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Jensen, Merrill (ed.) / Ratification of the Constitution by the states: Delaware, New Jersey, Georgia, Connecticut
3 (1978)

VI. The Connecticut Convention, 3-9 January 1788,   pp. 535-562


Page 543

It is said that other confederacies have not had the principle of
coercion. Is this so? Let us attend to those confederacies which have
resembled our own. Sometime before Alexander, the Grecian states
confederated together. The Amphictyonic Council, consisting of
deputies from these states, met at Delphi and had authority to regu-
late the general interests of Greece. This council did enforce its de-
crees by coercion. The Boeotians once infringed upon a decree of
the Amphictyons. A heavy mulct was laid upon them. They refused
to pay it. Upon that, their whole territory was confiscated. They
were then glad to compound the matter. After the death of Alexander,
the Achaean League was formed. The decrees of this confederacy
were enforced by dint of arms. The Aetolian League was formed by
some other Grecian cities in opposition to the Achaean; and there
was no peace between them till they were conquered and reduced to
a Roman province. They were then all obliged to sit down in peace
under the same yoke of despotism.
How is it with respect to the principle of coercion in the Ger-
manic body? In Germany, there are about three hundred principali-
ties and republics; deputies from these meet annually in the general
Diet to make regulations for the empire. But the execution of those
is not left voluntarily with the members. The empire is divided into
ten circles; over each of which a superintendent is appointed with
the rank of a major general. It is his duty to execute the decrees of
the empire with a military force.
The confederation of the Swiss cantons has been considered as an
example. But their circumstances are far different from ours. They
are small republics, about twenty miles square, situated among the
Alps and inaccessible to hostile attacks. They have nothing to tempt
an invasion. Till lately, they had neither commerce nor manufac-
tures. They were merely a set of herdsmen. Their inaccessibleness
has availed them. Four hundred of those mountaineers defeated
15,000 Austrians, who were marching to subdue them. They spend
the ardor of youth in foreign service; they return old and disposed
for tranquility. Between some of the cantons and France there has
long subsisted a defensive treaty. By this treaty, France is to be a
mediator to settle differences between the cantons. If any one is
obstinate, France is to compel a submission to reasonable terms.
The Dutch Republic is an example that merits attention. The
form of their constitution, as it is on paper, admits not of coercion.
But necessity has introduced it in practice. This coercive power is
the influence of the stadtholder, an officer originally unknown to
their constitution. But they have been necessitated to appoint him,
in order to set their unwieldy machine of government in motion.
He is commander in chief of their navy and of their army consisting
of 40 or 50 regiments. He appoints the officers of the land and
543
VI. CONVENTION


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