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

V. Commentaries on the Constitution, 13 November 1787-7 January 1788,   pp. 456-534


Page 525

V. COMMENTARIES
The powers vested in the federal government are particularly de-
fined, so that each state still retains its sovereignty in what concerns
its own internal government and a right to exercise every power of
a sovereign state not particularly delegated to the government of the
United States. The new powers vested in the United States are to regu-
late commerce; provide for a uniform practice respecting naturaliza-
tion, bankruptcies, and organizing, arming, and training the militia,
and for the punishment of certain crimes against the United States;
and for promoting the progress of science in the mode therein pointed
out. There are some other matters which Congress has power under
the present Confederation to require to be done by the particular
states, which they will be authorized to carry into effect themselves
under the new Constitution. These powers appear to be necessary
for the common benefit of the states and could not be effectually pro-
vided for by the particular states.
The objects of expenditure will be the same under the new Con-
stitution as under the old; nor need the administration of government
be more expensive. The number of members of the Congress will be
the same, nor will it be necessary to increase the number of officers in
the executive department or their salaries. The supreme executive
will be in a single person who must have an honorable support, which
perhaps will not exceed the present allowance to the President of
Congress and the expense of supporting a committee of the states in
the recess of Congress.
It is not probable that Congress will have occasion to sit longer
than two or three months in a year, after the first session which may
perhaps be something longer. Nor will it be necessary for the Senate
to sit longer than the other branch. The appointment of officers
may be made during the session of Congress, and trials on impeach-
ment and making treaties will not often occur and will require but
little time of the Senate to attend to them. The security against
keeping up armies in time of peace will be greater under the new Con-
stitution than under the present, because it can't be done without
the concurrence of two branches of legislature, nor can any appropria-
tion of money for that purpose be in force for more than two years,
whereas there is no restriction under the present Confederation.
The liberty of the press can be in no danger, because that is not
put under the direction of the new government.
If the federal government keeps within its proper jurisdiction, it
will be the interest of the state legislatures to support it, and they
will be a powerful and effectual check to its interfering with their
jurisdictions. But the objects of the federal government will be so
obvious that there will be no great danger of any interference.
525


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