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Elliot's Debates - Volume I - Part IV - Amendments Proposed

Amendments proposed,

At the first session of the first Congress under the Constitution, the following resolution was adopted: —


“ Begun and held at the City of New York, on Wednesday, the 4 th of March, 1789.

“The conventions of a number of the states having, at the time of their adopting the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added; and as extending the ground of public confidence in the government will best insure the beneficent ends of its institution; —

“ Resolved, by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America, in Congress assembled, two thirds of both houses concurring, that the following articles be proposed to the legislatures of the several states, as amendments to the Constitution of the United States, all or any of which articles, when ratified by three fourths of the said legislatures, to be valid, to all intents and purposes, as part of the said Constitution, namely, —

“ Articles in Addition to, and Amendment of, the Constitution of the United States of America, proposed by Congress, and ratified by the Legislatures of the several States, pursuant to the Fifth Article of the original Constitution.

“ ART. I. After the first enumeration required by the first article of the Constitution, there shall be one representative for every thirty thousand, until the number shall amount to one hundred, after which the proportion shall be so regulated by Congress, that there shall not be less than one hundred representatives, nor less than one representative for every forty thousand persons, until the number of representatives shall amount to two hundred, after which the proportion shall be so regulated by Congress, that there shall not be less than two hundred representatives, nor more than one representative for every fifty thousand.

“ ART. II. No law varying the compensation for services of the senators and representatives shall take effect, until an election of representatives shall have intervened.

“ ART. III. Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

“ ART. IV. A well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

“ ART. V. No soldier shall, in time of peace, be quartered in any house without the consent of the owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner prescribed by law.

“ ART. VI. The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated; and no warrants shall issue, but upon principal cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

“ ART. VII. No person shall be held to answer for a capital or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia when in actual service, in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject, for the same offence, to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled, in any criminal case, to be a witness against himself; nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use without just compensation.

“ ART. VIII. In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right of a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law; and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor; and to have the assistance of counsel for his defence.

“ ART. IX. In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury shall be otherwise reëxamined, in any court of the United States, than according to the rules in common law.

“ ART. X. Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

“ ART. XI. The enumeration, in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

“ ART. XII. The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states, respectively, or to the people.


Speaker of the House of Representatives.

“JOHN ADAMS, Vice-President of the United States,

and President of the Senate.

Attest. JOHN BECKLEY, Clerk of the House of Representatives.

SAMUEL A. OTIS, Secretary of the Senate. ”

Which, being transmitted to the several state legislatures, were decided upon by them, according to the following returns: —

By the State of New Hampshire. — Agreed to the whole of the said amendments, except the 2d article.

By the State of New York. — Agreed to the whole of the said amendments, except the 2d article.

By the State of Pennsylvania. — Agreed to the 3d, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th articles of the said amendments.

By the State of Delaware. — Agreed to the whole of the said amendments, except the 1st article.

By the State of Maryland. — Agreed to the whole of the said twelve amendments.

By the State of South Carolina. — Agreed to the whole said twelve amendments.

By the State of North Carolina. — Agreed to the whole of the said twelve amendments.

By the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations. — Agreed to the whole of the said twelve articles.

By the State of New Jersey. — Agreed to the whole of the said amendments, except the second article.

By the State of Virginia. — Agreed to the whole of the said twelve articles.

No returns were made by the states of Massachusetts, Connecticut, Georgia, and Kentucky.

The amendments thus proposed became a part of the Constitution, the first and second of them excepted, which were not ratified by a sufficient number of the state legislatures.

At the first session of the third Congress, the following amendment was proposed to the state legislatures: —


“ Resolved, by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, two thirds of both houses concurring, That the following article be proposed to the legislatures of the several states, as an amendment to the Constitution of the United States; which, when ratified by three fourths of the said legislatures, shall be valid as part of the said Constitution, namely, —

“The judicial power of the United States shall not be construed to extend to any suit in, law or equity, commenced or prosecuted against one of the United States, by citizens of another state, or by citizens or subjects of any foreign state.”


Speaker of the House of Representatives.

“JOHN ADAMS, Vice-President of the United States,

and President of the Senate.

“Attest. J. BECKLEY, Clerk of the House of Representatives.

“ SAM. A. OTIS, Secretary of the Senate. ”

From the Journals of the House of Representatives, at the second session of the third Congress, it appears that returns from the state legislatures, ratifying this amendment, were received, as follows: —

From New York, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, Georgia, and Delaware.

At the first session of the fourth Congress, further returns, ratifying the same amendment, were received from Rhode Island and North Carolina.

At the second session of the fourth Congress, on the 2d of March, 1787, the following resolution was adopted: —


“ Resolved, by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the President be requested to adopt some speedy and effectual means of obtaining information from the states of Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, and South Carolina, whether they have ratified the amendment proposed by Congress to the Constitution concerning the suability of states; if they have, to obtain the proper evidence thereof.

“JONATHAN DAYTON, Speaker of the House of Representatives.

“WILLIAM BINGHAM, President, pro tempore, of the Senate.

“Approved, March 2, 1797


“GEORGE WASHINGTON, President of the United States. ”

At the second session of the fifth Congress, the following message from the President of the United States was transmitted to both houses: —

From a report of the secretary of state, made under the direction of President Adams, on the 28th December, 1797, it appeared that the states of Connecticut, Maryland, and Virginia, had ratified the amendment; that New Jersey and Pennsylvania had not ratified it; South Carolina had not definitely acted upon it. No answers had been received from Kentucky and Tennessee.


“ Gentlemen of the Senate, and Gentlemen of the House of Representatives: —

“I have an opportunity of transmitting to Congress a report of the secretary of state, with a copy of an act of the legislature of the state of Kentucky, consenting to the ratification of the amendment of the Constitution of the United States proposed by Congress, in their resolution of the second day of December, 1793, relative to the suability of states. This amendment having been adopted by three fourths of the several states, may now be declared to be a part of the Constitution of the United States.



January 8, 1798


At the first session of the eighth Congress, the following amendment was proposed by Congress to the state legislatures: —


At the First Session, begun and held at the City of Washington, in the Territory of Columbia, on Monday, the seventeenth of October, one thousand eight hundred and three.

“ Resolved, by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, two thirds of both houses concurring, That in lieu of the third paragraph of the first section of the second article of the Constitution of the United States, — which, when ratified by three fourths of the legislatures of the several states, shall be valid to all intents and purposes, as part of the said Constitution, to wit, —

“ ‘The electors shall meet in their respective states, and vote by ballot for President and Vice-President, one of whom, at least, shall not be an inhabitant of the same state with themselves; they shall name in their ballots the person voted for as President, and in distinct ballots the person voted for as Vice-President; and they shall make distinct lists of all persons voted for as President, and of all persons voted for as Vice-President, and of the number of votes for each; which lists they shall sign and certify, and transmit sealed to the seat of the government of the United States, directed to the president of the Senate. The president of the Senate shall, in the presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the certificates, and the votes shall then be counted. The person having the greatest number of votes for President shall be the President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of electors appointed; and if no person have such majority, then from the persons having the highest numbers, not exceeding three, on the list of those voted for as President, the House of Representatives shall choose immediately, by ballot, the President. But in choosing the President, the votes shall be taken by states, the representation from each state having one vote; a quorum for this purpose shall consist of a member or members from two thirds of the states, and a majority of all the states shall be necessary to a choice. And if the House of Representatives shall not choose a President whenever the right of choice shall devolve upon them, before the fourth day of March next following, then the Vice-President shall act as President, as in the case of the death or other constitutional disability of the President.

“ ‘The person having the greatest number of votes as Vice-President shall be the Vice-President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of electors appointed; and if no person have a majority, then, from the two highest numbers on the list, the Senate shall choose the Vice-President. A quorum for that purpose shall consist of two thirds of the whole number of senators, and a majority of the whole number shall be necessary to a choice.

“ ‘But no person constitutionally ineligible to the office of President shall be eligible to that of Vice-President of the United States.’

“Attest. JOHN BECKLEY, Clerk of the House of Rep’s of the U. States.

“ SAM. A. OTIS, Secretary to the Senate of the United States. ”

At the same session, an act passed, of which the following is the 1st section: —

“ An Act supplementary to an Act, entitled An Act relative to the Election of a President and Vice-President of the United States, and declaring the Officer who shall act as President, in Case of Vacancies in the Offices both of President and Vice-President.

“ Be it enacted, by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled. That, whenever the amendment proposed, during the present session of Congress, to the Constitution of the United States, respecting the manner of voting for President and Vice-President of the United States, shall have been ratified by the legislatures of three fourths of the several states, the secretary of state shall forthwith cause a notification thereof to be made to the executive of every state, and shall also cause the same to be published in at least one of the newspapers printed in each state, in which the laws of the United States are annually published. The executive authority of each state shall cause a transcript of the said notification to be delivered to the electors appointed for that purpose, who shall first thereafter meet in such state, for the election of a President and Vice-President of the United States; and whenever the said electors shall have received the said transcript of notification, or whenever they shall meet more than five days subsequent to the publication of the above-mentioned amendment, in one of the newspapers of the state, by the secretary of state, they shall vote for President and Vice-President of the United States, respectively, in the manner directed by the above-mentioned amendment; and, having made and signed three certificates of all the votes given by them, each of which certificates shall contain two distinct lists, — one, of the votes given for President, and the other, of the votes given for Vice-President, — they shall seal up the said certificates, certifying on each that lists of all the votes of such state given for President, and of all the votes given for Vice-President, are contained therein, and shall cause the said certificates to be transmitted and disposed of, and in every other respect act in conformity with the provisions of the act to which this is a supplement. And every other provision of the act to which this is a supplement, and which is not virtually repealed by this act, shall extend and apply to every election of a President and Vice-President of the United States, made in conformity to the above-mentioned amendment to the Constitution of the United States.”

And on the 25th of September, 1804, the following notice, in pursuance of the above provision, was issued from the state department: —

“ By James Madison, Secretary of State of the United States.

“Public notice is hereby given, in pursuance of the act of Congress passed on the 26th March last, entitled ‘An Act supplementary to the Act entitled An Act relative to the Election of a President and Vice-President of the United States, and declaring the Officer who shall act as President, in Case of Vacancies in the Offices both of President and Vice-President,’ — That the amendment proposed, during the last session of Congress, to the Constitution of the United States, respecting the manner of voting for President and Vice-President of the United States, has been ratified by the legislatures of three fourths of the several states, — to wit, by those of Vermont, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia, and has thereby become valid as part of the Constitution of the United States.

“Given under my hand, at the city of Washington, this twenty-fifth day of September, 1804.




Luther Martin

Martin, Luther

January 27, 1788


Hon. Thomas Cockey Deye

Deye, Hon. Thomas Cockey

To the Hon. THOMAS COCKEY DEYE, Speaker of the House of Delegates of Maryland.

SIR, I flatter myself the subject of this letter will be a sufficient apology for thus publicly addressing it to you, and, through you, to the other members of the House of Delegates. It cannot have escaped your or their recollection, that, when called upon, as the servant of a free state, to render an account of those transactions in which I had a share, in consequence of the trust reposed in me by that state, among other things, I informed them, “that, some time in July, the Hon. Mr. Yates and Mr. Lansing, of New York, left the Convention; that they had uniformly opposed the system, and that, I believe, despairing of getting a proper one brought forward, or of rendering any real service, they returned no more.” You cannot, sir, have forgotten — for the incident was too remarkable not to have made some impression — that, upon my giving this information, the zeal of one of my honorable colleagues, in favor of a system which I thought it my duty to oppose, impelled him to interrupt me, and, in a manner which I am confident his zeal alone prevented him from being convinced was not the most delicate, to insinuate, pretty strongly, that the statement which I had given of the conduct of those gentlemen, and their motives for not returning, was not candid.

Those honorable members have officially given information on this subject, by a joint letter to his excellency, Governor Clinton. [See elsewhere in this volume.] Indulge me, sir, in giving an extract from it, that it may stand contrasted in the same page with the information I gave, and may convict me of the want of candor of which I was charged, if the charge was just: if it will not do that, then let it silence my accusers. —

“Thus circumstanced, under these impressions, to have hesitated would have been to be culpable. We therefore gave the principles of the Constitution, which has received the sanction of a majority of the Convention, our decided and unreserved dissent. We were not present at the completion of the new Constitution; but, before we left the Convention, its principles were so well established as to convince us that no alteration was to be expected to conform it to our ideas of expediency and safety. A persuasion that our further attendance would be fruitless and unavailing, rendered us less solicitous to return.”

These, sir, are their words. On this I shall make no comment. I wish not to wound the feelings of any person. I only wish to convince.

I have the honor to remain, with the utmost respect,

Your very obedient servant,



January 27, 1788


[Mr. MARTIN, when called upon, addressed the house nearly as follows: —]

Since I was notified of the resolve of this honorable house, that we should attend this day, to give information with regard to the proceedings of the late Convention, my time has necessarily been taken up with business, and I have also been obliged to make a journey to the Eastern Shore. These circumstances have prevented me from being as well prepared as I could wish to give the information required. However, the few leisure moments I could spare, I have devoted to refreshing my memory, by looking over the papers and notes in my possession; and shall, with pleasure, to the best of my abilities, render an account of my conduct.

It was not in my power to attend the Convention immediately on my appointment. I took my seat, I believe, about the 8th or 9th of June. I found that Governor Randolph, of Virginia, had laid before the Convention certain propositions for their consideration, which have been read to this house by my honorable colleague; and I believe he has very faithfully detailed the substance of the speech with which the business of the Convention was opened; for, though I was not there at the time, I saw notes which had been taken of it.

The members of the Convention from the states came there under different powers; the greatest number, I believe, under powers nearly the same as those of the delegates of this state. Some came to the Convention under the former appointment, authorizing the meeting of delegates merely to regulate trade. Those of Delaware were expressly instructed to agree to no system which should take away from the states that equality of suffrage secured by the original Articles of Confederation. Before I arrived, a number of rules had been adopted to regulate the proceedings of the Convention, by one of which, seven states might proceed to business, and consequently four states, the majority of that number, might eventually have agreed upon a system which was to affect the whole Union. By another, the doors were to be shut, and the whole proceedings were to be kept secret; and so far did this rule extend, that we were thereby prevented from corresponding with gentlemen in the different states upon the subjects under our discussion — a circumstance, sir, which I confess I greatly regretted. I had no idea that all the wisdom, integrity, and virtue of this state, or of the others, were centred in the Convention. I wished to have corresponded freely and confidentially with eminent political characters in my own and other states — not implicitly to be dictated to by them, but to give their sentiments due weight and consideration. So extremely solicitous were they that their proceedings should not transpire, that the members were prohibited even from taking copies of resolutions, on which the Convention were deliberating, or extracts of any kind from the Journals, without formally moving for, and obtaining permission, by a vote of the Convention for that purpose.

You have heard sir, the resolutions which were brought forward by the honorable member from Virginia. Let me call the attention of this house to the conduct of Virginia when our Confederation was entered into. That state then proposed, and obstinately contended, contrary to the sense of, and unsupported by, the other states, for an inequality of suffrage, founded on numbers, or some such scale, which should give her, and certain other states, influence in the Union over the rest. Pursuant to that spirit which then characterized her, and uniform in her conduct, the very second resolve is calculated expressly for that purpose — to give her a representation proportioned to her numbers, — as if the want of that was the principal defect in our original system, and this alteration the great means of remedying the evils we had experienced under our present government.

The object of Virginia and other large states, to increase their power and influence over the others, did not escape observation. The subject, however, was discussed with great coolness in the committee of the whole house, (for the Convention had resolved itself into a committee of the whole, to deliberate upon the propositions delivered in by the honorable member from Virginia.) Hopes were formed that the farther we proceeded in the examination of the resolutions, the better the house might be satisfied of the impropriety of adopting them, and that they would finally be rejected by a majority of the committee. If, on the contrary, a majority should report in their favor, it was considered that it would not preclude the members from bringing forward and submitting any other system to the consideration of the Convention; and accordingly, while those resolves were the subject of discussion in the committee of the whole house, a number of the members who disapproved them were preparing another system, such as they thought more conducive to the happiness and welfare of the states. The propositions originally submitted to the Convention having been debated, and undergone a variety of alterations in the course of our proceedings, the committee of the whole house, by a small majority, agreed to a report, which I am happy, sir, to have in my power to lay before you. It was as follows: —

“1. Resolved, That it is the opinion of this committee, that a national government ought to be established, consisting of a supreme legislative, judiciary, and executive.

“2. That the legislative ought to consist of two branches.

“3. That the members of the first branch of the national legislature ought to be elected by the people of the several states, for the term of three years; to receive fixed stipends, by which they may be compensated for the devotion of their time to public service, to be paid out of the national treasury; to be ineligible to any office established by a particular state, or under the authority of the United States, except those particularly belonging to the functions of the first branch, during the term of service, and under the national government, for the space of one year after its expiration.

“4. That the members of the second branch of the legislature ought to be chosen by the individual legislatures; to be of the age of thirty years at least: to hold their offices for a term sufficient to insure their independency, namely, seven years, one third to go out biennially; to receive fixed stipends, by which they may be compensated for the devotion of their time to public service, to be paid out of the national treasury; to be ineligible to any office by a particular state, or under the authority of the United States, except those peculiarly belonging to the functions of the second branch, during the term of service, and under the national government, for the space of one year after its expiration.

“5. That each branch ought to possess the right of originating acts.

“6. That the national legislature ought to be empowered to enjoy the legislative rights yested in Congress by the Confederation, and moreover to legislate in all cases to which the separate states are incompetent, or in which the harmony of the United States may be interrupted by the exercise of individual legislation; to negative all laws passed by the several states, contravening, in the opinion of the legislature of the United States, the articles of union, or any treaties subsisting under the authority of the Union.

“7. That the right of suffrage, in the first branch of the national legislature, ought not to be according to the rule established in the Article of Confederation, but according to some equitable rate of representation; namely, in proportion to the whole number of white, and other free citizens and inhabitants, of every age, sex, and condition, including those bound to servitude for a term of years, and three fifths of all other persons not comprehended in the foregoing description, except Indians not paying taxes, in each state.

“8. That the right of suffrage in the second branch of the national legislature ought to be according to the rule established in the first.

“9. That a national executive be instituted, to consist of a single person, to be chosen by the national legislature for the term of seven years, with power to carry into execution the national laws; to appoint to offices in cases not otherwise provided for; to be ineligible a second time, and to be removable on impeachment and conviction of malpractice or neglect of duty; to receive a fixed stipend, by which he may be compensated for the devotion of his time to public service, to be paid out of the national treasury.

“10. That the national executive shall have a right to negative any legislative act, which shall not afterwards be passed unless by two thirds of each branch of the national legislature.

“11. That a national judiciary be established, to consist of one supreme tribunal, the judges of which to be appointed by the second branch of the national legislature, to hold their offices during good behavior, and to receive punctually, at stated times, a fixed compensation for their services, in which no increase or diminution shall be made, so as to affect the persons actually in office at the time of such increase or diminution.

“12. That the national legislature be empowered to appoint inferior tribunals.

“13. That the jurisdiction of the national judiciary shall extend to cases which respect the collection of the national revenue, cases arising under the laws of the United States, impeachments of any national officer, and questions which involve the national peace and harmony.

“14. Resolved, That provision ought to be made for the admission of states lawfully arising within the limits of the United States, whether from a voluntary junction of government, territory, or otherwise, with the consent of a number of voices in the national legislature less than the whole.

“15. Resolved, That provision ought to be made for the continuance of Congress, and their authority and privileges, until a given day after the reform of the articles of union shall be adopted, and for the completion of all their engagements.

“16. That a republican constitution and its existing laws ought to be guarantied to each state by the United States.

“17. That provision ought to be made for the amendment of the articles of union whensoever it shall seem necessary.

“18. That the legislative, executive, and judiciary powers, within the several states, ought to be bound by oath to support the articles of the union.

“19. That the amendments which shall be offered to the Confederation by this Convention, ought, at a proper time or times, after the approbation of Congress, to be submitted to an assembly or assemblies, recommended by the legislatures, to be expressly chosen by the people, to consider and decide thereon.”

These propositions, sir, were acceded to by a majority of the members of the committee — a system by which the large states were to have not only an inequality of suffrage in the first branch, but also the same inequality in the second branch, or Senate. However, it was not designed the second branch should consist of the same number as the first. It was proposed that the Senate should consist of twenty-eight members, formed on the following scale: — Virginia to send five, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts each four; South Carolina, North Carolina, Maryland, New York, and Connecticut, two each, and the states of New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Jersey, Delaware, and Georgia, each of them one. Upon this plan, the three large states, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts, would have thirteen senators out of twenty-eight — almost one half of the whole number. Fifteen senators were to be a quorum to proceed to business; those three states would, therefore, have thirteen out of that quorum. Having this inequality in each branch of the legislature, it must be evident, sir, that they would make what laws they pleased, however injurious or disagreeable to the other states, and that they would always prevent the other states from making any laws, however necessary and proper, if not agreeable to the views of those three states. They were not only, sir, by this system, to have such an undue superiority in making laws and regulations for the Union, but to have the same superiority in the appointment of the President, the judges, and all other officers of government.

Hence these three states would, in reality, have the appointment of the President, judges, and all other officers. This President, and these judges so appointed, we may be morally certain, would be citizens of one of those three states; and the President, as appointed by them, and a citizen of one of them, would espouse their interests and their views, when they came in competition with the views and interests of the other states This President, so appointed by the three large states, and so unduly under their influence, was to have a negative upon every law that should be passed, which, if negatived by him, was not to take effect unless assented to by two thirds of each branch of the legislature — a provision which deprived ten states of even the faintest shadow of liberty; for if they, by a miraculous unanimity, having all their members present, should outvote the other three, and pass a law contrary to their wishes, those three large states need only procure the President to negative it, and thereby prevent a possibility of its ever taking effect, because the representatives of those three states would amount to much more than one third (almost one half) of the representatives in each branch. And, sir, this government, so organized, with all this undue superiority in those three large states, was, as you see, to have a power of negativing the laws passed by every state legislature in the Union. Whether, therefore, laws passed by the legislature of Maryland, New York, Connecticut, Georgia, or of any other of the ten states, for the regulation of their internal police, should take effect, and be carried into execution, was to depend on the good pleasure of the representatives of Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts.

This system of slavery, which bound hand and foot ten states in the Union, and placed them at the mercy of the other three, and under the most abject and servile subjection to them, was approved by a majority of the members of the Convention, and reported by the committee.

On this occasion, the house will recollect that the Convention was resolved into a committee of the whole. Of this committee Mr. Gorham was chairman. The Hon. Mr. Washington was then on the floor, in the same situation with the other members of the Convention at large, to oppose any system he thought injurious, or to propose any alterations or amendments he thought beneficial. To these propositions, so reported by the committee, no opposition was given by that illustrious personage, or by the president of the state of Pennsylvania. They both appeared cordially to approve them, and to give them their hearty concurrence. Yet this system, I am confident, Mr. Speaker, there is not a member in this house would advocate, or who would hesitate one moment in saying it ought to be rejected. I mention this circumstance, in compliance with the duty I owe this honorable body, not with a view to lessen those exalted characters, but to show how far the greatest and best of men may be led to adopt very improper measures, through error in judgment, state influence, or by other causes; and to show that it is our duty not to suffer our eyes to be so far dazzled by the splendor of names as to run blindfolded into what may be our destruction.

Mr. Speaker, I revere those illustrious personages as much as any man here. No man has a higher sense of the important services they have rendered this country. No member of the Convention went there more disposed to pay deference to their opinions. But I should little have deserved the trust this state reposed in me, if I could have sacrificed its dearest interests to my complaisance for their sentiments.

When, contrary to our hopes, it was found that a majority of the members of the Convention had, in the committee, agreed to the system I have laid before you, we then thought it necessary to bring forward the propositions which such of us who had disapproved the plan before had prepared. The members who prepared these resolutions were principally of the Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, and Maryland delegations. The Hon. Mr. Patterson, of the Jerseys, laid them before the Convention. Of these propositions I am in possession of a copy, which I shall beg leave to read to you.

These propositions were referred to a committee of the whole house. Unfortunately, the New Hampshire delegation had not yet arrived; and the sickness of a relation of the Hon. Mr. M’Henry obliged him still to be absent — a circumstance, sir, which I considered much to be regretted, as Maryland thereby was represented by only two delegates, and they unhappily differed very widely in their sentiments.

The result of the reference of these last propositions to a committee, was a speedy and hasty determination to reject them. I doubt not, sir, to those who consider them with attention, so sudden a rejection will appear surprising; but it may be proper to inform you, that, on our meeting in Convention, it was soon found there were among us three parties of very different sentiments and views: —

One party, whose object and wish it was to abolish and annihilate all state governments, and to bring forward one general government over this extensive continent, of a monarchical nature, under certain restrictions and limitations. Those who openly avowed this sentiment were, it is true, but few; yet it is equally true, sir, that there was a considerable number who did not openly avow it, who were, by myself and many others of the Convention, considered as being in reality favorers of that sentiment, and, acting upon those principles, covertly endeavoring to carry into effect what they well knew openly and avowedly could not be accomplished. The second party was not for the abolition of the state governments, nor for the introduction of a monarchical government under any form; but they wished to establish such a system as could give their own states undue power and influence, in the government, over the other states.

A third party was what I considered truly federal and republican. This party was nearly equal in number with the other two, and was composed of the delegations from Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, and in part from Maryland; also of some individuals from other representations. This party, sir, were for proceeding upon terms of federal equality; they were for taking our present federal system as the basis of their proceedings, and, as far as experience had shown us that there were defects, to remedy those defects; as far as experience had shown that other powers were necessary to the federal government, to give those powers. They considered this the object for which they were sent by their states, and what their states expected from them. They urged that if, after doing this, experience should show that there still were defects in the system, (as no doubt there would be,) the same good sense that induced this Convention to be called, would cause the states, when they found it necessary, to call another; and if that convention should act with the same moderation, the members of it would proceed to correct such errors and defects as experience should have brought to light — that, by proceeding in this train, we should have a prospect at length of obtaining as perfect a system of federal government as the nature of things would admit.

On the other hand, if we, contrary to the purpose for which we were intrusted, considering ourselves as master-builders, too proud to amend our original government, should demolish it entirely, and erect a new system of our own, a short time might show the new system as defective as the old, perhaps more so. Should a convention be found necessary again, if the members thereof, acting upon the same principles, instead of amending and correcting its defects, should demolish that entirely, and bring forward a third system, that also might soon be found no better than either of the former; and thus we might always remain young in government and always suffering the inconveniences of an incorrect, imperfect system.

But, sir, the favorers of monarchy, and those who wished the total abolition of state governments, — well knowing that a government founded on truly federal principles, the bases of which were the thirteen state governments preserved in full force and energy, would be destructive of their views; and knowing they were too weak in numbers openly to bring forward their system; conscious, also, that the people of America would reject it if proposed to them, — joined their interest with that party who wished a system giving particular states the power and influence over the others, procuring, in return, mutual sacrifices from them, in giving the government great and undefined powers as to its legislative and executive; well knowing that, by departing from a federal system, they paved the way for their favorite object — the destruction of the state governments, and the introduction of monarchy. And hence, Mr. Speaker, I apprehend, in a great measure, arose the objections of those honorable members, Mr. Mason and Mr. Gerry. In every thing that tended to give the large states power over the smaller, the first of those gentlemen could not forget he belonged to the Ancient Dominion; nor could the latter forget that he represented Old Massachusetts; that part of the system which tended to give those states power over the others met with their perfect approbation. But when they viewed it charged with such powers as would destroy all state governments, their own as well as the rest, — when they saw a President so constituted as to differ from a monarch scarcely but in name, and having it in his power to become such in reality when he pleased, — they, being republicans and federalists, as far as an attachment to their own states would permit them, warmly and zealously opposed those parts of the system. From these different sentiments, and from this combination of interest, I apprehend, sir, proceeded the fate of what was called the Jersey resolutions, and the report made by the committee of the whole house.

The Jersey propositions being thus rejected, the Convention took up those reported by the committee, and proceeded to debate them by paragraphs. It was now that they who disapproved the report found it necessary to make a warm and decided opposition, which took place upon the discussion of the seventh resolution, which related to the inequality of representation in the first branch. Those who advocated this inequality, urged, that, when the Articles of Confederation were formed, it was only from necessity and expediency that the states were admitted each to have an equal vote; but that our situation was now altered, and therefore those states who considered it contrary to their interest would no longer abide by it. They said no state ought to wish to have influence in government, except in proportion to what it contributes to it; that if it contributes but little, it ought to have but a small vote; that taxation and representation ought always to go together; that, if one state had sixteen times as many inhabitants as another, or was sixteen times as wealthy, it ought to have sixteen times as many votes; that an inhabitant of Pennsylvania ought to have as much weight and consequence as an inhabitant of Jersey or Delaware; that it was contrary to the feelings of the human mind — what the large states would never submit to; that the large states would have great objects in view, in which they would never permit the smaller states to thwart them; that equality of suffrage was the rotten part of the Constitution, and that this was a happy time to get clear of it. In fine, it was the poison which contaminated our whole system, and the source of all the evils we experienced.

This, sir, is the substance of the arguments, — if arguments they may be called, — which were used in favor of inequality of suffrage. Those who advocated the equality of suffrage took the matter up on the original principles of government. They urged that all men, considered in a state of nature, before any government is formed, are equally free and independent, no one having any right or authority to exercise power over another, and this without any regard to difference in personal strength, understanding, or wealth — that, when such individuals enter into government, they have each a right to an equal voice in its first formation, and afterwards have each a right to an equal vote in every matter which relates to their government: — that if it could be done conveniently, they have a right to exercise it in person: where it cannot be done in person, but, for convenience, representatives are appointed to act for them, every person has a right to an equal vote in choosing that representative who is intrusted to do, for the whole, that which the whole, if they could assemble, might do in person, and in the transacting of which each would have an equal voice: — that if we were to admit, because a man was more wise, more strong, or more wealthy, he should be entitled to more votes than another, it would be inconsistent with the freedom and liberty of that other, and would reduce him to slavery.

Suppose, for instance, ten individuals, in a state of nature, about to enter into government, nine of whom are equally wise, equally strong, and equally wealthy; the tenth is ten times as wise, ten times as strong, or ten times as rich: if, for this reason he is to have ten votes for each vote of either of the others, the nine might as well have no vote at all — since, though the whole nine might assent to a measure, yet the vote of the tenth would countervail, and set aside all their votes. If this tenth approved of what they wished to adopt, it would be well; but if he disapproved, he could prevent it; and in the same manner he could carry into execution any measure he wished, contrary to the opinions of all the others, he having ten votes, and the others altogether but nine. It is evident that, on these principles, the nine would have no will nor discretion of their own, but must be totally dependent on the will and discretion of the tenth: to him they would be as absolutely slaves as any negro is to his master. If he did not attempt to carry into execution any measures injurious to the other nine, it could only be said that they had a good master; they would not be the less slaves, because they would be totally dependent on the will of another, and not on their own will. They might not feel their chains, but they would, notwithstanding wear them; and whenever their master pleased, he might draw them so tight as to gall them to the bone. Hence it was urged, the inequality of representation, or giving to one man more votes than another, on account of his wealth, c., was altogether inconsistent with the principles of liberty; and in the same proportion as it should be adopted, in favor of one or more, in that proportion are the others enslaved. It was urged that, though every individual should have an equal voice in the government, yet even the superior wealth, strength, or understanding, would give great and undue advantages to those who possessed them — that wealth attracts respect and attention; superior strength would cause the weaker and more feeble to be cautious how they offended, and to put up with small injuries rather than engage in an unequal contest. In like manner, superior understanding would give its possessor many opportunities of profiting at the expense of the more ignorant.

Having thus established these principles with respect to the rights of individuals in a state of nature, and what is due to each on entering into government, — principles established by every writer on liberty, — they proceeded to show that states, when once formed, are considered, with respect to each other, as individuals in a state of nature; that, like individuals, each state is considered equally free and equally independent, the one having no right to exercise authority over the other, though more strong, more wealthy, or abounding with more inhabitants — that, when a number of states unite themselves under a federal government, the same principles apply to them as when a number of individual men unite themselves under a state government — that every argument which shows one man ought not to have more votes than another, because he is wiser-stronger, or wealthier, proves that one state ought not to have more votes than another, because it is stronger, richer, or more populous; and that, by giving one state, or one or two states, more votes than the others, the others thereby are enslaved to such state or states, having the greater number of votes, in the same manner as in the case before put of individuals, when one has more votes than the others — that the reason why each individual man, in forming a state government, should have an equal vote, is, because each individual, before he enters into government, is equally free and independent; so each state, when states enter into a federal government, are entitled to an equal vote, because, before they entered into such federal government, each state was equally free and equally independent — that adequate representation of men, formed into a state government, consists in each man having an equal voice; either personally, or if by representatives, that he should have an equal voice in choosing the representatives — so adequate representation of states in a federal government, consists in each state having an equal voice, either in person or by its representative, in every thing which relates to the federal government — that this adequacy of representation is more important in a federal, than in a state government, because the members of a state government, the district of which is not very large, have generally such a common interest, that laws can scarcely be made by one part oppressive to the others, without their suffering in common; but the different states composing an extensive federal empire, widely distant one from the other, may have interests so totally distinct, that the one part might be greatly benefited by what would be destructive to the other.

They were not satisfied by resting it on principles; they also appealed to history. They showed that, in the Amphictyonic confederation of the Grecian cities, each city, however different in wealth, strength, and other circumstances, sent the same number of deputies, and had each an equal voice in every thing that related to the common concerns of Greece. It was shown that, in the seven provinces of the United Netherlands, and the confederated cantons of Switzerland, each canton, and each province, have an equal vote, although there are as great distinctions of wealth, strength, population, and extent of territory, among those provinces, and those cantons, as among these states. It was said that the maxim, that taxation and representation ought to go together, was true so far that no person ought to be taxed who is not represented; but not in the extent insisted upon, to wit, that the quantum of taxation and representation ought to be the same; on the contrary, the quantum of representation depends upon the quantum of freedom, and therefore all, whether individual states or individual men, who are equally free, have a right to equal representation — that to those who insist that he who pays the greatest share of taxes ought to have the greatest number of votes, it is a sufficient answer to say, that this rule would be destructive of the liberty of the others, and would render them slaves to the more rich and wealthy — that, if one man pays more taxes than another, it is because he has more wealth to be protected by government, and he receives greater benefits from the government; so, if one state pays more to the federal government, it is because, as a state, she enjoys greater blessings from it; she has more wealth protected by it, or a greater number of inhabitants, whose rights are secured, and who share its advantages.

It was urged that, upon these principles, the Pennsylvanian, or inhabitant of a large state, was of as much consequence as the inhabitant of Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, or any other state — that his consequence was to be decided by his situation in his own state; that, if he was there as free, if he had as great share in the forming of his own government, and in the making and executing its laws, as the inhabitants of those other states, then was he equally important and of equal consequence. Suppose a confederation of states had never been adopted, but every state had remained absolutely in its independent situation, — no person could, with propriety, say that the citizen of the large state was not as important as the citizen of the smaller. The confederation of states cannot alter the case. It was said that, in all transactions between state and state, the freedom, independence, importance, and consequence, even the individuality, of each citizen of the different states, might with propriety be said to be swallowed up or concentrated in the independence, the freedom, and the individuality, of the state of which they are citizens; that the thirteen states are thirteen distinct, political, individual existences, as to each other; that the federal government is, or ought to be, a government over these thirteen political, individual existences, which form the members of that government; and as the largest state is only a single individual of this government, it ought to have only one vote; the smallest state, also being one individual member of this government, ought also to have one vote. To those who urged that the states having equal suffrage was contrary to the feelings of the human heart, it was answered, that it was admitted to be contrary to the feelings of pride and ambition; but those were feelings which ought not to be gratified at the expense of freedom.

It was urged that the position that great states would have great objects in view, in which they would suffer the less states to thwart them, was one of the strongest reasons why inequality of representation ought not to be admitted. If those great objects were not inconsistent with the interest of the less states, they would readily concur in them; but if they were inconsistent with the interest of a majority of the states composing the government, in that case two or three states ought not to have it in their power to aggrandize themselves at the expense of all the rest. To those who alleged that equality of suffrage, in our federal government, was the poisonous source from which all our misfortunes flowed, it was answered that the allegation was not founded in fact — that equality of suffrage had never been complained of, by the states, as a defect in our federal system — that, among the eminent writers, foreigners and others, who had treated of the defects of our Confederation, and proposed alterations, none had proposed an alteration in this part of the system; and members of the Convention, both in and out of Congress, who advocated the equality of suffrage, called upon their opponents, both in and out of Congress, and challenged them to produce one single instance where a bad measure had been adopted, or a good measure had failed of adoption, in consequence of the states having an equal vote. On the contrary, they urged that all our evils flowed from the want of power in the federal head, and that, let the right of suffrage in the states be altered in any manner whatever, if no greater power were given to the government, the same inconveniences would continue.

It was denied that the equality of suffrage was originally agreed to on principles of necessity or expediency; on the contrary, that it was adopted on the principles of the rights of men, and the rights of states, which were then well known, and which then influenced our conduct, although now they seem to be forgotten. For this, the Journals of Congress were appealed to. It was from them shown, that, when the committee of Congress reported to that body the Articles of Confederation, the very first article which became the subject of discussion was that respecting equality of suffrage — that Virginia proposed divers modes of suffrage, all on the principle of inequality, which were almost unanimously rejected — that, on the question for adopting the article, it passed, Virginia being the only state which voted in the negative — that, after the Articles of Confederation were submitted to the states, by them to be ratified, almost every state proposed certain amendments, which they instructed their delegates to endeavor to obtain before ratification: and that, among all the amendments proposed, not one state, not even Virginia, proposed an amendment of that article securing the equality of suffrage; the most convincing proof it was agreed to, and adopted, not from necessity, but upon a full conviction that, according to the principles of free government, the states had a right to that equality of suffrage.

But, sir, it was to no purpose that the futility of their objections was shown. When driven from the pretence that the equality of suffrage had been originally agreed to on principles of expediency and necessity, the representatives of the large states persisted in a declaration, that they would never agree to admit the smaller states to an equality of suffrage. In answer to this, they were informed, and informed in terms the most strong and energetic that could possibly be used, that we never would agree to a system giving them the undue influence and superiority they proposed — that we would risk every possible consequence — that from anarchy and confusion order might arise — that slavery was the worst that could ensue, and we considered the system proposed to be the most complete, most abject system of slavery that the wit of man ever devised, under the pretence of forming a government for free states — that we never would submit tamely and servilely to a present certain evil in dread of a future, which might be imaginary — that we were sensible the eyes of our country and the world were upon us — that we would not labor under the imputation of being unwilling to form a strong and energetic federal government; but we would publish the system which we approved, and also that which we opposed, and leave it to our country and the world at large to judge, between us, who best understood the rights of freemen and free states, and who best advocated them; and to the same tribunal we would submit, who ought to be answerable for all the consequences which might arise to the Union, from the Convention breaking up without proposing any system to their constituents. During this debate, we were threatened that, if we did not agree to the system proposed, we never should have an opportunity of meeting in convention to deliberate on another; and this was frequently urged. In answer, we called upon them to show what was to prevent it, and from what quarter was our danger to proceed. Was it from a foreign enemy? Our distance from Europe, and the political situation of that country, left us but little to fear. Was there any ambitious state or states, who, in violation of every sacred obligation, was preparing to enslave the other states, and raise itself to consequence on the ruin of the others? Or was there any such ambitious individual? We did not apprehend it to be the case. But suppose it to be true; it rendered it the more necessary that we should sacredly guard against a system which might enable all those ambitious views to be carried into effect, even under the sanction of the Constitution and government. In fine, sir, all these threats were treated with contempt, and they were told that we apprehended but one reason to prevent the states meeting again in convention; that, when they discovered the part this Convention had acted, and how much its members were abusing the trust reposed in them, the states would never trust another convention.

At length, sir, after every argument had been exhausted by the advocates of equality of representation, the question was called, when a majority decided in favor of the inequality — Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia, voting for it; Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, and Delaware, against; Maryland divided. It may be thought surprising, sir, that Georgia, a state now small, and comparatively trifling, in the Union, should advocate this system of unequal representation, giving up her present equality in the federal government, and sinking herself almost to total insignificance in the scale; but, sir, it must be considered that Georgia has the most extensive territory in the Union, being larger than the whole island of Great Britain, and thirty times as large as Connecticut. This system being designed to preserve to the states their whole territory unbroken, and to prevent the erection of new states within the territory of any of them, Georgia looked forward when, her population being increased in some measure proportioned to her territory, she should rise in the scale, and give law to the other states; and hence we found the delegation of Georgia warmly advocating the proposition of giving the states unequal representation. Next day, the question came on with respect to the inequality of representation in the second branch; but little debate took place; the subject had been exhausted on the former question. On the votes being taken, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina, voted for the inequality. Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, and Maryland, * were in the negative. Georgia had only two representatives on the floor, one of whom (not, I believe, because he was against the measure, but from a conviction that he would go home, and thereby dissolve the Convention, before we would give up the question) voted also in the negative, by which that state was divided. Thus, sir, on this great and important part of the system, the Convention being equally divided, — five states for the measure, five against, and one divided, — there was a total stand; and we did not seem very likely to proceed any farther. At length, it was proposed that a select committee should be balloted for, composed of a member from each state, which committee should endeavor to devise some mode of reconciliation or compromise. I had the honor to be on that committee. We met, and discussed the subject of difference. The one side insisted on the inequality of suffrage in both branches; the other side, equality in both. Each party was tenacious of their sentiments. When it was found that nothing could induce us to yield the inequality in both branches, they at length proposed, by way of compromise, if we would accede to their wishes as to the first branch, they would agree to an equal representation in the second. To this it was answered, that there was no merit in the proposal; it was only consenting, after they had struggled to put both their feet on our necks, to take one of them off, provided we would consent to let them keep the other on; when they knew, at the same time, that they could not put one foot on our necks, unless we would consent to it; and that, by being permitted to keep on that one foot, they should afterwards be able to place the other foot on whenever they pleased.

They were also called on to inform us what security they could give us, should we agree to this compromise, that they would abide by the plan of government formed upon it any longer than suited their interests, or they found it expedient. “The states have a right to an equality of representation. This is secured to us by our present Articles of Confederation; we are in possession of this right. It is now to be torn from us. What security can you give us that, when you get the power the proposed system will give you, when you have men and money, you will not force from the states that equality of suffrage, in the second branch, which you now deny to be their right, and only give up from absolute necessity? Will you tell us we ought to trust you because you now enter into a solemn compact with us? This you have done before, and now treat with the utmost contempt. Will you now make an appeal to the Supreme Being, and call on him to guaranty your observance of this compact? The same you have formerly done for your observance of the Articles of Confederation, which you are now violating in the most wanton manner.

“The same reason which you now urge, for destroying our present federal government, may be urged for abolishing the system you propose to adopt; and as the method prescribed by the Articles of Confederation is now totally disregarded by you, as little regard may be shown by you to the rules prescribed for the amendment of the new system, whenever, having obtained power by the government, you shall hereafter be pleased to discard it entirely, or so to alter it as to give yourselves all that superiority which you have now contended for, and to obtain which you have shown yourselves disposed to hazard the Union.” — Such, sir, was the language used on that occasion; and they were told that, as we could not possibly have a stronger tie on them for the observance of the new system than we had for their observance of the Articles of Confederation, (which had proved totally insufficient,) it would be wrong and imprudent to confide in them. It was further observed, that the inequality of the representation would be daily increasing — that many of the states whose territory was confined, and whose population was at this time large in proportion to their territory, would probably, twenty, thirty, or forty years hence, have no more representatives than at the introduction of the government; whereas the states having extensive territory, where lands are to be procured cheap, would be daily increasing in the number of inhabitants, not only from propagation, but from the emigration of the inhabitants of the other states, and would have soon double, or perhaps treble, the number of representatives that they are to have at first, and thereby enormously increase their influence in the national councils. However, the majority of the select committee at length agreed to a series of propositions by way of compromise, — part of which related to the representation in the first branch, nearly as the system is now published, and part of them to the second branch, securing in that equal representation, — and reported them as a compromise upon the express terms that they were wholly to be adopted or wholly to be rejected. Upon this compromise, a great number of the members so far engaged themselves, that, if the system was progressed upon agreeably to the terms of compromise, they would lend their names, by signing it, and would not actively oppose it, if their states should appear inclined to adopt it. Some, however, — in which number was myself, — who joined in that report, and agreed to proceed upon those principles, and see what kind of a system would ultimately be formed upon it, yet reserved to themselves, in the most explicit manner, the right of finally giving a solemn dissent to the system, if it was thought by them inconsistent with the freedom and happiness of their country. This, sir, will account why the gentlemen of the Convention so generally signed their names to the system; — not because they thought it a proper one; not because they thoroughly approved, or were unanimous for it; but because they thought it better than the system attempted to be forced upon them. This report of the select committee was, after long dissension, adopted by a majority of the Convention, and the system was proceeded in accordingly. I believe near a fortnight — perhaps more — was spent in the discussion of this business, during which we were on the verge of dissolution, scarce held together by the strength of a hair, though the public papers were announcing our extreme unanimity.

Mr. Speaker, I think it my duty to observe that, during this struggle to prevent the large states from having all power in their hands, which had nearly terminated in a dissolution of the Convention, it did not appear to me that either of those illustrious characters, the Hon. Mr. WASHINGTON or the president of the state of Pennsylvania, was disposed to favor the claims of the smaller states against the undue superiority attempted by the large states. On the contrary, the honorable president of Pennsylvania was a member of the committee of compromise, and there advocated the right of the large states to an inequality in both branches, and only ultimately conceded it in the second branch on the principle of conciliation, when it was found no other terms would be accepted. This, sir, I think it my duty to mention for the consideration of those who endeavor to prop up a dangerous and defective system by great names. Soon after this period, the Hon. Mr. YATES and Mr. LANSING, of New York, left us. They had uniformly opposed the system; and, I believe, despairing of getting a proper one brought forward, or of rendering any real service, they returned no more. The propositions reported by the committee of the whole house having been fully discussed by the Convention, and, with many alterations, having been agreed to by a majority, a committee of five was appointed to detail the system according to the principles contained in what had been agreed to by that majority. This was likely to require some time, and the Convention adjourned for eight or ten days. Before the adjournment, I moved for liberty to be given to the different members to take correct copies of the propositions to which the Convention had then agreed, in order that, during the recess of the Convention, we might have an opportunity of considering them, and, if it should be thought that any alterations or amendments were necessary, that we might be prepared, against the Convention met, to bring them forward for discussion. But, sir, the same spirit which caused our doors to be shut, our proceedings to be kept secret, our Journals to be locked up, and every avenue, as far as possible, to be shut to public information, prevailed also in this case, and the proposal, so reasonable and necessary, was rejected by a majority of the Convention; thereby precluding even the members themselves from the necessary means of information and deliberation on the important business in which they were engaged.

It has been observed, Mr. Speaker, by my honorable colleagues, that the debate respecting the mode of representation was productive of considerable warmth. This observation is true. But, sir, it is equally true, that, if we could have tamely and servilely consented to be bound in chains, and meanly condescended to assist in riveting them fast, we might have avoided all that warmth, and have proceeded with as much calmness and coolness as any Stoic could have wished. Having thus, sir, given the honorable members of this house a short history of some of the interesting parts of our proceedings, I shall beg leave to take up the system published by the Convention, and shall request your indulgence while I make some observations on different parts of it, and give you such further information as may be in my power. [Here Mr. Martin read the first section of the first article, and then proceeded.] With respect to this part of the system, Mr. Speaker, there was a diversity of sentiment. Those who were for two branches in the legislature — a House of Representatives and a Senate — urged the necessity of a second branch, to serve as a check upon the first, and used all those trite and common-place arguments which may be proper and just when applied to the formation of a state government over individuals variously distinguished in their habits and manners, fortune and rank; where a body chosen in a select manner, respectable for their wealth and dignity, may be necessary, frequently, to prevent the hasty and rash measures of a representation more popular. But, on the other side, it was urged that none of those arguments could with propriety be applied to the formation of a federal government over a number of independent states — that it is the state governments which are to watch over and protect the rights of the individual, whether rich or poor, or of moderate circumstances, and in which the democratic and aristocratic influence or principles are to be so blended, modified, and checked, as to prevent oppression and injury — that the federal government is to guard and protect the states and their rights, and to regulate their common concerns — that a federal government is formed by the states, as states, (that is, in their sovereign capacities,) in the same manner as treaties and alliances are formed — that a sovereignty, considered as such, cannot be said to have jarring interests or principles, the one aristocratic, and the other democratic; but that the principles of a sovereignty, considered as a sovereignty, are the same, whether that sovereignty is monarchical, aristocratical, democratical, or mixed — that the history of mankind doth not furnish an instance, from its earliest history to the present time, of a federal government constituted of two distinct branches — that the members of the federal government, if appointed by the states in their state capacities, (that is, by their legislatures, as they ought,) would be select in their choice; and, coming from different states, having different interests and views, this difference of interests and views would always be a sufficient check over the whole; and it was shown that even Adams, who, the reviewers have justly observed, appears to be as fond of checks and balances as Lord Chesterfield of the graces, — even he declares that a council consisting of one branch has always been found sufficient in a federal government.

It was urged, that the government we were forming was not in reality a federal, but a national, government, not founded on the principles of the preservation, but the abolition or consolidation, of all state governments — that we appeared totally to have forgotten the business for which we were sent, and the situation of the country for which we were preparing our system — that we had not been sent to form a government over the inhabitants of America, considered as individuals — that, as individuals, they were all subject to their respective state governments, which governments would still remain though the federal government should be dissolved — that the system of government we were intrusted to prepare was a government over these thirteen states; but that, in our proceedings, we adopted principles which would be right and proper only on the supposition that there were no state governments at all, but that all the inhabitants of this extensive continent were, in their individual capacity, without government, and in a state of nature — that, accordingly, the system proposes the legislature to consist of two branches, the one to be drawn from the people at large, immediately, in their individual capacity; the other to be chosen in a more select manner, as a check upon the first. It is, in its very introduction, declared to be a compact between the people of the United States as individuals; and it is to be ratified by the people at large, in their capacity as individuals; all which, it was said, would be quite right and proper, if there were no state governments, if all the people of this continent were in a state of nature, and we were forming one national government for them as individuals; and is nearly the same as was done in most of the states, when they formed their governments over the people who composed them.

Whereas it was urged, that the principles on which a federal government over states ought to be constructed and ratified are the reverse; and, instead of the legislature consisting of two branches, one branch was sufficient, whether examined by the dictates of reason or the experience of ages — that the representation, instead of being drawn from the people at large, as individuals, ought to be drawn from the states, as states, in their sovereign capacity — that, in a federal government, the parties to the compact are not the people, as individuals, but the states, as states; and that it is by the states, as states, in their sovereign capacity, that the system of government ought to be ratified, and not by the people, as individuals.

It was further said, that, in a federal government over states equally free, sovereign, and independent, every state ought to have an equal share in making the federal laws or regulations, in deciding upon them, and in carrying them into execution, neither of which was the case in this system, but the reverse, the states not having an equal voice in the legislature, nor in the appointment of the executive, the judges, and the other officers of government. It was insisted, that in the whole system there was but one federal feature — the appointment of the senators by the states in their sovereign capacity, that is, by their legislatures, and the equality of suffrage in that branch; but it was said that this feature was only federal in appearance.

To prove this, — and that the Senate, as constituted, could not be a security for the protection and preservation of the state governments, and that the senators could not be considered the representatives of the states, as states, — it was observed that, upon just principles, the representative ought to speak the sentiments of his constituents, and ought to vote in the same manner that his constituents would do, (as far as he can judge,) provided his constituents were acting in person, and had the same knowledge and information with himself; and therefore that the representative ought to be dependent on his constituents, and answerable to them; that the connection between the representatives and the represented ought to be as near and as close as possible. According to these principles, Mr. Speaker, in this state it is provided, by its Constitution, that the representatives in Congress shall be chosen annually, shall be paid by the state, and shall be subject to recall even within the year — so cautiously has our Constitution guarded against an abuse of the trust reposed in our representatives in the federal government; whereas, by the third and sixth section of the first article of this new system, the senators are to be chosen for six years, instead of being chosen annually; instead of being paid by their states who send them, they, in conjunction with the other branch are to pay themselves out of the treasury of the United States, and are not liable to be recalled during the period for which they are chosen. Thus, sir, for six years, the senators are rendered totally and absolutely independent of their states, of whom they ought to be the representatives, without any bond or tie between them. During that time, they may join in measures ruinous and destructive to their states, even such as should totally annihilate their state governments; and their states cannot recall them, nor exercise any control over them.

Another consideration, Mr. Speaker, it was thought, ought to have great weight to prove that the smaller states cannot depend on the Senate for the preservation of their rights, either against large and ambitious states, or against an ambitious, aspiring President. The Senate, sir, is so constituted that they are not only to compose one branch of the legislature, but, by the second section of the second article, they are to compose a privy council for the President. Hence it will be necessary that they should be, in a great measure, a permanent body, constantly residing at the seat of government. Seventy years are esteemed for the life of a man; it can hardly be supposed that a senator, especially from the states remote from the seat of empire, will accept of an appointment which must estrange him for six years from his state, without giving up, to a great degree, his prospects in his own state. If he has a family, he will take his family with him to the place where the government shall be fixed; that will become his home; and there is every reason to expect that his future views and prospects will centre in the favors and emoluments of the general government, or of the government of that state where the seat of empire is established. In either case, he is lost to his own state. If he places his future prospects in the favors and emoluments of the general government, he will become a dependant and creature of the President. As the system enables a senator to be appointed to office, and without the nomination of the President no appointment can take place, — as such he will favor the wishes of the President, and concur in his measures, who, if he has no ambitious views of his own to gratify, may be too favorable to the ambitious views of the large states, who will have an undue share in his original appointment, on whom he will be more dependent afterwards than on the states which are smaller. If the senator places his future prospects in that state where the seat of empire is fixed, from that time he will be, in every question wherein its particular interest may be concerned, the representative of that state, not of his own.

But even this provision apparently for the security of the state governments, inadequate as it is, is entirely left at the mercy of the general government; for, by the fourth section of the first article, it is expressly provided, that the Congress shall have a power to make and alter all regulations concerning the time and manner of holding elections for senators — a provision expressly looking to, and I have no doubt designed for, the utter extinction and abolition of all state governments. Nor will this, I believe, be doubted by any person, when I inform you that some of the warm advocates and patrons of the system in Convention strenuously opposed the choice of the senators by the state legislatures, insisting that the state governments ought not to be introduced in any manner so as to be component parts of, or instruments for carrying into execution, the general government. Nay, so far were the friends of the system from pretending that they meant it or considered it as a federal system, that, on the question being proposed, “that a union of the states, merely federal, ought to be the sole objects of the exercise of the powers vested in the Convention,” it was negatived by a majority of the members; and it was resolved, “that a national government ought to be formed.” Afterwards, the word “national” was struck out by them, because they thought the word might tend to alarm; and although, now, they who advocate the system pretend to call themselves federalists, in Convention the distinction was quite the reverse; those who opposed the system were there considered and styled the federal party, those who advocated it the anti-federal.

Viewing it as a national, not a federal government, — as calculated and designed, not to protect and preserve, but to abolish and annihilate, the state governments, — it was opposed for the following reasons: It was said that this continent was much too extensive for one national government, which should have sufficient power and energy to pervade, and hold in obedience and subjection, all its parts, consistently with the enjoyment and preservation of liberty — that the genius and habits of the people of America were opposed to such a government — that, during their connection with Great Britain, they had been accustomed to have all their concerns transacted within a narrow circle, their colonial district; they had been accustomed to have their seats of government near them, to which they might have access, without much inconvenience, when their business should require it — that, at this time, we find, if a county is rather large, the people complain of the inconvenience, and clamor for a division of their county, or for a removal of the place where their courts are held, so as to render it more central and convenient — that, in those states the territory of which is extensive, as soon as the population increases remote from the seat of government, the inhabitants are urgent for a removal of the seat of their government, or to be erected into a new state. As a proof of this, the inhabitants of the western parts of Virginia and North Carolina, of Vermont and the Province of Maine, were instances; even the inhabitants of the western parts of Pennsylvania, who, it is said, already seriously look forward to the time when they shall either be erected into a new state, or have their seat of government removed to the Susquehannah. If the inhabitants of the different states consider it as a grievance to attend a county court, or the seat of their own government, when a little inconvenient, can it be supposed they would ever submit to have a national government established, the seat of which would be more than a thousand miles removed from some of them? It was insisted that governments of a republican nature are those best calculated to preserve the freedom and happiness of the citizen — that governments of this kind are only calculated for a territory but small in its extent — that the only method by which an extensive continent, like America, could be connected and united together, consistently with the principles of freedom, must be by having a number of strong and energetic state governments, for securing and protecting the rights of individuals forming those governments, and for regulating all their concerns; and a strong, energetic federal government over those states, for the protection and preservation, and for regulating the common concerns of the states.

It was further insisted that, even if it was possible to effect a total abolition of the state governments at this time, and to establish one general government over the people of America, it could not long subsist, but in a little time would again be broken into a variety of governments of a smaller extent, similar, in some manner, to the present situation of this continent. The principal difference, in all probability, would be, that the governments so established, being effected by some violent convulsion, might not be formed on principles so favorable to liberty as those of our present state governments — that this ought to be an important consideration to such of the states who had excellent governments, which was the case with Maryland, and most others, whatever it might be to persons who, disapproving of their particular state government, would be willing to hazard every thing to overturn and destroy it. These reasons, sir, influenced me to vote against two branches in the legislature, and against every part of the system which was repugnant to the principles of a federal government. Nor was there a single argument urged, or reason assigned, which, to my mind, was satisfactory to prove that a good government, on federal principles, was unattainable; the whole of their arguments only proving, what none of us controverted — that our federal government, as originally formed, was defective, and wanted amendment.

However, a majority of the Convention, hastily and inconsiderately, without condescending to make a fair trial, in their great wisdom decided that a kind of government which a Montesquieu and a Price have declared the best calculated of any to preserve internal liberty, and to enjoy external strength and security, and the only one by which a large continent can be connected and united, consistently with the principles of liberty, was totally impracticable; and they acted accordingly.

With respect to that part of the second section of the first article which relates to the apportionment of representation and direct taxation, there were considerable objections made to it, besides the great objection of inequality. It was urged, that no principle could justify taking slaves into computation in apportioning the number of representatives a state should have in the government — that it involved the absurdity of increasing the power of a state in making laws for free men in proportion as that state violated the rights of freedom — that it might be proper to take slaves into consideration, when taxes were to be apportioned, because it had a tendency to discourage slavery; but to take them into account in giving representation tended to encourage the slave trade, and to make it the interest of the states to continue that infamous traffic — that slaves could not be taken into account as men, or citizens, because they were not admitted to the rights of citizens, in the states which adopted or continued slavery. If they were to be taken into account as property, it was asked what peculiar circumstance should render this property (of all others the most odious in its nature) entitled to the high privilege of conferring consequence and power in the government to its possessors, rather than any other property; and why slaves should, as property, be taken into account rather than horses, cattle, mules, or any other species; and it was observed, by an honorable member from Massachusetts, that he considered it as dishonorable and humiliating to enter into compact with the slaves of the Southern States, as it would with the horses and mules of the Eastern. It was also objected that the numbers of representatives appointed by this section to be sent, by the particular states, to compose the first legislature, were not precisely agreeable to the rule of representation adopted by this system, and that the numbers in this section are artfully lessened for the large states, while the smaller states have their full proportion, in order to prevent the undue influence which the large states will have in the government from being too apparent; and I think, Mr. Speaker, that this objection is well founded.

I have taken some pains to obtain information of the number of freemen and slaves in the different states; and I have reason to believe that, if the estimate was now taken which is directed, and one delegate to be sent for every thirty thousand inhabitants, that Virginia would have at least twelve delegates, Massachusetts eleven, and Pennsylvania ten, instead of the number stated in this section; whereas the other states, I believe, would not have more than the number there allowed them; nor would Georgia, most probably, at present, send more than two. If I am right, Mr. Speaker, upon the enumeration being made, and the representation being apportioned according to the rule prescribed, the whole number of delegates would be seventy-one, thirty-six of which would be a quorum to do business: the delegates of Virginia, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania, would amount to thirty-three of that quorum. Those three states will, therefore, have much more than equal power and influence in making the laws and regulations which are to affect this continent, and will have a moral certainty of preventing any laws or regulations which they disapprove, although they might be thought ever so necessary by a great majority of the states. It was further objected that, even if the states who had most inhabitants ought to have a greater number of delegates, yet the number of delegates ought not to be in exact proportion to the number of inhabitants, because the influence and power of those states whose delegates are numerous will be greater, when compared with the influence and power of the other states, than the proportion which the numbers of their delegates bear to each other; as, for instance, though Delaware has but one delegate, and Virginia but ten, yet Virginia has more than ten times as much power and influence in the government as Delaware. To prove this, it was observed that Virginia would have a much greater chance to carry any measure than any number of states whose delegates were altogether ten, (suppose the states of Delaware, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire,) since the ten delegates from Virginia, in every thing that related to the interest of that state, would act in union, and move one solid and compact body; whereas the delegates of these four states, though collectively equal in number to those from Virginia, coming from different states having different interests, will be less likely to harmonize and move in concert. As a further proof, it was said that Virginia, as the system is now reported, by uniting with her the delegates of four other states, can carry a question against the sense and interest of the eight states by sixty-four different combinations; the four states voting with Virginia being every time so far different as not to be composed of the same four; whereas the state of Delaware can only, by uniting four other states with her, carry a measure against the sense of eight states by two different combinations — a mathematical proof that the state of Virginia has thirty-two times greater chance of carrying a measure against the sense of eight states than Delaware, although Virginia has only ten times as many delegates. It was also snown that the idea was totally fallacious, which was attempted to be maintained, that, if a state had one thirteenth part of the numbers composing the delegation in this system, such state would have as much influence as under the Articles of Confederation. To prove the fallacy of this idea, it was shown that, under the Articles of Confederation, the state of Maryland had but one vote in thirteen; yet no measure could be carried against her interests without seven states, a majority of the whole, concurring in it; whereas, in this system, though Maryland has six votes, — which is more than the proportion of one in thirteen, — yet five states may, in a variety of combinations, carry a question against her interest, though seven other states concur with her, and six states, by a much greater number of combinations, may carry a measure against Maryland, united with six other states. I shall here, sir, just observe, that, as the committee of detail reported the system, the delegates from the different states were to be one for every forty thousand inhabitants: it was afterwards altered to one for every thirty thousand. This alteration was made after I left the Convention, at the instance of whom I know not; but it is evident that the alteration is in favor of the states which have large and extensive territory, to increase their power and influence in the government, and to the injury of the smaller states; since it is the states of extensive territory who will most speedily increase the number of their inhabitants, as before has been observed, and will, therefore, most speedily procure an increase to the number of their delegates. By this alteration, Virginia, North Carolina, or Georgia, by obtaining one hundred and twenty thousand additional inhabitants, will be entitled to four additional delegates; whereas such state would only have been entitled to three, if forty thousand had remained the number by which to apportion the delegation.

As to that part of this section that relates to direct taxation, there was also an objection for the following reasons: It was said that a large sum of money was to be brought into the national treasury by the duties on commerce, which would be almost wholly paid by the commercial states; it would be unequal and unjust that the sum which was necessary to be raised by direct taxation should be apportioned equally upon all the states, obliging the commercial states to pay as large a share of the revenue arising therefrom as the states from whom no revenue had been drawn by imposts; since the wealth and industry of the inhabitants of the commercial states will, in the first place, be severely taxed through their commerce, and afterwards be equally taxed with the industry and wealth of the inhabitants of the other states, who have paid no part of that revenue; so that, by this provision, the inhabitants of the commercial states are, in this system, obliged to bear an unreasonable and disproportionate share in the expenses of the Union, and the payment of that foreign and domestic debt which was incurred not more for the benefit of the commercial than of the other states.

In the sixth section of the first article, it is provided, that senators and representatives may be appointed to any civil office under the authority of the United States, except such as shall have been created, or the emoluments of which have been increased, during the time for which they were elected. Upon this subject, sir, there was a great diversity of sentiment among the members of the Convention. As the propositions were reported by the committee of the whole house, a senator or representative could not be appointed to any office under a particular state, or under the United States, during the time for which they were chosen, nor to any office under the United States until one year after the expiration of that time. It was said — and in my opinion justly — that no good reason could be assigned why a senator or representative should be incapacitated to hold an office in his own government, since it can only bind him more closely to his state, and attach him the more to its interests, which, as its representative, he is bound to consult and sacredly guard, as far as is consistent with the welfare of the Union, and therefore, at most, would only add the additional motive of gratitude for discharging his duty; and, according to this idea, the clause which prevented senators or delegates from holding offices in their own states was rejected by a considerable majority. But, sir, we sacredly endeavored to preserve all that part of the resolution which prevented them from being eligible to offices under the United States, as we considered it essentially necessary to preserve the integrity, independence, and dignity of the legislature, and to secure its members from corruption.

I was in the number of those who were extremely solicitous to preserve this part of the report; but there was a powerful opposition made by such who wished the members of the legislature to be eligible to offices under the United States. Three different times did they attempt to procure an alteration, and as often failed — a majority firmly adhering to the resolution as reported by the committee; however, an alteration was at length, by dint of perseverance, obtained, even within the last twelve days of the Convention, — for it happened after I left Philadelphia. As to the exception that they cannot be appointed to offices created by themselves, or the emoluments of which are by themselves increased, it is certainly of little consequence, since they may easily evade it by creating new offices, to which may be appointed the persons who fill the offices before created, and thereby vacancies will be made, which may be filled by the members who for that purpose have created the new offices.

It is true, the acceptance of an office vacates their seat, nor can they be reëlected during their continuance in office; but it was said, that the evil would first take place; that the price for the office would be paid before it was obtained; that vacating the seat of the person who was appointed to office made way for the admission of a new member, who would come there as desirous to obtain an office as he whom he succeeded, and as ready to pay the price necessary to obtain it; in fine, that it would be only driving away the flies that were filled, to make room for those that were hungry. And as the system is now reported, the President having the power to nominate to all offices, it must be evident that there is no possible security for the integrity and independence of the legislature, but that they are most unduly placed under the influence of the President, and exposed to bribery and corruption.

The seventh section of this article was also the subject of contest. It was thought, by many members of the Convention, that it was very wrong to confine the origination of all revenue bills to the House of Representatives, since the members of the Senate will be chosen by the people as well as the members of the House of Delegates, — if not immediately, yet mediately, — being chosen by the members of the state legislatures which members are elected by the people; and that it makes no real difference whether we do a thing in person, or by a deputy or agent appointed by us for that purpose.

That no argument can be drawn from the House of Lords in the British constitution, since they are neither mediately nor immediately the representatives of the people, but are one of the three estates composing that kingdom, having hereditary rights and privileges, distinct from and independent of the people.

That it may, and probably will, be a future source of dispute and controversy between the two branches, what are, or are not, revenue bills and the more so as they are not defined in the Constitution; which controversies may be difficult to settle, and may become serious in their consequences, there being no power in the Constitution to decide upon, or authorize, in cases of absolute necessity, to terminate them by a prorogation or dissolution of either of the branches — a remedy provided in the British constitution, where the king has that power, which has been found necessary at times to be exercised, in cases of violent dissensions between the Lords and Commons on the subject of money bills.

That every regulation of commerce; every law relative to excises, stamps, the post-office, the imposing of taxes, and their collection; the creation of courts and offices; in fine, every law for the Union, if enforced by any pecuniary sanctions, as they would tend to bring money into the Continental treasury, might, and no doubt would, be considered a revenue act. That consequently the Senate — the members of which will, it may be presumed, be the most select in their choice, and consist of men the most enlightened and of the greatest abilities, who, from the duration of their appointment and the permanency of their body, will probably be best acquainted with the common concerns of the states, and with the means of providing for them — will be rendered almost useless as a part of the legislature; and that they will have but little to do in that capacity except patiently to wait the proceedings of the House of Representatives, and afterwards examine and approve, or propose amendments.

There were also objections to that part of this section which relates to the negative of the President. There were some who thought no good reason could be assigned for giving the President a negative of any kind. Upon the principle of a check to the proceedings of the legislature, it was said to be unnecessary; that the two branches having a control over each other’s proceedings, and the Senate being chosen by the state legislatures, and being composed of members from the different states, there would always be a sufficient guard against measures being hastily or rashly adopted — that the President was not likely to have more wisdom or integrity than the senators or any of them; or to better know or consult the interest of the states, than any member of the Senate, so as to be entitled to a negative on that principle; and as to the precedent from the British constitution, (for we were eternally troubled with arguments and precedents from the British government,) it was said it would not apply. The king of Great Britain there composed one of the three estates of the kingdom; he was possessed of rights and privileges as such, distinct from the Lords and Commons — rights and privileges which descended to his heirs, and were inheritable by them; that, for the preservation of these, it was necessary he should have a negative; but that this was not the case with the President of the United States, who was no more than an officer of the government; the sovereignty was not in him, but in the legislature. And it was further urged, even if he was allowed a negative, it ought not to be of so great extent as that given by the system, since his single voice is to countervail the whole of either branch, and any number less than two thirds of the other. However, a majority of the Convention was of a different opinion, and adopted it as it now makes a part of the system.

By the eighth section of this article, Congress is to have power to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts, and excises. When we met in Convention, after our adjournment, to receive the report of the committee of detail, the members of that committee were requested to inform us what powers were meant to be vested in Congress by the word duties in this section, since the word imposts extended to duties on goods imported, and by another part of the system no duties on exports were to be laid. In answer to this inquiry, we were informed that it was meant to give the general government the power of laying stamp duties on paper, parchment, and vellum. We then proposed to have the power inserted in express words, lest disputes might hereafter arise on the subject, and that the meaning might be understood by all who were to be affected by it; but to this it was objected, because it was said that the word stamp would probably sound odiously in the ears of many of the inhabitants, and be a cause of objection. By the power of imposing stamp duties, the Congress will have a right to declare, that no wills, deeds, or other instruments of writing, shall be good and valid without being stamped; that, without being reduced to writing, and being stamped, no bargain, sale, transfer of property, or contract of any kind or nature whatsoever, shall be binding; and also that no exemplifications of records, depositions, or probates of any kind, shall be received in evidence, unless they have the same solemnity. They may likewise oblige all proceedings of a judicial nature to be stamped, to give them effect. Those stamp duties may be imposed to any amount they please; and under the pretence of securing the collections of these duties, and to prevent the laws which imposed them from being evaded, the Congress may bring the decision of all questions relating to the conveyance, disposition, and rights of property, and every question relating to contracts between man and man, into the courts of the general government — their inferior courts in the first instance, and the superior court by appeal. By the power to lay and collect imposts, they may impose duties on any or every article of commerce imported into these states, to what amount they please. By the power to lay excises, — a power very odious in its nature, since it authorizes officers to go into your houses, your kitchens, your cellars, and to examine into your private concerns, — the Congress may impose duties on every article of use or consumption, on the food that we eat, on the liquors that we drink, on the clothes that we wear, the glass which enlightens our houses, or the hearths necessary for our warmth and comfort. By the power to lay and collect taxes, they may proceed to direct taxation on every individual, either by a capitation tax on their heads, or an assessment on their property. By this part of the section, therefore, the government has power to lay what duties they please on goods imported; to lay what duties they please, afterwards, on whatever we use or consume; to impose stamp duties to what amount they please, and in whatever case they please; — afterwards, to impose on the people direct taxes, by capitation tax, or by assessment, to what amount they choose, and thus to sluice them at every vein as long as they have a drop of blood, without any control, limitation, or restraint; while all the officers for collecting these taxes, stamp duties, imposts, and excises, are to be appointed by the general government, under its directions, not accountable to the states; nor is there even a security that they shall be citizens of the respective states in which they are to exercise their offices. At the same time, the construction of every law imposing any and all these taxes and duties, and directing the collection of them, and every question arising thereon, and on the conduct of the officers appointed to execute these laws, and to collect these taxes and duties, so various in their kinds, is taken away from the courts of justice of the different states, and confined to the courts of the general government, there to be heard and determined by judges holding their offices under the appointment, not of the states, but of the general government.

Many of the members, and myself in the number, thought that states were much better judges of the circumstances of their citizens, and what sum of money could be collected from them by direct taxation, and of the manner in which it could be raised with the greatest ease and convenience to their citizens, than the general government could be; and that the general government ought not to have the power of laying direct taxes in any case but in that of the delinquency of a state. Agreeably to this sentiment, I brought in a proposition on which a vote of the Convention was taken. The proposition was as follows: “And whenever the legislature of the United States shall find it necessary that revenue should be raised by direct taxation, having apportioned the same by the above rule, requisitions shall be made of the respective states to pay into the Continental treasury their respective quotas within a time in the said requisition to be specified; and in case of any of the states failing to comply with such requisition, then, and then only, to have power to devise and pass acts directing the mode and authorizing the collection of the same.”

Had this proposition been acceded to, the dangerous and oppressive power in the general government of imposing direct taxes on the inhabitants, which it now enjoys in all cases, would have been only vested in it, in case of the non-compliance of a state, as a punishment for its delinquency, and would have ceased the moment that the state complied with the requisition. But the proposition was rejected by a majority, consistent with their aim and desire of increasing the power of the general government as far as possible, and destroying the powers and influence of the states. And though there is a provision that all duties, imposts, and excises, shall be uniform, — that is, to be laid to the same amount on the same articles in each state, — yet this will not prevent Congress from having it in their power to cause them to fall very unequally, and much heavier on some states than on others, because these duties may be laid on articles but little or not at all used in some states, and of absolute necessity for the use and consumption of others; in which case, the first would pay little or no part of the revenue arising therefrom, while the whole, or nearly the whole, of it would be paid by the last, to wit, the states which use and consume the articles on which the imposts and excises are laid.

By our original Articles of Confederation, the Congress have power to borrow money and emit bills of credit on the credit of the United States; agreeable to which was the report on this system, as made by the committee of detail. When we came to this part of the report, a motion was made to strike out the words “to emit bills of credit. ” Against the motion we urged, that it would be improper to deprive the Congress of that power; that it would be a novelty unprecedented to establish a government which should not have such authority; that it was impossible to look forward into futurity so far as to decide that events might not happen that should render the exercise of such a power absolutely necessary; and that we doubted whether, if a war should take place, it would be possible for this country to defend itself without having recourse to paper credit, in which case there would be a necessity of becoming a prey to our enemies, or violating the constitution of our government; and that, considering the administration of the government would be principally in the hands of the wealthy, there could be little reason to fear an abuse of the power by an unnecessary or injurious exercise of it. But, sir, a majority of the Convention, being wise beyond every event, and being willing to risk any political evil rather than admit the idea of a paper emission in any possible case, refused to trust this authority to a government to which they were lavishing the most unlimited powers of taxation, and to the mercy of which they were willing blindly to trust the liberty and property of the citizens of every state in the Union; and they erased that clause from the system. Among other powers given to this government in the eighth section, it has that of appointing tribunals inferior to the Supreme Court. To this power there was an opposition. It was urged that there was no occasion for inferior courts of the general government to be appointed in the different states, and that such ought not to be admitted — that the different state judiciaries in the respective states would be competent to, and sufficient for, the cognizance in the first instance of all cases that should arise under the laws of the general government, which, being by this system made the supreme law of the states, would be binding on the different state judiciaries — that, by giving an appeal to the Supreme Court of the United States, the general government would have a sufficient check over their decisions, and security for the enforcing of their laws — that to have inferior courts appointed under the authority of Congress, in the different states, would eventually absorb and swallow up the state judiciaries, by drawing all business from them to the courts of the general government, which the extensive and undefined powers, legislative and judicial, of which it is possessed, would easily enable it to do — that it would unduly and dangerously increase the weight and influence of Congress in the several states; be productive of a prodigious number of officers; and be attended with an enormous additional and unnecessary expense — that, the judiciaries of the respective states not having power to decide upon the laws of the general government, but the determination of those laws being confined to the judiciaries appointed under the authority of Congress in the first instance, as well as on appeal, there would be a necessity for judges or magistrates of the general government, and those to a considerable number, in each county of every state — that there would be a necessity for courts to be holden by them in each county, and that these courts would stand in need of all proper officers, such as sheriffs, clerks, and others, commissioned under the authority of the general government — in fine, that the administration of justice, as it will relate to the laws of the general government, would require in each state all the magistrates, courts, officers, and expense, which are now found necessary, in the respective states, for the administration of justice as it relates to the laws of the state governments. But here, again, we were overruled by a majority, who, assuming it as a principle that the general government and the state governments (as long as they should exist) would be at perpetual variance and enmity, and that their interests would constantly be opposed to each other, insisted, for that reason, that the state judges, being citizens of their respective states, and holding their commissions under them, ought not, though acting on oath, to be intrusted with the administration of the laws of the general government.

By the eighth section of the first article, the Congress have also a power given them to raise and support armies, without any limitation as to numbers, and without any restriction in time of peace. Thus, sir, this plan of government, instead of guarding against a standing army, — that engine of arbitrary power, which has so often and so successfully been used for the subversion of freedom, — has, in its formation, given it an express and constitutional sanction, and hath provided for its introduction. Nor could this be prevented. I took the sense of the Convention on a proposition, by which the Congress should not have power, in time of peace, to keep imbodied more than a certain number of regular troops, that number to be ascertained by what should be considered a respectable peace establishment. This proposition was rejected by a majority, it being their determination that the power of Congress to keep up a standing army, even in peace, should only be restrained by their will and pleasure.

This section proceeds, further, to give a power to the Congress to provide for the calling forth the militia to execute the laws of the Union, suppress insurrections, and repel invasions. As to giving such a power there was no objection; but it was thought by some that this power ought to be given with certain restrictions. It was thought that not more than a certain part of the militia of any one state ought to be obliged to march out of the same, or be employed out of the same, at any one time, without the consent of the legislature of such state. This amendment I endeavored to obtain; but it met with the same fate which attended almost every attempt to limit the powers given to the general government, and constitutionally to guard against their abuse: it was not adopted. As it now stands, the Congress will have the power, if they please, to march the whole militia of Maryland to the remotest part of the Union, and keep them in service as long as they think proper, without being in any respect dependent upon the government of Maryland for this unlimited exercise of power over its citizens — all of whom, from the lowest to the greatest, may, during such service, be subjected to military law, and tied up and whipped at the halbert, like the meanest of slaves.

By the next paragraph, Congress is to have the power to provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the militia, and for governing such part of them as may be employed in the service of the United States.

For this extraordinary provision, by which the militia — the only defence and protection which the state can have for the security of their rights against arbitrary encroachments of the general government — is taken entirely out of the power of their respective states, and placed under the power of Congress, it was speciously assigned, as a reason, that the general government would cause the militia to be better regulated and better disciplined than the state governments, and that it would be proper for the whole militia of the Union to have a uniformity in their arms and exercise. To this it was answered, that the reason, however specious, was not just — that it would be absurd that the militia of the western settlements, who were exposed to an Indian enemy, should either be confined to the same arms or exercise as the militia of the Eastern or Middle States — that the same penalties which would be sufficient to enforce an obedience to militia laws in some states, would be totally disregarded in others — that, leaving the power to the several states, they would respectively best know the situation and circumstance of their citizens, and the regulations that would be necessary and sufficient to effect a well-regulated militia in each — that we were satisfied the militia had heretofore been as well disciplined as if they had been under the regulations of Congress — and that the states would now have an additional motive to keep their militia in proper order, and fit for service, as it would be the only chance to preserve their existence against a general government, armed with powers sufficient to destroy them.

These observations, sir, procured from some of the members an open avowal of those reasons by which we believed, before, that they were actuated. They said that, as the states would be opposed to the general government, and at enmity with it, — which, as I have already observed, they assumed as a principle, — if the militia was under the control and the authority of the respective states, it would enable them to thwart and oppose the general government. They said the states ought to be at the mercy of the general government, and therefore that the militia ought to be put under its power, and not suffered to remain under the power of the respective states. In answer to these declarations, it was urged that if, after having retained to the general government the great powers already granted, — and among those, that of raising and keeping up regular troops without limitation, — the power over the militia should be taken away from the states, and also given to the general government, it ought to be considered as the last coup de grace to the state governments; that it must be the most convincing proof, the advocates of this system design the destruction of the state governments, and that no professions to the contrary ought to be trusted; and that every state in the Union ought to reject such a system with indignation, since, if the general government should attempt to oppress and enslave them, they could not have any possible means of self-defence; because the proposed system, taking away from the states the right of organizing, arming, and disciplining of the militia, the first attempt made by a state to put the militia in a situation to counteract the arbitrary measures of the general government would be construed into an act of rebellion or treason, and Congress would instantly march their troops into the state. It was further observed that, when a government wishes to deprive their citizens of freedom, and reduce them to slavery, it generally makes use of a standing army for that purpose, and leaves the militia in a situation as contemptible as possible, lest they might oppose its arbitrary designs — that in this system we give the general government every provision it could wish for, and even invite it to subvert the liberties of the states and their citizens, since we give it the right to increase and keep up a standing army as numerous as it would wish, and, by placing the militia under its power, enable it to leave the militia totally unorganized, undisciplined, and even to disarm them; while the citizens, so far from complaining of this neglect, might even esteem it a favor in the general government, as thereby they would be freed from the burden of militia duties, and left to their own private occupations and pleasures. However, all arguments, and every reason which could be urged on this subject, as well as on many others, were obliged to yield to one that was unanswerable, a majority upon the division.

By the ninth section of this article, the importation of such persons as any of the states now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited prior to the year one thousand eight hundred and eight; but a duty may be imposed on such importation not exceeding ten dollars each person.

The design of this clause is to prevent the general government from prohibiting the importation of slaves; but the same reasons which caused them to strike out the word “ national, ” and not admit the word “ stamps, ” influenced them here to guard against the word “ slaves. ” They anxiously sought to avoid the admission of expressions which might be odious in the ears of Americans, although they were willing to admit into their system those things which the expressions signified; and hence it is that the clause is so worded as really to authorize the general government to impose a duty of ten dollars on every foreigner who comes into a state to become a citizen, whether he comes absolutely free, or qualifiedly so as a servant; although this is contrary to the design of the framers, and the duty was only meant to extend to the importation of slaves.

This clause was the subject of a great diversity of sentiment in the Convention. As the system was reported by the committee of detail, the provision was general, that such importation should not be prohibited, without confining it to any particular period. This was rejected by eight states — Georgia, South Carolina, and, I think, North Carolina, voting for it.

We were then told by the delegates of the two first of those states, that their states would never agree to a system which put it in the power of the general government to prevent the importation of slaves, and that they, as delegates from those states, must withhold their assent from such a system.

A committee of one member from each state was chosen by ballot, to take this part of the system under their consideration, and to endeavor to agree upon some report which should reconcile those states. To this committee also was referred the following proposition, which had been reported by the committee of detail, viz.: “No navigation act shall be passed without the assent of two thirds of the members present in each house” — a proposition which the staple and commercial states were solicitous to retain, lest their commerce should be placed too much under the power of the Eastern States, but which these last states were as anxious to reject. This committee — of which also I had the honor to be a member — met, and took under their consideration the subjects committed to them. I found the Eastern States, notwithstanding their aversion to slavery, were very willing to indulge the Southern States at least with a temporary liberty to prosecute the slave trade, provided the Southern States would, in their turn, gratify them, by laying no restriction on navigation acts; and after a very little time, the committee, by a great majority, agreed on a report, by which the general government was to be prohibited from preventing the importation of slaves for a limited time, and the restrictive clause relative to navigation acts was to be omitted.

This report was adopted by a majority of the Convention, but not without considerable opposition. It was said that we had just assumed a place among independent nations, in consequence of our opposition to the attempts of Great Britain to enslave us; that this opposition was grounded upon the preservation of those rights to which God and nature had entitled us, not in particular, but in common with the rest of all mankind — that we had appealed to the Supreme Being for his assistance, as the God of freedom, who could not but approve our efforts to preserve the rights which he had thus imparted to his creatures — that now, when we scarcely had risen from our knees, from supplicating his aid and protection, in forming our government over a free people, — a government formed pretendedly on the principles of liberty, and for its preservation, — in that government to have a provision not only putting it out of its power to restrain and prevent the slave trade, but even encouraging that most infamous traffic, by giving the states power and influence in the Union in proportion as they cruelly and wantonly sport with the rights of their fellow-creatures, ought to be considered as a solemn mockery of, and insult to, that God whose protection we had then implored; and could not fail to hold us up in detestation, and render us contemptible to every true friend of liberty in the world. It was said, it ought to be considered, that national crimes can only be, and frequently are, punished in this world by national punishments; and that the continuance of the slave trade, and thus giving it a national sanction and encouragement, ought to be considered as justly exposing us to the displeasure and vengeance of Him who is equally Lord of all, and who views with equal eye the poor African slave and his American master.

It was urged that, by this system, we were giving the general government full and absolute power to regulate commerce, under which general power it would have a right to restrain, or totally prohibit, the slave trade; it must therefore appear to the world absurd and disgraceful, to the last degree, that we should except from the exercise of that power the only branch of commerce which is unjustifiable in its nature, and contrary to the rights of mankind — that, on the contrary, we ought rather to prohibit expressly, in our Constitution, the further importation of slaves; and to authorize the general government, from time to time, to make such regulations as should be thought most advantageous for the gradual abolition of slavery, and the emancipation of the slaves which are already in the states — that slavery is inconsistent with the genius of republicanism, and has a tendency to destroy those principles on which it is supported, as it lessens the sense of the equal rights of mankind, and habituates us to tyranny and oppression. It was further urged that, by this system of government, every state is to be protected both from foreign invasion and from domestic insurrections; that, from this consideration, it was of the utmost importance it should have a power to restrain the importation of slaves, since, in proportion as the number of slaves was increased in any state, in the same proportion the state is weakened and exposed to foreign invasion or domestic insurrection, and by so much less will it be able to protect itself against either; and therefore will, by so much the more, want aid from, and be a burden to, the Union. It was further said that as, in this system, we were giving the general government a power, under the idea of national character or national interest, to regulate even our weights and measures, and have prohibited all possibility of emitting paper money, and passing insolvent laws, c., it must appear still more extraordinary, that we should prohibit the government from interfering with the slave trade, than which nothing could so materially affect both our national honor and interest. These reasons influenced me, both on the committee and in Convention, most decidedly to oppose and vote against the clause, as it now makes a part of the system.

You will perceive, sir, not only that the general government is prohibited from interfering in the slave trade before the year eighteen hundred and eight, but that there is no provision in the Constitution that it shall afterwards be prohibited, nor any security that such prohibition will ever take place; and I think there is great reason to believe that, if the importation of slaves is permitted until the year eighteen hundred and eight, it will not be prohibited afterwards. At this time we do not generally hold this commerce in so great abhorrence as we have done. When our liberties were at stake, we warmly felt for the common rights of men. The danger being thought to be past which threatened ourselves, we are daily growing more insensible to those rights. In those states which have restrained or prohibited the importation of slaves, it is only done by legislative acts which may be repealed. When those states find that they must in their national character and connection, suffer in the disgrace, and share in the inconveniences, attendant upon that detestable and iniquitous traffic, they may be desirous also to share in the benefits arising from it; and the odium attending it will be greatly effaced by the sanction which is given to it in the general government.

By the next paragraph, the general government is to have a power of suspending the habeas corpus act, in cases of rebellion or invasion.

As the state governments have a power of suspending the habeas corpus act in those cases, it was said there could be no reason for giving such a power to the general government, since, whenever the state which is invaded, or in which an insurrection takes place, finds its safety requires it, it will make use of that power; and it was urged that, if we gave this power to the general government, it would be an engine of oppression in its hands, since, whenever a state should oppose its views, however arbitrary and unconstitutional, and refuse submission to them, the general government may declare it an act of rebellion, and, suspending the habeas corpus act, may seize upon the persons of those advocates of freedom who have had virtue and resolution enough to excite the opposition, and may imprison them during its pleasure in the remotest part of the Union, so that a citizen of Georgia might be Bastiled in the farthest part of New Hampshire, or a citizen of New Hampshire in the farthest extreme to the south, — cut off from their family, their friends, and their every connection. These considerations induced me, sir, to give my negative also to this clause.

In this same section, there is a provision that no preference shall be given to the ports of one state over another, and that vessels bound to or from one state shall not be obliged to enter, clear, or pay duties, in another. This provision, as well as that which relates to the uniformity of impost duties and excises, was introduced, sir, by the delegation of this state. Without such a provision, it would have been in the power of the general government to compel all ships sailing into or out of the Chesapeake, to clear and enter at Norfolk, or some port in Virginia — a regulation which would be extremely injurious to our commerce, but which would, if considered merely as to the interest of the Union, perhaps not be thought unreasonable, since it would render the collection of the revenue arising from commerce more certain and less expensive.

But, sir, as the system is now reported, the general government have a power to establish what ports they please in each state, and to ascertain at what ports in every state ships shall clear and enter in such state — a power which may be so used as to destroy the effect of that provision, since by it may be established a port in such a place as shall be so inconvenient to the states as to render it more eligible for their shipping to clear and enter in another than in their own states. Suppose, for instance, the general government should determine that all ships which cleared or entered in Maryland should clear and enter at Georgetown, on the Potomac; it would oblige all the ships which sailed from, or were bound to, any other port of Maryland, to clear or enter in some port in Virginia. To prevent such a use of the power which the general government now has of limiting the number of ports in a state, and fixing the place or places where they shall be, we endeavored to obtain a provision, that the general government should only, in the first instance, have authority to ascertain the number of ports proper to be established in each state, and transmit information thereof to the several states, the legislatures of which, respectively, should have the power to fix the places where those ports should be, according to their idea of what would be most advantageous to the commerce of their state, and most for the ease and convenience of their citizens; and that the general government should not interfere in the establishment of the places, unless the legislature of the state should neglect or refuse so to do; but we could not obtain this alteration.

By the tenth section, every state is prohibited from emitting bills of credit. As it was reported by the committee of detail, the states were only prohibited from emitting them without the consent of Congress; but the Convention was so smitten with the paper-money dread, that they insisted the prohibition should be absolute. It was my opinion, sir, that the states ought not to be totally deprived of the right to emit bills of credit, and that, as we had not given an authority to the general government for that purpose, it was the more necessary to retain it in the states. I considered that this state, and some others, have formerly received great benefit from paper emissions, and that, if public and private credit should once more be restored, such emissions may hereafter be equally advantageous; and further, that it is impossible to foresee that events may not take place which shall render paper money of absolute necessity; and it was my opinion, if this power was not to be exercised by a state without the permission of the general government, it ought to be satisfactory even to those who were the most haunted by the apprehensions of paper money. I therefore thought it my duty to vote against this part of the system.

The same section also puts it out of the power of the states to make any thing but gold and silver coin a tender in payment of debts, or to pass any law impairing the obligation of contracts.

I considered, sir, that there might be times of such great public calamities and distress, and of such extreme scarcity of specie, as should render it the duty of a government, for the preservation of even the most valuable part of its citizens, in some measure to interfere in their favor, by passing laws totally or partially stopping courts of justice; or authorizing the debtor to pay by instalments, or by delivering up his property to his creditors at a reasonable and honest valuation. The times have been such as to render regulations of this kind necessary in most or all of the states, to prevent the wealthy creditor and the moneyed man from totally destroying the poor, though industrious debtor. Such times may again arrive. I therefore voted against depriving the states of this power — a power which I am decided they ought to possess, but which, I admit, ought only to be exercised on very important and urgent occasions. I apprehend, sir, the principal cause of complaint among the people at large is, the public and private debt with which they are oppressed, and which, in the present scarcity of cash, threatens them with destruction, unless they can obtain so much indulgence, in point of time, that, by industry and frugality, they may extricate themselves.

This government proposal, I apprehend, so far from removing, will greatly increase those complaints, since, grasping in its all-powerful hand the citizens of the respective states, it will, by the imposition of the variety of taxes, imposts, stamps, excises, and other duties, squeeze from them the little money they may acquire, the hard earnings of their industry, as you would squeeze the juice from an orange, till not a drop more can be extracted; and then let loose upon them their private creditors, to whose mercy it consigns them, by whom their property is to be seized upon and sold, in this scarcity of specie, at a sheriff’s sale, where nothing but ready cash can be received, for a tenth part of its value, and themselves and their families to be consigned to indigence and distress, without their governments having a power to give them a moment’s indulgence, however necessary it might be, and however desirous to grant them aid.

By this same section, every state is also prohibited from laying any imposts, or duties, on imports or exports, without the permission of the general government. It was urged that, as almost all sources of taxation were given to Congress, it would be but reasonable to leave the states the power of bringing revenue into their treasuries by laying a duty on exports, if they should think proper, which might be so light as not to injure or discourage industry, and yet might be productive of considerable revenue; also, that there might be cases in which it would be proper, for the purpose of encouraging manufactures, to lay duties to prohibit the exportation of raw materials, and, even in addition to the duties laid by Congress on imports, for the sake of revenue, to lay a duty to discourage the importation of particular articles into a state, or to enable the manufacturer here to supply us on as good terms as they could be obtained from a foreign market. However, the most we could obtain was, that this power might be exercised by the states with, and only with, the consent of Congress, and subject to its control; and so anxious were they to seize on every shilling of our money for the general government, that they insisted even the little revenue, that might thus arise, should not be appropriated to the use of the respective states where it was collected, but should be paid into the treasury of the United States; and accordingly it is so determined.

The second article relates to the executive — his mode of election, his powers, and the length of time he should continue in office.

On these subjects there was a great diversity of sentiment. Many of the members were desirous that the President should be elected for seven years, and not to be eligible a second time. Others proposed that he should not be absolutely ineligible, but that he should not be capable of being chosen a second time, until the expiration of a certain number of years. The supporters of the above proposition went upon the idea that the best security for liberty was a limited duration, and a rotation of office, in the chief executive department.

There was a party who attempted to have the President appointed during good behavior, without any limitation as to time; and, not being able to succeed in that attempt, they then endeavored to have him reeligible without any restraint. It was objected that the choice of a President to continue in office during good behavior, would at once be rendering our system an elective monarchy; and that, if the President was to be reëligible without any interval of disqualification, it would amount nearly to the same thing, since, from the powers that the President is to enjoy, and the interests and influence with which they will be attended, he will be almost absolutely certain of being reelected from time to time, as long as he lives. As the propositions were reported by the committee of the whole house, the President was to be chosen for seven years, and not to be eligible at any time after. In the same manner, the proposition was agreed to in Convention; and so it was reported by the committee of detail, although a variety of attempts were made to alter that part of the system by those who were of a contrary opinion, in which they repealedly failed; but, sir, by never losing sight of their object, and choosing a proper time for their purpose, they succeeded, at length, in obtaining the alteration, which was not made until within the last twelve days before the Convention adjourned.

As these propositions were agreed to by the committee of the whole house, the President was to be appointed by the national legislature; and, as it was reported by the committee of detail, the choice was to be made by ballot, in such a manner that the states should have an equal voice in the appointment of this officer, as they, of right, ought to have; but those who wished, as far as possible, to establish a national instead of a federal government, made repeated attempts to have the President chosen by the people at large. On this the sense of the Convention was taken, I think, not less than three times while I was there, and as often rejected; but within the last fortnight of their session, they obtained the alteration in the manner it now stands, by which the large states have a very undue influence in the appointment of the President. There is no case where the states will have an equal voice in the appointment of the President, except where two persons shall have an equal number of votes, and those a majority of the whole number of electors, — a case very unlikely to happen, — or where no person has the majority of the votes. In these instances, the House of Representatives are to choose by ballot, each state having an equal voice; but they are confined, in the last instance, to the five who have the greatest number of votes, which gives the largest states a very unequal chance of having the President chosen under their nomination.

As to the Vice-President, — that great officer of government, who is, in case of the death, resignation, removal, or inability, of the President, to supply his place, and be vested with his powers, and who is officially to be president of the Senate, — there is no provision by which a majority of the voices of the electors are necessary to his appointment; but after it is decided who is chosen President, that person who has the next number of votes of the electors is declared to be legally elected to the vice-presidency; so that, by this system, it is very possible, and not improbable, that he might be appointed by the electors of a single large state; and a very undue influence in the Senate is given to that state of which the Vice-President is a citizen, since, in every question where the Senate is divided, that state will have two votes — the president having, on those occasions, a casting voice. Every part of the system which relates to the Vice-President, as well as the present mode of electing the President, was introduced and agreed upon after I left Philadelphia.

Objections were made to that part of this article by which the President is appointed commander-in-chief of the army and navy of the United States, and of the militia of the several states; and it was wished to be so far restrained, that he should not command in person; but this could not be obtained. The power given to the President of granting reprieves and pardons was also thought extremely dangerous, and as such opposed. The President thereby has the power of pardoning those who are guilty of treason, as well as of other offences. It was said that no treason was so likely to take place as that in which the President himself might be engaged — the attempt to assume to himself powers not given by the Constitution, and establish himself in regal authority: in which attempt a provision is made for him to secure from punishment the creatures of his ambition, the associates and abettors of his treasonable practices, by granting them pardons, should they be defeated in their attempts to subvert the Constitution.

To that part of this article, also, which gives the President a right to nominate, and with the consent of the Senate to appoint, all the officers, civil and military, of the United States, there was considerable opposition. It was said that the person who nominates will always in reality appoint, and that this was giving the President a power and influence which, together with the other powers bestowed upon him, would place him above all restraint or control. In fine, it was urged that the President, as here constituted, was a king in every thing but the name; that though he was to be chosen for a limited time, yet, at the expiration of that time, if he is not reëlected, it will depend entirely upon his own moderation whether he will resign that authority with which he has once been invested — that, from his having the appointment of all the variety of officers in every part of the civil department for the Union, who will be very numerous in themselves and their connections, relations, friends, and dependants, he will have a formidable host devoted to his interest, and ready to support his ambitious views — that the army and navy, which may be increased without restraint as to numbers; the officers of which, from the highest to the lowest, are all to be appointed by him, and dependent on his will and pleasure, and commanded by him in person, will, of course, be subservient to his wishes, and ready to execute his commands; in addition to which, the militia are also entirely subjected to his orders — that these circumstances, combined together, will enable him, when he pleases, to become a king in name, as well as in substance, and establish himself in office not only for his own life, but even, if he chooses, to have that authority perpetuated to his family.

It was further observed, that the only appearance of responsibility in the President, which the system holds up to our view, is the provision for impeachment; but that, when we reflect that he cannot be impeached but by the House of Delegates, and that the members of this house are rendered dependent upon, and unduly under the influence of, the President, by being appointable to offices of which he has the sole nomination, so that, without his favor and approbation, they cannot obtain them, there is little reason to believe that a majority will ever concur in impeaching the President, let his conduct be ever so reprehensible; especially, too, as the final event of that impeachment will depend upon a different body, and the members of the House of Delegates will be certain, should the decision be ultimately in favor of the President, to become thereby the objects of his displeasure, and to bar to themselves every avenue to the emoluments of government.

Should he, contrary to probability, be impeached, he is afterwards to be tried and adjudged by the Senate, and without the concurrence of two thirds of the members who shall be present, he cannot be convicted. This Senate being constituted a privy council to the President, it is probable many of its leading and influential members may have advised or concurred in the very measures for which he may be impeached. The members of the Senate also are, by the system, placed as unduly under the influence of, and dependent upon, the President, as the members of the other branch, since they also are appointable to offices, and cannot obtain them but through the favor of the President.

There will be great, important, and valuable offices under this government, should it take place, more than sufficient to enable him to hold out the expectation of one of them to each of the senators. Under these circumstances, will any person conceive it to be difficult for the President always to secure to himself more than one third of that body? Or can it reasonably be believed that a criminal will be convicted, who is constitutionally empowered to bribe his judges, at the head of whom is to preside, on those occasions, the chief justice — which officer, in his original appointment, must be nominated by the President, and will, therefore, probably, be appointed, not so much for his eminence in legal knowledge, and for his integrity, as from favoritism and influence; since the President, knowing that, in case of impeachment, the chief justice is to preside at his trial, will naturally wish to fill that office with a person of whose voice and influence he shall consider himself secure. These are reasons to induce a belief that there will be but little probability of the President ever being either impeached or convicted. But it was also urged that, vested with the powers which the system gives him, and with the influence attendant upon those powers, to him it would be of little consequence whether he was impeached or convicted, since he will be able to set both at defiance. These considerations occasioned a part of the Convention to give a negative to this part of the system establishing the executive as it is now offered for our acceptance.

By the third article, the judicial power of the United States is vested in one Supreme Court, and in such inferior courts as the Congress may, from time to time, ordain and establish. These courts, and these only, will have a right to decide upon the laws of the United States, and all questions arising upon their construction, and in a judicial manner to carry those laws into execution; to which the courts, both superior and inferior, of the respective states, and their judges and other magistrates, are rendered incompetent. To the courts of the general government are also confined all cases, in law or equity, arising under the proposed Constitution and treaties made under the authority of the United States — all cases affecting ambassadors, other public ministers, and consuls — all cases of admiralty and maritime jurisdiction — all controversies to which the United States are a party — all controversies between two or more states; between citizens of the same state, claiming lands under grants of different states; and between a state, or the citizens thereof, and foreign states, citizens, or subjects. Whether, therefore, any laws or regulations of the Congress, any acts of its President or other officers, are contrary to, or not warranted by, the Constitution, rests only with the judges, who are appointed by Congress, to determine; by whose determinations every state must be bound. Should any question arise between a foreign consul and any of the citizens of the United States, however remote from the seat of empire, it is to be heard before the judiciary of the general government, and, in the first instance, to be heard in the Supreme Court, however inconvenient to the parties, and however trifling the subject of dispute.

Should the mariners of an American or foreign vessel, while in any American port, have occasion to sue for their wages, or, in any other instance, a controversy belonging to the admiralty jurisdiction should take place between them and their masters or owners, it is in the courts of the general government the suit must be instituted; and either party may carry it by appeal to its Supreme Court. The injury to commerce, and the oppression to individuals, which may thence arise, need not be enlarged upon. Should a citizen of Virginia, Pennsylvania, or any other of the United States, be indebted to, or have debts due from, a citizen of this state, or any other claim be subsisting on one side or the other, in consequence of commercial or other transactions, it is only in the courts of Congress that either can apply for redress. The case is the same should any claim subsist between citizens of this state and foreigners, merchants, mariners, and others, whether of a commercial or of any other nature: they must be prosecuted in the same courts; and, though in the first instance they may be brought in the inferior, yet an appeal may be made to the supreme judiciary, even from the remotest state in the Union.

The inquiry concerning, and trial of, every offence against, and breach of, the laws of Congress, are also confined to its courts. The same courts also have the sole right to inquire concerning and try every offence, from the lowest to the highest, committed by the citizens of any other state, or of a foreign nation, against the laws of this state within its territory; and in all these cases the decision may be ultimately brought before the supreme tribunal, since the appellate jurisdiction extends to criminal as well as to civil cases.

And in all those cases, where the general government has jurisdiction in civil questions, the proposed Constitution not only makes no provision for the trial by jury in the first instance, but, by its appellate jurisdiction, absolutely takes away that inestimable privilege, since it expressly declares the Supreme Court shall have appellate jurisdiction both as to law and fact. Should, therefore, a jury be adopted in the inferior court, it would only be a needless expense, since, on an appeal, the determination of that jury, even on questions of fact, however honest and upright, is to be of no possible effect. The Supreme Court is to take up all questions of fact; to examine the evidence relative thereto; to decide upon them, in the same manner as if they had never been tried by a jury. Nor is trial by jury secured in criminal cases. It is true that, in the first instance, in the inferior court, the trial is to be by jury. In this, and in this only, is the difference between criminal and civil cases. But, sir, the appellate jurisdiction extends, as I have observed, to cases criminal, as well as civil, and on the appeal the court is to decide not only on the law but on the fact. If, therefore, even in criminal cases, the general government is not satisfied with the verdict of the jury, its officer may remove the prosecution to the Supreme Court; and there the verdict of the jury is to be of no effect, but the judges of this court are to decide upon the fact as well as the law, the same as in civil cases.

Thus, sir, jury trials, which have ever been the boast of the English constitution, — which have been by our several state constitutions so cautiously secured to us, — jury trials, which have so long been considered the surest barrier against arbitrary power, and the palladium of liberty, with the loss of which the loss of our freedom may be dated, are taken away by the proposed form of government, not only in a great variety of questions between individual and individual, but in every case, whether civil or criminal, arising under the laws of the United States, or the execution of those laws. It is taken away in those very cases where, of all others, it is most essential for our liberty to have it sacredly guarded and preserved; in every case, whether civil or criminal, between government and its officers on the one part, and the subject or citizen on the other. Nor was this the effect of inattention, nor did it arise from any real difficulty in establishing and securing jury trials by the proposed Constitution if the Convention had wished so to do; but the same reason influenced here as in the case of the establishment of the inferior courts. As they could not trust state judges, so would they not confide in state juries. They alleged that the general government and the state governments would always be at variance — that the citizens of the different states would enter into the views and interests of their respective states, and therefore ought not to be trusted in determining causes in which the general government was any way interested, without giving the general government an opportunity, if it disapproved the verdict of the jury, to appeal, and to have the facts examined into again, and decided upon by its own judges, on whom it was thought a reliance might be had by the general government, they being appointed under its authority.

Thus, sir, in consequence of this appellate jurisdiction, and its extension to facts as well as to law, every arbitrary act of the general government, and every oppression of all that variety of officers appointed under its authority for the collection of taxes, duties, impost, excise, and other purposes, must be submitted to by the individual, or must be opposed with little prospect of success, and almost a certain prospect of ruin, at least in those cases where the middle and common class of citizens are interested. Since, to avoid that oppression, or to obtain redress, the application must be made to one of the courts of the United States, — by good fortune, should this application be in the first instance attended with success, and should damages be recovered equivalent to the injury sustained, an appeal lies to the Supreme Court, in which case the citizen must at once give up his cause, or he must attend to it at the distance, perhaps, of more than a thousand miles from the place of his residence, and must take measures to procure before that court, on the appeal, all the evidence necessary to support his action, which, even if ultimately prosperous, must be attended with a loss of time, a neglect of business, and an expense, which will be greater than the original grievance, and to which men in moderate circumstances would be utterly unequal.

By the third section of this article, it is declared that treason against the United States shall consist in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid or comfort.

By the principles of the American revolution, arbitrary power may, and ought to, be resisted even by arms, if necessary. The time may come when it shall be the duty of a state, in order to preserve itself from the oppression of the general government, to have recourse to the sword; in which case, the proposed form of government declares, that the state, and every one of its citizens who acts under its authority, are guilty of a direct act of treason; reducing, by this provision, the different states to this alternative, — that they must tamely and passively yield to despotism, or their citizens must oppose it at the hazard of the halter, if unsuccessful; and reducing the citizens of the state which shall take arms to a situation in which they must be exposed to punishment, let them act as they will — since, if they obey the authority of their state government, they will be guilty of treason against the United States; if they join the general government, they will be guilty of treason against their own state.

To save the citizens of the respective states from this disagreeable dilemma, and to secure them from being punishable as traitors to the United States, when acting expressly in obedience to the authority of their own state, I wished to have obtained, as an amendment to the third section of this article, the following clause: —

“ Provided, That no act or acts done by one or more of the states against the United States, or by any citizen of any one of the United States, under the authority of one or more of the said states, shall be deemed treason, or punished as such; but in case of war being levied by one or more of the states against the United States, the conduct of each party towards the other, and their adherents respectively, shall be regulated by the laws of war and of nations.”

But this provision was not adopted, being too much opposed to the great object of many of the leading members of the Convention, which was, by all means to leave the states at the mercy of the general government, since they could not succeed in their immediate and entire abolition.

By the third section of the fourth article no new state shall be formed or erected within the jurisdiction of any other state, without the consent of the legislature of such state.

There are a number of states which are so circumstanced, with respect to themselves and to the other states, that every principle of justice and sound policy requires their dismemberment, or division into smaller states. Massachusetts is divided into two districts, totally separated from each other by the state of New Hampshire, on the north-east side of which lie the provinces of Maine and Sagadohock, more extensive in point of territory, but less populous, than old Massachusetts, which lies on the other side of New Hampshire. No person can cast his eye on the map of that state, but he must in a moment admit, that every argument drawn from convenience, interest, and justice, requires that the provinces of Maine and Sagadohock should be erected into a new state, and that they should not be compelled to remain connected with old Massachusetts, under all the inconveniences of their situation.

The state of Georgia is larger in extent than the whole island of Great Britain, extending from its sea-coast to the Mississippi, a distance of eight hundred miles or more: its breadth, for the most part, about three hundred miles. The states of North Carolina and Virginia, in the same manner, reach from the sea-coast unto the Mississippi.

The hardship, the inconvenience, and the injustice, of compelling the inhabitants of those states who may dwell on the western side of the mountains, and along the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers, to remain connected with the inhabitants of those states, respectively, on the Atlantic side of the mountains, and subject to the same state governments, would be such as would, in my opinion, justify even recourse to arms, to free themselves from, and to shake off, so ignominious a yoke.

This representation was made in Convention; and it was further urged, that the territory of these states was too large, and that the inhabitants thereof would be too much disconnected for a republican government to extend to them its benefits, which is only suited to a small and compact territory — that a regard also for the peace and safety of the Union ought to excite a desire that those states should become, in time, divided into separate states; since, when their population should become proportioned in degree to their territory, they would, from their strength and power, become dangerous members of a federal government. It was further said that, if the general government was not, by its Constitution, to interfere, the inconvenience would soon remedy itself; for that, as the population increased in those states, their legislatures would be obliged to consent to the erection of new states, to avoid the evils of a civil war. But as, by the proposed Constitution, the general government is obliged to protect each state against domestic violence, and consequently will be obliged to assist in suppressing such commotions and insurrections as may take place from the struggle to have new states erected, the general government ought to have a power to decide upon the propriety and necessity of establishing or erecting a new state, even without the approbation of the legislature of such states within whose jurisdiction the new state should be erected; and for this purpose I submitted to the Convention the following proposition: “That, on the application of the inhabitants of any district of territory within the limits of any of the states, it shall be lawful for the legislature of the United States — if they shall, under all circumstances, think it reasonable — to erect the same into a new state, and admit it into the Union, without the consent of the state of which the said district may be a part.” And it was said, that we surely might trust the general government with this power with more propriety than with many others with which they were proposed to be intrusted; and that, as the general government was bound to suppress all insurrections and commotions which might arise on this subject, it ought to be in the power of the general government to decide upon it, and not in the power of the legislature of a single state, by obstinately and unreasonably opposing the erection of a new state, to prevent its taking effect, and thereby extremely to oppress that part of its citizens which live remote from and inconvenient to the seat of its government, and even to involve the Union in war to support its injustice and oppression. But, upon the vote being taken, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, were in the negative. New Hampshire, Connecticut, Jersey, Delaware, and Maryland, were in the affirmative. New York was absent.

That it was inconsistent with the rights of free and independent states to have their territory dismembered without their consent, was the principal argument used by the opponents of this proposition. The truth of the objection we readily admitted, but at the same time insisted that it was not more inconsistent with the rights of free and independent states than that inequality of suffrage and power which the larger states had extorted from the others; and that, if the smaller states yielded up their rights in that instance, they were entitled to demand from the states of extensive territory a surrender of their rights in this instance; and in a particular manner, as it was equally necessary for the true interest and happiness of the citizens of their own states, as of the Union. But, sir, although, when the large states demanded undue and improper sacrifices to be made to their pride and ambition, they treated the rights of free states with more contempt than ever a British Parliament treated the rights of her colonial establishment, yet, when a reasonable and necessary sacrifice was asked from them, they spurned the idea with ineffable disdain. They then perfectly understood the full value and the sacred obligation of state rights, and at the least attempt to infringe them, where they were concerned, they were tremblingly alive, and agonized at every pore.

When we reflect how obstinately those states contended for that unjust superiority of power in the government which they have in part obtained, and for the establishment of this superiority by the Constitution; when we reflect that they appeared willing to hazard the existence of the Union rather than not to succeed in their unjust attempt; that, should their legislatures consent to the erection of new states within their jurisdiction, it would be an immediate sacrifice of that power, to obtain which they appeared disposed to sacrifice every other consideration; when we further reflect that they now have a motive for desiring to preserve their territory entire and unbroken which they never had before, — the gratification of their ambition in possessing and exercising superior power over their sister states, — and that this Constitution is to give them the means to effect this desire of which they were formerly destitute, — the whole force of the United States pledged to them for restraining intestine commotions, and preserving to them the obedience and subjection of their citizens, even in the extremest part of their territory; — I say, sir, when we consider these things, it would be too absurd and improbable to deserve a serious answer, should any person suggest that these states mean ever to give their consent to the erection of new states within their territory. Some of them, it is true, have been, for some time past, amusing their inhabitants in those districts that wish to be erected into new states; but should this Constitution be adopted armed with a sword and halter, to compel their obedience and subjection, they will no longer act with indecision; and the state of Maryland may, and probably will, be called upon to assist, with her wealth and her blood, in subduing the inhabitants of Franklin, Kentucky, Vermont, and the provinces of Maine and Sagadohock, in compelling them to continue in subjection to the states which respectively claim jurisdiction over them.

Let it not be forgotten, at the same time, that a great part of the territory of these large and extensive states, which they now hold in possession, and over which they now claim and exercise jurisdiction, were crown lands, unlocated and unsettled when the American revolution took place — lands which were acquired by the common blood and treasure, and which ought to have been the common stock, and for the common benefit of the Union. Let it be remembered that the state of Maryland was so deeply sensible of the injustice that these lands should be held by particular states for their own emolument, even at a time when no superiority of authority or power was annexed to extensive territory, that, in the midst of the late war, and all the dangers which threatened us, it withheld for a long time its assent to the Articles of Confederation for that reason, and, when it ratified those Articles, it entered a solemn protest against what it considered so flagrant injustice. But, sir, the question is not now whether those states shall hold that territory unjustly to themselves, but whether, by that act of injustice, they shall have superiority of power and influence over the other states, and have a constitutional right to domineer and lord it over them — nay, more, whether we will agree to a form of government by which we pledge to those states the whole force of the Union to preserve to them their extensive territory entire and unbroken, and with our blood and wealth to assist them, whenever they please to demand it, to preserve the inhabitants thereof under their subjection, for the purpose of increasing their superiority over us — of gratifying their unjust ambition — in a word, for the purpose of giving ourselves masters, and of riveting our chains!

The part of the system, which provides that no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States, was adopted by a great majority of the Convention, and without much debate. However, there were some members so unfashionable as to think that a belief of the existence of a Deity, and of a state of future rewards and punishments, would be some security for the good conduct of our rulers, and that, in a Christian country, it would be at least decent to hold out some distinction between the professors of Christianity and downright infidelity or paganism.

The seventh article declares, that the ratification of nine states shall be sufficient for the establishment of this Constitution, between the states ratifying the same.

It was attempted to obtain a resolve that, if seven states, whose votes in the first branch should amount to a majority of the representation in that branch, concurred in the adoption of the system, it should be sufficient, and this attempt was supported on the principle, that a majority ought to govern the minority; but to this it was objected that, although it was true, after a constitution and form of government is agreed on, in every act done under and consistent with that constitution and form of government, the act of the majority, unless otherwise agreed in the constitution, should bind the minority, yet it was directly the reverse in originally forming a constitution, or dissolving it — that, in originally forming a constitution, it was necessary that every individual should agree to it, to become bound thereby, and that, when once adopted, it could not be dissolved by consent, unless with the consent of every individual who was party to the original agreement — that, in forming our original federal government, every member of that government (that is, each state) expressly consented to it — that it is a part of the compact, made and entered into in the most solemn manner, that there should be no dissolution or alteration of that federal government without the consent of every state, the members of, and parties to, the original compact — that, therefore, no alteration could be made by the consent of a part of these states, or by the consent of the inhabitants of a part of the states, which could either release the states so consenting from the obligation they are under to the other states, or which could in any manner become obligatory upon those states that should not ratify such alterations. Satisfied of the truth of these positions, and not holding ourselves at liberty to violate the compact, which this state had solemnly entered into with the others, by altering it in a different manner from that which, by the same compact, is provided and stipulated, a number of the members, and among those the delegation of this state, opposed the ratification of this system in any other manner than by the unanimous consent and agreement of all the states.

By our original Articles of Confederation, any alterations proposed are, in the first place, to be approved by Congress. Accordingly, as the resolutions were originally adopted by the Convention, and as they were reported by the committee of detail, it was proposed that this system should be laid before Congress, for their approbation. But, sir, the warm advocates of this system, fearing it would not meet with the approbation of Congress, and determined, even though Congress and the respective state legislatures should disapprove the same, to force it upon them, if possible, through the intervention of the people at large, moved to strike out the words “for their approbation,” and succeeded in their motion; to which, it being directly in violation of the mode prescribed by the Articles of Confederation for the alteration of our federal government, a part of the Convention, and myself in the number, thought it a duty to give a decided negative.

Agreeably to the Articles of Confederation, entered into in the most solemn manner, and for the observance of which the states pledged themselves to each other, and called upon the Supreme Being as a witness and avenger between them, no alterations are to be made in those Articles, unless, after they are approved by Congress, they are agreed to, and ratified, by the legislature of every state; but by the resolve of the Convention, this Constitution is not to be ratified by the legislature of the respective states, but is to be submitted to conventions chosen by the people, and, if ratified by them, is to be binding.

This resolve was opposed, among others, by the delegation of Maryland. Your delegates were of opinion that, as the form of government proposed was, if adopted, most essentially to alter the Constitution of this state, and as our Constitution had pointed out a mode by which, and by which only, alterations were to be made therein, a convention of the people could not be called to agree to and ratify the said form of government without a direct violation of our Constitution, which it is the duty of every individual in this state to protect and support. In this opinion all your delegates who were attending were unanimous. I, sir, opposed it also upon a more extensive ground, as being directly contrary to the mode of altering our federal government, established in our original compact; and as such, being a direct violation of the mutual faith plighted by the states to each other, I gave it my negative.

I was of opinion that the states, considered as states, in their political capacity, are the members of a federal government — that the states in their political capacity, or as sovereignties, are entitled, and only entitled, originally to agree upon the form of, and submit themselves to, a federal government, and afterwards, by mutual consent, to dissolve or alter it — that every thing which relates to the formation, the dissolution, or the alteration, of a federal government over states equally free, sovereign, and independent, is the peculiar province of the states in their sovereign or political capacity, in the same manner as what relates to forming alliances or treaties of peace, amity, or commerce; and that the people at large, in their individual capacity, have no more right to interfere in the one case than in the other — that according to these principles we originally acted in forming our Confederation. It was the states as states, by their representatives in Congress, that formed the Articles of Confederation; it was the states as states, by their legislatures, who ratified those Articles; and it was there established and provided that the states as states (that is, by their legislatures) should agree to any alterations that should hereafter be proposed in the federal government, before they should be binding; and any alterations agreed to in any other manner cannot release the states from the obligation they are under to each other by virtue of the original Articles of Confederation. The people of the different states never made any objection to the manner in which the Articles of Confederation were formed or ratified, or to the mode by which alterations were to be made in that government: with the rights of their respective states they wished not to interfere. Nor do I believe the people, in their individual capacity, would ever have expected or desired to have been appealed to on the present occasion, in violation of the rights of their respective states, if the favorers of the proposed Constitution, imagining they had a better chance of forcing it to be adopted by a hasty appeal to the people at large, (who could not be so good judges of the dangerous consequence,) had not insisted upon this mode. Nor do these positions in the least interfere with the principle, that all power originates from the people; because, when once the people have exercised their power in establishing and forming themselves into a state government it never devolves back to them; nor have they a right to resume or again to exercise that power, until such events take place as will amount to a dissolution of their state government. And it is an established principle, that a dissolution or alteration of a federal government doth not dissolve the state governments which compose it. It was also my opinion that, upon principles of sound policy, the agreement or disagreement to the proposed system ought to have been by the state legislatures; in which case, let the event have been what it would, there would have been but little prospect of the public peace being disturbed thereby; whereas the attempt to force down this system, although Congress and the respective state legislatures should disapprove, by appealing to the people, and to procure its establishment in a manner totally unconstitutional, has a tendency to set the state governments and their subjects at variance with each other, to lessen the obligations of government, to weaken the bands of society, to introduce anarchy and confusion, and to light the torch of discord and civil war throughout this continent. All these considerations weighed with me most forcibly against giving my assent to the mode by which it is resolved that this system is to be ratified, and were urged by me in opposition to the measure.

I have now, sir, in discharge of the duty I owe to this house, given such information as hath occurred to me, which I consider most material for them to know; and you will easily perceive, from this detail, that a great portion of that time, which ought to have been devoted calmly and impartially to consider what alterations in our federal government would be most likely to procure and preserve the happiness of the Union, was employed in a violent struggle on the one side to obtain all power and dominion in their own hands, and on the other to prevent it; and that the aggrandizement of particular states, and particular individuals, appears to have been much more the subject sought after than the welfare of our country.

The interest of this state, not confined merely to itself, abstracted from all others, but considered relatively, as far as was consistent with the common interest of the other states, I thought it my duty to pursue, according to the best opinion I could form of it.

When I took my seat in the Convention, I found them attempting to bring forward a system which, I was sure, never had entered into the contemplation of those I had the honor to represent, and which, upon the fullest consideration, I considered not only injurious to the interest and rights of this state, but also incompatible with the political happiness and freedom of the states in general. From that time until my business compelled me to leave the Convention, I gave it every possible opposition, in every stage of its progression. I opposed the system there with the same explicit frankness with which I have here given you a history of our proceedings, an account of my own conduct, which in a particular manner I consider you as having a right to know. While there, I endeavored to act as became a freeman, and the delegate of a free state. Should my conduct obtain the approbation of those who appointed me, I will not deny it would afford me satisfaction; but to me that approbation was at most no more than a secondary consideration: my first was, to deserve it. Left to myself to act according to the best of my discretion, my conduct should have been the same, had I been even sure your censure would have been my only reward, since I hold it sacredly my duty to dash the cup of poison, if possible, from the hand of a state, or an individual, however anxious the one or the other might be to swallow it.

Indulge me, sir, in a single observation further: There are persons who endeavor to hold up the idea that this system is only opposed by the officers of government. I, sir, am in that predicament. I have the honor to hold an appointment in this state. Had it been considered any objection, I presume I should not have been appointed to the Convention. If it could have had any effect on my mind, it would only be that of warming my heart with gratitude, and rendering me more anxious to promote the true interest of that state which has conferred on me the obligation, and to heighten my guilt, had I joined in sacrificing its essential rights. But, sir, it would be well to remember that this system is not calculated to diminish the number or the value of offices. On the contrary, if adopted, it will be productive of an enormous increase in their number. Many of them will also be of great honor and emoluments. Whether, sir, in this variety of appointments, and in the scramble for them, I might not have as good a prospect to advantage myself as many others, is not for me to say: but this, sir, I can say with truth, that, so far was I from being influenced in my conduct by interest, or the consideration of office, that I would cheerfully resign the appointment I now hold; I would bind myself never to accept another, either under the general government or that of my own state; I would do more, sir: — so destructive do I consider the present system to the happiness of my country, I would cheerfully sacrifice that share of property with which Heaven has blessed a life of industry; I would reduce myself to indigence and poverty; and those who are dearer to me than my own existence I would intrust to the care and protection of that Providence who hath so kindly protected myself, — if on those terms only I could procure my country to reject those chains which are forged for it.


[Copied from the original manuscript of Chief Justice Yates, by John Lansing, Jun., and certified to be a true copy.]

FRIDAY, May 25, 1787

Attended the Convention of the states, at the State House in Philadelphia, when the following states were represented: —

New York, Alexander Hamilton,

Robert Yates.

New Jersey, David Brearly,

Wm. C. Houston,

Wm. Patterson.

Pennsylvania, Robert Morris,

Thos. Fitzsimons

James Wilson,

Gouv. Morris.

Delaware, George Read,

Richard Basset,

Jacob Broom

Virginia, Geo. Washington,

Edm. Randolph,

Geo. Wythe,

Geo. Mason,

James Madison,

John Blair,

James M’Clurg.

North Carolina, Alexander Martin,

Wm. R. Davie,

Richard D. Spaight,

H. Williamson.

South Carolina, John Rutledge,

C. C. Pinckney,

Chas. Pinckney,

Pierce Butler.

A motion by R. Morris, and seconded, that General Washington take the chair. Unanimously agreed to.

When seated, he (General Washington) declared, that, as he never had been in such a situation, he felt himself embarrassed; that he hoped his errors, as they would be unintentional, would be excused. Mr. Hamilton, in behalf of the state of New York, moved that Major Jackson be appointed secretary. The delegates for Pennsylvania moved for Temple Franklin. By a majority Mr. Jackson carried it — called in and took his seat.

After which, the respective credentials of the seven states were read.

N. B. That of Delaware restrained its delegates from assenting to an abolition of the 5th article of the Confederation, by which it is declared that each state shall have one vote.

Door-keeper and messengers being appointed, the house adjourned to Monday, the 28th day of May, at 10 o’clock

MONDAY, May 28, 1787

Met pursuant to adjournment. A committee of three members (whose appointment I omitted in the entry of the proceedings of Friday last) reported a set of rules for the order of the Convention; which, being considered by articles, were agreed to, and additional ones proposed and referred to the same committee. The representation was this day increased to nine states — Massachusetts and Connecticut becoming represented. Adjourned to next day.

TUESDAY, May 29, 1787


The additional rules agreed to. His excellency, Gov. RANDOLPH, a member from Virginia, got up, and, in a long and elaborate speech, showed the defects in the system of the present federal government, as totally inadequate to the peace, safety, and security of the Confederation, and the absolute necessity of a more energetic government.

He closed these remarks with a set of resolutions, fifteen in number, which he proposed to the Convention for their adoption, and as leading principles whereon to form a new government. He candidly confessed that they were not intended for a federal government — he meant a strong, consolidated union, in which the idea of states should be nearly annihilated. [See page 143 in this volume, where they are printed at large.]

He then moved that they should be taken up in committee of the whole house.

Mr. C. PINCKNEY, a member from South Carolina, then added, that he had reduced his ideas of a new government to a system, which he read, and confessed that it was grounded on the same principles as the above resolutions. [See page 145 of this volume.]

The house then resolved that they would, the next day, form themselves into a committee of the whole, to take into consideration the state of the Union. Adjourned to next day.

WEDNESDAY, May 30, 1787


Convention met pursuant to adjournment. The Convention, pursuant to order, resolved itself into a committee of the whole. Mr. Gorham (a member from Massachusetts) appointed chairman.

Mr. RANDOLPH then moved his 1st resolve, to wit: —

“ Resolved, That the Articles of Confederation ought to be so corrected and enlarged, as to accomplish the objects proposed by their instistution, namely, common defence, security of liberty, and general welfare.”

Mr. G. MORRIS observed, that it was an unnecessary resolution, as the subsequent resolutions would not agree with it. It was then withdrawn by the proposer, and, in lien thereof, the following were proposed, to wit: —

“1. Resolved, That a union of the states, merely federal, will not accomplish the objects proposed by the Articles of Confederation, namely, common defence, security of liberty, and general welfare.

“2. Resolved, That no treaty or treaties among any of the states, as sovereign, will accomplish or secure their common defence, liberty, or welfare.

“3. Resolved, That a national government ought to be established, consisting of a supreme judicial, legislative, and executive.”

In considering the question on the 1st resolve, various modifications were proposed, when Mr. Pinckney observed, at last, that, if the Convention agreed to it, it appeared to him that their business was at an end; for, as the powers of the house in general were to revise the present Confederation, and to alter or amend it, as the case might require, to determine its insufficiency, or incapability of amendment or improvement, must end in the dissolution of the powers.

This remark had its weight; and, in consequence of it, the 1st and 2d resolves were dropped, and the question agitated on the 3d.

This last resolve had also its difficulties: the term supreme required explanation. It was asked whether it was intended to annihilate state governments. It was answered, only so far as the powers intended to be granted to the new government should clash with the states, when the latter were to yield.

For the resolution: Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina.

Against it: Connecticut. New York divided: Jersey and other states unrepresented.

The next question was on the following resolve: In substance, that the mode of the present representation was unjust — the suffrage ought to be in proportion to number or property.

To this Delaware objected, in consequence of the restrictions in their credentials, and moved to have the consideration thereof postponed, to which the house agreed. Adjourned to to-morrow.

THURSDAY, May 31, 1787


Met pursuant to adjournment. This day the state of Jersey was represented, so that there were now ten states in Convention.

The house went again into committee of the whole, Mr. Gorham in the chair.

The 3d resolve, to wit, “That the national legislature ought to consist of two branches,” was taken into consideration, and without any debate agreed to.

[N. B. As a previous resolution had already been agreed to, to have a supreme legislature, I could not see any objection to its being in two branches.]

The 4th resolve, “That the members of the first branch of the national legislature ought to be elected by the people of the several states,” was opposed; and, strange to tell, by Massachusetts and Connecticut, who supposed they ought to be chosen by the legislatures; and Virginia supported the resolve, alleging that this ought to be the democratic branch of government, and, as such, immediately vested in the people.

This question was carried; but the remaining part of the resolve, detailing the powers, was postponed.

The 5th resolve, “That the members of the second branch of the national legislature ought to be elected by those of the first, out of a proper number of persons nominated by the individual legislatures,” and the detail of the mode of election and duration of office, was postponed.

The 6th resolve is taken in detail: “That each branch ought to possess the right of originating acts.” Agreed to.

“That the national legislature ought to be empowered to enjoy the legislative rights vested in Congress by the Confederation.” Agreed to.

“And, moreover, to legislate in all cases to which the separate states are incompetent.” Agreed to.

FRIDAY, June 1, 1787


Met pursuant to adjournment. The 7th resolve, “That a national executive be instituted.” Agreed to.

“To continue in office for seven years.” Agreed to.

“A general authority to execute the laws.” Agreed to.

“To appoint all officers not otherwise provided for.” Agreed to.

Adjourned to the next day.

SATURDAY, June 2, 1787


Met pursuant to adjournment. Present, eleven states.

Mr. PINCKNEY called for the order of the day.

The Convention went into committee of the whole.

Mr. WILSON moved that the states should be divided into districts, consisting of one or more states, and each district to elect a number of senators to form the second branch of the national legislature — the senators be elected, and a certain proportion to be annually dismissed — avowedly on the plan of the New York Senate. Question put — rejected.

In the 7th resolve, the words “to be chosen by the national legislature” were agreed to.

Pres. FRANKLIN moved, that the consideration of that part of the 7th resolve, which had in object the making provision for a compensation for the service of the executive, be postponed, for the purpose of considering a motion, “that the executive should receive no salary, stipend, or emolument, for the devotion of his time to the public services, but that his expenses should be paid.” Postponed.

Mr. DICKINSON moved that, in the 7th resolution, the words, “and removable on impeachment and conviction for mal-conduct, or neglect, in the execution of his office,” should be inserted after the words “ineligible a second time.” Agreed to. The remainder postponed.

Mr. BUTLER moved to fill the number of which the executive should consist.

Mr. RANDOLPH. The sentiments of the people ought to be consulted. They will not hear of the semblance of monarchy. He preferred three divisions of the states, and an executive to be taken from each. If a single executive, those remote from him would be neglected; local views would be attributed to him, frequently well founded, often without reason. This would excite disaffection. He was therefore for an executive of three.

Mr. BUTLER. Delays, divisions, and dissensions, arise from an executive consisting of many. Instanced Holland’s distracted state, occasioned by her many counsellors. Further consideration postponed.

Mr. C. PINCKNEY gave notice for the reconsideration of the mode of election of the first branch.

Adjourned till Monday next.

MONDAY, June 4, 1787


Met pursuant to adjournment. Mr. PINCKNEY moved, that the blank in the 7th resolve, “consisting of ” be filled up with “an individual.”

Mr. WILSON, in support of the motion, asserted, that it would not be obnoxious to the minds of the people, as they, in their state governments, were accustomed and reconciled to a single executive. Three executives might divide, so that two could not agree in one proposition. The consequence would be anarchy and confusion.

Mr. SHERMAN thought there ought to be one executive, but that be ought to have a council. Even the king of Great Britain has his privy council.

Mr. GERRY was for one executive. If otherwise, it would be absurd to have it consist of three. Numbers equal in rank would oddly apply to a general or admiral.

Question put — 7 states for, and 3 against. New York against it.

The 8th resolve, “That the executive and a number of the judicial officers ought to compose a council of revision.”

Mr. GERRY objects to the clause — moves a postponement in order to let in a motion, “that the right of revision should be in the executive only.”

Mr. WILSON contends that the executive and judicial ought to have a joint and full negative — they cannot otherwise preserve their importance against the legislature.

Mr. KING was against the interference of the judicial. They may be biased in the interpretation. He is therefore to give the executive a complete negative.

Carried to be postponed — 6 states against 4. New York for it.

The next question, that the executive have a complete negative; and it was therefore moved to expunge the remaining part of the clause.

Dr. FRANKLIN against the motion. The power dangerous, and would be abused, so as to get money for passing bills.

Mr. MADISON against it, because of the difficulty of an executive venturing on the exercise of this negative, and is therefore of opinion that the revisional authority is better.

Mr. BEDFORD is against the whole, either negative or revisional. The two branches are sufficient checks on each other; no danger of subverting the executive, because his powers may by the Convention be so well defined, that the legislature cannot overleap the bounds.

Mr. MASON against the negative power in the executive, because it will not accord with the genius of the people.

On this question was put and carried, nem. con., against expunging part of the clause, so as to establish a complete negative.

Mr. BUTLER then moved that all acts passed by the legislature be suspended for the space of days by the executive. Unanimously in the negative.

It was resolved and agreed, that the blank be filled up with the words “two thirds of the legislature.” Agreed to.

The question was then put on the whole of the resolve as amended and filled up. Carried — 8 states for, 2 against. New York for it.

Mr. WILSON then moved for the addition of a convenient number of the national judicial to the executive as a council of revision. Ordered to be taken into consideration to-morrow. Adjourned until to-morrow.

TUESDAY, June 5, 1787


Met pursuant to adjournment. The 9th resolve, “That a national judicial be established, to consist of one supreme tribunal, and of inferior tribunals, to hold their offices during good behavior; and no augmentation or diminution in their stipends during the time of holding their offices.” Agreed to.

Mr. WILSON moved that the judicial be appointed by the executive, instead of the national legislature.

Mr. MADISON opposed the motion, and inclined to think that the executive ought by no means to make the appointments, but rather that branch of the legislature called the senatorial; and moves that the words “of the appointment of the legislature” be expunged.

Carried by 8 states; against it, 2. The remaining part of the resolve postponed. The 10th resolve read and agreed to. The 11th resolve agreed to be postponed. The 12th resolve agreed to without debate. The 13th and 14th resolves postponed.

The 15th, or last resolve, “That the amendment which shall be offered to the Confederation ought, at a proper time or times after the approbation of Congress, to be submitted to an assembly or assemblies of representatives, recommended by the several legislatures, to be expressly chosen by the people, to consider and decide thereon,” was taken into consideration.

Mr. MADISON endeavored to enforce the necessity of this resolve, because the new national Constitution ought to have the highest source of authority, at least paramount to the powers of the respective constitutions of the states; points out the mischiefs that have arisen in the old Confederation, which depends upon no higher authority than the confirmation of an ordinary act of a legislature; instances the law operation of treaties, when contravened by any antecedent acts of a particular state.

Mr. KING supposes, that, as the people have tacitly agreed to a federal government, therefore the legislature, in every state, have a right to confirm any alterations or amendments in it: a convention in each state to approve of a new government, he supposes, however, the most eligible.

Mr. WILSON is of opinion that the people, by a convention, are the only power that can ratify the proposed system of the new government.

It is possible that not all the states, nay, that not even a majority, will immediately come into the measure; but such as do ratify it will be immediately bound by it, and others as they may from time to time accede to it.

Question put for postponement of this resolve — 7 states for postponement, 3 against it.

Question on the 9th resolve, to strike out the words “and of inferior tribunals.”

Carried by 5 states against 4; 2 states divided, of which last number New York was one.

Mr. WILSON then moved, “That the national legislature shall have the power to appoint inferior tribunals,” be added to the resolve.

Carried by 7 states against 3. New York divided. [N. B. Mr. Lansing, from New York, was prevented by sickness from attending to-day.] Adjourned to to-morrow morning.

WEDNESDAY, June 6, 1787


Met pursuant to adjournment. Mr. PINCKNEY moved, (pursuant to a standing order for reconsideration,) that, in the 4th resolve, the words “by the people” be expunged, and the words “by the legislatures” be inserted.

Mr. GERRY. If the national legislature are appointed by the state legislatures, demagogues and corrupt members will creep in.

Mr. WILSON is of opinion that the national legislative powers ought to flow immediately from the people, so as to contain all their understanding, and to be an exact transcript of their minds. He observed, that the people had already parted with as much of their power as was necessary to form on its basis a perfect government; and the particular states must part with such a portion of it as to make the present national government adequate to their peace, and the security of their liberties. He admitted that the state governments would probably be rivals and opposers of the national government.

Mr. MASON observed, that the national legislature, as to one branch, ought to be elected by the people; because the objects of their legislation will not be on states, but on individual persons.

Mr. DICKINSON is for combining the state and national legislatures in the same views and measures; and that this object can only be effected by the national legislature flowing from the state legislatures.

Mr. READ is of opinion that the state governments must, sooner or later, be at an end, and that therefore we must make the present national government as perfect as possible.

Mr. MADISON is of opinion that, when we agreed to the 1st resolve, of having a national government, consisting of a supreme executive, judicial, and legislative power, it was then intended to operate to the exclusion of a federal government; and the more extensive we made the basis, the greater probability of duration, happiness, and good order.

The question for the amendment was negatived by 8 states against 3. New York in the majority.

On the 8th resolve, Mr. WILSON moved, (in consequence of a vote to reconsider the question on the revisional powers vested in the executive,) that there be added these words: “with a convenient number of the national judicial.”

Upon debate, carried in the negative — 3 states for, and 8 against. New York for the addition. Adjourned to to-morrow morning.

THURSDAY, June 7, 1787


Met pursuant to adjournment. Mr. RUTLEDGE moved to take into consideration the mode of electing the second branch of the national legislature.

Mr. DICKINSON thereupon moved, “That the second branch of the national legislature be chosen by the legislatures of the individual states.” He observed, that this mode will more intimately connect the state governments with the national legislature — it will also draw forth the first characters either as to family or talent, and that it ought to consist of a considerable number.

Mr. WILSON against the motion, because the two branches, thus constituted, cannot agree, they having different views and different sentiments.

Mr. DICKINSON is of opinion that the mode by him proposed, like the British Houses of Lords and Commons, whose powers flow from different sources, are mutual checks on each other, and will thus promote the real happiness and security of the country. A government thus established would harmonize the whole, and, like the planetary system, the national council, like the sun, would illuminate the whole; the planets revolving round it in perfect order; or, like the union of several small streams, would at last form a respectable river, gently flowing to the sea.

Mr. WILSON. The state governments ought to be preserved. The freedom of the people, and their internal good police, depend on their existence in full vigor: but such a government can only answer local purposes — that it is not possible a general government, as despotic as even that of Roman emperors, could be adequate to the government of the whole without this distinction. He hoped that the national government would be independent of state governments, in order to make it vigorous, and therefore moved that the resolution might be postponed, and that the Convention, in its room, adopt the following resolve: “That the second branch of the national legislature be chosen by districts, to be formed for that purpose.”

Mr. SHERMAN supposes the election of the national legislature will be better vested in the state legislatures than in the people; for, by pursuing different objects, persons may be returned who have not one tenth of the votes.

Mr. GERRY observed, that the great mercantile interest, and of stockholders, is not provided for in any mode of election — they will, however, be better represented if the state legislatures choose the second branch.

Question carried against the postponement — 10 states against 1.

Mr. MASON then spoke to the general question — observing on the propriety, that the second branch of the national legislature should flow from the legislature of each state, to prevent the encroachments on each other, and to harmonize the whole.

The question put on the first motion, and carried unanimously. Adjourned to to-morrow morning.

FRIDAY, June 8, 1787


Met pursuant to adjournment — 11 states. Mr. PINCKNEY moved, “that the national legislature shall have the power of negativing all laws to be passed by the state legislatures which they may judge improper,” in the room of the clause as it stood reported.

He grounds his motion on the necessity of one supreme controlling power, and he considers this as the corner-stone of the present system; and hence the necessity of retrenching the state authorities, in order to preserve the good government of the national council.

Mr. WILLIAMSON against the motion. The national legislature ought to possess the power of negativing such laws only as will encroach on the national government.

Mr. MADISON wished that the line of jurisprudence could be drawn — he would be for it — but, upon reflection, he finds it impossible, and therefore he is for the amendment. If the clause remains without the amendment, it is inefficient. The judges of the state must give the state laws their operation, although the law abridges the rights of the national government. How is it to be repealed? By the power who made it. How shall you compel them? By force! To prevent this disagreeable expedient, the power of negativing is absolutely necessary. This is the only attractive principle which will retain its centrifugal force, and without this the planets will fly from their orbits.

Mr. GERRY supposes that this power ought to extend to all laws already made; but the preferable mode would be to designate the powers of the national legislature, to which the negative ought to apply. He has no objection to restrain the laws which may be made for issuing paper money. Upon the whole, he does not choose, on this important trust, to take a leap in the dark.

Mr. PINCKNEY supposes that the proposed amendment had no retrospect to the state laws already made. The adoption of the new government must operate as a complete repeal of all the constitutions and state laws, as far as they are inconsistent with the new government.

Mr. WILSON supposes the surrender of the rights of a federal government to be a surrender of sovereignty. True, we may define some of the rights, but when we come near the line, it cannot be found. One general excepting clause must therefore apply to the whole. In the beginning of our troubles, Congress themselves were as one state. Dissensions or state interests were not known. They gradually crept in after the formation of the Constitution, and each took to himself a slice. The original draft of Confederation was drawn on the first ideas; and the draft concluded on. how different!

Mr. BEDFORD was against the motion, and states the proportion of the intended representation of the number 90: Delaware 1 — Pennsylvania and Virginia one third. On this computation, where is the weight of the small states, when the interest of the one is in competition with the other on trade, manufactures, and agriculture? When he sees this mode of government so strongly advocated by the members of the great states, he must suppose it a question of interest.

Mr. MADISON confesses it is not without its difficulties on many accounts; some may be removed, others modified, and some are unavoidable. May not this power be vested in the senatorial branch? They will probably be always sitting. Take the question on the other ground — who is to determine the line when drawn in doubtful cases? The state legislatures cannot, for they will be partial in support of their own powers; no tribunal can be found. It is impossible that the Articles of Confederation can be amended. They are too tottering to be invigorated. Nothing but the present system, or something like it, can restore the peace and harmony of the country.

The question put on Mr. Pinckney’s motion — 7 states against it; Delaware divided; Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts, for it. Adjourned to to-morrow morning.

SATURDAY, June 9, 1787


Met pursuant to adjournment. Motion by Mr. GERRY to reconsider the appointment of the national executive: “that the national executive be appointed by the state executives.”

He supposed that in the national legislature there will be a great number of bad men of various descriptions. These will make a wrong appointment; besides, an executive thus appointed will have his partiality in favor of those who appointed him — that this will not be the case by the effect of his motion, and the executive will by this means be independent of the national legislature; but the appointment by the state executives ought to be made by votes, in proportion to their weight in the scale of representation.

Mr. RANDOLPH opposes the motion. The power vested by it is dangerous; confidence will be wanting; the largest states will be masters of the election. An executive ought to have great experience, integrity, and activity. The executives of the states cannot know the persons properly qualified as possessing these. An executive thus appointed will court the officers of his appointment, and will relax him in the duties of commander of the militia. Your single executive is already invested with negativing laws of the state. Will he duly exercise the power? Is there no danger in the combinations of states to appoint such an executive as may be too favorable to local state governments? Add to this the expense and difficulty of bringing the executives to one place, to exercise their powers. Can you suppose they will ever cordially raise the great oak, when they must sit as shrubs under its shade?

Carried against the motion: 10 noes, and Delaware divided.

On motion of Mr. Patterson, the consideration of the 2d resolve was taken up, which is as follows: —

“ Resolved, therefore, that the rights of suffrage in the national legislature ought to be apportioned to the quotas of contribution, or to the number of inhabitants, as the one or other rule may seem best in different cases.”

Judge BREARLY. The present question is an important one. On the principle that each state in the Union was sovereign, Congress, in the Articles of Confederation, determined that each state in the public councils had one vote. If the states still remain sovereign, the form of the present resolve is founded on principles of injustice. He then stated the comparative weight of each state — the number of votes 90. Georgia would be 1, Virginia 16, and so of the rest. This vote must defeat itself, or end in despotism. If we must have a national government, what is the remedy? Lay the map of the Confederation on the table, and extinguish the present boundary lines of the respective state jurisdictions, and make a new division, so that each state is equal; then a government on the present system will be just.

Mr. PATTERSON opposed the resolve. Let us consider with what powers we are sent here; (moved to have the credentials of Massachusetts read, which was done.) By this and the other credentials, we see that the basis of our present authority is founded on a revision of the Articles of the present Confederation, and to alter or amend them in such parts where they may appear defective. Can we on this ground form a national government? I fancy not. Our commissions give a complexion to the business; and can we suppose that, when we exceed the bounds of our duty, the people will approve our proceedings?

We are met here, as the deputies of thirteen independent sovereign states, for federal purposes. Can we consolidate their sovereignty, and form one nation, and annihilate the sovereignties of our states, who have sent us here for other purposes?

What, pray, is intended by a proportional representation? Is property to be considered as part of it? Is a man, for example, possessing a property of £4000 to have 40 votes to one possessing only £100? This has been asserted on a former occasion. If state distinctions are still to be held up, shall I submit the welfare of the state of New Jersey, with 5 votes in the national council, opposed to Virginia, who has 16 votes? Suppose, as it was in agitation before the war, that America had been represented in the British Parliament; had sent 200 members; what would this number avail against 600? We would have been as much enslaved in that case as when unrepresented; and what is worse, without the prospect of redress. But it is said that this national government is to act on individuals, and not on states; and cannot a federal government be so framed as to operate in the same way? It surely may. I therefore declare that I will never consent to the present system, and I shall make all the interest against it in the state which I represent that I can. Myself or my state will never submit to tyranny or despotism.

Upon the whole, every sovereign state, according to a confederation, must have an equal vote, or there is an end to liberty. As long, therefore, as state distinctions are held up, this rule must invariably apply; and if a consolidated national government must take place, then state distinctions must cease, or the states must be equalized.

Mr. WILSON was in favor of the resolve. He observed that a majority, nay, even a minority, of the states have a right to confederate with each other, and the rest may do as they please. He considered numbers as the best criterion to determine representation. Every citizen of one state possesses the same rights with the citizen of another. Let us see how this rule will apply to the present question. Pennsylvania, from its numbers, has a right to twelve votes, when, on the same principle, New Jersey is entitled to five votes. Shall New Jersey have the same right or influence, in the councils of the nation, with Pennsylvania? I say, no. It is unjust. I never will confederate on this plan. The gentleman from New Jersey is candid in declaring his opinion. I commend him for it. I am equally so. I say again, I never will confederate on his principles. If no state will part with any of its sovereignty, it is vain to talk of a national government. The state who has five times the number of inhabitants ought, nay, must, have the same proportion of weight in the representation. If there was a probability of equalizing the states, I would be for it. But we have no such power. If, however, we depart from the principle of representation in proportion to numbers, we will lose the object of our meeting.

The question postponed for further consideration.

Adjourned to to-morrow morning.

MONDAY, June 11, 1787


Met pursuant to adjournment. Present, eleven states.

Mr. SHERMAN moved, “that the first branch of the national legislature be chosen in proportion to the whole number of inhabitants in each state.” He observed that, as the people ought to have the election of one of the branches of the legislature, the legislature of each state ought to have the election of the second branch, in order to preserve the state sovereignty; and that each state ought, in this branch, to have one vote.

Gov. RUTLEDGE moved, as an amendment of the first proposition, “that the proportion of representation ought to be according to, and in proportion to, the contribution of each state.”

Mr. BUTLER supported the motion, by observing that money is strength; and every state ought to have its weight in the national council in proportion to the quantity it possesses. He further observed that, when a boy, he read this as one of the remarks of Julius Cæsar, who declared, if he had but money, he would find soldiers, and every thing necessary to carry on the war.

Mr. KING observed that it would be better first to establish a principle, (that is to say,) whether we will depart from federal grounds in forming a national government; and therefore, to bring this point to view, he moved, as a previous question, that the sense of the committee be taken on the following question: —

“That the right of suffrage in the first branch of the national legislature ought not to be according to the rule in the Articles of Confederation, but according to some equitable ratio of representation.”

Gov. FRANKLIN’s written remarks on this point were read by Mr. Wilson. In these Gov. Franklin observes, that representation ought to be in proportion to the importance of numbers and wealth in each state; that there can be no danger of undue influence of the greater against the lesser states. This was the apprehension of Scotland when the union with England was proposed, when, in Parliament, they were allowed only sixteen peers and forty-five commons; yet experience has proved that their liberties and influence were in no danger.

The question on Mr. King’s motion was carried in the affirmative — 7 ayes, 3 noes, and Maryland divided. New York, New Jersey, and Delaware, in the negative.

Mr. DICKINSON moved, as an amendment, to add the words, “according to the taxes and contributions of each state, actually collected and paid into the national treasury.”

Mr. BUTLER was of opinion that the national government will only have the right of making and collecting the taxes, but that the states individually must lay their own taxes.

Mr. WILSON was of opinion, and therefore moved, “that the mode of representation of each of the states ought to be from the number of its free inhabitants, and of every other description three fifths to one free inhabitant.” He supposed that the impost will not be the only revenue. The post-office, he supposes, would be another substantial source of revenue. He observed, further, that this mode had already received the approbation of eleven states in their acquiescence to the quota made by Congress. He admitted that this resolve would require further restrictions, for where numbers determined the representation, a census at different periods, of five, seven, or ten years, ought to be taken.

Mr. GERRY. The idea of property ought not to be the rule of representation. Blacks are property, and are used, to the southward, as horses and cattle to the northward; and why should their representation be increased to the southward, on account of the number of slaves, than horses or oxen to the north?

Mr. MADISON was of opinion, at present, to fix the standard of representation, and let the detail be the business of a sub-committee.

Mr. Rutledge’s motion was postponed.

Mr. Wilson’s motion was then put, and carried by 9 states against 2. New York in the majority.

Mr. WILSON them moved, as an amendment to Mr. Sherman’s motion, “that the same proportion be observed in the election of the second branch as the first.”

The question, however, was first put on Mr. Sherman’s motion, and lost — 6 states against it, and 5 for it.

Then Mr. Wilson’s motion was put and carried — 6 ayes, 5 noes.

The 11th resolve was then taken into consideration. Mr. MADISON moved to add, after the word “junctions,” the words “or separation.”

Mr. READ against the resolve in toto. We must put away state governments, and we will then remove all cause of jealousy. The guaranty will confirm the assumed rights of several states to lands which do belong to the Confederation.

Mr. MADISON moved an amendment, to add to or alter the resolution as follows: “The republican constitutions, and the existing laws of each state, to be guarantied by the United States.”

Mr. RANDOLPH was for the present amendment, because a republican government must be the basis of our national Union; and no state in it ought to have it in their power to change its government into a monarchy. Agreed to.

13th resolve — the first part agreed to.

14th resolve taken into consideration.

Mr. WILLIAMSON. This will be unnecessary, as the Union will become the law of the land.

Gov. RANDOLPH. He supposes it to be absolutely necessary. Not a state government, but its officers, will infringe on the rights of the national government. If the state judges are not sworn to the observance of the new government, will they not judicially determine in favor of their state laws? We are erecting a supreme national government; ought it not to be supported, and can we give it too many sinews?

Mr. GERRY rather supposes that the national legislators ought to be sworn to preserve the state constitutions, as they will run the greatest risk to be annihilated; and therefore moved it.

For Mr. Gerry’s amendment, 7 ayes, 4 noes.

Main question then put on the clause or resolve — 6 ayes, 5 noes. New York in the negative. Adjourned to to-morrow morning.

TUESDAY, June 12, 1787


Met pursuant to adjournment. Present, eleven states.

The 15th or last resolve was taken into consideration. No debate arose on it, and the question was put and carried — 5 states for it, 3 against, and 2 divided. New York in the negative.

Having thus gone through with the resolves, it was found necessary to take up such parts of the preceding resolves as had been postponed or not agreed to. The remaining part of the 4th resolve was taken into consideration.

Mr. SHERMAN moved that the blank of the duration of the first branch of the national legislature be filled with “one year,” Mr. RUTLEDGE with “two years,” and Mr. JENIFER with “three years.”

Mr. MADISON was for the last amendment; observing that it will give it stability, and induce gentlemen of the first weight to engage in it.

Mr. GERRY is afraid the people will be alarmed, as savoring of despotism.

Mr. MADISON. The people’s opinions cannot be known, as to the particular modifications which may be necessary in the new government. In general, they believe there is something wrong in the present system that requires amendment; and he could wish to make the republican system the basis of the change, because, if our amendments should fail of securing their happiness, they will despair it can be done in this way, and incline to monarchy.

Mr. GERRY could not be governed by the prejudices of the people. Their good sense will ever have its weight. Perhaps a limited monarchy would be the best government, if we could organize it by creating a house of peers; but that cannot be done.

The question was put on the three years’ amendment, and carried — 7 ayes, 4 noes. New York in the affirmative.

On motion to expunge the clause of the qualification as to age, it was carried — 10 states against 1.

On the question for fixed stipends, without augmentation or diminution, to this branch of the legislature, it was moved that the words “to be paid by the national treasury” be added. Carried — 8 states for, 3 against. New York in the negative.

The question was then put on the clause as amended, and carried — 8 ayes, 3 noes. New York in the negative.

On the clause respecting the ineligibility to any other office, it was moved that the words “by any particular state,” be expunged. 4 states for, 5 against, and 2 divided. New York in the affirmative.

The question was then put on the whole clause, and carried — 10 ayes, 1 no.

The last blank was filled up with one year, and carried — 8 ayes, 2 noes, 1 divided.

Mr. PINCKNEY moved to expunge the clause. Agreed to, nem. con.

The question to fill up the blank with three years, agreed to — 7 states for, 4 against.

It was moved to fill the blank, as to the duration, with seven years.

Mr PIERCE moved to have it for three years — instanced the danger of too long a continuance, from the evils arising in the British Parliaments from their septennial duration, and the clamors against it in that country by its real friends.

Mr. SHERMAN was against the seven years, because, if they are bad men, it is too long, and if good, they may be again elected.

Mr. MADISON was for seven years — considers this branch as a check on the democracy. It cannot therefore be made too strong.

For the motion, 8 ayes 1 no, 2 states divided. New York one of the last.

Mr. BUTLER moved to expunge the clause of the stipends. Lost — 7 against, 3 for, 1 divided.

Agreed that the second branch of the national legislature be paid in the same way as the first branch.

Upon the subject of ineligibility, it was agreed that the same rule should apply as to the first branch.

6th resolve agreed to be postponed sine die.

9th resolve taken into consideration, but postponed to to-morrow. Then adjourned to to-morrow morning.

WEDNESDAY, June 13, 1787


Met pursuant to adjournment. Present, eleven states.

Gov. RANDOLPH observed the difficulty in establishing the powers of the judiciary. The object, however, at present, is to establish this principle, to wit, the security of foreigners where treaties are in their favor, and to preserve the harmony of states and that of the citizens thereof. This being once established, it will be the business of a sub-committee to detail it; and therefore moved to obliterate such parts of the resolve, so as only to establish the principle, to wit: “That the jurisdiction of the national judiciary shall extend to all cases of national revenue, impeachment of national officers, and questions which involve the national peace or harmony.” Agreed to unanimously.

It was further agreed that the judiciary be paid out of the national treasury.

Mr. PINCKNEY moved that the judiciary be appointed by the national legislature.

Mr. MADISON is of opinion that the second branch of the legislature ought to appoint the judiciary; which the Convention agreed to.

Mr. GERRY moved that the first branch shall have the only right of originating bills to supply the treasury.

Mr. BUTLER against the motion. We are constantly running away with the idea of the excellence of the British Parliament, and, with or without reason, copying from them; when, in fact, there is no similitude in our situations. With us, both houses are appointed by the people, and both ought to be equally trusted.

Mr. GERRY. If we dislike the British government for the oppressive measures by them carried on against us, yet he hoped we would not be so far prejudiced as to make ours in every thing opposite to theirs.

Mr. Madison’s question was carried.

The committee having now gone through the whole of the propositions from Virginia — “ Resolved, That the committee do report to the Convention their proceedings.” This was accordingly done. [See page 175 of this volume.]

The house resolved, on the report being read, that the consideration thereof be postponed to to-morrow, and that members have leave to take copies thereof.

Adjourned to to-morrow morning.

THURSDAY, June 14, 1787


Met pursuant to adjournment. Present, eleven states.

Mr. PATTERSON moved that the further consideration of the report be postponed until to-morrow, as he intended to give in principles to form a federal system of government materially different from the system now under consideration. Postponement agreed to.

Adjourned until to-morrow morning.

FRIDAY, June 15, 1787


Met pursuant to adjournment. Present, eleven states.

Mr. PATTERSON, pursuant to his intentions, as mentioned yesterday, read a set of resolves as the basis of amendment to the Confederation. [See page 175 of this volume.]

He observed, that no government could be energetic on paper only, which was no more than straw — that the remark applied to the one as well as to the other system; and is therefore of opinion that there must be a small standing force to give every government weight.

Mr. MADISON moved for the report of the committee, and the question may then come on whether the Convention will postpone it in order to take into consideration the system now offered.

Mr. LANSING is of opinion that the two systems are fairly contrasted. The one now offered is on the basis of amending the federal government, and the other to be reported as a national government. Considering, therefore, its importance, and that justice may be done to its weighty consideration, he is for postponing it a day.

Col. HAMILTON cannot say he is in sentiment with either plan — supposes both might be again considered as federal plans, and by this means they will be fairly in committee, and be contrasted so as to make a comparative estimate of the two.

Thereupon it was agreed that the report be postponed, and that the house will resolve itself into a committee of the whole, to take into consideration both propositions to-morrow. Then the Convention adjourned to to-morrow morning.

SATURDAY, June 16, 1787


Met pursuant to adjournment. Present, eleven states.

Mr. LANSING moved to have the first article of the last plan of government read; which being done, he observed that this system is fairly contrasted with the one ready to be reported — the one federal and the other national. In the first, the powers are exercised as flowing from the respective state governments, the second deriving its authority from the people of the respective states; which latter must ultimately destroy or annihilate the state governments. To determine the powers on these grand objects with which we are invested, let us recur to the credentials of the respective states, and see what the views were of those who sent us. The language is there expressive — it is upon the revision of the present Confederation — to alter and amend such parts as may appear defective, so as to give additional strength to the Union. And he would venture to assert that, had the legislature of the state of New York apprehended that their powers would have been construed to extend to the formation of a national government, to the extinguishment of their independency, no delegates would have here appeared on the part of that state. This sentiment must have had its weight on a former occasion, even in this house; for when the 2d resolution of Virginia declared, in substance, that a federal government could not be amended for the good of the whole, the remark of an honorable member of South Carolina, that, by determining this question in the affirmative, their deliberative powers were at an end, induced this house to waive the resolution.

It is in vain to adopt a mode of government which we have reason to believe the people gave us no power to recommend, as they will consider themselves, on this ground, authorized to reject it. See the danger of exceeding your powers by the example which the requisition of Congress of 1783 afforded. They required an impost on all imported articles; to which, on federal grounds, they had no right unless voluntarily granted. What was the consequence? Some, who had least to give, granted it; and others, under various restrictions and modifications, so that it could not be systematized. If we form a government, let us do it on principles which are likely to meet the approbation of the states. Great changes can only be gradually introduced. The states will never sacrifice their essential rights to a national government. New plans, annihilating the rights of the states, (unless upon evident necessity,) can never be approved. I may venture to assert, that the prevalent opinion of America is, that granting additional powers to Congress would answer their views, and every power recommended for their approbation, exceeding this idea, will be fruitless.

Mr. PATTERSON. As I had the honor of proposing a new system of government for the Union, it will be expected that I should explain its principles.

1st. The plan accords with our own powers.

2d. It accords with the sentiments of the people.

But if the subsisting Confederation is so radically defective as not to admit of amendment, let us say so, and report its insufficiency, and wait for enlarged powers. We must, in the present case, pursue our powers, if we expect the approbation of the people. I am not here to pursue my own sentiments of government, but of those who have sent me; and I believe that a little practical virtue is to be preferred to the finest theoretical principles which cannot be carried into effect. Can we, as representatives of independent states, annihilate the essential powers of independency? Are not the votes of this Convention taken, on every question, under the idea of independency? Let us turn to the 5th article of Confederation. In this it is mutually agreed that each state should have one vote; it is a fundamental principle, arising from confederated governments. The 13th article provides for amendments; but they must be agreed to by every state: the dissent of one renders every proposal null. The Confederation is in the nature of a compact; and can any state, unless by the consent of the whole, either in politics or law, withdraw their powers? Let it be said by Pennsylvania, and the other large states, that they, for the sake of peace, assented to the Confederation; can she now resume her original right without the consent of the donee?

And although it is now asserted that the larger states reluctantly agreed to that part of the Confederation which secures an equal suffrage to each, yet let it be remembered that the smaller states were the last who approved the Confederation.

On this ground, representation must be drawn from the states, to maintain their independency, and not from the people composing those states.

The doctrine advanced, by a learned gentleman from Pennsylvania, that all power is derived from the people, and that in proportion to their numbers they ought to participate equally in the benefits and rights of government, is right in principle, but, unfortunately for him, wrong in the application to the question now in debate.

When independent societies confederate for mutual defence, they do so in their collective capacity; and then each state, for those purposes, must be considered as one of the contracting parties. Destroy this balance of equality, and you endanger the rights of the lesser societies by the danger of usurpation in the greater.

Let us test the government intended to be made by the Virginia plan on these principles. The representatives in the national legislature are to be in proportion to the number of inhabitants in each state. So far, it is right upon these principles of equality, when state distinctions are done away; but those to certain purposes still exist. Will the government of Pennsylvania admit a participation of their common stock of land to the citizens of New Jersey? I fancy not. It therefore follows, that a national government, upon the present plan, is unjust, and destructive of the common principles of reciprocity. Much has been said that this government is to operate on persons, not on states. This, upon examination, will be found equally fallacious; for the fact is, it will, in the quotas of revenue, be proportioned among the states, as states; and in this business Georgia will have one vote, and Virginia sixteen. The truth is, both plans may be considered to compel individuals to a compliance with their requisitions, although the requisition is made on the states.

Much has been said in commendation of two branches in a legislature, and of the advantages resulting from their being checks to each other. This may be true when applied to the state governments, but will not equally apply to a national legislature, whose legislative objects are few and simple.

Whatever may be said of Congress, or their conduct on particular occasions, the people in general are pleased with such a body, and in general wish an increase of their powers, for the good government of the Union. Let us now see the plan of the national government on the score of expense. The least the second branch of the legislature can consist of is 90 members; the first branch of at least 270. How are they to be paid, in our present impoverished situation? Let us, therefore, fairly try whether the Confederation cannot be mended; and if it can, we shall do our duty, and I believe the people will be satisfied.

Mr. WILSON first stated the difference between the two plans.

Virginia plan proposes two branches in the legislature.

Jersey, a single legislative body.

Virginia, the legislative powers derived from the people.

Jersey, from the states.

Virginia, a single executive.

Jersey, more than one.

Virginia, a majority of the legislature can act.

Jersey, a small majority can control.

Virginia, the legislature can legislate on all national concerns.

Jersey, only on limited objects.

Virginia, legislature to negative all state laws.

Jersey, giving power to the executive to compel obedience by force.

Virginia, to remove the executive by impeachment.

Jersey, on application of a majority of the states.

Virginia, for the establishment of inferior judiciary tribunals.

Jersey, no provision.

It is said, and insisted on, that the Jersey plan accords with our powers. As for himself, he considers his powers to extend to every thing or nothing; and, therefore, that he has a right and is at liberty to agree to either plan or none. The people expect relief from their present embarrassed situation, and look up for it to this national Convention, and it follows that they expect a national government; and therefore the plan from Virginia has the preference to the other. I would (says he) with a reluctant hand add any powers to Congress, because they are not a body chosen by the people, and consist only of one branch, and each state in it has one vote. Inequality in representation poisons every government.

The English courts are hitherto pure, just, and incorrupt, while their legislature are base and venal. The one arises from unjust representation, the other from their independency of the legislature.

Lord Chesterfield remarks, that one of the states of the United Netherlands withheld its assent to a proposition until a major of their state was provided for. He needed not have added (for the conclusion was self-evident) that it was one of the lesser states. I mean no reflection, but I leave it to gentlemen to consider whether this has not also been the case in Congress. The argument in favor of the Jersey plan goes too far, as it cannot be completed unless. Rhode Island assents. A single legislature is very dangerous: despotism may present itself in various shapes. May there not be legislative despotism, if, in the exercise of their power, they are unchecked or unrestrained by another branch? On the contrary, an executive, to be restrained, must be an individual. The first triumvirate of Rome, combined, without law, was fatal to its liberties; and the second, by the usurpation of Augustus, ended in despotism. The two kings of Sparta, and the consuls of Rome, by sharing the executive, distracted their governments.

Mr. C. C. PINCKNEY supposes that, if New Jersey was indulged with one vote out of thirteen, she would have no objection to a national government. He supposes that the Convention have already determined, virtually, that the federal government cannot be made efficient. A national government being therefore the object, this plan must be pursued, as our business is not to conclude, but to recommend.

Judge ELLSWORTH is of opinion that the first question on the new plan will decide nothing materially on principle, and therefore moved the postponement thereof, in order to bring on the second.

Gov. RANDOLPH. The question now is, which of the two plans is to be preferred. If the vote on the first resolve will determine it, and it is so generally understood, he has no objection that it be put. The resolutions from Virginia must have been adopted on the supposition that a federal government was impracticable. And it is said that power is wanting to institute such a government; but when our all is at stake, I will consent to any mode that will preserve us. View our present deplorable situation. France, to whom we are indebted in every motive of gratitude and honor, is left unpaid the large sums she has supplied us with in the day of our necessity. Our officers and soldiers, who have successfully fought our battles, and the loaners of money to the public, look up to you for relief.

The bravery of our troops is degraded by the weakness of our government.

It has been contended that the 5th article of the Confederation cannot be repealed under the powers to new-modify the Confederation by the 13th article. This surely is false reasoning; since the whole of the Confederation, upon revision, is subject to amendment and alteration; besides, our business consists in recommending a system of government, not in making it. There are great reasons when persons with limited powers are justified in exceeding them, and a person would be contemptible not to risk it. Originally, our Confederation was founded on the weakness of each state to repel a foreign enemy; and we have found that the powers granted to Congress are insufficient. The body of Congress is ineffectual to carry the great objects of safety and protection into execution. What would their powers be over the commander of the military, but for the virtue of the commander? As the state assemblies are constantly encroaching on the powers of Congress, the Jersey plan would rather encourage such encroachment than be a check to it; and, from the nature of the institution, Congress would ever be governed by cabal and intrigue. They are, besides, too numerous for an executive; nor can any additional powers be sufficient to enable them to protect us against foreign invasion. Amongst other things, Congress was intended to be a body to preserve peace among the states; and, in the rebellion of Massachusetts, it was found they were not authorized to use the troops of the Confederation to quell it. Every one is impressed with the idea of a general regulation of trade and commerce. Can Congress do this, when, from the nature of their institution, they are so subject to cabal and intrigue? And would it not be dangerous to intrust such a body with the power, when they are dreaded on these grounds? I am certain that a national government must be established, and this is the only moment when it can be done; and let me conclude by observing, that the best exercise of power is to exert it for the public good.

Then adjourned to Monday morning.

MONDAY, June 18, 1787


Met pursuant to adjournment. Present, eleven states.

Mr. HAMILTON. To deliver my sentiments on so important a subject, when the first characters of the Union have gone before me, inspires me with the greatest diffidence, especially when my own ideas are so materially dissimilar to the plans now before the committee. My situation is disagreeable; but it would be criminal not to come forward on a question of such magnitude. I have well considered the subject, and am convinced that no amendment of the Confederation can answer the purpose of a good government, so long as the state sovereignties do, in any shape, exist; and I have great doubts whether a national government on the Virginia plan can be made effectual. What is federal? An association of several independent states into one. How or in what manner this association is formed, is not so clearly distinguishable. We find the diet of Germany has, in some instances, the power of legislation on individuals. We find the United States of America have it in an extensive degree in the case of piracies.

Let us now review the powers with which we are invested. We are appointed for the sole and express purpose of revising the Confederation, and to alter or amend it, so as to render it effectual for the purposes of a good government. Those who suppose it to be federal, lay great stress on the terms sole and express, as if these words intended a confinement to a federal government; when the manifest import is no more than that the institution of a good government must be the sole and express object of your deliberations. Nor can we suppose an annihilation of our powers by forming a national government, as many of the states have made, in their constitutions, no provision for any alteration; and thus much I can say for the state I have the honor to represent, that, when our credentials were under consideration in the Senate, some members were for inserting a restriction in the powers, to prevent an encroachment on the constitution: it was answered by others, and thereupon the resolve carried on the credentials, that it might abridge the constitutional powers of the state, and that possibly, in the formation of a new union, it would be found necessary. This appears reasonable, and therefore leaves us at liberty to form such a national government as we think best adapted for the good of the whole. I have therefore no difficulty as to the extent of our powers, nor do I feel myself restrained in the exercise of my judgment under them. We can only propose and recommend; — the power of ratifying or rejecting is still in the states. But on this great question I am still greatly embarrassed. I have before observed my apprehension of the inefficacy of either plan, and I have great doubts whether a more energetic government can pervade this wide and extensive country. I shall now show that both plans are materially defective.

1. A good government ought to be constant, and ought to contain an active principle. 2. Utility and necessity. 3. An habitual sense of obligation. 4. Force. 5. Influence.

I hold it that different societies have all different views and interests to pursue, and always prefer local to general concerns. For example: the New York legislature made an external compliance lately to a requisition of Congress; but do they not, at the same time, counteract their compliance by gratifying the local objects of the state, so as to defeat their concession? And this will ever be the case. Men always love power, and states will prefer their particular concerns to the general welfare; and as the states become large and important, will they not be less attentive to the general government? What, in process of time, will Virginia be? She contains now half a million of inhabitants: in twenty-five years she will double the number. Feeling her own weight and importance, must she not become indifferent to the concerns of the Union? And where, in such a situation, will be found national attachment to the general government?

By force I mean the coercion of law and the coercion of arms. Will this remark apply to the power intended to be vested in the government to be instituted by their plan? A delinquent must be compelled to obedience by force of arms. How is this to be done? If you are unsuccessful, a dissolution of your government must be the consequence; and in that case the individual legislatures will reassume their powers; nay, will not the interests of the states be thrown into the state governments?

By influence, I mean the regular weight and support it will receive from those who find it their interest to support a government intended to preserve the peace and happiness of the community on the whole. The state governments, by either plan, will exert the means to counteract it. They have their state judges and militia all combined to support their state interests; and these will be influenced to oppose a national government. Either plan is therefore precarious. The national government cannot long exist when opposed by such a weighty rival. The experience of ancient and modern confederacies evinces this point, and throws considerable light on the subject. The Amphictyonic council of Greece had a right to require of its members troops, money, and the force of the country. Were they obeyed in the exercise of those powers? Could they preserve the peace of the greater states and republics? or where were they obeyed? History shows that their decrees were disregarded, and that the stronger states, regardless of their power, gave law to the lesser.

Let us examine the federal institution of Germany. It was instituted upon the laudable principle of securing the independency of the several states of which it was composed, and to protect them against foreign invasion. Has it answered these good intentions? Do we not see that their councils are weak and distracted, and that it cannot prevent the wars and confusions which the respective electors carry on against each other? The Swiss cantons, or the Helvetic union, are equally inefficient.

Such are the lessons which the experience of others affords us, and from whence results the evident conclusion that all federal governments are weak and distracted. To avoid the evils deducible from these observations, we must establish a general and national government, completely sovereign, and annihilate the state distinctions and state operations; and unless we do this, no good purpose can be answered. What does the Jersey plan propose? It surely has not this for its object. By this we grant the regulation of trade and a more effectual collection of the revenue, and some partial duties. These, at five or ten per cent., would only perhaps amount to a fund to discharge the debt of the corporation.

Let us take a review of the variety of important objects which must necessarily engage the attention of a national government. You have to protect your rights against Canada on the north, Spain on the south, and your western frontier against the savages. You have to adopt necessary plans for the settlement of your frontiers, and to institute the mode in which settlements and good governments are to be made.

How is the expense of supporting and regulating these important matters to be defrayed? By requisition on the states, according to the Jersey plan? Will this do it? We have already found it ineffectual. Let one state prove delinquent, and it will encourage others to follow the example; and thus the whole will fail. And what is the standard to quota among the states their respective proportions? Can lands be the standard? How would that apply between Russia and Holland? Compare Pennsylvania with North Carolina, or Connecticut with New York. Does not commerce or industry in the one or other make a great disparity between these different countries, and may not the comparative value of the states, from these circumstances, make an unequal disproportion when the data are numbers? I therefore conclude that either system would ultimately destroy the Confederation, or any other government which is established on such fallacious principles. Perhaps imposts — taxes on specific articles — would produce a more equal system of drawing a revenue.

Another objection against the Jersey plan is, the unequal representation. Can the great states consent to this? If they did, it would eventually work its own destruction. How are forces to be raised by the Jersey plan? By quotas? Will the states comply with the requisition? As much as they will with the taxes.

Examine the present Confederation, and it is evident they can raise no troops, nor equip vessels, before war is actually declared. They cannot, therefore, take any preparatory measure before an enemy is at your door. How unwise and inadequate their powers! and this must ever be the case when you attempt to define powers: something will always be wanting. Congress, by being annually elected, and subject to recall, will ever come with the prejudices of their states, rather than the good of the Union. Add, therefore, additional powers to a body thus organized, and you establish a sovereignty of the worst kind, consisting of a single body. Where are the checks? None. They must either prevail over the state governments, or the prevalence of the state governments must end in their dissolution. This is a conclusive objection to the Jersey plan.

Such are the insuperable objections to both plans: and what is to be done on this occasion? I confess I am at a loss. I foresee the difficulty, on a consolidated plan, of drawing a representation from so extensive a continent to one place. What can be the inducements for gentlemen to come six hundred miles to a national legislature! The expense would at least amount to a hundred thousand pounds. This, however, can be no conclusive objection, if it eventuates in an extinction of state governments. The burden of the latter would be saved, and the expense, then, would not be great. State distinctions would be found unnecessary; and yet, I confess, to carry government to the extremities, the state governments, reduced to corporations, and with very limited powers, might be necessary, and the expense of the national government become less burdensome.

Yet, I confess, I see great difficulty of drawing forth a good representation. What, for example, will be the inducements for gentlemen of fortune and abilities to leave their houses and business to attend annually and long? It cannot be the wages; for these, I presume, must be small. Will not the power, therefore, be thrown into the hands of the demagogue, or middling politician — who, for the sake of a small stipend, and the hopes of advancement, will offer himself as a candidate, and the real men of weight and influence, by remaining at home, add strength to the state governments? I am at a loss to know what must be done. I despair that a republican form of government can remove the difficulties. Whatever may be my opinion, I would hold it, however, unwise to change that form of government. I believe the British government forms the best model the world ever produced; and such has been its progress in the minds of the many, that the truth gradually gains ground. This government has for its object public strength and individual security. It is said with us to be unattainable. If it was once formed, it would maintain itself. All communities divide themselves into the few and the many. The first are the rich and well born, the other the mass of the people. The voice of the people has been said to be the voice of God; and, however generally this maxim has been quoted and believed, it is not true in fact. The people are turbulent and changing; they seldom judge or determine right. Give, therefore, to the first class a distinct, permanent share in the government. They will check the unsteadiness of the second; and, as they cannot receive any advantage by a change, they therefore will ever maintain good government. Can a democratic assembly, who annually revolve in the mass of the people, be supposed steadily to pursue the public good? Nothing but a permanent body can check the imprudence of democracy. Their turbulent and uncontrollable disposition requires checks. The Senate of New York, although chosen for four years, we have found to be inefficient. Will, on the Virginia plan, a continuance of seven years do it? It is admitted that you cannot have a good executive upon a democratic plan. See the excellency of the British executive. He is placed above temptation — he can have no distinct interests from the public welfare. Nothing short of such an executive can be efficient. The weak side of a republican government is the danger of foreign influence. This is unavoidable, unless it is so constructed as to bring forward its first characters in its support. I am therefore for a general government, yet would wish to go the full length of republican principles.

Let one body of the legislature be constituted during good behavior or life.

Let one executive be appointed, who dares execute his powers. It may be asked, Is this a republican system? It is strictly so, as long as they remain elective.

And let me observe, that an executive is less dangerous to the liberties of the people when in office during life, than for seven years.

It may be said this constitutes an elective monarchy. Pray what is a monarchy? May not the governors of the respective states be considered in that light? But by making the executive subject to impeachment, the term monarchy cannot apply. These elective monarchs have produced tumults in Rome, and are equally dangerous to peace in Poland; but this cannot apply to the mode in which I propose the election. Let electors be appointed in each of the states to elect the legislature, [ Here Mr. H. produced his plan. See p. 179,] to consist of two branches; and I would give them the unlimited power of passing all laws without exception. The Assembly to be elected for three years, by the people, in districts; the Senate to be elected by electors to be chosen for that purpose by the people, and to remain in office during life. The executive to have the power of negativing all laws; to make war or peace, with the advice of the Senate; to make treaties with their advice, but to have the sole direction of all military operations; and to send ambassadors, and appoint all military officers, and to pardon all offenders, treason excepted, unless by advice of the Senate. On his death or removal, the president of the Senate to officiate, with the same powers, until another is elected. Supreme judicial officers to be appointed by the executive and the Senate. The legislature to appoint courts in each state, so as to make the state governments unnecessary to it.

All state laws to be absolutely void which contravene the general laws. An officer to be appointed in each state to have a negative on all state laws. All the militia, and the appointment of officers, to be under the national government.

I confess that this plan, and that from Virginia, are very remote from the idea of the people. Perhaps the Jersey plan is nearest their expectation. But the people are gradually ripening in their opinions of government — they begin to be tired of an excess of democracy — and what even is the Virginia plan, but pork still, with a little change of the sauce?

Then adjourned to to-morrow.

TUESDAY, June 19, 1787


Met pursuant to adjournment. Present, eleven states.

On the consideration of the 1st resolve of the Jersey plan.

Mr. MADISON. This is an important question. Many persons scruple the powers of the Convention. If this remark had any weight, it is equally applicable to the adoption of either plan. The difference of drawing the powers in the one from the people, and in the other from the states, does not affect the powers. There are two states in the Union where the members of Congress are chosen by the people. A new government must be made. Our all is depending on it; and if we have but a clause that the people will adopt, there is then a chance for our preservation. Although all the states have assented to the Confederation, an infraction of any one article by one of the states is a dissolution of the whole. This is the doctrine of the civil law on treaties.

Jersey pointedly refused complying with a requisition of Congress, and was guilty of this infraction, although she afterwards rescinded her non-complying resolve. What is the object of a confederation? It is twofold — 1st, to maintain the union; 2dly, good government. Will the Jersey plan secure these points? No; it is still in the power of the confederated states to violate treaties. Has not Georgia, in direct violation of the Confederation, made war with the Indians, and concluded treaties? Have not Virginia and Maryland entered into a partial compact? Have not Pennsylvania and Jersey regulated the bounds of the Delaware? Has not the state of Massachusetts, at this time, a considerable body of troops in pay? Has not Congress been obliged to pass a conciliatory act in support of a decision of their federal court, between Connecticut and Pennsylvania, instead of having the power of carrying into effect the judgment of their own court? Nor does the Jersey plan provide for a ratification, by the respective states, of the powers intended to be vested. It is also defective in the establishment of the judiciary, granting only an appellate jurisdiction, without providing for a second trial; and in case the executive of a state should pardon an offender, how will it affect the definite judgment on appeal? It is evident, if we do not radically depart from a federal plan, we shall share the fate of ancient and modern confederacies. The Amphictyonic council, like the American Congress, had the power of judging, in the last resort, in war and peace — to call out forces — send ambassadors. What was its fate or continuance? Philip of Macedon, with little difficulty, destroyed every appearance of it. The Athenian had nearly the same fate. The Helvetic confederacy is rather a league. In the German confederacy, the parts are too strong for the whole. The Dutch are in a most wretched situation — weak in all its parts, and only supported by surrounding contending powers.

The rights of individuals are infringed by many of the state laws — such as issuing paper money, and instituting a mode to discharge debts differing from the form of the contract. Has the Jersey plan any checks to prevent the mischief? Does it in any instance secure internal tranquillity? Right and force, in a system like this, are synonymous terms. When force is employed to support the system, and men obtain military habits, is there no danger they may turn their arms against their employers? Will the Jersey plan prevent foreign influence? Did not Persia and Macedon distract the councils of Greece by acts of corruption? And are not Jersey and Holland at this day subject to the same distractions? Will not the plan be burdensome to the smaller states, if they have an equal representation? But how is military coercion to enforce government? True, a smaller state may be brought to obedience, or crushed; but what if one of the larger states should prove disobedient, — are you sure you can by force effect a submission? Suppose we cannot agree on any plan; what will be the condition of the smaller states? Will Delaware and Jersey be safe against Pennsylvania, or Rhode Island against Massachusetts? And how will the smaller states be situated in case of partial confederacies? Will they not be obliged to make larger concessions to the greater states? The point of representation is the great point of difference, and which the greater states cannot give up; and although there was an equalization of states, state distinctions would still exist. But this is totally impracticable; and what would be the effect of the Jersey plan if ten or twelve new states were added?

Mr. KING moved that the committee rise, and report that the Jersey plan is not admissible, and report the first plan.

Mr. DICKINSON supposed that there were good regulations in both. Let us therefore contrast the one with the other, and consolidate such parts of them as the committee approve.

Mr. KING’S motion was then put — for it, 7 states; 3 against; 1 divided. New York in the minority.

The committee rose and reported again the first plan, and the inadmissibility of the Jersey plan.

The Convention then proceeded to take the first plan into consideration.

The first resolve was read.

Mr. WILSON. I am (to borrow a sea phrase) for taking a new departure, and wish to consider in what direction we sail, and what may be the end of our voyage. I am for a national government, though the idea of federal is, in my view, the same. With me it is not a desirable object to annihilate the state governments, and here I differ from the honorable gentleman from New York. In all extensive empires a subdivision of power is necessary. Persia, Turkey, and Rome under its emperors, are examples in point. These, although despots, found it necessary. A general government, over a great extent of territory, must in a few years make subordinate jurisdictions. Alfred the Great, that wise legislator, made this gradation, and the last division, on his plan, amounted only to ten territories. With this explanation, I shall be for the 1st resolve.

Mr. HAMILTON. I agree to the proposition. I did not intend yesterday a total extinguishment of state governments; but my meaning was, that a national government ought to be able to support itself without the aid or interference of the state governments, and that therefore it was necessary to have full sovereignty. Even with corporate rights, the states will be dangerous to the national government, and ought to be extinguished, new modified, or reduced to a smaller scale.

Mr. KING. None of the states are now sovereign or independent. Many of these essential rights are vested in Congress. Congress, by the Confederation, possesses the rights of the United States. This is a union of the men of those states. None of the states, individually or collectively, but in Congress, have the rights of peace or war. The magistracy in Congress possesses the sovereignty. To certain points we are now a united people. Consolidation is already established. The Confederation contains an article to make alterations. Congress have the right to propose such alterations. The 8th article, respecting the quotas of states, has been altered, and eleven states have agreed to it. Can it not be altered in other instances? It can, excepting the guaranty of the states.

Mr. MARTIN. When the states threw off their allegiance to Great Britain, they became independent of her and each other. They united and confederated for mutual defence, and this was done on principles of perfect reciprocity. They will now again meet on the same ground. But when a dissolution takes place, our original rights and sovereignties are resumed. Our accession to the Union has been by states. If any other principle is adopted by this Convention, he will give it every opposition.

Mr. WILSON. The Declaration of Independence preceded the state constitutions. What does this declare? In the name of the people of these states, we are declared to be free and independent. The power of war, peace, alliances, and trade, are declared to be vested in Congress.

Mr. HAMILTON. I agree to Mr. Wilson’s remark. Establish a weak government, and you must at times overleap the bounds. Rome was obliged to create dictators. Cannot you make propositions to the people, because we before confederated on other principles? The people can yield to them, if they will. The three great objects of government, agriculture, commerce, and revenue, can only be secured by a general government. Adjourned to to-morrow morning.

WEDNESDAY, June 20, 1787


Met pursuant to adjournment. Present, eleven states.

Judge ELLSWORTH. I propose, and therefore move, to expunge the word “national,” in the 1st resolve, and to place, in the room of it, “government of the United States;” which was agreed to, nem. con.

Mr. LANSING then moved that the 1st resolve be postponed, in order to take into consideration the following: “that the powers of legislation ought to be vested in the United States in Congress.”

I am clearly of opinion that I am not authorized to accede to a system which will annihilate the state governments, and the Virginia plan is declarative of such extinction. It has been asserted that the public mind is not known. To some points it may be true; but we may collect from the fate of the requisition of the impost, what it may be on the principles of a national government. When many of the states were so tenacious of their rights on this point, can we expect that thirteen states will surrender their governments up to a national plan? Rhode Island pointedly refused granting it. Certainly she had a federal right to do so; and I hold it as an undoubted truth, as long as state distinctions remain, let the national government be modified as you please, both branches of your legislature will be impressed with local and state attachments. The Virginia plan proposes a negative on the state laws where, in the opinion of the national legislature, they contravene the national government; and no laws can pass unless approved by them. They will have more than a law in a day to revise; and are they competent to judge of the wants and necessities of remote states?

This national government will, from their power, have great influence in the state governments; and the existence of the latter are only saved in appearance. And has it not been asserted that they expect their extinction? If this be the object, let us say so, and extinguish them at once. But remember, if we devise a system of government which will not meet the approbation of our constituents, we are dissolving the Union; but if we act within the limits of our power, it will be approved of; and should it, upon experiment, prove defective, the people will intrust a future convention again to amend it. Fond as many are of a general government, do any of you believe that it can pervade the whole continent so effectually as to secure the peace, harmony, and happiness, of the whole? The excellence of the British model of government has been much insisted on; but we are endeavoring to complicate it with state governments, on principles which will gradually destroy the one or the other. You are sowing the seeds of rivalship, which must at last end in ruin.

Mr. MASON. The material difference between the two plans has already been clearly pointed out. The objection to that of Virginia arises from the want of power to institute it, and the want of practicability to carry it into effect. Will the first objection apply to a power merely recommendatory? In certain seasons of public danger, it is commendable to exceed power. The treaty of peace, under which we now enjoy the blessings of freedom, was made by persons who exceeded their powers. It met the approbation of the public, and thus deserved the praises of those who sent them. The impracticability of the plan is still more groundless. These measures are supported by one who, at his time of life, has little to hope or expect from any government. Let me ask, Will the people intrust their dearest rights and liberties to the determination of one body of men, and those not chosen by them, and who are invested both with the sword and purse? They never will — they never can — to a conclave, transacting their business secret from the eye of the public. Do we not discover by their public journals of the years 1778-9 and 1780, that factions and party spirit had guided many of their acts? The people of America, like all other people, are unsettled in their minds, and their principles fixed to no object, except that a republican government is the best, and that the legislature ought to consist of two branches. The constitutions of the respective states, made and approved of by them, evince this principle. Congress, however, from other causes, received a different organization. What! would you use military force to compel the observance of a social compact? It is destructive to the rights of the people. Do you expect the militia will do it? or do you mean a standing army? The first will never, on such an occasion, exert any power; and the latter may turn its arms against the government which employs them. I never will consent to destroy state governments, and will ever be as careful to preserve the one as the other. If we should, in the formation of the latter, have omitted some necessary regulation, I will trust my posterity to amend it. That the one government will be productive of disputes and jealousies against the other, I believe; but it will produce mutual safety. I shall close with observing that, though some have expressed much warmth on this and former occasions, I can excuse it, as the result of sudden passion; and hope that, although we may differ in some particular points, if we mean the good of the whole, that our good sense, upon reflection, will prevent us from spreading our discontent farther.

Mr. MARTIN. I know the government must be supported; and if the one was incompatible with the other, I would support the state government at the expense of the Union; for I consider the present system as a system of slavery. Impressed with this idea, I made use, on a former occasion, of expressions perhaps rather harsh. If gentlemen conceive that the legislative branch is dangerous, divide them into two. They are as much the representatives of the states as the state assemblies are the representatives of the people. Are not the powers which we here exercise given by the legislatures? [After giving a detail of the revolution and of state governments, Mr. M. continued:] I confess, when the Confederation was made, Congress ought to have been invested with more extensive powers; but when the states saw that Congress indirectly aimed at sovereignty, they were jealous, and therefore refused any further concessions. The time is now come that we can constitutionally grant them not only new powers, but to modify their government, so that the state governments are not endangered. But whatever we have now in our power to grant, the grant is a state grant, and therefore it must be so organized that the state governments are interested in supporting the Union. Thus systematized, there can be no danger if a small force is maintained.

Mr. SHERMAN. We have found, during the war, that, though Congress consisted of but one branch, it was that body which carried us through the whole war; and we were crowned with success. We closed the war, performing all the functions of a good government, by making a beneficial peace. But the great difficulty now is, How shall we pay the public debt incurred during that war? The unwillingness of the states to comply with the requisitions of Congress has embarrassed us greatly. But to amend these defects in government, I am not fond of speculation. I would rather proceed on experimental ground. We can so modify the powers of Congress, that we will all be mutual supporters of one another. The disparity of the states can be no difficulty. We know this by experience. Virginia and Massachusetts were the first who unanimously ratified the old Confederation. They then had no claim to more votes in Congress than one. Foreign states have made treaties with us as confederated states, not as a national government. Suppose we put an end to that government under which those treaties were made; will not these treaties be void?

Mr. WILSON. The question before us may admit of the three following considerations: —

1. Whether the legislature shall consist of one or two branches.

2. Whether they are to be elected by the state governments or by the people.

3. Whether in proportion to state importance, or states individually.

Confederations are usually of a short date. The Amphictyonic council was instituted in the infancy of the Grecian republics. As those grew in strength, the council lost its weight and power. The Achæan league met the same fate. Switzerland and Holland are supported in their confederation, not by its intrinsic merit, but the incumbent pressure of surrounding bodies. Germany is kept together by the house of Austria. True, Congress carried us through the war even against its own weakness. That powers were wanting, you, Mr. President, must have felt. To other causes, not to Congress, must the success be ascribed. That the great states acceded to the Confederation, and that they, in the hour of danger, made a sacrifice of their interest to the lesser states, is true. Like the wisdom of Solomon, in adjudging the child to its true mother, from tenderness to it, the greater states well knew that the loss of a limb was fatal to the Confederation: they, too, through tenderness, sacrificed their dearest rights to preserve the whole. But the time is come when justice will be done to their claims. Situations are altered.

Congress have frequently made their appeal to the people. 1 wish they had always done it: the national government would sooner have been extricated.

Question then put on Mr. Lansing’s motion, and lost — 6 states against 4, 1 divided. New York in the minority.

Adjourned till to-morrow morning.

THURSDAY, June 21, 1787


Met pursuant to adjournment. Present, eleven states.

Dr. JOHNSON. It appears to me that the Jersey plan has for its principal object the preservation of the state governments. So far it is a departure from the plan of Virginia, which, although it concentrates in a distinct national government, it is not totally independent of that of the states. A gentleman from New York, with boldness and decision, proposed a system totally different from both; and though he has been praised by every body, he has been supported by none. How can the state governments be secured on the Virginia plan? I could have wished that the supporters of the Jersey system could have satisfied themselves with the principles of the Virginia plan, and that the individuality of the states could be supported. It is agreed, on all hands, that a portion of government is to be left to the states. How can this be done? It can be done by joining the states, in their legislative capacity, with the right of appointing the second branch of the national legislature, to represent the states individually.

Mr. WILSON. If security is necessary to preserve the one, it is equally so to preserve the other. How can the national government be secured against the states? Some regulation is necessary. Suppose the national government had a competent number in the state legislature. But where the one government clashed with the other, the state government ought to yield, as the preservation of the general interest must be preferred to a particular. But let us try to designate the powers of each, and then no danger can be apprehended, nor can the general government be possessed of any ambitious views to encroach on the state rights.

Mr. MADISON. I could have wished that the gentleman from Connecticut had more accurately marked his objections to the Virginia plan. I apprehend the greatest danger is from the encroachment of the states on the national government. This apprehension is justly founded on the experience of ancient confederacies, and our own is a proof of it.

The right of negativing, in certain instances, the state laws, affords one security to the national government. But is the danger well founded? Have any state governments ever encroached on the corporate rights of cities? And if it was the case that the national government usurped the state government, if such usurpation was for the good of the whole, no mischief could arise. To draw the line between the two is a difficult task. I believe it cannot be done, and therefore I am inclined for a general government.

If we cannot form a general government, and the states become totally independent of each other, it would afford a melancholy prospect.

The 2d resolve was then put and carried — 7 states for, 3 against, 1 divided. New York in the minority.

The 3d resolve was then taken into consideration by the Convention.

Mr. PINCKNEY. I move “that the members of the first branch be appointed in such manner as the several state legislatures shall direct,” instead of the mode reported. If this motion is not agreed to, the other will operate with great difficulty, if not injustice. If you make district elections, and join, as I presume you must, many counties in one district, the largest county will carry the election, as its united influence will give a decided majority in its favor.

Mr. MADISON. I oppose the motion. There are difficulties, but they may be obviated in the details connected with the subject.

Mr. HAMILTON. It is essential to the democratic rights of the community that this branch be directly elected by the people. Let us look forward to probable events. There may be a time when state legislatures may cease; and such an event ought not to embarrass the national government.

Mr. MASON. I am for preserving inviolably the democratic branch of the government. True, we have found inconveniences from pure democracies; but if we mean to preserve peace and real freedom, they must necessarily become a component part of a national government. Change this necessary principle, and if the government proceeds to taxation, the states will oppose your powers.

Mr. SHERMAN thought that an amendment to the proposed amendment was necessary.

Gov. RUTLEDGE. It is said that an election by representatives is not an election by the people. This proposition is not correct. What is done by my order is done by myself. I am convinced that the mode of election by legislatures will be more refined, and better men will be sent.

Mr. WILSON. The legislatures of the states, by the proposed motion, will have an uncontrollable sway over the general government. Election is the exercise of original sovereignty in the people; but if by representatives, it is only relative sovereignty.

Mr. KING. The magistrates of the states will ever pursue schemes of their own; and this, on the proposed motion, will pervade the national government; and we know the state governments will be ever hostile to the general government.

Mr. PINCKNEY. All the reasoning of the gentlemen opposed to my motion has not convinced me of its impropriety. There is an esprit du corps which has made heretofore every unfederal member of Congress, after his election, become strictly federal; and this, I presume, will ever be the case, in whatever manner they may be elected.

Question put on Mr. Pinckney’s motion, and carried by 6 states against 4; 1 divided.

Question then put on the resolve — 9 states for, 1 against, 1 divided.

Gov. RANDOLPH. I move that, in the resolve for the duration of the first branch of the general legislature, the word “three” be expunged, and the words “two years” be inserted.

Mr. DICKINSON. I am against the amendment. I propose that the word “three” shall remain, but that they shall be removable annually in classes.

Mr. SHERMAN. I am for one year. Our people are accustomed to annual elections. Should the members have a longer duration of service, and remain at the seat of government, they may forget their constituents, and perhaps imbibe the interest of the state in which they reside, or there may be danger of catching the esprit du corps.

Mr. MASON. I am for two years. One year is too short. In extensive states, four months may elapse before the returns can be known. Hence the danger of their remaining too long unrepresented.

Mr. HAMILTON. There is a medium in every thing. I confess three years is not too long. A representative ought to have full freedom of deliberation, and ought to exert an opinion of his own. I am convinced that the public mind will adopt a solid plan. The government of New York, although higher-toned than that of any other state, still we find great listlessness and indifference in the electors; nor do they, in general, bring forward the first characters to the legislature. The public mind is perhaps not now ready to receive the best plan of government, but certain circumstances are now progressing which will give a different complexion to it. Two years ’ duration agreed to. Adjourned till to-morrow morning.

FRIDAY, June 22, 1787


Met pursuant to adjournment. The clause of the 3d resolve respecting the stipends taken into consideration.

Judge ELLSWORTH. I object to this clause. I think the state legislatures ought to provide for the members of the general legislature; and as each state will have a proportionate number, it will not be burdensome to the smaller states. I therefore move to strike out the clause.

Mr. GORHAM. If we intend to fix the stipend, it may be an objection against the system, as the states would never adopt it. I join in the sentiment to strike out the whole.

Gov. RANDOLPH. I am against the motion. Are the members to be paid? Certainly. We have no sufficient fortunes to induce gentlemen to attend for nothing. If the state legislatures pay the members of the national council, they will control the members, and compel them to pursue state measures. I confess the payment will not operate impartially, but the members must be paid, and be made easy in their circumstances. Will they attend the service of the public without being paid?

Mr. SHERMAN. The states ought to pay their members; and I judge of the approbation of the people, on matters of government, by what I suppose they will approve.

Mr. WILSON. I am against going as far as the resolve. If, however, it is intended to throw the national legislature in the hand of the states, I shall be against it. It is possible the states may become unfederal, and they may then shake the national government. The members ought to be paid out of the national treasury.

Mr. MADISON. Our attention is too much confined to the present moment, when our regulations are intended to be perpetual. Our national government must operate for the good of the whole, and the people must have a general interest in its support; but if you make its legislators subject to, and at the mercy of, the state governments, you ruin the fabric; and whatever new states may be added to the general government, the expense will be equally borne.

Mr. HAMILTON. I do not think the states ought to pay the members, nor am I for a fixed sum. It is a general remark, that he who pays is the master. If each state pays its own members, the burden would be disproportionate, according to the distance of the states from the seat of government. If a national government can exist, members will make it a desirable object to attend, without accepting any stipend; and it ought to be so organized as to be efficient.

Mr. WILSON. I move that the stipend be ascertained by the legislature, and paid out of the national treasury.

Mr. MADISON. I oppose the motion. Members are too much interested in the question. Besides, it is indecent that the legislature should put their hands in the public purse, to convey it into their own.

Question put on Mr. Wilson’s motion, and negatived — 7 states against, 2 for, and 2 divided.

Mr. MASON moved to change the phraseology of the resolve; that is to say, to receive an adequate compensation for their services, and to be paid out of the treasury. This motion was agreed to.

Mr. RUTLEDGE. I move that the question be taken on these words, “to be paid out of the national treasury.”

Mr. HAMILTON. It has been often asserted that the interests of the general and of the state legislatures are precisely the same. This cannot be true. The views of the governed are often materially different from those who govern. The science of policy is the knowledge of human nature. A state government will ever be the rival power of the general government. It is, therefore, highly improper that the state legislatures should be the paymasters of the members of the national government. All political bodies love power, and it will often be improperly attained.

Judge ELLSWORTH. If we are so exceedingly jealous of state legislatures, will they not have reason to be equally jealous of us? If I return to my state, and tell them, We made such and such regulations for a general government, because we dared not trust you with any extensive powers, — will they be satisfied? Nay, will they adopt your government? And let it ever be remembered that, without their approbation, your government is nothing more than a rope of sand.

Mr. WILSON. I am not for submitting the national government to the approbation of the state legislatures. I know that they and the state officers will oppose it. I am for carrying it to the people of each state.

Mr. Rutledge’s motion was then put — 4 states for the clause, 5 against, 2 states divided. New York divided.

The clause, “to be ineligible to any office,” c., came next to be considered.

Mr. MASON moved that, after the words “two years,” be added, “and to be of the age of twenty-five years.”

Question put and agreed to — 7 ayes, 3 noes. New York divided.

Mr. GORHAM. I move that, after the words “and under the national government,” “for one year after its expiration” be struck out.

Mr. KING for the motion. It is impossible to carry the system of exclusion so far; and, in this instance, we refine too much by going to Utopian lengths. It is a mere cobweb.

Mr. BUTLER. We have no way of judging of mankind but by experience. Look at the history of the government of Great Britain, where there is a very flimsy exclusion. Does it not ruin their government? A man takes a seat in Parliament to get an office for himself or friends, or both; and this is the great source from which flows its great venality and corruption.

Mr. WILSON. I am for striking out the words moved for. Strong reasons must induce me to disqualify a good man from office. If you do, you give an opportunity to the dependent or avaricious man to fill it up, for to him offices are objects of desire. If we admit there may be cabal and intrigue between the executive and legislative bodies, the exclusion of one year will not prevent the effects of it. But we ought to hold forth every honorable inducement for men of abilities to enter the service of the public. This is truly a republican principle. Shall talents, which entitle a man to public reward, operate as a punishment? While a member of the legislature, he ought to be excluded from any other office, but no longer. Suppose a war breaks out, and a number of your best military characters were members; must we lose the benefit of their services? Had this been the case in the beginning of the war, what would have been our situation? And what has happened may happen again.

Mr. MADISON. Some gentlemen give too much weight, and others too little, to this subject. If you have no exclusive clause, there may be danger of creating offices, or augmenting the stipends of those already created, in order to gratify some members, if they were not excluded. Such an instance has fallen within my own observation. I am therefore of opinion that no office ought to be open to a member, which may be created or augmented while he is in the legislature.

Mr. MASON. It seems as if it were taken for granted that all offices will be filled by the executive, while I think many will remain in the gift of the legislature. In either case, it is necessary to shut the door against corruption. If otherwise, they may make or multiply offices in order to fill them. Are gentlemen in earnest when they suppose that this exclusion will prevent the first characters from coming forward? Are we not struck at seeing the luxury and venality which has already crept in among us? If not checked, we shall have ambassadors to every petty state in Europe; the little republic of St. Marino not excepted. We must, in the present system, remove the temptation. I admire many parts of the British constitution and government, but I detest their corruption. Why has the power of the crown increased, so remarkably increased, the last century? A stranger, by reading their laws, would suppose it considerably diminished; and yet, by the sole power of appointing the increased officers of the government, corruption pervades every town and village in the kingdom. If such a restriction should abridge the right of election, it is still necessary, as it will prevent the people from ruining themselves. And will not the same causes here produce the same effects? I consider this clause as the corner-stone on which our liberties depend; and if we strike it out, we are erecting a fabric for our destruction.

Mr. GORHAM. The corruption of the English government cannot be applied to America. This evil exists there in the venality of their boroughs; but even this corruption has its advantage, as it gives stability to their government. We do not know what the effect would be, if members of Parliament were excluded from offices. The great bulwark of our liberty is the frequency of elections, and their great danger is the septennial Parliaments.

Mr. HAMILTON., In all general questions which become the subjects of discussion, there are always some truths mixed with falsehoods. I confess there is danger where men are capable of holding two offices. Take mankind in general, they are vicious — their passions may be operated upon. We have been taught to reprobate the danger of influence in the British government, without duly reflecting how far it was necessary, to support a good government. We have taken up many ideas upon trust, and at last, pleased with our own opinions, establish them as undoubted truths. Hume’s opinion of the British constitution confirms the remark, that there is always a body of firm patriots, who often shake a corrupt administration. Take mankind as they are, and what are they governed by? Their passions. There may be in every government a few choice spirits, who may act from more worthy motives. One great error is, that we suppose mankind more honest than they are. Our prevailing passions are ambition and interest; and it will ever be the duty of a wise government to avail itself of those passions, in order to make them subservient to the public good; for these ever induce us to action. Perhaps a few men in a state may, from patriotic motives, or to display their talents, or to reap the advantage of public applause, step forward; but if we adopt the clause, we destroy the motive. I am therefore against all exclusion and refinements, except only this case, that, when a member takes his seat, he should vacate every other office. It is difficult to put any exclusive regulation into effect. We must, in some degree, submit to the inconvenience.

The question was then put for striking out — 4 ayes, 4 noes, 3 states divided, New York of the number.

Adjourned till to-morrow morning.

SATURDAY, June 23, 1787


Met pursuant to adjournment. Present, eleven states.

Mr. GORHAM. I move that the question which was yesterday proposed on the clause, “to be paid out of the national treasury,” be now put.

Question put — 5 ayes, 5 noes, 1 state divided. So the clause was lost.

Mr. PINCKNEY moved that that part of the clause which disqualifies a person from holding an office in the state be expunged, because the first and best characters in a state may thereby be deprived of a seat in the national council.

Mr. WILSON. I perceive that some gentlemen are of opinion to give a bias in favor of state governments. This question ought to stand on the same footing.

Mr. SHERMAN. By the conduct of some gentlemen, we are erecting a kingdom to act against itself. The legislature ought to be free and unbiased.

Question put to strike out the words moved for, and carried — 8 ayes, 3 noes.

Mr. MADISON then moved that after the word “established,” be added, “or the emoluments whereof shall have been augmented, by the legislature of the United States,” during the time they were members thereof, and for one year thereafter.

Mr. BUTLER. The proposed amendment does not go far enough. How easily may this be evaded! What was the conduct of George II., to support the Pragmatic Sanction? To some of the opposers he gave pensions, others offices, and some, to put them out of the House of Commons, he made lords. The great Montesquieu says it is unwise to intrust persons with power, which, by being abused, operates to the advantage of those intrusted with it.

Gov. RUTLEDGE was against the proposed amendment. No person ought to come to the legislature with an eye to his own emolument in any shape.

Mr. MASON. I differ from my colleague in his proposed amendment. Let me state the practice in the state where we came from. There all officers are appointed by the legislature. Need I add, that many of their appointments are most shameful? Nor will the check proposed by this amendment be sufficient. It will soon cease to be any check at all. It is asserted that it will be very difficult to find men sufficiently qualified as legislators without the inducement of emolument. I do believe that men of genius will be deterred, unless possessed of great virtues. We may well dispense with the first characters when destitute of virtue. I should wish them never to come forward. But if we do not provide against corruption, our government will soon be at an end; nor would I wish to put a man of virtue in the way of temptation. Evasions and caballing would elude the amendment. Nor would the danger be less if the executive has the appointment of officers. The first three or four years we might go on well enough, but what would be the case afterwards? I will add, that such a government ought to be refused by the people; and it will be refused.

Mr. MADISON. My wish is, that the national legislature be as uncorrupt as possible. I believe all public bodies are inclined, from various motives, to support their members; but it is not always done from the base motives of venality. Friendship, and a knowledge of the abilities of those with whom they associate, may produce it. If you bar the door against such attachments, you deprive the government of its greatest strength and support. Can you always rely on the patriotism of the members? If this be the only inducement, you will find a great indifferency in filling your legislative body. If we expect to call forth useful characters, we must hold out allurements; nor can any great inconveniency arise from such inducements. The legislative body must be the road to public honor; and the advantage will be greater to adopt my motion, than any possible inconvenience.

Mr. KING. The intimate association of offices will produce a vigorous support to your government. To check it would produce no good consequences. Suppose connections are formed. Do they not all tend to strengthen the government under which they are formed? Let, therefore, preferment be open to all men. We refine, otherwise, too much; nor is it possible we can eradicate the evil.

Mr. WILSON. I hope the amendment will be adopted. By the last vote, it appears that the Convention have no apprehension of danger of state appointments. It is equally imaginary to apprehend any from the national government. That such officers will have influence in the legislature, I readily admit; but I would not therefore exclude them. If any ill effects were to result from it, the bargain can as well be made with the legislature as with the executive. We ought not to shut the door of promotion against the great characters in the public councils, from being rewarded by being promoted. If otherwise, will not these gentlemen be put in the legislatures to prevent them from holding offices, by those who wish to enjoy them themselves?

Mr. SHERMAN. If we agree to this amendment, our good intentions may be prostrated, by changing offices, to avoid or evade the rule.

Mr. GERRY. This amendment is of great weight, and its consequences ought to be well considered. At the beginning of the war, we possessed more than Roman virtue. It appears to me it is now the reverse. We have more land and stock-jobbers than any place on earth. It appears to me that we have constantly endeavored to keep distinct the three great branches of government; but if we agree to this motion, it must be destroyed by admitting the legislators to share in the executive, or to be too much influenced by the executive, in looking up to him for offices.

Mr. MADISON. This question is certainly of much moment. There are great advantages in appointing such persons as are known. The choice otherwise will be chance. How will it operate on the members themselves? Will it not be an objection to become members, when they are to be excluded from office? For these reasons I am for the amendment.

Mr. BUTLER. These reasons have no force. Characters fit for offices will always be known.

Mr. MASON. It is said, it is necessary to open the door to induce gentlemen to come into the legislature. This door is open, but not immediately. A seat in the house will be the field to exert talents; and when to a good purpose, they will in due time be rewarded.

Mr. JENIFER. Our senators are appointed for five years, and they can hold no other office. This circumstance gives them the greatest confidence of the people.

The question was put on Mr. Madison’s amendment, and lost — 8 noes, 2 ayes, 1 state divided.

Question on the clause as amended before. Carried — 8 ayes, 2 noes, 1 state divided.

The question was next on the latter part of the clause.

Mr. MASON. We must retain this clause, otherwise evasions may be made. The legislature may admit of resignations, and thus make members eligible; places may be promised at the close of their duration, and thus a dependency may be made.

Mr. GERRY. And this actually has been the case in Congress. A member resigned to obtain an appointment; and had it failed, he would have resumed it.

Mr. HAMILTON. The clause may be evaded many ways. Offices may be held by proxy; they may be procured by friends, c.

Mr. RUTLEDGE. I admit, in some cases, it may be evaded; but this is no argument against shutting the door as close as possible.

The question was then put on this clause, to wit: “and for the space of one year after its expiration,” and negatived.

Then adjourned to Monday morning.

MONDAY, June 25, 1781


Met pursuant to adjournment. Present, eleven states.

Mr. C. PINCKNEY. On the question upon the second branch of the general legislature, as reported by the committee in the 4th resolve, now under consideration, it will be necessary to inquire into the true situation of the people of this country. Without this, we can form no adequate idea what kind of government will secure their rights and liberties. There is more equality of rank and fortune in America than in any other country under the sun; and this is likely to continue as long as the unappropriated western lands remain unsettled. They are equal in rights, nor is extreme of poverty to be seen in any part of the Union. If we are thus singularly situated, both as to fortune and rights, it evidently follows that we cannot draw any useful lessons from the examples of any of the European states or kingdoms; much less can Great Britain afford us any striking institution, which can be adapted to our own situation — unless we indeed intend to establish an hereditary executive, or one for life. Great Britain drew its first rude institutions from the forests of Germany, and with them that of its nobility. These having originally in their hands the property of the state, the crown of Great Britain was obliged to yield to the claims of power which those large possessions enabled them to assert. The Commons were then too contemptible to form part of the national councils. Many Parliaments were held without their being represented; until, in process of time, under the protection of the crown, and forming distinct communities, they obtained some weight in the British government. From such discordant materials, brought casually together, those admirable checks and balances, now so much the boast of the British constitution, took their rise. But will we be able to copy from this original? Do not suppose that in the Confederation there are one hundred gentlemen of sufficient fortunes to establish a nobility; and the equality of others as to rank would never admit of the distinctions of nobility. I lay it therefore down as a settled principle, that equality of condition is a leading axiom in our government. It may be said we must necessarily establish checks, lest one rank of people usurp the rights of another. Commerce can never interfere with the government, nor give a complexion to its councils. Can we copy from Greece or Rome? Have we their nobles or patricians? With them offices were open to few. The different ranks in the community formed opposite interests, and produced unceasing struggles and disputes. Can this apply to the free yeomanry of America? We surely differ from the whole. Our situation is unexampled; and it is in our power, on different grounds, to secure civil and religious liberty; and when we secure these, we secure every thing that is necessary to establish happiness. We cannot pretend to rival the European nations in their grandeur or power; nor is the situation of any two nations so exactly alike as that the one can adopt the regulations or government of the other. If we have any distinctions, they may be divided into three classes: —

1. Professional men. 2. Commercial men. 3. The landed interest.

The latter is the governing power of America, and the other two must ever be dependent on them. Will a national government suit them? No. The three orders have necessarily a mixed interest; and in that view — I repeat it again — the United States of America compose, in fact, but one order. The clergy and nobility of Great Britain can never be adopted by us. Our government must be made suitable to the people; and we are, perhaps, the only people in the world who ever had sense enough to appoint delegates to establish a general government. I believe that the propositions from Virginia, with some amendments, will satisfy the people. But a general government must not be dependent on the state governments.

The United States include a territory of about fifteen hundred miles in length, and in breadth about four hundred, the whole of which is divided into states and districts. While we were dependent on the crown of Great Britain, it was in contemplation to form the whole into one; but it was found impracticable. No legislature could make good laws for the whole, nor can it now be done. It would necessarily place the power in the hands of the few nearest the seat of government. State governments must therefore remain, if you mean to prevent confusion. The general negative powers will support the general government. Upon these considerations, I am led to form the second branch differently from the report. Their powers are important, and the number not too large, upon the principle of proportion. I have considered the subject with great attention; and I propose this plan, [reads it;] and if no better plan is proposed, I will then move its adoption.

Mr. RANDOLPH moved that the 4th resolve be divided, in the same manner as the 3d resolve.

Mr. GORHAM moved the question on the 1st resolve. Sixteen members from one state will certainly have greater weight than the same number of members from different states. We must therefore depart from this rule of appointment in some shape or other — perhaps on the plan Mr. Pinckney has suggested.

Mr. READ. Some gentlemen argue, that the representation must be determined according to the weight of each state; that we have heretofore been partners in trade, in which we all put in our respective proportions of stock; that the articles of our copartnership were drawn in forming the Confederation; and that, before we make a new copartnership, we must first settle the old business. But to drop the allusion: We find that the great states have appropriated to themselves the common lands in their respective states. These lands, having been forfeited as heretofore belonging to the king, ought to be applied to the discharge of our public debts. Let this still be done, and then, if you please, proportion the representation, and we shall not be jealous of one another — a jealousy in a great measure owing to the public property appropriated by individual states, and which, as it has been gained by the united power of the Confederation, ought to be appropriated to the discharge of the public debts.

Mr. GORHAM. This motion has been agitated often in Congress; and it was owing to the want of power, rather than inclination, that it was not justly settled. Great surrenders have been made by the great states, for the benefit of the Confederation.

Mr. WILSON. The question now before us is, whether the second branch of the general legislature shall, or shall not, be appointed by the state legislatures. In every point of view, it is an important question. The magnitude of the objects is indeed embarrassing. The great system of Henry IV. of France, aided by the greatest statesmen, is small when compared to the fabric we are now about to erect. In laying the stone amiss, we may injure the superstructure; and what will be the consequence, if the corner-stone should be loosely placed? It is improper that the state legislatures should have the power contemplated to be given them. A citizen of America may be considered in two points of view — as a citizen of the general government, and as a citizen of the particular state in which he may reside. We ought to consider in what character he acts in forming a general government. I am both a citizen of Pennsylvania and of the United States. I must therefore lay aside my state connections, and act for the general good of the whole. We must forget our local habits and attachments. The general government should not depend on the state governments. This ought to be a leading distinction between the one and the other; nor ought the general government to be composed of an assemblage of different state governments. We have unanimously agreed to establish a general government — that the powers of peace, war, treaties, coinage, and regulation of commerce, ought to reside in that government. And if we reason in this manner, we shall soon see the impropriety of interference of state governments with the general government. Equality of representation cannot be established, if the second branch is elected by the state legislatures. When we are laying the foundation of a building which is to last for ages, and in which millions are interested, it ought to be well laid. If the national government does not act upon state prejudices, state distinctions will be lost. I therefore move that the second branch of the legislature of the national government be elected by electors chosen by the people of the United States.

Judge ELLSWORTH. I think the second branch of the general legislature ought to be elected agreeably to the report. The other way, it is said, will be more the choice of the people. The one mode is as much so as the other. No doubt every citizen of every state is interested in the state governments; and elect him in whatever manner you please, whenever he takes a seat in the general government, it will prevail in some shape or other. The state legislatures are more competent to make a judicious choice than the people at large. Instability pervades their choice. In the second branch of the general government, we want wisdom and firmness. As to balances, where nothing can be balanced, it is a perfect Utopian scheme. But still great advantages will result in having a second branch endowed with the qualifications I have mentioned. Their weight and wisdom may check the inconsiderate and hasty proceedings of the first branch.

I cannot see the force of the reasoning in attempting to detach the state governments from the general government. In that case, without a standing army, you cannot support the general government but on the pillars of the state governments. Are the larger states more energetic than the smaller? Massachusetts cannot support a government at the distance of one hundred miles from her capital without an army; and how long Virginia and Pennsylvania will support their governments it is difficult to say. Shall we proceed like unskilful workmen, and make use of timber which is too weak to build a first-rate ship? We know that the people of the states are strongly attached to their own constitutions. If you hold up a system of general government, destructive of their constitutional rights, they will oppose it. Some are of opinion that, if we cannot form a general government so as to destroy state governments, we ought at least to balance the one against the other. On the contrary, the only chance we have to support a general government is, to draft it on the state governments. I want to proceed on this ground, as the safest, and I believe no other plan is practicable. In this way, and in this way only, can we rely on the confidence and support of the people.

Mr. JOHNSON. The state governments must be preserved; but this motion leaves them at the will and pleasure of the general government.

Mr. MADISON. I find great differences of opinion, in this Convention, on the clause now under consideration. Let us postpone it, in order to take up the 8th resolve, that we may previously determine the mode of representation.

Mr. MASON. All agree that a more efficient government is necessary. It is equally necessary to preserve the state governments, as they ought to have the means of self-defence. On the motion of Mr. Wilson, the only means they ought to have would be destroyed.

The question was put for postponing, in order to take into consideration the 8th resolve, and lost — 7 noes, 4 ayes.

Question on the 1st clause in the 4th resolve — 9 states for, 2 against it.

The age of the senators (thirty years) agreed to.

Mr. GORHAM proposed that the senators be classed, and to remain four years in office; otherwise great inconveniences may arise, if a dissolution should take place at once.

Gov. RANDOLPH. This body must act with firmness. They may possibly always sit — perhaps to aid the executive. The state governments will always attempt to counteract the general government. They ought to go out in classes. Therefore I move that they go out of office in fixed proportions of time, instead of the words “seven years.”

Mr. READ moved (though not seconded) that they ought to continue in office during good behavior.

Mr. WILLIAMSON moved that they remain in office for six years.

Mr. PINCKNEY. I am for four years. Longer time would give them too great attachment to the states where the general government may reside. They may be induced, from the proposed length of time, to sell their estates, and become inhabitants near the seat of government.

Mr. MADISON. We are proceeding in the same manner that was done when the Confederation was first formed. Its original draft was excellent, but in its progress and completion it became so insufficient as to give rise to the present Convention. By the vote already taken, will not the temper of the state legislatures transfuse itself into the Senate? Do we create a free government?

Question on Governor Randolph’s motion — 7 ayes, 3 noes, 1 divided.

Motion to fix the term of service at six years — 5 ayes, 5 noes, 1 divided.

Do. for five years — 5 ayes, 5 noes, 1 divided.

The question for four years was not put; and the Convention adjourned till to-morrow morning.

TUESDAY, June 26, 1787


Met pursuant to adjournment. Present, eleven states.

Mr. GORHAM. My motion for four years’ continuance was not put yesterday. I am still of opinion that classes will be necessary, but I would alter the time. I therefore move that the senators be elected for six years, and that the rotation be triennial.

Mr. PINCKNEY. I oppose the time, because of too long a continuance. The members will, by this means, be too long separated from their constituents, and will imbibe attachments different from that of the state; nor is there any danger that members, by a shorter duration of office, will not support the interest of the Union, or that the states will oppose the general interest. The state of South Carolina was never opposed, in principle, to Congress, nor thwarted their views in any case, except in the requisition of money and then only for want of power to comply; for it was found there was not money enough in the state to pay their requisition.

Mr. READ moved that the term of “nine years” be inserted, in triennial rotation.

Mr. MADISON. We are now to determine whether the republican form shall be the basis of our government. I admit there is weight in the objection of the gentleman from South Carolina; but no plan can steer clear of objections. That great powers are to be given there is no doubt; and that those powers may be abused is equally true. It is also probable that members may lose their attachments to the states which sent them; yet the first branch will control them in many of their abuses. But we are now forming a body on whose wisdom we mean to rely, and their permanency in office secures a proper field in which they may exert their firmness and knowledge. Democratic communities may be unsteady, and be led to action by the impulse of the moment. Like individuals, they may be sensible of their own weakness, and may desire the counsels and checks of friends, to guard them against the turbulency and weakness of unruly passions. Such are the various pursuits of this life, that, in all civilized countries, the interest of a community will be divided. There will be debtors and creditors, and an unequal possession of property; and hence arise different views and different objects in government. This, indeed, is the groundwork of aristocracy, and we find it blended in every government, both ancient and modern. Even where titles have survived property, we discover the noble beggar haughty and assuming.

The man who is possessed of wealth, who lolls on his sofa or rolls in his carriage, cannot judge of the wants or feelings of the day-laborer. The government we mean to erect is intended to last for ages. The landed interest, at present, is prevalent; but in process of time, when we approximate to the states and kingdoms of Europe, — when the number of landholders shall be comparatively small, through the various means of trade and manufactures, — will not the landed interest be overbalanced in future elections? and, unless wisely provided against, what will become of your government? In England, at this day, if elections were open to all classes of people, the property of landed proprietors would be insecure. An agrarian law would soon take place. If these observations be just, our government ought to secure the permanent interests of the country against innovation. Landholders ought to have a share in the government, to support these invaluable interests, and to balance and check the other. They ought to be so constituted as to protect the minority of the opulent against the majority. The Senate, therefore, ought to be this body; and, to answer these purposes, they ought to have permanency and stability. Various have been the propositions; but my opinion is, the longer they continue in office, the better will these views be answered.

Mr. SHERMAN. The two objects of this body are permanency, and safety to those who are to be governed. A bad government is the worse for being long. Frequent elections give security, and even permanency. In Connecticut we have existed one hundred and thirty-two years under an annual government; and as long as a man behaves himself well, he is never turned out of office. Four years to the Senate is quite sufficient, when you add to it the rotation proposed.

Mr. HAMILTON. This question has already been considered in several points of view. We are now forming a republican government. Real liberty is neither found in despotism nor the extremes of democracy, but in moderate governments.

Those who mean to form a solid republican government ought to proceed to the confines of another government. As long as offices are open to all men, and no constitutional rank is established, it is pure republicanism. But if we incline too much to democracy, we shall soon shoot into a monarchy. The difference of property is already great amongst us. Commerce and industry will still increase the disparity. Your government must meet this state of things, or combinations will, in process of time, undermine your system. What was the tribunitial power of Rome? It was instituted by the plebeians, as a guard against the patricians. But was this a sufficient check? No. The only distinction which remained at Rome was, at last, between the rich and poor. The gentleman from Connecticut forgets that the democratic body is already secure in a representation. As to Connecticut, what were the little objects of their government before the revolution? Colonial concerns merely. They ought now to act on a more extended scale: and dare they do this? Dare they collect the taxes and requisitions of Congress? Such a government may do well, if they do not tax; and this is precisely their situation.

Mr. GERRY. It appears to me that the American people have the greatest aversion to monarchy; and the nearer our government approaches to it, the less chance have we for their approbation. Can gentlemen suppose that the reported system can be approved of by them? Demagogues are the great pests of our government, and have occasioned most of our distresses. If four years are insufficient, a future convention may lengthen the time.

Mr. WILSON. The motion is now for nine years, and a triennial rotation. Every nation attends to its foreign intercourse; to support its commerce; to prevent foreign contempt; and to make war and peace. Our Senate will be possessed of these powers, and therefore ought to be dignified and permanent. What is the reason that Great Britain does not enter into a commercial treaty with us? Because Congress has not the power to enforce its observance. But give them those powers, and give them the stability proposed by the motion, and they will have more permanency than a monarchical government. The great objection of many is, that this duration would give birth to views inconsistent with the interests of the Union. This can have no weight, if the triennial rotation is adopted; and this plan may possibly tend to conciliate the minds of the members of the Convention on this subject, which have varied more than on any other question.

The question was then put on Mr. Read’s motion, and lost — 8 noes, 3 ayes.

The question on five years, and a biennial rotation, was carried — 7 ayes, 4 noes. New York in the minority.

Mr. PINCKNEY. I move that the clause for granting stipends be stricken out.

Question put — 5 ayes, 6 noes.

On the amendment to the question, to receive a compensation — 10 ayes, 1 no.

Judge ELLSWORTH. I move that the words “out of the national treasury” be stricken out, and the words “the respective state legislatures” be inserted.

If you ask of the states what is reasonable, they will comply; but if you ask of them more than is necessary to form a good government, they will grant you nothing.

Capt. DAYTON. The members should be paid from the general treasury, to make them independent.

The question was put on the amendment, and lost — 5 ayes, 6 noes.

Mr. MASON. I make no motion, but throw out, for the consideration of the Convention, whether a person in the second branch ought not to be qualified as to property.

The question was then put on the clause, and lost — 5 ayes, 6 noes.

It was moved to strike out the clause “to be ineligible to any state office.”

Mr. MADISON. Congress heretofore depended on state interests; we are now going to pursue the same plan.

Mr. WILSON. Congress has been ill managed, because particular states controlled the Union. In this Convention, if a proposal is made promising independency to the general government, before we have done with it, it is so modified and changed as to amount to nothing. In the present case, the states may say, Although I appoint you for six years, yet if you are against the state, your table will be unprovided. Is this the way you are to erect an independent government?

Mr. BUTLER. This second branch I consider as the aristocratic part of our government; and they must be controlled by the states, or they will be too independent.

Mr. PINCKNEY. The states and general government must stand together. On this plan have I acted throughout the whole of this business. I am therefore for expunging the clause. Suppose a member of this house was qualified to be a state judge; must the state be prevented from making the appointment?

Question put for striking out — 8 ayes, 3 noes.

The 5th resolve, that each house have the right of originating bills, was taken into consideration, and agreed to.

Adjourned till to-morrow morning.

WEDNESDAY, June 27, 1787


Met pursuant to adjournment. Present, eleven states.

The 6th resolve was postponed, in order to take into consideration the 7th and 8th resolves. The 1st clause of the 7th was proposed for consideration, which respected the suffrage of each state in the first branch of the legislature.

[Mr. MARTIN, the attorney-general from Maryland, spoke on this subject upwards of three hours. As his arguments were too diffuse, and in many instances desultory, it was not possible to trace him through the whole, or to methodize his ideas into a systematic or argumentative arrangement. I shall therefore only note such points as I conceive merit most particular notice. — See page 344, for his remarks at large.]

The question is important, (said Mr. Martin,) and I have already expressed my sentiments on the subject. My opinion is, that the general government ought to protect and secure the state governments. Others, however, are of a different sentiment, and reverse the principle.

The present reported system is a perfect medley of confederated and national government, without example and without precedent. Many, who wish the general government to protect the state governments, are anxious to have the line of jurisdiction well drawn and defined, so that they may not clash. This suggests the necessity of having this line well detailed: possibly this may be done. If we do this, the people will be convinced that we meant well to the state governments; and should there be any defects, they will trust a future convention with the power of making further amendments.

A general government may operate on individuals in cases of general concern, and still be federal. This distinction is with the states, as states, represented by the people of those states. States will take care of their internal police and local concerns. The general government has no interest but the protection of the whole. Every other movement must fail. We are proceeding, in forming this government, as if there were no state governments at all. The states must approve, or you will have none at all. I have never heard of a confederacy having two legislative branches. Even the celebrated Mr. Adams, who talks so much of checks and balances, does not suppose it necessary in a confederacy. Public and domestic debts are our great distress. The treaty between Virginia and Maryland, about the navigation of the Chesapeake and Potomac, is no infraction of the Confederacy. The corner-stone of a federal government is equality of votes. States may surrender this right; but if they do, their liberties are lost. If I err on this point, it is the error of the head, not of the heart.

The first principle of government is founded on the natural rights of individuals, and in perfect equality. Locke, Vattel, Lord Somers, and Dr. Priestley, all confirm this principle. This principle of equality, when applied to an individual, is lost, in some degree, when he becomes a member of a society, to which it is transferred; and this society, by the name of state or kingdom, is, with respect to others, again on a perfect footing of equality — a right to govern themselves as they please. Nor can any other state, of right, deprive them of this equality. If such a state confederates, it is intended for the good of the whole; and if it again confederates, those rights must be well guarded. Nor can any state demand a surrender of any of those rights; if it can, equality is already destroyed. We must treat, as free states, with each other, upon the same terms of equality that men originally formed themselves into societies. Vattel, Rutherford, and Locke, are united in support of the position, that states, as to each other, are in a state of nature.

Thus, says Mr. Martin, have I travelled with the most respectable authorities in support of principles all tending to prove the equality of independent states. This is equally applicable to the smallest as well as the largest states, on the true principles of reciprocity and political freedom.

Unequal confederacies can never produce good effects. Apply this to the Virginia plan. Out of the number 90, Virginia has 16 votes, Massachusetts 14, Pennsylvania 12; in all 42. Add to this a state having four votes, and it gives a majority in the general legislature. Consequently, a combination of these states will govern the remaining nine or ten states. Where are the safety and independency of those states? Pursue this subject farther. The executive is to be appointed by the legislature, and becomes the executive in consequence of this undue influence; and hence flows the appointment of all your officers, civil, military, and judicial. The executive is also to have a negative on all laws. Suppose the possibility of a combination of ten states: he negatives a law; it is totally lost, because those states cannot form two thirds of the legislatures. I am willing to give up private interest to the public good; but I must be satisfied first that it is the public interest; and who can decide this point? A majority, only, of the Union.

The Lacedemonians insisted, in the Amphictyonic council, to exclude some of the smaller states from a right to vote, in order that they might tyrannize over them. If the plan now on the table be adopted, three states in the Union have the control, and they may make use of their power when they please.

If there exist no separate interests, there is no danger in an equality of votes; and if there be danger, the smaller states cannot yield. If the foundation of the existing Confederation is well laid, powers may be added. You may safely add a third story to a house, where the foundation is good. Read, then, the votes and proceedings of Congress on forming the Confederation. Virginia only was opposed to the principles of equality. The smaller states yielded rights, not the large states. They gave up their claim to the unappropriated lands with the tenderness of the mother recorded by Solomon. They sacrificed affection to the preservation of others. New Jersey and Maryland rendered more essential services during the war than many of the larger states. The partial representation in Congress is not the cause of its weakness, but the want of power. I would not trust a government, organized upon the reported plan, for all the slaves of Carolina, or the horses and oxen of Massachusetts. Price says that laws made by one man, or a set of men, and not by common consent, is slavery. And it is so when applied to states, if you give them an unequal representation. What are called human feelings, in this instance, are only the feelings of ambition and the lust of power.

Adjourned till to-morrow morning.

THURSDAY, June 28, 1787


Met pursuant to adjournment. Mr. MARTIN, in continuation. On federal grounds, it is said that a minority will govern a majority; but on the Virginia plan, a minority would tax a majority. In a federal government, a majority of states must and ought to tax. In local government of states, counties may be unequal: still numbers, not property, govern. What is the government now forming — over states or persons? As to the latter, their rights cannot be the object of a general government. These are already secured by their guardians, the state governments. The general government is, therefore, intended only to protect and guard the rights of the states as states.

This general government, I believe, is the first upon earth which gives checks against democracies or aristocracies. The only necessary check, in a general government, ought to be a restraint to prevent its absorbing the powers of the state governments. Representation, on federal principles, can only flow from state societies. Representation and taxation are ever inseparable — not according to the quantum of property, but the quantum of freedom.

Will the representatives of a state forget state interests? The mode of election cannot change it. These prejudices cannot be eradicated. Your general government cannot be just or equal, upon the Virginia plan, unless you abolish state interests. If this cannot be done, you must go back to principles purely federal.

On this latter ground, the state legislatures and their constituents will have no interests to pursue different from the general government, and both will be interested to support each other.

Under these ideas, can it be expected that the people can approve the Virginia plan? But it is said, the people, not the state legislatures, will be called upon for approbation — with an evident design to separate the interest of the governors from the governed. What must be the consequence? Anarchy and confusion. We lose the idea of the powers with which we are intrusted. The legislatures must approve.

By them it must, on your own plan, be laid before the people. How will such a government, over so many great states, operate? Wherever new settlements have been formed in large states, they immediately want to shake off their dependency. Why? Because the government is too remote for their good. The people want it nearer home.

The basis of all ancient and modern confederacies is the freedom and the independency of the states composing it. The states forming the Amphictyonic council were equal, though Lacedemon, one of the greatest states, attempted the exclusion of three of the lesser states from this right. The plan reported, it is true, only intends to diminish those rights, not to annihilate them. It was the ambition and power of the great Grecian states which at last ruined their respectable council. The states, as societies, are ever respectable. Has Holland or Switzerland ever complained of the equality of the states which compose their respective confederacies? Berne and Zurich are larger than the remaining eleven cantons. So of many of the states of Germany; and yet their governments are not complained of. Berne alone might usurp the whole power of the Helvetic confederacy, but she is contented still with being equal.

The admission of the larger states into the Confederation, on the principles of equality, is dangerous. But on the Virginia system, it is ruinous and destructive. Still it is the true interest of all the states to confederate. It is their joint efforts which must protect and secure us from foreign danger, and give us peace and harmony at home.

[Here Mr. MARTIN entered into a detail of the comparative powers of each state, and stated their probable weakness and strength.]

At the beginning of our troubles with Great Britain, the smaller states were attempted to be cajoled to submit to the views of that nation, lest the larger states should usurp their rights. We then answered them, Your present plan is slavery, which, on the remote prospect of a distant evil, we will not submit to.

I would rather confederate with any single state than submit to the Virginia plan. But we are already confederated, and no power on earth can dissolve it but by the consent of all the contracting powers; and four states, on this floor, have already declared their opposition to annihilate it. Is the old Confederation dissolved, because some of the states wish a new Confederation?

Mr. LANSING. I move that the word “not” be struck out of the resolve, and then the question will stand on its proper ground; and the resolution will read thus: that the representation of the first branch be according to the Articles of the Confederation; and the sense of the Convention on this point will determine the question of a federal or national government.

Mr. MADISON. I am against the motion. I confess the necessity of harmonizing; and if it could be shown that the system is unjust or unsafe, I would be against it. There has been much fallacy in the argument advanced by the gentleman from Maryland. He has, without adverting to many manifest distinctions, considered confederacies and treaties as standing on the same basis. In the one, the powers act collectively, in the other individually. Suppose, for example, that France, Spain, and some of the smaller states in Europe, should treat on war or peace, or on any other general concern; it would be done on principles of equality. But if they were to form a plan of general government, would they give, or are the greater states obliged to give to the lesser, the same and equal legislative powers? Surely not. They might differ on this point, but no one can say that the large states were wrong in refusing this concession. Nor can the gentleman’s reasoning apply to the present powers of Congress; for they may, and do, in some cases, affect property — and in case of war, the lives of the citizens. Can any of the lessor states be endangered by an adequate representation? Where is the probability of a combination? What the inducements? Where is the similarity of customs, manners, or religion? If there possibly can be a diversity of interest, it is the case of the three large states. Their situation is remote, their trade different. The staple of Massachusetts is fish, and the carrying trade; of Pennsylvania, wheat and flour; of Virginia, tobacco. Can states thus situated in trade ever form such a combination? Do we find those combinations in the larger counties in the different state governments to produce rivalships? Does not the history of the nations of the earth verify it? Rome rivalled Carthage, and could not be satisfied before she was destroyed. The houses of Austria and Bourbon acted on the same view; and the wars of France and England have been waged through rivalship; and let me add, that we, in a great measure, owe our independency to those national contending passions. France, through this motive, joined us. She might, perhaps, with less expense, have induced England to divide America between them. In Greece, the contention was ever between the larger states. Sparta against Athens — and these again, occasionally, against Thebes, — were ready to devour each other. Germany presents the same prospects — Prussia against Austria. Do the greater provinces in Holland endanger the liberties of the lesser? And let me remark, that the weaker you make your confederation, the greater the danger to the lesser states. They can only be protected by a strong federal government. Those gentlemen who oppose the Virginia plan do not sufficiently analyze the subject. Their remarks, in general, are vague and inconclusive.

Capt. DAYTON. On the discussion of this question the fate of the state governments depends.

Mr. WILLIAMSON. If any argument will admit of demonstration, it is that which declares that all men have an equal right in society. Against this position, I have heard, as yet, no argument; and I could wish to hear what could be said against it. What is tyranny? Representatives of representatives, if you give them the power of taxation. From equals take equals, and the remainder is equal. What process is to annihilate smaller states, I know not. But I know it must be tyranny, if the smaller states can tax the greater, in order to ease themselves. A general government cannot exercise direct taxation. Money must be raised by duties and imposts, c., and this will operate equally. It is impossible to tax according to numbers. Can a man over the mountains, where produce is a drug, pay equal with one near the shore?

Mr. WILSON. I should be glad to hear the gentleman from Maryland explain himself upon the remark on Old Sarum, when compared with the city of London. He has allowed this to be an unjust proportion; as in the one place one man sends two members, and in the other one million are represented by four members. I would be glad to hear how he applies this to the larger and smaller states in America; and whether the borough, as a borough, is represented, or the people of the borough.

Mr. MARTIN rose to explain. Individuals, as composing a part of the whole of one consolidated government, are there represented.

The further consideration of the question was postponed.

Mr. SHERMAN. In society, the poor are equal to the rich in voting, although one pays more than the other. This arises from an equal distribution of liberty amongst all ranks: and it is, on the same grounds, secured to the states in Confederation; for this would not even trust the important powers to a majority of the states. Congress has too many checks, and their powers are too limited. A gentleman from New York thinks a limited monarchy the best government, and no state distinctions. The plan now before us gives the power to four states to govern nine states. As they will have the purse, they may raise troops, and can also make a king when they please.

Mr. MADISON. There is danger in the idea of the gentleman from Connecticut. Unjust representation will ever produce it. In the United Netherlands, Holland governs the whole, although she has only one vote. The counties in Virginia are exceedingly disproportionate, and yet the smaller has an equal vote with the greater, and no inconvenience arises.

Gov. FRANKLIN read some remarks acknowledging the difficulties of the present subject. Neither ancient nor modern history (said Gov. Franklin) can give us light. As a sparrow does not fall without divine permission, can we suppose that governments can be erected without his will? We shall, I am afraid, be disgraced, through little party views. I move that we have prayers every morning.

Adjourned till to-morrow morning.

FRIDAY, June 29, 1787


Met pursuant to adjournment. Present, eleven states.

Dr. JOHNSON. As the debates have hitherto been managed, they may be spun out to an endless length; and as gentlemen argue on different grounds, they are equally conclusive on the points they advance, but afford no demonstration either way. States are political societies. For whom are we to form a government? for the people of America, or for those societies? Undoubtedly for the latter. They must, therefore, have a voice in the second branch of the general government, if you mean to preserve their existence. The people already compose the first branch. This mixture is proper and necessary; for we cannot form a general government on any other ground.

Mr. GORHAM. I perceive no difficulty in supposing a union of interest in the different states. Massachusetts formerly consisted of three distinct provinces. They have been united into one, and we do not find the least trace of party distinctions arising from their former separation. Thus it is that the interest of the smaller states will unite in a general government. It is thus they will be supported. Jersey, in particular, situated between Philadelphia and New York, can never become a commercial state. It would be her interest to be divided, and part annexed to New York and part to Pennsylvania — or otherwise the whole to the general government. Massachusetts cannot long remain a large state. The province of Maine must soon become independent of her. Pennsylvania can never become a dangerous state. Her western country must at some period become separated from her, and consequently her power will be diminished. If some states will not confederate on a new plan, I will remain here, if only one state will consent to confederate with us.

Judge ELLSWORTH. I do not despair but that we shall be so fortunate as to devise and adopt some good plan of government.

Judge READ. I would have no objection, if the government was more national; but the proposed plan is so great a mixture of both, that it is best to drop it altogether. A state government is incompatible with a general government. If it was more national, I would be for a representation proportionate to population. The plan of the gentleman from New York is certainly the best; but the great evil is the unjust appropriation of the public lands. If there was but one national government, we would be all equally interested.

Mr. MADISON. Some gentlemen are afraid that the plan is not sufficiently national, while others, that it is too much so. If this point of representation was once well fixed, we would come nearer to one another in sentiment. The necessity would then be discovered of circumscribing more effectually the state governments, and enlarging the bounds of the general government. Some contend that states are sovereign, when in fact they are only political societies. There is a gradation of power in all societies, from the lowest corporation to the highest sovereign. The states never possessed the essential rights of sovereignty. These were always vested in Congress. Their voting, as states, in Congress, is no evidence of sovereignty. The state of Maryland voted by counties. Did this make the counties sovereign? The states, at present, are only great corporations, having the power of making by-laws, and these are effectual only if they are not contradictory to the general Confederation. The states ought to be placed under control of the general government — at least as much so as they formerly were under the king and British Parliament. The arguments, I observe, have taken a different turn, and I hope may tend to convince all of the necessity of a strong energetic government, which would equally tend to give energy to and protect the state governments. What was the origin of the military establishment of Europe? It was the jealousy which one state or kingdom entertained of another. This jealousy was productive of evil. In Rome, the patricians were often obliged to excite a foreign war, to divert the attention of the plebeians from encroaching on the senatorial rights. In England and France, perhaps this jealousy may give energy to their governments, and contribute to their existence. But a state of danger is like a state of war, and it unites the various parts of the government to exertion. May not our distractions, however, invite danger from abroad? If the power is not immediately derived from the people, in proportion to their numbers, we may make a paper confederacy, but that will be all. We know the effects of the old Confederation, and without a general government this will be like the former.

Mr. HAMILTON. The course of my experience in human affairs might perhaps restrain me from saying much on this subject. I shall, however, give birth to some of the observations I have made during the course of this debate. The gentleman from Maryland has been at great pains to establish positions which are not denied. Many of them, as drawn from the best writers on government, are become almost self-evident principles. But I doubt the propriety of his application of those principles in the present discussion. He deduces from them the necessity that states entering into a confederacy must retain the equality of votes. This position cannot be correct. Facts plainly contradict it. The Parliament of Great Britain asserted a supremacy over the whole empire; and the celebrated Judge Blackstone labors for the legality of it, although many parts were not represented. This parliamentary power we opposed as contrary to our colonial rights. With that exception, throughout that whole empire, it is submitted to. May not the smaller and greater states so modify their respective rights as to establish the general interest of the whole, without adhering to the right of equality? Strict representation is not observed in any of the state governments. The Senate of New York are chosen by persons of certain qualifications, to the exclusion of others. The question, after all, is, Is it our interest, in modifying this general government, to sacrifice individual rights to the preservation of the rights of an artificial being, called states? There can be no truer principle than this — that every individual of the community at large has an equal right to the protection of government. If, therefore, three states contain a majority of the inhabitants of America; ought they to be governed by a minority? Would the inhabitants of the great states ever submit to this? If the smaller states maintain this principle, through a love of power, will not the larger, from the same motive, be equally tenacious to preserve their power? They are to surrender their rights: for what? — for the preservation of an artificial being. We propose a free government. Can it be so if partial distinctions are maintained? I agree with the gentleman from Delaware that, if the state governments are to act in the general government, it affords the strongest reason for exclusion. In the state of New York, five counties form a majority of representatives, and yet the government is in no danger, because the laws have a general operation. The small states exaggerate their danger, and on this ground contend for an unproportion of power. But their danger is increased if the larger states will not submit to it. Where will they form new alliances for their support? Will they do this with foreign powers? Foreigners are jealous of our increasing greatness, and would rejoice in our distractions. Those who have had opportunities of conversing with foreigners respecting sovereigns in Europe, have discovered in them an anxiety for the preservation of our democratic governments, probably for no other reason but to keep us weak. Unless your government is respectable, foreigners will invade your rights; and to maintain tranquillity you must be respectable; even to observe neutrality you must have a strong government. I confess our present situation is critical. We have just finished a war which has established our independency, and loaded us with a heavy debt. We have still every motive to unite for our common defence. Our people are disposed to have a good government; but this disposition may not always prevail. It is difficult to amend confederations. It has been attempted in vain, and it is perhaps a miracle that we are now met. We must therefore improve the opportunity, and render the present system as perfect as possible. Their good sense, and, above all, the necessity of their affairs, will induce the people to adopt it.

Mr. PIERCE. The great difficulty in Congress arose from the mode of voting. Members spoke on the floor as state advocates, and were biased by local advantages. What is federal? No more than a compact between states, and the one heretofore formed is insufficient. We are now met to remedy its defects, and our difficulties are great, but not, I hope, insurmountable. State distinctions must be sacrificed so far as the general government shall render it necessary — without, however, destroying them altogether. Although I am here a representative from a small state, I consider myself as a citizen of the United States, whose general interests I will always support.

Mr. GERRY. It appears to me that the states never were independent; they had only corporate rights. Confedarations are a mongrel kind of government, and the world does not afford a precedent to go by. Aristocracy is the worst kind of government, and I would sooner submit to a monarchy. We must have a system that will execute itself.

The question was then put on Mr. Lansing’s motion, and lost — 4 ayes, 6 noes, 1 state divided.

Question on the clause — 6 ayes, 4 noes, and 1 state divided.

Judge ELLSWORTH. I move that the consideration of the 8th resolve be postponed. Carried — 9 ayes, 2 noes.

I now move the following amendment to the resolve — that, in the second branch, each state have an equal vote. I confess that the effect of this motion is, to make the general government partly federal and partly national. This will secure tranquillity, and still make it efficient; and it will meet the objections of the larger states. In taxes they will have a proportional weight in the first branch of the general legislature. If the great states refuse this plan, we will be forever separated. Even in the executive the larger states have ever had influence. The province of Holland ever had it. If all the states are to exist, they must necessarily have an equal vote in the general government. Small communities, when associating with greater, can only be supported by an equality of votes. I have always found, in my reading and experience, that in all societies the governors are ever gradually rising into power.

The large states, although they may not have a common interest for combination, yet they may be partially attached to each other for mutual support and advancement. This can be more easily effected than the union of the remaining small states to check it; and ought we not to regard antecedent plighted faith to the Confederation already entered into, and by the terms of it declared to be perpetual? And it is not yet obvious to me that the states will depart from this ground. When in the hour of common danger we united as equals, shall it now be urged by some that we must depart from this principle when the danger is over? Will the world say that this is just? We then associated as free and independent states, and were well satisfied. To perpetuate that independence, I wish to establish a national legislature, executive, and judiciary; for under these we shall, I doubt not, preserve peace and harmony. Nor would I be surprised (although we made the general government the most perfect, in our opinion) that it should hereafter require amendment. But at present this is as far as I possibly can go. If this Convention only chalk out lines of good government, we shall do well.

Mr. BALDWIN. It appears to be agreed that the government we should adopt ought to be energetic and formidable; yet I would guard against the danger of being too formidable. The second branch ought not to be elected as the first. Suppose we take the example of the Constitution of Massachusetts, as it is commended for its goodness. There the first branch represents the people, and the second its property.

Mr. MADISON. I would always exclude inconsistent principles in framing a system of government. The difficulty of getting its defects amended are great, and sometimes insurmountable. The Virginia state government was the first which was made; and though its defects are evident to every person, we cannot get it amended. The Dutch have made four several attempts to amend their system, without success. The few alterations made in it were by tumult and faction, and for the worse. If there was real danger, I would give the smaller states the defensive weapons. But there is none from that quarter. The great danger to our general government is the great southern and northern interest of the continent being opposed to each other. Look to the votes in Congress, and most of them stand divided by the geography of the country, not according to the size of the states.

Suppose the first branch granted money; may not the second branch, from state views, counteract the first? In Congress, the single state of Delaware prevented an embargo, at the time that all the other states thought it absolutely necessary for the support of the army. Other powers, and those very essential, besides the legislative, will be given to the second branch — such as the negativing all state laws. I would compromise on this question, if I could do it on correct principles, but otherwise not. If the old fabric of the Confederation must be the groundwork of the new, we must fail.

Adjourned till to-morrow morning.

SATURDAY, June 30, 1787


Met pursuant to adjournment. Present, eleven states.

Judge BREARLY moved that the president be directed to write to the executive of New Hampshire, requesting the attendance of its delegates.

Negatived — 2 ayes, 5 noes, 1 state divided.

The discussion of yesterday resumed.

Mr. WILSON. The question now before us is of so much consequence that I cannot give it a silent vote. Gentlemen have said that, if this amendment is not agreed to, a separation to the north of Pennsylvania may be the consequence. This staggers me neither in my sentiments nor my duty. If a minority should refuse their assent to the new plan of a general government, and if they will have their own will, and without it separate the Union, let it be done; but we shall stand supported by stronger and better principles. The opposition to this plan is as 22 to 90, in the general scale — not quite a fourth part of the Union. Shall three fourths of the Union surrender their rights for the support of that artificial being, called state interest? If we must join issue, I am willing. I cannot consent that one fourth shall control the power of three fourths.

If the motion is adopted, seven states will control the whole, and the lesser seven compose 24 out of 90. One third must control two thirds — 24 overrule 66. For whom do we form a Constitution? For men, or for imaginary beings, called states — a mere metaphysical distinction? Will a regard to state rights justify the sacrifice of the rights of men? If we proceed on any other foundation than the last our building will neither be solid nor lasting. Weight and numbers is the only true principle: every other is local, confined, or imaginary. Much has been said of the danger of the three larger states combining together to give rise to monarchy or an aristocracy. Let the probability of this combination be explained, and it will be found that a rivalship, rather than a confederacy, will exist among them. Is there a single point in which this interest coincides? Supposing that the executive should be selected from one of the larger states; can the other two be gratified? Will not this be a source of jealousy amongst them; and will they not separately court the interest of the smaller states, to counteract the views of a favorite rival? How can aristocracy arise from this combination, more than amongst the smaller states? On the contrary, the present claims of the smaller states lead directly to the establishment of an aristocracy, which is the government of the few over the many; and the Connecticut proposal removes only a small part of the objection. There are only two kinds of bad government — the one, which does too much, and therefore oppressive, and the other, which does too little, and therefore weak. Congress partakes of the latter, and the motion will leave us in the same situation, and as much fettered as ever we were. The people see its weakness, and would be mortified in seeing our inability to correct it.

The gentleman from Georgia has his doubts how to vote on this question, and wishes some qualification of it to be made. I admit there ought to be some difference as to the numbers in the second branch; and perhaps there are other distinctions which could, with propriety, be introduced; such, for example, as the qualifications of the elected, c. However, if there are leading principles in the system which we adopt, much may be done in the detail. We all aim at giving the general government more energy. The state governments are necessary and valuable. No liberty can be obtained without them. On this question depend the essential rights of the general government and of the people.

Judge ELLSWORTH. I have the greatest respect for the gentleman who spoke last. I respect his abilities, although I differ from him on many points. He asserts that the general government must depend on the equal suffrage of the people. But will this not put it in the power of the few states to control the rest? It is a novel thing in politics that the few control the many. In the British government, the few, as a guard, have an equal share in the government. The House of Lords, although few in number, and sitting in their own right, have an equal share in the legislature. They cannot give away the property of the community, but they can prevent the Commons from being too lavish in their gifts. Where is, or was, a confederation ever formed, where equality of voices was not a fundamental principle? Mankind are apt to go from one extreme to another; and because we have found defects in the Confederation, must we therefore pull down the whole fabric, foundation and all, in order to erect a new building, totally different from it, without retaining any of its materials? What are its defects? It is said equality of votes has embarrassed us. But how? Would the real evils of our situation have been cured, had this not been the case? Would the proposed amendment on the Virginia plan, as to representation, have relieved us? I fancy not. Rhode Island has been often quoted as a small state, and by its refusal once defeated the grant of the impost. Whether she was right in doing so, is not the question; but was it a federal requisition? And if it was not, she did not, in this instance, defeat a federal measure.

If the larger states seek security, they have it fully in the first branch of the general government. But can we turn the tables, and say that the lesser states are equally secure? In commercial regulations they will unite. If policy should require free ports, they would be found at Boston, Philadelphia, and Alexandria. In the disposition of lucrative offices they would unite. But I ask no surrender of any of the rights of the great states; nor do I plead duress in the makers of the old Confederation, nor suppose they soothed the danger, in order to resume their rights when the danger was over. No; small states must possess the power of self-defence, or be ruined. Will any one say there is no diversity of interests in the states? And if there is, should not those interests be guarded and secured? But if there is none, then the large states have nothing to apprehend from an equality of rights. And let it be remembered, that these remarks are not the result of partial or local views. The state I represent is respectable, and in importance holds a middle rank.

Mr. MADISON. Notwithstanding the admirable and close reasoning of the gentleman who spoke last, I am not yet convinced that my former remarks are not well founded. I apprehend that he is mistaken as to the fact on which he builds one of his arguments. He supposes that equality of votes is the principle on which all confederacies are formed. That of Lycia, so justly applauded by the celebrated Montesquieu, was different. He also appeals to our good faith for the observance of the confederacy. We know we have found one inadequate to the purposes for which it was made. Why then adhere to a system which is proved to be so remarkably defective? I have impeached a number of states for the infraction of the Confederation; and I have not even spared my own state, nor can I justly spare his. Did not Connecticut refuse her compliance to the federal requisition? Has she paid, for the two last years, any money into the Continental treasury? And does this look like government, or the observance of a solemn compact? Experience shows that the Confederation is radically defective; and we must, in a new national government, guard against those defects. Although the large states in the first branch have weight proportionate to their population, yet, as the smaller states have an equal vote in the second branch, they will be able to control and leave the larger without any essential benefit. As peculiar powers are intended to be granted to the second branch, such as the negativing state laws, c., unless the larger states have a proportionate weight in the representation, they cannot be more secure.

Judge ELLSWORTH. My state has always been strictly federal, — and I can with confidence appeal to your excellency [the president] for the truth of it during the war. The muster-rolls will show that she had more troops in the field than even the state of Virginia. We strained every nerve to raise them; and we spared neither money nor exertions to complete our quotas. This extraordinary exertion has greatly distressed and impoverished us, and it has accumulated our state debts. We feel the effects of it even to this day. But we defy any gentleman to show that we ever refused a federal requisition. We are constantly exerting ourselves to draw money from the pockets of our citizens, as fast as it comes in; and it is the ardent wish of the state to strengthen the federal government. If she has proved delinquent through inability only, it is not more than others have been, without the same excuse.

Mr. SHERMAN. I acknowledge there have been failures in complying with the federal requisition. Many states have been defective, and the object of our Convention is to amend these defects.

Col. DAVIE. I have great objection to the Virginia plan as to the manner the second branch is to be formed. It is impracticable. The number may, in time, amount to two or three hundred. This body is too large for the purposes for which we intend to constitute it. I shall vote for the amendment. Some intend a compromise. This has been hinted by a member from Pennsylvania, but it still has its difficulties. The members will have their local prejudices. The preservation of the state societies must be the object of the general government. It has been asserted that we were one in war, and one in peace. Such we were as states; but every treaty must be the law of the land as it affects individuals. The formation of the second branch, as it is intended by the motion, is also objectionable. We are going the same round with the old Confederation. No plan yet presents sufficient checks to a tumultuary assembly; and there is none, therefore, which yet satisfies me.

Mr. WILSON. On the present motion it was not proper to propose another plan. I think the second branch ought not to be numerous. I will propose an expedient: Let there be one member for every 100,000 souls, and the smallest states not less than one member each. This would give about twenty-six members. I make this proposal, not because I belong to a large state, but in order to pull down a rotten house, and lay a foundation for a new building. To give additional weight to an old building is to hasten its ruin.

Gov. FRANKLIN. The smaller states, by this motion, would have the power of giving away the money of the greater states. There ought to be some difference between the first and second branches. Many expedients have been proposed, and, I am sorry to remark, without effect. A joiner, when he wants to fit two boards, takes off with his plane the uneven parts from each side, and thus they fit. Let us do the same. We are all met to do something.

I shall propose an expedient: Let the Senate be elected by the states equally; in all acts of sovereignty and authority, let the votes be equally taken — the same in the appointment of all officers, and salaries; but in passing of laws, each state shall have a right of suffrage in proportion to the sums they respectively contribute. Amongst merchants, where a ship has many owners, her destination is determined in that proportion. I have been one of the ministers to France from this country during the war, and we should have been very glad, if they would have permitted us a vote in the distribution of the money to carry on the war.

Mr. MARTIN. Mr. Wilson’s motion or plan would amount to nearly the same kind of inequality.

Mr. KING. The Connecticut motion contains all the vices of the old Confederation. It supposes an imaginary evil — the slavery of the state governments. And should this Convention adopt the motion, our business here is at an end.

Capt. DAYTON. Declamation has been substituted for argument. Have gentlemen shown, or must we believe it because it is said, that one of the evils of the old Confederation was unequal representation? We, as distinct societies, entered into the compact. Will you now undermine the thirteen pillars that support it?

Mr. MARTIN. If we cannot confederate on just principles, I will never confederate in any other manner.

Mr. MADISON. I will not answer for supporting chimerical objects; but has experience evinced any good in the old Confederation? I know it never can answer, and I have therefore made use of bold language against it. I do assert that a national Senate, elected and paid by the people, will have no more efficiency than Congress; for the states will usurp the general government. I mean, however, to preserve the state rights with the same care as I would trials by jury; and I am willing to go as far as my honorable colleague.

Mr. BEDFORD. That all the states at present are equally sovereign and independent, has been asserted from every quarter of this house. Our deliberations here are a confirmation of the position; and I may add to it, that each of them acts from interested, and many from ambitious motives. Look at the votes which have been given on the floor of this house, and it will be found that their numbers, wealth, and local views, have actuated their determinations; and that the larger states proceed as if our eyes were already perfectly blinded. Impartiality, with them, is already out of the question; the reported plan is their political creed, and they support it, right or wrong. Even the diminutive state of Georgia has an eye to her future wealth and greatness. South Carolina, puffed up with the possession of her wealth and negroes, and North Carolina, are all, from different views, united with the great states. And these latter, although it is said they can never, from interested views, form a coalition, we find closely united in one scheme of interest and ambition, (notwithstanding they endeavor to amuse us with the purity of their principle and the rectitude of their intentions,) in asserting that the general government must be drawn from an equal representation of the people. Pretences to support ambition are never wanting. Their cry is, Where is the danger? and they insist that although the powers of the general government will be increased, yet it will be for the good of the whole; and although the three great states form nearly a majority of the people of America, they never will hurt or injure the lesser states. I do not, gentlemen, trust you. If you possess the power, the abuse of it could not be checked; and what then would prevent you from exercising it to our destruction? You gravely allege that there is no danger of combination, and triumphantly ask, “How could combinations be effected? The large states,” you say, “all differ in productions and commerce; and experience shows that, instead of combinations, they would be rivals, and counteract the views of one another.” This, I repeat, is language calculated only to amuse us. Yes, sir, the larger states will be rivals, but not against each other — they will be rivals against the rest of the states. But it is urged that such a government would suit the people, and that its principles are equitable and just. How often has this argument been refuted, when applied to a federal government! The small states never can agree to the Virginia plan; and why, then, is it still urged? But it is said that it is not expected that the state governments will approve the proposed system, and that this house must directly carry it to THE PEOPLE for their approbation! Is it come to this, then, that the sword must decide this controversy, and that the horrors of war must be added to the rest of our misfortunes? But what have the people already said? “We find the Confederation defective. Go, and give additional powers to the Confederation — give to it the imposts, regulation of trade, power to collect the taxes, and the means to discharge our foreign and domestic debts.”

Can we not, then, as their delegates, agree upon these points? As their ambassadors, can we not clearly grant those powers? Why, then, when we are met, must entire distinct and new grounds be taken, and a government of which the people had no idea be instituted? And are we to be told, if we won’t agree to it, it is the last moment of our deliberations? I say, it is indeed the last moment, if we do not agree to this assumption of power. The states will never again be entrapped into a measure like this. The people will say, The small states would confederate, and grant further powers to Congress; but you, the large states, would not. Then the fault would be yours, and all the nations of the earth will justify us. But what is to become of our public debts, if we dissolve the Union? Where is your plighted faith? Will you crush the smaller states, or must they be left unmolested? Sooner than be ruined, there are foreign powers who will take us by the hand.

I say not this to threaten or intimidate, but that we should reflect seriously before we act. If we once leave this floor, and solemnly renounce your new project, what will be the consequence? You will annihilate your federal government, and ruin must stare you in the face. Let us, then, do what is in our power — amend and enlarge the Confederation, but not alter the federal system. The people expect this, and no more. We all agree in the necessity of a more efficient government — and cannot this be done? Although my state is small, I know and respect its rights, as much, at least, as those who have the honor to represent any of the larger states.

Judge ELLSWORTH. I am asked by my honorable friend from Massachusetts, whether, by entering into a national government, I will not equally participate in national security. I confess I should; but I want domestic happiness, as well as general security. A general government will never grant me this, as it cannot know my wants or relieve my distress. My state is only as one out of thirteen. Can they, the general government, gratify my wishes? My happiness depends as much on the existence of my state government, as a new-born infant depends upon its mother for nourishment. If this is not an answer, I have no other to give.

Mr. KING. I am in sentiment with those who wish the preservation of state governments; but the general government may be so constituted as to effect it. Let the Constitution we are about forming be considered as a commission under which the general government shall act, and as such it will be the guardian of the state rights. The rights of Scotland are secure from all danger and encroachments, although in the Parliament she has a small representation. May not this be done in our general government? Since I am up, I am concerned for what fell from the gentleman from Delaware — “ Take a foreign power by the hand! ” I am sorry he mentioned it, and I hope he is able to excuse it to himself on the score of passion. Whatever may be my distress, I never will court a foreign power to assist in relieving myself from it.

Adjourned till Monday next.

MONDAY, July 2, 1787


Met pursuant to adjournment. Present, eleven states.

The question was then put on Mr. Ellsworth’s motion — 5 ayes, 5 noes, 1 state divided. So the question, as to the amendment, was lost.

Mr. PINCKNEY. As a professional man, I might say that there is no weight in the argument adduced in favor of the motion on which we are divided; but candor obliges me to own that equality of suffrage in the states is wrong. Prejudices will prevail, and they have an equal weight in the larger as in the smaller states. There is a solid distinction, as to interest, between the Southern and Northern States. To destroy the ill effects thereof, I renew the motion which I made in the early stage of this business. [See the plan, page 145.]

Gen. PINCKNEY moved for a select committee, to take into consideration both branches of the legislature.

Mr. MARTIN. It is again attempted to compromise. You must give each state an equal suffrage, or our business is at an end.

Mr. SHERMAN. It seems we have got to a point, that we cannot move one way or the other. Such a committee is necessary, to set us right.

Mr. MORRIS. The two branches, so equally poised cannot have their due weight. It is confessed, on all hands that the second branch ought to be a check on the first; for without its having this effect, it is perfectly useless. The first branch, originating from the people, will ever be subject to precipitancy, changeability, and excess. Experience evinces the truth of this remark, without having recourse to reading. This can only be checked by ability and virtue in the second branch. On your present system, can you suppose that one branch will possess it more than the other? The second branch ought to be composed of men of great and established property — aristocracy; men who, from pride, will support consistency and permanency; and to make them completely independent, they must be chosen for life, or they will be a useless body. Such an aristocratic body will keep down the turbulency of democracy. But if you elect them for a shorter period, they will be only a name, and we had better be without them. Thus constituted, I hope they will show us the weight of aristocracy.

History proves, I admit, that the men of large property will uniformly endeavor to establish tyranny. How, then, shall we ward off this evil? Give them the second branch, and you secure their weight for the public good. They become responsible for their conduct, and this lust of power will ever be checked by the democratic branch, and thus form a stability in your government. But if we continue changing our measures by the breadth of democracy, who will confide in our engagements? Who will trust us? Ask any person whether he reposes any confidence in the government of Congress, or that of the state of Pennsylvania, he will readily answer you, No. Ask him the reason, and he will tell you, it is because he has no confidence in their stability.

You intend also that the second branch shall be incapable of holding any office in the general government. It is a dangerous expedient. They ought to have every inducement to be interested in your government. Deprive them of this right, and they will become inattentive to your welfare. The wealthy will ever exist; and you never can be safe unless you gratify them, as a body, in the pursuit of honor and profit. Prevent them by positive institutions, and they will proceed in some left-handed way. A son may want a place — you mean to prevent him from promotion. They are not to be paid for their services; they will in some way pay themselves; nor is it in your power to prevent it. It is good policy that men of property be collected in one body, to give them one common influence in your government. Let vacancies be filled up, as they happen, by the executive. Besides, it is of little consequence, on this plan, whether the states are equally represented or not. If the state governments have the division of many of the loaves and fishes, and the general government few, it cannot exist. This Senate would be one of the baubles of the general government. If you choose them for seven years, whether chosen by the people or the states, whether by equal suffrage or in any other proportion, how will they be a check? They will still have local and state prejudices. A government by compact is no government at all. You may as well go back to your congressional federal government, where, in the character of ambassadors, they may form treaties for each state.

I avow myself the advocate of a strong government; still I admit that the influence of the rich must be guarded; and a pure democracy is equally oppressive to the lower orders of the community. This remark is founded on the experience of history. We are a commercial people, and as such will be obliged to engage in European politics. Local government cannot apply to the general government. These latter remarks I throw out only for the consideration of the committee who are to be appointed.

Gov. RANDOLPH. I am in favor of appointing a committee; but, considering the warmth exhibited in debate on Saturday, I have, I confess, no great hopes that any good will arise from it. Cannot a remedy be devised? If there is danger to the lesser states, from an unequal representation in the second branch, may not a check be found in the appointment of one executive, by electing him by an equality of state votes? He must have the right of interposing between the two branches, and this might give a reasonable security to the smaller states. Not one of the lesser states can exist by itself; and a dissolution of the Confederation, I confess, would produce contentions as well in the larger as in the smaller states. The principle of self-preservation induces me to seek for a government that will be stable and secure.

Mr. STRONG moved to refer the 7th resolve to the same committee.

Mr. WILSON. I do not approve of the motion for a committee. I also object to the mode of its appointment — a small committee is the best.

Mr. LANSING. I shall not oppose the appointment, but I expect no good from it.

Mr. MADISON. I have observed that committees only delay business; and if you appoint one from each state, we shall have in it the whole force of state prejudices. The great difficulty is to conquer former opinions. The motion of the gentleman from South Carolina can be as well decided here as in committee.

Mr. GERRY. The world at large expect something from us. If we do nothing, it appears to me we must have war and confusion; for the old Confederation would be at an end. Let us see if no concession can be made. Accommodation is absolutely necessary, and defects may be amended by a future convention.

The motion was then put to appoint a committee on the 8th resolve, and so much of the 7th as was not agreed to. Carried — 9 states against 2.

And, by ballot, the following members were appointed: —

Massachusetts, Mr. Gerry.

Connecticut, Mr. Ellsworth.

New York, Mr. Yates.

New Jersey, Mr. Patterson.

Pennsylvania, Mr. Franklin.

Delaware, Mr. Bedford.

Maryland, Mr. Martin.

Virginia, Mr. Mason.

North Carolina, Mr. Davie.

South Carolina, Mr. Rutledge.

Georgia, Mr. Baldwin.

The Convention then adjourned to Thursday, the 5th of July.

TUESDAY, July 3, 1787


The grand committee met. Mr. Gerry was chosen chairman.

The committee proceeded to consider in what manner they should discharge the business with which they were intrusted. By the proceedings in the Convention, they were so equally divided on the important question of representation in the two branches, that the idea of a conciliatory adjustment must have been in contemplation of the house in the appointment of this committee. But still, how to effect this salutary purpose was the question. Many of the members, impressed with the utility of a general government, connected with it the indispensable necessity of a representation from the states according to their numbers and wealth; while others, equally tenacious of the rights of the states, would admit of no other representation but such as was strictly federal, or, in other words, equality of suffrage. This brought on a discussion of the principles on which the house had divided, and a lengthy recapitulation of the arguments advanced in the house in support of these opposite propositions. As I had not openly explained my sentiments on any former occasion on this question, but constantly, in giving my vote, showed my attachment to the national government on federal principles, I took this occasion to explain my motives.

These remarks gave rise to a motion of Dr. Franklin, which, after some modification, was agreed to, and made the basis of the following report of the committee: —

“The committee to whom was referred the 8th resolution reported from the committee of the whole house, and so much of the 7th as had not been decided on, submit the following report: —

“ ‘That the subsequent propositions be recommended to the Convention, on condition that both shall be generally adopted.

“ ‘That, in the first branch of the legislature, each of the states now in the Union be allowed one member for every 40,000 inhabitants of the description reported in the 7th resolution of the committee of the whole house. That each state, not containing that number, shall be allowed one member.

“ ‘That bills for raising or apportioning money, and for fixing salaries of the officers of government of the United States, shall originate in the first branch of the legislature, and shall not be altered or amended by the second branch; and that no money shall be drawn from the public treasury but in pursuance of appropriations to be originated in the first branch.

“ ‘That, in the second branch of the legislature, each state shall have an equal vote. ’ ”

THURSDAY, July 5, 1787


Met pursuant to adjournment. The report of the committee was read.

Mr. GORHAM. I call for an explanation of the principles on which it is grounded.

Mr. GERRY, the chairman, explained the principles.

Mr. MARTIN. The one representation is proposed as an expedient for the adoption of the other.

Mr. WILSON. The committee have exceeded their powers.

Mr. MARTIN proposed to take the question on the whole of the report.

Mr. WILSON. I do not choose to take a leap in the dark. I have a right to call for a division of the question on each distinct proposition.

Mr. MADISON. I restrain myself from animadverting on the report, from the respect I bear to the members of the committee. I must confess I see nothing of concession in it.

The originating money bills is no concession on the part of the smaller states; for, if seven states in the second branch should want such a bill, their interest in the first branch will prevail to bring it forward. It is nothing more than a nominal privilege.

The second branch, small in number, and well connected, will ever prevail. The power of regulating trade, imposts, treaties, c., are more essential to the community than raising money, and no provision is made for those in the report. We are driven to an unhappy dilemma. Two thirds of the inhabitants of the Union are to please the remaining one third by sacrificing their essential rights.

When we satisfy the majority of the people in securing their rights, we have nothing to fear; in any other way, every thing. The smaller states, I hope, will at last see their true and real interest; and I hope that the warmth of the gentleman from Delaware will never induce him to yield to his own suggestion of seeking for foreign aid.

[At this period (July 5, 1787) Messrs. Yates and Lansing left the Convention, and the remainder of the session was employed to complete the Constitution, on the principles already adopted.]

Hon. Robert Yates

Yates, Hon. Robert

Hon. John Lansing

Lansing, Hon. John




We do ourselves the honor to advise your excellency that, in pursuance to concurrent resolutions of the honorable Senate and Assembly, we have, together with Mr. Hamilton, attended the Convention appointed for revising the Articles of Confederation, and reporting amendments to the same.

It is with the sincerest concern we observe that, in the prosecution of the important objects of our mission, we have been reduced to the disagreeable alternative of either exceeding the powers delegated to us, and giving assent to measures which we conceive destructive to the political happiness of the citizens of the United States, or opposing our opinions to that of a body of respectable men, to whom those citizens had given the most unequivocal proofs of confidence. Thus circumstanced, under these impressions, to have hesitated would have been to be culpable. We therefore gave the principles of the Constitution, which has received the sanction of a majority of the Convention, our decided and unreserved dissent; but we must candidly confess that we should have been equally opposed to any system, however modified, which had in object the consolidation of the United States into one government.

We beg leave, briefly, to state some cogent reasons, which, among others, influenced us to decide against a consolidation of the states. These are reducible into two heads: —

1st. The limited and well-defined powers under which we acted, and which could not, on any possible construction, embrace an idea of such magnitude as to assent to a general Constitution, in subversion of that of the state.

2d. A conviction of the impracticability of establishing a general government, pervading every part of the United States, and extending essential benefits to all.

Our powers were explicit, and confined to the sole and express purpose of revising the Articles of Confederation, and reporting such alterations and provisions therein as should render the Federal Constitution adequate to the exigencies of government and the preservation of the Union.

From these expressions, we were led to believe that a system of consolidated government could not, in the remotest degree, have been in contemplation of the legislature of this state; for that so important a trust as the adopting measures which tended to deprive the state government of its most essential rights of sovereignty, and to place it in a dependent situation, could not have been confided by implication; and the circumstance, that the acts of the Convention were to receive a state approbation in the last resort, forcibly corroborated the opinion that our powers could not involve the subversion of a Constitution which, being immediately derived from the people, could only be abolished by their express consent, and not by a legislature possessing authority vested in them for its preservation. Nor could we suppose that, if it had been the intention of the legislature to abrogate the existing Confederation, they would, in such pointed terms, have directed the attention of their delegates to the revision and amendment of it, in total exclusion of every other idea.

Reasoning in this manner, we were of opinion that the leading feature of every amendment ought to be the preservation of the individual states in their uncontrolled constitutional rights; and that, in reserving these, a mode might have been devised of granting to the Confederacy the moneys arising from a general system of revenue, the power of regulating commerce and enforcing the observance of foreign treaties, and other necessary matters of less moment.

Exclusive of our objections originating from the want of power, we entertained an opinion that a general government, however guarded by declarations of rights, or cautionary provisions, must unavoidably, in a short time, be productive of the destruction of the civil liberty of such citizens who could be effectually coerced by it, by reason of the extensive territory of the United States, the dispersed situation of its inhabitants, and the insuperable difficulty of controlling or counteracting the views of a set of men (however unconstitutional and oppressive their acts might be) possessed of all the powers of government, and who, from their remoteness from their constituents, and necessary permanency of office, could not be supposed to be uniformly actuated by an attention to their welfare and happiness; that, however wise and energetic the principles of the general government might be, the extremities of the United States could not be kept in due submission and obedience to its laws, at the distance of many hundred miles from the seat of government; that, if the general legislature was composed of so numerous a body of men as to represent the interests of all the inhabitants of the United States, in the usual and true ideas of representation, the expense of supporting it would become intolerably burdensome; and that, if a few only were vested with a power of legislation, the interests of a great majority of the inhabitants of the United States must necessarily be unknown; or, if known, even in the first stages of the operations of the new government, unattended to.

These reasons were, in our opinion, conclusive against any system of consolidated government: to that recommended by the Convention, we suppose most of them very forcibly apply.

It is not our intention to pursue this subject farther than merely to explain our conduct in the discharge of the trust which the honorable the legislature reposed in us. Interested, however, as we are, in common with our fellow-citizens, in the result, we cannot forbear to declare that we have the strongest apprehensions that a government so organized as that recommended by the Convention cannot afford that security to equal and permanent liberty which we wished to make an invariable object of our pursuit.

We were not present at the completion of the new Constitution; but before we left the Convention, its principles were so well established as to convince us that no alteration was to be expected, to conform it to our ideas of expediency and safety. A persuasion, that our further attendance would be fruitless and unavailing, rendered us less solicitous to return.

We have thus explained our motives for opposing the adoption of the national Constitution, which we conceived it our duty to communicate to your excellency, to be submitted to the consideration of the honorable legislature.

We have the honor to be, with the greatest respect, your excellency’s most obedient and very humble servants,



His Excellency, Governor CLINTON.

Edmund Randolph

Randolph, Edmund

Oct. 10, 1787





Oct. 10, 1787



The Constitution, which I enclosed to the General Assembly in a late official letter, appears without my signature. This circumstance, although trivial in its own nature, has been rendered rather important, to myself at least, by being misunderstood by some and misrepresented by others. As I disdain to conceal the reasons for withholding my subscription, I have always been, still am, and ever shall be, ready to proclaim them to the world. To the legislature, therefore, by whom I was deputed to the Federal Convention, I beg leave now to address them; affecting no indifference to public opinion, but resolved not to court it by an unmanly sacrifice of my own judgment.

As this explanation will involve a summary but general review of our federal situation, you will pardon me, I trust, although I should transgress the usual bounds of a letter.

Before my departure for the Convention, I believed that the Confederation was not so eminently defective as it had been supposed. But after I had entered into a free communication with those who were best informed of the condition and interest of each state; after I had compared the intelligence derived from them with the properties which ought to characterize the government of our Union, — I became persuaded that the Confederation was destitute of every energy which a constitution of the United States ought to possess.

For the objects proposed by its institution were, that it should be a shield against foreign hostility, and a firm resort against domestic commotion; that it should cherish trade, and promote the prosperity of the states under its care.

But these are not among the attributes of our present union. Severe experience under the pressure of war, a ruinous weakness manifested since the return of peace, and the contemplation of those dangers which darken the future prospect, have condemned the hope of grandeur and safety under the suspices of the Confederation.

In the exigencies of war, indeed, the history of its effects is but short; the final ratification having been delayed until the beginning of the year 1781. But however short, this period is distinguished by melancholy testimonies of its inability to maintain in harmony the social intercourse of the states, to defend Congress against encroachments on their rights, and to obtain, by requisitions, supplies to the federal treasury, or recruits to the federal armies. I shall not attempt an enumeration of the particular instances, but leave to your own remembrance, and the records of Congress, the support of the assertions.

In the season of peace, too, not many years have elapsed; and yet each of them has produced fatal examples of delinquency, and sometimes of pointed opposition to federal duties. To the various remonstrances of Congress I appeal for a gloomy but unexaggerated narrative of the injuries which our faith, honor, and happiness, have sustained by the failure of the states.

But these evils are past; and some may be led by an honest zeal to conclude that they cannot be repeated. Yes, sir, they will be repeated as long as the Confederation exists, and will bring with them other mischiefs springing from the same source, which cannot yet be foreseen in their full array of terror.

If we examine the constitution and laws of the several states, it is immediately discovered that the law of nations is unprovided with sanctions in many cases which deeply affect public dignity and public justice. The letter, however, of the Confederation does not permit Congress to remedy these defects; and such an authority, although evidently deducible from its spirit, cannot without violation of the second article, be assumed. Is it not a political phenomenon, that the head of the confederacy should be doomed to be plunged into war, from its wretched impotency to check offences against this law, and sentenced to witness, in unavailing anguish, the infraction of their engagements to foreign sovereigns?

And yet this is not the only grievous point of weakness. After a war shall be inevitable, the requisitions of Congress for quotas of men or money will again prove unproductive and fallacious. Two causes will always conspire to this baneful consequence.

1. No government can be stable which hangs on human inclination alone, unbiased by coercion; and, 2, from the very connection between states bound to proportionate contributions, jealousies and suspicions naturally arise, which at least chill the ardor, if they do not excite the murmurs, of the whole. I do not forget, indeed, that, by one sudden impulse, our part of the American continent has been thrown into a military posture, and that, in the earlier annals of the war, our armies marched to the field on the mere recommendations of Congress. But ought we to argue, from a contest thus signalized by the magnitude of its stake, that, as often as a flame shall be hereafter kindled, the same enthusiasm will fill our legions, or renew them, as they may be thinned by losses?

If not, where shall we find protection? Impressions like those which prevent a compliance with requisitions of regular forces, will deprive the American republic of the services of militia. But let us suppose that they are attainable, and acknowledge, as I always shall, that they are the natural support of a free government. When it is remembered, that in their absence agriculture must languish; that they are not habituated to military exposures, and the rigor of military discipline; and that the necessity of holding in readiness successive detachments carries the expense far beyond that of enlistments, — this resource ought to be adopted with caution.

As strongly, too, am I persuaded that the requisitions for money will not be more cordially received; for, besides the distrust which would prevail with respect to them also, besides the opinion entertained by each state of its own liberality and unsatisfied demands against the United States, there is another consideration, not less worthy of attention — the first rule for determining each quota by the value of all lands granted or surveyed, and of the buildings and improvements thereon. It is no longer doubted that an equitable, uniform mode of estimating that value is impracticable; and therefore twelve states have substituted the number of inhabitants, under certain limitations, as the standard according to which money is to be furnished. But under the subsisting articles of the Union, the assent of the thirteenth state is necessary, and has not yet been given. This does itself lessen the hope of procuring a revenue for federal uses; and the miscarriage of the impost almost rivets our despondency.

Amidst these disappointments, it would afford some consolation, if, when rebellion shall threaten any state, an ultimate asylum could be found under the wing of Congress. But it is at least equivocal whether they can intrude forces into a state rent asunder by civil discord, even with the purest solicitude for our federal welfare, and on the most urgent entreaties of the state itself. Nay, the very allowance of this power would be pageantry alone, from the want of money and of men.

To these defects of congressional power, the history of man has subjoined others, not less alarming. I earnestly pray that the recollection of common sufferings, which terminated in common glory, may check the sallies of violence, and perpetuate mutual friendship between the states. But I cannot presume that we are superior to those unsocial passions which, under like circumstances, have infested more ancient nations. I cannot presume that, through all time, in the daily mixture of American citizens with each other, in the conflicts for commercial advantages, in the discontents which the neighborhood of territory has been seen to engender in other quarters of the globe, and in the efforts of faction and intrigue, — thirteen distinct communities, under no effective superintending control, (as the United States confessedly now are, notwithstanding the bold terms of the Confederation,) will avoid a hatred to each other deep and deadly.

In the prosecution of this inquiry, we shall find the general prosperity to decline under a system thus unnerved. No sooner is the merchant prepared for foreign ports, with the treasures which this new world kindly offers to his acceptance, than it is announced to him that they are shut against American shipping, or opened under oppressive regulations. He urges Congress to a counter-policy, and is answered only by a condolence on the general misfortune. He is immediately struck with the conviction that, until exclusion shall be opposed to exclusion, and restriction to restriction, the American flag will be disgraced; for who can conceive that thirteen legislatures, viewing commerce under different points of view, and fancying themselves discharged from every obligation to concede the smallest of their commercial advantages for the benefit of the whole, will be wrought into a concert of action, and defiance of every prejudice? Nor is this all. Let the great improvements be recounted which have enriched and illustrated Europe; let it be noted how few those are which will be absolutely denied to the United States, comprehending within their boundaries the choicest blessings of climate, soil, and navigable waters; then let the most sanguine patriot banish, if he can, the mortifying belief, that all these must sleep until they shall be roused by the vigor of a national government.

I have not exemplified the preceding remarks by minute details, because they are evidently fortified by truth and the consciousness of the United States of America. I shall, therefore, no longer deplore the unfitness of the Confederation to secure our peace, but proceed, with a truly unaffected distrust of my own opinions, to examine what order of powers the government of the United States ought to enjoy; how they ought to be defended against encroachments; whether they can be interwoven in the Confederation, without an alteration of its very essence, or must be lodged in new hands; — showing, at the same time, the convulsions which seem to await us, from a dissolution of the Union, or partial confederacies.

To mark the kind and degree of authority which ought to be confided to the government of the United States, is no more than to reverse the description which I have already given of the defects of the Confederation.

From thence it will follow that the operations of peace and war will be clogged without regular advances of money, and that these will be slow indeed, if dependent on supplication alone; for what better name do requisitions deserve, which may be evaded or opposed without the fear of coercion? But although coercion is an indispensable ingredient, it ought not to be directed against a state, as a state, it being impossible to attempt it except by blockading the trade of the delinquent, or carrying war into its bowels. Even if these violent schemes were eligible in other respects, both of them might perhaps be defeated by the scantiness of the public chest; would be tardy in their complete effect, as the expense of the land and naval equipments must be first reimbursed; and might drive the proscribed state into the desperate resolve of inviting foreign alliances. Against each of them lie separate, unconquerable objections. A blockade is not equally applicable to all the states, they being differently circumstanced in commerce and in ports; nay, an excommunication from the privilege of the Union would be vain, because every regulation or prohibition may be easily eluded under the rights of American citizenship, or of foreign nations. But how shall we speak of the intrusion of troops? Shall we arm citizens against citizens, and habituate them to shed kindred blood? Shall we risk the inflicting of wounds which will generate a rancor never to be subdued? Would there be no room to fear that an army, accustomed to fight for the establishment of authority, would salute an emperor of their own? Let us not bring these things into jeopardy. Let us rather substitute the same process by which individuals are compelled to contribute to the government of their own states. Instead of making requisitions to the legislatures, it would appear more proper that taxes should be imposed by the federal head, under due modification and guards; that the collectors should demand from the citizens their respective quotas, and be supported as in the collection of ordinary taxes.

It follows, too, that, as the general government will be responsible to foreign nations, it ought to be able to annul any offensive measure, or enforce any public right. Perhaps, among the topics on which they may be aggrieved or complain, the commercial intercourse, and the manner in which contracts are discharged, may constitute the principal articles of clamor.

It follows, too, that the general government ought to be the supreme arbiter for adjusting every contention among the states. In all their connections, therefore, with each other, and particularly in commerce, which will probably create the greatest discord, it ought to hold the reins.

It follows, too, that the general government ought to protect each state against domestic as well as external violence.

And, lastly, it follows that through the general government alone can we ever assume the rank to which we are entitled by our resources and situation.

Should the people of America surrender these powers, they can be paramount to the constitutions and ordinary acts of legislation only by being delegated by them. I do not pretend to affirm, but I venture to believe, that, if the Confederation had been solemnly questioned in opposition to our Constitution, or even to one of our laws posterior to it, it must have given way; for never did it obtain a higher ratification than a resolution of Assembly in the daily form.

This will be one security against encroachment. But another, not less effectual, is, to exclude the individual states from any agency in the national government, as far as it may be safe, and their interposition may not be absolutely necessary.

But now, sir, permit me to declare that, in my humble judgment, the powers by which alone the blessings of a general government can be accomplished, cannot be interwoven in the Confederation without a change in its very essence; or, in other words, that the Confederation must be thrown aside. This is almost demonstrable, from the inefficacy of requisitions, and from the necessity of converting them into acts of authority. My suffrage, as a citizen, is also for additional powers. But to whom shall we commit these acts of authority — these additional powers? To Congress? When I formerly lamented the defects in the jurisdiction of Congress, I had no view to indicate any other opinion, than that the federal head ought not to be so circumscribed; for, free as I am at all times to profess my reverence for that body, and the individuals who compose it, I am yet equally free to make known my aversion to repose such a trust in a tribunal so constituted. My objections are not the visions of theory, but the result of my own observations in America, and of the experience of others abroad.

1. The legislative and executive are concentrated in the same persons This, where real power exists, must eventuate in tyranny.

2. The representation of the states bears no proportion to their importance. This is an unreasonable subjection of the will of the majority to that of the minority.

3. The mode of election, and the liability of being recalled, may too often render the delegates rather partisans of their own states than representatives of the Union.

4. Cabal and intrigue must consequently gain an ascendency in a course of years.

5. A single house of legislation will sometimes be precipitate, perhaps passionate.

6. As long as seven states are required for the smallest, and nine for the greatest votes, may not foreign influence, at some future day, insinuate itself, so as to interrupt every active exertion?

7. To crown the whole, it is scarce within the verge of possibility that so numerous an assembly should acquire that secrecy, despatch, and vigor, which are the test of excellence in the executive department.

My inference from these facts and principles is, that the new powers must be deposited in a new body, growing out of a consolidation of the Union, as far as the circumstances of the states will allow. Perhaps however, some may meditate its dissolution, and others, partial confederacies.

The first is an idea awful indeed, and irreconcilable with a very early and hitherto uniform conviction, that without union we must be undone; for, before the voice of war was heard, the pulse of the then colonies was tried, and found to beat in unison. The unremitted labor of our enemies was to divide, and the policy of every Congress to bind us together. But in no example was this truth more clearly displayed, than in the prudence with which independence was unfolded to the sight, and in the forbearance to declare it until America almost unanimously called for it. After we had thus launched into troubles never before explored, and in the hour of heavy distress, the remembrance of our social strength not only forbade despair, but drew from Congress the most illustrious repetition of their settled purpose to despise all terms short of independence.

Behold, then, how successful and glorious we have been, while we acted in fraternal concord. But let us discard the illusion, that, by this success and this glory, the crest of danger has irrecoverably fallen. Our governments are yet too youthful to have acquired stability by habit. Our very quiet depends upon the duration of the Union. Among the upright and intelligent, few can read without emotion the future fate of the states, if severed from each other. Then shall we learn the full weight of foreign intrigue. Then shall we hear of partitions of our country. If a prince, inflamed by the lust of conquest, should use one state as the instrument of enslaving others; if every state is to be wearied by perpetual alarms, and compelled to maintain large military establishments; if all questions are to be decided by an appeal to arms, where a difference of opinion cannot be removed by negotiation; in a word, if all the direful misfortunes which haunt the peace of rival nations are to triumph over the land, for what have we to contend? Why have we exhausted our wealth? Why have we basely betrayed the heroic martyrs of the federal cause?

But dreadful as the total dissolution of the Union is to my mind, I entertain no less horror at the thought of partial confederacies. I have not the least ground for supposing that an overture of this kind would be listened to by a single state; and the presumption is, that the politics of the greater part of the states flow from the warmest attachment to a union of the whole. If, however, a lesser confederacy could be obtained by Virginia, let me conjure my countrymen well to weigh the probable consequences, before they attempt to form it.

On such an event, the strength of the Union would be divided in two, or perhaps three parts. Has it so increased, since the war, as to be divisible, and yet remain sufficient for our happiness?

The utmost limit of any partial confederacy, which Virginia could expect to form, would comprehend the three Southern States, and her nearest northern neighbor. But they, like ourselves, are diminished in their real force, by the mixture of an unhappy species of population.

Again may I ask, whether the opulence of the United States has been augmented since the war? This is answered in the negative, by a load of debt, and the declension of trade.

At all times must a southern confederacy support ships of war and soldiery? As soon would a navy move from the forest, and an army spring from the earth, as such a confederacy, indebted, impoverished in its commerce, and destitute of men, could, for some years at least, provide an ample defence for itself.

Let it not be forgotten that nations, which can enforce their rights, have large claims against the United States, and that the creditor may insist upon payment from any of them. Which of them would probably be the victim? The most productive and the most exposed. When vexed by reprisals of war, the Southern States will sue for alliance on this continent or beyond the sea. If for the former, the necessity of a union of the whole is decided; if for the latter, America will, I fear, react the scenes of confusion and bloodshed exhibited among most of those nations, which have, too late, repented the folly of relying on auxiliaries.

Two or more confederacies cannot but be competitors for power. The ancient friendship between the citizens of America being thus cut off, bitterness and hostility will succeed in its place. In order to prepare against surrounding danger, we shall be compelled to vest, somewhere or other, power approaching near to military government.

The annuals of the world have abounded so much with instances of a divided people being a prey to foreign influence, that I shall not restrain my apprehensions of it, should our Union be torn asunder. The opportunity of insinuating it will be multiplied in proportion to the parts into which we may be broken.

In short, sir, I am fatigued with summoning up to my imagination the miseries which will harass the United States, if torn from each other, and which will not end until they are superseded by fresh mischiefs under the yoke of a tyrant.

I come, therefore, to the last, and perhaps only refuge in our difficulties, — a consolidation of the Union, as far as circumstances will permit. To fulfil this desirable object, the Constitution was framed by the Federal Convention. A quorum of eleven states, and the only member from the twelfth, have subscribed it; Mr. Mason, of Virginia, Mr. Gerry, of Massachusetts, and myself, having refused to subscribe; also Robert Yates, and John Lansing, of New York.

Why I refused will, I hope, be solved to the satisfaction of those who know me, by saying that a sense of duty commanded me thus to act. It commanded me, sir; for believe me, that no event of my life ever occupied more of my reflection. To subscribe seemed to offer no inconsiderable gratification, since it would have presented me to the world as a fellow-laborer with the learned and zealous statesmen of America.

But it was far more interesting to my feelings that I was about to differ from three of my colleagues, one of whom is, to the honor of the country which he has saved, embosomed in their affections, and can receive no praise from the highest lustre of language; the other two of whom have been long enrolled among the wisest and best lovers of the commonwealth; and the unshaken and intimate friendship of all of whom I have ever prized, and still do prize, as among the happiest of all acquisitions. I was no stranger to the reigning partiality for the members who composed the Convention, and had not the smallest doubt, that from this cause, and from the ardor for a reform of government, the first applauses, at least, would be loud and profuse. I suspected, too, that there was something in the human breast which for a time would be apt to construe a temperateness in politics into an enmity to the Union. Nay, I plainly foresaw that, in the dissensions of parties, a middle line would probably be interpreted into a want of enterprise and decision. But these considerations, how seducing soever, were feeble opponents to the suggestion of my conscience. I was sent to exercise my judgment, and to exercise it was my fixed determination; being instructed by even an imperfect acquaintance with mankind, that self-approbation is the only true reward which a political career can bestow, and that popularity would have been but another name for perfidy, if to secure it I had given up the freedom of thinking for myself.

It would have been a peculiar pleasure to me to have ascertained, before I left Virginia, the temper and genius of my fellow-citizens, considered relatively to a government so substantially differing from the Confederation as that which is now submitted. But this was, for many obvious reasons, impossible; and I was thereby deprived of what I thought the necessary guides.

I saw, however, that the Confederation was tottering from its own weakness, and that the sitting of the Convention was a signal of its total insufficiency. I was, therefore, ready to assent to a scheme of government which was proposed, and which went beyond the limits of the Confederation, believing that, without being too extensive, it would have preserved our tranquillity until that temper and that genius should be collected.

But when the plan which is now before the General Assembly was on its passage through the Convention, I moved that the state conventions should be at liberty to amend, and that a second General Convention should be holden, to discuss the amendments which should be suggested by them. This motion was in some measure justified by the manner in which the Confederation was forwarded originally, by Congress, to the state legislatures, in many of which amendments were proposed; and those amendments were afterwards examined in Congress. Such a motion was, then, doubly expedient here, as the delegation of so much more power was sought for. But it was negatived. I then expressed my unwillingness to sign. My reasons were the following: —

1. It is said, in the resolutions which accompany the Constitution, that it is to be submitted to a convention of delegates chosen in each state by the people thereof, for their assent and ratification. The meaning of these terms is universally allowed to be, that the convention must either adopt the Constitution in the whole, or reject it in the whole, and is positively forbidden to amend. If, therefore, I had signed, I should have felt myself bound to be silent as to amendments, and to endeavor to support the Constitution without the correction of a letter. With this consequence before my eyes, and with a determination to attempt an amendment, I was taught by a regard for consistency not to sign.

2. My opinion always was, and still is, that every citizen of America, let the crisis be what it may, ought to have a full opportunity to propose, through his representatives, any amendment which, in his apprehension, tends to the public welfare. By signing, I should have contradicted this sentiment.

3. A constitution ought to have the hearts of the people on its side. But if, at a future day, it should become burdensome after having been adopted in the whole, and they should insinuate that it was in some measure forced upon them by being confined to the single alternative of taking or rejecting it altogether, — under my impressions, and with my opinions, I should not be able to justify myself, had I signed.

4. I was always satisfied, as I have now experienced, that this great subject would be placed in new lights and attitudes by the criticism of the world, and that no man can assure himself how a constitution will work for a course of years, until at least he shall have the observations of the people at large. I also fear more from inaccuracies in a constitution, than from gross errors in any other composition; because our dearest interests are to be regulated by it, and power, if loosely given, especially where it will be interpreted with great latitude, may bring sorrow in its execution. Had I signed with these ideas, I should have virtually shut my ears against the information which I ardently desired.

5. I was afraid that, if the Constitution was to be submitted to the people, to be wholly adopted or wholly rejected by them, they would not only reject it, but bid a lasting farewell to the Union. This formidable event I wished to avert, by keeping myself free to propose amendments, and thus, if possible, to remove the obstacles to an effectual government. But it will be asked whether all these arguments were not well weighed in Convention. They were, sir, with great candor. Nay, when I called to mind the respectability of those with whom I was associated, I almost lost confidence in these principles. On other occasions, I should cheerfully have yielded to a majority; on this, the fate of thousands yet unborn enjoined me not to yield until I was convinced.

Again, may I be asked why the mode pointed out in the Constitution, for its amendment, may not be sufficient security against its imperfections, without now arresting its progress? My answers are — 1. That it is better to amend, while we have the Constitution in our power, while the passions of designing men are not yet enlisted, and while a bare majority of the states may amend, than to wait for the uncertain assent of three fourths of the states. 2. That a bad feature in government becomes more and more fixed every day. 3. That frequent changes of a constitution, even if practicable, ought not to be wished, but avoided as much as possible. And, 4. That in the present case, it may be questionable whether, after the particular advantages of its operation shall be discerned, three fourths of the states can be induced to amend.

I confess that it is no easy task to devise a scheme which shall be suitable to the views of all. Many expedients have occurred to me, but none of them appear less exceptionable than this; that if our convention should choose to amend, another federal convention be recommended; that, in that federal convention, the amendments proposed by this or any other state be discussed; and if incorporated in the Constitution, or rejected, — or if a proper number of the other states should be unwilling to accede to a second convention, — the Constitution be again laid before the same state conventions, which shall again assemble on the summons of the executives, and it shall be either wholly adopted, or wholly rejected, without a further power of amendment. I count such a delay as nothing, in comparison with so grand an object; especially, too, as the privilege of amending must terminate after the use of it once.

I should now conclude this letter, which is already too long, were it not incumbent on me, from having contended for amendments, to set forth the particulars which I conceive to require correction. I undertake this with reluctance, because it is remote from my intentions to catch the prejudices or prepossessions of any man. But as I mean only to manifest that I have not been actuated by caprice, and now to explain every objection at full length would be an immense labor, I shall content myself with enumerating certain heads in which the Constitution is most repugnant to my wishes: —

The two first points are the equality of suffrage in the Senate, and the submission of commerce to a mere majority in the legislature, with no other check than the revision of the President. I conjecture that neither of these things can be corrected, and particularly the former, without which we must have risen perhaps in disorder.

But I am sanguine in hoping that, in every other justly obnoxious cause, Virginia will be seconded by a majority of the states. I hope that she will be seconded; 1. In causing all ambiguities of expression to be precisely explained; 2. In rendering the President ineligible after a given number of years; 3. In taking from him the power of nominating to the judiciary offices, or of filling up vacancies which may there happen during the recess of the Senate, by granting commissions which shall expire at the end of their next session; 4. In taking from him the power of pardoning for treason, at least before conviction; 5. In drawing a line between the powers of Congress and individual states; and in defining the former, so as to leave no clashing of jurisdictions nor dangerous deputies; and to prevent the one from being swallowed up by the other, under cover of general words and implication; 6. In abridging the power of the Senate to make treaties supreme laws of the land; 7. In incapacitating the Congress to determine their own salaries; and, 8. In limiting and defining the judicial power.

The proper remedy must be consigned to the wisdom of the Convention; and the final step which Virginia shall pursue, if her overtures shall be discarded, must also rest with them.

You will excuse me, sir, for having been thus tedious. My feelings and duty demanded this exposition; for through no other channel could I rescue my omission to sign from misrepresentation, and in no more effectual way could I exhibit to the General Assembly an unreserved history of my conduct.

I have the honor, sir, to be, with great respect, your obedient servant,


Hon. Roger Sherman

Sherman, Hon. Roger

Hon. Oliver Ellsworth

Ellsworth, Hon. Oliver

September 26, 1787

New London




September 26, 1787



We have the honor to transmit to your excellency a printed copy of the Constitution formed by the Federal Convention, to be laid before the legislature of the state.

The general principles which governed the Convention in their deliberations on the subject, are stated in their address to Congress.

We think it may be of use to make some further observations on particular parts of the Constitution.

The Congress is differently organized; yet the whole number of members, and this state’s proportion of suffrage, remain the same as before.

The equal representation of the states in the Senate, and the voice of that branch in the appointment to offices, will secure the rights of the lesser, as well as of the greater states.

Some additional powers are vested in Congress, which was a principal object that the states had in view in appointing the Convention. Those powers extend only to matters respecting the common interests of the Union, and are specially defined, so that the particular states retain their sovereignty in all other matters.

The objects for which Congress may apply moneys are the same mentioned in the eighth article of the Confederation, viz., for the common defence and general welfare, and for payment of the debts incurred for those purposes. It is probable that the principal branch of revenue will be duties on imports. What may be necessary to be raised by direct taxation is to be apportioned on the several states, according to the number of their inhabitants; and although Congress may raise the money by their own authority, if necessary, yet that authority need not be exercised, if each state will furnish its quota.

The restraint on the legislatures of the several states respecting emitting bills of credit, making any thing but money a tender in payment of debts, or impairing the obligation of contracts by ex post facto laws, was thought necessary as a security to commerce, in which the interest of foreigners, as well as of the citizens of different states, may be affected.

The Convention endeavored to provide for the energy of government on the one hand, and suitable checks on the other hand, to secure the rights of the particular states, and the liberties and properties of the citizens. We wish it may meet the approbation of the several states, and be a means of securing their rights, and lengthening out their tranquillity.

With great respect, we are, sir, your excellency’s obedient, humble servants,



His Excellency, Governor HUNTINGTON.

Hon. Elbridge Gerry

Gerry, Hon. Elbridge

Oct. 10, 1787





I have the honor to enclose, pursuant to my commission, the Constitution proposed by the Federal Convention.

To this system I gave my dissent, and shall submit my objections to the honorable legislature.

It was painful for me, on a subject of such national importance, to differ from the respectable members who signed the Constitution; but conceiving, as I did, that the liberties of America were not secured by the system, it was my duty to oppose it.

My principal objections to the plan are, that there is no adequate provision for a representation of the people; that they have no security for the right of election; that some of the powers of the legislature are ambiguous, and others indefinite and dangerous; that the executive is blended with, and will have an undue influence over, the legislature; that the judicial department will be oppressive; that treaties of the highest importance may be formed by the President, with the advice of two thirds of a quorum of the Senate; and that the system is without the security of a bill of rights. These are objections which are not local, but apply equally to all the states.

As the Convention was called for “the sole and express purpose of revising the Articles of Confederation, and reporting to Congress, and the several legislatures, such alterations and provisions as shall render the Federal Constitution adequate to the exigencies of government, and the preservation of the Union,” I did not conceive that these powers extend to the formation of the plan proposed; but the Convention being of a different opinion, I acquiesced in it, being fully convinced that, to preserve the Union, an efficient government was indispensably necessary, and that it would be difficult to make proper amendments to the Articles of Confederation.

The Constitution proposed has few, if any, federal features, but is rather a system of national government. Nevertheless, in many respects, I think it has great merit, and, by proper amendments, may be adapted to the “exigencies of government, and preservation of liberty.”

The question on this plan involves others of the highest importance: 1. Whether there shall be a dissolution of the federal government; 2. Whether the several state governments shall be so altered as in effect to be dissolved; 3. Whether, in lieu of the federal and state governments, the national Constitution now proposed shall be substituted without amendment. Never, perhaps, were a people called on to decide a question of greater magnitude. Should the citizens of America adopt the plan as it now stands, their liberties may be lost; or should they reject it altogether, anarchy may ensue. It is evident, therefore, that they should not be precipitate in their decisions; that the subject should be well understood; — lest they should refuse to support the government after having hastily accepted it.

If those who are in favor of the Constitution, as well as those who are against it, should preserve moderation, their discussions may afford much information, and finally direct to a happy issue.

It may be urged by some, that an implicit confidence should be placed in the Convention; but, however respectable the members may be who signed the Constitution, it must be admitted that a free people are the proper guardians of their rights and liberties; that the greatest men may err, and that their errors are sometimes of the greatest magnitude.

Others may suppose that the Constitution may be safely adopted, because therein provision is made to amend it. But cannot this object be better attained before a ratification than after it? And should a free people adopt a form of government under conviction that it wants amendment?

And some may conceive that, if the plan is not accepted by the people, they will not unite in another. But surely, while they have the power to amend, they are not under the necessity of rejecting it.

I have been detained here longer than I expected, but shall leave this place in a day or two for Massachusetts, and on my arrival shall submit the reasons (if required by the legislature) on which my objections are grounded.

I shall only add that, as the welfare of the Union requires a better Constitution than the Confederation, I shall think it my duty, as a citizen of Massachusetts, to support that which shall be finally adopted, sincerely hoping it will secure the liberty and happiness of America.

I have the honor to be, gentlemen, with the highest respect for the honorable legislature and yourselves, your most obedient and very humble servant,


To the Hon. SAMUEL ADAMS, Esq., President of the Senate, and the Hon. JAMES WARREN, Esq., Speaker of the House of Representatives, of Massachusetts.




THERE is no declaration of rights; and, the laws of the general government being paramount to the laws and constitutions of the several states, the declarations of rights in the separate states are no security. Nor are the people secured even in the enjoyment of the benefit of the common law, which stands here upon no other foundation than its having been adopted by the respective acts forming the constitutions of the several states.

In the House of Representatives there is not the substance, but the shadow only, of representation, which can never produce proper information in the legislature, or inspire confidence in the people. The laws will, therefore, be generally made by men little concerned in, and unacquainted with, their effects and consequences.

The Senate have the power of altering all money bills, and of originating appropriations of money, and the salaries of the officers of their own appointment, in conjunction with the President of the United States, although they are not the representatives of the people, or amenable to them. These, with their other great powers, (viz., their powers in the appointment of ambassadors, and all public officers, in making treaties, and in trying all impeachments;) their influence upon, and connection with, the supreme executive from these causes; their duration of office; and their being a constant existing body, almost continually sitting, joined with their being one complete branch of the legislature, — will destroy any balance in the government, and enable them to accomplish what usurpations they please upon the rights and liberties of the people.

The judiciary of the United States is so constructed and extended as to absorb and destroy the judiciaries of the several states; thereby rendering laws as tedious, intricate, and expensive, and justice as unattainable, by a great part of the community, as in England; and enabling the rich to oppress and ruin the poor.

The President of the United States has no constitutional council, (a thing unknown in any safe and regular government.) He will therefore be unsupported by proper information and advice, and will generally be directed by minions and favorites; or he will become a tool to the Senate; or a council of state will grow out of the principal officers of the great departments — the worst and most dangerous of all ingredients for such a council, in a free country; for they may be induced to join in any dangerous or oppressive measures, to shelter themselves, and prevent an inquiry into their own misconduct in office. Whereas, had a constitutional council been formed (as was proposed) of six members, viz., two from the Eastern, two from the Middle, and two from the Southern States, to be appointed by vote of the states in the House of Representatives, with the same duration and rotation of office as the Senate, the executive would always have had safe and proper information and advice: the president of such a council might have acted as Vice-President of the United States, pro tempore, upon any vacancy or disability of the chief magistrate; and long-continued sessions of the Senate would in a great measure have been prevented. From this fatal defect of a constitutional council has arisen the improper power of the Senate in the appointment of the public officers, and the alarming dependence and connection between that branch of the legislature and the supreme executive. Hence, also, sprang that unnecessary officer, the Vice-President, who, for want of other employment, is made president of the Senate; thereby dangerously blending the executive and legislative powers, besides always giving to some one of the states an unnecessary and unjust preëminence over the others.

The President of the United States has the unrestrained power of granting pardon for treason; which may be sometimes exercised to screen from punishment those whom he had secretly instigated to commit the crime, and thereby prevent a discovery of his own guilt. By declaring all treaties supreme laws of the land, the executive and the Senate have, in many cases, an exclusive power of legislation, which might have been avoided, by proper distinctions with respect to treaties, and requiring the assent of the House of Representatives, where it could be done with safety.

By requiring only a majority to make all commercial and navigation laws, the five Southern States (whose produce and circumstances are totally different from those of the eight Northern and Eastern States) will be ruined; for such rigid and premature regulations may be made, as will enable the merchants of the Northern and Eastern States not only to demand an exorbitant freight, but to monopolize the purchase of the commodities, at their own price, for many years, to the great injury of the landed interest, and the impoverishment of the people; and the danger is the greater, as the gain on one side will be in proportion to the loss on the other. Whereas, requiring two thirds of the members present in both houses, would have produced mutual moderation, promoted the general interest, and removed an insuperable objection to the adoption of the government.

Under their own construction of the general clause at the end of the enumerated powers, the Congress may grant monopolies in trade and commerce, constitute new crimes, inflict unusual and severe punishments, and extend their power as far as they shall think proper; so that the state legislatures have no security for the powers now presumed to remain to them, or the people for their rights. There is no declaration of any kind for preserving the liberty of the press, the trial by jury in civil cases, nor against the danger of standing armies in time of peace.

The state legislatures are restrained from laying export duties on their own produce; the general legislature is restrained from prohibiting the further importation of slaves for twenty-odd years, though such importations render the United States weaker, more vulnerable, and less capable of defence. Both the general legislature and the state legislatures are expressly prohibited making ex post facto laws, though there never was, nor can be, a legislature but must and will make such laws, when necessity and the public safety require them, which will hereafter be a breach of all the constitutions in the Union, and afford precedents for other innovations.

This government will commence in a moderate aristocracy: it is at present impossible to foresee whether it will, in its operation, produce a monarchy or a corrupt oppressive aristocracy; it will most probably vibrate some years between the two, and then terminate in the one or the other.






FRIENDS AND FELLOW-CITIZENS: The Convention concurred in opinion with the people, that a national government, competent to every national object, was indispensably necessary; and it was as plain to them, as it now is to all America, that the present Confederation does not provide for such a government. These points being agreed, they proceeded to consider how and in what manner such a government could be formed, as, on the one hand, should be sufficiently energetic to raise us from our prostrate and distressed situation, and, on the other, be perfectly consistent with the liberties of the people of every state. Like men to whom the experience of other ages and countries had taught wisdom, they not only determined that it should be erected by, and depend on, the people, but, remembering the many instances in which governments vested solely in one man, or one body of men, had degenerated into tyrannies, they judged it most prudent that the three great branches of power should be committed to different hands, and therefore that the executive should be separated from the legislative, and the judicial from both. Thus far the propriety of their work is easily seen and understood, and therefore is thus far almost universally approved; for no one man or thing under the sun ever yet pleased every body.

The next question was, what particular powers should be given to these three branches. Here the different views and interests of the different states, as well as the different abstract opinions of their members on such points, interposed many difficulties. Here the business became complicated, and presented a wide field for investigation — too wide for every eye to take a quick and comprehensive view of it.

It is said that “in a multitude of counsellors there is safety,” because, in the first place, there is greater security for probity; and in the next, if every member cast in only his mite of information and argument, their joint stock of both will thereby become greater than the stock possessed by any one single man out of doors. Gentlemen out of doors, therefore, should not be hasty in condemning a system which probably rests on more good reasons than they are aware of, especially when formed under such advantages, and recommended by so many men of distinguished worth and abilities.

The difficulties before mentioned occupied the Convention a long time; and it was not without mutual concessions that they were at last surmounted. These concessions serve to explain to us the reason why some parts of the system please in some states which displease in others, and why many of the objections which have been made to it are so contradictory and inconsistent with one another. It does great credit to the temper and talents of the Convention, that they were able so to reconcile the different views and interests of the different states, and the clashing opinions of their members, as to unite with such singular and almost perfect unanimity in any plan whatever, on a subject so intricate and perplexed. It shows that it must have been thoroughly discussed and understood; and probably, if the community at large had the same lights and reasons before them, they would, if equally candid and uninfluenced, be equally unanimous.

It would be arduous, and indeed impossible, to comprise within the limits of this address a full discussion of every part of the plan. Such a task would require a volume; and few men have leisure or inclination to read volumes on any subject. The objections made to it are almost without number, and many of them without reason. Some of them are real and honest, and others merely ostensible. There are friends to union and a national government who have serious doubts, who wish to be informed, and to be convinced; and there are others, who, neither wishing for union nor any national government at all, will oppose and object to any plan that can be contrived.

We are told, among other strange things, that the liberty of the press is left insecure by the proposed Constitution; and yet that Constitution says neither more nor less about it than the Constitution of the state of New York does. We are told that it deprives us of trial by jury; whereas the fact is, that it expressly secures it in certain cases, and takes it away in none. It is absurd to construe the silence of this, or of our own Constitution, relative to a great number of our rights, into a total extinction of them. Silence and blank paper neither grant nor take away any thing. Complaints are also made that the proposed Constitution is not accompanied by a bill of rights; and yet they who make these complaints know, and are content, that no bill of rights accompanied the Constitution of this state. In days and countries where monarchs and their subjects were frequently disputing about prerogative and privileges, the latter then found it necessary, as it were, to run out the line between them, and oblige the former to admit, by solemn acts, called bills of rights, that certain enumerated rights belonged to the people, and were not comprehended in the royal prerogative. But, thank God, we have no such disputes; we have no monarchs to contend with, or demand admissions from. The proposed government is to be the government of the people: all its officers are to be their officers, and to exercise no rights but such as the people commit to them. The Constitution only serves to point out that part of the people’s business, which they think proper by it to refer to the management of the persons therein designated: those persons are to receive that business to manage, not for themselves, and as their own, but as agents and overseers for the people, to whom they are constantly responsible, and by whom only they are to be appointed.

But the design of this address is not to investigate the merits of the plan, nor of the objections made to it. They who seriously contemplate the present state of our affairs, will be convinced that other considerations, of at least equal importance, demand their attention. Let it be admitted that this plan, like every thing else devised by man, has its imperfections. That it does not please every body, is certain; and there is little reason to expect one that will. It is a question of great moment to you, whether the probability of our being able seasonably to obtain a better, is such as to render it prudent and advisable to reject this, and run the risk. Candidly to consider this question, is the design of this address.

As the importance of this question must be obvious to every man, whatever his private opinions respecting it may be, it becomes us all to treat it in that calm and temperate manner which a subject so deeply interesting to the future welfare of our country, and prosperity, requires. Let us, therefore, as much as possible, repress and compose that irritation in our minds which too warm disputes about it may have excited. Let us endeavor to forget that this or that man is on this or that side; and that we ourselves, perhaps without sufficient reflection, have classed ourself with one or the other party. Let us remember that this is not to be regarded as a matter that only touches our local parties, but as one so great, so general, and so extensive, in its future consequence to America, that, for our deciding upon it according to the best of our unbiased judgment, we must be highly responsible both here and hereafter.

The question now before us naturally leads to three inquiries: —

1. Whether it is probable that a better plan can be obtained.

2. Whether, if attainable, it is likely to be in season.

3. What would be our situation if, after rejecting this, all our efforts to obtain a better should prove fruitless.

The men who formed this plan are Americans, who had long deserved and enjoyed our confidence, and who are as much interested in having a good government as any of us are or can be. They were appointed to that business at a time when the states had become very sensible of the derangement of our national affairs, and of the impossibility of retrieving them under the existing Confederation. Although well persuaded that nothing but a good national government could oppose and divert the tide of evils that was flowing in upon us, yet those gentlemen met in Convention with minds perfectly unprejudiced in favor of any particular plan. The minds of their constituents were at that time equally cool and dispassionate. All agreed in the necessity of doing something; but no one ventured to say decidedly what precisely ought to be done. Opinions were then fluctuating and unfixed; and whatever might have been the wishes of a few individuals, yet while the Convention deliberated, the people remained in silent suspense. Neither wedded to favorite systems of their own, nor influenced by popular ones abroad, the members were more desirous to receive light from, than to impress their private sentiments on, one another.

These circumstances naturally opened the door to that spirit of candor, of calm inquiry, of mutual accommodation, and mutual respect, which entered into the Convention with them, and regulated their debates and proceedings.

The impossibility of agreeing upon any plan, that would exactly quadrate with the local policy and objects of every state, soon became evident; and they wisely thought it better mutually to coincide and accommodate, and in that way to fashion their system as much as possible by the circumstances and wishes of the different states, than, by pertinaciously adhering each to his own ideas, oblige the Convention to rise without doing any thing. They were sensible that obstacles, arising from local circumstances, would not cease while those circumstances continued to exist; and, so far as those circumstances depended on differences of climate, productions, and commerce, that no change was to be expected. They were likewise sensible that, on a subject so comprehensive, and involving such a variety of points and questions, the most able, the most candid, and the most honest men will differ in opinion. The same proposition seldom strikes many minds exactly in the same point of light. Different habits of thinking, different degrees and modes of education, different prejudices and opinions, early formed and long entertained, conspire, with a multitude of other circumstances, to produce among men a diversity and contrariety of opinions on questions of difficulty. Liberality, therefore, as well as prudence, induced them to treat each other’s opinions with tenderness; to argue without asperity; and to endeavor to convince the judgment, without hurting the feelings, of each other. Although many weeks were passed in these discussions, some points remained on which a unison of opinions could not be effected. Here, again, that same happy disposition to unite and conciliate induced them to meet each other; and enabled them, by mutual concessions, finally to complete and agree to the plan they have recommended, and that, too, with a degree of unanimity which, considering the variety of discordant views and ideas they had to reconcile, is really astonishing.

They tell us, very honestly, that this plan is the result of accommodation. They do not hold it up as the best of all possible ones, but only as the best which they could unite in and agree to. If such men, appointed and meeting under such auspicious circumstances, and so sincerely disposed to conciliation, could go no farther in their endeavors to please every state and every body, what reason have we, at present, to expect any system that would give more general satisfaction?

Suppose this plan to be rejected; what measures would you propose for obtaining a better? Some will answer, “Let us appoint another convention; and, as every thing has been said and written that can well be said and written on the subject, they will be better informed than the former one was, and consequently be better able to make and agree upon a more eligible one.”

This reasoning is fair, and, as far as it goes, has weight; but it nevertheless takes one thing for granted which appears very doubtful; for, although the new convention might have more information, and perhaps equal abilities, yet it does not from thence follow that they would be equally disposed to agree. The contrary of this position is most probable. You must have observed that the same temper and equanimity which prevailed among the people on former occasions, no longer exist. We have unhappily become divided into parties; and this important subject has been handled with such indiscreet and offensive acrimony, and with so many little, unhandsome artifices and misrepresentations, that pernicious heats and animosities have been kindled, and spread their flames far and wide among us. When, therefore, it becomes a question who shall be deputed to the new convention, we cannot flatter ourselves that the talents and integrity of the candidates will determine who shall be elected. Federal electors will vote for federal deputies, and anti-federal electors for anti-federal ones. Nor will either party prefer the most moderate of their adherents; for, as the most stanch and active partisans will be the most popular, so the men most willing and able to carry points, to oppose and divide, and embarrass their opponents, will be chosen. A convention formed at such a season, and of such men, would be but too exact an epitome of the great body that named them. The same party views, the same propensity to opposition, the same distrusts and jealousies, and the same unaccommodating spirit, which prevail without, would be concentred and ferment with still greater violence within. Each deputy would recollect who sent him, and why he was sent, and be too apt to consider himself bound in honor to contend and act vigorously under the standard of his party, and not hazard their displeasure by preferring compromise to victory. As vice does not sow the seed of virtue, so neither does passion cultivate the fruits of reason. Suspicions and resentments create no disposition to conciliate; nor do they infuse a desire of making partial and personal objects bend to general union and the common good. The utmost efforts of that excellent disposition were necessary to enable the late Convention to perform their task; and although contrary causes sometimes operate similar effects, yet to expect that discord and animosity should produce the fruits of confidence and agreement, is to expect “grapes from thorns, and figs from thistles.”

The states of Georgia, Delaware, Jersey, and Connecticut, have adopted the present plan with unexampled unanimity. They are content with it as it is; and consequently their deputies, being apprized of the sentiments of their constituents, will be little inclined to make alterations, and cannot be otherwise than averse to changes, which they have no reason to think would be agreeable to their people. Some other states, though less unanimous, have nevertheless adopted it by very respectable majorities — and for reasons so evidently cogent, that even the minority in one of them have nobly pledged themselves for its promotion and support. From these circumstances, the new convention would derive and experience difficulties unknown to the former. Nor are these the only additional difficulties they would have to encounter. Few are ignorant that there has lately sprung up a sect of politicians who teach, and profess to believe, that the extent of our nation is too great for the superintendence of one national government, and on that principle argue that it ought to be divided into two or three. This doctrine, however mischievous in its tendency and consequences, has its advocates; and, should any of them be sent to the convention, it will naturally be their policy rather to cherish than to prevent divisions; for, well knowing that the institution of any national government would blast their favorite system, no measures that lead to it can meet with their aid or approbation.

Nor can we be certain whether or not any, and what, foreign influence would, on such an occasion, be indirectly exerted, nor for what purposes. Delicacy forbids an ample discussion of this question. Thus much may be said without error or offence, viz.: that such foreign nations as desire the prosperity of America, and would rejoice to see her become great and powerful, under the auspices of a government wisely calculated to extend her commerce, to encourage her navigation and marine, and to direct the whole weight of her power and resources as her interest and honor may require, will doubtless be friendly to the union of states, and to the establishment of a government able to perpetuate, protect, and dignify it. Such other foreign nations, if any such there be, who, jealous of our growing importance, and fearful that our commerce and navigation should impair their own, behold our rapid population with regret, and apprehend that the enterprising spirit of our people, when seconded by power and probability of success, may be directed to objects not consistent with their policy or interests, cannot fail to wish that we may continue a weak and a divided people.

These considerations merit much attention; and candid men will judge how far they render it probable that a new convention would be able either to agree in a better plan, or, with tolerable unanimity, in any plan at all. Any plan, forcibly carried, by a slender majority, must expect numerous opponents among the people, who, especially in their present temper, would be more inclined to reject than adopt any system so made and carried. We should, in such a case, again see the press teeming with publications for and against it; for, as the minority would take pains to justify their dissent, so would the majority be industrious to display the wisdom of their proceedings. Hence new divisions, new parties, and new distractions, would ensue; and no one can foresee or conjecture when or how they would terminate.

Let those who are sanguine in their expectations of a better plan from a new convention, also reflect on the delays and risks to which it would expose us. Let them consider whether we ought, by continuing much longer in our present humiliating condition, to give other nations further time to perfect their restrictive systems of commerce, reconcile their own people to them, and to fence, and guard, and strengthen them by all those regulations and contrivances in which a jealous policy is ever fruitful. Let them consider whether we ought to give further opportunities to discord to alienate the hearts of our citizens from one another, and thereby encourage new Cromwells to bold exploits. Are we certain that our foreign creditors will continue patient, and ready to proportion their forbearance to our delays? Are we sure that our distresses, dissensions, and weakness, will neither invite hostility nor insult? If they should, how ill prepared shall we be for defence, without union, without government, without money, and without credit!

It seems necessary to remind you that some time must yet elapse before all the states will have decided on the present plan. If they reject it, some time must also pass before the measure of a new convention can be brought about and generally agreed to. A further space of time will then be requisite to elect their deputies, and send them on to convention. What time they may expend, when met, cannot be divined; and it is equally uncertain how much time the several states may take to deliberate and decide on any plan they may recommend. If adopted, still a further space of time will be necessary to organize and set it in motion. In the mean time, our affairs are daily going on from bad to worse; and it is not rash to say that our distresses are accumulating like compound interest.

But if, for the reasons already mentioned, and others that we cannot now perceive, the new convention, instead of producing a better plan, should give us only a history of their disputes, or should offer us one still less pleasing than the present, where should we be then? The old Confederation has done its best, and cannot help us; and is now so relaxed and feeble, that, in all probability, it would not survive so violent a shock. Then, “To your tents, O Israel!” would be the word. Then, every band of union would be severed. Then, every state would be a little nation, jealous of its neighbors, and anxious to strengthen itself, by foreign alliances, against its former friends. Then farewell to fraternal affection, unsuspecting intercourse, and mutual participation in commerce, navigation, and citizenship. Then would arise mutual restrictions and fears, mutual garrisons and standing armies, and all those dreadful evils which for so many ages plagued England, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland, while they continued disunited, and were played off against each other.

Consider, then, how weighty and how many considerations advise and persuade the people of America to remain in the safe and easy path of union; to continue to move and act, as they hitherto have done, as a band of brothers; and to have confidence in themselves and in one another; and, since all cannot see with the same eyes, at least to give the proposed Constitution a fair trial, and to mend it as time, occasion, and experience, may dictate. It would little become us to verify the predictions of those who ventured to prophesy that peace, instead of blessing us with happiness and tranquillity, would serve only as the signal for factions, discord, and civil contentions, to rage in our land, and overwhelm it with misery and distress.

Let us also be mindful that the cause of freedom greatly depends on the use we make of the singular opportunities we enjoy of governing ourselves wisely; for, if the event should prove that the people of this country either cannot or will not govern themselves, who will hereafter be advocates for systems which, however charming in theory and prospect, are not reducible to practice? If the people of our nation, instead of consenting to be governed by laws of their own making, and rulers of their own choosing, should let licentiousness, disorder, and confusion, reign over them, the minds of men every where will insensibly become alienated from republican forms, and prepared to prefer and acquiesce in governments which, though less friendly to liberty, afford more peace and security.

Receive this address with the same candor with which it is written; and may the spirit of wisdom and patriotism direct and distinguish your councils and your conduct.

JOHN JAY, a Citizen of New York.

Hon. Richard Henry Lee

Lee, Hon. Richard Henry

October 16, 1787

New York

Edmund Randolph

Randolph, Edmund







October 16, 1787


IT has hitherto been supposed a fundamental maxim, that, in governments rightly balanced, the different branches of legislature should be unconnected, and that the legislative and executive powers should be separate. In the new Constitution, the President and Senate have all the executive, and two thirds of the legislative power. In some weighty instances, (as making all kinds of treaties, which are to be the laws of the land,) they have the whole legislative and executive powers. They, jointly, appoint all officers, civil and military; and they (the Senate) try all impeachments, either of their own members or of the officers appointed by themselves.

Is there not a most formidable combination of power thus created in a few? and can the most critic eye, if a candid one, discover responsibility in this potent corps? or will any sensible man say that great power, without responsibility, can be given to rulers with safety to liberty? It is most clear that the parade of impeachment is nothing to them, or any of them: as little restraint is to be found, I presume, from the fear of offending constituents. The President is for four years’ duration; and Virginia (for example) has one vote of thirteen in the choice of him, and this thirteenth vote not of the people, but electors, two removes from the people. The Senate is a body of six years’ duration, and, as in the choice of President, the largest state has but a thirteenth vote, so is it in the choice of senators. This latter statement is adduced to show that responsibility is as little to be apprehended from amenability to constituents, as from the terror of impeachment. You are, therefore, sir, well warranted in saying, either a monarchy or aristocracy will be generated: perhaps the most grievous system of government may arise.

It cannot be denied, with truth, that this new Constitution is, in its first principles, highly and dangerously oligarchic; and it is a point agreed, that a government of the few is, of all governments, the worst.

The only check to be found in favor of the democratic principle, in this system, is the House of Representatives; which, I believe, may justly be called a mere shred or rag of representation; it being obvious to the least examination, that smallness of number, and great comparative disparity of power, render that house of little effect, to promote good or restrain bad government. But what is the power given to this ill-constructed body? To judge of what may be for the general welfare; and such judgments, when made the acts of Congress, become the supreme laws of the land. This seems a power coëxtensive with every possible object of human legislation. Yet there is no restraint, in form of a bill of rights, to secure (what Doctor Blackstone calls) that residuum of human rights which is not intended to be given up to society, and which, indeed, is not necessary to be given for any social purpose. The rights of conscience, the freedom of the press, and the trial by jury, are at mercy. It is there stated that, in criminal cases, the trial shall be by jury. But how? In the state. What, then, becomes of the jury of the vicinage, or at least from the county, in the first instance — the states being from fifty to seven hundred miles in extent? This mode of trial, even in criminal cases, may be greatly impaired; and, in civil cases, the inference is strong that it may be altogether omitted; as the Constitution positively assumes it in criminal, and is silent about it in civil causes. Nay, it is more strongly discountenanced in civil cases, by giving the Supreme Courts, in appeals, jurisdiction both as to law and fact.

Judge Blackstone, in his learned Commentaries, art. Jury Trial, says, “It is the most transcendent privilege, which any subject can enjoy or wish for, that he cannot be affected either in his property, his liberty, or his person, but by the unanimous consent of twelve of his neighbors and equals — a constitution that, I may venture to affirm, has, under Providence, secured the just liberties of this nation for a long succession of ages. The impartial administration of justice, which secures both our persons and our properties, is the great end of civil society. But if that be entirely intrusted to the magistracy, — a select body of men, and those generally selected, by the prince, of such as enjoy the highest offices of the state, — these decisions, in spite of their own natural integrity, will have frequently an involuntary bias towards those of their own rank and dignity. It is not to be expected from human nature, that the few should always be attentive to the good of the many.” The learned judge further says, that “every tribunal, selected for the decision of facts, is a step towards establishing aristocracy — the most oppressive of all governments.”

The answer to these objections is, that the new legislature may provide remedies! But as they may, so they may not; and if they did, a succeeding assembly may repeal the provisions. The evil is found resting upon constitutional bottom; and the remedy, upon the mutable ground of legislation, revocable at any annual meeting. It is the more unfortunate that this great security of human rights — the trial by jury — should be weakened by this system, as power is unnecessarily given in the second section of the third article, to call people from their own country, in all cases of controversy about property between citizens of different states, to be tried in a distant court, where the Congress may sit; for although inferior congressional courts may, for the above purposes, be instituted in the different states, yet this is a matter altogether in the pleasure of the new legislature; so that, if they please not to institute them, or if they do not regulate the right of appeal reasonably, the people will be exposed to endless oppression, and the necessity of submitting, in multitudes of cases, to pay unjust demands, rather than follow suitors, through great expense, to far-distant tribunals, and to be determined upon there, as it may be, without a jury.

In this congressional legislature, a bare majority of votes can enact commercial laws; so that the representatives of the seven Northern States, as they will have a majority, can, by law, create the most oppressive monopoly upon the five Southern States, whose circumstances and productions are essentially different from those of theirs, although not a single man of these voters are the representatives of, or amenable to, the people of the Southern States. Can such a set of men be, with the least color of truth, called a representative of those they make laws for? It is supposed that the policy of the Northern States will prevent such abuses. But how feeble, sir, is policy, when opposed to interest, among trading people! and what is the restraint arising from policy? Why, that we may be forced, by abuse, to become ship-builders! But how long will it be before a people of agriculture can produce ships sufficient to export such bulky commodities as ours, and of such extent? and if we had the ships, from whence are the seamen to come? — 4,000 of whom, at least, will be necessary in Virginia. In questions so liable to abuse, why was not the necessary vote put to two thirds of the members of the legislature?

With the Constitution came, from the Convention, so many members of that body to Congress, and of those, too, who were among the most fiery zealots for their system, that the votes of three states being of them, two states divided by them, and many others mixed with them, it is easy to see that Congress could have little opinion upon the subject.

Some denied our right to make amendments; whilst others, more moderate, agreed to the right, but denied the expediency of amending; but it was plain that a majority was ready to send it on, in terms of approbation. My judgment and conscience forbade the last; and therefore I moved the amendments that I have the honor to send you enclosed herewith, and demanded the yeas and nays, that they might appear on the Journal.

This seemed to alarm; and, to prevent such appearance on the Journal, it was agreed to transmit the Constitution without a syllable of approbation or disapprobation; so that the term “unanimously” only applied to the transmission, as you will observe by attending to the terms of the resolve for transmitting. Upon the whole, sir, my opinion is, that, as this Constitution abounds with useful regulations, at the same time that it is liable to strong and fundamental objections, the plan for us to pursue will be to propose the necessary amendments, and express our willingness to adopt it with the amendments, and to suggest the calling a new convention for the purpose of considering them. To this I see no well-founded objection, but great safety and much good to be the probable result. I am perfectly satisfied that you make such use of this letter as you shall think to be for the public good; and now, after begging your pardon for so great a trespass on your patience, and presenting my best respects to your lady, I will conclude with assuring you that I am, with the sincerest esteem and regard, dear sir, your most affectionate and obedient, humble servant,


Gouverneur Morris

Gouverneur Morris

October 30, 1787


General Washington

Washington, General



October 30, 1787



The states eastward of New York appear to be almost unanimous in favor of the new Constitution, (for I make no account of the dissension in Rhode Island.) Their preachers are advocates for the adoption; and this circumstance, coinciding with the steady support of the property, and other abilities of the country, makes the current set strongly, and I trust irresistibly, that way.

Jersey is so near unanimity in her favorable opinion, that we may count with certainty on something more than votes, should the state of affairs hereafter require the application of pointed arguments. New York, hemmed in between the warm friends of the Constitution, will not easily, unless supported by powerful states, make any important struggle, even though her citizens were unanimous, which is by no means the case. Parties there are nearly balanced. If the assent, or dissent, of the New York legislature were to decide on the fate of America, there would still be a chance, though I believe the force of government would preponderate, and effect a rejection. But the legislature cannot assign to the people any good reason for not trusting them with a decision on their own affairs, and must therefore agree to a convention. In the choice of convention, it is not improbable that the federal party will prove strongest; for persons of very distinct and opposite interests have joined on this subject.

With respect to this state, I am far from being decided in my opinion that they will consent. True it is, that the city and its neighborhood are enthusiastic in the cause; but I dread the cold and sour temper of the back counties, and still more the wicked industry of those who have long habituated themselves to live on the public, and cannot bear the idea of being removed from the power and profit of state government, which has been, and still is, the means of supporting themselves, their families, and dependants, and (which is perhaps equally grateful) of depressing and humbling their political adversaries. What opinions prevail more southward, I cannot guess. You are in a better condition than any other person to judge of a great and important part of that country.

I have observed that your name to the new Constitution has been of infinite service. Indeed, I am convinced that, if you had not attended that Convention, and the same paper had been handed out to the world, it would have met with a colder reception, with fewer and weaker advocates, and with more, and more strenuous, opponents. As it is, should the idea prevail that you will not accept the Presidency, it would prove fatal in many parts. The truth is, that your great and decided superiority leads men willingly to put you in a place which will not add to your personal dignity, nor raise you higher than you already stand. But they would not readily put any other person in the same situation, because they feel the elevation of others as operating, by comparison, the degradation of themselves; and, however absurd this idea may be, yet you will agree with me, that men must be treated as men, and not as machines, much less as philosophers, and least of all things as reasonable creatures, seeing that, in effect, they reason not to direct, but to excuse their conduct. Thus much for the public opinion on these subjects, which is not to be neglected in a country where opinion is every thing.

I am, c.,


Gouverneur Morris

Morris, Gouverneur

December 22, 1814


Timothy Pickering

Pickering, Timothy




December 22, 1814



What can a history of the Constitution avail towards interpreting its provisions? This must be done by comparing the plain import of the words with the general tenor and object of the instrument. That instrument was written by the fingers which write this letter. Having rejected redundant and equivocal terms, I believed it to be as clear as our language would permit; excepting, nevertheless, a part of what relates to the judiciary. On that subject, conflicting opinions had been maintained with so much professional astuteness, that it became necessary to select phrases which, expressing my own notions, would not alarm others, nor shock their self-love; and to the best of my recollection, this was the only part which passed without cavil.

But, after all, what does it signify that men should have a written constitution, containing unequivocal provisions and limitations? The legislative lion will not be entangled in the meshes of a logical net. The legislature will always make the power which it wishes to exercise, unless it be so organized as to contain within itself the sufficient check. Attempts to restrain it from outrage, by other means, will only render it more outrageous. The idea of binding legislators by oaths is puerile. Having sworn to exercise the powers granted, according to their true intent and meaning, they will, when they feel a desire to go farther, avoid the shame, if not the guilt, of perjury, by swearing the true intent and meaning to be, according to their comprehension, that which suits their purpose.


James Madison

Madison, James

April 8, 1831


Mr. Sparks

Mr. Sparks




April 8, 1831



I have only received your letter of March 30th. In answer to your inquiries “respecting the part acted by Gouverneur Morris in the Federal Convention of 1787, and the political doctrines maintained by him,” it may be justly said that he was an able, an eloquent, and an active member, and shared largely in the discussions succeeding the 1st of July, previous to which, with the exception of a few of the early days, he was absent.

Whether he accorded precisely with the “political doctrines of Hamilton,” I cannot say. He certainly did not “incline to the democratic side,” and was very frank in avowing his opinions, when most at variance with those prevailing in the Convention. He did not propose any outline of a constitution, as was done by Hamilton; but contended for certain articles (a Senate for life particularly) which he held essential to the stability and energy of a government capable of protecting the rights of property against the spirit of democracy. He wished to make the weight of wealth balance that of numbers, which he pronounced to be the only effectual security to each, against the encroachments of the other.

The finish given to the style and arrangement of the Constitution fairly belongs to the pen of Mr. Morris; the task having, probably, been handed over to him by the chairman of the committee, himself a highly respectable member, and with the ready concurrence of the others. A better choice could not have been made, as the performance of the task proved. It is true that the state of the materials, consisting of a reported draft in detail, and subsequent resolutions accurately penned, and falling easily into their proper places, was a good preparation for the symmetry and phraseology of the instrument; but there was sufficient room for the talents and taste stamped by the author on the face of it. The alterations made by the committee are not recollected. They were not such as to impair the merit of the composition. Those, verbal and others, made in the Convention, may be gathered from the Journal, and will be found also to leave that merit altogether unimpaired.

The anecdote you mention may not be without a foundation, but not in the extent supposed. It is certain that the return of Mr. Morris to the Convention was at a critical stage of its proceedings. The knot, felt as the Gordian one, was, the question between the larger and the smaller states, on the rule of voting in the senatorial branch of the legislature; the latter claiming, the former opposing, the rule of equality. Great zeal and pertinacity had been shown on both sides, and an equal division of votes on the question had been reiterated and prolonged, till it had become not only distressing, but seriously alarming. It was during that period of gloom that Dr. Franklin made the proposition for a religious service in the Convention, an account of which was so erroneously given, with every semblance of authenticity, through the National Intelligencer, several years ago. The crisis was not over, when Mr. Morris is said to have had an interview and conversation with General Washington and Mr. Robert Morris, such as may well have occurred. But it appears that, on the day of his reëntering the Convention, a proposition had been made from another quarter to refer the knotty question to a committee, with a view to some compromise, the indications being manifest that sundry members from the larger states were relaxing in their opposition, and that some ground of compromise was contemplated, such as finally took place, and as may be seen in the printed Journal. Mr. Morris was in the deputation from the large state of Pennsylvania, and combated the compromise throughout. The tradition is, however, correct, that, on the day of his resuming his seat, he entered with anxious feelings into the debate, and in one of his speeches painted the consequences of an abortive result to the Convention, in all the deep colors suited to the occasion. But it is not believed that any material influence on the turn which things took could be ascribed to his efforts; for, besides the mingling with them some of his most disrelished ideas, the topics of his eloquent appeals to the members had been exhausted during his absence, and their minds were too much made up to be susceptible of new impressions.

It is but due to Mr. Morris to remark, that to the brilliancy of his genius he added — what is too rare — a candid surrender of his opinions when the lights of discussion satisfied him that they had been too hastily formed; and a readiness to aid in making the best of measures in which he had been overruled.

In making this communication, I have more confidence in the discretion with which it will be used, than in its fulfilment of your anticipations. I hope it will, at least, be accepted as a proof of my respect for your object, and of the sincerity with which I tender to you a reassurance of my cordial esteem and good wishes.



General Hamilton’s prediction in relation to imposts.


Mr. Madison, in his elaborate report in the Virginia legislature, in January, 1800, adverts to the different senses in which the word “state” is used. He says, “It is indeed true that the term ‘states’ is sometimes used in a vague sense, and sometimes in different senses, according to the subject to which it is applied. Thus it sometimes means the separate sections of territory occupied by the political societies within each; sometimes the particular governments established by those societies; sometimes those societies, as organized into those particular governments: and lastly, it means the people composing those political societies, in their highest sovereign capacity.”


The two following statements are among the papers of Mr. Brearly, furnished by General Bloomfield. They have, apparently, reference to this resolution.

States. Number Whites. Number Blacks.

New Hampshire, 82,000 102,000

Massachusetts Bay, 352,000

Rhode Island, 58,000

Connecticut, 202,000

New York, 238,000

New Jersey, 138,000 145,000

Pennsylvania, 341,000

Delaware, 37,000

Maryland, 174,000 80,000

Virginia, 300,000 300,000

North Carolina, 181,000

South Carolina, 93,000

Georgia, 27,000

The following quotas of taxation are extracted from the printed journals of the old Congress, September 27, 1785: —

States. Quotas of Taxes. Delegates.

Virginia, 512,974 16

Massachusetts Bay, 448,854 14

Pennsylvania, 410,178 12¾

Maryland, 283,034 8¾

Connecticut, 264,182 8

New York, 256,486 8

North Carolina, 218,012 6¾

South Carolina, 192,366 6

New Jersey, 166,716 5

New Hampshire, 105,416 3¼

Rhode Island, 64,636 2

Delaware, 44,886 1¼

Georgia, 32,060 1

3,000,000 90


On this question, Mr. Martin was the only delegate for Maryland present, which circumstance secured the state a negative. Immediately after the question had been taken, and the president had declared the votes, Mr. Jenifer came into the Convention; when Mr. King, from Massachusetts, valuing himself on Mr. Jenifer to divide the state of Maryland on this question, as he had on the former, requested of the president that the question might be put again. However, the motion was too extraordinary in its nature to meet with success.

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[In the Writings of Thomas Jefferson, Vol. I. p. 10, the following proceedings, on the adoption of the Declaration of Independence, are disclosed: —






ARTICLES OF CONFEDERATION To all to whom these Presents shall come,

Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union, between the States of New Hampshire, Massachusetts Bay, Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia.



“To the United States in Congress assembled, the representation of the Legislative Councils and General Assembly of the state of New Jersey showeth, —































COLONEL HAMILTON’S PLAN OF GOVERNMENT. The following paper was read by Colonel Hamilton, as containing his ideas of a suitable Plan of Government for the United States, in a speech upon the foregoing motion of Mr. Dickinson.




Close of the General Convention.


United States in Congress assembled.

THE RATIFICATIONS OF THE TWELVE STATES, Reported in the General Convention.

2.: PENNSYLVANIA. In the Name of the People of Pennsylvania.

3.: NEW JERSEY. In Convention of the State of New Jersey

4.: CONNECTICUT In the Name of the People of the State of Connecticut.


6.: STATE OF GEORGIA. In Convention, Wednesday, January 2d, 1788.

7.: MARYLAND. In Convention of the Delegates of the People of the State of Maryland, April 28, 1788.


9.: STATE OF NEW HAMPSHIRE. In Convention of the Delegates of the People of the State of New Hampshire, June the 21st, 1788.

10.: VIRGINIA, to wit:





Amendments proposed,

“Congress of the United States; “Begun and held at the City of New York, on Wednesday, the 4th of March, 1789.

“United States in Congress assembled.

“United States in Congress assembled.


“Eighth Congress of the United States.

“An Act supplementary to an Act, entitled An Act relative to the Election of a President and Vice-President of the United States, and declaring the Officer who shall act as President, in Case of Vacancies in the Offices both of President and Vice-President.

“By James Madison, Secretary of State of the United States.


To the Hon. Thomas Cockey Deye, Speaker of the House of Delegates of Maryland.

[Mr. Martin, when called upon, addressed the house nearly as follows: —]