Entity Enmity

The following is an excerpt from a discussion on the Unofficial View’s Facebook page. Stop by and like us, and join the discussion.

The discussion started from the material at http://www.constitution.org as I was doing some research on both the Federalist Papers and the Anti-Federalist Papers. Intrigued, I started with the entry here, at May 25th, 1787. Currently, I am up to June 19th, 1787 and thoroughly enjoying myself. If you’ve not read these deliberations of the Constitutional Convention, you should. And feel free to join the discussion over on our Facebook page.

Between June 13th and June 16th, 1787, two other proposals were presented to the Committee in Whole as to the “ideal” form and substance the new government should take.

The first of these was proffered by the New Jersey delegation, a group that along with Delaware, were alarmed at the extent of powers being discussed for the new national government and the potential for representation in said government being exclusively based on population, or subjective wealth of the state, or on the amount of resources each state could contribute to the national pool.

Which ever form the representation took, other than one state, one vote, these small states said, would ultimately allow the large states to usurp, devour, or otherwise eviscerate the smaller states. A valid concern, in that some instances of such had allegedly already occurred under the Confederation. There was no mention from the New Jersey delegation, however, of alleged collusion between the three smallest states in blocking intentions of some of their larger neighbors.

The basic premise of the NJ proposal was to simply amend the Articles of Confederation, make them stronger where they were weakest—regulating interstate commerce and providing for stronger defense of the fledgling nation, but reserving to the individual states authority over nearly all other matters. Madison would later offer a lengthy rebuttal to this plan.

The second of these additional proposals was a radical departure from discussions of the previous three weeks. It was offered by Alexander Hamilton. He argued for an even more powerful central government than had been proposed by others. If he could have devised a practical method of abolishing the individual states, he would have been in favor of that course of action. He wanted a lifelong appointment of members of the Senate. He would have the Chief Executive nominated and elected by this princely body, also to a lifelong tenure. To the delegates gathered in the hall who had suffered through the Revolutionary War and the infant years of nationhood, this proposal must have sounded like nothing more than a longing to return to submission under the British monarchy.