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An Essay on Federalists Versus Anti-Federalists.
I come now, sir, to the most exceptionable part of the Constitution - theSenate. In this, as in every other part, you [James Wilson of Pennsylvania] arein the line of your profession Law], and on that ground assure your fellowcitizens, that - perhaps there never was a charge made with less reason,than that which predicts the institution of a baneful aristocracy in the FederalSenate. And yet your conscience smote you, sir, at the beginning, andcompelled you to prefix a perhaps to this strange assertion. The senate, yousay, branches into two characters - the one legislative and the other executive. This phraseology is quaint, and the position does not state the whole truth. Iam very sorry, sir, to be so often obliged to reprehend the suppression ofinformation at the moment that you stood forth to instruct your fellow citizens,in what they were supposed not to understand. In this character, you shouldhave abandoned your professional line, and told them, not only the truth, butthe whole truth. The whole truth then is, that the same body, called thesenate, is vested with legislative, executive and judicial powers. The twofirst you acknowledge; the last is conveyed in these words, sec. 3d. : TheSenate shall have the sole power to try all impeachments. On this pointthen we are to come to issue - whether a senate so constituted is likely toproduce a baneful aristocracy, which will swallow up the democratic rights andliberties of the nation. To judge on this question, it is proper to examineminutely into the constitution and powers of the senate; and we shall then seewith what anxious and subtle cunning it is calculated for the proposed purpose. 1st. It is removed from the people, being chosen by the legislatures - andexactly in the ratio of their removal from the people do aristocratic principlesconstantly infect the minds of man. 2nd. They endure, two thirds for four, andone third for six years, and in proportion to the duration of power, thearistocratic exercise of it and attempts to extend it, are invariably observedto increase. 3rd. From the union of the executive with the legislativefunctions, they must necessarily be longer together, or rather constantlyassembled; and in proportion to their continuance together, they will be able toform effectual schemes for extending their own power, and reducing that of thedemocratic 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 andconsent 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 theirmeasures in the house of representatives, and give them the influence which, wesee, accompanies this power in England; and which, from the nature of man, mustfollow 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 democraticright; 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 highoffice. 6th. The union established between them and the vice president, who ismade one of the corps, and will therefore be highly animated with thearistocratic spirit of it, furnishes them a powerful shield against popularsuspicion and inquiry, he being the second man in the United States who standshighest in the confidence and estimation of the people. And lastly, the rightof altering or amending money-bills, is a high additional power given them as abranch of the legislature, which their analogous branch, in the Englishparliament, could never obtain because it has been guarded by therepresentatives of the people there, with the most strenuous solicitude as oneof the vital principles of democratic liberty.
The present is an active period. Europe is in a ferment breaking theirconstitutions; America is in a similar state, making a constitution. For thisvaluable purpose a convention was appointed, consisting of such as excelled inwisdom and knowledge, who met in Philadelphia last May. For my own part, I wasso smitten with the character of the members, that I had assented to theirproduction, while it was yet in embryo. And I make no doubt but every goodrepublican did so too. But how great was my surprise, when it appeared withsuch a venerable train of names annexed to its tail, to find some of the peopleunder different signatures - such as Centinel, Old Whig, Brutus, etc. - daring tooppose it, and that too with barefaced arguments, obstinate reason and stubborntruth. This is certainly a piece of the most extravagant impudence to presumeto contradict the collected wisdom of the United States; or to suppose a body,who engrossed the whole wisdom of the continent, was capable of erring. Iexpected the superior character of the convention would have secured it fromprofane sallies of a plebeian's pen; and its inherent infallibility debarred theinterference of impertinent reason or truth. It was too great an act ofcondescension to permit the people, by their state conventions, "to assentand ratify," what the grand convention prescribed to them; but to inquireinto its principles, or investigate its properties, was a presumption too daringto escape resentment. Such licentious conduct practised by the people, is astriking proof of our feeble governments, and calls aloud for the pruning knife,i. e. , the establishment of some proper plan of discipline. This the convention,in the depth of their united wisdom hath prescribed, which when established,will certainly put a stop to the growing evil. A consciousness of this, is, nodoubt, the cause which stimulates the people to oppose it with so muchvehemence. They deprecate the idea of being confined within their propersphere; they cannot endure the thought of being obliged to mind their ownbusiness, and leave the affairs of government to those whom nature hath destinedto rule. I say nature, for it is a fundamental principle, as clear as an axiom,that nature hath placed proper degrees and subordinations amongst mankind andordained a few(1) to rule, and many to obey. I am not obliged to prove thisprinciple because it would be madness in the extreme to attempt to prove a self-evident truth.
Anti-Federalist No. 40 is a compilation of articles.
Our present constitution, with a few additional powers to Congress, seems better calculated to preserve the rights and defend the liberties of our citizens, than the one proposed, without proper amendments. Let us therefore, for once, show our judgment and solidity by continuing it, and prove the opinion to be erroneous, that levity and fickleness are not only the foibles of our tempers, but the reigning principles in these states. There are men amongst us, of such dissatisfied tempers, that place them in Heaven, they would find something to blame; and so restless and self-sufficient, that they must be eternally reforming the state. But the misfortune is, they always leave affairs worse than they find them. A change of government is at all times dangerous, but at present may be fatal, without the utmost caution, just after emerging out of a tedious and expensive war. Feeble in our nature, and complicated in our form, we are little able to bear the rough Posting of civil dissensions which are likely to ensue. Even now, discontent and opposition distract our councils. Division and despondency affect our people. Is it then a time to alter our government, that government which even now totters on its foundation, and will, without tender care, produce ruin by its fall?
. . . . By the Articles of Confederation, the congress of the United State wasvested with powers for conducting the common concerns of the continent. Theyhad the sole and exclusive right and power of determining on peace and war; ofsending and receiving ambassadors; of entering into treaties and alliances; andof pointing out the respective quotas of men and men which each state shouldfurnish. But it was expressly provided that the money to be supplied by eachstate should be raised by the authority and direction of the legislaturethereof - thus reserving to the states the important privilege of levying taxesupon their citizens in such manner as might be most conformable to theirpeculiar circumstances and form of government. With powers thus constituted wascongress enabled to unite the general exertions of the continent in the cause ofliberty and to carry us triumphantly through a long and bloody war. It was notuntil sometime after peace and a glorious independence had been established thatdefects were discovered in that system of federal government which had procuredto us those blessings.
Anti-Federalist Papers: Brutus #1 - Constitution Society
From these remarks, I think it is evident, that the grand convention hathdexterously provided for the removal of every thing that hath ever operated as arestraint upon government in any place or age of the world. But perhaps someweak heads may think that the constitution itself will be a check upon the newcongress. But this I deny, for the convention has so happily worded themselves,that every part of this constitution either bears double meaning, or no meaningat all; and if any concessions are made to the people in one place, it iseffectually cancelled in another - so that in fact this constitution is muchbetter and gives more scope to the rulers than they durst safely take if therewas no constitution at all. For then the people might contend that the powerwas inherent in them, and that they had made some implied reserves in theoriginal grant. But now they cannot, for every thing is expressly given away togovernment in this plan. Perhaps some people may think that power which thehouse of representatives possesses, of impeaching the officers of government,will be a restraint upon them. But this entirely vanishes, when it isconsidered that the senate hath the principal say in appointing these officers,and that they are the sole judges of all impeachments. Now it would be absurdto suppose that they would remove their own servants for performing their secretorders. . . . For the interest of rulers and the ruled will then be two distinctthings. The mode of electing the president is another excellent regulation,most wisely calculated to render him the obsequious machine of congress. He isto be chosen by electors appointed in such manner as the state legislators shalldirect. But then the highest in votes cannot be president, without he has themajority of all the electors; and if none have this majority, then the congressis to choose the president out of the five highest on the return. By this meansthe congress will always have the making of the president after the firstelection. So that if the reigning president pleases his masters, he need beunder no apprehensions of being turned out for any severities used to thepeople, for though the congress may not have influence enough to procure him themajority of the votes of the electoral college, yet they will always be able toprevent any other from having such a majority; and to have him returned amongthe five highest, so that they may have the appointing of him themselves. Allthese wise regulations, prove to a demonstration, that the grand convention wasinfallible. The congress having thus disentangled themselves from all popularchecks and choices, and being supported by a well disciplined army and activemilitia, will certainly command dread and respect abroad, obedience andsubmission at home. They will then look down with awful dignity and tremendousmajesty from the pinnacle of glory to which fortune has raised them upon theinsignificant creatures, their subjects, whom they have reduced to that state ofvassalage and servile submission, for which they were primarily destined bynature. America will then be great amongst the nations(3) and princess amongstthe provinces. Her fleets will cover the deserts of the ocean and convert itinto a popular city; and her invincible armies overturn the thrones of princes. The glory of Britain (4) shall fall like lightning before her puissant arm; whenshe ariseth to shake the nations, and take vengeance on all who dare oppose her.
3dly. This will make the people attend to their own business, and not bedabbling in politics - things they are entirely ignorant of; nor is it properthey should understand. But it is very probable that the exercise of this powermay be opposed by the refractory plebeians, who (such is the perverseness oftheir natures) often refuse to comply with what is manifestly for theiradvantage. But to prevent all inconvenience from this quarter the congress havepower to raise and support armies. This is the second thing necessary to rendergovernment independent. The creatures who compose these armies are a species ofanimals, wholly at the disposal of government; what others call their naturalrights they resign into the hands of their superiors - even the right ofself-preservation (so precious to all other beings) they entirely surrender, andput their very lives in the power of their masters. Having no rights of theirown to care for, they become naturally jealous and envious of those possessed byothers. They are therefore proper instruments in the hands of government todivest the people of their usurped rights. But the capital business of thesearmies will be to assist the collectors of taxes, imposts, and excise, inraising the revenue; and this they will perform with the greatest alacrity, asit is by this they are supported; but for this they would be in a great measureuseless; and without this they could not exist. . . .
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Arguments of the Anti-Federalists - Andrew Pinzler
But no such election is provided for by the constitution, till the return of theperiodical election at the expiration of the four years for which the formerpresident was chosen. And thus may the great powers of this supreme magistrateof the United States be exercised, for years together, by a man who, perhaps,never had one vote of the people for any office of government in his life.
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