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

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


Page 552

552                            CONNECTICUT/7 JAN.
power of the purse, they are despotic. But I ask, sir, was there ever
a government without the power of the sword and the purse? This
is not a new-coined phrase, but it is misapplied; it belongs to quite
another subject. It was brought into use in Great Britain, where they
have a king vested with hereditary power. Here, say they, it is dan-
gerous to place the power -of the sword and the purse in the hands of
one man, who claims an authority independent of the people. There-
fore, we will have a Parliament. But the King and Parliament to-
gether, the supreme power of the nation, they have the sword and
the purse. And they must have both, else how could the country be
defended? For the sword without the purse is of no effect; it is a
sword in the scabbard. But does it follow, because it is dangerous to
give the power of the sword and the purse to a hereditary prince, who
is independent of the people, that therefore it is dangerous to give
it to the Parliament, to Congress which is your parliament, to men
appointed by yourselves, and dependent upon yourselves? This argu-
ment amounts to this, you must cut a man in two in the middle to
prevent his hurting himself.
But says the honorable objector [James Wadsworth], if Congress
levy money, they must legislate. I admit it. Two legislative powers,
says he, cannot exist together in. the same place. I ask, why can they
not? It is not enough to say they cannot. I wish for some reason. I
grant that both cannot legislate upon the same object, at the same
time, and carry into' effect laws which are contrary to each other.
But the Constitution excludes everything of this kind. Each legisla-
ture has its province; their limits may be distinguished., If they will
run foul of each other, if they will be trying who has the hardest
head, it cannot be helped. The road is broad enough, but if two men
will jostle each other, the fault is not in the road. Two several legis-
latures have in fact existed and acted at the same time in the same
territory. It is in vain to say they cannot exist, when they actually
have done it. In the time of the war., we had an army.. Who made
the laws for the army? By whose authority were offenders tried and
executed? Congress was the power. By their authority, a man was
taken, tried, condemned, and hanged in this very town. He, belonged
to the army; he was a proper subject of military law; he deserted to
the enemy; he deserved his fate. Wherever the army was, in whatever
state,. there Congress had complete legislative, judicial, and executive
power. This very spot where we now are is a city. It has complete
legislative, judicial, and executive powers. It is a complete statei
miniature. Yet it breeds no confusion; it makes no schism. The city
has not eat [en] up the state, nor the state the city. But if this is a
new city, if it has not had time to unfold its principles, I will
552


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