a part of the contribution to the common treasury would be apportioned among the states by the rule for the apportionment of representatives—the states in which slavery is prohibited, ultimately, though with reluctance, acquiesced in the disproportionate number of representatives and electors that was secured to the slave-holding states. The concession was, at the time, believed to be a great one, and has proved to have been the greatest which was made to secure the adoption of the constitution.
Great, however, as this concession was, it was definite, and its full extent was comprehended. It was a settlement between the original thirteen states. The considerations arising out of their actual condition, their past connection, and the obligation which all felt to promote a reformation in the federal government, were peculiar to the time and to the parties; and are not applicable to the new states which congress may now be willing to admit into the Union.
The equality of rights, which includes an equality of burdens, is a vital principle in our theory of government, and its jealous preservation is the best security of public and individual freedom; the departure from this principle in the disproportionate power and influence allowed to the slave-holding states, was a necessary sacrifice to the establishment of the constitution. The effect of this concession has been obvious in the preponderance which it has given to the slave-holding states, over the other states. Nevertheless, it is an ancient settlement, and faith and honor stand pledged not to disturb it. But the extension of this disproportionate power to the new states would be unjust and odious. The states whose power would be abridged, and whose burdens would be increased by the measure, cannot be expected to consent to it; and we may hope that the other states are too magnanimous to insist on it.
[1819, May] 13th, Ⅳ. 30.Four hours of this morning again engaged in examining the journals of the Convention of 1787, and the sheets of yeas and nays, which I compared with the questions in the journals. This comparison has led me to the conclusion that the journals ought to be published with notes. The journals were loosely kept, and the yeas and nays only show the votes of States, and not of individual members. There are some questions on the face of the journals, and which were evidently taken by yeas and nays, but which are omitted in the sheets, and some on the sheets
- Vol. Ⅳ, pp. 363–387.