the rights of the minority against the encroachments of the majority was to be found in the limitations upon the power of the governing party, a death struggle arose between the two parties over the constitutional restraints upon this power.
The struggle between the two parties commenced at the beginning of the government.
These were respectively led by Hamilton
, the one with an avowed preference for monarchy, the other the great apostle of democracy — men of signal abilities, and each conscious of what would be the consequence of complete and perfect victory on either side.
The party of power showed a constant tendency to draw all important subjects of jurisdiction within the vortex of Federal control, and an equally persevering effort on the other to limit that control to the strict necessities of a common government.
A great leader, who came into the contest and figured in it until it was well nigh ended, used to say that in all good governments there existed a tax-consuming and a tax-paying party, between whom a constant conflict existed, and in the history of that conflict the history of party strife would be found to consist; but when the first acquired complete supremacy the nature, if not the form of the government — if it was originally republican — was sure to change.
The leaders of the States rights party, aware of this tendency, as the contest went on, became more and more anxious to preserve their constitutional defences, and loudly proclaimed the danger of yielding them up. Time and again they proclaimed that the worst of all governments was that of a majority of numbers with absolute and unrestricted powers.
Despotism of all sorts was bad, but the despotism of a majority of numbers in a democratic form of government was the worst of all — particularly was that the case in regard to slavery, as was often asserted.
In February, 1790, when two abolition petitions, one of them signed by Dr. Franklin
, were presented to Congress, that body “resolved that Congress had no authority to interfere in the emancipation of slaves, or even the treatment of them within any of the States, it remaining with the several States alone to provide any regulations therein which humanity or true policy may require.”
Congress thus clearly declared its view of its power over the subject.
Congress was petitioned to do all in its power to discourage slavery, of which a Massachusetts man, in an able history of the long contest, has said: “Congress could not move a hair's breadth towards discouraging it, either lawfully or honestly.
The powers of Congress being defined and nominated by the constitution which framed the government, all it could do in ”