POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY IN AMERICA

What we are not talking about already elsewhere
thelivyjr
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Re: POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY IN AMERICA

Post by thelivyjr » Sat Jul 17, 2021 1:40 p

Cato V, continued ...

Cato 

November 22, 1787

You are then under a sacred obligation to provide for the safety of your posterity, and would you now basely desert their interests, when by a small share of prudence you may transmit to them a beautiful political patrimony, that will prevent the necessity of their travelling through seas of blood to obtain that, which your wisdom might have secured: It is a duty you owe likewise to your own reputation, for you have a great name to lose; you are characterised as cautious, prudent and jealous in politics; whence is it therefore, that you are about to precipitate yourselves into a sea of uncertainty, and adopt a system so vague, and which has discarded so many of your valuable rights.

Is it because you do not believe that an American can be a tyrant?

If this be the case you rest on a weak basis; Americans are like other men in similar situations, when the manners and opinions of the community are changed by the causes I mentioned before, and your political compact inexplicit, your posterity will find that great power connected with ambition, luxury, and flattery, will as readily produce a Caesar, Caligula, Nero, and Domitian in America, as the same causes did in the Roman empire.


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Re: POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY IN AMERICA

Post by thelivyjr » Mon Jul 19, 2021 1:40 p

Cato V, continued ...

Cato 

November 22, 1787

But the next thing to be considered in conformity to my plan, is the first article of this new government, which comprises the erection of the house of representatives and senate, and prescribes their various powers and objects of legislation.

The most general objections to the first article, are that biennial elections for representatives are a departure from the safe democratical principles of annual ones – that the number of representatives are too few; that the apportionment and principles of increase are unjust; that no attention has been paid to either the numbers or property in each state in forming the senate; that the mode in which they are appointed and their duration, will lead to the establishment of an aristocracy; that the senate and president are improperly connected, both as to appointments, and the making of treaties, which are to become the supreme law of the land; that the judicial in some measure, to wit, as to the trial of impeachments, is placed in the senate, a branch of the legislative, and some times a branch of the executive: that Congress have the improper power of making or altering the regulations prescribed by the different legislatures, respecting the time, place, and manner of holding elections for representatives, and the time and manner of choosing senators; that standing armies may be established, and appropriation of money made for their support for two years; that the militia of the most remote state may be marched into those states situated at the opposite extreme of this continent; that the slave trade is, to all intents and purposes permanently established; and a slavish capitation, or poll-tax, may at any time be levied – these are some of the many evils that will attend the adoption of this government.

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Re: POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY IN AMERICA

Post by thelivyjr » Tue Jul 20, 2021 1:40 p

Cato V, continued ...

Cato 

November 22, 1787

But with respect to the first objection, it may be remarked that a well digested democracy has this advantage over all others, to wit, that it affords to many the opportunity to be advanced to the supreme command, and the honors they thereby enjoy fill them with a desire of rendering themselves worthy of them; hence this desire becomes part of their education, is matured in manhood, and produces an ardent affection for their country, and it is the opinion of the great Sidney, and Montesquieu that this is in a great measure produced by annual election of magistrates.

If annual elections were to exist in this government, and learning and information to become more prevalent, you never will want men to execute whatever you could design – Sidney observes that a well governed state is as fruitful to all good purposes as the seven headed serpent is said to have been in evil; when one head is cut off, many rise up in the place of it.

He remarks further, that it was also thought, that free cities by frequent elections of magistrates became nurseries of great and able men, every man endeavoring to excel others, that he might be advanced to the honor he had no other title to, than what might arise from his merit, or reputation, but the framers of this perfect government, as it is called, have departed from this democratical principle, and established bi-ennial elections for the house of representatives, who are to be chosen by the people, and sextennial for the senate, who are to be chosen by the legislatures of the different states, and have given to the executive the unprecedented power of making temporary senators, in case of vacancies, by resignation or otherwise, and so far forth establishing a precedent for virtual representation (though in fact their original appointment is virtual) thereby influencing the choice of the legislatures, or if they should not be so complaisant as to conform to his appointment – offence will be given to the executive and the temporary members will appear ridiculous by rejection; this temporary member, during his time of appointment, will of course act by a power derived from the executive, and for, and under his immediate influence.

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Re: POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY IN AMERICA

Post by thelivyjr » Wed Jul 21, 2021 1:40 p

Cato V, concluded ...

Cato 

November 22, 1787

It is a very important objection to this government, that the representation consists of so few; too few to resist the influence of corruption, and the temptation to treachery, against which all governments ought to take precautions – how guarded you have been on this head, in your own state constitution, and yet the number of senators and representatives proposed for this vast continent, does not equal those of your own state; how great the disparity, if you compare them with the aggregate numbers in the United States.

The history of representation in England, from which we have taken our model of legislation, is briefly this: before the institution of legislating by deputies, the whole free part of the community usually met for that purpose; when this became impossible by the increase of numbers the community was divided into districts, from each of which was sent such a number of deputies as was a complete representation of the various numbers and orders of citizens within them; but can it be asserted with truth, that six men can be a complete and full representation of the numbers and various orders of the people in this state?

Another thing [that] may be suggested against the small number of representatives is, that but few of you will have the chance of sharing even in this branch of the legislature; and that the choice will be confined to a very few; the more complete it is, the better will your interests be preserved, and the greater the opportunity you will have to participate in government, one of the principal securities of a free people; but this subject has been so ably and fully treated by a writer under the signature of Brutus, that I shall content myself with referring you to him thereon, reserving further observations on the other objections I have mentioned, for my future numbers.

CATO

Source: The Complete Anti-Federalist, ed. Herbert J. Storing (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1981) Volume Two, Part 2, 116-119.

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Re: POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY IN AMERICA

Post by thelivyjr » Thu Jul 22, 2021 1:40 p

A Countryman II

Roger Sherman 

November 22, 1787

To the People of Connecticut.

It is fortunate that you have been but little distressed with that torrent of impertinence and folly with which the newspaper politicians have overwhelmed many parts of our country.

It is enough that you should have heard, that one party has seriously urged, that we should adopt the New Constitution because it has been approved by Washington and Franklin,: and the other, with all the solemnity of apostolic address to Men, Brethren, Fathers, Friends, and Countrymen,, have urged that we should reject, as dangerous, every clause thereof, because that Washington is more used to command as a soldier, than to reason as a politician — Franklin is old — others are young — and Wilson is haughty.

You are too well informed to decide by the opinion of others, and too independent to need a caution against undue influence.

Of a very different nature, tho’ only one degree better than the other reasoning, is all that sublimity of nonsense and alarm, that has been thundered against it in every shape of metaphoric terror, on the subject of a bill of rights, the liberty of the press, rights of conscience, rights of taxation and election, trials in the vicinity, freedom of speech, trial by jury, and a standing army.

These last are undoubtedly important points, much too important to depend on mere paper protection.

For, guard such privileges by the strongest expressions, still if you leave the legislative and executive power in the hands of those who are or may be disposed to deprive you of them - you are but slaves.

Make an absolute monarch – give him the supreme authority, and guard as much as you will by bills of right, your liberty of the press, and trial by jury; he will find means either to take them from you, or to render them useless.

The only real security that you can have for all your important rights must be in the nature of your government.

If you suffer any man to govern you who is not strongly interested in supporting your privileges, you will certainly lose them.

If you are about to trust your liberties with people whom it is necessary to bind by stipulation, that they shall not keep a standing army, your stipulation is not worth even the trouble of writing.


No bill of rights ever yet bound the supreme power longer than the honey moon of a new married couple, unless the rulers were interested in preserving the rights; and in that case they have always been ready enough to declare the rights and to preserve them when they were declared.

The famous English Magna Charta is but an act of parliament, which every subsequent parliament has had just as much constitutional power to repeal and annul, as the parliament which made it had to pass it at first.

But the security of the nation has always been, that their government was so formed, that at least one branch of their legislature must be strongly interested to preserve the rights of the nation.

TO BE CONTINUED ...

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Re: POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY IN AMERICA

Post by thelivyjr » Fri Jul 23, 2021 1:40 p

A Countryman II, concluded ...

Roger Sherman 

November 22, 1787

You have a bill of rights in Connecticut ( i.e.) your legislature many years since enacted that the subjects of this state should enjoy certain privileges.

Ever assembly since that time could, by the same authority, enact that the subjects should enjoy none of those privileges; and the only reason that it has not long since been so enacted, is that your legislature were as strongly interested in preserving those rights as any of the subjects; and this is your only security that it shall not be so enacted at the next session of assembly: and it is security enough.

Your General Assembly under your present constitution are supreme.

They may keep troops on foot in the most profound peace, if they think proper.

They have heretofore abridged the trial by jury in some causes, and they can again in all.

They can restrain the press, and may lay the most burdensome taxes if they please, and who can forbid?

But still the people are perfectly safe that not one of these events shall take place so long as the members of the General Assembly are as much interested, and interested in the same manner as the other subjects.

On examining the new proposed constitution, there can not be a question, but that there is authority enough lodged in the proposed federal Congress, if abused, to do the greatest injury.

And it is perfectly idle to object to it, that there is no bill of rights, or to propose to add to it a provision that a trial by jury shall in no case be omitted, or to patch it up by adding a stipulation in favor of the press, or to guard it by removing the paltry objection to the right of Congress to regulate the time and manner of elections.

If you can not prove by the best of all evidence, viz., by the interest of the rulers, that this authority will not be abused, or at least, that those powers are not more likely to be abused by the Congress, than by those who now have the same powers, you must by no means adopt the constitution: No, not with all the bills of rights and all the stipulations in favor of the people that can be made.

But if the members of Congress are to be interested just as you and I are, and just as the members of our present legislatures are interested, we shall be just as safe, with even supreme power, (if that were granted) in Congress, as in the General Assembly.

If the members of Congress can take no improper step which will not affect them as much as it does us, we need not apprehend that they will usurp authorities not given them to injure that society of which they are a part.

The sole question, (so far as any apprehension of tyranny and oppression is concerned) ought to be, how are Congress formed?

How far are the members interested to preserve your rights?

How far have you a control over them?

Decide this, and then all the questions about their power may be dismissed for the amusement of those politicians whose business it is to catch flies, or may occasionally furnish subjects for George Bryan’s POMPOSITY, or the declamations of Cato, An Old Whig, Son of Liberty, Brutus, Brutus Junior, An Officer of the Continental Army, the more contemptible Timoleon, and the residue of that rabble of writers.

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Re: POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY IN AMERICA

Post by thelivyjr » Sat Jul 24, 2021 1:40 p

Atticus III

Atticus 

November 22, 1787

Observations On the letter of the Hon. E.G. Esq; published in the Independent Chronicle, Nov. 8, 1787, and other pieces lately published in opposition to the Federal Constitution: In LETTER III.

From a Gentleman in the country, to his friend in town.

“Who shall decide when Doctors disagree,–
And soundest Casuists doubt.”

– POPE

I Must postpone my designed answer to the question, with which I concluded my last letter, (whether there be any power, or principle, in our Commonwealth, sufficient to keep within proper bounds, the contests of the great and little men amongst us?) and must now attend to your favour of November 14th.

You have read the letter of the Hon. E[lbridge] G[erry] and it seems to have given you some disturbance.

The letter I have several times perused, with great attention; yet find not, that it contains any thing which ought greatly to offend us.

It seems to be an excuse for his d[issent] from the federal system.

Ought we to resent his apology with anger?

We too, must think for ourselves.

The only question here, seems to be, Whether, after the business of the delegation was finished, a delegate, any more than any private gentleman, could with propriety, write to the Legislature, either for or against the adopted system?

Especially as a State Convention, and not the Legislature, were to decide the important question.

His observation, “that the greatest men may err,” is of real importance, and leads to this conclusion, that the Hon. E[lbridge] G[erry] may err.

If the authority of a Washington, a Franklin, or a Rufus King, supported by the authority of all the States in a Convention, be no good argument in favour of their system; then, by parity of reason, the authority of the Hon. E[lbridge] G[erry] or a Randolph, or a Mason, can be no better argument against it.

Between these great Casuists, the people, in Convention assembled, must judge; and to this decision, we hope, they will bring cool heads and pure hearts.

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Re: POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY IN AMERICA

Post by thelivyjr » Sun Jul 25, 2021 1:40 p

Atticus III, continued ...

Atticus 

November 22, 1787

The federal system determines, that every branch of its Legislature shall be elective; the qualifications of electors are ascertained; and caution is taken that elections be not held at an inconvenient place.

The time, whether in July, May or August, or other month of the year; the manner, whether by ballot or otherwise, is to be regulated by state, or federal laws.

Here I can see no great “insecurity of the right of elections.”

Nor do I fear, that the federal government will not be as likely as the State Legislatures, to fix on some method, by which the sense of the people shall be fairly taken.

As to the representation, it seems to be as large, as the state of our country will well admit of; and as well defined, as numbers can make it.

If those observations be just, is “the representation inadequate,” or “elections insecure?”

Yet the Hon. E[lbridge] G[erry] has reasons on which his objections are founded, to be divulged when he shall return to Massachusetts.

If reasons he hath, by all means let us hear them; and let us confront them by better reasons, if we can.

The Hon. E[lbridge] G[erry] and others, complain, that the system has not the security of a bill of rights.

That series of propositions commonly called a bill of rights, is taken out of lawbooks, and is only an extract of the rights of persons.

Now let us suppose, that it stands in a law-book, which is appealed to, as an authority, in all the Courts of judicature, or is tacked (without pains or penalty annexed to the violation of it) as a preface to the Constitution.

In which case is it likely to afford the greatest security to the rights of persons?

Let the unbiased judge.

On this point we may appeal to fact.

There is a Commonwealth, with which we are not wholly unconnected, which hath a bill of rights prefixed to its Constitution.

Yet ask those of either of the great parties, into which that State hath lately been divided, if this bill of rights hath not been frequently violated?

If you confide in the zealots of each party, will you not be ready to conceive, that the actual Legislators have had as poor an opinion of the bill of rights, as Cromwell had of Magna Charta?

If you speak to the moderate men in that same State, they will perhaps shrug their shoulders, and shake their heads, and give you no answer.

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Re: POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY IN AMERICA

Post by thelivyjr » Mon Jul 26, 2021 1:40 p

Atticus III, continued ...

Atticus 

November 22, 1787

When the powers to be exercised, under a certain system, are in themselves consistent with the people’s liberties, are legally defined, guarded and ascertained, and ample provision made for bringing to condign punishment all such as shall overstep the limitations of law, it is hard to conceive of a greater security for the rights of the people.

It hath been said, that the Constitution proposed, “has few federal features, but is rather a system of national government.”

Perhaps the features of a confederacy, and of a national government, are happily blended; as a child may have a resemblance of both its parents.

If so, may not the event be happy for us?

For is it not for want of national government, that commerce, husbandry, mechanics, the arts and manufactures, are no languishing and seem ready to die?

Was it not for want of this, that the States of Greece, were enslaved by a petty monarchy, that Switzerland is destitute of national importance, and Holland torn with all the distresses of a civil war?

Must not the States of America, without this, serve with the fruits of their hardy industry, their enemies in Britain.

Dean Tucker (whose political prophecies have mostly been verified) hath predicted concerning America, “that they will be a contemptible people to the end of time.”

Without national government, must it not be so in fact?

For a confederacy, without energy sufficient to bring the confederates to joint-action, is a mere nullity.

Let us not quarrel about words and sounds, national or federal; it is a good system if its tendency be to make us a happy people.

It is said that it “dissolves the state governments, because it makes the federal laws supreme in each State.”

What bond of union could there be without this?

It ought to be allowed, however, that the powers given to Congress in this system, are the utmost extent of the federal legislation.

If these relate to matters of merely national concern, they do not interfere, any more than they ought, with the legislative powers of particular States.


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Re: POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY IN AMERICA

Post by thelivyjr » Tue Jul 27, 2021 1:40 p

Atticus III, concluded ...

Atticus 

November 22, 1787

It is suggested that this system may be “amended” before its adoption.

On this two questions arise; when are the people groaning under present burthens, to be eased of the expences of conventions and assemblies, for settling government?

And will there probably be fewer dissentients from the amendments, than from the system as it now stands?

Should it be received as it now stands, it is suggested “that our liberties may be lost.”

The caution expressed in the word may, is commendable, because many persons whose abilities the modesty of the Hon. E[ldridge] G[erry] would not suffer him to undervalue, think quite otherwise.

Too, too long it hath been the humour of our countrymen, to be so fearful of giving their rulers power to do hurt, that they never have given them power to do good.

This is the very reason why the public authority, hath been so much despised by the people; and why the people have so little attachment to their civil institutions.

When such a great affair is depending, parties, disputes, and objections, are to be expected.

It is best I believe that they should, in a certain degree, take place.

I hope they will not proceed to violent extremes.


The State of Massachusetts is not bound to imitate Pennsylvania: Let not our good citizens make passion for counsil; but let them choose men of clear heads, and honest minds, for their State Convention.

When the “greatest of men” differ, the assembled people must decide.

And let them, after the affair is impartially examined, and thoroughly sifted, received, amend, or utterly reject the Federal Constitution.

Let not the leading characters among us, in the mean time, forget that excellent advice of the Hon. E[ldridge] G[erry] worthy to be written for their use in letters of gold, that they preserve moderation.

Further communications and correspondence on those interesting subjects, will be agreeable to your friend ATTICUS.

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