Sec.10. The next section declares, that “the United States shall guaranty to every state in this union a republican form of government; and shall protect each of them against invasion, and on the application of the legislature, or of the executive (when the legislature cannot be convened,) against domestic violence.” Art. 4, sec. 4. The propriety of a power to prevent a state from changing its government to any other than a republican form, is evident. It is equally proper that a state, when invaded by a foreign enemy, or in case of an insurrection within its own borders, should have protection and aid from the general government; especially as the states have surrendered to it the right to keep troops or ships of war in time of peace. (Art. 1, sec. 10.)
Provision for Amendments; Assumption of Public Debts; Supremacy of the Constitution, &c.; Oaths and Tests; Ratification of the Constitution.
Sec.1. The 5th article provides for amending the constitution. It prescribes two different modes for proposing amendments, and two modes of ratifying them. Amendments may be proposed by two-thirds of both houses of congress; or, on the application or request of two-thirds of the states, congress shall call a convention for proposing amendments. Proposed in either of these modes, amendments, to become valid as parts of the constitution, must be ratified by the legislatures of three-fourths of the states, or by conventions in three-fourths of them; the mode of ratification, whether by the legislatures or by conventions, to be proposed by congress.
Sec.2. As the best human government is imperfect, and as all the future wants and necessities of a people can not be foreseen and provided for, it is obvious that every constitution should contain some provision for its amendment. But if amendments could be made whenever desired by a bare majority of the states, the strength and efficiency of the constitution might be greatly impaired by frequent alterations. It is therefore wisely provided, that a mere proposition to amend cannot be made but by a majority of at least two-thirds of congress, or of the legislatures of at least of two-thirds of the states; and that such proposition must be ratified by a still larger majority (three-fourths) of the states. It was thought better to submit occasionally to some temporary inconvenience, than to indulge in frequent amendments of the constitution.
Sec.3. The 6th article acknowledges the obligation of the general government to pay “all debts contracted before the adoption of the constitution.” As has been observed, congress had borrowed money for the payment of which it was unable to provide; and one object of a change of government was to make provision for fulfilling the engagements of the nation. This clause, it is said, was also intended to allay the fears of public creditors, who apprehended that a change in the government would release the nation from its obligations.