Part VII. Letters of The Impartial Examiner

The Impartial Examiner

Abstract

The first essay of the Impartial Examiner appeared in the Virginia Independent Chronicle, during February and March of 1788, and the remaining four in successive weeks in May and June. He makes and elaborates a distinction between arbitrary and free governments, and finds the proposed Constitution arbitrary: it provides for unlimited supremacy of the federal government. There is no declaration of rights, without which civil liberty cannot exist, there being no standard to appeal to in cases of governmental oppression. The Constitution grants dangerous and unlimited powers in the areas of taxation, standing armies, and the judiciary. He contends that the problem is to perpetuate the free republic as the leaders grow restless for exercise of ambition, and as the people grow fat with prosperity.

He argues in the second essay that arbitrary government is inherently despotic. The first question to be raised is whether the system proposed is "coincident with [American] standing maxims of liberty" and the second whether it is "conducive to good policy". Having shown in the first essay that the system fails with respect to the former, he argues that no examination of the latter is strictly necessary.

In essay III he contends that representation must be both ample and complete and that the representation in the House of Representatives is not sufficiently numerous to be either. The Senate is elected not by the people but by the state legislatures and is open to even stronger objections.

In essay IV, he argues that the executive veto proposed by the new Constitution will destroy rather than maintain the balance in the American republican system.

In his concluding essay V the Impartial Examiner argues that the evils experienced under the Articles of Confederation spring not from vicious principles pervading the whole system but from certain weaknesses in some of the parts, which may be remedied by strengthening these parts, as by investing Congress with sufficient power to regulate commerce and to procure the necessary revenue for the common defense or general welfare.