Front Page Titles (by Subject) william branch giles Speech in the House of Representatives on the Apportionment Bill 9 April 1792 - Liberty and Order: The First American Party Struggle
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william branch giles Speech in the House of Representatives on the Apportionment Bill 9 April 1792 - Lance Banning, Liberty and Order: The First American Party Struggle 
Liberty and Order: The First American Party Struggle, ed. and with a Preface by Lance Banning (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2004).
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william branch giles Speech in the House of Representatives on the Apportionment Bill 9 April 1792
As public controversy mounted, the House of Representatives increasingly divided across a broad range of issues between Madison’s allies and supporters of administration programs. Among the most vocal of the Madisonians was a young, new congressman from Virginia, who would remain active in national politics for many years to come. Giles’s speech on reapportioning (and enlarging) the House in accord with the Census of 1790 was perhaps the earliest to accuse Hamilton and his supporters of a deliberate design to subvert American liberty.
… He observed that all representative governments appeared to possess a natural tendency from republicanism to monarchy; that great inequalities in the distribution of wealth among individuals, consequent upon the progress of all governments, appeared to be the cause of their political evolutions; that no competent remedy against this evil had been heretofore discovered, or at least practically applied by any government; that perhaps this great political light may first shine forth through the medium of the American constitutions, and serve, as some others have previously done, to illumine not only the American, but the European world.
The peculiar circumstances of the United States, however, since the late Revolution, and in the infancy of the American governments, favored extremely this natural principle of the growing inequality in the distribution of wealth amongst individuals. An extensive, unexhausted, fertile country furnished full scope for agriculture, the plenty and cheapness of provisions and rude materials for manufactures, and an unshackled commerce for the merchant; and to these were added the blessings of peace and laws securing to the individual the exclusive possession of the fruits of his own industry, however abundant. There were intrinsic circumstances; there was a contingent one. A public debt—the price of the Revolution itself and its consequent blessings—had been incurred and, from the imbecility of the then existing Confederacy and other causes, was depreciated considerably below its nominal value; but it was then in small masses and not very unequally spread amongst the individuals throughout the whole United States. The Government of the United States, instead of managing this contingent circumstance with caution, and declaring so in its ministration, seized upon it with its fiscal arrangements and applied it as the most powerful machine to stimulate this growing inequality in the distribution of wealth—a principle perhaps too much favored by other existing causes. The Government, not satisfied with the debts contracted by the former Confederacy, assumed the payment of a great proportion of the debts contracted by the respective state governments and established funds for paying the interest of the whole. This measure produced two effects, not very desirable amongst individuals. It gathered these scattered debts, at a very inferior price, from the hands of the many and placed them into the hands of the few; and it stimulates the value of them. Thus collected into greater masses, beyond all calculation, by the artificial application of fiscal mechanism, it produced a variety of serious effects with respect to the Government. In opposition to the agricultural or republican, it enlisted a great moneyed interest in the United States, who, having embarked their fortunes with the Government, would go all lengths with its Administration, whether right or wrong, virtuous or vicious, by rendering the debt but partially redeemable, passing perpetual tax laws, and mortgaging their products to the payment of the interest of this perpetually existing debt. It gave the Executive a qualified control over the best moneyed resources of the United States, not contemplated by the Constitution, nor founded in wisdom. It gave rise to an unauthorized incorporation of the moneyed interest, and placed it as far as possible from the reach of future Legislative influence. It established the doctrine that one systematic financier was better able to originate money bills and tax the people of the United States than the whole collected wisdom of their Representatives, with the aid of a reciprocity of feeling. It gave rise to the idea of a Sinking Fund, without limitation as to amount, to be placed in the hands of a few trustees and there to be protected from Legislative control by all the sanctions and securities annexed to private property. In short, it established the doctrine that all authority could be more safely intrusted to, and better executed by a few, than by many; and, in pursuance of this idea, made more continual drafts of authority from the Representative branch of the Government and placed it in the hands of the Executive; lessening, by this mechanism of administration, the constitutional influence of the people in the Government and fundamentally changing its native genius and original principle. He (Mr. G) knew of no competent remedy against the abominable evils to be apprehended from the future operation of these unhallowed principles but a permanent establishment of the candid or Republican interest in this House; and the best chance of effecting this great object he conceived to be a full representation of the people. His alarms respecting these fashionable, energetic principles were greatly increased by a perspective view of some of the proposed measures of Government. He saw systems introduced to carve out of the common rights of one part of the community privileges, monopolies, exclusive rights, &c., for the benefit of another, with no other view, in his opinion, but to create nurseries of immediate dependants upon the Government, whose interest will always stimulate them to support its measures, however iniquitous and tyrannical, and, indeed, the very emoluments which will compose the price of their attachment to the Government will grow out of a tyrannical violation of the rights of others. He would forbear to mention a variety of other circumstances to prove that principle[s] having a tendency to change the very nature of the Government have pervaded even the minutest ramifications of its fiscal arrangements, nor would he dwell upon the undue influence to be apprehended from moneyed foreigners, who had become adventurers in the funds, nor the various avenues opened to facilitate the operation of corruption. He would merely remark that, acting under impressions produced by these considerations and strengthened by others not less pertinent and important, suggested by a number of gentlemen, in the course of the discussion of this subject, and believing that a full representation of the people will furnish the only chance of remedy for the existing and a competent protection against future evils, he should feel himself criminal if by his vote he should give up a single representative authorized by the Constitution. … The Government of America was now in a state of puberty, that is, at this time. She is to assume a fixed character, and he thought it in some degree rested upon the vote now to be given whether she would preserve the simplicity, chastity, and purity of her native representation and Republicanism, in which alone the true dignity and greatness of her character must consist; or whether she will, so early in youth, prostitute herself to the venal and borrowed artifices and corruptions of a stale and pampered monarchy? Whatever his own opinions or suspicions may be respecting the tendency of the present Administration, and whatever may be the discussion of today, he should still preserve a hope that the increased representation, supported by the enlightened spirit of the people at large, will form an effectual resistance to the pressure of the whole vices of the Administration and may yet establish the Government upon a broad, permanent, and republican basis… .