Roger Sherman – Observations On The New Federal ConstitutionPage
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