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have ever been thirteen different bodies to judge of the measures of Congress—and the operations of government have been distracted by their taking different courses. Those which were to be benefited have complied with the requisitions; others have totally disregarded them. Have not all of us been witnesses to the unhappy embarrassments which resulted from these proceedings? Even during the late war, while the pressure of common danger connected strongly the bond of our Union, and incited to vigorous exertions, we felt many distressing effects of the impotent system. . . . . From the delinquency of those States who have suffered little by the war, we naturally conclude that they have made no efforts; and a knowledge of human nature will teach us that their ease and security have been a principal cause of their want of exertion. While danger is distant, its impression is weak ; and while it affects only our neighbors, we have few motives to provide against it. Sir, if we have national objects to pursue, we must have national revenues. If you make requisitions and they are not complied with, what is to be done 2 It has been well observed, that to coerce the States is one of the maddest projects that was ever devised. A failure of compliance will never be confined to a single State. This being the case, can we suppose it wise to hazard a civil war P Suppose Massachusetts, or any large State, should refuse, and Congress should attempt to compel them ; would they not have influence to procure assistance, especially from those States who are in the same situation as themselves 2 What picture does this idea present to our view 2 A complying State at war with a non-complying State : Congress marching the troops of one State into the bosom of another : this State collecting auxiliaries and forming perhaps a majority against its federal head. Here is a nation at war with itself. Can any reasonable man be well disposed towards a government which makes war and carnage the only means of supporting itself—a government that can exist only by the sword 2 Every such war must involve the innocent with the guilty. This single consideration should be sufficient to dispose every peaceable citizen against such a -government. But can we believe that one State will ever suffer itself to be used as an instrument of coercion ? The thing is a dream ; it is impossible; then we are brought to this dilemma: either a Federal standing army is to enforce the requisitions, or the Federal treasury is left without supplies, and the government without support. What, sir, is the cure for this great evil? Nothing, but to enable the national laws to operate on individuals in the same manner as those of the States do. This is the true reasoning of the subject, sir. The gentlemen appear to acknowledge its 36 ALEXANDER HAMILton
force; and yet, while they yield to the principle, they seem to fear its application to the Government.
What then shall we do? Shall we take the old Confederation as the basis of a new system 2 Can this be the object of the gentlemen 2 Certainly not. Will any man who entertains a wish for the safety of his country, trust the sword and the purse with a single assembly organized on principles so defective, so rotten ? Though we might give to such a government certain powers with safety, yet to give them the full and unlimited powers of taxation, and the national forces, would be to establish a despotism; the definition of which is, a government in which all power is concentrated in a single body. To take the old Confederation, and fashion it upon these principles, would be establishing a power which would destroy the liberties of the people.
THE STABILITY OF THE UNION
[The following extract bears upon the same general subject, but is from a speech delivered in February, 1787, before the Constitutional Convention met. The Congress of the Confederacy, being dependent for funds upon the small sums doled out to it by the seperate States, wished to lay an impost or general tax to supply it with the much needed funds. This the States opposed. The speech from which we quote was delivered before the Assembly of New York. It depicts strongly the weakness and the peril of the feeble Union that then existed.]
Is there not a species of political knight-errantry in adhering pertinaciously to a system which throws the whole weight of the Confederation upon this State, or upon one or two more ? Is it not our interest, on mere calculations of State policy, to promote a measure, which, operating under the same regulations in every State, must produce an equal, or nearly equal, effect everywhere, and oblige all the States to share the common burthen 2
If the impost is granted to the United States, with the power of levying it, it must have a proportionate effect in all the States, for the same mode of collection everywhere will have nearly the same return everywhere.
What must be the final issue of the present state of things 2 Will the few States that now contribute, be willing to contribute much longer ? Shall we ourselves be long content with bearing the burthen singly Will not our zeal for a particular system soon give way to the pressure of so unequal a weight? And if all the States cease to pay, what is to become of the Union ? It is sometimes asked, Why do not Congress oblige the States to do their duty 2 But where are the means? Where are the fleets and armies; where the Federal treasury to support those fleets and armies, to enforce the requisitions of the Union ? All methods short of coercion have repeatedly been tried in vain. ' ' ' '
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Having now shown, Mr. Chairman, that there is no constitutional impediment to the adoption of the bill; that there is no danger to be apprehended to the public liberty from giving the power in question to the United States ; that in the view of revenue the measure under consideration is not only expedient but necessary—let us turn our attention to the other side of this important subject. Let us ask ourselves, what will be the consequence of rejecting the bill 2 What will be the situation of our national affairs if they are left much longer to float in the chaos in which they are now involved 2 Can our national character be preserved without paying our debts 2 Can the Union subsist without revenue 2 Have we realized the consequences which would attend its dissolution ? If these States are not united under a Federal Government, they will infallibly have wars with each other; and their divisions will subject them to all the mischiefs of foreign influence and intrigue. The human passions will never want objects of hostility. The Western Territory is an obvious and fruitful source of contest. " Let us also cast our eye upon the map of this State, intersected from one extremity to the other by a large navigable river. In the event of a rupture with them, what is to hinder our metropolis from becoming a prey to our neighbors 2 Is it even supposable that they would suffer it to remain the nursery of wealth to a distinct community ? These subjects are delicate, but it is necessary to contemplate them, to teach us to form a true estimate of our situation. Wars with each other would beget standing armies—a source of more real danger to our liberties than all the powers that could be conferred upon the representatives of the Union. And wars with each other would lead to opposite alliances with foreign powers, and plunge us into all the labyrinths of European politics. The Romans, in their progress to universal dominion, when they conceived the project of subduing the refractory spirit of the Grecian republics, which composed the famous Achaian League, began by sowing dissensions among them and instilling jealousies of each other, and of the common head, and finished by making them a province of the Roman Empire. The application is easy: if there are any foreign enemies, if there are any domestic foes to this country, all their arts and artifices will be employed to effect a dissolution of the Union. This cannot be better done than by sowing jealousies of the Federal head, and cultivating in each State an undue attachment to its own power.
JAMES MADISON (1751-1836)
THE FATHER OF THE CONSTITUTION
since the Declaration of Independence. But this title meant very little until after the adoption of the Constitution in 1788. Before that date the Union of the States was a very disjointed affair. The old Confederacy was as weak as a string of beads held together by a spider's web. Congress had almost no power and the Union was simply a temporary league of independent States. Washington told the exact truth when he said, “We are one nation to-day and thirteen to-morrow.” Congress had no money except what the States chose to give it; if it needed an army it had to ask the States for soldiers; it could make treaties, but could not enforce them; it could borrow money, but could not repay it; it could make war, but could not enlist
0 UR national title, the United States of America, has been in use
a man to fight its battles. A change was necessary if the whole affair was not to fall to pieces. There must be a stronger union or soon there would be none at all. Hamilton and Madison were among the first to see this, and Madison had so much to do in bringing about the Constitutional Convention, called to form a real Union of the States, that he is spoken of as “The Father of the Constitution.” And we know of what took place in that Convention mainly by the notes which Madison took while it went on, and which he left to be published after his death. James Madison was born near Port Royal, Virginia, in 1751. He grew to be one of those active and able statesmen of whom Virginia gave so many to the service of the country at the critical period of the birth of the new nation. Feeble health prevented him from fighting for his country, but he was active in legislative service and afterwards was one of the ablest members of the Convention that
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framed the Constitution, which he aided Hamilton in supporting in that splendid series of essays published under the title of “The Federalist.” After serving in Congress and in the Virginia Legislature, Madison became Secretary of State under Jefferson, and in 1809 took his seat as President. He continued in this high office for eight years, of which three were years of war. The remainder of his life was spent in rest and quiet. Madison was one of the most illustrious of the early American statesmen, an able thinker, a skillful writer, and a brilliant orator. He took an active part in the debates on the Constitution, and afterwards in the Virginia Convention called to ratify it. Here he had to contend against the vehement oratory of Patrick Henry and the persuasive eloquence of George Mason; yet he gained his cause, the Constitution was adopted, and Virginia entered the Union.
THE AMERICAN FEDERAL UNION
[While Hamilton in New York was delivering that brilliant series of speeches on the Constitution from which we have given an extract, and which carried New York for the Union, his colleague, Madison, was engaged in the same good work in Virginia. Hamilton had the able party leader George Clinton, to contend against, and Madison had the brilliant orator Patrick Henry, yet they both carried their point. They had much the stronger side of the argument, and were able to show the people that there was no middle course between the Constitution and anarchy. To reject it would have been the death of the Union and the ruin of the States. This is what Madison sought to demonstrate in his series of speeches given in June, 1788. We offer from these an illustrative extract describing the character of the proposed new government.]
Give me leave to say something of the nature of the government, and to show that it is perfectly safe and just to vest it with the power of taxation. There are a number of opinions; but the principal question is, whether it be a federal or a consolidated government. In order to judge properly of the question before us, we must consider it minutely, in its principal parts. I myself conceive that it is of a mixed nature; it is, in a manner, unprecedented. We cannot find one express prototype in the experience of the world; it stands by itself. In some respects it is a government of a federal nature; in others, it is of a consolidated nature. Even if we attend to the manner in which the Constitution is investigated, ratified and made the act of the people of America, I can say, notwithstanding what the honorable gentleman [Patrick Henry] has alleged, that this government is not completely consolidated ; nor is it entirely federal. Who are the parties to it? The people: not the people as composing