POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY IN AMERICA

What we are not talking about already elsewhere
thelivyjr
Site Admin
Posts: 56846
Joined: Thu Aug 30, 2018 1:40 p

Re: POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY IN AMERICA

Post by thelivyjr »

Agrippa XII Part 2, continued ...

January 14, 1788

(concluded from our last)

To the Massachusetts Convention.

In article III, section 2, it is declared, that “the judicial power shall extend to all cases in law and equity arising under this constitution, the laws of the United States, and treaties made or which shall be made under their authority.”

Among the cases arising under this new constitution are reckoned, “all controversies between citizens of different states,” which include all kinds of civil causes between those parties.

The giving Congress a power to appoint courts for such a purpose is as much, there being no stipulation to the contrary, giving them power to legislate for such causes, as giving them a right to raise an army, is giving them a right to direct the operations of the army when raised.

But it is not left to implication.

The last clause of article I, section 8, expressly gives them power “to make all laws which shall be needful and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers, and all other powers vested by this constitution in the government of the United States, or in any department or officer thereof.”

It is, therefore, as plain as words can make it, that they have a right by this proposed form to legislate for all kinds of causes respecting property between citizens of different states.

That this power extends to all cases between citizens of the same state, is evident, from the sixth article, which declares all continental laws and treaties to be the supreme law of the land, and that all state judges are bound thereby, “any thing in the constitution or laws of any state to the contrary notwithstanding.”

If this is not binding the judges of the separate states in their own office, by continental rules, it is perfect nonsense.

There is then a complete consolidation of the legislative powers in all cases respecting property.


This power extends to all cases between a state and citizens of another state.

Hence a citizen, possessed of the notes of another state, may bring his action, and there is no limitation that the execution shall be levied on the publick property of the state but the property of individuals is liable.

This is a foundation for endless confusion and discord.

This, right to try causes between a state and citizens of another state, involves in it all criminal causes; and a man who has accidentally transgressed the laws of another state, must be transported, with all his witnesses, to a third state, to be tried.

He must be ruined to prove his innocence.

These are necessary parts of the new system, and it will never be complete till they are reduced to practice.

They effectually prove a consolidation of the states, and we have before shewn the ruinous tendency of such a measure.

TO BE CONTINUED ...
thelivyjr
Site Admin
Posts: 56846
Joined: Thu Aug 30, 2018 1:40 p

Re: POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY IN AMERICA

Post by thelivyjr »

Agrippa XII Part 2, continued ...

January 14, 1788

(concluded from our last)

To the Massachusetts Convention.

By sect. 8 of article 1, Congress are to have the unlimited right to regulate commerce, external and internal, and may therefore create monopolies which have been universally injurious to all the subjects of the countries that have adopted them, excepting the monopolists themselves.

They have also the unlimited right to imposts and all kinds of taxes as well to levy as to collect them.

They have indeed very nearly the same powers claimed formerly by the British parliament.

Can we have so soon forgot our glorious struggle with that power, as to think a moment of surrendering it now?

It makes no difference in principle whether the national assembly was elected for seven years or for six.

In both cases we should vote to great disadvantage. and therefore ought never to agree to such an article.

Let us make provision for the payment of the interest of our part of the debt, and we shall be fairly acquitted.

Let the fund be an impost on our foreign trade, and we shall encourage our manufactures.

But if we surrender the unlimitted right to regulate trade and levy taxes, imposts will oppress our foreign trade for the benefit of other states, while excises and taxes will discourage our internal industry.

The right to regulate trade, without any limitations, will, as certainly as it is granted transfer the trade of this state to Pennsylvania.

That will be the seat of business and of wealth. while the extremes of the empire will, like Ireland and Scotland, be drained to fatten an overgrown capital.

Under our present equal advantages, the citizens of this state come in for their full share of commercial profits.

Surrender the rights of taxation and commercial regulation, and the landed states at the southward will all be interested in draining our resources; for whatever can be got by impost on our trade and excises on our manufactures, will be considered as so much saved to a state inhabited by planters.

All savings of this sort ought surely to be made in favour of our own state; and we ought never to surrender the unlimited powers of revenue and trade to uncommercial people.

If we do, the glory of the state from that moment departs, never to return.

TO BE CONTINUED ...
thelivyjr
Site Admin
Posts: 56846
Joined: Thu Aug 30, 2018 1:40 p

Re: POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY IN AMERICA

Post by thelivyjr »

Agrippa XII Part 2, continued ...

January 14, 1788

(concluded from our last)

To the Massachusetts Convention.

The safety of our constitutional rights consists in having the business of government lodged in different departments, and in having each part well defined.

By this means each branch is kept within the constitutional limits.


Never was a fairer line of distinction than what may be easily drawn between the continental and state governments.

The latter provide for all cases, whether civil or criminal, that can happen ashore, because all such causes must arise within the limits of some state.

Transactions between citizens may all be fairly included in this idea, even although they should arise in passing by water from one state to another.

But the intercourse between us and foreign nations, properly forms the department of Congress.

They should have the power of regulating trade under such limitations as should render their laws equal.

They should have the right of war and peace, saving the equality of rights, and the territory of each state.

But the power of naturalization and internal regulation should not be given them.

To give my scheme a more systematic appearance, I have thrown it into the form of a resolve, which is submitted to your wisdom for amendment, but not as being perfect.

“Resolved, that the form of government proposed by the federal convention, lately held in Philadelphia, be rejected on the part of this commonwealth; and that our delegates in Congress are hereby authorised to propose on the part of this commonwealth, and, if the other states for themselves agree thereto, to sign an article of confederation, as an addition to the present articles, in the form following, provided such agreement be made on or before the first day of January, which will be in the year of our Lord 1790; the said article shall have the same force and effect as if it had been inserted in the original confederation, and is to be construed consistently with the clause in the former articles, which restrains the United States from exercising such powers as are not expressly given."

TO BE CONTINUED ...
thelivyjr
Site Admin
Posts: 56846
Joined: Thu Aug 30, 2018 1:40 p

Re: POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY IN AMERICA

Post by thelivyjr »

Agrippa XII Part 2, continued ...

January 14, 1788

(concluded from our last)

To the Massachusetts Convention.

“XIV. The United States shall have power to regulate, whether by treaty, ordinance. or law, the intercourse between these states and foreign dominions and countries, under the following restrictions. No treaty, ordinance, or law shall give a preference to the ports of one state over those of another; nor 2d. impair the territory or internal authority of any state; nor 3d. create any monopolies or exclusive companies; nor 4th. naturalise any foreigners."

"All their imposts and prohibitions shall be confined to foreign produce and manufactures imported, and to foreign ships trading in our harbours."

"All imposts and confiscations shall be to the use of the state where they shall accrue, excepting only such branches of impost, as shall be assigned by the separate states to Congress for a fund to defray the interest of their debt, and their current charges."

"In order the more effectually to execute this and the former articles, Congress shall have authority to appoint courts, supreme & subordinate, with power to try all crimes, not relating to state securities, between any foreign state, or subject of such state, actually residing in a foreign country, and not being an absentee or person who has alienated himself from these states on the one part. and any of the United States or citizens thereof on the other part; also all causes in which foreign ambassadors or other foreign ministers resident here shall be immediately concerned, respecting the jurisdiction or immunities only."

"And the Congress shall have authority to execute the judgment of such courts by their own affairs."

"Piracies and felonies committed on the high seas shall also belong to the department of Congress for them to define, try, and punish, in the same manner as the other causes shall be defined, tried, and determined."

"All the before-mentioned causes shall be tried by jury and in some sea-port town."

"And it is recommended to the general court at their next meeting to provide and put Congress in possession of funds arising from foreign imports and ships sufficient to defray our share of the present annual expenses of the continent.”

Such a resolve explicitly limitting the powers granted is the farthest we can proceed with safety.

TO BE CONTINUED ...
thelivyjr
Site Admin
Posts: 56846
Joined: Thu Aug 30, 2018 1:40 p

Re: POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY IN AMERICA

Post by thelivyjr »

Agrippa XII Part 2, concluded ...

January 14, 1788

(concluded from our last)

To the Massachusetts Convention.

The scheme of accepting the report of the Convention, and amending it afterwards, is merely delusive.

There is no intention among those who make the proposition to amend it at all.

Besides, if they have influence enough to get it accepted in its present form.

There is no probability, that they will consent to an alteration when possessed of an unlimited revenue.

It is an excellence in our present confederation, that it is extremely difficult to alter it.

An unanimous vote of the states is required.

But this newly proposed form is founded in injustice, as it proposes that a fictitious consent of only nine states shall be sufficient to establish it.

Nobody can suppose that the consent of a state is any thing more than a fiction, in the view of the federalists, after the mobbish influence used over the Pennsylvania convention.

The two great leaders of the plan, with a modesty of Scotsmen, placed a rabble in the gallery to applaud their speeches, and thus supplied their want of capacity in the argument.

Repeatedly were Wilson and M’ Kean worsted in the argument by the plain good sense of Finally and Smilie.

But reasoning or knowledge had little to do with the federal party.

Votes were all they wanted by whatever means obtained.

Means not less criminal have been mentioned among us.

But votes that are bought can never justify a treasonable conspiracy.

Better, far better, would it be to reject the whole, and remain in possession of present advantages.

The authority of Congress to decide disputes between states is sufficient to prevent their recurring to hostility: and their different situation, wants and produce is a sufficient foundation for the most friendly intercourse.

All the arts of delusion and legal chicanery will be used to elude your vigilance, and obtain a majority.

But keeping the constitution of the state, and the publick interest in view, will be your safety.

(We are obliged contrary to our intention, to postpone the remainder of Agrippa till our next.)
thelivyjr
Site Admin
Posts: 56846
Joined: Thu Aug 30, 2018 1:40 p

Re: POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY IN AMERICA

Post by thelivyjr »

Speech to the Massachusetts Convention

by Fisher Ames

January 15, 1788

I do not regret, Mr. President, that we are not unanimous upon this question.

I do not consider the diversity of sentiment which prevails as an impediment in our way to the discovery of truth.

In order that we may think alike upon this subject at last, we shall be compelled to discuss it by ascending to the principles upon which the doctrine of representation is grounded.

Without premeditation, in a situation so novel, and awed by the respect which I feel for this venerable assembly, I distrust extremely my own feelings, as well as my competency to prosecute this inquiry.

With the hope of an indulgent hearing, I will attempt to proceed.

I am sensible, sir, that the doctrine of frequent elections has been sanctioned by antiquity, and is still more endeared to us by our recent experience and uniform habits of thinking.

Gentlemen have expressed their zealous partiality for it.

They consider this as a leading question in the debate, and that the merits of many other parts of the Constitution are involved in the decision.

I confess, sir, and I declare that my zeal for frequent elections is not inferior to their own.

I consider it as one of the first securities for popular liberty, in which its very essence may be supposed to reside.

But how shall we make the best use of this pledge and instrument of our safety?

A right principle, carried to an extreme, becomes useless.

It is apparent that a declaration for a very short term, as for a single day, would defeat the design of representation.

The election, in that case, would not seem to the people to be of any importance, and the person elected would think as lightly of his appointment.

The other extreme is equally to be avoided.

An election for a very long term of years, or for life, would remove the member too far from the control of the people, would be dangerous to liberty, and in fact repugnant to the purposes of the delegation.

The truth, as usual, is placed somewhere between the extremes, and I believe is included in this proposition: The term of election must be so long, that the representative may understand the interest of the people, and yet so limited, that his fidelity may be secured by a dependence upon their approbation.

TO BE CONTINUED ...
thelivyjr
Site Admin
Posts: 56846
Joined: Thu Aug 30, 2018 1:40 p

Re: POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY IN AMERICA

Post by thelivyjr »

Speech to the Massachusetts Convention, continued ...

by Fisher Ames

January 15, 1788

Before I proceed to the application of this rule, I cannot forbear to premise some remarks upon two opinions, which have been suggested.

Much has been said about the people divesting themselves of power, when they delegate it to representatives; and that all representation is to their disadvantage, because it is but an image, a copy, fainter and more imperfect than the original, the people, in whom the light of power is primary and unborrowed, which is only reflected by their delegates.

I cannot agree to either of these opinions.

The representation of the people is something more than the people.

I know, sir, but one purpose which the people can effect without delegation, and that is to destroy a government.

That they cannot erect a government, is evinced by our being thus assembled on their behalf.

The people must govern by a majority, with whom all power resides.

But how is the sense of this majority to be obtained?

It has been said that a pure democracy is the best government for a small people who assemble in person.

It is of small consequence to discuss it, as it would be inapplicable to the great country we inhabit.

It may be of some use in this argument, how ever, to consider, that it would be very burdensome, subject to faction and violence; decisions would often be made by surprise, in the precipitancy of passion, by men who either understand nothing or care nothing about the subject; or by interested men, or those who vote for their own indemnity.


It would be a government not by laws, but by men.

TO BE CONTINUED ...
thelivyjr
Site Admin
Posts: 56846
Joined: Thu Aug 30, 2018 1:40 p

Re: POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY IN AMERICA

Post by thelivyjr »

Speech to the Massachusetts Convention, continued ...

by Fisher Ames

January 15, 1788

Such were the paltry democracies of Greece and Asia Minor, so much extolled, and so often proposed as a model for our imitation.

I desire to be thankful that our people (said Mr. Ames) are not under any temptation to adopt the advice.

I think it will not be denied that the people are gainers by the election of representatives.

They may destroy, but they cannot exercise, the powers of government in person, but by their servants they govern: they do not renounce their power; they do not sacrifice their rights; they become the true sovereigns of the country when they delegate that power, which they cannot use themselves to their trustees.

I know, sir, that the people talk about the liberty of nature, and assert that we divest ourselves of a portion of it when we enter into society.

This is declamation against matter of fact.

We cannot live without society; and as to liberty, how can I be said to enjoy that which another may take from me when he pleases?

The liberty of one depends not so much on the removal of all restraint from him, as on the due restraint upon the liberties of others.

Without such restraint, there can be no liberty.


Liberty is so far from being endangered or destroyed by this, that it is extended and secured.

For I said that we do not enjoy that which another may take from us.

But civil liberty cannot be taken from us, when any one may please to invade it; for we have the strength of the society on our side.

I hope, sir, that these reflections will have some tendency to remove the ill impressions which are made by proposing to divest the people of their power.

That they may never be divested of it, I repeat that I am in favor of frequent elections.

TO BE CONTINUED ...
thelivyjr
Site Admin
Posts: 56846
Joined: Thu Aug 30, 2018 1:40 p

Re: POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY IN AMERICA

Post by thelivyjr »

Speech to the Massachusetts Convention, continued ...

by Fisher Ames

January 15, 1788

They who commend annual elections are desired to consider, that the question is, whether biennial elections are a defect in the Constitution; for it does not follow, because annual elections are safe, that biennial are dangerous; for both may be good.

Nor is there any foundation for the fears of those, who say that if we, who have been accustomed to choose for one year only, now extend it to two, the next stride will be to five or seven years, and the next for term of life; for this article, with all its supposed defects, is in favor of liberty.

Being inserted in the Constitution, it is not subject to be repealed by law.

We are sure that it is the worst of the case.

It is a fence against ambitious encroachments, too high and too strong to be passed.

In this respect, we have greatly the advantage. of the people of England, and of all the world.

The law which limits their Parliaments is liable to be repealed.

I will not defend this article by saying that it was a matter of compromise in the federal Convention.

It has my entire approbation as it stands.

I think that we ought to prefer, in this article, biennial elections to annual; and my reasons for this opinion are drawn from these sources:

From the extent of the country to be governed;
The objects of their legislation;
And the more perfect security of our liberty.

It seems obvious that men who are to collect in Congress from this great territory, perhaps from the Bay of Fundy, or from the banks of the Ohio, and the shore of Lake Superior, ought to have a longer term in office, than the delegates of a single state, in their own legislature.

It is not by riding post to and from Congress that a man can acquire a just knowledge of the true interests of the Union.

This term of election is inapplicable to the state of a country as large as Germany, or as the Roman empire in the zenith of its power.

TO BE CONTINUED ...
thelivyjr
Site Admin
Posts: 56846
Joined: Thu Aug 30, 2018 1:40 p

Re: POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY IN AMERICA

Post by thelivyjr »

Speech to the Massachusetts Convention, continued ...

by Fisher Ames

January 15, 1788

If we consider the objects of their delegation, little doubt will remain.

It is admitted that annual elections may be highly fit for the state legislature.

Every citizen grows up with a knowledge of the local circumstances of the state.

But the business of the federal government will be very different.

The objects of their power are few and national.

At least two years in office will be necessary to enable a man to judge of the trade and interests of the state which he never saw.

The time, I hope, will come, when this excellent country will furnish food, and freedom, (which is better than food, which is the food of the soul,) for fifty millions of happy people.

Will any man say that the national business can be understood in one year?

Biennial elections appear to me, sir, an essential security to liberty.

These are my reasons:

Faction and enthusiasm are the instruments by which popular governments are destroyed.

We need not talk of the power of an aristocracy.

The people, when they lose their liberties, are cheated out of them.

They nourish factions in their bosoms, which will subsist so long as abusing their honest credulity shall be the means of acquiring power.

A democracy is a volcano, which conceals the fiery materials of its own destruction.

These will produce an eruption, and carry desolation in their way.


The people always mean right; and, if time is allowed for reflection and information, they will do right.

I would not have the first wish, the momentary impulse of the public mind, become law; for it is not always the sense of the people, with whom I admit that all power resides.

On great questions, we first hear the loud clamors of passion, artifice, and faction.


I consider biennial elections as a security that the sober second thought of the people shall be law.

There is a calm review of public transactions, which is made by the citizens who have families and children, the pledges of their fidelity.

To provide for popular liberty, we must take care that measures shall not be adopted without due deliberation.

The member chosen for two years will feel some independence in his seat.

The factions of the day will expire before the end of his term.

TO BE CONTINUED ...
Post Reply