Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Debates in the Convention of the State of NO. Carolina, on the Adoption of the Federal Constitution: Cont'd.

On Monday, we had seen some astute observations from Mr. William Lenior. Today, we take a look at some more keen perceptions from other delegates of the No. Carolina Convention;

Mr. GOUDY, (William). Mr. Chairman, this is a dispute whether Congress shall have great, enormous powers. I am not able to follow these learned gentlemen through all the labyrinths of their oratory. Some represent us as rich, and not honest; and others again represent us as honest, and not rich. We have no gold or silver, no substantial money, to pay taxes with. This clause, with the clause of elections, will totally destroy our liberties. The subject of our consideration therefore is, whether it be proper to give any man, or set of men, an unlimited power over our purse, without any kind of control. The purse-strings are given up by this clause. The sword is also given up by this system. Is there no danger in giving up both? There is no danger, we are told. It may be so; but I am jealousy and suspicious of the liberties of mankind. And if it be a character which no man wishes but myself, I am willing to take it. Suspicions, in small communities, are a pest to mankind; but in a matter of this magnitude, which concerns the interest of millions yet unborn, suspicion is a very noble virtue. Let us see, therefore, how far we give power; for when it is once, given, we cannot take it away. It is said that those who formed this Constitution were great and good men. We do not dispute it. We also admit that great and learned people have adopted it. But I have a judgment of my own; and, though not so well informed always as others, yet I will exert it when manifest danger presents itself. When the power of the purse and the sword is given up, we dare not think for ourselves. In case of war, the last man and the last penny would be extorted from us. That the Constitution has a tendency to destroy the state governments, must be clear to every man of common understanding. Gentlemen, by their learned arguments, endeavor to conceal the danger from us. I have no notion of this method of evading arguments, and of clouding them over with rhetoric, and, I must say, sophistry too. But I hope no man will be led astray with them....

...Mr PORTER, (William). Mr Chairman, I must say that I think the gentleman last up, (Gov. Johnston), was wrong; for the other gentleman was, in my opinion, right. This is a money clause. I would fain know: whence this power originates. I have heard it said that the legislature were villains, and that this power was to be exercised by the representatives of the people. When a building is raised, it should be on solid ground. Every gentleman must agree that we should not build a superstructure on a foundation of villains. Gentlemen say that the mass of the people are honest. I hope gentlemen will consider that we should build the structure on the people, and not on the representatives of the people. Agreeably to the gentleman's argument, (Mr Hill,) our representatives will be mere villains. I expect that very learned arguments, and powerful oratory, will be displayed on this occasion. I expect that the great cannon from Halifax (meaning Mr Davie) will discharge fire-balls among us; but large batteries are often taken by small arms....

.... Mr. DAVIE, (William). Mr. Chairman, although treaties are mere conventional acts between the contracting parties, yet, by the law of nations, they are the supreme law of the land to their respective citizens or subjects. All civilized nations have concurred in considering them as paramount to an ordinary act of legislation. This concurrence is founded on the reciprocal convenience and solid advantages arising from it. A due observance of treaties makes nations more friendly to each other, and is the only means of rendering less frequent those mutual hostilities which tend to depopulate and ruin contending nations. It extends and facilitates that commercial intercourse, which, founded on the universal protection of private property, has, in a measure, made the world one nation.

Let's see now. One of he main people involved in constructing the Constitution had mentioned something about 'property'. Who was that? Oh yes, now I remember;

"As a man is said to have a right to his property, he may be equally said to have a property in his rights. Where an excess of power prevails, property of no sort is duly respected. No man is safe in his opinions, his person, his faculties, or his possessions."

- James Madison, National Gazette Essay, 27 March 1792

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