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speech occupied the entire session of one day (June 18), and who examines the brief from which he spoke, and which is still extant. (Hamilton's Works, II. 409.)
He was an earnest, and I am inclined to think a fervid and rapid speaker. Certainly he spoke from a mind full of knowledge of the principles and the working of other systems of polity, and possessed of resources which have never been excelled in any statesman who has been called to aid in the work of creating a government. The topics set down in his brief exhibit a very wide range of thought, enriched by copious illustrations from the history and experience of other countries, and from the views of the most important writers on government; while the whole argument bears logically and closely upon the actual situation of our confederacy and upon the questions at issue. It is not probable, therefore, that Mr. Madison's report gives us an adequate idea of the speech, or fully exhibits its reasoning. I have collated it, sentence by sentence, with the report in Judge Yates's Minutes, and with Hamilton's own brief, and have prepared for my own use a draft containing the substance of what these three sources can give us. The results may be thus given:
1. That Hamilton, in stating his views of the theoretical value of different systems of government, frankly expressed the opinion that the British constitution was the best form which the world had then produced;-citing the praise bestowed upon it by Necker, that it is the only government "which unites public strength with individual security.”
2. That, with equal clearness, he stated it as his opinion that none but a republican form could be attempted in this country, or would be adapted to our situation.
3. That he proposed to look to the British Constitution for nothing but those elements of stability and permanency which a republican system requires, and which may be incorporated into it without changing its characteristic principles.
The only question that remains, in order to form a judgment of his purposes, is, whether there was anything in the plan of a constitution drawn up by him that is inconsistent with the spirit of republican liberty. The answer is, that there was not. There is throughout this plan a constant recognition of the authority of the people, as the source of all political power. It proposed that the members of the Assembly should be elected by the people directly, and the members of the Senate by electors chosen for the purpose by the people. The executive was in like manner to be chosen by electors, appointed by the people or by the State legislatures. So far, therefore, his plan was as strictly republican, as is that of the Constitution under which we are actually living. But he
proposed that the executive and the senators should hold their offices during good behavior; and this has been his offence against republicanism, with those who measure the character of a system by the frequency with which it admits of rotation in office. His accusers have failed to notice that he made his executive personally responsible for official misconduct, and provided that both he and the senators should be subject to impeachment and to removal from office. This was a wide departure from the principles of the English constitution, and it constitutes a most important distinction between a republican and a monarchical system, when it is accompanied by the fact that the office of a ruler or legislator is attained, not by hereditary right, or the favor of the crown, but by the favor and choice of the people.
I have thus stated the principal points to which the inquiries of the reader should be directed in investigating the opinions of this great man, because I believe it to be unjust to impute to him any other than a sincere desire for the establishment and success of republican government. That he desired a strong government, that he was little disposed to dogmatize upon abstract theories of liberty, and that he trusted more to experience than to hypothesis, may be safely assumed. But that he ardently desired the success of that republican freedom which is founded on a perfect equality of rights among citizens, exclusive of hereditary distinctions, is as certain as that he labored earnestly throughout his life for the maxims, the doctrines, and the systems which he believed most likely to secure for it a fair trial and ultimate success. (See his description of his own opinions, when writing of himself as a third person in 1792; Works, VII. 52.)
That the system of government sketched by Hamilton was not received by many of those who listened to him with disapprobation on account of what has since been supposed its monarchical character, we may safely assume, on the testimony of Dr. Johnson of Connecticut, one of the most moderate men in the Convention. Contrasting the New Jersey and Virginia plans, he is reported (by Yates) to have said: "It appears to me that the Jersey plan has for its principal object the preservation of the State governments. So far it is a departure from the plan of Virginia, which, although it concentrates in a distinct national government, is not totally independent of that of the States. A gentleman from New York, with boldness and decision, proposed a system totally different from both; and although he has been praised by everybody, he has been supported by none." (Yates's Minutes, Elliot, I. 431.)
Even Luther Martin did not seem to regard the objects of what he calls the monarchical party as being any worse, or more dangerous to liberty,
than the projects of those whom he represents as aiming to obtain undue power and influence for their own States, and whom at the same time he acquits of monarchical designs or a desire to abolish the State governments. The truth is, that nobody had any improper purposes, or anything at heart but the liberties and happiness of the people of America. We are not to try the speculative views of men engaged in such discussions as these by the charges or complaints elicited in the heats of conflicting opinions and interests, inflamed by a zeal too warm to admit the possibility of its own error, or to perceive the wisdom and purity of an opponent.
CONFLICT BETWEEN THE NATIONAL AND FEDERAL SYSTEMS.
-DIVISION OF THE LEGISLATURE INTO Two CHAMBERS. DISAGREEMENT OF THE STATES ON THE NATURE OF REPRESENTATION IN THE TWO BRANCHES. THREATENED DISSOLUTION OF THE UNION.
WE are now approaching a crisis in the action of the Convention, the history of which is full of instruction for all succeeding generations of the American people. We have witnessed the formation of a minority of the States, whose bond of connection was a common opposition to the establishment of what was regarded as a "national" government. The structure of this minority, as well as that of the majority to which they were opposed, the motives and purposes by which both were animated, and the results to which their conflicts finally led, are extremely important to be understood by the reader.
The relative rank of the different States in point of population, at the time of the formation of the Constitution, was materially different from what it is at the present day. Virginia, then the first State in the Union, is now the fourth. New York, now at the head of the scale, then ranked after North
Carolina and Massachusetts, which occupied the third and fourth positions in the first census, and which now occupy respectively the sixth and tenth. South Carolina, which then had a smaller population than Maryland, now has a much greater. Georgia at that time had not half so many inhabitants as New Jersey, but now has twice as many.
Great inequalities existed, as they still exist, between the different members of the confederacy, not only in the actual numbers of their inhabitants, and their present wealth, but in their capacity and opportunity of growth. Virginia, with a population fourteen times as large, had a territorial extent of thirty times the size of Delaware. Pennsylvania had nearly seven times as many people as Rhode Island, and nearly forty times as much territory. The State of Georgia numbered a little more than a third as many people, but her territory was nearly twelve times as large as the territory of Connecticut.
The four leading States, Virginia, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Massachusetts, had an obvious motive for seeking the establishment of a government founded on a proportionate representation of their respective populations. The States of South Carolina and Georgia had generally acted with them in the formation of the Virginia plan; and these six States thus constituted the majority by which the principle of what was called a "national," in distinction from a "federal" government, had been steadily pressed to the conclusions arrived at in the committee of the whole, and now embraced in its