Page:EB1911 - Volume 17.djvu/300

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285
MADISON, JAMES


navigation of the river and the Chesapeake Bay. Virginia now feared that too much had been given up, and desired joint regulation of the navigation and commerce of the river by Maryland and Virginia. On Madison's proposal commissioners from the two states met at Alexandria (q.v.) and at Mount Vernon in March 1785. The Maryland legislature approved the Mount Vernon agreement and proposed to invite Pennsylvania and Delaware to join in the arrangement. Madison, seeing an opportunity for more general concert in regard to commerce and trade (and possibly for the increase of the power of Congress), proposed that all the states should be invited to send commissioners to consider commercial questions, and a resolution to that effect was adopted (on ]an. 21, 1786) by the Virginia legislature. This led to the Annapolis convention of 1786, and that in turn led to the Philadelphia convention of 1787. In April 1787 Madison had written a paper, The Vices of the Politicai System of the United States, and from his study of confederacies, ancient and modern, later summed up in numbers 17, 18, and IQ of The F Federalist, he had concluded that no confederacy could long endure if it acted upon states only and not directly upon individuals. As the time for the convention of 1787 approached he drew up an outline of a new system of government, the basis of the “ Virginia plan ” presented in the convention by Edmund Jennings Randolph. Madison's scheme, as expressed in a letter to Washington dated the 16th of April 1787, was that individual sovereignty of states was irreconcilable with aggregate sovereignty, but that the “ consolidation of the whole into one simple republic would be as inexpedient as it is unattainable.” He considered as a practical middle ground changing the basis of representation in Congress from states to population; giving the national government “ positive and complete authority in all cases which require uniformity ”; giving it a negative on all state laws, a power which might best be vested in the Senate, a comparatively permanent body; electing the lower house, and the more numerous, for a short term; providing for a national executive, for extending the national supremacy over the judiciary and the militia, for a council to revise all laws, and for an express statement of the right of coercion; and finally, obtaining the ratification of a new constitutional instrument from the people, and not merely from the legislatures. The “Virginia plan ” was the basis of the convention's deliberations which resulted in the constitution favourably voted on by the convention on the 17th of September 1787. Among the features of the plan which were not embodied in the constitution were the following: proportionate representation in the Senate and the election of its members by the lower house “ out of a proper number of persons nominated by the individual legislatures ”; the vesting in the national Congress of power to negative state acts; and the establishment of a council of revision (the executive and a convenient number of national judges) with veto power over all laws passed by the national Congress. Madison, always an opponent of slavery, disapproved of the compromise (in Art. I. § 9 and Art. V.) postponing to 1808 (or later) the prohibition of the importation of slaves. He took a leading part in the debates of the convention, of which he kept full and careful notes, afterwards published by order of Congress (3 vols., Washington, 1843). Many minute and wise provisions are due to him, and he spoke before the convention more frequently than any delegate except James Wilson and Gouverneur Morris. In spite of the opposition to the constitution of the Virginia leaders George Mason and E. ]. Randolph, Madison induced the state's delegation to stand by the constitution in the convention. His influence largely shaped the form of the final draft of the constitution, but the labour was not finished with this draft; that the constitution was accepted by the people was due in an eminent degree to the efforts of Madison, who, to place the new constitution before the public in its true light, and to meet the objections brought against it, joined Alexander Hamilton (q.v.) and John Jay in writing The Federal-1st, a series of eighty-five papers, out of which twenty certainly, and nine others probably, were written by him. In the Virginia convention for ratifying the constitution (June 1788), when eight states had ratified and it seemed that Virginia's vote would be needed to make the necessary nine (New Hampshire's favourable vote was cast only shortly before that of Virginia), and it appeared that New York would vote against the constitution if Virginia did not ratify it, Madison was called upon to defend that instrument again, and he appeared at his best against its opponents, Patrick Henry, George Mason, James Monroe, Benjamin Harrison, William Grayson and John Tyler. He answered their objections in detail, calmly and with an intellectual power and earnestness that carried the convention. The result was a victory against an originally adverse public opinion and against the eloquence of the opponents of the constitution, for Madison and for his lieutenants, Edmund Pendleton, John Marshall, George Nicholas, Harry Innes and Henry Lee. At the same time Madison's labours in behalf of the constitution alienated from him valuable political support in Virginia. He was defeated by Richard Henry Lee and William Grayson in his candidacy for the United States Senate, but in his own district he was chosen a representative to Congress, defeating James'Monroe, who seems to have had the powerful support of Patrick Henry. Madison took his seat in the House of Representatives in April 1789, and assumed a leading part in the legislation necessary to the organization of the new government. He drafted a Tariff Bill giving certain notable advantages to nations with which the United States had commercial treaties, hoping to force Great Britain into a similar treaty; but his policy of discrimination against England was rejected by Congress. It was his belief that such a system of retaliation would remove the possibility of war arising from commercial quarrels. He introduced resolutions calling for the establishment of three executive departments, foreign affairs, treasury and war, the head of each removable by the president. Most important of all, he proposed nine amendments to the constitution, embodying suggestions made by a number of the ratifying states, especially those made by Virginia at the instance of George Mason; and the essential principles of Madison's proposed amendments were included in a Bill of Rights, adopted by the states in the form of ten amendments. The absence of a Bill of Rights from the constitution as first adopted had been the point on which the opposition had made common cause, and the adoption of this now greatly weakened the same opposition. Although a staunch friend of the constitution, Madison believed, however, that the instrument should be interpreted conservatively and not be made the means of introducing radical innovations. The tide of strict construction was setting in strongly in his state, and he was borne along with the flood. It is very probable that ]'efferson's influence over Madison, which was greater than Hamilton's, contributed to this result. Madison now opposed Hamilton's measures for the funding of the debt, the assumption of state debts, and the establishment of a National Bank, and on other questions he sided moreiand more with the opposition, gradually assuming its leadership in the House of Representatives and labouring to confine the powers of the national government within the narrowest possible limits; his most important argument against Hamilton's Bank was that the constitution did not provide for it explicitly, and could not properly be construed into permitting its creation. Madison, Iefferson and Randolph were consulted by Washington, and they advised him not to sign the bill providing for the Bank, but Hamilton's counterargument was successful. On the same constitutional grounds Madison objected to the carrying out of the recommendations in Hamilton's famous report on manufactures (Dec. 5, I7QI), which favoured a protective tariff. In the presidential campaign of 1792 Madison seems to have lent his influence to the determined efforts of the Teffersonians to defeat John Adams by electing George Clinton vice-president. In 1793-1796 he strongly criticized the administration for maintaining a neutral position between Great Britain and France, writing for the public press five papers (signed “ Helvidius ”), attacking the “ monarchical prerogative of the executive ” as exercised in the proclamation of neutrality in 1793 and denying the president's right to recognize foreign states. He found in Washington's attitude as in Hamilton's failure. to pay an instalment of the moneys