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exists in the constitution, and instead of being fostered, should receive the firm opposition of those who advocate the cause of the people.

CHANCELLOR KENT. If it is deemed adviseable to retain this feature in our constitution, it certainly ought to be so constituted as to give it an efficient operation; the check should be such, that it could, when necessary, be executed to some beneficial purpose. If the proposed amendment to the report of the committee should be adopted, the check would be merly nominal, and wholly inoperative. The executive would derive from it no greater power or control over the proceedings of the legislature, than any individual member of the legislature, voting with the majority, at all times possessed, from being authorized to move for a reconsideration of a question the next morning after it has been decided. To talk of such a provision as this being a check, was idle and trifling.

The executive is elective, and his continuance in office is for a very limited period, and it could not be supposed that he would ever exercise this power but on great occasions on occasions when such interference should be imperiously demanded by a manifestly improper exercise of legislative authority: when the boundaries with which the constitution had been fenced and protected, like other branches of the government, should be invaded; or when the rights or property of individuals should be arbitrarily assailed.

It was a gross error to suppose that the power and authority of the people was delegated to the legislative branches of the government alone. The executive, as also the administrators and expounders of the laws, were equally with them the representatives of the people, who had delegated to them the power and authority which appertained to their respective offices; and it was necessary for the purposes of good government, and for the publie peace and welfare, that these agents of the people should be supported and protected in the due exercises of their authority.

It has been determined to abolish the council of revision; this will greatly narrow the operation of the veto provided on the passage of laws. The council of revision was not only vested with the power, but it was their duty, to object to laws inconsistent with the public good. That body had uniformly from the first organization of the government, exercised the power to the extent granted to them; whether perfectly, wisely, and discreetly, on all occasions, it was not now material to enquire. If the amendment, as reported by the select committee, should be adopted, it was not probable that the qualified veto thereby given to the executive, would ever be exercised but on constitutional grounds. With the gentleman from Oneida, (Mr. Platt) he apprehended that the power would be very seldom exerted. The national executive possesses the power it is here proposed to give to the governor, and during the operation of that government, it had been but twice exercised, and in both instances on constitutional grounds.

It was within his experience, that one third of all the laws passed at a session, had been revised by the council of revision on the last day. That body consists of several members, and the labour was divided between them. When this power shall be vested in the executive alone, and it should happen that so large a proportion of the bills should require to be examined in so short a time, it would be impossible for him to detect any errors, unless very obvious, or unless his attention should be directed to them by the very title of the act.

He apprehended that the sober minded people of this state would not be satisfied to see this column of the constitution destroyed, without having it replaced by something efficient in its character, and useful in its operation. To adopt the proposition under consideration, would give to the executive only a nominal power. It would be better to have no veto, than such as is here proposed. He would rather see laws passed by the votes of the two houses alone without any check whatever, than to adopt one so weak, inefficient, and useless. The veto as it would be constituted by adopting the report of the committee, would be a harmless power in the hands of the executive. He could never exert it to the prejudice of any other branch of the government, nor if so inclined, materially to prejudice the public welfare; at most, he could only temporarily prevent the enactment of laws, and must always prove too weak to make any successful attack on the power or influence of the legisla


such a crisis shall arrive, some modern Cæsar, with a senate at his heels, may control, by his cunning and his influence, the majority in your bodies of legislation, and thus throw down the fabric of your government. I beseech you to preserve the proposed check, and thus provide against the ascendant powers of cither corruption or inordinate ambition.

He considered the sheet anchor of our safety to be the wholesome principle that the majority should govern, and to this he would hold.—But the will of the majority was to be fairly expressed by the representatives of the people, in the several departments of our government, and not by the democracy in its collective capacity. Found your government upon equal rights, and extended suffrage. Clothe its officers with all requisite powers, and provide for their direct and immediate accountability to the people themselves. Upon this system, the representatives of the people will rise like the wave of the ocean, which exists for a season, rolls onward until its functions are performed, and then again subsides into the great source from which it originated. There was in this respect a wide distinction between this country and the ancient republics. In the former, the interests and sentiments of the community are represented by delegates-in the latter, the people assembled en masse, to conduct their political affairs.-The fate of ancient republics should warn us against the danger of all democracies. Their liberties were lost by the licentiousness of the people, upon which their governments provided no check. The veto, and final adoption of laws was lodged in the collective mass of the people, and was exercised with that indiscretion and madness, which always characterize such tumultuous assemblies.

It was these popular assemblies where the laws received either the approving voice of the people, or were rejected, that called forth the powers of Demosthenes. These popular assembles were the schools of the eloquence of ancient times, and the causes of their country's ruin. Let us avoid the rock on which other states have been wrecked; and while we manifest a becoming confidence in the intelligence and virtue of the people, let us never abolish those checks, which are necessary to preserve us from the encroachments of power.

His honourable colleague had enumerated several of our sister states, in in whose governments no qualified negative on the acts of the legislature had been provided. The constitutions of those states had been cited as models for our own. But he would ask when these governments were adopted, and what had been their operation? Many of them, like our own, were established, to use the language of his colleague, amidst the noise of musketry and the thunder of cannon. Experience had proved them defective in many important points, and they ought not to be cited as precedents. Among others, the new constitution of Connecticut had been mentioned as an example for us. There was a wide difference between the population of that state and of this. They were emphatically one people, peculiar in their habits, customs, and manners. They were descended from one stock, and were united by an identity of interests and feelings. The people of this state, on the contrary, were descended from different states, and collected together from every country and every nation under heaven. There was an almost infinite variety of interests, sentiments, and feelings in the community; and hence the same government which was adapted to the people of Connecticut, would not answer for New-York. It had been found by an experience of many years, that at times there had been encroachments by our legislature-It had since been charged with corruption. This was a point which he trusted his honourable colleague (Mr. L.) would not controvert; and this being admitted, it would not be denied, that is was both wise and safe to guard against the dangers of such encroachments. Inillustration of this, he cited the cases, which had been stated by his honourable friend from Westchester (Mr. Jay,) on the floor this morning, by which it appeared that money had frequently been drawn from the treasury-land's had been conveyed--the school fund meddled with the attorney-general. and even the governor himself directed in his duties by the concurrent resolutions of the two houses of the legislature. He trembled while he reflected on these alarming strides of power. Such liberties with the treasury and the government,

should never, never, have been permitted, and he hoped provision would be made, which would for ever prevent their recurrence.

Again, said Mr. Tallmadge, Pennsylvania has been cited as authority in support of the proposed amendment. This precedent was peculiarly unfortunate, as that state, after giving the principle in debate, a fair trial, was compelled to change the system. The legislature of Pennsylvania at first consisted of one department, and its power soon became so exorbitant, as to create alarm, and to lead to an amendment of the constitution, and an adoption of the precise principle under consideration. In their first constitution, they had provided for a board of censors, who were to report and determine whether any infractions of the constitution had taken place, and at their first meeting they reported that numerous and flagrant violations had been made by the legislature; but let it be remarked, that not a single encroachment had been made by the judiciary or executive. "But go to the west," says my honourable colleague (Mr. Livingston,) "there you will find wisdom." Yes, sir, go to the west, to those states which have provided no checks upon the omnipotence of the legislature, and it is there that you will find your stop-laws, laws violating private rights, contracts, and in many instances, the constitution of the United States.

Virginia, too had been introduced as a model; and her statesmen and patriots called up in splendid array. But after all, what had been the experience of that state? On this subject he begged leave to refer to the opinion of one of her greatest statesmen, he meant Mr. Jefferson. In his Notes on Virginia, that distinguished gentleman spoke freely of the defects of the constitution of that state. According to him, the government was administered by concurrent resolutions, and the governor was a mere creature of the legislature. If Virginia should ever call a convention to amend her constitution, this feature would undoubtedly be expunged; and yet we were called on to adopt these very defects.

The honourable gentleman from Albany, (Mr. Kent) had spoken feelingly upon the subject of our being about to destroy one of the pillars of our constitution. Such an impression might have gone abroad; but in justice to the committee who had reported the amendment under consideration, he must be permitted to say, that they were unanimous in their determination not to touch one principle of the third section; but only to separate the judiciary from the legislative power. The committee have not wished to innovate upon one principle of the government, but strictly to improve its errors. So far from breaking down the judiciary, they would add to its strength-so far from demolishing our political fabric, they would add to the beauty of the structure.

He (Mr. Tallmadge) concurred in the sentiments yesterday expressed by the gentleman from Albany, (Mr. Spencer,) in believing, that the great departments of governments should be kept distinct, and as independent of each other as possible. The supervising power should be lodged with some depository, who should not be the mere creature of the legislature, but would perform the duty with firmness and decision. For his part, he entertained fears, that our government would be rendered too weak, rather than too strong. [Here Mr. Tallmadge observed, that although he would wish to add a few other remarks, he perceived the hour of adjournment had arrived, and he should not, at that time, trespass farther upon the patience of the Convention.]

The committee then rose, and reported progress; and asked for, and obtained leave to sit again.



Prayer by the REV. DR. CHESTER. The President took the chair at 11 o'clock, when the minutes of yesterday were read and approved. MR. SHELDON said, a circumstance had occurred which was not provided for

by the rules of the Convention, and which created some embarrassment in the proceedings. He stated some of the difficulties to which he alluded, and moved an amendment to the 11th rule.

CHIEF JUSTICE SPENCER thought the subject should be referred to the standing committee on the rules and orders of the Convention, which had, as yet, only reported in part. There were some other rules and amendments necessary. The other day a division was taken in committee of the whole. This, in his opinion, was decidedly wrong. Members voted upon propositions, upon condition that certain other provisions should be made to the constitution. It is therefore wrong, that divisions should be taken in committee of the whole; or until all the propositions shall have been discussed, and shall be taken up for final consideration in the Convention.

MR. SHELDON Suggested another amendment, but both were withdrawn; and On motion of COL. YOUNG, a resolution was adopted, instructing the committee, appointed to draft rules and orders, to report what rules, if any, were necessary for the government of the proceedings of the Convention.


On motion of MR. P. R. LIVINGSTON, the Convention again resolved itself into a committee of the whole on the unfinished business of yesterday.—Mr. Sheldon in the chair.

GEN. TALLMADGE, in continuation of his remarks of yesterday, observed, that when he concluded, they were considering the precedents of Pennsylvania and Virginia, and the defects in the government of the latter pointed out in the Notes of Mr. Jefferson. Virginia has been referred to as the pattern of republicanism: Sir, the constitution of that state requires a large freehold for a voter in any case. No person can vote for the least officer in the government, unless he be a freeholder; and the government of the state is in fact an aristocracy. Efforts, too, often have been made, and are still making, to have a Convention to revise and alter the constitution of that state: but this is unavailing; the legislature, elected by landholders, refuse their sanction; the measure cannot, therefore, he brought about, and the aristocracy continues. An allusion had been made by his colleague yesterday, to the precedents of those states, which have not provided for a qualified negative under any circumstances. Rhode Island, among other states, has been instanced. Sir, look at the history of that government. She has no constitution except a charter, and occasional laws. Look at the paper money and tender-laws once enacted there, and the frauds upon the public-and other acts which one time rendered that government a libel upon the character of that state. Mr. T. well remembered them, and it would also be remembered that they had well nigh overthrown the government-such as it was.

I am to be told, said he, that my argument is founded on the corruption of the legislature; but remember that when I spoke of the legislature, I spoke of of the members as being the representatives of the people. It is not the people themselves, but their agents, which are corrupt-and unfortunately, we have too many facts before us to justify a denial, that majorities in public bodies cannot always be trusted with safety. I will not say our own state affords any instances, either of corrupt, or of hasty, or unadvised legislation. To test the safety and prudence of reposing entire confidence in legislative bodies, turn your eyes to the state of Georgia. It will there be found, that one legislature elected by the people, enacted a law which the next succeeding legislature pronounced to be corrupt, and directed it to be burned by the cominon hangman. It was not for him to pronounce which was correct. But it abundantly proves the danger to the public welfare in trusting all power to legislatures, without a proper supervising authority. And let it not be said there is such immaculate purity in the representatives of the people. He wished the argument were a true one, but experience forbids us to believe it. We do not ask for a veto as in a regal government; but as our constitution has wisely provided, that our legislature shall consist of two branches, one in which bills generally originate, the other less numerous to reconsider thein, and a

third, the supervising power, less liable to encroach upon the rights of property, and the liberties of the people. It is necessary there should be a system of checks and balances, to prevent the legislature from monopolizing all power. Where this is not the case, and where the sole power of enacting laws is lodged with one body, or one individual, there must be tyranny. His honourable colleague (Mr. Livingston) had yesterday invoked the majesty of democracy.'-Sir, said Mr. T. I recognize no such majesty. The majesty of democracy reigns not in this republican courtry; but we have a sovereign people, with whom, of right, all political power resides, and from whom alone it emenates. We have a government of laws, founded on equal rights, and based on the principle of representation. It was the distinguishing character incorporated into our governments, and the great feature wherein ours differed from the ancient republics. The rock upon which they were ruined, was marked on the chart before us-it was our business to avoid it-and the principle of representation must be adhered to as of vital importance. Secure to the people in your constitution, reasonable and proper rights-keep them from meddling with government in their collective capacity-let them enjoy freedom in their agricultural, commercial, and manufacturing pursuits, with the constant accountability of all officers to them, and then you will have a government whose ingredients will be stable and permanent. Without these precautions, we may see that majesty which has been so feelingly invokedThe majesty of democracy.' It once reigned in Paris. It was the majesty of democracy in the consummation of its mad career, which inscribed upon accountable man, Death is eternal sleep. It should be the prayer of his life that no such majesty should ever reign over this now happy land.

His maxim was caution and moderation in approaching the constitution': avoid innovations in its principles. Let the work of our fathers be preserved, after undergoing wholesome amendments. Preserve the principle of proper checks and balances, as provided by them, and you may remedy the defects which experience has pointed out. Suppose for a moment, that the executive possessing this veto, should think proper to suspend the passage of a law and two-thirds of the legislature should be unwilling to pass it. The experience of the community shews, that no essential injury could result from such a suspension. If in the sequel it should prove that it was a wise and salutary law, which was thus suspended, and that the veto was injudiciously exercised, the evil would be only temporary, and the final passage of the law could not be defeated. If it be a bad law, and it be once passed, it can never be recalled-if it be a good one, there will be nothing to prevent its passage, when the representatives shall have been changed by a new election. Sir, suppose the most unimportant case-suppose a turnpike act be passed, and rights and property be vested under it. It was unfortunately passed, but cannot be repealed. But if the executive, by the exercise of his veto had suspended it, where would have been the injury of a temporary delay? And permit me to add, the history of the world will show, that the folly of republics has been an excess of legis. ▾ lation.

He must again urge the necessity of keeping the constitution properly balanced, and avoiding all innovations in its principles.

Sir, what is the amendment offered? It is to change the principle of requir ing the sanction of two-thirds to any bill which may be returned with objections, to a bare majority of the whole number elected. The amendment proposed by the committee, he had thought was so plausible, and so just, that it would have been adopted by the Convention without opposition.

Some gentlemen have entered into nice mathematical calculations, to shew that a majority of the whole number elected may possibly be a greater check than two-thirds of the members that may be present, and have gone so far as to look over the journals of the legislature, to ascertain the number of members usually absent.

If what they have told us be true, on ordinary occasions, the veto might be of little use; but let us preserve it nevertheless. In the time of faction, or popular commotion, every member would be found in his seat, and it may then be the means of saving the country.

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