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Jax. 3, 1857.)
Admission of Michigan.
What use bave these Legislatures made of this sover. ments to the people, for their adoption or rejection. eign power! They have transferred it to a thousand They can place this question before the electors distinct. State banks; they have yielded up all control over it; and, ly, and detached from all other amendments. Each cit. if the doctrine now contended for be correct, these izen, at the polls, will thus be enabled to vote upon the banks cannot be disturbed in the exercise of this attri- single question, bank or no bank. This is due to the bute of sovereign power by any human authority. They | bank, as well as to the people. I need scarcely add that hold it under the sacred shield of the constitution of the no citizen of Pennsylvania with whom I bave ever conUnited States. It is now deemed a matter of immense im- versed upon the subject entertains a doubt of the propri. portance to restrain the issue of small notes, and substi- ety and justice of refunding the bonus which the bank tute a specie circulation in their stead. But the banks can may have paid, with interest and damages sufficient to laugh you to scorn. The whole power of Congress, and place it in the very same situation it was when it received that of all the Legislatures of all the twenty-six States of its charter. This might properly be made a constituent this vast Union, cannot prohibit the circulation of notes of part of the question to be submitted to the people. a less denomination than five dollars. If this be the case, These desirable objects could not be secured by means did ever so great an absurdity exist upon the face of the of a repeal by the Legislature. So many questions, both eartb, under the Government of any people! Congress of a political and local character, influence the election have, by some means or other, lost the control over the of its members, that the friends of the bank might com. paper currency of the country. The States, to whom it plain that the people had not sanctioned the repeal. I belongs, have granted it to a thousand banking corpora. would, therefore, be sorry if necessity should compel us tions; and, although the people of the States may change !o adopt this alternative as the only means left of trying and modify their fundamental institutions at pleasure, the question. yet this banking power remains unhurt amidst the gene Again: should the bank appeal from the decision of ral wreck. If this be true, the people of the United the people of Pennsylvania in their sovereign capacity, States are completely at the mercy of these institutions. to the Supreme Court of the United States, the question The creature will give laws to the creator. But here will be presented before that tribunal in a more solemn the great and wise judge, and expounder of the consti- and imposing form than if the repeal should be accomtution, interposes for our relief. He declares that, “if plished by an ordinary act of legislation. The people of the act of incorporation be a grant of political power, the State of Pennsylvania, complaining that their legislathe subject is one in which the Legislature of the State tive servants had despoiled them of one of the highest may act according to its own judgment, unrestrained by attributes of an independent Commonwealth, and had any limitation of its power imposed by the constitution bartered away, for a period of thirty years, the political of the United States.” Who doubts but that the power power which they enjoyed of regulating the paper cur. to regulate the paper currency of a country is, in its very rency within their own limits, would then be the party on nature, a political power?
the one side; and on the other, the Bank of the United From what I have said, the Senate will perceive ibat States, contending that the transfer of this power has There is no foundation whatever for the panic which bas been irrevocahly made to it, under the sanction of the been excited lest the State might resume its grants of constitution of the United States. Of the result I enterland, might violate the rights of private property, or take tain not the slightest apprehension. Should it, howwhat belongs to one man, and give it to another. The ever, be adverse, which Heaven forbid! I can tell the prohibition contained in the constitution of the United Senator from South Carolina (Mr. Calhoun) that we States clearly embraces these cases.
shall never resort to nullification as the rightful remedy. It is not my intention here to discuss either the merils Thus, sir, I have been drawn into a discussion utterly or demerits of the Bank of the United States, as recharrepugnant to my own feelings. I hope I may never tered by Pennsylvania. In my opinion, a large majority again have occasion to allude to the subject on this floor, of the people of that State, and inyself among the num- it is entirely foreign from the question in debate. Nothber, believe that the creation of this vast moneyed mo- ing could have urged me to make the remarks which I nopoly, with the privilege of issuing bank paper to the have done, but the unwarranted attack of the Senator amount of thirty-five millions of dollars, is dangerous to from Ohio (Mr. Morris) upon the party at home with our liberties and to our dearest interests. We desire to which I am proud to act. try the question before the supreme judicial tribunal of Mr. BENTON followed the Senator from Pennsylvania, the land, whether its charter is protected by the constitution of the United States. it will be admitted by a semi Bolbe ;) and said
he had risen for what might that a more important question has never been present. ing the positions of that Senator. This certainly looked ed for adjudication before any court. By wbat means, like a work of supererogation, seeing the able, perspic. then, can we raise this question for decision? We must uous, and powerful manner in which that gentleman had submit in silence, or the charter must be repealed either sustained himself; and if he (Mr. B.) had nothing but arby the Legislature or the approaching convention. There gument to ofler, he should not tender his aid; for the aris no other allernative. And because we are anxious to gument just delivered required no aid of that kind. bave this question decided, by the only means in our But his aid was of another kind, that of authority and power, a deafening clamor has been raised against us, precedent, drawn from the venerable authority of our that we are revolutionists, radicals, violators of vested early history, and from the writings and opinions of the rights, and every thing else which is calculated to alarm fathers of the republic, and from the approved action of the people. We wish to ascertain the truth of that State Legislatures. In this former he held himself exwhich is taken for granted by our adversaries, whether cusable in tendering his aid, and should limit himself al. the charter is a vested right, protected by the constitu- most entirely to the production of the authorities to tion of the United States, or not. This is the whole front which he had reference. But before he did this, he of our offending. Is this not just, is it not reasonable, must take leave to express his deep regret at the course is it any thing but a fair appeal to the laws of the land? followed yesterday by the Senators from South Carolina
Different opinions exist in Pennsylvania as to whether and Ohio, (Mr. Calhoun and Mr. Morris,] in bringing this repeal should be effected by the Legislature or the the names of Pennsylvania and Maryland into this discus. convention. For my own part, I decidedly prefer the sion, and in animadverting upon the conduct of citizens laller, if it can be accomplished. The convention will or parties in those States. He joined the Senator from possess no power but merely that of proposing amend- | Pennsylvania (Mr. BUCHANAN] in the expression of his
Admission of Michigan.
(Jan. 3, 1837.
deep regret at this course; and, like him, should avoid of deportment of the writer, had prevented him from $0 recrimination, and should limit himself to defensive ob- scanning his words as to be able to find the deep misservations in favor of those who were assailed, without chief which they concealed; for certainly he had not impugning the conduct or motives of their adversaries seen the anarchical spirit attributed to it. In many in their own States.
things he agreed with him, especially in that which relaMr. B. did not consider the Senate of the United ed io vested rights; in some things he did not; but States as a suitable place for the denunciation of the cit. | where he did not agree, it was still the disagreement izens of the States, nor for the discussion of State meas which left unimpeached the high character for public ures, Stale parties, or State politics. The high privi- and private worth which Mr. Dallas brought with him, leges of debate secured to us by the constitution, and as a Senator from Pennsylvania, to this chamber, and the latitude of discussion allowed by our rules, were in carried back with him from this chamber to Pennsylvania. tended to protect us in the discussion of national meas. Mr. B. then referred to Mr. Madison's writings, No. ures, and in the investigation of those subjects and mat. 44 of the Federalist, to sustain the opinion of the Senaters which regularly came before us, and necessarily re tor from Pennsylvania, (Mr. BUCHANAN,] on the nature quired our action. Acting on this conception of his of the contracts which the clause in the constitution of duty, he should follow the example of the Senator from the United States was intended to guard.. He said it Pennsylvania, (Mr. Buchanan.] He should abstain would be seen that Mr. Madison confined this clause enfrom all animadversion, or even expression of adverse tirely to private rights and personal security, and that not opinion, upon the measures which agitate the States of a word of what he said could be extended to chartered Pennsylvania and Maryland. He should limit himself privileges, the granting of which had been twice refused to some defence of those who were so unexpectedly in the convention which framed the constitution, and the dragged into this debate yesterday, and should endeavor preservation of which, therefore, could not come within to get rid of the whole subject as soon as possible. For
the meaning of that instrument. Remarking upon the he should endeavor to finish at this sitting, in order clause in the constitution which prohibits the States, that it should not be known in Pennsylvania and Mary; among other things, from passing any law impairing the land that the Senate of the United States was engaged obligations of contracts, Mr. M. says: in discussing their affairs, until it was also known that “Very properly, therefore, have the convention add. that discussion was terminated.
ed this constitutional bulwark in favor of personal securiNominally, and upon the record, said Mr. B., this is a ty and private rights; and I am much deceived if they Michigan question--3 question to admit the State of have not, in so doing, as faithfully consulted the genuine Michigan into the Union; in fact and in substance, it is sentiments as the undoubted interests of their constitunow converted into a Pennsylvania and a Maryland The sober people of America are weary of the question, to arrest or paralyze the proceedings against Auctuating policy which has directed the public counthe United States Bank charter in the former, and to cils. They bave seen, with regret and indignation, that arrest or paralyze the proceedings in favor of a con sudden changes and legislative interferences, in cases af. vention in the latter. This is the form. given to it yes- fecting personal rights, become jobs in the hands of enterday by the movement of the Senators from South terprising and influential speculators, and snares to the "Carolina and Ohio, (Mr. Calhoun and Mr. MORRIS;) so more industrious and less informed part of the commu. that little Michigan, which had seemed to be the subunity.” ject of discussion before the Senate, was suddenly found With this exposition from Mr. Madison, Mr. B. would to be nothing but the tail to the kite, dangling in the submit that chartered privileges, although they might be air below, while all eyes were fixed upon the imposing sold for money, constitute ro part of the contracts the apparition of the two Atlantic States, rising and hover inviolability of which are guarantied by the constitution ing above. In this way, the young Michigan was sud. of the United States; and while this is plain upon the denly eclipsed and lost sight of; and the lawless and rev. face of the words used in the Federalist, namely, “priolutionary movement, as it was styled, in Pennsylvania, vate rights," " personal rights," "personal security," it against the sanctity of a certain charter, and the lawless is still further confirmed by the words which follow, and and revolu!ionary movement, as it was stigmatized, in which show that the clause, so far from being intended Maryland, in favor of a convention of the people, bet
to secure enterprising jobbers and influential speculators came the engrossing theme of denunciation and vituper in their ill-gotten advantages, was really intended to proation. Greally did Mr. B. rejoice that the Senator from tect the industrious and less informed part of the comPennsylvania (Mr. BUCHANAN) bad followed no part of munity against their legislative machinations. Finally, this unhappy example; that he had carefully eschewed and in full proof, that the clause could have no relation all animadversion; that he had positively refused to take to incorporations and bank charters is proved by the any part, or to have any share, in discussing State meas. fact thai the federal convention which framed the con. ures here; and had confined himself to the duties of de stitution twice refused to grant the incorporating power fence imposed upon him by the novel and aggressive to Congress, and consequently cannot be construed to course pursued by others. Tbat Senator's first care protect the existence of a thing which it twice refused was to defend a gentleman of his own State, Mr. Dallas, to create. who had been assailed here by name; and in that he bad Mr. B. said this was the exposition of one of the fathers so acted as to effect what lie (Mr. B.) had thought of the constitution, made befo:e that instrument was to be impossible: he had increased his ligh character adopted by the States. There had been many exposi, for private worth, and had added to the exalted opinion tions of it since, both legislative and judicial, and out of entertained of the goodness of his heart; for this gen- the multitude Mr. B. would select one which, in all the erous defence was volunteered in favor of one with essentials of time, place, subject, actors, and action, whom it was not his fortune to be on terms of intimacy. would claim a pre-eminent and omnipotent voice in this He showed the injustice done to that gentleman by at. Pennsylvania question, so unexpectedly thrust in upon tributing to his letter meanings which did not belong to us here, and so vehemently plead on this flour in behalf it, and drawing inferences as foreign to his character as of a certain bank, against the legislative and conventional they were to his writing. He (Mr. B.) had read that power of the State. Mr. B. then sent to the Secretary's letter, but not since it bad been the subject of animad.table a volume of the statutes of Kentucky for the year version; and it might be that his knowledge of the amia- 1820, and requested that the Secretary should read an ble character, purity of heart and purpose, and modesty act which he pointed out to him. Tlie Secretary read:
Jax. 3, 1837.)
Admission of Michigan.
“ An act to repeal the act entitled 'An act establish: notes or bills of credit, payable to bearer or otherwise, ing independent banks in this Commonwealth,' and an shall be, and the same are hereby, repealed and react supplemental thereto.” Approved, February 10, voked, from and after the first day of May next; and all 1820.
other powers, rights, and privileges, granted to said cor“PREAMBLE.—Whereas, in the tenth article of the porations in said recited acts, are hereby repealed and constitution of Kentucky, it is declared: First, that all revoked from and after the first day of January, 1823. freemen, when they form a social compact, are equal; “Sec. 20.-Be it further enacted, That any person or and that no man or set of men are entitled to exclusive, persons who may act as a president, director, or any separate, public emoluments or privileges from the com. other officer of any independent bank in this State, conmunity, but in consideration of public services: And, sec trary to the provisions of this act, shall be subject to all ondly, that all power is inherent in the people, and all the penalties, fines, and forfeitures, imposed by an act free Governments are founded on their authority, and entitled • An act to suppress private associations for the instituted for their peace, safety, and bappiness. And purpose of banking,' approved February 8th, 1812; whereas it is self-evident, according to those fundamental which penalties, fines, and forfeitures, may and shall be principles of government, that all laws which grant to a imposed, recovered, collected, and distributed, according few the power
to oppress the many are tyrannical in their to the provisions of the said last-recited act. nature, and adverse to the primitive rights of the peo “Sec. 3d.-Be it further enacted, That the bonus reple; and, therefore, repealable by the supreme authori- quired from the independent banks, for the privilege of ty. To say that a sale of the primitive rights of the banking for the year 1820, shall be, and the same is here. people, by the Legislature, is to be perpetual, and unal- by, remitted. terable, because there is a contract in the case, is to de “ Sec. 4th. -- Be it further enacted, That so much of clare that error, and abuse of power, may consecrate the act to incorporate Saunders’s Manufacturing Company, themselves. Fraud vitiates all contracts. To effect which passed the 31st of January, 1818, and the supple. the intention of the parties is the object of all laws reg. mental act thereto, approved February 30, 1818, which ulating contracts. That a privilege granted shall be gives the said company banking privileges, shall be, and used for the destruction, or even to the disadvantage, of the same is hereby, repealed; and the second section of those who granted, never could be the intention of the this act is hereby made applicable to the persons who parties. All legislative power is derivative-proceeds may bave the management of the said manufacturing in. from the people, and is to be used for their prosperity stitution.” and happiness only; consequently, all laws of a contrary Mr. B. said that this preamble and act, taken together, tendency violate the intention of the social compact, and were both the declaration and the action of the Legislature are subject, upon first principles, to the condition of be- of one of the principal States in the Union-a State fering repealed, whether the evil springs from the nature tile in many ways, and in none more so than in the proof the privilege granted, or contract entered into, or duction of able and patriotic men. A Legislature of that from the abuse of either. A bank charter, from its na State, in our own day, and in our own time, and comture, extends and necessarily confines the powers and posed of many persons now living and acting, swept off privileges granted to a few, to the exclusion of the many. a litter of banks at one blow, with the banking privileges It therefore follows, as an unavoidable conclusion, that of Lewis Saunders's cotton bagging factory to boot, even if the power and privileges granted in a bank charter op. after they had been two years in operation, maugre all erate against the public good, the people, by their Le. their cries about the bonus and the contract, and did 90, not gislature, have the primitive right to revoke such a char. by virtue of reserved powers in charters, but by virtue of ter. To the end, therefore, that the good people of inherent and unalienable rights in the body politic. Mr. B. this State be delivered in future from the baneful effects said he was cotemporary with this great act—this magna of the power and privileges granted by the law establish charta of the Kentucky Legislature. "He remembered ing independent banks, which have been exercised in its passage, and the satisfaction which it gave to the many instances, in the plenitude of tyranny, oppression, State, and to the surrounding States, and to the whole and abuse, to the great injury of the good people of this Union. He remembered more: and that was the applause State.”
thien bestowed upon this act of the Kentucky Legislature When the Secretary had read to the end of the preby presses, periodicals, newspapers, and registers, which amble, he paused and inquired whether the reading of are now foremost in denouncing citizens of Pennsylvania the act itself was desired. Mr. B. answered, by all for proposing to imitate it in a case where alien foreignmeans. The preamble is good, and the act is better. ers, more than native citizens, are concerned, and where It shows how the republicans of Kentucky dispose of the reasons for acting are many ten thousand times greater vested rights in chartered privileges, and bonus con than in the case of the independent banks, and Lewis tracts for oppressing a State with banks, and how com. Saunders's banking cotton-bagging factory. He recollectpendiously they teach presidents and directors of banks ed also that the doctrine of vested rights was then invo. to submit to the laws of the land, or to take the fines ked by the stockholders in the hecatomb of banks which and forfeitures which resistance to the laws imposes upon were subjected to the edge of the sacrificial knife; and insurgent and refractory spirits. It presents an author. that their invocation shared the same faie wbich the ity and example which the friends of the Bank of the claim of the midnight judges of 1800 suffered when they United Stetes are bound to respect, and which may re claimed their seats and salaries as vested rights; the same quire all their ingenuity to answer, on this foor or else fate which the tenants in tail and some of the eldest sons wbere.
suffered, about the time of our Revolution, when entails The Secretary then read the act:
were abolished, and the insolent prerogative of primo“ Sec. 1st.Be it enacted by the General Assembly of geniture, as Mr. Gibbon called it, was suppressed by the Commonwealth of Kentucky, That all power, right, law; the same fate which the friends of feudal rights sut: or privilege, granted to the corporations established by fered in France in 1789, when Lafayette moved, in the an act entitled • An act establishing independent bank's Assembly of Notables, the entire suppression of all those in this Commonwealth,' approved January 26th, 1818, rights; the same fate which a clergy, loaded with propand an act entitled "An act supplemental to the act es erty of this world, suffered in England, when all the tablishing independent banks in this Commonwealth,' staiutes called mortmain were passed. In all these cases, approved February 3d, 1818, to deal and trade in dis. as well as in the case of the independent banks, and Mr. counts, bills of exchange, or current money, or to issue Saunders's bag-factory bank, and the present United
Admission of Michigan.
(Jan. 3, 1837
States Bank of Pennsylvania, the plea of vested rights claimed respect, the act which Michigan has done, and was pressed into the service; but it happened to be ad. which a party in Maryland proposes to do. Mr. B. then dressed to those who could discriminate between the read and commented briefly upon several passages from rights of property, which the public good requires the writings of Mr. Madison, Judge Wilson, of Pennsylva.. to be held sacred and inviolate, and the pretensions nia, General Hamilton, and Judge Story, in his Commenta. of privilege which the same public good requires to be ries on the Constitution. Mr. Madison, speaking of the examined and controlled. The arguments now set up alleged defect of powers in the convention of 1787, against the repealability of chartered privileges is nothing which formed the federal constitution, says: but the same plea set up in all ages, and in all countries, “ They (the members of the convention) must have in favor of similar privileges; and Mr. B. must be allow. reflected that, in all great changes of established Gov. ed to say that there is no comparison between the style ernments, forms ought to give way to substance; that a and composition of those arguments, as used in England rigid adherence, in such cases, lo the former, would renand France, and also in the United States, on former der nominal and nugatory the transcendent and precious occasions, and as used here now. The advocates for vested right of the people to abolish or alter this Government, rights, that is, chartered privileges, in these days, do as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety little more than shout; or, at best, indite a paragraph, and happiness,' since it is impossible for the people sponpert and Aippant, coarse and trite, or heavy and dull; taneously and universally to move in concert towards whereas the old advocates composed elegant and scholar- | their object, and it is therefore essential that such like dissertations; and he woul ise their followers, in changes be ins:ituted by some informal and unauthorized these days, to bunt up their speeches and essays, and propositions, made by some patriotic and respectable cit. copy their style, and at least give us bad doctrines in izen, or number of citizens. They must have recollectgood language.
ed that it was by this irregular and assumed privilege of Mr. B., with as much reluctance as he had felt in ad- proposing to the people plans for their safety and happi. verting to Pennsylvania affairs, must now advert to ness, that the States were first united against the danger the Maryland branch of this question. It seems that with which they were threatened by their ancient Gov. there is a movement in Maryland to organize a conven. ernment; that committees and Congresses were formed tion, by the inherent and unalienable rights of the peo for concentrating their efforts, and defending their rights, ple, and, without a legislative act, to alter and change and that conventions were elected in the several states the constitution of the State. The convention held in for establishing the constitutions under which they are Michigan is one of this kind, and, therefore, the recog now governed. Nor could it have been forgotten that no nition of an act done by that convention is resisted on little ill-timed scruples, no zeal for adhering to ordinary this floor, by the friends of the anti-convention party in forms, were any where seen, except in those who wished Maryland, for fear it may operate in favor of tbe conven. to indulge, under these masks, their secret enmity to the tion party in that State. This is the way that Maryland substance contended for.”-Federalist, No. 40. politics are lugged into this debate, and made part of Yere (said Mr. B.) the authority of the people, in ihis discussion. Mr. B. said he had often seen genile-their original sovereigo capacity, to abolish, alter, and men argue one question with an eye to another, but, change, their form of government, is fully and expressly ustially, with the delicacy of not lugging in, by name, set forth. The want of legislative authority to guide or this other question, which had no place upon the record. direct them is directly waived; and some patriotic and But this delicacy has not been observed upon this occa. respectable citizen or citizens are looked to, to com. sion. Michigan alone is in the record before us; yet mence the informal and unauthorized propositions which Pennsylvania has been dragged in by name; Maryland are to lead to a convention, and to end in the adoption has been dragged in by name; and not only dragged in, of fundamental changes. but made the principal subject of debate, and the most Such citizens re not considered by Mr. Madison as furious denunciations levelled at a portion of their citi- anarchists, disorganizers, disturbers of the peace, de
The advocates for the Maryland convention are, spoilers of property, &c., but as public benefactors, not incidentally and by way of inuendo, lashed and prompted by patriotism to take the lead in a work of scourged here while lashing and scourging the Michigan public good and necessity. Mr. B. particularly noted, convention, but they are singled out, seized upon, and and read twice over, the concluding sentence of this exdragged forcibly and violenily into this chamber; and tract from Mr. Madison. He said that Mr. M. was one then denounced in such style that, no doubt, the ques of the most careful men in abstaining from personalities tion of the Maryland convention is considered as com and the imputation of motives; but here was a keen cut, pleiely crushed by the force which assails it here. Be it and a home thrust, at the old tories of the Revolutionso, said Mr. B., if the people of sovereign States are wil. | King George the Third's men, the conservatives of fifty ling to have their affairs governed by denunciation here.
years ago, who were indulging their secret enmity io It will certainly be a one-sided game on this floor; for it the real rights of the people, under the mask of zeal for was manifest that there was one party at least here who adhering to forms, and conscientious scruples against would not attack the impending measures of any State, acting without authority. Mr. B. continued his read. nor attack the conduct or motives of the citizens of any ings: State, in acting as they pleased on what concerned themselves; there was one party, at least, here, who would Extracts from the works of James Wilson, of Pennsyl. limit themselves to the just defence of the absent and
vania, formerly Associate Justice of the Supreme Court the assailed. The Maryland convention party, then, is
of the United States. arraigned and condemned here for proposing to do wbat “Permit me to mention one great principle, the vital Michigan has done, and the act of Michigan must be principle I may well call it, which diffuses animation and stamped with reprobation by Congress, lest it become a vigor through all the others. The principle I mean is precedent, sanctioned by the approbation of Congress, this: that the supreme or sovereign power of the sofor the justification of the convention party in Maryland. ciety resides in the citizens at large; and that, therefore, This is the state of the question before us; and Mr. B. they always retain the right of abolisbing, altering, or would immediately proceed to vindicate, not by an ar. amending, this constitution, at whatever time and in gument of bis own, but by example, authority, and prece. whatever manner they shall Jeem it expedient.”- Vol. dent, drawn from our early history, and from the wri. 1, page 17. tings of the founders of the republic, and others which " Why should we not teach our children those princi.
Jan. 3, 1837.)
Admission of Michigan.
ples upon which we ourselves have thought and acted? and motion, and change their form of government at Ought we to instil into their tender minds a theory, es their pleasure. He would next show that this great right pecially if unfounded, which is contradictory to our own was acted upon in the formation of the present constitupractice, built on the most solid foundation? Why tion of the United States, and that this constitution owes should we reduce them to the cruel dilemma of con all its force to the voluntary action of conventions springdemning either those principles they have been taught | ing from the people, not under the authority, but merely to believe, or those persons whom they have been laught under the recommendation of the State Legislatures. to revere?”– Vol. 1, page 20.
Premising, what every person knew, that the deputies “ As to the people, however, in whom the sovereign to the federal convention of 1787 were appointed to repower resides: from their authority the constitution vise the articles of confederation, and not to frame a new originales; for their safety and felicity it is established: Government, Mr. B. proceeded to read the first resolu. in their hands it is as clay in the hands of the potier; tion of the convention, in communicating their work to the they have the right to mould, to preserve, to improve, Congress of the confederation, and requesting the Con. to refine, and to finish it as they please. If so, can it gress to lay it before the State Legislatures, with a re. be doubted that they bave the right likewise to change quest that they would recommend it to the adoption of ill-Vol. 1, page 418.
the people of the States in their conventions. He read: General Hamilton, vindicating the convention of “ Resolved, That the preceding constitution be laid be. 1787, which omitted to prefix to the federal constitu fore the United States in Congress assembled, and that it is tion a bill of rights, says:
the opinion of this convention that it should afterwards he “It is evident, therefore, according to this (bill of submitted to the convention of delegates chosen in each rights) primitive signification, they have no application State by the people thereof, under the recommendation to constitutions professedly founded upon the power of of its Legislature, for their assent and ratification," &c. the people, and executed by their immediate represent Here, said Mr. B., this great convention of 1787, knowatives and servants. Here, in strictness, the people ing that they had no power to give or grant a constitusurrender nothing; and, as they retain every thing, they tion to the people of the States, merely express their have no need of particular reservations."-- Federalist, opinion that it ought to be submitled to them; and, knowNo. 84.
ing that the State Legislatures had no authority to order Judge Story, speaking of the declaration of independ. conventions, they merely requested that they would recence, says:
ommend them; and knowing, further, that the sovereign " It was not an act done by the State Governments power was in the people, they used the word people in then organized, nor by persons chosen by them. It preference to that of citizens, qualified voters, freeholdwas emphatically the act of the whole people of the ers, tax-payers, or any thing else which might imply a united colonies, by the instrumentality of their repre convention not springing from the sovereign power of sentatives, chosen for that, among other purposes. It the people, but governed by existing laws and constituwas an act not competent to the State Governments, or tions. any of them, as organized under their charters, to adopt. Mr. B. then traced the mode of acting under this recThose charters neither contemplated the case, nor pro ommendation by the States, and took the convention of vided for it. It was an act of original, inherent sover- Virginia as the one which would perhaps be admitted to eignty by the people themselves, resulting from their be of the highest authority in this case. He showed right to change the form of Government, and to insti- | that the General Assembly of Virginia first passed a tute a new Government, whenever necessary for their “resolution," by which they “recoinmended" the peosafety and happiness.”-Story's Commentaries on the ple to hold a convention, and next passed an act “ conConstitution, vol. 1, page 198.
cerning" the convention, and providing for its accommoJudge Story, commenting on the origin and proceed dation, but assuming no authority over it. He then reings of the convention which formed the first General ferred to the proceedings of the convention, to show Government for the colonies, says:
that they had met according to the recommendation of "In some of the Legislatures of the colonies, which the General Assembly, and that they decided the imporwere then in session, delegates were appointed by the tant questions connected with the qualifications and elec. popular or representative branch; and in other cases tions of the delegates according to what was satisfactory to ihey were appointed by conventions of the people in themselves, as acting in their sovereign representative cathe colonies. The convention of delegates assembled pacity, and not as according to the laws and constitution on the 4th of September, 1774; and, having chosen offi- of the State, as if created by their authority. The history cers, they adopted certain fundamental rules for their of their proceedings opens thus: proceedings.
“ In convention, Monday, the 2d of June, 1788. This “ Thus was organized, under the auspices and with the being the day recommended by the Legislature for the consent of the people, acting directly in their primary, meeting of the convention, to take into consideration the sovereign capacity, and without the intervention of the proposed plan of the Federal Government, a majority of functionaries to whom the ordinary powers of Govern. the gentlemen delegated thereto assembled at the public ment were delegated in the colonies, the first General buildings in Richmond," &c. or National Government.
The first act of the convention, after organizing itself, “ The Congress thusassembled exercised, de facto, and was to appoint a committee of privileges and elections; de jure, a sovereign authority, not as the delegated and a most numerous, talented, and important committee it agents of the Government de facto of the colonies, but in was. It consisted of twenty-eight members, among whom virtue of original powers derived from the people." were the first names of Virginia and of America: BenjaStory's Commentaries on the Constilution, vol. 1, pp. 185, min Harrison, Patrick Henry, George Mason, Governor 186
Randolph, John Marshall, James Monroe, James MadiHaving read these extracts, Mr. B. forbore to make son, George Nicholas, Paul Carrington, and others any comments upon them, barely remarking that they scarcely less distinguished. The business of this comwere purposely taken from different political schools, to mittee was to pass upon the validity of the elections, and show that those who differed fundamentally on so many to decide between contending parties for the same seat; points, yet agreed perfectly on this most fundamental of and the words in which they make their reports, the all points, namely, the inherent and unalienable right of evidence which they received in contested cases, and the the people to meet in convention of their own mere will I disregard with wbich they passed over legal and constitu