Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 36.djvu/77

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The Virginia Convention of 1788.

proposed Constitution "he conceived the State governments to be at the mercy of the generality." On another occasion he made this observation, that "so extensive was the power of legislation in his estimation that he doubted whether, when it was once given up, anything was retained." He gave a forecast of what might occur when the election of President was close, which was realized in the famous Tilden-Hayes election.

The fears of George Mason gave him perception into the future. He pointed out with marked ability imperfections, dangers and defects of the sixth article of the Constitution. He dwelt with force upon the insecurity of our rights and privileges "as they depended on a vague, indefinite and ambiguous implication." With an insight into the future he said, speaking of slavery, "there is no clause in the Constitution that will prevent the Northern and Eastern States from meddling with our whole property of that kind."

Monroe objected particularly to giving the Federal government unlimited power of taxation and insisted that our great unalienable rights ought to be secured, either by a Bill of Rights or an express provision in the body of the Constitution itself.

The centralization of power assumed by the President, the assumption of legislative authority, the dictation of law-making-power, the encroachments by the Federal judiciary upon the rights of the States have nearly extinguished their sovereignty. Were the apprehensions of our forefathers without reason? Did they hesitate without cause? Were they right or wrong – those who opposed the adoption of the Constitution? If the object and aim of government be the founding of a great nation; if laying the foundation for a great empire, the desire to become a world power; if the acquisition of foreign territory; if the accumulation of vast wealth in the hands of a few individuals or combines; if the importation of millions of immigrants and vast increase in population be the desideratum of the republic then we have succeeded beyond all expectations. But a student of history may reasonably fear that these vaunted acquisitions, these proud acquirements, instead of perpetuating our government may be the means of its downfall and disintegration. We are the heaviest taxed people, per capita, upon the face of the globe. We have a greater proportion of the foreign element in