Plan of Alexander Hamilton (NY)
18 June 1787
Mr HAMILTON introduced the following resolution
ResolutionProposing changes to the existing Articles of Confederation among the 13 United States of America.
WHEREAS no amendment of the Confederation, leaving the States in possession of their sovereignty could possibly answer the purpose;
WHEREAS to the powers of the Convention, the doubts started on that subject have arisen from distinctions and reasonings too subtle;
WHEREAS a federal government means an association of independent communities into one;
WHEREAS different confederacies have different powers and exercise them in different ways; in some instances, the powers are exercise over collective bodies, in others over individuals, as in the German Diet and among ourselves in cases of piracy; great latitude therefore must be given to the signification of the term;
WHEREAS the plan last proposed departs itself from the federal idea, as understood by some, since it is to operate eventually on individuals;
WHEREAS we owe it to our Country to do on this emergency whatever we should deem essential to its happiness;
WHEREAS the States sent us here to provide for the exigencies of the Union;
WHEREAS to rely on and propose any plan not adequate to these exigencies, merely because it was not clearly within our powers, would be to sacrifice the means to the end;
WHEREAS the States may themselves, in which no constitutional authority equal to this purpose exists in the Legislatures, have in view a reference to the people at-large;
WHEREAS in the Senate of New York , a proviso was moved, that no act of the Convention should be binding until it should be referred to the people and ratified, and the motion was lost by a single voice only, the reason assigned against it being that it might possibly be found an inconvenient shackle;
WHEREAS the great and essential principles necessary for the support of Government are
- an active and constant interest in supporting it—this principle does not exists in the States in favor of the Federal Government; they have evidently in a high degree, the esprit de corps; they constantly pursue internal interests adverse to those of the whole; they have their particular debts, their particular plans of finance, etc.; all these when opposed to, invariably prevail over the requisitions and plans of Congress—
- the love of power—men love power; the States have constantly shown a disposition rather to regain the powers delegated by them than to part with more, or to give effect to what they had parted with; the ambition of their demagogues is know to hate the control of the General Government—
- a habitual attachment of the people—the whole force of this tie is on the side of the State Governments—
- force, by which may be understood a coercion of laws or coercion of arms—Congress have not the former, except in few cases; a certain portion of military force is absolutely necessary in large communities; it is impossible to exert this force on the States collectively; whereas foreign powers will interpose, confusion will increase, and a dissolution of the Union ensue—
- influence—a dispensation of those regular honors and emoluments which produce an attachment to the government; almost all the weight of these is on the side of the States; and must continue so as long as the States continue to exist; all the passions then we see, of avarice, ambition, interest, which govern most individuals, and all public bodies, fall into the current of the States, and do not flow in the stream of the General Government; the former therefore will generally be an overmatch for the General Government and render any confederacy, in its very nature precarious;
WHEREAS these evils are to be avoided only by such a complete sovereignty in the General Government as will turn all the strong principles and passions above-mentioned on its side;
WHEREAS the scheme of New Jersey labors under great defects, and the defects of some of its provisions will destroy the efficacy of others;
WHEREAS it gives a direct revenue to Congress, but this will not be sufficient; the balance can only be supplied by requisitions; which experience proves cannot be relied on;
WHEREAS quotas must in the nature of things be so unequal as to produce the same evil;
WHEREAS land is a fallacious standard;
WHEREAS number of inhabitants is equally unjust;
WHEREAS equality of suffrage, which is desired by the small States, is another destructive ingredient in the plan;
WHEREAS bad principles in a government, though slow, are sure in their operation and will gradually destroy it;
WHEREAS if the powers proposed in Mr PATERSON’s plan were adequate, the organization of Congress is such that they could never be properly and effectually exercised;
WHEREAS the members of Congress being chosen by the States and subject to recall, represent all the local prejudices;
WHEREAS should the powers be found effectual, they will from time to time be heaped on them, till a tyrannic sway shall be established;
WHEREAS the general power, whatever be its form, if it preserves itself, must swallow up the State powers; otherwise it will be swallowed up by them;
WHEREAS it is against all the principles of a good government to vest the requisite powers in such a body as Congress;
WHEREAS two sovereignties cannot co-exist within the same limits, giving powers to Congress must eventuate in a bad government, or in not government;
WHEREAS the expence of a general government is also formidable;
WHEREAS if the State Governments were extinguished, great economy might be obtained by substituting a General Government;
WHEREAS the State Governments are not necessary for any of the great purposes of commerce, revenue, or agriculture;
WHEREAS subordinate authorities would be necessary; there must be district tribunals; corporations for local purposes;
WHEREAS the British Constitution is the only government in the world “which unites public strength with individual security;”
WHEREAS in every community where industry is encouraged, there will be a division of into the few and the many; hence separate interests will arise; there will be debtors and creditor, etc.; give all the power the many, they will oppress the few; give all the power to the few, they will oppress the many; both therefore ought to have power, that each many defend itself against the other’
WHEREAS the House of Lords is a most noble institution; having nothing to hope for by a change, and a sufficient interest by means of their property, in being faithful to the national interest, they form a permanent barrier against every pernicious innovation, whether attempted on the part of the Crown or of the Commons;
WHEREAS no temporary Senate with have firmness enough to answer the purpose;
WHEREAS those who suppose seven years a sufficient period to give the Senate an adequate firmness have not duly considered the amazing violence and turbulence of the democratic spirit;
WHEREAS when a great object of government is pursued, which seizes the popular passions, they spread like wildfire and become irresistible;
WHEREAS no good executive could be established on republican principles;
WHEREAS the English model is the only good government with a good executive; the hereditary interest of the King was so interwoven with that of the nation, and his personal emoluments so great, that he is placed above the danger of being corrupted from abroad and at the same time was both sufficiently independent and sufficiently controlled to answer the purpose of the institution at home;
WHEREAS one of the weak sides of republics was their being liable to foreign influence and corruption;
WHEREAS we ought to go as far in order to attain stability and permanency as republican principles will admit; let one branch of the legislature hold their places for life or at least during good behaviour; let the Executive also be for life;
WHEREAS we should have in the Senate a permanent will, a weighty interest, which w would answer essential purposes;
WHEREAS this is a republican government if all the magistrates are appointed, and vacancies are filled, by the people, or a process of election originating with the people;
WHEREAS ‘monarch’ is an indefinite term; it marks not either the degree or duration of power; if this Executive Magistrate would be a monarch for like, the other proposed by the Report from the Committee of the Whole would be a monarch for seven years;
WHEREAS the supposed tumultuous character of elective monarchies has been taken rather from particular cases than from general principles;
WHEREAS a mode of election might be devised among ourselves as will defend the community against these effects in any dangerous degree;
WHEREAS the Union is dissolving or already dissolved;
WHEREAS the evils operating in the States must soon cure the people of their fondness for democracies;
WHEREAS great progress has bee already made is still going on in the public mind; and
WHEREAS the people will in time be unshackled from their prejudices; and whenever that happens, they will themselves not be satisfied at stopping where the plan of Mr RANDOLPH would place them, but be ready to go as far at least as he proposes; NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT
- The supreme Legislative power of the United States of America to be vested in two different bodies of men;
- The one to be called the Assembly, the other the Senate who together shall form the Legislature of the United States with power to pass all laws whatsoever subject to the negative hereafter mentioned.
- The Assembly to consist of persons elected by the people to serve for three years.
- The Senate to consist of persons elected to serve during good behaviour;
- Their election to be made by electors chosen for that purpose by the people: in order to this the States to be divided into election districts.
- On the death, removal or resignation of any Senator his place to be filled out of the district from which he came.
- The supreme Executive authority of the United States to be vested in a Governour to be elected to serve during good behaviour;
- The election to be made by Electors chosen by the people in the Election Districts aforesaid;
- The authorities and functions of the Executive to be as follows:
- TO have a negative on all laws about to be passed, and the execution of all laws passed;
- TO have the direction of war when authorized or begun;
- TO have with the advice and approbation of the Senate the power of making all treaties;
- TO have the sole appointment of the heads or chief officers of the departments of Finance, War and Foreign Affairs;
- TO have the nomination of all other officers (ambassadors to foreign nations included) subject to the approbation or rejection of the Senate;
- TO have the power of pardoning all offenses except treason; which he shall not pardon without the approbation of the Senate.
- On the death, resignation or removal of the Governour his authorities to be exercised by the President of the Senate till a successor be appointed.
- The Senate to have the sole power of declaring war, the power of advising and approving all treaties, the power of approving or rejecting all appointments of officers except the heads or chiefs of the departments of Finance, War and Foreign Affairs.
- The supreme Judicial authority to be vested in ____ Judges to hold their offices during good behaviour with adequate and permanent salaries.
- This Court to have original jurisdiction in all causes of capture, and an appellative jurisdiction in all causes in which the revenues of the general Government or the Citizens of foreign Nations are concerned.
- The Legislature of the United States to have power to institute courts in each state for the determination of all matters of general concern.
- The Governour, Senators and all officers of the United States to be liable to impeachment for mal– and corrupt conduct; and upon conviction to be removed from office, and disqualified for holding any place of trust or profit-all impeachments to be tried by a court to consist of the Chief ________ or Judge of the Superior Court of Law of each state, Provided, Such Judge shall hold his place during good behaviour, and have a permanent salary.
- All laws of the particular states contrary to the Constitution or laws of the United States to be utterly void; and
- The better to prevent such laws being passed, the Governour or President of each state shall be appointed by the General Government and shall have a negative upon the laws about to be passed in the state of which he is Governour or President.
- No State to have any forces land or naval; and
- The Militia of all the States to be under the sole and exclusive direction of the United States.
- The officers of which to be appointed and commissioned by them.