be the unlucky victims of the war should be indemnified by the
JET. 30.] NEW. YORK LEGISLATURE. 389
community. But, in practice, such a principle would be found
attended with endless difficulties and inconveniences ; and there
fore the reverse of it has been adopted as a general rule. The
individual sufferer, however, might with great color of justice,
say to the government, Why did you make peace without stipu
lating a reparation for the damage done to your citizens ? If it
was necessary for the public good to sacrifice my interests, I have
a right to a public compensation for my losses.
Though this case may, upon a superficial view, appear dissi
milar to the one under consideration, yet the principle upon
examination will be found as applicable to the one as to the
other. The true reason is, that the resources of nations are not
adequate to the reparation of such extensive losses as those
which are commonly occasioned by wars and revolutions ; and it
would therefore be contrary to the general good of society to
establish it as a rule that there is a strict obligation to repay such
losses. It is better that there should be individual sufferers than
to admit a rule which would fetter the operations of government
and distress the affairs of the community.
Generosity and policy may, in particular instances, dictate
such compensation. Sometimes they have been made by nations,
but much oftener omitted. The propriety of doing the one or
the other must depend on circumstances in which the ability of
the public will always be a primary consideration.
I think, sir, I have by this time gone through all the argu
ments that have been brought against the bill, and I hope satis
factorily refuted them.
I shall say a little in answer to the observations drawn from
the examples of Roman magnanimity. Neither the manners nor
the genius of Rome are suited to the republic or to the age we
live in. All her maxims and habits were military ; her govern
ment was constituted for war. Ours is unfit for it ; and our situ
ation still less than our Constitution, invites us to emulate the
conduct of Rome, or to attempt a display of unprofitable heroism.
One more observation will conclude what I have to say.
The present situation of our national affairs appears to me pecu
liarly critical. I know not what may be the result of the disor-
390 HAMILTON'S WORKS. [&T. 30.
dered state of our Government. I am, therefore, the mote solici
tous to guard against danger from abroad. Gentlemen who view
our public affairs in the same light in which they present them
selves to my mind, will, I trust, vote with me upon the present
occasion. Those, on the contrary, who think all is well who
suppose our Government is full of energy, our credit high, and
trade and finances flourishing will probably see no room for
any anxiety about the matter, and may be disposed to leave Ver
mont in its present state. If the bill should fail I hope they will
never have occasion to regret the opportunity they have lost.
As to the petitioners, I shall only say, that I have no reason
to doubt the purity of the motives with which they are actuated.
With many of them I am too well acquainted to permit me to
entertain any unfavorable impression of their conduct; but,
however their opinion of their own rights or interests may have
misled them in estimating the merits of the question before the
committee, I trust we shall be cautious how we suffer our judg
ment of a national question to be biassed or misguided by the
speciousness of the arguments, or appearances on which their op
position is supported.
KEPEAL OF ALL ACTS INCONSISTENT WITH THE TREATY.
An act to amend an act entitled " An act relative to debts due
to persons within the enemy's lines, and another act entitled
An act to explain and amend the act entitled An act relative
to debts due to persons within the enemy's lines." April 20,
Speech on the passage of this Act.
Mr. Hamilton expressed great uneasiness that any opposition
should be made to this bill ; particularly as this State was individ
ually interested therein. He felt greater regret, from a conviction
in his own mind, on this occasion, that the bill should be objected
jEi. 30.] NEW-YORK LEGISLATURE. 391
to, as there was not a single law in existence in this State, in direct
contravention of the treaty of peace. He urged the committee
to consent to the passing of the bill, from the consideration that
the State of New- York was the only State to gain any thing by
a strict adherence to the treaty. There was no other State in
the Union that had so much to expect from it. The restoration
of the western posts, was an object of more than a 100,000 per
annum. Great Britain, he said, held those posts, on the plea that
the United States have not fulfilled the treaty, and which we
have strong assurances she will relinquish, on the fulfilment of
our engagements with her. But how far Great Britain might be
sincere in her declaration was unknown ; indeed he doubted it
himself. But while he doubted the sincerity of Great Britain,
he could not but be of opinion that it was the duty of this State
to enact a law for the repeal of all laws which may be against
the said treaty, as by doing away all exceptions, she would be
reduced to a crisis. She would be obliged to show to the world
whether she was in earnest or not, and whether she will sacri
fice her honor and reputation to her interest. With respect to
the bill, as it was drafted in conformity to the recommendation
of Congress, he viewed it as a wise and a salutary measure, one
calculated to meet the approbation of the different States, and
most likely to answer the end proposed. "Were it possible to
examine an intricate maze of laws, and to determine which of
them, or what parts of laws, were opposed to the treaty, it still
might not have the intended effect, as different parties would
have the judging of this matter. What one should say was a
law not inconsistent with the peace, another might say was so ;
and there would be no end, no decision of the business. Even
some of the States might view laws in a different manner. The
only way to comply with the treaty, was to make a general and
unexceptionable repeal. Congress, with an eye to this, had pro
posed a general law, from which the one before them was a copy.
He thought it must be obvious to every member of the com
mittee, that as there was no law in direct opposition to the treaty,
no difficulty could arise from passing the bill.
Some gentlemen, he observed, were apprehensive that this
392 HAMILTON'S WORKS. [&T. 30.
bill would restore the confiscated estates, &c. This he did not
admit. However, if they were so disposed they might add a
proviso to prevent it. He had written one, which any of the
gentlemen might move, if they thought it necessary; in his
opinion, it was not.
The treaty only provided that no future confiscations should
take place ; and that Congress should earnestly recommend a res
toration of property. But there was nothing obligatory in this.
If this State should not come into the measure, would it not
be a very good plea for the other States to favor their own citi
zens, and say, " Why should we do this, when New- York, the
most interested of any of the States, refuses to adopt it? and
shall we suffer this imputation when, in fact, we have no laws
in existence that militate against the treaty? He stated the
great disadvantages that our merchants experienced from the
western posts being in the hands of the British, and asked if it
was good policy to let them remain so.
It had been said, that the Judges would have too much
power ; this was a misapprehension. He stated the powers of
the judges with great clearness and precision. He insisted that
their powers would be the same, whether this law was passed or
not. For, as all treaties were known by the Constitution as the
laws of the land, so must the judges act on the same, any law to
the contrary notwithstanding.
Cicero, the great Eoman orator and lawyer, lays it down as a
rule, that when two laws clash, that which relates to the most
important matters ought to be preferred ? If this rule prevails,
who can doubt what would be the conduct of the judges, should
any laws exist inconsistent with the treaty of peace? But it
would be impolitic to leave them to the dilemma, either of infring
ing the treaty to enforce the particular laws of the State, or to ex
plain away the laws of the State to give effect to the treaty.
He declared that the full operation of the bill would be no
more than merely to declare the treaty the law of the land. And
that the judges, viewing it as such, shall do away all laws that
may appear in direct contravention of it. Treaties were known
constitutionally to be the law of the land, and why be afraid to
JET. 30.] FEDERAL CONVENTION. 393
leave the interpretation of those laws to the judges ? The Con
stitution knows them as the interpreters of the law. He asked
if there was any member of the committee who would be wil
ling to see the first treaty of peace ever made by this country
violated. This he did not believe. He could not think that
any member on that floor harbored such sentiments.
He was in hopes the committee would agree with him in sen
timent, and give a proof of their attachment to our national en
gagements by passing the bill, which would do away every excep
tion of the British court.
PEOPOSITIONS FOE A CONSTITUTION OF GOVEENMENT.
By Hamilton, 1787.
I. The supreme legislative power of the United States of
America to be vested in two distinct 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.
II. The Assembly to consist of persons elected by thepeople, to
serve for three years.
III. The Senate to consist of persons elected to serve during
good behavior. 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 resigna
tion of any Senator, his place to be filled out of the district from
which he came.
IY. The supreme executive authority of the United States
to be vested in a Governor, to be elected to serve during good be
havior. His election to be made by electors chosen by electors
chosen by the people, in the election districts aforesaid ; or by
electors chosen for that purpose by the respective legislatures
provided that if an election be not made within a limited time,
394 HAMILTON'S WORKS. [M T . 30.
the President of the Senate shall be the Governor. The Gov
ernor to have a negative upon all laws about to be passed and
(to have) the execution of all laws passed (to be the commander-
in-chief of the land and naval forces and of the militia of the
United States) to have the entire direction of war when author
ized or began to have, with the advice and approbation of the
Senate, the power of making all treaties to have the appoint
ment of the heads or chief officers of the departments of finance,
war, and foreign affairs to have the nomination of all other offi
cers (ambassadors to foreign nations included), subject to the ap
probation or rejection of the Senate to have the power of
pardoning all offences but treason, which he shall not pardon
without the approbation of the Senate.
Y. On the death, resignation, or removal of the Governor,
his authorities to be exercised by the President of the Senate
(until a successor be appointed).
VI. The Senate to have the sole power of declaring war the
power of advising and approving all treaties the power of ap
proving or rejecting all appointments of officers, except the
heads or chiefs of the departments of finance, war, and foreign
VII. The supreme judicial authority of the United States to
be vested in twelve Judges, to hold their offices during good be
havior, with adequate and permanent salaries. This court to have
original jurisdiction in all causes of capture and an appellate
jurisdiction (from the courts of the several States) in all causes in
which the revenues of the General Government or the citizens of
foreign nations are concerned.
VIIL The Legislature of the United States to have power to
institute courts in each State for the determination of all causes
of capture and of all matters relating to their revenues, or in
which the citizens of foreign nations are concerned.
IX. The Governor, 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 judges of the Supreme
JET. 30.] FEDERAL CONVENTION. 395
Court, chief or senior judge of the superior court of law of each
State provided that such judge hold his place during good be
havior and have a permanent salary.
X. All laws of the particular States contrary to the Constitu
tion or laws of the United States to be utterly void. And the
better to prevent such laws being passed the Governor or Presi
dent of each State shall be appointed ty ike General Government,
and shall have a negative upon the laws about to be passed in the
State of which he is Governor or President.
XI. 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.
CONSTITUTION OF GOVERNMENT BY THE PEOPLE OF THE
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.
First Draft of Hamilton, 1787.
The people of the United States of America do ordain and
establish this Constitution for the government of themselves and
Sec. 1. The legislative power shall be vested in two distinct
bodies of men, one to be called the Assembly, the other the
Senate, subject to the negative hereinafter mentioned.
Sec. 2. The executive power, with the qualifications herein
after specified, shall be vested in a President of the United
Sec. 3. The supreme judicial authority, except in the cases
otherwise provided for in this Constitution, shall be vested in a
court, to be called the SUPREME COURT, to consist of not less
than six, nor more than twelve judges.
396 HAMILTON'S WORKS. [MT. 30.
Sec. 1. The Assembly shall consist of persons to be called
Kepresentatives, who shall be chosen, except in the first instance,
by the free male citizens and inhabitants of the several States
comprehended in the Union, all of whom, of the age of twenty-
one years and upwards, shall be entitled to an equal vote.
Sec. 2. But the first Assembly shall be chosen in the manner
prescribed in the last Article, and shall consist of one hundred
members, of whom New Hampshire shall have five, Massachu
setts thirteen, Khode Island two, Connecticut seven, New- York
nine, New Jersey six, Pennsylvania twelve, Delaware two, Mary
land eight, Virginia sixteen, North Carolina eight, South Caro
lina eight, Georgia four.
Sec. 3. The Legislature shall provide for the future elections
of representatives, apportioning them in each State, from time to
time, as nearly as may be to the number of persons described in
the 4th Section of the 7th Article, so as that the whole number
of representatives shall never be less than one hundred, nor more
than hundred. There shall be a census taken for this pur
pose within three years after the first meeting of the Legislature,
and within every successive period of ten years. The term for
which representatives shall be elected shall be determined by the
Legislature, but shall not exceed three years. There shall be a
general election at least once in three years, and the time of ser
vice of all the members in each Assembly shall begin (except in
filling vacancies) on the same day, and shall always end on the
Sec. 4. Forty members shall make a house sufficient to pro
ceed to business ; but this number may be increased by the
Legislature, yet so as never to exceed a majority of the whole
number of representatives.
Sec. 5. The Assembly shall choose its President and other
officers, shall judge of the qualifications and elections of its own
members, shall punish them for improper conduct in their capa
city of representatives, not extending to life or limb, and shall
exclusively possess the power of impeachment, except in the case
jET.30.] FEDERAL CONVENTION. 397
of the President of the United States ; but no impeachment of a
member of the Senate shall be by less than two-thirds of the
Sec. 6. Eepresentatives may vote by proxy, but no represent
ative present shall be proxy for more than one who is absent.
Sec. 7. Bills for raising revenue, and bills for appropriating
moneys for the support of fleets and armies, and for paying the
salaries of the officers of government, shall originate in the As
sembly, but may be altered and amended by the Senate.
Sec. 8. The acceptance of an office under the United States
by a representative, shall vacate his seat in the Assembly.
Sec. 1. The Senate shall consist of persons to be chosen, ex
cept in the first instance, by electors elected for that purpose by
the citizens and inhabitants of the several States comprehended
in the Union, who shall have in their own right, or in the right
of their wives, an estate in land for not less than life, or a term
of years, whereof at the time of giving their votes there shall be
at least fourteen years unexpired.
Sec. 2. But the full Senate shall be chosen in the manner pre.
scribed in the last Article, and shall consist of forty members, to
be called Senators, of whom New Hampshire shall have ,
Massachusetts , Ehode Island , Connecticut , New-
York , New Jersey , Pennsylvania , Delaware
, Maryland , Virginia , North Carolina ,
South Carolina , Georgia
Sec. 3. The Legislature shall provide for the future elections
of Senators ; for which purpose the States respectively, which
have more than one Senator, shall be divided into convenient
districts to which the Senators shall be apportioned. A State
having but one Senator shall be itself a district. On the death,
resignation, or removal from office of a Senator, his place shall
be supplied by a new election in the district from which he came.
Upon each election there shall not be less than six nor more than
twelve electors chosen in a district.
398 HAMILTON'S WORKS. [&T. 30.
Sec. 4. The number of Senators shall never be less than forty,
nor shall any State, if the same shall not hereafter be divided,
ever have less than the number allotted to it in the second Sec
tion of this Article ; but the Legislature may increase the whole
number of Senators, in the same proportion to the whole number
of representatives as forty is to one hundred, and such increase,
beyond the present number, shall be apportioned to the respective
States in a ratio to the respective numbers of their represen
Sec. 5. If States shall be divided, or if a new arrangement of
the boundaries of two or more States shall take place, the Legis
lature shall apportion the number of Senators (in elections suc
ceeding such division or arrangement) to which the constituent
parts were entitled according to the change of situation, having
regard to the number of persons described in the 4th Section of
the 7th Article.
Sec. 6. The Senators shall hold their places, during good
behavior, removable only by conviction, on impeachment for
some crime or misdemeanor. They shall continue to exercise
their offices when impeached, until a conviction shall take place.
Sixteen Senators attending in person, shall be sufficient to make
a house to transact business ; but the Legislature may increase
this number, yet so as never to exceed a majority of the whole
number of Senators. The Senators may vote by proxy, but no
Senator who is present shall be proxy for more than two who
Sec. 7. The Senate shall choose its President and other
officers; shall judge of the qualifications and elections of its
members ; and shall punish them for improper conduct in their
capacity of Senators ; but such punishment shall not extend to
life or limb, nor to expulsion. In the absence of their President
they may choose a temporary President. The President shall
only have a casting vote when the House is equally divided.
Sec. 8. The Senate shall exclusively possess the power of
declaring war. No treaty shall be made without their advice
and consent ; which shall also be necessary to the appointment
of all officers, except such for which a different provision is
made in this Constitution.
^T.30.J FEDERAL CONVENTION. 399
Sec. 1. The President of the United States of America
(except in the first instance) shall be elected in the manner fol
The judges of the Supreme Court shall, within sixty days
after a vacancy shall happen, cause public notice to be given in
each State of such vacancy, appointing therein three several
days, for the several purposes following, to wit a day for com
mencing the election of electors for the purposes hereinafter
specified, to be called the first electors, which day shall be not
less than forty nor more than sixty days after the day of the
publication of the notice in each State ; another day for the
meeting of the electors, not less than forty nor more than
ninety days from the day for commencing their election. An
other day for the meeting of electors, to be chosen by the first
electors, for the purpose hereinafter specified, and to be called
the second electors, which day shall be not less than forty nor
more than sixty days after the day for the meeting of the first
Sec. 2. After notice of a vacancy shall have been given,
there shall be chosen in each State a number of persons, as the
first electors in the preceding Section mentioned, equal to the
whole number of the representatives and Senators of such State,
in the Legislature of the United States ; which electors shall be
chosen by the citizens of such State, having an estate of inherit
ance or for three lives in land, or a clear personal estate of the
value of one thousand Spanish milled dollars of the present
Sec. 3. These first electors shall meet in their respective
States at the time appointed, at one place, and shall proceed to
vote by ballot for a President, who shall not be one of their own
number, unless the Legislature, upon experiment, should here
after direct otherwise. They shall cause two lists to be made of
the name or names of the person or persons voted for, which
they, or the major part of them, shall sign and certify. They
shall then proceed each to nominate individually, openly, in the
400 HAMILTON'S WORKS. [-fix. 30.
presence of the others, two persons, as for second electors, and
out of the persons who shall have the four highest numbers of
nominations ; they shall afterwards, by ballot, by plurality of
votes, choose two who shall be the second electors, to each of
whom shall be delivered one of the lists, before-mentioned. These
second electors shall not be any of the persons voted for as
President. A copy of the same list, signed and certified in like
manner, shall be transmitted by the first electors, to the seat of
the government of the United States, under a sealed cover,
directed to the President of the Assembly, which, after the
meeting of the second electors shall be opened, for the inspection
of the two houses of the Legislature.
Sec. 4. These second electors shall meet precisely on the
day appointed, and not on another day, at one place. The
chief justice of the Supreme Court, or if there be no chief jus
tice, the judge junior in office, in such court, or if there be no
one judge junior in office, some other judge of that court, by the
choice of the rest of the judges, or of a majority of them, shall
attend at the same place, and shall preside at the meeting,
but shall have no vote. Two thirds of the whole number
of the electors shall constitute a sufficient meeting for the ex
ecution of their trust. At this meeting, the lists delivered
to the respective electors, shall be produced and inspected,
and if there be any person who has a majority of the whole
number of the votes given by the first electors, he shall be the
President of the United States ; but if there be no such person,