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the revenues of this commonwealth were to depend on twenty distinct authorities, it would be impossible for it to carry on its operations. This must be obvious to every member here : I think, therefore, that it is necessary for the preservation of the Union, that this power should be given to the general government.
But it is urged, that its consolidated nature, joined to the power of direct taxation, will give it a tendency to destroy all subordinate authority; that its increasing influence will speedily enable it to absorb the State governments. I cannot bring myself to think that this will be the case.
If the general government were wholly independent of the governments of the particular States, then indeed, usurpation might be expected to the fullest extent: but, sir, on whom does this general government depend? It derives its authority from these governments, and from the same sources from which their authority is derived. The members of the federal government are taken from the same men from whom those of the State legislatures are taken. If we consider the mode in which the federal representatives will be chosen, we shall be convinced, that the general never will destroy the individual governments; and
this conviction must be strengthened by an attention to the construction of the Senate. The representatives will be chosen, probably under the influence of the State legislatures : but there is not the least probability that the election of the latter will be influenced by the former. One hundred and sixty members representing this commonwealth in one branch of the legislature, are drawn from the people at large, and must ever possess more influence than the few men who will be elected to the general legislature. Those who wish to become federal representatives, must depend on their credit with that class of men who will be the most popular in their counties, who generally represent the people in the State governments: they can, therefore, never succeed in any measure contrary to the wishes of those on whom they depend. So that, on the whole, it is almost certain that the deliberations of the members of the federal House of Representatives will be directed to the interests of the people of America. As to the other branch, the Senators will be appointed by the legislatures, and, though elected for six years, I do not conceive they will so soon forget the source whence they derive their political existence. This election of one branch of the federal, by the State legislatures, secures an absolute independence of the former on the latter. The biennial exclusion of one third will lessen the facility of a combination, and preclude all likelihood of intrigues. I appeal to our past experience, whether they will attend to the interests of their constituent States. Have not those gentlemen who have been honored with seats in Congress often signalized themselves by their attachment to their States ? Sir, I pledge myself that this government will answer the expectations of its friends, and foil the apprehensions of its enemies. I am persuaded that the patriotism of the people will continue, and be a sufficient guard to their liberties, and that the tendency of the Constitution will be, that the State governments will counteract the general interest, and ultimately prevail. The number of the representatives is yet sufficient for our safety, and will gradually increase ; and if we consider their different sources of information, the number will not appear too small.
Sir, that part of the proposed Constitution which gives the general government the power of laying and collecting taxes, is indispensable
and essential to the existence of any efficient, or well organized system of government: if we consult reason, and be ruled by its dictates, we shall find its justification there : if we review the experience we have had, or contemplate the history of nations, there too we shall find ample reasons to prove its expediency. would be preposterous to depend for necessary supplies on a body which is fully possessed of the power of withholding them. If a government depends on other governments for its revenues; if it must depend on the voluntary contributions of its members, its existence must be precarious. A government that relies on thirteen independent sovereignties for the means of its existence, is a solecism in theory, and a mere nullity in practice. Is it consistent with reason, that such a government can promote the happiness of any people? It is subversive of every principle of sound policy, to trust the safety of a community with a government totally destitute of the means of protecting itself or its members. Can Congress, after the repeated unequivocal proofs it has experienced of the utter inutility and inefficacy of requisitions, reasonably expect that they would be hereafter effectual or productive ? Will not the same local interests, and other causes, militate against a compliance? Whoever hopes the contrary must for ever be disappointed. The effect, sir, cannot be changed without a removal of the cause. Let each county in this commonwealth be supposed free and independent: let your revenues depend on requisitions of proportionate quotas from them: let application be made to them repeatedly, and then ask yourself, is it to be presumed that they would comply, or that an adequate collection could be made from partial compliances ? It is now difficult to collect the taxes from them: how much would that difficulty be enhanced, were you to depend solely on their generosity? I appeal to the reason of every gentleman here, and to his candor, to say whether he is not persuaded that the present confederation is as feeble as the government of Virginia would be in that case; to the same reason I appeal, whether it be compatible with prudence to continue a government of such manifest and palpable weakness and inefficiency.