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Kaminski, John P.; Saladino, Gaspare J.; Leffler, Richard; Schoenleber, Charles H.; Hogan, Margaret A.; Reid, Jonathan M. (ed.) / Ratification of the Constitution by the states: New York (5)
23 (2009)

Appendix II: Robert R. Livingston on the Constitution, pre-26 July 1788,   pp. 2536-2548


Page 2538

N[:] I take your argument but I confess it impresses more strongly
on my mind the necessity of the new government-If great powers are
necessary to rule an extensive country where the laws manners & cus-
toms are uniform-where there is no distinct or interfering power-I
say much greater powers are necessary to keep together 13 States whose
laws Interest & manners are distinct, who each form separate commu-
nities united under separate heads & possessed of an independant wealth
& power-This observation Strikes me with so much force that I wish
to know of the master whether he recollects any instance of a league
or alliance between distinct nations that ever has been preserved-
S:M: Having often since the new government has been spoken of
turned my attention to this inquiry I confess that I have been able to
fix on no example of a lasting confederacy among distinct states-
Greece occupied but a small extent of territory its inhabitants were the
most enlightened of the world they were confederated by a common
Council they spoke the same language & they professed the same re-
ligion-yet as the powers of their general council were extreamly lim-
itted it had not sufficient power force to prevent disentions among
those confederates who were perpetually contending with each other
for power imbuing their hands in each others blood and at length
calling in foreigners to be parties to their disputes were compelled to
submit to the yoke-The Lycean league is pointed out by Montesque
as the best forzm foir2 confederated republic5-Of this we have but an
imperfect account-but from what we have we may collect that it ap-
proached more nearly to a consolidation of the government than a
mere confederation-The magistrates being chosen out of the differ-
ent citys by a majority of voices & the same judges presiding over the
whole-Among the modern confederated republicks there is not one
that does not strongly mark the weakness of confederations wherte-he
confederacy is not armed wvith[a?]coercivepower-The Swiss Canton
are united either by being in the neighbourhood of their old master
whom they dread-the extreme poverty of their country which leaves
them few object[s] to contend with each other about & the alliances
with foreign powers which they have separately made to guarantee their
independance-& yet under all these favourable circumstances their
wars with each other ar e long have been violent & bloody. &--their
connection with eacrh other is sowea that theyv owe their freepdom
-merely to thei  orty R& theP jealousy o(f other powers with F[which]
they arePallied than totheir own form of confederation-The United
Netherlands were also of distinct republicks possessing however a com-
mon council a common treasury & a common military establishment
& a common executive & yet we find that they have not been able to
2538
APPENDIX 11


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