State Documents on Federal Relations/41

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41. Extract from the Reply of the Legislature of New York.

April 17, 1815.

In the opinion of your committee, in order correctly to estimate the respect due to the resolutions referred to them, it is necessary to recur to the sources from whence they sprang; and to the time and circumstances in which they originated. [Here follows an unfriendly summary of the work of the Hartford Convention and an inference as to its intentions.] From this convention, emanated the resolutions submitted to the consideration of your committee.

The enlightened patriots who formed the constitution of the United States, aware that confederated sovereignties are ever prone to factions combinations, wisely inserted a provision, “that no state should enter into any agreement or compact with another state." Yet in utter violation of this most explicit declaration of the constitution, was this convention called, these delegates appointed, and their proceedings approved by the states of Massachusetts and Connecticut. [Here follows a severe arraignment of the States of Massachusetts and Connecticut, and contrasts their conduct with that of New York.]

In the amendments proposed to the constitution, your committee can discover nothing inconsistent with the late conduct of the states by whom they are recommended. The effect of them, if adopted would be to create dissentions among the different members of the union, to enfeeble the national government, and to tempt all nations to encroach upon our rights. Your committee forbear to enter into a particular examination of the merits of these amendments, but they cannot but remark, that if the fifth, which requires the concurrence of two-thirds of both houses of congress to declare war, were adopted, no nation would ever fear our power. Recent experience has given us but too much reason to apprehend, that a portion of the people in the eastern section of the union are lost to a due sense of national honor. These combined with others, might put it out of the power of government to declare war, even if an insolent foe should plunder our commerce and kidnap our citizens. Your committee would further remark, that although an amendment is proposed, depriving certain states of a portion of their representation, in consideration of holding slaves, upon the ground that it is unequal in its operation; yet nothing is suggested in favor of equalizing the representation in the senate, in which the states of Connecticut and Rhode Island are equally represented with this state, which contains four times as many as the former, and fourteen times as many as the latter.

Upon a considerate view of the whole subject, your committee are of opinion that as it becomes this honorable legislature, in the words of the father of his country, to "frown indignantly upon the first dawning of every attempt to alienate any portion of our country from the rest, or to enfeeble the sacred ties which now link together the various parts," that it would be proper to adopt the following resolution:

Resolved, That the seven several propositions of amendment to the constitution of the United States, in the words following, viz. [Here the resolutions are inserted] Be and the same are hereby rejected: and that his excellency the governor be requested to communicate information thereof, to the executive of the several states of the general government.