informed the public, the amount of the public debt, or what the annual expenses of the federal government is, or will be. It is now almost five years since the peace. Congress has employed thirteen commissioners, at 1500 dollars per annum, as I am informed, to settle the public accounts, and we know now no more what the national debt is, than at the first moment of their appointment. Nor do we know any more what is the amount of the annual expenses of the federal government, than we do of the empire of China. To grant therefore such an ample power of taxation, and the right of soil, to the amount of millions, upon the recommendation of this honorable Convention, without either knowing the amount of the national debt, or the annual expenses of government, would not argue, in my opinion, the highest degree of prudence.
EXTENT OF TERRITORY UNDER CONSOLIDATED GOVERNMENT TOO LARGE TO PRESERVE LIBERTY OR PROTECT PROPERTY
The title given this essay is a capsule statement of the most prevalent Antifederalist belief. Its philosophy derives from the Greeks, but the author, George Clinton, preferred to cite the authority of Locke and Montesquieu.
As Governor of New York, Clinton was an open and formidable antagonist of the Constitution. Yet, like others, following the common practise of that day, Clinton composed several letters under the pseudonym "CATO." "The governor's letters were dull and ponderous," comments his biographer, E. Wilder Spaulding, "full of the usual tedious allusions to such classic names as Montesquieu, Hume, Locke, and Sidney, and intemperate in their dogmatism and exaggeration. Yet they show far better than such scholarly productions as The Federalist what men were thinking and talking." (His Excellency George Clinton, New York, 1938, p. 173).
The essay is taken from the third letter of "Cato," in The New-York Journal, October 25, 1787, reprinted in Ford, Essays, pp. 255-59.
. . . The recital, or premises on which the new form of government is erected, declares a consolidation or union of all the thirteen parts, or states, into one great whole, under the form of the United States, for all the various and important purposes therein set forth. But whoever seriously considers the immense extent of territory comprehended within the limits of the United States, together with the variety of its climates, productions, and commerce, the difference of extent, and number of inhabitants in all; the dissimilitude of interest, morals, and politics, in almost every one, will receive it as an intuitive truth, that a consolidated republican form of government therein, can never form a perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to you and your posterity, for to these objects it must be directed. This unkindred legislature therefore, composed of interests opposite and dissimilar in their nature, will in its exercise, emphatically be like a house divided against itself.