ページの画像
PDF
ePub

existence, depend on the union of the states ; and that without this union, the people of this and the other states, will undergo the unspeakable calamities, which discord, fac. tion, turbulence, war, and bloodshed, have produced in other countries. The American spirit ought to be mixed with American pride-pride to see the union magnificently triumph. Let that glorious pride, which once defied the British thunder, reanimate you again. Let it not be recorded of Americans, that after having performed the most gallant exploits, after having overcome the most astonishing difficulties, and after having gained the admiration of the world by their incomparable valor and policy, they lost their acquired reputation, their national consequence and happiness, by their own indiscretion. Let no future histo. rian inform posterity, that they wanted wisdom and virtue to concur in any regular, efficient government. Should any writer, doomed to so disagreeable a task, feel the indigna. tion of an honest historian, he would reprehend and recrimi. nate our folly, with equal severity and justice. . Catch the present moment, seize it with avidity and eagerness, for it may be lost, never to be regained. If the union be now lost, I fear it will remain so for ever. I believe gentlemen are sincere in their opposition, and actuated by pure mo. tives : but when I maturely weigh the advantages of the union, and dreadful consequences of its dissolution; when I see safety on my right, and destruction on my left ; when I behold respectability and happiness acquired by the re, but annihilated by the other, I cannot hesitate to decide in favor of the former.

state conventions it met with much and warm opposition. Nine states, however, soon ratified it, and the rest, in a short time, followed. These facts have been stated, in order that the extracts from the speeches of the members of the state conventions may be clearly understood, read with interest, and spoken with feeling.

II.—THE EXCELLENCY OF THE AMERICAN CONSTITUTION.

Extract from Alexander Hamilton's Speech on the expediency of adopt.

ing the Federal Constitution ; delivered in the Convention of New. York, June 27, 1788.

AFTER all our doubts, our suspicions and speculations, Mr. Chairman, on the subject of government, we must re. turn at last to this important truth-that when we have formed a constitution upon free principles ; when we have given a proper balance to the different branches of adminis. tration, and fixed representation upon pure and equal prin. ciples, we inay, with safety, furnish it with all the powers necessary to answer, in the most ample manner, the pur. poses of government. The great objects to be desired are a free representation, and mutual checks. When these are obtained, all our apprehensions of the extent of powers are unjust and imaginary. What then is the structure of this constitution ?. One branch of the legislature is to be elected by the people by the same people who choose your state representatives. Its members are to hold their office two years, and then return to their coustituents. Here, sir, the people govern: here they act by their imme. diate representatives. You have also a senate, constituted by your state legislatures—by men in whom you place the highest confidence, and forming another representative branch. Then, again, you have an executive magistrate, the president, created by a form of election, which merits universal admiration. In the form of this government, and in the mode of legislation, you find all the checks which the greatest politicians and the best writers have ever conceived. What more can reasonable men desire ? Is there any one brauch, in which the whole legislative and executive powers are lodged ? No. The legislative authority is lodged in three distinct branches, properly balanced : the executive authority is divided between two branches; and the judicial is still reserved for an independent body, who hold their offices during good behavior. This organization is so com. plex, so skilfully contrived, that it is next to impossible that an impolitic or wicked measure should pass the great scru. tiny with success. Now, what do gentlemen mean by coming forward and declaiming against this government? Why do they say we ought to limit its powers, to disable it, and to destroy its capacity of blessing the people? Has philosophy suggested-has experience taught—that such a government ought not to be trusted with every thing necessary for the good of society ? Sir, when you have divided and nicely balanced the departments of government ; when you have strongly connected the virtue of your rulers with their interest ; when, in short, you have rendered your system as perfect as human forms can be YOU MUST PLACE CONFIDENCE-YOU MUST GIVE POWER.

III.-THE NECESSITY OF PERMANENCY IN ONE BRANCH OF

THE LEGISLATURE—THE SENATE.

Extract from Alexander Hamilton's Speech on the expediency of adopting the Federal Constitution ; delivered in the Convention of NewYork, June 24, 1788.

I am persuaded, Mr. Chairman, that I, in my turn, shall be indulged in addressing the committee. We all, in equal sincerity, profess to be anxious for the establishment of a republican government, on a safe and solid basis. It is the object of the wishes of every honest man in the United States, and I presume I shall not be disbelieved, when I declare, that it is an object of all others, the nearest and most dear to my own heart.

In the commencement of our revolution, the zeal for liberty became predominant and excessive. In forining our con. federation, this passion alone seemed to actuate us, and we appear to have had no other view than to secure ourselves from despotism. The object certainly was a valuable one, and deserved our utmost attention. But, sir, there is another object equally important, and which our enthusiasm rendered us little capable of regarding : I mean a principle of strength and stability in the organization of our government, and vigor in its operations. This purpose can never be ac. complished but by the establishment of some select body

formed peculiarly upon this principle. There are few po.. sitions more demonstrable, than that there should be, in every republic, some permanent body, to correct the prejudices, check the intemperate passions, and regulate the fluctuations of a popular assembly. It is evident, that a body, instituted for these purposes, must be so formed as to exclude as much as possible from its own character, those infirmities, and that mutability which it is designed to remedy. It is, therefore, necessary, that it should be small, that it should hold its authority during a considerable period, and that it should have such an independence in the exercise of its powers, as will divest it, as much as possible, of local prejudices. It should be so formed as to be the centre of political knowledge, to pursue always a steady line of conduct, and to reduce every irregular propensity to system. Without this establishment, we may make experiments without end, but shall never have an efficient government.

Now, sir, what is the tendency of the proposed amend. ment? To take away the stability of the government, by de. priving the senate of its permanency ; to make this body subject to the same weakness and prejudices, which are in. cident to popular assemblies, and which it was instituted to correct ; and, by thus assimilating the complexion of the two branches, destroy the balance between them. The amendment will render the senator a slave to all the capri. cious humors among the people. This, sir, is the first fair opportunity that has been offered, of deliberately correcting the errors in government. • Instability has been a prominent and very defective feature in most republican systems. It is the first to be seen, and the last to be lamented, by a philo. sophical inquirer. It has operated most banefully in our infant republics. It is necessary, therefore, that we apply an immediate remedy, and eradicate the poisonous principle from our government. If this be not done, sir, we shall feel, and posterity will be convulsed by a painful malady.

IV.-THE PILGRIM FATHERS.

Rev. J. Pierpont.
The pilgrim fathers—where are they?

The waves that brought them o'er
Still roll in the bay, and throw their spray

As they break along the shore :
Still roll in the bay, as they rolled that day, :

When the May-Flower* moored below,
When the sea around was black with storms,

And white the shore with snow.

The mists that wrapped the pilgrim's sleep,

Still brood upon the tide ;
And his rocks yet keep their watch by the deep,

To stay its waves of pride.
But the snow-white sail, that he gave to the gale,

When the heavens looked dark, is gone ;-
As an angel's wing, through an opening cloud,

Is seen, and then withdrawn.

The pilgrim exile--sainted name!

The hill, whose icy brow
Rejoiced, when he came, in the morning's flame,

In the morning's flame burns now.
And the moon's cold light, as it lay that night

On the hill-side and the sea,
Still lies where he laid his houseless head ;-

But the pilgrim--where is he ?

The pilgrim fathers are at rest :

When Summer's thron’d on high,
And the World's warm breast is in verdure dress'd,

Go, stand on the hill, where they lie.
The earliest ray of the golden day

On that hallowed spot is cast ;
And the evening sun, as he leaves the world,

Looks kindly on that spot last.

* The May-Flower was the name of the vessel in which the pilgrims embarked for New England.

« 前へ次へ »