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‎”Letters from a Federal Farmer” was written in 1787,by a person worried about Government centralized power, but even he didn’t think Congress would be bold enough to lay internal taxes

‎”Letters from a Federal Farmer” was written on October 10th, 1787, by an unknown person that was worried about Government centralized power, but even he didn’t think Congress would be bold enough to lay internal taxes. “I admit that it is not probable that any prudent congress will attempt to lay and collect internal taxes, especially direct taxes”

Dear Sir,

The great object of a free people must be so to form their government and 

laws, and so to administer them, as to create a confidence in, and respect 

for the laws; and thereby induce the sensible and virtuous part of the 

community to declare in favor of the laws, and to support them without an 

expensive military force. I wish, though I confess I have not much hope, 

that this may be the case with the laws of congress under the new 

constitution. I am fully convinced that we must organize the national 

government on different principals, and make the parts of it more efficient, 

and secure in it more effectually the different interests in the community; 

or else leave in the state governments some powers propose[d] to be lodged 

in it -- at least till such an organization shall be found to be 

practicable. Not sanguine in my. expectations of a good federal 

administration, and satisfied, as I am, of the impracticability of 

consolidating the states, and at the same time of preserving the rights of 

the people at large, I believe we ought still to leave some of those powers 

in the state governments, in which the people, in fact, will still be 

represented -- to define some other powers proposed to be vested in the 

general government, more carefully, and to establish a few principles to 

secure a proper exercise of the powers given it. It is not my object to 

multiply objections, or to contend about inconsiderable powers or 

amendments; I wish the system adopted with a few alterations; but those, in 

my mind, are essential ones; if adopted without, every good citizen will 

acquiesce though I shall consider the duration of our governments, and the 

liberties of this people, very much dependant on the administration of the 

general government. A wise and honest administration, may make the people 

happy under any government; but necessity only can justify even our leaving 

open avenues to the abuse of power, by wicked, unthinking, or ambitious men. 

I will examine, first, the organization of the proposed government, in order 

to judge; 2d, with propriety, what powers are improperly, at least 

prematurely lodged in it. I shall examine, 3d, the undefined powers; and 

4th, those powers, the exercise of which is not secured on safe and proper 

ground.

First. As to the organization -- the house of representatives, the 

democrative branch, as it is called, is to consist of 65 members: that is, 

about one representative for fifty thousand inhabitants, to be chosen 

biennially -- the federal legislature may increase this number to one for 

each thirty thousand inhabitants, abating fractional numbers in each state. 

-- Thirty-three representatives will make a quorum for doing business, and a 

majority of those present determine the sense of the house. -- I have no 

idea that the interests, feelings, and opinions of three or four millions of 

people, especially touching internal taxation, can be collected in such a 

house. -- In the nature of things, nine times in ten, men of the elevated 

classes in the community only can be chosen -- Connecticut, for instance, 

will have five representatives -- not one man in a hundred of those who form 

the democrative branch in the state legislature, will, on a fair 

computation, be one of the five -- The people of this country, in one sense, 

may all be democratic; but if we make the proper distinction between the few 

men of wealth and abilities, and consider them, as we ought, as the natural 

aristocracy of the country, and the great body of the people, the middle and 

lower classes, as the democracy, this federal representative branch will 

have but very little democracy in it, even this small representation is not 

secured on proper principles. -- The branches of the legislature are 

essential parts of the fundamental compact, and ought to be so fixed by the 

people, that the legislature cannot alter itself by modifying the elections 

of its own members. This, by a part of Art. 1. Sect. 4. the general 

legislature may do, it may evidently so regulate elections as to secure the 

choice of any particular description of men. -- It may make the whole state 

one district -- make the capital, or any places in the state, the place or 

places of election -- it may declare that the five men (or whatever the 

number may be the state may chuse) who shall have the most votes shall be 

considered as chosen -- In this case it is easy to perceive how the people 

who live scattered in the inland towns will bestow their votes on different 

men -- and how a few men in a city, in any order or profession, may unite 

and place any five men they please highest among those that may be voted for 

-- and all this may be done constitutionally, and by those silent 

operations, which are not immediately perceived by the people in general. -- 

I know it is urged, that the general legislature will be disposed to 

regulate elections on fair and just principles: -- This may be true -- good 

men will generally govern well with almost any constitution: but why in 

laying the foundation of the social system, need we unnecessarily leave a 

door open to improper regulations? -- This is a very general and unguarded 

clause, and many evils may flow from that part which authorises the congress 

to regulate elections -- Were it omitted, the regulations of elections would 

be solely in the respective states, where the people are substantially 

represented; and where the elections ought to be regulated, otherwise to 

secure a representation from all parts of the community, in making the 

constitution, we ought to provide for dividing each state into a proper 

number of districts, and for confining the electors in each district to the 

choice of some men, who shall have a permanent interest and residence in it; 

and also for this essential object, that the representative elected shall 

have a majority of the votes of those electors who shall attend and give 

their votes.

In considering the practicability of having a full and equal representation 

of the people from all parts of the union, not only distances and different 

opinions, customs, and views, common in extensive tracts of country, are to 

be taken into view, but many differences peculiar to Eastern, Middle, and 

Southern states. These differences are not so perceivable among the members 

of congress, and men of general information in the states, as among the men 

who would properly form the democratic branch. The Eastern states are very 

democratic, and composed chiefly of moderate freeholders; they have but few 

rich men and no slaves; the Southern states are composed chiefly of rich 

planters and slaves; they have but few moderate freeholders, and the 

prevailing influence, in them, is generally a dissipated aristocracy: The 

Middle states partake partly of the Eastern, and partly of the Southern 

character.

Perhaps, nothing could be more disjointed, unweildly and incompetent to 

doing business with harmony and dispatch, than a federal house of 

representatives properly numerous for the great objects of taxation, et 

cetera collected from the several states; whether such men would ever act in 

concert; whether they would not worry along a few years, and then be the 

means of separating the parts of the union, is very problematical? -- View 

this system in whatever form we can, propriety brings us still to this 

point, a federal government possessed of general and complete powers, as to 

those national objects which cannot well come under the cognizance of the 

internal laws of the respective states, and this federal government, 

accordingly, consisting of branches not very numerous.

The house of representatives is on the plan of consolidation, but the senate 

is intirely on the federal plan; and Delaware will have as much 

constitutional influence in the senate, as the largest state in the union: 

and in this senate are lodged legislative, executive and judicial powers: 

Ten states in this union urge that they are small states, nine of which were 

present in the convention. -- They were interested in collecting large 

powers into the hands of the senate, in which each state still will have its 

equal share of power. I suppose it was impracticable for the three large 

states, as they were called, to get the senate formed on any other 

principles: But this only proves, that we cannot form one general government 

on equal and just principles -- and proves, that we ought not to lodge in it 

such extensive powers before we are convinced of the practicability of 

organizing it on just and equal principles. The senate will consist of two 

members from each state, chosen by the state legislatures, every sixth year. 

The clause referred to, respecting the elections of representatives, 

empowers the general legislature to regulate the elections of senators also, 

"except as to the places of chusing senators." -- There is, therefore, but 

little more security in the elections than in those of representatives: 

Fourteen senators make a quorum for business, and a majority of the senators 

present give the vote of the senate, except in giving judgment upon an 

impeachment, or in making treaties, or in expelling a member, when 

two-thirds of the senators present must agree -- The members of the 

legislature are not excluded from being elected to any military offices, or 

any civil offices, except those created, or the emoluments of which shall be 

increased by themselves: two-thirds of the members present, of either house, 

may expel a member at pleasure. The senate is an independant branch of the 

legislature, a court for trying impeachments, and also a part of the 

executive, having a negative in the making of all treaties, and in 

appointing almost all officers.

The vice president is not a very important, if not an unncessary part of the 

system -- he may be a part of the senate at one period, and act as the 

supreme executive magistrate at another -- The election of this officer, as 

well as of the president of the United States seems to be properly secured; 

but when we examine the powers of the president, and the forms of the 

executive, we shall perceive that the general government, in this part, will 

have a strong tendency to aristocracy, or the government of the few. The 

executive is, in fact, the president and senate in all transactions of any 

importance; the president is connected with, or tied to the senate; he may 

always act with the senate, but never can effectually counteract its views: 

The president can appoint no officer, civil or military, who shall not be 

agreeable to the senate; and the presumption is, that the will of so 

important a body will not be very easily controuled, and that it will 

exercise its powers with great address.

In the judicial department, powers ever kept distinct in well balanced 

governments, are no less improperly blended in the hands of the same men -- 

in the judges of the supreme court is lodged, the law, the equity and the 

fact. It is not necessary to pursue the minute organical parts of the 

general government proposed. -- There were various interests in the 

convention, to be reconciled, especially of large and small states; of 

carrying and non-carrying states; and of states more and states less 

democratic -- vast labour and attention were by the convention bestowed on 

the organization of the parts of the constitution offered; still it is 

acknowledged there are many things radically wrong in the essential parts of 

this constitution -- but it is said that these are the result of our 

situation: On a full examination of the subject, I believe it; but what do 

the laborious inquiries and determinations of the convention prove? If they 

prove any thing, they prove that we cannot consolidate the states on proper 

principles: The organization of the government presented proves, that we 

cannot form a general government in which all power can be safely lodged; 

and a little attention to the parts of the one proposed will make it appear 

very evident, that all the powers proposed to be lodged in it, will not be 

then well deposited, either for the purposes of government, or the 

preservation of liberty. I will suppose no abuse of powers in those cases, 

in which the abuse of it is not well guarded against -- I will suppose the 

words authorising the general government to regulate the elections of its 

own members struck out of the plan, or free district elections, in each 

state, amply secured. -- That the small representation provided for shall be 

as fair and equal as it is capable of being made -- I will suppose the 

judicial department regulated on pure principles, by future laws, as far as 

it can be by the constitution, and consistent] with the situation of the 

country -- still there will be an unreasonable accumulation of powers in the 

general government, if all be granted, enumerated in the plan proposed. The 

plan does not present a well balanced government. The senatorial branch of 

the legislative and the executive are substantially united, and the 

president, or the first executive magistrate, may aid the senatorial 

interest when weakest, but never can effectually support the democratic[,] 

however it may be oppressed; -- the excellency, in my mind, of a well 

balanced government is that it consists of distinct branches, each 

sufficiently strong and in-dependant to keep its own station, and to aid 

either of the other branches which may occasionally want aid.

The convention found that any but a small house of representatives would be 

expensive, and that it would be impracticable to assemble a large number of 

representatives. Not only the determination of the convention in this case, 

but the situation of the states, proves the impracticability of collecting, 

in any one point, a proper representation.

The formation of the senate, and the smallness of the house, being, 

therefore, the result of our situation, and the actual state of things, the 

evils which may attend the exercise of many powers in this national 

government may be considered as without a remedy.

All officers are impeachable before the senate only -- before the men by 

whom they are appointed, or who are consenting to the appointment of these 

officers. No judgment of conviction, on an impeachment, can be given unless 

two thirds of the senators agree. Under these circumstances the right of 

impeachment, in the house, can be of but little importance; the house cannot 

expect often to convict the offender; and, therefore, probably, will but 

seldom or never exercise the right. In addition to the insecurity and 

inconveniences attending this organization beforementioned, it may be 

observed, that it is extremely difficult to secure the people against the 

fatal effects of corruption and influence. The power of making any law will 

be in the president, eight senators, and seventeen representatives, relative 

to the important objects enumerated in the constitution. Where there is a 

small representation a sufficient number to carry any measure, may, with 

ease, be influenced by bribes, offices and civilities; they may easily form 

private juntoes, and out door meetings, agree on measures, and carry them by 

silent votes.

Impressed, as I am, with a sense of the difficulties there are in the way of 

forming the parts of a federal government on proper principles, and seeing a 

government so unsubstantially organized, after so arduous an attempt has 

been made, I am led to believe, that powers ought to be given to it with 

great care and caution.

In the second place it is necessary, therefore, to examine the extent, and 

the probable operations of some of those extensive powers proposed to be 

vested in this government. These powers, legislative, executive, and 

judicial, respect internal as well as external objects. Those respecting 

external objects, as all foreign concerns, commerce, imposts, all causes 

arising on the seas, peace and war, and Indian affairs, can be lodged no 

where else, with any propriety, but in this government. Many powers that 

respect internal objects ought clearly to be lodged in it; as those to 

regulate trade between the states, weights and measures, the coin or current 

monies, post-offices, naturalization, etc. These powers may be exercised 

without essentially effecting the internal police of the respective states: 

But powers to lay and collect internal taxes, to form the militia, to make 

bankrupt laws, and to decide on appeals, questions arising on the internal 

laws of the respective states, are of a very serious nature, and carry with 

them almost all other powers. These taken in connection with the others, and 

powers to raise armies and build navies, proposed to be lodged in this 

government, appear to me to comprehend all the essential powers in the 

community, and those which will be left to the states will be of no great 

importance.

A power to lay and collect taxes at discretion, is, in itself, of very 

great importance. By means of taxes, the government may command the whole or 

any part of the subject's property. Taxes may be of various kinds; but there 

is a strong distinction between external and internal taxes. External taxes 

are impost duties, which are laid on imported goods; they may usually be 

collected in a few seaport towns, and of a few individuals, though 

ultimately paid by the consumer; a few officers can collect them, and they 

can be carried no higher than trade will bear, or smuggling permit -- that 

in the very nature of commerce, bounds are set to them. But internal taxes, 

as poll and land taxes, excises, duties on all written instruments, etc. may 

fix themselves on every person and species of property in the community; 

they may be carried to any lengths, and in proportion as they are extended, 

numerous officers must be employed to assess them, and to enforce the 

collection of them. In the United Netherlands the general government has 

compleat powers, as to external taxation; but as to internal taxes, it makes 

requisitions on the provinces. Internal taxation in this country is more 

important, as the country is so very extensive. As many assessors and 

collectors of federal taxes will be above three hundred miles from the seat 

of the federal government as will be less. Besides, to lay and collect 

internal taxes, in this extensive country, must require a great number of 

congressional ordinances, immediately operating upon the body of the people; 

these must continually interfere with the state laws, and thereby produce 

disorder and general dissatisfaction, till the one system of laws or the 

other, operating upon the same subjects, shall be abolished. These 

ordinances alone, to say nothing of those respecting the militia, coin, 

commerce, federal judiciary, etc. etc. will probably soon defeat the 

operations of the state laws and governments.

Should the general government think it politic, as some administrations (if 

not all) probably will, to look for a support in a system of influence, the 

government will take every occasion to multiply laws, and officers to 

execute them, considering these as so many necessary props for its own 

support. Should this system of policy be adopted, taxes more productive than 

the impost duties will, probably, be wanted to support the government, and 

to discharge foreign demands, without leaving any thing for the domestic 

creditors. The internal sources of taxation then must be called into 

operation, and internal tax laws and federal assessors and collectors spread 

over this immense country. All these circumstances considered, is it wise, 

prudent, or safe, to vest the powers of laying and collecting internal taxes 

in the general government, while imperfectly organized and inadequate; and 

to trust to amending it hereafter, and making it adequate to this purpose? 

It is not only unsafe but absurd to lodge power in a government before it is 

fitted to receive it? [Sic.] It is confessed that this power and 

representation ought to go together. Why give the power first? Why give the 

power to the few, who, when possessed of it, may have address enough to 

prevent the increase of representation? Why not keep the power, and, when 

necessary, amend the constitution, and add to its other parts this power, 

and a proper increase of representation at the same time? Then men who may 

want the power will be under strong inducements to let in the people, by 

their representatives, into the government, to hold their due proportion of 

this power. If a proper representation be impracticable, then we shall see 

this power resting in the states, where it at present ought to be, and not 

inconsiderately given up.

When I recollect how lately congress, conventions, legislatures, and people 

contended in the cause of liberty, and carefully weighed the importance of 

taxation, I can scarcely believe we are serious in proposing to vest the 

powers of laying and collecting internal taxes in a government so 

imperfectly organized for such purposes. Should the United States be taxed 

by a house of representatives of two hundred members, which would be about 

fifteen members for Connecticut, twenty-five for Massachusetts, etc. still 

the middle and lower classes of people could have no great share, in fact, 

in taxation. I am aware it is said, that the representation proposed by the 

new constitution is sufficiently numerous; it may be for many purposes; but 

to suppose that this branch is sufficiently numerous to guard the rights of 

the people in the administration of the government, in which the purse and 

sword is placed, seems to argue that we have forgot what the true meaning of 

representation is. I am sensible also, that it is said that congress will 

not attempt to lay and collect internal taxes; that it is necessary for them 

to have the power, though it cannot probably be exercised. -- I admit that it 

is not probable that any prudent congress will attempt to lay and collect 

internal taxes, especially direct taxes: but this only proves, that the 

power would be improperly lodged in congress, and that it might be abused by 

imprudent and designing men.

I have heard several gentlemen, to get rid of objections to this part of the 

constitution, attempt to construe the powers relative to direct taxes, as 

those who object to it would have them; as to these, it is said, that 

congress will only have power to make requisitions, leaving it to the states 

to lay and collect them. I see but very little colour for this construction, 

and the attempt only proves that this part of the plan cannot be defended. 

By this plan there can be no doubt, but that the powers of congress will be 

complete as to all kinds of taxes whatever -- Further, as to internal taxes, 

the state governments will have concurrent powers with the general 

government, and both may tax the same objects in the same year; and the 

objection that the general government may suspend a state tax, as a 

necessary measure for the promoting the collection of a federal tax, is not 

without foundation. -- As the states owe large debts, and have large demands 

upon them individually, there clearly would be a propriety in leaving in 

their possession exclusively, some of the internal sources of taxation, at 

least until the federal representation shall be properly encreased: The 

power in the general government to lay and collect internal taxes, will 

render its powers respecting armies, navies and the militia, the more 

exceptionable. By the constitution it is proposed that congress shall have 

power "to raise and support armies, but no appropriation of money to that 

use shall be for a longer term than two years; to provide and maintain a 

navy; to provide for calling forth the militia to execute the laws of the 

union, suppress insurrections, and repel invasions: to provide for 

organizing, arming, and disciplining the militia: reserving to the states 

the right to appoint the officers, and to train the militia according to the 

discipline prescribed by congress; congress will have unlimited power to 

raise armies, and to engage officers and men for any number of years; but a 

legislative act applying money for their support can have operation for no 

longer term than two years, and if a subsequent congress do not within the 

two years renew the appropriation, or further appropriate monies for the use 

of the army, the army will be left to take care of itself. When an army 

shall once be raised for a number of years, it is not probable that it will 

find much difficulty in getting congress to pass laws for applying monies to 

its support. I see so many men in America fond of a standing army, and 

especially among those who probably will have a large share in administering 

the federal system; it is very evident to me, that we shall have a large 

standing army as soon as the monies to support them can be possibly found. 

An army is a very agreeable place of employment for the young gentlemen of 

many families. A power to raise armies must be lodged some where; still this 

will not justify the lodging this power in a bare majority of so few men 

without any checks; or in the government in which the great body of the 

people, in the nature of things, will be only nominally represented. In the 

state governments the great body of the people, the yeomanry, etc. of the 

country, are represented: It is true they will chuse the members of 

congress, and may now and then chuse a man of their own way of thinking; but 

it is impossible for forty, or thirty thousand people in this country, one 

time in ten to find a man who can possess similar feelings, views, and 

interests with themselves: Powers to lay and collect taxes and to raise 

armies are of the greatest moment; for carrying them into effect, laws need 

not be frequently made, and the yeomanry, etc of the country ought 

substantially to have a check upon the passing of these laws; this check 

ought to be placed in the legislatures, or at least, in the few men the 

common people of the country, will, probably, have in congress, in the true 

sense of the word, "from among themselves." It is true, the yeomanry of the 

country possess the lands, the weight of property, possess arms, and are 

tocr strong a body of men to be openly offended -- and, therefore, it is 

urged, they will take care of themselves, that men who shall govern will not 

dare pay any disrespect to their opinions. It is easily perceived, that if 

they have not their proper negative upon passing laws in congress, or on the 

passage of laws relative to taxes and armies, they may in twenty or thirty 

years be by means imperceptible to them, totally deprived of that boasted 

weight and strength: This may be done in a great measure by congress, if 

disposed to do it, by modelling the militia. Should one fifth, or one eighth 

part of the men capable of bearing arms, be made a select militia, as has 

been proposed, and those the young and ardent part of the community, 

possessed of but little or no property, and all the others put upon a plan 

that will render them of no importance, the former will answer all the 

purposes of an army, while the latter will be defenceless. The state must 

train the militia in such form and according to such systems and rules as 

congress shall prescribe: and the only actual influence the respective 

states will have respecting the militia will be in appointing the officers. 

I see no provision made for calling out the posse commitatus for executing 

the laws of the union, but provision is made for congress to call forth the 

militia for the execution of them -- and the militia in general, or any 

select part of it, may be called out under military officers, instead of the 

sheriff to enforce an execution of federal laws, in the first instance and 

thereby introduce an entire military execution of the laws. I know that 

powers to raise taxes, to regulate the military strength of the community on 

some uniform plan, to provide for its defence and internal order, and for 

duly executing the laws, must be lodged somewhere; but still we ought not so 

to lodge them. as evidently to give one order of men in the community, undue 

advantages over others; or commit the many to the mercy, prudence, and 

moderation of the few. And so far as it may be necessary to lodge any of the 

peculiar powers in the general government, a more safe exercise of them 

ought to be secured, by requiring the consent of two-thirds or three-fourths 

of congress thereto -- until the federal representation can be increased, so 

that the democratic members in congress may stand some tolerable chance of a 

reasonable negative, in behalf of the numerous, important, and democratic 

part of the community.

I am not sufficiently acquainted with the laws and internal police of all 

the states to discern fully, how general bankrupt laws, made by the union, 

would effect them, or promote the public good. I believe the property of 

debtors, in the several states, is held responsible for their debts in modes 

and forms very different. If uniform bankrupt laws can be made without 

producing real and substantial inconveniences, I wish them to be made by 

congress.

There are some powers proposed to be lodged in the general government in the 

judicial department, I think very unnecessarily, I mean powers respecting 

questions arising upon the internal laws of the respective states. It is 

proper the federal judiciary should have powers co-extensive with the 

federal legislature -- that is, the power of deciding finally on the laws of 

the union. By Art. 3. Sect. 2. the powers of the federal judiciary are 

extended (among other things) to all cases between a state and citizens of 

another state -- between citizens of different states -- between a state or 

the citizens thereof, and foreign states, citizens or subjects. Actions in 

all these cases, except against a state government, are now brought and 

finally determined in the law courts of the states respectively; and as 

there are no words to exclude these courts of their jurisdiction in these 

cases, they will have concurrent jurisdiction with the inferior federal 

courts in them; and, therefore, if the new constitution be adopted without 

any amendment in this respect, all those numerous actions, now brought in 

the state courts between our citizens and foreigners, between citizens of 

different states, by state governments against foreigners, and by state 

governments against citizens of other states, may also be brought in the 

federal courts; and an appeal will lay in them from the state courts, or 

federal inferior courts, to the supreme judicial court of the union. In 

almost all these cases, either party may have the trial by jury in the state 

courts; excepting paper money and tender laws, which are wisely guarded 

against in the proposed constitution, justice may be obtained in these 

courts on reasonable terms; they must be more competent to proper decisions 

on the laws of their respective states, than the federal courts can possibly 

be. I do not, in any point of view, see the need of opening a new 

jurisdiction to these causes -- of opening a new scene of expensive law 

suits -- of suffering foreigners, and citizens of different states, to drag 

each other many hundred miles into the federal courts. It is true, those 

courts may be so organized by a wise and prudent legislature, as to make the 

obtaining of justice in them tolerably easy; they may in general be 

organized on the common law principles of the country: But this benefit is 

by no means secured by the constitution. The trial by jury is secured only 

in those few criminal cases, to which the federal laws will extend -- as 

crimes committed on the seas, against the laws of nations, treason, and 

counterfeiting the federal securities and coin: But even in these cases, the 

jury trial of the vicinage is not secured -- particularly in the large 

states, a citizen may be tried for a crime committed in the state, and yet 

tried in some states 500 miles from the place where it was committed; but 

the jury trial is not secured at all in civil causes. Though the convention 

have not established this trial, it is to be hoped that congress, in putting 

the new system into execution, will do it by a legislative act, in all cases 

in which it can be done with propriety. Whether the jury trial is not 

excluded [from] the supreme judicial court, is an important question. By 

Art. 3. Sect. 2. all cases affecting ambassadors, other public ministers, 

and consuls, and in those cases in which a state shall be party, the supreme 

court shall have jurisdiction. In all the other cases beforementioned, the 

supreme court shall have appellate jurisdiction, both as to law and fact, 

with such exception, and under such regulations, as the congress shall make. 

By court is understood a court consisting of judges; and the idea of a jury 

is excluded. This court, or the judges, are to have jurisdiction on appeals, 

in all the cases enumerated, as to law and fact; the judges are to decide 

the law and try the fact, and the trial of the fact being assigned to the 

judges by the constitution, a jury for trying the fact is excluded; however, 

under the exceptions and powers to make regulations, congress may, perhaps 

introduce the jury, to try the fact in most necessary cases.

There can be but one supreme court in which the final jurisdiction will 

centre in all federal causes -- except in cases where appeals by law shall 

not be allowed: The judicial powers of the federal courts extends in law and 

equity to certain cases: and, therefore, the powers to determine on the law, 

in equity, and as to the fact, all will concentre in the supreme court: -- 

These powers, which by this constitution are blended in the same hands, the 

same judges, are in Great-Britain deposited in different hands -- to wit, 

the decision of the law in the law judges, the decision in equity in the 

chancellor, and the trial of the fact in the jury. It is a very dangerous 

thing to vest in the same judge power to decide on the law, and also general 

powers in equity; for if the law restrain him, he is only to step into his 

shoes of equity, and give what judgment his reason or opinion may dictate; 

we have no precedents in this country, as yet, to regulate the divisions in 

equity as in Great Britain; equity, therefore, in the supreme court for many 

years will be mere discretion. I confess in the constitution of this supreme 

court, as left by the constitution, I do not see a spark of freedom or a 

shadow of our own or the British common law.

This court is to have appellate jurisdiction in all the other cases before 

mentioned: Many sensible men suppose that cases before mentioned respect, as 

well the criminal cases as the civil ones, mentioned antecedently in the 

constitution, if so an appeal is allowed in criminal cases -- contrary to 

the usual sense of law. How far it may be proper to admit a foreigner or the 

citizen of another state to bring actions against state governments, which 

have failed in performing so many promises made during the war, is doubtful: 

How far it may be proper so to humble a state, as to oblige it to answer to 

an individual in a court of law, is worthy of consideration; the states are 

now subject to no such actions; and this new jurisdiction will subject the 

states, and many defendants to actions, and processes, which were not in the 

contemplation of the parties, when the contract was made; all engagements 

existing between citizens of different states, citizens and foreigners, 

states and foreigners; and states and citizens of other states were made the 

parties contemplating the remedies then existing on the laws of the states 

-- and the new remedy proposed to be given in the federal courts, can be 

founded on no principle whatever.

                                             Your's &c. 

                                      The Federal Farmer.

Source: http://www.constitution.org/afp/fedfar03.txt

The Federal Farmer was an Anti-Federalist who wrote a methodical assessment of the proposed United States Constitution that was among the more important documents of the constitutional ratification debate. The assessment appeared in the form of two pamphlets, the first published in November 1787 and the second in May 1788. The letters, which were addressed to “The Republican,” were signed only with the pseudonym “the Federal Farmer.” The identity of the author is unknown, though scholars have put forward Richard Henry Lee and Melancton Smith as possibilities. “The Republican” was most likely New York state governor George Clinton.

The Federal Farmer made typical Anti-Federalist arguments, claiming that the Constitution would tear down the sovereign states in favor of a consolidated government, and that this end of the federal system would be destructive of American liberties. The letters were praised at the time for their thoughtfulness, composition, and persuasiveness, and today are among the most widely read works in the Anti-Federalist canon.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Federal_Farmer

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One Comment on “‎”Letters from a Federal Farmer” was written in 1787,by a person worried about Government centralized power, but even he didn’t think Congress would be bold enough to lay internal taxes”

  1. blackplanet.com June 4, 2014 at 7:28 pm #

    J’ai trouvé votre site internet par hasard et puis je ne le regrette pas !!!

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