University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
The History Collection

Page View

Jensen, Merrill; Kaminski, John P.; Saladino, Gaspare J. (ed.) / Ratification of the Constitution by the states: Pennsylvania
2 (1976)

C. Public and private commentaries on the Constitution, 10 October-10 November 1787,   pp. 180-223


Page 190

II. DEBATE OVER CONSTITUTION
to recommend to the people, under their appointment, a new con-
stitution. The deputies from this state were empowered, they had
power to make such alterations and further provisions as may be
necessary to render the federal government fully adequate to the
exigencies of the Union. Had objections such as these prevailed,
America never would have had a Congress, nor had America been
independent. Alterations in government are always made by the peo-
ple. It is said that this Constitution will annihilate the state govern-
ment. On what section of the Constitution do these men ground this
assertion? It breathes nothing like it-it interferes not with the in-
ternal government of any state-it supports and adds a dignity to
every government in the United States. They complain of the power
granted to Congress of levying taxes. This is a power without which
no government can exist. Finance is the very nerve of government,
and unless Congress have power to effect the collection of the taxes,
the power of assessing and recommending their collection is a shadow.
When Congress, at the conclusion of the war, recommended a duty
of five percent, the trifling state of Rhode Island, whose extent is
not greater than one of our counties, refused their acquiescence, and
this prevented a measure most beneficial to these states, and by which
a great part of the federal debt would have been discharged.3 It is
most shameful to say that this tax will be collected by soldiers. The
power is not given to a foreign prince, but to a Congress, chosen by
the people. Pennsylvania, which has been always highly federal, has
suffered by the want of this power. She has ever been most forward
in complying with the requisitions of Congress, whilst other states
have hung back, preferring the interest of their particular state to that
of the Union. The taxes fall heavy on the landed men of this state.
A general impost throughout the states will lighten their burthen,
and the greater part of our taxes will be paid by duties on foreign
manufactures and the luxuries of life. This government will not be
attended with greater expense than the present Congress, for under
this Constitution they do not sit perpetually, as the Congress now do.
The freedom of the press and trials by jury are not infringed on. The
Constitution is silent, and with propriety too, on these and every other
subject relative to the internal government of the states. These are
secured by the different state constitutions. I repeat again, that the
Federal Constitution does not interefere with these matters. Their
power is defined and limited by the 8th section of the first Article of
the Constitution, and they have not power to take away the freedom
of the press, nor can they interfere in the smallest degree with the
judiciary of any one of the states. It is essentially necessary that the
judiciary of the United States should have an appellate jurisdiction
190


Go up to Top of Page