THE OUTLINE OF THE CONSTITUTION COMPLETED AND REFRRED
FROM THE 17TH TO THE 27TH OF JULY 1787.
THE distribution of powers between the general government and the states was the most delicate and most difficult task before the convention. Startled by the vagueness of language in the Virginia resolve, Sherman on the seventeenth of July proposed the grant of powers “to make laws in all cases which may concern the common interests of the union, but not to interfere with the government of the individual states in any matters of internal police which respect the government of such states only, and wherein the general welfare of the United States is not concerned.”* Wilson seconded the amendment, as better expressing the general principle. But, on scanning its probable interpretation by the separate states, the objection prevailed that it would be construed to withhold from the general government the authority to levy direct taxes and the authority to suppress the paper money of the states.
Bedford moved to empower the national legislature “to legislate for the general interests of the union, for cases to which the states are severally incompetent, or in which the harmony of the United States might be interrupted by the exercise of individual legislation.”† This Gouverneur Morris gladly seconded; and, though Randolph resisted, the current ran with such increasing vehemence for union that the amendment was adopted at first by six states, and then by every state but South Carolina and Georgia.
As to giving power to the national legislature “to negative
* Gilpin, 1115; Elliot, 319, 320.
† Gilpin, 1116; Elliot, 320.