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Kaminski, John P.; Schoenleber, Charles H.; Saladino, Gaspare J.; Leffler, Richard; Reid, Jonathan M.; Flamingo, Margaret R.; Lannér-Cusin, Johanna E.; Fields, David P.; Conley, Patrick T.; Moore, Timothy D. (ed.) / Ratification of the Constitution by the states: Rhode Island (3)
(2013)

VI. The debate over the Constitution in Rhode Island, 20 January-29 May 1790,   pp. 711-897


Page 738

VI. DEBATE OVER CONSTITUTION
regulating commerce, and the correspondent executive and judicial
authorities, should be fully and effectually vested in the general Gov-
ernment of the Union:-But the impropriety of delegating such exten-
sive trust to one body of men is evident-HENCE RESULTS THE NECES-
SITY OF A DIFFERENT ORGANIZATION."3
This sentiment, sanctioned by such venerable authority, must dignify
the characters of those men and those States, that refused the powers
of revenue to the old Congress, viz. the patriots and States of New-York
and Pennsylvania, who finally refused to grant those powers, even after
this State had complied.4
Pennsylvania having experienced the inconveniences of a single Leg-
islature, in the late reform of their Constitution, has divided their Leg-
islature into two Houses.5
The new federal Constitution contains a wise and beautiful organi-
zation.-The Representatives of the people, chosen by all the freemen
personally,-the Senate, chosen by the State Legislatures,-and the
Supreme Executive, chosen by Electors, specially appointed by the Leg-
islatures for that purpose.
In the business of legislation the two Houses have a concurrent ju-
risdiction, and the Supreme Executive a qualified negative.
Here we mark traces of the British Constitution-the admiration of
the world;-but with mighty advantages to the democratic interest:-
For in that we behold hereditary Lords, constituting a seperate estate
in the Legislature;-in ours a Senate, periodically eligible, by our State
Legislatures: In that we behold a King, possessing his crown by hered-
itary right, and fortified with an absolute negative on both the other
estates, and many other prerogatives;-in ours, an elective President,
who is to become a private citizen at the end of four years, unless
revived by the breath of the people, possessing only certain and definite
powers.
Let any candid person compare the old Congress, a single body, with-
out a head, possessing and exercising, as the spur of the occasion might
suggest, by themselves or their committees, or boards, legislative, judi-
cial and executive powers, blended and confused in the undistinguish-
able mass of their impotence (if such an expression may be used) with
the present well-organized national Legislature, and a decided prefer-
ence must be given to the latter.-In the latter will be found the great
out-lines of a free efficient and well-balanced government; while the
former must appear to have been only a fluctuating body of aristocrats,
not chosen by the freemen at large (except in this State and that of
Connecticut); but by the Legislatures of States6-an assembly of am-
bassadors from sovereign States, armed with full powers only-to give
advice.
738


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