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Jensen, Merrill; Kaminski, John P.; Saladino, Gaspare J. (ed.) / Ratification of the Constitution by the states: Pennsylvania
(1976)

A. Public and private commentaries on the Constitution, 17 September-6 October 1787,   pp. 130-172


Page 171

A. COMMENTARIES/6 OCT.
tion, it is the legislature alone that appoints the delegates to Congress.
The power of direct taxation has likewise been treated as an im-
proper delegation to the federal government; but when we consider
it as the duty of that body to provide for the national safety, to
support the dignity of the Union, and to discharge the debts con-
tracted upon the collective faith of the states for their common bene-
fit, it must be acknowledged, that those upon whom such important
obligations are imposed, ought in justice and in policy to possess
every means requisite for a faithful performance of their trust. But
why should we be alarmed with visionary evils? I will venture to
predict, that the great revenue of the United States must, and always
will be raised by impost, for, being at once less obnoxious, and more
productive, the interest of the government will be best promoted by
the accommodation of the people. Still however, the objects of direct
taxation should be within reach in all cases of emergency; and there
is no more reason to apprehend oppression in the mode of collecting
a revenue from this resource, than in the form of an impost, which,
by universal assent, is left to the authority of the federal government.
In either case, the force of civil institutions will be adequate to the
purpose; and the dread of military violence, which has been assidu-
ously disseminated, must eventually prove the mere effusion of a wild
imagination or a factious spirit. But the salutary consequences that
must flow from thus enabling the government to receive and support
the credit of the Union will afford another answer to the objections
upon this ground. The State of Pennsylvania particularly, which has
encumbered itself with the assumption of a great proportion of the
public debt, will derive considerable relief and advantage; for, as it
was the imbecility of the present Confederation, which gave rise to
the funding law, that law must naturally expire when a competent
and energetic federal system shall be substituted. The state will then
be discharged from an extraordinary burthen, and the national
creditor will find it to be his interest to return to his original security.
After all, my fellow citizens, it is neither extraordinary or unex-
pected, that the Constitution offered to your consideration should meet
with opposition. It is the nature of man to pursue his own interest,
in preference to the public good; and I do not mean to make any
personal reflection, when I add, that it is the interest of a very nu-
merous, powerful, and respectable body to counteract and destroy the
excellent work produced by the late Convention. All the offices of
government, and all the appointments for the administration of
justice and the collection of the public revenue, which are transferred
from the individual to the aggregate sovereignty of the states, will
necessarily turn the stream of influence and emolument into a new
channel. Every person, therefore, who either enjoys or expects to
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