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Roger Sherman - Observations on the New Federal Constitution

Roger Sherman - Observations on the New Federal Constitution

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Published by Juan del Sur
The greatest security that a people can have for the enjoyment of their rights and liberties, is that no laws can be made to bind them nor any taxes imposed upon them without their consent by representatives of their own chusing, who will participate with them in the public burthens and benefits; this was the great point contended for in our controversy with Great Britain, and this will be fully secured to us by the new constitution. The rights of the people will be secured by a representation in proportion to their numbers in one branch of the legislature, and the rights of the particular states by their equal representation in the other branch.
The greatest security that a people can have for the enjoyment of their rights and liberties, is that no laws can be made to bind them nor any taxes imposed upon them without their consent by representatives of their own chusing, who will participate with them in the public burthens and benefits; this was the great point contended for in our controversy with Great Britain, and this will be fully secured to us by the new constitution. The rights of the people will be secured by a representation in proportion to their numbers in one branch of the legislature, and the rights of the particular states by their equal representation in the other branch.

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Categories:Types, Research, History
Published by: Juan del Sur on Aug 10, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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10/25/2012

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These were not sufficiently provided for by the former articles of confederation, which was theoccasion of calling the late Convention to make amendments. This they have done by forminga new constitution containing the powers vested in the federal government, under the former, with such additional powers as they deemed necessary to attain the ends the states had in view, in their appointment. And to carry those powers into effect, they though it necessary tomake some alterations in the organization of the government: this they supposed to be warranted by their commission.
The powers vested in the federal government are clearly defined, so that each state stillretain its sovereignty in what concerns its own internal government, and a right to exerciseevery power of a sovereign state not particularly delegated to the government of the UnitedStates.
The new powers vested in the United States, are, to regulate commerce; provide for auniform practice respecting naturalization, bankruptcies, and organizing, arming andtraining the militia; and for the punishment of certain crimes against the United States; andfor promoting the progress of science in the mode therein pointed out. There are some othermatters 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 thenew constitution; these powers appear to be necessary for the common benefit of the states,and could not be effectually provided for by the particular states.The objects of expenditure will be the same under the new constitution, as under the old; norneed the administration of government be more expensive; the number of members of Congress will be the same, nor will it be necessary to increase the number of officers in theexecutive department or their salaries; the supreme executive will be in a single person, whomust have an honourable support; which perhaps will not exceed the present allowance to thePresident of Congress, and the expence of supporting a committee of the states in the recessof 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 madeduring the session of Congress, and trials on impeachment will not often occur, and willrequire little time to attend to them. The security against keeping up armies in time of peace will be greater under the new constitution than under the present, because it can’t be done without the concurrence of two branches of the legislature, nor can any appropriation of money for that purpose be in force more than two years; whereas there is no restriction underthe present confederation.The liberty of the press can be in no danger, because that is not put under the direction of thenew government.If the federal government keeps within its proper jurisdiction, it will be the interest of thestate legislatures to support it, and they will be a powerful and effectual check to itsinterfering with their jurisdiction. But the objects of federal government will be so obviousthat there will be no great danger of any interference.The principal sources of revenue will be imposts on goods imported, and sale of the westernlands, which will probably be sufficient to pay the debts and expences of the United States while peace continues; but if there should be occasion to resort to direct taxation, each state’s
 
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quota will be ascertained according to a rule which has been approved by the legislatures of eleven of the states, and should any state neglect to furnish its quota, Congress may raise it inthe same manner that the state ought to have done; and what remedy more easy andequitable could be devised, to obtain the supplies from a delinquent state?Some object, that the representation will be too small; but the states have not thought fit tokeep half the number of representatives in Congress that they are entitled to under thepresent confederation; and of what advantage can it be to have a large assembly to transactthe few general matters that will come under the direction of Congress.—The regulating of time, place and manner of elections seems to be as well secured as possible; the legislature of each state may do it, and if they neglect to do it in the best manner, it may be done by Congress;—and what motive can either have to injure the people in the exercise of that right?the qualifications of the electors are to remain as fixed by the constitutions and laws of theseveral states.It is by some objected, that the executive is blended with the legislature, and that thosepowers ought to be entirely distinct and unconnected, but is not this a gross error in politics?The united wisdom and various interests of a nation should be combined in framing the laws.But the execution of them should not be in the whole legislature; that would be tootroublesome and expensive; but it will not thence follow that the executive should have no voice or influence in legislation. The executive in Great Britain is one branch of thelegislature, and has a negative on all laws; perhaps that is an extreme not to be imitated by arepublic, but the partial negative vested in the President by the new Constitution on the actsof Congress and the subsequent revision, may be very useful to prevent laws being passed without mature deliberation.The Vice-President while he acts as President of the Senate will have nothing to do in theexecutive department; his being elected by all the states will incline him to regard theinterests of the whole, and when the members of the senate are equally divided on any question, who so proper to give a casting vote as one who represents all the states?The power of the President to grant pardons extends only to offences committed against theUnited States, which can’t be productive of much mischief, especially as those onImpeachment are excepted, which will include offenders from office.It was thought necessary in order to carry into effect the laws of the Union, to promote justice,and preserve harmony among the states, to extend the judicial powers of the United States tothe enumerated cases, under such regulations and with such exceptions as shall be provided by law, which will doubtless reduce them to cases of such magnitude and importance ascannot safely be trusted to the final decision of the courts of particular states; and theconstitution does not make it necessary that any inferior tribunals should be instituted, but itmay be done if found necessary; ’tis probable that the courts of particular states will beauthorized by the laws of the union, as has been heretofore done in cases of piracy, &c., andthe Supreme Court may have a circuit to make trials as convenient, and as little expensive aspossible to the parties; nor is there anything in the constitution to deprive them of trial by  jury in cases where that mode of trial has been heretofore used. All cases in the courts of common law between citizens of the same state, except those claiming lands under grants of different states, must be finally decided by courts of the state to which they belong, so that it

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