe their appointment and support to one state, will be unduly influenced, and not reverence the laws of the union.

It will at any time be in the power of the smallest state, by interdicting their own judiciary, to defeat the measures, defraud the revenue, and annul the most sacred laws of the whole empire.

A legislative power, without a judicial and executive under, their own control, is in the nature of things a nullity.

Congress under the old confederation had power to ordain and resolve, but having no judicial or executive of their own, their most solemn resolves were totally disregarded.

The little state of Rhode Island was purposely left by Heaven to its present madness, for a general conviction in the other states, that such a system as is now proposed is our only preservation from ruin.

What respect can any one think would be paid to national laws, by judicial and executive officers who are amenable only to the present assembly of Rhode Island?

The rebellion of Shays and the present measures of Rhode Island ought to convince us that a national legislature, judiciary and executive, must be united, or the whole is but a name; and that we must have these, or soon be hewers of wood and drawers of water for all other people.

In all these matters and powers given to Congress, their ordinances must be the supreme law of the land, or they are nothing.

They must have authority to enact any laws for executing their own powers, or those powers will be evaded by the artful and unjust, and the dishonest trader will defraud the public of its revenue.

As we have every reason to think this system was honestly planned, we ought to hope it may be honestly and justly executed.

I am sensible that speculation is always liable to error.

If there be any capital defects in this constitution, it is most probable that experience alone will discover them.

Provision is made for an alteration if, on trial, it be found necessary.

When your children see the candor and greatness of mind, with which you lay the foundation, they will be inspired with equity to furnish and adorn the superstructure.

A Landholder.

http://teachingamericanhistory.org/libr ... dholder-v/
thelivyjr
Site Admin
 
Posts: 15901
Joined: Thu Aug 30, 2018 1:40 p

Re: POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY IN AMERICA

Postby thelivyjr » Sat Sep 07, 2019 1:40 p

Letter to John Langdon

Tobias Lear

Mount Vernon, Virginia

December 03, 1787

Your obliging favor of the 3d Ulto Came to hand last week.

You will please to accept of my best thanks for the information contained in it.

I now, for once, feel proud of being a native of that part of America which discovers the wisdom of its inhabitants & a just idea of its true interest by receiving the proposed national constitution in so favourable a manner.

I think Colo. Mason must, by this time, wish that he had not handed forth his objections as so early a period, or at least that he had considered the matter a little more deliberately - he gave them in manuscript to persons in all parts of the country where he supposed they would make an impression, but avoided publishing them.

I waited for a long time in expectation that they would appear in the publick papers, but finding they did not, I conveyed a copy of them & am now answering the rest, but as it is under an assumed signature, it is not known, even to the General, by whom it is done.

I do not flatter myself that I am able to cope with a man of Colo. Mason’s abilities, on a subject which has been the chief business & study of his life, but my situation here gives me so good an opportunity of gaining information in all matters of publick & governmental concern, that, joined to the knowledge which I have acquired from reading will, I think enable me to accomplish the task which I have undertaken.

I can say nothing with certainty upon what will be the issue of the proposed Government in this State, it has many able opponents here, at the head of whom are Mr. Henry, Colo. Mason & Mr. R. H. Lee.

I was very sorry to find the latter among the number because I think he is a worthy, honest character & opposes it from principle.

Mr. Henry’s conduct is somewhat unaccountable, he reprobates the present confederation; reviles the proposed constitution & yet points out nothing that is better; if I may be allowed to form an opinion, from his conduct, of what would be his wish, it is to divide the Southern States from the others.

Should that take place, Virginia would hold the first place among them, & he the first place in Virginia.


But this is conjecture.

I shall do myself the pleasure to communicate to you from time to time whatever may transpire here worthy of your attention.

I must beg of you, my dear Sir, to tell my friends in Portsmouth that I hold them in the most affectionate remembrance & that my not writing to them oftener does not proceed from a want of respect but from want of time — since the Genls. return from Philadelphia his correspondents from all parts of Europe & America have poured their letters upon him so fast that it requires my constant & unremitting attention to them, and to be candid with you, my dear Sir, you are more obliged to him for the trouble of this letter than to me, for as he was about to write to you himself he asked me if I should answer your letter at this time, I told him I did not think I should be able to do it, he replied “that it should be done” - I was Therefore obliged to obey - though it will cost him half an hour of his own time to do what I should have been doing for him.

http://teachingamericanhistory.org/libr ... n-langdon/
thelivyjr
Site Admin
 
Posts: 15901
Joined: Thu Aug 30, 2018 1:40 p

Re: POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY IN AMERICA

Postby thelivyjr » Sun Sep 08, 2019 1:40 p

Speech to the Pennsylvania Conventions

James Wilson

December 04, 1787

This version of Wilson’s speech is that of Thomas Lloyd.

Lloyd’s notes have been included here and are indicated by { }.

Before I proceed to consider those qualities in the Constitution before us, which I think will insure it our approbation, permit me to make some remarks, and they shall be very concise, upon the objections that were offered this forenoon, by the member from Fayette (John Smilie).

I do it, at this time, because I think it will be better to give a satisfactory answer to the whole of the objections, before I proceed to the other part of my subject.

I find that the doctrine of a single legislature is not to be contended for in this Constitution.

I shall therefore say nothing on that point.

I shall consider that part of the system, when we come to view its excellencies.

Neither shall I take particular notice of his observation on the qualified negative of the President, for he finds no fault with it; he mentions, however, that he thinks it a vain and useless power, because it can never be executed.

The reason he assigns for this is, that the king of Great Britain, who has an absolute negative over the laws proposed by Parliament, has never exercised it, at least, not for many years.

It is true, and the reason why he did not exercise it was, that during all that time, the king possessed a negative before the bill had passed through the two houses, a much stronger power than a negative after debate.

I believe, since the Revolution, at the time of William III, it was never known that a bill disagreeable to the Crown passed both houses.

At one time in the reign of Queen Anne, when there appeared some danger of this being effected, it is well-known that she created twelve peers, and by that means effectually defeated it.

Again, there was some risk of late years in the present reign, with regard to Mr. [Charles James] Fox’s East India bill, as it is usually called, that passed through the House of Commons, but the king had interest enough in the House of Peers, to have it thrown out; thus it never came up for the royal assent.

But that is no reason why this negative should not be exercised here, and exercised with great advantage.

Similar powers are known in more than one of the states.

The governors of Massachusetts and New York have a power similar to this; and it has been exercised frequently to good effect.

I believe the governor of New York, under this power, has been known to send back five or six bills in a week; and I well recollect that at the time the funding system was adopted by our legislature, the people in that state considered the negative of the governor as a great security, that their legislature would not be able to encumber them by a similar measure.

Since that time an alteration has been supposed in the governor’s conduct, but there has been no alteration in his power.

TO BE CONTINUED ...
thelivyjr
Site Admin
 
Posts: 15901
Joined: Thu Aug 30, 2018 1:40 p

Re: POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY IN AMERICA

Postby thelivyjr » Mon Sep 09, 2019 1:40 p

Speech to the Pennsylvania Conventions, continued ...

James Wilson

December 04, 1787

This version of Wilson’s speech is that of Thomas Lloyd.

Lloyd’s notes have been included here and are indicated by { }.

The honorable gentleman from Westmoreland (William Findley), by his highly refined critical abilities, discovers an inconsistency in this part of the Constitution, and that which declares in [Article I,] section first: “All legislative powers, herein granted, shall be vested in a congress of the United States, which shall consist of a senate and a house of representatives,” and yet here, says he, is a power of legislation given to the President of the United States, because every bill, before it becomes a law, shall be presented to him.

Thus he is said to possess legislative powers.

Sir, the Convention observed on this occasion strict propriety of language; “if he approve the bill when it is sent, he shall sign it, but if not he shall return it”; but no bill passes in consequence of having his assent - therefore he possesses no legislative authority.

The effect of his power upon this subject is merely this, if he disapproves a bill, two-thirds of the legislature become necessary to pass it into a law, instead of a bare majority.

And when two-thirds are in favor of the bill, it becomes a law, not by his, but by authority of the two houses of the legislature.

We are told, in the next place, by the honorable gentleman from Fayette (John Smilie) that in the different orders of mankind, there is that of a natural aristocracy.

On some occasions, there is a kind of magical expression, used to conjure up ideas, that may create uneasiness and apprehension.

I hope the meaning of the words is understood by the gentleman who used them.

TO BE CONTINUED ...
thelivyjr
Site Admin
 
Posts: 15901
Joined: Thu Aug 30, 2018 1:40 p

Re: POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY IN AMERICA

Postby thelivyjr » Tue Sep 10, 2019 1:40 p

Speech to the Pennsylvania Conventions, continued ...

James Wilson

December 04, 1787

This version of Wilson’s speech is that of Thomas Lloyd.

Lloyd’s notes have been included here and are indicated by { }.

I have asked repeatedly of gentlemen to explain, but have not been able to obtain the explanation of what they meant by a consolidated government.

They keep round and round about the thing, but never define.

I ask now what is meant by a natural aristocracy?

I am not at a loss for the etymological definition of the term, for, when we trace it to the language from which it is derived, an aristocracy means nothing more or less than a government of the best men in the community, or those who are recommended by the words of the constitution of Pennsylvania, where it is directed, that the representatives should consist of those most noted for wisdom and virtue.


Is there any danger in such representation?

I shall never find fault, that such characters are employed.

Happy for us, when such characters can be obtained.

If this is meant by a natural aristocracy, and I know no other, can it be objectionable, that men should be employed that are most noted for their virtue and talents?

And are attempts made to mark out these as the most improper persons for the public confidence?

I had the honor of giving a definition, and I believe it was a just one, of what is called an aristocratic government.

It is a government where the supreme power is not retained by the people, but resides in a select body of men, who either fill up the vacancies that happen, by their own choice and election, or succeed on the principle of descent, or by virtue of territorial possessions, or some other qualifications that are not the result of personal properties.

When I speak of personal properties, I mean the qualities of the head and the disposition of the heart.


We are told that the Representatives will not be known to the people, nor the people to the Representatives, because they will be taken from large districts where they cannot be particularly acquainted.

There has been some experience in several of the states, upon this subject, and I believe the experience of all who have had experience demonstrates that the larger the district of election, the better the representation.

It is only in remote corners of a government, that little demagogues arise.

Nothing but real weight of character can give a man real influence over a large district.


This is remarkably shown in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

The members of the House of Representatives are chosen in very small districts, and such has been the influence of party cabal and little intrigue in them, that a great majority seem inclined to show very little disapprobation of the conduct of the insurgents in that state.

The governor is chosen by the people at large, and that state is much larger than any district need be under the proposed Constitution.

In their choice of their governor, they have had warm disputes; but however warm the disputes, their choice only vibrated between the most eminent characters.

Four of their candidates are well-known: Mr. [John] Hancock, Mr. [James] Bowdoin, General [Benjamin] Lincoln, and Mr. [Nathaniel] Gorham, the late President of Congress.

I apprehend it is of more consequence to be able to know the true interest of the people, than their faces, and of more consequence still, to have virtue enough to pursue the means of carrying that knowledge usefully into effect.

And surely when it has been thought hitherto, that a representation in Congress of from five to two members was sufficient to represent the interest of this state, is it not more than sufficient to have ten members in that body and those in a greater comparative proportion than heretofore?

The citizens of Pennsylvania will be represented by eight, and the state by two.

This, certainly, though not gaining enough, is gaining a good deal; the members will be more distributed through the state, being the immediate choice of the people, who hitherto have not been represented in that body.

TO BE CONTINUED ...
thelivyjr
Site Admin
 
Posts: 15901
Joined: Thu Aug 30, 2018 1:40 p

Re: POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY IN AMERICA

Postby thelivyjr » Wed Sep 11, 2019 1:40 p

Speech to the Pennsylvania Conventions, continued ...

James Wilson

December 04, 1787

This version of Wilson’s speech is that of Thomas Lloyd.

Lloyd’s notes have been included here and are indicated by { }.

It is said that the House of Representatives will be subject to corruption, and the Senate possess the means of corrupting, by the share they have in the appointment to office.

This was not spoken in the soft language of attachment to government.

It is perhaps impossible, with all the caution of legislators and statesmen, to exclude corruption and undue influence entirely from government.


All that can be done, upon this subject, is done in the Constitution before you.

Yet it behooves us to call out, and add, every guard and preventative in our power.

I think, sir, something very important on this subject is done in the present system.

For it has been provided, effectually, that the man that has been bribed by an office shall have it no longer in his power to earn his wages.

The moment he is engaged to serve the Senate, in consequence of their gift, he no longer has it in his power to sit in the House of Representatives.

For “no representative shall, during the term for which he was elected, be appointed to any civil office, under the authority of the United States, which shall have been created, or the emoluments whereof shall have been encreased during such time.”

And the following annihilates corruption of that kind: “And no person holding any office under the United States, shall be a member of either house, during his continuance in office.”

So that the mere acceptance of an office as a bribe effectually destroys the end for which it was offered.

Was this attended to when it was mentioned that the members of the one house could be bribed by the other?

TO BE CONTINUED ...
thelivyjr
Site Admin
 
Posts: 15901
Joined: Thu Aug 30, 2018 1:40 p

Re: POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY IN AMERICA

Postby thelivyjr » Thu Sep 12, 2019 1:40 p

Speech to the Pennsylvania Conventions, continued ...

James Wilson

December 04, 1787

This version of Wilson’s speech is that of Thomas Lloyd.

Lloyd’s notes have been included here and are indicated by { }.

“But the members of the Senate may enrich themselves” was an observation made as an objection to this system.

As the mode of doing this has not been pointed out, I apprehend the objection is not much relied upon.

The Senate are incapable of receiving any money, except what is paid them out of the public treasury.


They cannot vote to themselves a single penny, unless the proposition originates from the other house.

This objection therefore is visionary, like the following one, “that pictured group, that numerous host, and prodigious swarm of officers, which are to be appointed under the general government.”

The gentlemen tell you that there must be judges of the supreme, and judges of the inferior courts, with all their appendages; there will be tax gatherers swarming throughout the land.

Oh! say they, if we could enumerate the offices, and the numerous officers that must be employed every day, in collecting and receiving, and controlling the monies of the United States, the number would be almost beyond imagination.

I have been told, but I do not vouch for the fact, that there are in one shape or another, more than a thousand persons in this very state, who get their living in assessing and collecting our revenues from the other citizens.

Sir, when this business of revenue is conducted on a general plan, we may be able to do the business of the thirteen states, with an equal, nay, with a less number - instead of thirteen comptrollers general, one controller will be sufficient.

I apprehend that the number of officers under this system will be greatly reduced from the number now employed.

For as Congress can now do nothing effectually, the states are obliged to do everything.

And in this very point, I apprehend, that we shall be great gainers.

TO BE CONTINUED ...
thelivyjr
Site Admin
 
Posts: 15901
Joined: Thu Aug 30, 2018 1:40 p

Re: POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY IN AMERICA

Postby thelivyjr » Fri Sep 13, 2019 1:40 p

Speech to the Pennsylvania Conventions, continued ...

James Wilson

December 04, 1787

This version of Wilson’s speech is that of Thomas Lloyd.

Lloyd’s notes have been included here and are indicated by { }.

Sir, I confess I wish the powers of the Senate were not as they are.

I think it would have been better if those powers had been distributed in other parts of the system.

I mentioned some circumstances in the forenoon, that I had observed on this subject I may mention now, we may think ourselves very well off, sir, that things are as well as they are, and that that body is even so much restricted.

But surely objections of this kind come with a bad grace from the advocates, or those who prefer the present Confederation, and who wish only to increase the powers of the present Congress.

A single body not constituted with checks, like the proposed one, who possess not only the power of making treaties, but executive powers, would be a perfect despotism; but, further, these powers are, in the present Confederation, possessed without control.

As I mentioned before, so I will beg leave to repeat, that this Senate can do nothing without the concurrence of some other branch of the government.


With regard to their concern in the appointment to offices, the President must nominate before they can be chosen; the President must acquiesce in that appointment.

With regard to their power in forming treaties, they can make none, they are only auxiliaries to the President.

They must try all impeachments; but they have no power to try any until presented by the House of Representatives; and when I consider this subject, though I wish the regulations better, I think no danger to the liberties of this country can arise even from that part of the system.

But these objections, I say, come with a bad grace from those who prefer the present Confederation, who think it only necessary to add more powers to a body organized in that form.

I confess, likewise, that by combining those powers, of trying impeachments, and making treaties, in the same body, it will not be so easy as I think it ought to be, to call the Senators to an account for any improper conduct in that business.

Those who proposed this system were not inattentive to do all they could.

I admit the force of the observation made by the gentleman from Fayette (John Smilie) that when two-thirds of the Senate concur in forming a bad treaty, it will be hard to procure a vote of two-thirds against them, if they should be impeached.

I think such a thing is not to be expected; and so far they are without that immediate degree of responsibility, which I think requisite, to make this part of the work perfect.

But this will not be always the case.

When a member of Senate shall behave criminally, the criminality will not expire with his office.

The Senators may be called to account after they shall have been changed, and the body to which they belonged shall have been altered.

There is a rotation; and every second year one-third of the whole number go out.

Every fourth year two-thirds of them are changed.

In six years the whole body is supplied by a new one.

Considering it in this view, responsibility is not entirely lost.

There is another view in which it ought to be considered, which will show that we have a greater degree of security.

Though they may not be convicted on impeachment before the Senate, they may be tried by their country; and if their criminality is established, the law will punish.

A grand jury may present, a petit jury may convict, and the judges will pronounce the punishment.

This is all that can be done under the present Confederation, for under it there is no power of impeachment; even here then we gain something.


Those parts that are exceptionable in this Constitution are improvements on that concerning which so much pains are taken to persuade us, that it is preferable to the other.

TO BE CONTINUED ...
thelivyjr
Site Admin
 
Posts: 15901
Joined: Thu Aug 30, 2018 1:40 p

Re: POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY IN AMERICA

Postby thelivyjr » Sat Sep 14, 2019 1:40 p

Speech to the Pennsylvania Conventions, continued ...

James Wilson

December 04, 1787

This version of Wilson’s speech is that of Thomas Lloyd.

Lloyd’s notes have been included here and are indicated by { }.

The last observation respects the judges.

It is said that if they dare to decide against the law, one house will impeach them, and the other will convict them.

I hope gentlemen will show how this can happen, for bare supposition ought not to be admitted as proof.

The judges are to be impeached because they decide an act null and void that was made in defiance of the Constitution!

What House of Representatives would dare to impeach, or Senate to commit judges for the performance of their duty?

These observations are of a similar kind to those with regard to the liberty of the press.

TO BE CONTINUED ...
thelivyjr
Site Admin
 
Posts: 15901
Joined: Thu Aug 30, 2018 1:40 p

PreviousNext

Return to OTHER STUFF

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest

cron