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- Tweeting the Constitutional Convention
summary tweets composed by Bill Chapman; posted daily from May 25, 2009 through September 17, 2009
based on James Madison's NOTES located on the web at
Read suggested questions for discussion.
Fri, May 25
The convention was called to begin on May 14, but only today did a quorum assemble - 30 delegates from 9 states.
Delegates from the following states were present: MA, NY, NJ, PA, DE, VA, NC, SC, and GA.
Robert Morris of PA proposed Gen. George Washington as President of the Convention. He was elected unanimously by ballot.
Maj. William Jackson was elected Convention Secretary by a vote of 5 states to 2 over Temple Franklin.
Delaware's delegates are barred by their credentials from accepting any change that would end equality of voting among states.
The last act of the day was to appoint a committee to prepare standing rules and orders to govern the convention.
Sat, May 26
The delegates did not meet.
Sun, May 27
The delegates did not meet.
Mon, May 28
9 additional delegates took their seats. 4 from PA, 2 from MA, and 1 each from CT, DE and MD.
The committee formed to prepare standing rules and orders submitted its report. It was debated for the rest of the day.
The proposed rule allowing any delegate to call for a recorded vote at any time was objected to by Mr. King and Col. Mason.
They argued that such a rule would harden people's opinions, and make compromise much more difficult. The rule was rejected.
The remaining proposed rules were adopted. Included among them were rules that required the delegates to ...
... address all remarks to the Convention's President; and refrain from speaking, reading & moving about while others speak.
... refrain from speaking more than twice on any question before the Convention without special leave, and ...
... refrain from offering a 2nd comment until all others have had a chance to comment for the first time.
The adopted rules also require a quorum of delegates from at least 7 states to conduct business on any day, ...
... with a simple majority of the state delegations present required to vote in favor of an item for it to be adopted.
The final rule was that a motion for adjournment, made & seconded, is not subject to debate, but must be voted on immediately.
Tue, May 29
2 additional delegates, 1 from DE the other from MA, were seated at the Convention.
5 additional rules were adopted. They primarily dealt with maintaining the secrecy of the proceedings.
Delegates were prohibited from leaving the hall with writings made while present, without prior Convention approval.
Only Convention delegates were authorized to view minutes or other delegates' journals.
Members were forbidden from speaking of or publishing any Convention business without prior authorization from the Convention.
A motion to form a committee to oversee the minutes was defeated by a vote of 5 states to 4.
Those opposing the committee did so in order to keep political pressure off of the impartial secretary of the Convention.
Edmund Randolph began the Convention's main business by itemizing the reasons why the Articles of Confederation needed change.
The main problems he saw were the inability to defend against invasion, resolve disputes among states, & prohibit secession.
He also said we needed a government that could co-ordinate commerce in order to compete effectively with other nations.
He proposed 15 resolutions to rectify these problems. His proposals formed the basis of what would become the Constitution.
The Convention resolved that Randolph's resolutions would be considered by a Committee of the Whole at tomorrow's session.
Charles Pinckney introduced a competing draft document. It too was referred to the Committee of the Whole for consideration.
Wed, May 30
Delegate Roger Sherman (CT) arrived at the Convention and took his seat.
Forming a Committee of the Whole, the Convention began to debate Edmund Randolph's "Virginia Plan".
The Committee decided to postpone discussion of whether the Articles of Confederation should be corrected and enlarged to ...
... better secure liberty, the common defense and the general welfare.
Instead, the Committee moved to a discussion of what exactly was meant by the proposal for a supreme, national government.
A supreme, national government was one that had the power to enforce its decisions on the constiutient individuals and states.
This was contrasted to the government established by the existing Articles, which depended wholly on the states' good will.
The Committee voted that a supreme, national gov'nt composed of legislative, executive & judiciary ought to be established.
The vote was 6-1 in support - PA, NC, SC, MA, VA and DE voted yes; CT voted no, and NY was divided (Hamilton yes, Yates no).
The Committee then turned to the question of how to apportion representation in the national legislature.
Unable to agree on whether to base state representation on the # of "free inhabitants", the Committee put that issue aside.
It moved on to discuss, more simply, whether voting rights in the national legislature should be apportioned by population.
The Committee discussed if approving proportional voting rights would force Delaware's delegates to abandon the Convention.
After debate, the Committee agreed to postpone a vote on this issue, report progress to the Convention & adjourn for the day.
Thu, May 31
William Pierce, delegate from GA, took his seat.
The Committee of the Whole approved Randolph's 3rd res. (that the nat. leg. should be composed of 2 houses) without dissent.
The Committee moved on to Randolph's 4th resolution, that members of the national legislature should be elected by the people.
Debate centered on whether election should be of the people or the various state legislatures.
Many delegates argued that the people were liable to being misled, and that they could not be trusted to make good decisions.
Others argued that gov. could survive only if people supported it, & that democratic principles required popular elections.
Madison argued that the 1st house of the national legislature must be popularly elected, as the other branches would not be.
A vote was called. Popular election of the 1st house passed. 6 states voted yes, 2 states voted no, and DE & CT were divided.
Debate then moved to the election of the proposed 2nd (or senatorial) branch of the national legislature.
The proposal was that its members be chosen by members of the 1st house from nominations made by the state legislatures.
Randolph said that he saw the 2nd house as smaller than the 1st, thus avoiding the passions that large assemblies invite.
Discussion then turned to the methods by which states might choose nominees for the 2nd house.
Madison observed that states would choose nominees from within their boundaries. This might hurt, as smaller states would ...
... feel compelled to choose men of lesser ability, when more able men from larger states might be available to serve.
A vote was called on whether to strike the phrase "nomination by State Legislatures" from the resolution on the 2nd house.
The vote to strike was defeated 8 states to 0, with Delaware divided.
A vote was next called on the entire proposal to have the 1st house select members of the 2nd from nominations of State legs.
It was defeated 7 states to 2. The Committee moved on to the 6th resolution - the scope of the national legislature's powers.
The resolution assigned the national legislature powers where "the State Legislatures were individually incompetent."
Concern was expressed that this might take existing powers away from the states.
Edmund Randolph said that this was definitely not his intent, and he would oppose any plan that did so.
Madison said he favored a complete listing of the powers of the national legislature, but doubted whether this was practical.
A vote was called on whether to grant powers in cases where the states are not competent. It passed 9 to 0, with CT divided.
There was no debate or dissent on the issue of whether state laws that opposed national law should be struck down.
The question of whether the national government could use force to make delinquent states comply with its laws was postponed.
Fri, Jun 1
Delegate William Houston (GA) arrived at the Convention and was seated.
The Committee of the Whole took up Randolph's resolution #7, concerning the national Executive.
The plan proposed an Executive branch, elected for a single term, afterwards ineligible to serve again.
It was immediately moved & seconded that the national Executive consist of a single person.
Discussion ensued about whether a lone individual might become a monarch, especially if his powers included making war & peace.
Others thought that a single Executive would be the best protection against tyranny. A decision on this question was postponed.
Madison proposed that the Executive's powers be determined before settling the quesion of establishing an individual or team.
He moved that the Executive execute national laws, make appointments and execute other powers not legislative nor judicial.
The phrase "not legislative nor judicial" was objected to & struck out.
The Committee next turned to the Executive's manner of selection and term of office.
An Executive elected by popular vote was a recipe for tyranny said some, while others said it had worked well in NY and MA.
Delegates debated whether the Executive's term should last for 3 or 7 years. 7 won in a close vote (5 to 4 with 1 state div.).
Delegates began discussing the method of electing the Executive, but adjourned for the day before making any decisions.
Sat, Jun 2
3 delegates; one each from CT, MD and NY, arrived and took their seats.
Delegates resumed their discussion on the manner of selecting the national Executive.
They voted 7 states to 2 in favor of the national Legislature electing the national Executive to serve a 7 year term.
Benjamin Franklin's speech proposing that the national Executive serve without pay was read into the record, but not voted on.
The delegates next took up the question of how to remove an unfit, corrupted or criminal Executive.
After much discussion, a proposal to allow the national Leg. to remove the Executive upon the request of a majority ...
... of the state legislatures, was voted down 8 states to 1, after delegates objected to involving state legislatures.
The proposal to limit the Executive to a single seven year term was approved by a vote of 7 states yes, 1 no, and 1 divided.
The delegates then agreed to add the phrase, ...
... "and to be removeable on impeachment & conviction of mal-practice or neglect of duty" to the limited term motion.
The delegates then returned to the question of whether the Executive should be one person. Unable to agree, they adjourned.
Sun, Jun 3
The delegates did not meet.
Mon, Jun 4
The Committee of the Whole again took up the question of whether the Executive was to be a single person.
After more discussion, the single Executive was approved by a vote of 7 states yes to 3 no.
Randolph's 8th resolution was next up. It proposed an Executive-Judicial Council of Revision with veto power over legislation.
Some delegates argued to exclude the Judiciary as this branch would independently have the power to deem laws unconstitutional.
Others argued that the Executive should have an absolute veto with no chance for the legislature to override it.
The proposal to grant an absolute, non-overrideable veto to the Executive was defeated by a vote of 10 states to 0.
Also defeated by a 10-0 vote was a proposal to grant the Executive the power to suspend enforcement of a law for a period.
A proposal to allow the Legislature to override a veto by a 2/3 vote of each house passed without opposition.
The entire question (Executive veto power which could be overridden by a 2/3 vote of each legislative house) was passed 8-0.
Randolph's 9th resolution regarding the establishment of a national Judiciary was taken up next.
The delegates agreed without dissent that a national judiciary be established, ...
... and that it consist of one supreme tribunal and one or more inferior tribunals.
Fue, Jun 5
Governor Livingston, delegate from NJ, arrived at the convention and took his seat.
Debate began over the question of how national judges were to be chosen.
The 1st proposal was that the Executive alone make the choices. This was opposed by those arguing it was too monarchical.
Madison opposed the proposal that nat. legislators make the selections as they might be unqualified, and could be partial.
He thought that Senators might be more qualified & less prone to intrigue, and therefore might be better able to select judges.
The delegates voted to leave the matter of how judges would be appointed to a future day.
The delegates agreed that national judges should remain in office as long as they were not impeached and removed, and ...
... that they be paid a salary that would remain unchanged while they served. This to avoid undue influence by salary setters.
Debate on the powers of the "inferior tribunals" was postponed, and the delegates moved on to Randolph's 10th resolution, ...
... the admission of new states to the Union; which was agreed to with little debate.
Discussion of resolution 11, that a Republican government be guaranteed to each state, was postponed ...
... until questions of representation were decided.
Resolution 12, continuing the existing Congress until a set date after the new arrangements were adopted, was agreed to.
There being some debate over res. 13, providing methods to amend the new form of government, a vote on it was postponed.
Likewise postponed was a vote on res 14, requiring an oath of allegiance to the new government on the part of state officials.
Resolution 15, requiring state conventions be called to ratify the new form of government, proved controversial.
Madison argued that such conventions were essential in order to avoid the possibility that the new union be considered ...
... simply a treaty from which any state could withdraw if it felt another state was out of compliance.
Mr. Gerry stated that he feared giving people such power, arguing that in some states their ideas were creating great danger.
Mr. King argued that it would be more difficult to secure ratification in state legislatures, which were liable to lose power.
The delegates next discussed the question of the number of state ratifications necessary to adopt the proposed new government.
Concern was raised about how it could be imposed on any state refusing to ratify, and ...
... whether a smaller Union of only those states agreeing to ratify could be formed; & what the min. number for that might be.
Unable to reach answers to such questions today, a vote on resolution 15 was postponed.
The delegates then voted 6 states to 5, to take up tomorrow that part of res 4 dealing with election of members of the nat leg.
The delegates then turned again to that part of res. 9 dealing with the creation of inferior national courts.
It was moved that, to avoid the expense of a dual system, appeals from state courts be directed to the national supreme court.
Madison argued that without inferior courts spread across the Union, the number of appeals would be overwhelming; and that ...
... remanding cases after successful appeals to existing corrupt or biased state courts for retrial would be no remedy.
Others argued that certain jurisdictions were inherently national, and could not be taken up originally in state courts.
The delegates voted down the proposal to eliminate inferior national courts from resolution 9, 5 states to 4 with one divided.
Madison & Wilson then moved a provision to allow the national legislature to create inferior nat. courts be added to res. 9.
Their motion was approved by a vote of 8 states to 2, with one divided. The committee then adjourned for the day.
Wed, Jun 6
The Committee of the Whole returned to the question of how members of the 1st legislative house were to be selected.
Mr. Pinckney moved, and Mr. Rutledge seconded, that the state legislatures elect its members, not the people.
A long and moving debate ensued over the question of election by the people versus selection by the state legislatures.
You can read Madison's summary of the points made at http://avalon.law.yale.edu/18th_century/debates_606.asp
A vote on the proposal to have state legislatures select members of the 1st nat. leg. house was defeated, 8 states no to 3 yes.
The Committee next took up a motion to reconsider the decision to give the Executive alone veto power over legislation.
The mover, Mr. Wilson, thought that the language including national judges should be reinstated.
He and Madison argued that a single executive alone, might not have the stature to prevail in arguments with the legislature.
As for concerns about separation of powers, they argued that the British House of Lords had both leg. and judicial functions.
Voting, the delegates defeated the motion to reinstate the judiciary into the veto process by 8 states no to 3 yes.
Mr. Pinckney said that tomorrow he would ask for reconsideration of the decision to allow the nat. leg. to overrule state law.
Thu, Jun 7
Mr. Pinckney agreed to another day's delay taking up his motion to reconsider the right of the nat. leg. to overrule state law.
Mr. Dickenson moved, and Mr. Sharman seconded, a motion to have state legislatures choose the members of the 2nd leg. branch.
They said that this would give the states a stake in the national government, making harmonious relations more likely.
Others argued that Senators should be popularly elected, while another wanted state executives to make the appointments.
Madison argued that agreeing to Dickenson's motion would mean the Senate would not be based on proportional representation, ...
... but that otherwise the number of Senators would be too great. The first option would be unjust, the second not expedient.
He believed the Senate must remain small; or dilute its wisdom, becoming infected with the vices and passions of large bodies.
Mr. Gerry argued that popular election of both houses would mean the domination of landed interests, since they were the ...
... majority of the electorate. This would leave commercial interests unrepresented. Dickenson's plan would provide balance.
Dickenson again urged that states must retain some stake in the national government.
He also disagreed with Madison, arguing that a larger Senate would be a wiser, more deliberative body.
A vote was called, and Dickenson's motion passed unanimously, all 11 state delegations present voted for it.
Mr. Gerry said that tomorrow he would move that state executives be given the power to choose the national executive.
Fri, Jun 8
The Committee of the Whole took up the motion to reconsider giving the national legislature the power to invalidate state laws.
Pinckney moved, & Madison seconded, a motion to give this power to the national legislature, claiming it absolutely necessary.
Without this power, Madison argued, states would continue to violate national treaties & ignore other states' rights.
The alternative was to use force against offending states, and this, he argued, was much less desirable.
Some delegates opposed an unlimited power to veto state law, proposing instead a restricted list of specific areas for its use.
Delegates from small states argued that such vetoes could be used to crush their interests, as larger states would control it.
Madison asked if small states would be better off should the Union dissolve, leaving their large neighbors' powers unchecked.
The proposal to give the national legislature the power to overrule state law was voted down; 7 states no, 3 yes, 1 divided.
The committee agreed to take up the method of selecting the national Executive at tomorrow's meeting, then adjourned.
Sat, Jun 9
Mr. Luther Martin, delegate from MD, took his seat.
Mr. Gerry moved that the national Executive be elected by the executives of the various states.
Gerry argued that state execs would be best at identifying the ablest person, & the one elected would be totally independent.
Mr. Randolph disagreed. Gerry's proposal would not secure popular support, & small states would never produce a nat. Executive.
A vote was called, and Mr. Gerry's motion was defeated, 9 states no, 1 divided.
Mr. Patterson moved that the committee resume discussion of state voting rights in the national Legislature.
He, & other small state delegates, worried that proportional voting would result in the domination of large states over small.
He agreed that it seemed unfair that the votes of people in small states count more than those in larger ones, but pointed out
... that this was the agreement reached under the Articles of Confederation, an agreement they were not empowered to breach.
Mr. Wilson replied that circumstances had changed since the Articles were adopted, & their mistakes now needed correction.
Wilson further said that if small states refused a union with proportional representation, large states would refuse the other.
Patterson said that rather than voting on this question now, they should wait until the next session. The committee adjourned.
Sun, Jun 10
The delegates did not meet.
Mon, Jun 11
Abraham Baldwin (GA) arrived and was seated.
The Committee of the Whole resumed discussion on voting rights in the national legislature.
Mr. Sharman proposed that votes in the 1st branch be based on the # of free inhabitants, & that each state get 1 Senate vote.
Mr. Rutledge proposed that the # of votes states get in the 1st house be based on their proportion of the national wealth.
Messrs. King & Wilson moved that 1st branch voting be based on some form of equitable representation.
Mr. King pointed out that if representation was based on revenue paid to the nat treasury, some states might go unrepresented.
Benjamin Franklin had Mr. Wilson read a statement he had prepared. He first lamented the discord that the debate had shown.
He went on to say he had hoped that all national officers would represent the nation rather than states or localities; ...
... but as that was proving impossible, he favored proportional rep. by population, with individual rather than state votes.
He also pointed out that votes by state could allow small states to dominate large ones, contrary to historical precedent.
He proposed the possibility of redrawing state boundaries to equalize state populations, then giving each the same # of reps.
The weakest state would give what it could afford to the nat. government; then all others would contribute proportionately.
Use of the funds so collected would be decided by majority vote in the national Congress.
A vote on the King/Wilson motion to have the 1st house based on proportional representation passed 7 states yes, 3 no, 1 div.
It was then moved that the representation be based on the # of free & indentured citizens, & 3/5 all others except Indians.
This motion passed 9 states yes, 2 no.
Mr. Sharman then moved that each state be given 1 vote in the Senate. This was defeated, 6 states no, 5 yes.
Messrs. Wilson & Hamilton moved that voting in the Senate be allocated in the same way as the House. This passed 6 yes, 5 no.
Taking up previously postponed resolutions, res. 11 (guaranteeing republican govt. to states) was amended to include ...
... the words "or partition" after "voluntary junction". The vote was 7 states yes, 4 no.
On res. 13 (providing for amendments to the national constitution), several members questioned its necessity.
Col. Mason pointed out the new constitution, like the articles, would invariably include mistakes that would surface.
If the convention did not provide a regular & easy method for correcting them, he saw trouble ahead.
Mason felt the nat. legislature should be excluded from the amendment process, since they might try to block nat. changes.
The delegates postponed consideration of excluding the nat. leg. from the process, but passed the rest of res 13 unanimously.
Considered next was res. 14 (requiring oaths of national allegiance from state officials).
Mr. Sharman opposed such oaths as unnecessary intrusions into states' rights.
Mr. Randolph saw them as necessary to prevent the conflicts between state & national laws already evident.
Additionally, as state officials already swore allegiance to their states, an equivalent oath was necessary for balance.
Mr. Gerry said that an oath on the part of national officials to support state laws should also be required.
Luther Martin (MA) moved to strike the resolution as both redundant & improper (since the two oaths might be in conflict).
Martin's motion was defeated, 7 states no, 4 yes.
A vote on res 14 (loyalty oaths from state officials) was then taken. It passed 6 states yes, 5 no. The comm. then adjourned.
Tue, Jun 12
Resolution 15 (requiring ratification by the people of the new gov. system) passed by the vote 6 states yes, 3 no, 2 divided.
Attention turned next to the term length for members of the 1st legislative house. 1, 2 and 3 year terms were proposed.
Madison supported 3 years, arguing that instability was one of the great vices of the existing gov. that needed remedy.
He said that members needed knowledge of each other's states in order to make wise national law. That took time to develop.
Finally, he pointed out that 1 year terms would be wholly consumed with preparations & travel to & from the national capital.
Mr. Gerry stated that citizens of MA would not budge on annual elections; considering them the only defense against tyranny.
Madison said that popular opinion would likely change as people got new information & perspective, & that therefore ...
... the delegates should focus on what would be the best form of government, not try to guess what might be most popular.
Presenting the best government plan would draw the support of opinion makers after the convention, & the people would follow.
A vote was called on the proposed 3 year term. It passed; 7 states yes, 4 no.
The age requirement for members of the first house was struck out, Maryland alone wanting to keep it.
Debate next turned to the question of compensation for national legislators.
Madison thought pay should be fixed, as having states decide could cause corruption, & self-determination would be improper.
He proposed payment in wheat, or some other commodity, whose price would adjust as economic conditions changed.
Col. Mason seconded Madison's proposal, saying that states might set pay so low, that the best might not be able to serve.
A vote was called, and Madison's proposal for fixed pay passed; 8 states yes, 3 no.
A series of votes on various matters related to the national legislature was taken in quick succession.
Mr. Pierce's motion that legislative pay come from the national treasury passed; 8 states yes, 3 no.
On a motion to strike from the res a provision making nat officials ineligible to hold state office, 5 states no, 4 yes, 2 div
On a motion to make national members ineligible to hold nat. office for 3 years after their term ends; 10 states no, 1 yes.
On a motion to limit such ineligibility to a period of one year; 8 states yes, 2 no, 1 divided.
Delegates unanimously voted to strike the ban on re-election to the 1st house for an unspecified # of years, & to allow recall.
They defeated the motion to strike the requirement that Senators be a minimum age; 6 states no, 3 yes, 2 divided.
They agreed to set 30 as the minimum age requirement for Senators; 7 states yes, 4 no.
They next took up Mr. Spaight's motion to set the term for Senators at 7 years.
Mr. Sherman proposed 5 years; saying that good Senators would be re-elected, while bad ones could be removed sooner.
Mr. Pierce proposed 3 year terms, arguing that 7 year terms had created great problems in England.
Mr. Randolph supported 7 years. He said state experience showed it necessary to control the democratic excess in the 1st house
Madison supported the 7 year term to provide governmental stability, thus countering critics who attack republics as unstable.
The delegates voted to approve the 7 year term; 8 states yes, 1 no, 2 divided.
Messrs. Butler & Rutledge moved that Senators serve without pay. Their motion was defeated; 7 states no, 3 yes, 1 divided.
The delegates then agreed that the pay and ineligibility requirements they'd adopted for the 1st branch be applied to the 2nd.
Lastly, the delegates agreed to postpone consideration of resolution 9 (the national judiciary), then adjourned for the day.
Wed, Jun 13
The committee resumed debate on the resolution establishing a national judiciary.
Without dissent, they struck out specifications on its jurisdiction in order to leave maximum flexibility for its organization
They then specified its jurisdiction to include questions on national revenue, officials' impeachment, & peace & harmony.
A motion to have national judges appointed by the national legislature was made, but was withdrawn after Madison objected.
He argued that legislators were frequently former incompetent judges, & too influenced by partisanship.
Instead, he moved that judges be appointed by the Senate. This was agreed to without dissent.
Mr. Gerry moved that the Senate be banned from originating money bills, as purse strings ought to be controlled by the people.
Mr. Butler saw no need for such a ban, as the proposed Senate was fundamentally different than the British House of Lords.
He felt that if the Senate were so discriminated against, the best would reject it for the relative freedom of the 1st house.
He further argued that this would lead to the undesirable practice of tacking other clauses onto money bills.
Madison agreed, arguing that Senators would be representatives of the people too, & ought not be kept from important business.
Gen. Pinckney observed that the SC state senate was so barred, and this led to constitutional evasion & many disputes.
A vote was taken, and the motion to bar the Senate from originating money bills was defeated; 7 states no, 3 yes.
Work on Randolph's resolutions being complete, the Committee referred its report to the Convention for discussion tomorrow.
The Committee's report to the Convention can be read near the bottom of the web page http://avalon.law.yale.edu/18th_century/debates_613.asp
Thu, Jun 14
Mr. Patterson (NJ), speaking for several delegations, requested more time to contemplate the Committee's report.
He also said they hoped to have an alternative to the Randolph plan ready for consideration by tomorrow as well.
The Convention adjourned to allow delegates time for those two purposes.
Fri, Jun 15
Mr. Patterson (NJ) presented the alternative plan to the Convention, and it was referred to the Committee of the Whole.
To give supporters of the new plan time to prepare copies for discussion, the Committee adjourned until the next day.
You can read the New Jersey plan on the web page located at http://avalon.law.yale.edu/18th_century/debates_615.asp
Sat, Jun 16
Discussion of Patterson's "New Jersey Plan" began as Mr. Lansing argued in support of it over Randolph's "Virginia Plan".
Lansing stated that the New Jersey Plan attempted to fulfill the Convention's mandate by amending the Articles so as to ...
... preserve existing state powers, rather than usurp them in the manner of Randolph's Virginia Plan.
Lansing said that the Convention was not empowered to do what Randolph proposed, & that his plan could not be ratified.
Patterson built on Lansing's comments by saying that if they could not resolve the nation's problems within the scope ...
... of the powers they'd been given, they should return to their states and ask for a broader mandate within which to work.
He said that they were not authorized to create the best government possible, but one within the powers they had been given.
Patterson also argued that 2 houses of Congress, 1 with proportional representation, would be too costly to maintain.
Mr. Wilson rose to say that as long as Congress was kept a single, non-representative body, he could never grant it more power
He argued that the only way to keep Congress honest was to divide it & to allow people to control its members via election.
And, on the contrary, the only way to control an executive was to unite it. Randolph's plan did this, Patterson's did not.
Mr. Pinckney thought that the Convention was authorized to make any recommendations to resolve the nation's problems.
Mr. Randolph said that they must put together the best governmental plan possible, before the opportunity they have is lost.
He said that the fundamental flaw in the Articles was preserved in Patterson's plan - the control of Congress by the states.
If this situation was allowed to continue, Congress would remain impotent, people would give up & the Union would collapse.
The only way to avoid this fate was to seize the moment, construct the best government possible, then push its ratification.
Sun, Jun 17
The delegates did not meet.
Mon, Jun 18
The Committee of the Whole agreed (10 states yes, 1 divided) to postpone discussion on Patterson's 1st resolution.
Instead, they took up the question of whether the Articles should be revised and amended in order to preserve the Union.
Alexander Hamilton (NY) spoke for the first time. His comments were extensive & filled the day's agenda.
Hamilton said he could not support either of the plans; but found Patterson's most objectionable as it preserved the Articles.
He saw the necessity of a strong national government; one not hobbled by competing state governments.
He knew that it was not possible to eliminate the state governments, but felt they must be subservient to the national gov.
Fearing the corruption inherent in the electoral process, he proposed life terms for all Senators, and for the Executive.
However, Senators and the Executive, he argued, should be subject to impeachment and removal for bad or corrupt conduct.
To keep states subservient, he proposed the nat. gov. have absolute veto power over all state laws, & that state governors ...
... be appointed by the national government, and each have absolute veto power over laws passed by its state legislature.
Finally, he proposed that states have no naval or land forces, & that their militias be under the sole control of the nat. gov
Tue, Jun 19
James Madison spoke extensively on Patterson's New Jersey Plan as the Committee of the Whole took it up again.
The fact that it maintained the Articles, and the control over Congress that they gave the states, was a non-starter for him.
One by one, he rebutted the arguments Patterson and his supporters had offered for the New Jersey Plan.
He showed fairly conclusively that the NJ Plan could not possibly resolve the problems that had emerged under the Articles.
When he finished, the delegates voted 9 states yes, 2 no to postpone consideration of the NJ Plan.
They then voted 7 states yes, 3 no, and 1 divided to re-report Randolph's Virginia Plan to the Convention without alteration.
The Committee of the Whole then adjourned, and the Convention immediately took up consideration of Randolph's Virginia plan.
The first thing that came up for debate was what was meant by, & what might be the consequences of, a "national government".
Mr. Wilson denied that a national government would "swallow up" state governments as its opponents feared.
Hamilton said he had been misunderstood. He did not mean that states would be abolished, just that they would not be sovereign
Mr. Wilson argued that when they declared independence, it was from Britain, not from each other. The Union was independent.
In an effort to calm the fears of the smaller states, Hamilton argued that a strong Union was their best protection.
Small & large states would form shifting alliances with one another on different issues, protecting each other over time.
Wed, Jun 20
William Blount, delegate from North Carolina, took his seat.
Mr. Ellsworth moved to modify Randolph's 1st resolution to change "national government" to "government of the United States".
Ellsworth's motion was accepted without dissent.
Randolph's 2nd resolution, that the national legislature ought to consist of two branches, was taken up next.
Mr. Lansing argued that the Convention was powerless to replace the Articles, & moved to give the existing Congress more power
Col. Mason objected to raising this point again, as they had already decided to report the Virginia Plan, not New Jersey's.
He argued that the crisis was so great that they must focus on the best possible solutions, not discuss limits on their power.
Messers Martin & Sherman agreed that there was no need to abolish the Articles; they just wanted to give Congress more power.
A vote on Lansing's proposal to vest legislative powers in the existing Congress failed, 6 states no, 4 yes, 1 divided.
The delegates then decided to postpone consideration of Randolph's 2nd resolution until tomorrow, and adjourned for the day.
Thu, Jun 21
Jonathan Dayton, delegate from New Jersey, arrived at the convention and took his seat.
The Convention returned to the question of whether the national legislature should consist of two houses.
Dr. Johnson voiced concern that the state governments would lose sovereignty under Randolph's Virginia Plan.
Mr. Wilson pointed out that under the Virginia Plan members of the senate would be selected by the states. ...
... As this would give them a check on national legislation, they would thereby be protected.
He did not fear that the nat. gov. would be a danger to the states; rather that the states would undermine national authority.
James Madison agreed with Mr. Wilson, saying that government was endangered by state actions, not national ones.
In a vote, the resolution that the national legislature consist of two branches was approved, 7 states yes, 3 no, 1 divided.
Gen. Pinckney moved that res 3 be changed to say that members of the 1st branch be elected as the leg. in each state decides.
Col. Hamilton felt that the motion would destroy the Virginia Plan by moving power from the people to the states.
Mr. Mason felt that popular election must be maintained in at least one branch, as the only way to secure people's rights.
Mr. Rutledge argued that both election by representatives & direct election were each popular election.
He added that had popular election been used to select convention delegates, those present would likely not have been sent.
Messrs Wilson & King argued that state legislatures would choose people who represented their interests, not the people's.
The vote on Gen. Pinckney's motion was 6 states no, 4 yes, 1 divided. As it failed, popular election of the 1st house survived
The delegates moved on to consider the question of whether terms in the first house should remain set at three years.
Mr. Randolph moved to strike out three years, and to replace it with two years. He felt the popular check should be often.
Several delegates argued for annual elections, saying that the people needed to keep a close check on their representatives.
Madison strongly opposed 1 year terms, & was doubtful about those 2 years long.
He felt that short terms would leave reps with little time to legislate, as they would need much time for travel & campaigning
Mr. Sherman wanted 1 year terms, but could accept 2. He felt that reps away too long wouldn't know their constituents' will.
Col. Hamilton urged 3 year terms, saying there ought to be neither too much nor too little dependence on popular sentiment.
He went on to argue that frequent elections made people ignore them, & encouraged the formation of small cabals.
He also said that they tended to make people ignore elections, & pointed out that VA had to force people to attend & vote.
The motion to strike out 3 year terms passed; 7 states yes, 3 no, 1 divided. Two years was inserted in its place unanimously.
Fri, Jun 22
The Convention took up that portion of Randolph's 3rd resolution that specified reps would be paid from the nat. treasury.
Mr. Ellsworth urged that individual state treasuries should provide payment for their own representatives.
He argued that uniform payments from the national treasury might be inadequate for reps from states with lavish lifestyles ...
... and might be seen as unreasonable in other states, thereby creating unnecessary opposition to the national government.
Mr. Ghorum opposed the idea, arguing that state legislatures kept salaries too low, thereby keeping good people out of gov.
Mr. Randolph argued that if states paid these saleries, reps would be dependent on them, thus undermining national sovereignty
Mr. Wilson supported payment from the national treasury, but did not want a fixed amount specified in the Constitution.
Madison also supported payment from the national treasury, but also wanted a payment fixed to the value of some commodity.
Mr. Wilson moved that salaries in the 1st house be set by the national legislature, and be paid from the national treasury.
Madison argued that legislators should not set their own salaries, and the motion failed; 7 states no, 2 states yes, 2 divided
Ellsworth moved to strike "national government", leaving payments to come from state treasuries.
Hamilton strongly opposed the motion, arguing that it would give states too much control over the national government.
Ellsworth argued back that telling state governments that they weren't trusted would guarantee the failure of ratification.
A vote was called, & Ellsworth's motion to remove payment by the national treasury was defeated; 5 states no, 4 yes, 2 divided
The delegates then unamiously agreed to replace the phrase "fixed stipend" with "adequate compensation", & to define it later.
Col. Mason moved that members of the 1st house be at least 25 years old, as younger men were not experienced enough.
Mr. Wilson wanted age limits on neither voters nor reps, as there were many wise young men who had provided great service.
The motion to limit members of the 1st house to those at least 25 years old passed; 7 states yes, 3 no, 1 divided.
Mr. Ghorum moved to strike the section of res 3 that made reps ineligible for appointment to other office during their term.
Mr. Butler opposed the motion, arguing that it would enable corruption that would ruin government.
Mr. King supported the motion as it would enable meritorious people to advance more easily.
Mr. Wilson thought the ineligibility requirement might prove fatal in wartime, barring competent commanders from appointment.
A vote was called, and the motion to remove the ineligibility section was defeated; 4 states no, 4 states yes, 3 divided.
Sat, Jun 23
In a vote, providing adequate compensation for reps paid from the US treasury failed; 5 states no, 5 states yes, 1 div.
Gen. Pinckney moved to strike out the res 3 phrase making reps ineligible for state office as too small a point for a Const.
The delegates approved Gen. Pinckney's motion; 8 states yes, 3 no.
Madison again made his motion to make reps ineligible for appointment to other office during their terms & for 1 year after.
Mr. Butler felt Madison's proposal was too weak and would be easily evaded.
Mr. Rutledge supported it as a way to keep legislators focused on their jobs, and as a way to limit potential corruption.
Mr. Mason argued that without the possibility of promotion to other office, many good people would bypass all govt. service.
Mr. King remarked that even if the motion was approved, reps would still be able to secure appointments for family members.
Madison recognized the weakness in his proposal, but was trying to strike a balance so as to not deter good men from govt.
The vote was called, and Madison's motion to limit eligibility to other office was defeated; 8 states no, 2 yes, 1 divided.
Mr. Spaight asked for a division on the question, separating ineligibility during their terms from the 1 year after.
The 1st part (ineligibility for other office during their terms) was approved; 8 states yes, 2 no, 1 divided.
The 2nd part (extending the ineligibility to one year after a term ends) was defeated; 6 states no, 4 yes, 1 divided.
Sun, Jun 24
The delegates did not meet.
Mon, Jun 25
The delegates took up Randolph's 4th resolution - specifications for the 2nd house of the legislature (the Senate).
Mr. Pinckney gave a long speech comparing the U.S. and Great Britain, identifying what of value we might take from their gov.
The delegates next turned to the manner of selecting the members of the 2nd house.
Mr. Wilson asked if the state legislatures should be the ones selecting members of the 2nd house. He thought not.
He argued that Senators should represent the interests of the people at large, not those of the state legislatures.
Therefore he moved that Senators be named by electors chosen by the people for that purpose; but was unable to get a second.
Mr. Ellsworth saw no reason to change the manner of election specified in Randolph's resolution.
He thought Senators would feel bound to represent the interests of the people of their states no matter how they were elected.
Other delegates were most concerned to preserve the power of the state governments by allowing them to appoint Senators.
Mr. Butler moved the postponement of res. 4 until they decided how many votes each state would get in the 2nd house.
Butler's motion was defeated; 7 states no, 4 yes. Also defeated was a motion to postpone 4 & take up 7; 6 states no, 4 yes.
The states voted 9 yes to 2 no that the members of the 2nd house should be chosen by the state legislatures.
They also agreed unanimously that senators should be at least 30 years old.
They next debated the section of res. 4 that specified that the term of members of the 2nd house should be 7 years.
Mr. Ghorum suggested 4 year terms, one quarter of the house to be elected each year.
Mr. Williamson suggested that 6 years would be better for purposes of an even rotation than 7.
Gen. Pinckney favored 4 year terms, as he believed senators would lose touch with their state's needs by staying away too long
Mr. Sherman moved to strike 7 years in order to allow votes on other options. His motion passed; 7 states yes, 3 no, 1 div.
6 year Senate terms were defeated; 5 states no, 5 yes, 1 divided. 5 year terms also went down by the same margin.
Tue, Jun 26
Delegates resumed debate on the length of senatorial terms. Mr. Ghorum proposed 6 years, with 1/3 up for election every 2 yrs.
Gen. Pinckney opposed 6 years, favoring 4 instead. He believed long terms would cause Senators to lose touch with their states
Mr. Read proposed 9 years. He actually favored life terms during "good behavior", but realized this could not pass.
Madison made an exceptionally eloquent statement on the purposes of the Senate as a major protector of the republic's ideals.
He thought longer terms preferable, as long as membership was restricted to older men with few future political ambitions.
Mr. Sherman argued for more frequent elections as a check to insure good behavior. He supported either 4 or 6 year terms.
Mr. Read thought it in our best interests that we develop national loyalties and lose state ones. He favored longer terms.
Hamilton agreed with Madison that the fate of the republic rested on their ability to give govt. stability and wisdom.
Mr. Gerry worried that long terms would be seen as monarchical, and would stimulate violent opposition to ratification.
Mr. Wilson pointed out that as the Senate would be involved with treaties, it must appear respectable to foreign nations.
He therefore favored 9 year terms; & thought putting 1/3 up for election every 3 years would avoid accusations of monarchy.
The motion for 9 year terms, 1/3 to be elected every 3 years was defeated; 8 states no, 3 yes.
The proposal for 6 year terms, 1/3 to be elected every 2 years passed; 7 states yes, 4 no.
The delegates next turned to the question of Senatorial pay.
Gen. Pinckney proposed that Senators not be paid. As they were to represent the nation's wealthy, they would not need pay.
Benjamin Franklin seconded Pinckney's motion to strike the requirement for Senatorial pay. It was defeated; 6 states no, 5 yes
Mr. Ellsworth moved to strike the provision that Senators be paid from the national treasury, substituting state treasuries.
Madison opposed Ellsworth's motion as an attempt to subvert 6 year terms.
He argued that payment by states meant that Senators would lose independence, and serve only as long as states would pay them.
Ellsworth's motion to substitute payment by states rather than from the nat. treasury was defeated; 6 states no, 5 yes.
The delegates then voted on whether "payment from the national treasury" should stand. It was defeated; 6 states no, 5 yes.
The delegates then unanimously agreed that Senators be barred from other nat. office during their terms and for 1 year after.
However they defeated the motion to bar Senators from accepting state offices in the same period; 8 states no, 3 yes.
In their final act of the day, without dissent, they gave both legislative houses the right to originate acts.
Wed, Jun 27
Without dissent, the delegates agreed to postpone discussion of res 6 (the powers of Congress) to take up #7&8, voting rights.
Luther Martin (MA) took several hours to explain why he thought the purpose of the convention was to preserve states rights.
Finally, claiming exhaustion, he asked to continue tomorrow. Agreeing to his request, the delegates adjourned for the day.
Thu, Jun 28
Luther Martin finished his wide-ranging and strongly felt remarks begun yesterday in support of maintaining state sovereignty.
Mr Lansing, seconded by Mr Dayton, moved to strike "not" from res 7, thereby mandating voting equality of states in the House.
The motion was vigorously debated. Previous arguments, on both sides, were restated and refined, but no minds seemed changed.
Finally, the convention agreed to put off a vote on the Lansing motion until tomorrow at the request of the NY delegation.
Benjamin Franklin observed the lack of progress in the convention, & proposed a daily opening prayer to ask for God's help.
Franklin's motion was seconded. Many delegates then argued that such a move so late in the process would be misinterpreted ...
... as a sign that dissension and embarrassment in the convention had led to this measure.
Mr. Randolph, seconded by Franklin, proposed that a sermon be preached on July 4, followed by daily prayers thereafter.
Then, after several unsuccessful attempts at silently postponing the matter by adjourning, adjournment took place with no vote
Fri, Jun 29
Ignoring the prayer motion that was left hanging yesterday, the delegates returned to debating state voting rights in Congress
Again, proponents of equal votes by state and of representation based on population argued without changing each others' minds
Finally, a vote on Mr. Lansing's motion (that would in effect give equal votes to states in Congress) was called.
It failed; 6 states no, 4 yes, 1 divided.
A vote was then taken on the clause as reported, that voting in the House not be based on the rules of the Articles of Confed.
The clause was agreed to as written; 6 states yes, 4 no, 1 divided.
A vote was then called on a motion to postpone debate on the remainder of res 7, and to take up res 8. It passed; 9 yes, 2 no.
Mr. Ellsworth then moved that voting in the Senate be based on the equality principle found in the Articles.
He argued that he supported proportional representation in the House, but thought that if equality was not provided for ...
... in the Senate, then ratification would fail & all their efforts would be for naught. The small states had to be protected.
He said that rather than attempting perfection now, they should do as much as possible & let future citizens correct problems.
Mr. Baldwin had hoped the powers of Congress would be defined before they attempted to decide how votes would be allocated.
He would vote against the motion, because he believed votes in the Senate should be allocated based on constituent's wealth.
Sat, Jun 30
The session opened with a motion to have Gen. Washington write the Governor of New Hampshire to ask that they send ...
... their delegation as soon as possible. The mover (Mr. Brearly) argued that the divisions in the convention called for ...
... the inclusion of as many diverse opinions as they could get in order to achieve a resolution.
Madison noted that the delegates knew that the small states hoped the inclusion of another small state would strengthen them.
Mr. Rutledge said he could see no value in the proposed letter as New Hampshire had already been invited to send a delegation.
He then asked if the convention should suspend business waiting for the new deputies, & if RI should be solicited again too.
He concluded by saying that he hoped acceptable solutions would be found before the additional delegates arrived.
Mr. King said he had already written more than once, hoped the delegates would arrive soon, & thought a new letter unhelpful.
Mr. Wilson thought it a secrecy rule violation to make an outside communication now; & if word of their stalemate got out ...
... it would cause great alarm. Finally, as attendance at the convention was voluntary, such a formal request was improper.
A vote was called. Mr. Brearly's motion was defeated; 5 states no, 2 yes, 1 divided, and 3 delegations not present.
Debate resumed on Mr. Ellsworth's motion to give states the same voting rights in the Senate as they have under the Articles.
Mr. Wilson had hoped that such a motion would not be made, given that it had been defeated when debating House voting rights.
He opposes it now for the same reasons he had then, and would do so even had it been approved for the House.
Wilson said that the question was one of fundamental principle - Should a minority be able to control the majority?
And, if it turned out that the small states (1/3 the pop. of the nation) were willing to break from the union over this ...
... then he could imagine no better reason for allowing it. Govt., he said, should serve the rights of men, not states.
Ellsworth responded that it was not a question of minority control, but of protection of the minority from destruction.
Minority control he said, would be a valid argument only if small states were given equal voting rights in both houses.
There was no need, he argued, to tear down and replace the building when all that was needed was a roof repair.
Madison retorted that this flaw in the Articles was fundamental, requiring a completely new structure to remedy.
As for proportional voting in the 1st house protecting the rights of large states, Madison saw equal votes in the Senate ...
... leaving it possible for a majority of states to injure a majority of the people. He offered a list of examples showing how
Finally, he argued that the states were really divided, not by size, but by climate & whether they allowed ownership of slaves
The great divide was north and south; and if protections were needed, it was not for size, but for climate & slave ownership.
The best solution, he proposed, would be to apportion votes so that one house is based on the number of free inhabitants ...
... and the other based on the number of all inhabitants, slaves counted as free. In effect, he said, this would give ...
... the northern states control of one house of Congress, and the southern states control of the other.
After Madison concluded, debate returned to the question of the rights of large & small states; nobody else addressed slavery.
Benjamin Franklin proposed that voting rights be determined by the question at hand. For example, ...
... where state sovereignty is at issue, states should have equal votes; and where the issue is money, ...
... states should have votes in proportion to the amount that they actually contribute to the national treasury.
Mr. Bedford argued that the small states would never accept a gov. without equal voting rights to protect themselves.
Should the large states prevail on this point, the Union would dissolve and the small states would seek foreign protectors.
Mr. Ellsworth said that he would agree to give the national government control over national security only.
Domestic happiness could only be secured, he thought, by state governments responsive to the needs of their citizens.
If the rights of state governments were not protected, the happiness of individuals would never be secure.
Mr. King thought a solution might lay in a clear constitutional list of the rights of states that could not be abridged.
After King complained about Bedford's raising the ideas of dissolution & seeking foreign protectors, the delegates adjourned.
Sun, Jul 1
The delegates did not meet.
Mon, Jul 2
A vote was called on Mr. Ellsworth's motion to give each state one vote in the Senate. It failed; 5 states no, 5 yes, 1 divided
As the convention was evenly split, Gen. Pinckney proposed appointing a committee to develop a compromise.
Many delegates said they would support the appointment of a committee, although not all expected success.
Mr. Wilson objected to the proposed committee, saying it unfair that it would operate by the very rule one side opposed.
Madison opposed the formation of a committee, thinking it merely a delaying tactic.
Mr. Gerry supported a committee. He feared the Convention might fail & the Union dissolve if a compromise was not found.
On the vote to appoint a committee; 9 states yes, 2 no. On whether to have 1 rep. from each state; 10 states yes, 1 no.
To give the committee time to work, & to allow for Independence Day celebrations, the convention adjourned until July 5.
Thu, Jul 5
Mr. Gerry delivered the committee's report. In the 1st legislative house, each state should have 1 vote per 40,000 inhabitants;
& bills for raising or appropriating money, & for fixing salaries, shall originate there; & shall not be changed by the Senate.
In the Senate, the compromise proposal went on, each state shall have one vote.
Under questioning, Mr. Gerry reported that the proposal was only presented for discussion, & that those members opposed to ...
... equal votes in the Senate reserved the right to oppose them if the convention does not agree to the compromise.
Madison said that restricting money bills to the 1st house was no real compromise, as it had not worked in practice.
He pointed out that state senators had found it easy to have their house allies introduce desired amendments for them.
Furthermore, money bills could be vetoed by the executive; and, if the Senate was left out, its checking power was compromised.
He felt the convention must either give in to the will of the smaller states, or side with justice & the majority.
Given such a choice, he would unhesitatingly side with the majority & justice. Only this, he thought, would secure ratification
He could not believe that the small states would refuse a just government & seek foreign support as suggested by Mr. Bedford.
Mr. Butler likewise rejected origination of money bills as a compromise, & urged that voting in the Senate be based on property
Gouverneur Morris also rejected the compromise. He saw himself representing the nation, & perhaps humanity, not just his state.
He asked others to think to the future, and to imagine the effects of what they are doing on those who will come after.
The nation will be united one way or another, he said. Should a just system not be proposed & adopted, then force will be used.
In that case, the powerful will take up arms against the weak, & foreign powers may be invited in to complicate things more.
Voting equality in the Senate would lead to the losing states threatening to disobey laws passed over their objections.
He urged the delegates to look to the rights of men, not states.
Mr. Bedford rose to clarify his earlier remark. He did not believe that small states would seek foreign protectors, but that ..
.. if large states prevailed & the union broke up, then foreign states, pursuing their own goals, would offer aid to small ones
No man could predict, he said, what would happen if the small states faced oppression such as that described by Mr. Morris.
As to the proposed compromise; he said adopting a flawed plan, that could be corrected in later years, was better than disunion
Mr. Rutledge moved that consideration of the 1st part of the compromise be postponed, & that voting rights in the 1st house ...
... be based on the amount of revenue each state contributes to the national treasury. Defeated; 9 states no, 1 yes, 1 absent.
Fri, Jul 6
Gouverneur Morris moved to submit the provision calling for 1 representative for each 40,000 inhabitants to committee.
After some debate, the motion was approved (7 states yes, 3 no, 1 div.) and a committee of five appointed.
Messers. Wilson & Mason moved to postpone consideration of the clause on money bills, to take up equal voting in the Senate.
The motion passed; 8 states yes, 3 no. The delegates then began debating the provision for one vote per state in the Senate.
Some delegates felt that this topic was so connected to the one just assigned to committee, that it to should be referred too.
Messers. Martin & Jenner moved to postpone consideration of equality of voting in the Senate until after the committee reported
Postponement was approved; 6 states yes, 3 no, 2 divided; and the convention returned to the question of money bill origination
After debate, a vote resulted in 5 states yes (money bills should originate in the 1st house), 3 no, 3 divided.
The question was then asked whether it had passed, since the rule adopted on May 28 said pass meant a majority of those present
A vote was called on whether the motion had passed. 9 states voted yes, 2 no. The convention then adjourned for the day.
Sat, Jul 7
The delegates resumed debate on whether each state should have one vote in the Senate.
Mr. Gerry wanted to postpone debate until the committee considering representation in the 1st house reported.
A preliminary vote was taken, and the motion to approve one vote per state in the Senate passed; 6 states yes, 3 no, 2 divided.
Mr. Gerry thought they should enumerate the powers of the Senate before taking a final vote on its representation rules.
Madison thought they could not specify its powers before they knew how representatives would be selected.
He feared that if representatives were not chosen in a just manner, the new government would be as ineffective as the old.
Mr. Patterson argued that since representation in the 1st house would be proportional, ...
... the only safety for small states was voting equality in the Senate. He would never be moved from this position.
Gouverneur Morris said he maintained an open mind, but feared voting equality would maintain the ineffectiveness of Congress.
He said that rather than trying to protect the rights of individuals & states, they should be thinking of the nation as a whole
The small states, he said, had secured voting equality at independence because unification to fight the war was the 1st concern
That decision had led to the current crisis, and must be remedied now. He would entertain suggestions other than the status quo
Messers. Sherman & Ellsworth moved postponement until the committee considering representation in the 1st house reported.
6 states voted yes, 5 no; so the convention adjourned to await the report of the committee.
Sun, Jul 8
The delegates did not meet.
Mon, Jul 9
Delegate Daniel Carroll (MD) arrived at the convention and took his seat.
Gouverneur Morris delivered the report of the committee of 5 on whether representation in the 1st house should be 1 per 40,000.
The committee specified the exact number of reps each state would have in the first Congress, & future Congresses could ...
... adjust those numbers as the number of states, their wealth and populations changed over time.
As delegates questioned how the numbers for the first Congress were calculated, Morris moved to postpone debate here, & move to
... the question of making future changes. A vote was taken immediately, & postponement was approved; 9 states yes, 2 no.
Mr. Sherman moved to refer the question of the number of 1st Congress reps to a committee consisting of 1 member per state.
After some debate that included whether & how slaves were to be counted, the delegates voted to refer the question to committee
The vote was 9 states yes, 2 no. The members of the committee were then named, and the convention adjourned.
Tue, Jul 10
Mr. King presented the committee of five report on the number of representatives proposed to make up the first Congress.
Allocations were: NH (3), MA (8), RI (1), CT (5), NY (6), NJ (4), PA (8), DE (1), MD (6), VA (10), NC (5), SC (5), GA (3).
Mr. Rutledge moved that NH be reduced from 3 to 2 as she was a poor state and therefore not entitled to 3 representatives.
Debate ensued about how to properly allocate representation (wealth, current pop., future prospects, etc.).
A vote was taken, and the motion to reduce NH from 3 to 2 was defeated; 8 states no, 2 yes.
Other motions to change allocations for other states were also defeated.
Madison moved that the total number of reps in the 1st house be doubled; as he thought 65 too few to represent the nation.
Mr. Ellsworth argued that the larger number would be more expensive, and would slow the transaction of business.
Mr. Sherman preferred 50 to 65, as the travel distance to a capital would be so great that many would be deterred from service
... making 65 hard to find. Mr. Gerry wanted more than 65, believing a smaller number would be more easily corrupted.
A vote was called, and the motion to double the number of representatives was defeated; 9 states no, 2 yes.
The report of the committee of five was approved as submitted; 9 states yes, 2 no.
Mr. Broom announced that he would hold out for equal votes in the Senate as he had accepted proportional reps in the 1st house
Mr. Randolph moved an amendment to the committee of five report that a periodic census be required in order to ascertain ...
... changes in wealth & population; that the 1st be taken 1 year after the first Congress meets, & every __ years thereafter.
He also moved that after each census, the Congress reapportion representation accordingly.
Gouverneur Morris opposed the motion as fettering Congress too much, saying it might be impractical during wartime.
Morris was also concerned that in time western state populations might outnumber eastern states. He wanted Atlantic states ...
.. to be able to maintain their majority control of Congress. He thought it possible that reapportionment might never occur ..
... but thought that unlikely unless reasons against it were strong. An attempt to postpone Morris' motion was defeated.
Wed, Jul 11
Debate on Randolph's motion to require a periodic census and subsequent reapportionment in the 1st house resumed.
Mr. Sherman didn't want to shackle the legislature with restrictions. He wanted to choose good men & confide in them.
Mr. Mason argued that the harder they found it to develop a representation rule, the more they should resist passing it off.
He did not object to the initial numbers, & considered a periodic reapportionment, under a clear rule, a fair thing to require
Mr. Williamson was for making it a duty to do what was right, believing they should not leave it optional.
He moved to postpone consideration of Mr. Randolph's motion, & proposed a census of all free inhabitants & 3/5 of others ...
... be conducted every year, and that representation be adjusted accordingly. Mr. Randolph agreed to Mr. Williamson's proposal
He argued that unfair apportionment would doom the government, & that the census must be conducted by the nat. government.
The states, he felt, were too self-interested to be trusted with such an important task.
Messers. Butler & Pinckney insisted that blacks be included in the count on equal terms with whites, & moved to strike 3/5.
Mr. Gerry argued that 3/5 was the maximum percent that should be included for representation purposes.
Mr. Ghorum pointed out that slave holding states wanted 3/5 for purposes of taxation, but 100% for purposes of representation.
Since he agreed with their 3/5 argument for purposes of taxation, he had to accept it for representation as well.
Mr. Butler argued that since the value of slave labor in the south was equal to the value of free labor in the north, ...
... equal representation should be allowed for both; as the object of government was the protection of property.
Mr. Mason opposed the motion as unjust, even though it was favorable to Virginia. To him, slaves were not equal to free men.
Williamson reminded Ghorum that when the southern states argued for 3/5 in relation to taxes, northerners argued for 100%.
Butler's motion to consider blacks & whites equal for purposes of representation failed; 7 states no, 3 yes, NY absent.
Gouverneur Morris had several objections to Mr. Williamson's motion (yearly census & reapportionment).
Mr. Rutledge moved that both wealth & population be considered when apportioning representation.
He did not want to see poor, but populous, western states secure a majority over wealthier, if less populous, eastern ones.
Debate ensued over how best to calculate wealth. No clear, just rule could be identified.
Gouverneur Morris thought population an unjust way of securing good representatives.
He felt that westerners, busy trying to tame a wilderness, would not produce thoughtful men capable of governing.
Therefore to allow them a majority, based solely on population, would be to diminish the quality of government in the future.
Madison expressed surprise at Morris' statement, since in the past he had always argued his belief in the depravity of all men.
Madison said we ought to distrust all men in government, & to create a structure where we used them to check each other.
The motion to postpone Mr. Williamson's motion to consider Mr. Rutledge's was defeated; 5 states no, 5 yes.
The 1st part of Mr. Williamson's motion (a census of all free inhabitants) was voted on and passed; 6 states yes, 4 no.
Debate then turned to the 2nd part of Williamson's motion (including a count for 3/5 of slaves).
Mr. King opposed counting slaves at all, as he thought it would inflame slavery's opponents.
Mr. Wilson could not agree to count slaves at 3/5. If citizens, they should be equal; if property, then why only this property
Gouverneur Morris opposed the 3/5 inclusion as he thought it would encourage additional slave trade.
The motion to include a count of 3/5 of slaves was defeated; 6 states no, 4 yes.
A vote on the provision calling for a census in the first year after the 1st Congress met was approved; 7 states yes, 3 no.
The delegates then agreed unanimously to provide for subsequent censuses to be taken every 15 years after the first.
Madison then moved to add "at least" before "every 15 years", in order to give the leg. flexibility. Defeated, 5 yes, 5 no.
A vote was then taken on the entirety of Mr. Williamson's motion (as amended). It was rejected unanimously.
Thu, Jul 12
Gouverneur Morris moved an addition to the representation clause, that taxation should be in proportion to representation.
Mr. Butler supported the motion, but wanted to ensure that representation included all inhabitants (i.e. slaves).
Gouverneur Morris suggested that his motion should be restricted to direct taxation only, not taxes on exports & consumption.
Gen. Pinckney supported the idea, but was alarmed at the idea that slaves would not be included in the representation count.
He said that South Carolina exported items worth 600,000 pounds per year; wealth that was due almost totally to slave labor.
He saw it as unjust to tax this wealth, but not count it for representation. He wanted a rule that excluded exports from tax.
Morris formally modified his motion so that it specified direct taxes only. With that, it passed unanimously.
Mr. Davie declared that North Carolina would never ratify unless its slave population counted toward representation.
Gouverneur Morris declared that Pennsylvania would never agree to explicitly including slaves in counts for representation.
He thought it counterproductive for either side to insist on what the other side could never accept, and ...
... urged that they leave it to the legislature to decide what representation based on wealth and population meant.
Gen. Pinckney objected. He believed that since the purpose of gov. was to protect property, slavery must be protected.
At an impasse, the convention postponed further debate on the first clause of the grand committee's report.
Mr. Ellsworth moved that the 3/5 rule for representation be adopted only until Congress could come up with something better.
Mr. Randolph strongly objected, not wanting to give Congress the ability to alter the 3/5 rule. Ellsworth withdrew his motion.
Randolph, seconded by Ellsworth, moved that a census (including blacks at 3/5 their proportion) be taken within 2 years ...
... of the meeting of the first Congress, and every year thereafter, apportioning representation based on its results.
Mr. King objected as he did not believe that population was, or necessarily would remain, the best measure of a state's wealth
Mr. Pinckney moved to amend the motion to count slaves as equal to whites for purposes of representation.
Gen. Pinckney moved that the first census should be taken within six rather than two years of the meeting of the 1st Congress.
Gen. Pinckney's motion passed; 5 states yes, 4 no, 1 divided.
A vote was then taken on whether each subsequent census should be taken every 20 years. It was defeated; 7 states no, 3 yes.
When the wording was changed to mandate censuses every 10 years after the first, the motion passed; 8 states yes, 2 no.
A vote was then taken on Mr. Pinckney's motion to count slaves in equal proportion to whites. It failed; 8 states no, 2 yes.
Mr. Randolph's original motion was then voted on. It passed; 6 states yes, 2 no, 2 divided.
Fri, Jul 13
Mr. Gerry moved that prior to the 1st census, each state's portion of direct taxes be based on its % of reps in the 1st house.
After debate, Gerry's motion was defeated on a split vote; 5 states no, 5 states yes.
Changing the wording slightly, Mr. Gerry moved that the direct taxation be on the several states rather than their inhabitants
In its new form, the motion passed; 5 states yes, 4 no, 1 divided.
The delegates then returned to the question of whether or how to include slaves for purposes of representation.
Mr. Randolph moved to strike the word wealth from the phrase "wealth & numbers of inhabitants" as the basis of the census.
Gouverneur Morris opposed the change, fearing it would eventually lead to control of Congress in the future by western states.
Mr. Butler said that southern states were looking for assurances that their slaves could not be taken from them in the future.
Mr. Wilson supported giving majorities control in all circumstances. Otherwise, revolution would result; as US history showed.
Mr. Randolph's motion to ignore wealth and to base the census on numbers of inhabitants alone passed; 9 states yes, 1 divided.
Sat, Jul 14
Luther Martin called for a vote on the entire committee report (origination of money bills, Senate voting equality, etc.).
Mr. Gerry moved that before voting, they should bar future states from ever having a majority of votes over Atlantic states.
Mr. Sherman thought it unlikely that would ever occur; but even if it did, citizens there would likely be their posterity, ...
... and for that reason alone, they should not now discriminate against them.
Mr. Gerry responded that those remaining would be their posterity too, and that the delegates must look out for them.
Additionally, he feared that foreigners would likely settle in those future states, & he did not want to allow them control.
Mr. Gerry's motion was defeated; 5 states no, 4 yes, 1 divided.
Mr. Rutledge proposed they reconsider the parts of the committee report rather than take an immediate vote.
Others argued that there had already been enough debate.
Mr. Wilson argued that a point so critically important should be debated as long as necessary to reach some consensus.
Luther Martin said that he would prefer two nations to one in which there were equal voting rights in the Senate.
The delegates tacitly agreed to a reconsideration of the points at issue before taking a vote.
Mr. Pinckney moved that instead of equal votes in the Senate, the total be 36, with more populous states having more votes.
Mr. Dayton stated that smaller states should never give up equality, and that he would never agree to a plan to do so.
Mr. Sherman urged voting equality not so much to secure small states, as to secure support of their governments. He felt ...
... that unless the states had representation and veto power in the new government, they would never accept it.
Mr. Madison supported Mr. Pinckney's motion as a reasonable compromise.
Mr. Gerry liked the motion, but thought it could not be accepted. He could not accept any solution that precipitated disunion.
Mr. King favored proportional representation everywhere. On principle, he would rather do nothing than allow voting equality.
Mr. Strong said that he would vote for both parts of the compromise rather than see the union dissolve.
Madison felt that if the foundation of the government was unprincipled, then a lasting structure could never be built on it.
Proportional representation was for him a matter of basic principle and justice. If a just compromise was to be struck ...
.. he saw it as allowing proportional voting on matters applying to individuals, & equal voting on matters dealing with states
The vote on Mr. Pinckney's motion to allow large states more votes in the Senate than small ones; 6 states no, 4 yes.
Sun, Jul 15
The delegates did not meet.
Mon, Jul 16
The delegates voted to accept the committee report on equal voting in the Senate, origination of money bills in the House ...
... proportional representation & a periodic census in the House, etc. The vote was 5 states yes, 4 no, 1 divided.
The delegates then returned to the 6th resolution of the committee report (legislative powers of the nat. government).
Without dissent they accepted that Congress should have all legislative powers currently given under the Articles.
The next part, giving the new Congress powers to legislate where the states were "incompetent", seemed vague to some delegates
Mr. Rutledge moved to refer this section to a committee to have it more clearly define the powers being assigned.
A vote was called, and the states being equally divided (5 yes, 5 no), the section was not referred to a committee.
Mr. Randolph said that he was quite concerned over the grant of voting equality in the Senate. He believed that the report ...
... of the Committee of the Whole had been prepared on the assumption that proportional representation would prevail in ...
... both houses of the legislature. Since it would not, and since the convention was so closely split on this key issue, ...
... he proposed that the convention adjourn so that the large and small states could best determine how to proceed.
Mr. Patterson agreed that adjourning the convention was called for, and further proposed that the rule of secrecy be lifted ..
... so that the delegates might return home and consult with their constituents on how best to proceed.
Gen. Pinckney asked Mr. Randolph whether he proposed an adjournment for the day, or sine die so that delegates might leave.
Mr. Randolph said he was proposing only an adjournment until tomorrow, to give delegates time to develop new ideas.
The vote on the question of adjourning until tomorrow was evenly split (5 states yes, 5 no); so there was no adjournment.
Mr. Broome strongly opposed an adjournment sine die, saying that something must be done now, even if by a bare majority.
Mr. Rutledge opposed adjournment, saying the small states would not budge; & that the large states must decide to yield or not
Messers. Randolph & King renewed the motion to adjourn for the day. This time it passed; 7 states yes, 2 no, 1 divided.
Tue, Jul 17
The delegates returned to the 6th resolution of the committee report (legislative powers of the nat. government).
They approved language that gave the nat. gov. power to legislate on matters of nat. scope, & where states were not competent.
The debate next moved to the question of whether the national government would have the power to veto state law.
Several delegates thought the power either unnecessary, unwise or impractical; but Madison thought it essential.
He believed the states would constantly attempt to encroach on national power, and that only a veto could control them.
Madison's view was voted down, as the delegates defeated the veto language; 7 states no, 3 yes.
The delegates then agreed, without dissent, that national law would be supreme and binding on the states & their judiciaries.
They also agreed without dissent that the national Executive would be a lone individual; then began debating how to select him
The first proposal considered was to have the national legislature make the selection.
Gouverneur Morris opposed leg selection; stating the Exec. would be dependent on the leg., esp. since it could also impeach.
He proposed popular election instead. The people, he felt, would always choose nationally known men of good character & wisdom
He moved to substitute "citizens of the U.S." for "national legislature" in the language of the resolution.
Mr. Sherman felt the legislature would be better informed than the citizenry, and would therefore make better selections.
He also thought citizens would most likely support men from their own states, making a majority vote difficult to achieve.
Col. Mason stated that allowing the people to select the Executive would be like allowing the blind to select a color.
A vote was taken, and popular election of the Executive was defeated; 9 states no, 1 yes.
Luther Martin moved that electors chosen by the state legislatures choose the Exec. This was defeated; 8 states no, 2 yes.
The delegates then voted unanimously that the Executive be chosen by the national legislature.
They then postponed consideration of a proposed 7 year term, & agreed that the role of the Executive would be to ...
... execute national law & to appoint offices not otherwise provided for.
Mr. Broom moved that they strike out the provision making the Executive ineligible for a second term.
Gouverneur Morris supported the motion, since he felt ineligibility for re-election took away a motive for good behavior.
On a vote, the ineligibility clause was struck out; 6 states yes, 4 no.
They then returned to the question of whether to keep a 7 year Executive term.
Mr. Broom supported a shorter term since the Executive was now eligible for re-election.
Dr. McClurg proposed striking out 7 years and replacing it with "during good behavior" (a life term while behaving well).
Gouverneur Morris seconded McClurg's motion with great enthusiasm, saying that this was the way to get good government.
Mr. Sherman felt that "good behavior" was too dangerous. He argued that good Executives would be re-elected.
Madison argued that the preservation of liberty depended on the separation of the legislative, executive & judicial functions.
He feared that legislative selection of the Executive, & judicial procedures in case of impeachment, blurred this separation.
Col Mason pointed out that good behavior had already been rejected, and trusted it would be so again. He thought they would ..
... be unable to define misbehavior well enough to make for a fair trial, especially for so powerful a figure.
Therefore, Executives serving during good behavior would be unremovable. He feared a short path to hereditary monarchy.
The delegates voted down the proposal to substitute "during good behavior" for 7 years; 6 states no, 4 yes.
The motion to strike out 7 years was defeated; 6 states no, 4 yes.
Given these votes, the delegates unanimously agreed to reconsider the vote to strike out ineligibility for a 2nd term tomorrow
Wed, Jul 18
The delgates voted (8 states yes, 2 absent) to put off reconsideration of the vote on Executive eligibility for one more day.
They agreed, without dissent, that the Executive should have veto rights over acts of Congress, subject to a 2/3 override vote
They further agreed, without dissent, that a national judiciary consisting of one national tribunal be established.
They then began debating the proposal that members of the national tribunal were to be appointed by the legislature.
Mr. Ghorum thought the entire legislature too big to ensure good judicial choices.
He proposed appointment by the Senate alone, or better yet, by the Executive with the advice & consent of the Senate.
Mr. Wilson preferred appointment by the Executive acting alone, and made a motion to that effect.
Several delegates voiced a desire for judicial appointments by the Senate acting on its own.
Mr. Mason was concerned that if the national tribunal were to try impeachments, Executive appointment would create a conflict.
He was also concerned that the Executive would form attachments in the state where the national government was located, and ..
... might tend to appoint judges from that state to the exclusion of others.
Madison suggested Executive appointment with the concurrence of 1/3 of the Senate. This would provide the advantage of ...
... responsibility in the Executive united with the security of Senate oversight to exclude possible Executive corruption.
Mr. Sherman favored sole appointment by the Senate, as it would be of nearly equal stature with the Exec., but hopefully ...
... provide more wisdom, greater knowledge of capable men, and be less easily corrupted than a single individual.
Mr. Ghorum doubted the Senators would be better informed than the Executive, as they would get info from the same sources.
He felt the responsibility for good & bad appointments would be more easily fixed on one person than on a larger group.
The motion to have the Executive alone appoint judges to the national tribunal was defeated; 6 states no, 2 yes, 2 absent.
Mr. Ghorum then moved that judges should be nominated & appointed by the Exec. with the advice and consent of the Senate, ...
... and that every such nomination should be made ___ days prior to the appointment. This failed; 4 states yes, 4 no, 2 absent
Madison moved that judges should be nominated by the Exec. & that such nominations should become appointments if not ...
... if not disagreed to within ___ days by 2/3 of the Senate. Consideration of this motion was postponed until tomorrow.
Without dissent, it was agreed that judges would hold their offices during good behavior, and receive fixed salaries.
It was next proposed that decreases or increases in such salaries not take effect during the tenure of sitting judges.
Gouverneur Morris moved to strike out the words "or increases", feeling that increases would not beholden judges.
Benjamin Franklin favored the motion, believing that as the country grew, work would increase, necessitating pay increases.
Madison argued that any proposal for a change in pay could create intrigue & remove focus from the work people should be doing
He argued that when members of the legislature were involved in a suit, they could use a pay change to distract judges.
He proposed again that pay changes could be avoided by fixing salaries to the value of a commodity (such as wheat), ...
... which would maintain its value over time, thereby insuring that judges always received equitable pay. As for ...
... increase in work load, he proposed this be handled by increasing the number of judges, not their salaries.
Gouverneur Morris countered that while the value of money may change, the state of society may also, thereby rendering a ...
... a specific commodity's worth less than (or more than) it had been earlier. Salaries must be reset as the Country changes.
On the move to strike increase & bar only salary decreases during a judge's tenure, the vote was 6 states yes, 2 no, 2 absent.
The entire section on the national judiciary was then approved, as amended, without dissent.
The delegates then took up the proposal to allow the legislature to appoint inferior tribunals.
Mr. Butler saw no need for them, arguing that state tribunals could handle all other matters.
Mr. Ghorum argued that inferior national tribunals handling piracies & other naval matters already existed.
They created no problems. Other such tribunals would be necessary, he thought, to render the national government effective.
After this discussion, the provision was agreed to without dissent.
Madison then proposed that national tribunals be given jurisdiction in all cases arising under national law and in cases ...
... involving national peace and harmony. This too was agreed to without dissent, as was the res. for admitting new states.
They next turned to the provision for continuing the existing Congress after ratification, until the new government formed.
The delegates voted down the provision to continue the existing Congress; 7 states no, 2 yes.
Next they turned to the provision that guaranteed a republican constitution & existing laws to each state.
Many delegates objected to specific state laws & constitutional provisions, and did not want to see them continued.
It was pointed out that the purpose of this resolution was to allow existing authorities to keep order during the changeover.
After discussion & without dissent, the language was changed to say that republican government was guaranteed to each state, &
... that each state shall be protected against foreign and domestic violence. The convention then adjourned for the day.
Thu, Jul 19
The delegates began reconsideration of their vote to allow the Executive to be eligible for re-election.
Gouverneur Morris presented a lengthy explanation of the importance of the Executive as the protector of citizen's rights, ...
... and a check against the tendency of legislatures to abuse their lawful powers. He argued they must not bar re-election ...
... as this would (1) eliminate the motivation to provide good public service so as to be re-elected; (2) tend to ...
... make the most of his limited time in office to accumulate wealth & reward friends; & (3) produce Constitutional violations
He also argued against making the Executive impeachable, as he feared it would keep him from acting as a legislative check.
He urged a biennial election for the Executive in years where there were no legislative elections, so as to avoid ...
... disruptions in government administration. Frequent elections would keep the Executive in check, and in a large nation ...
... would not be subject to the combinations of influence that can corrupt more local elections.
Mr. Randolph urged reinserting the words to bar re-election; otherwise he felt Executive independence would be compromised ...
... as Executives would ten to make deals with an eye to securing re-election.
Mr. King favored the possibility of re-election as one way to insure that good men remained in public service.
He thought that selection by electors would most likely produce a majority Executive, as popular opinion would be fragmented.
Madison felt it imperative that the Executive be as independent of the legislature as possible. He favored popular election ..
... as people would most likely vote for individuals who had distinguished themselves, and therefore become widely known.
The problem he saw with popular election was that since slaves could not vote, southern influence would be lessened.
Election by electors would allow southern citizens their proper weight in selection of the Executive.
Mr. Gerry opposed popular election as he believed people to be generally uninformed and easily misled by designing people.
He also opposed appointment by the legislature if the Exec was eligible for additional terms, as making him dependent on them.
He favored having the Executive selected by the state governors.
The delegates unanimously approved Gouverneur Morris' motion to reconsider their earlier votes on the Executive.
Mr. Ellsworth moved to strike appointment by the legislature, and to replace it with electors chosen by the states.
The first part of Mr. Ellsworth's motion (election by electors) was passed; 6 states yes, 3 no, 1 divided.
The second part (electors to be chosen by the states) also passed; 8 states yes, 2 no.
Luther Martin then moved that the Executive be ineligible for re-election. This was defeated; 8 states no, 2 yes.
They then took up the question of whether the Executive term should be 7 years. This was defeated; 5 states no, 3 yes, 2 div.
They then voted on a 6 year Executive term. This passed; 9 states yes, 1 no. The convention then adjourned for the day.
Fri, Jul 20
The delegates took up the postponed question of how many Executive electors each state would get.
The first proposal was that states with 100,000 or fewer residents would get 1, medium sized states 2, the largest states 3.
Madison pointed out that as the nation grew, all states would eventually have 3; & proposed that this formula be temporary.
Mr. Gerry moved a specific allocation of electors by state for the 1st Executive election. It passed; 6 states yes, 4 no.
Next, they turned to the question of whether the Executive should be impeachable.
Gouverneur Morris observed that if he was accused of malfeasance, then re-elected, that would be proof of his innocence.
He also wondered who would impeach, and whether the Executive would continue functioning during the impeachment process.
If allowed to continue, the malfeasance would go on; if not, the Executive would be dependent on those impeaching.
Col. Mason thought impeachment absolutely necessary. Otherwise, the Executive would be above the law. He opposed electors ...
... as being too easily corrupted by candidates, & therefore thought impeachment an important option in case this happened.
Benjamin Franklin favored allowing impeachment; otherwise, men would be unable to clear unfair charges against them, and ...
... those who would want to bring charges might turn to assassination as the only other way to remove an offensive Executive.
Gouverneur Morris admitted that malfeasance & some other situations might warrant impeachment, but wanted clear definitions.
Madison thought impeachment was required as the only check on a potentially corrupt, insane or treasonous Executive.
Limited term of office alone was an insufficient check, as the Executive might change during his term, long before re-election
In a legislative body, an evil or incapacitated man could checked by other legislators. This was not possible with a lone Exec
Several spoke in opposition to impeachment as a violation of the separation of powers they were trying to establish.
Mr. Randolph thought impeachment necessary, but feared giving the power to the national legislature. He suggested state judges
Mr. Wilson argued that if the Executive was impeachable, Senators (who would also have 6 year terms) should be also.
Mr. Pinckney pointed out that they had not yet defined Executive powers. They might be limited, making impeachment unnecessary
A vote was called and the delegates voted to allow impeachment of the Executive; 8 states yes, 2 no.
They then agreed that the Executive would be paid a fixed salary from the national treasury, and that electors ...
... would not be national office holders, legislators or themselves eligible for election to the Executive position.
Dr. McClurg asked if they should specify the method by which the Executive would see that national laws were enforced.
He wondered if the Executive would be allowed to use the militia to force obedience.
Mr. King thought that enforcement specifics should be left to the discretion of the Executive.
Sat, Jul 21
The delegates agreed, without dissent, that Executive Electors should be paid for their service from the national treasury.
Mr. Wilson moved to reconsider the vote to bar the national judiciary from working with the Executive to review legislation ..
... before it became law, thereby allowing the two branches a potential veto over bills. Madison seconded Wilson's motion.
Mr. Ellsworth strongly agreed, stating that judges would have knowledge the Executive would not, thereby making for better law
Madison added that it would strengthen all 3 branches, & give the public confidence that the resulting law would be just.
Finally, he said that the real danger would be unchecked legislative power, & that this motion would better check that.
Mr. Gerry was unalterably opposed to the motion on the grounds that it blended the executive and judicial branches.
A better solution, he felt, would be to have a properly skilled person draft bills for legislative consideration.
Gouverneur Morris agreed with Madison that the greatest threat was abuse of legislative power. Furthermore, a limited term ...
... Executive subject to impeachment was not enough to check it alone. Therefore, he supported the motion.
Col. Mason also supported the motion. He said that the judiciary would have the power to declare laws unconstitutional ...
... when brought before them, but pointed out that not all laws would be brought before them. Therefore, he thought this ...
... motion would insure that they had the chance to look at every law and potential law. This would be the best check.
Mr. Ghorum thought that since judges would outnumber the Executive, his opinion would not be worth much.
Mr. Rutledge opposed the motion; feeling that if judges took part in lawmaking, they could not be unbiased when judging later.
Mr. Wilson's motion was voted down; 4 states no, 3 yes, 2 divided, and 1 not present.
Without dissent, they then agreed to give the Executive a qualified veto power (overridable by a 2/3 vote of the legislature).
They resumed debate on Madison's postponed motion to allow Executive appointment of judges unless 2/3 of the Senate disagreed.
Some wanted to give the power to the Senate alone; others agreed, but wanted to allow the Executive veto power over them.
Col. Mason objected to Executive appointment, fearing it would lead to Executive dominance of the judiciary.
Madison's motion was defeated; 6 states no, 3 yes. The Senate was given the power to appoint judges; 6 states yes, 3 no.
Sun, Jul 22
The delegates did not meet.
Mon, Jul 23
New Hampshire's delegates (2) arrived and took their seats. 12 states are now represented at the convention.
The delegates agreed, without dissent, that provision for amending the Constitution they were writing would be made.
They then took up the resolution requiring national loyalty oaths of state legislators, judges and executives.
Mr. Williamson suggested a reciprocal oath be required of national officials, requiring them to support the states.
Mr. Gerry moved, & it was agreed to without dissent, that national officers also take an oath to support the nat. government.
Mr. Wilson did not like oaths, and feared that they might conflict with future amendments that might be made.
Mr. Ghorum said there could be no conflict, as the oath would pledge allegiance to the existing constitution, as amended.
The delegates then agreed to the oath resolution with no dissent. They then took up res. 19, the method of ratification.
Res 19 stated that the proposed Constitution be referred to special conventions in each state, called to consider ratification
Mr. Ellsworth moved that this be changed so that the referral was to existing state legislatures. Mr. Patterson seconded.
Several delegates spoke in opposition to the motion, arguing that only the people directly would have power to ratify.
Some felt that if legislatures were given authority to ratify, future legislatures could rescind the ratification.
Madison argued that the true difference between a treaty and a constitution, was the former was founded on approval by ...
... legislatures, while the latter was founded on approval by the people. Violation of a treaty by one party, ...
... freed the all parties from the treaty. The history of constitutions showed such an outcome impossible. Once adopted by ...
... the people, the constitution would be binding on all parties forever. The union could not be broken apart.
Mr. Ellsworth's motion to submit to state legislatures was defeated; 7 states no, 3 yes.
The delegates then approved resolution 19 as submitted by the committee of the whole; 9 states yes, 1 no.
Gouverneur Morris and Mr. King then moved that representation in the Senate shall consist of __ members, each with one vote.
Gouverneur Morris then moved to fill in the blank with 3. He felt that 2 would be too small a number, leaving a majority ...
... at 14; a number he felt too small for such an important body. Mr. Ghorum pointed out that the # of states would grow.
He predicted that larger states would divide, & said the strength of government lay in the smallness, not largeness, of states
Mr. Williamson felt a smaller number preferable, as the burden of sending & supporting a larger number would burden ...
... states more distant from the capital. The motion for three was defeated; 8 states no, 1 yes.
It was then agreed to without dissent that the blank should be filled with 2.
Luther Martin opposed per capita voting as a violation of the idea that states were to be represented in the Senate.
Despite Martin's objection, the entire clause was approved; 9 states yes, 1 no.
Messers. Houston & Spaight moved to reconsider the decision that the Executive be elected by electors chosen by the states.
They felt the inconvenience and expense of sending them to the capital for this purpose would be too much.
Their motion was passed without debate; 7 states yes, 3 no. The reconsideration was scheduled for tomorrow; 8 states yes, 2 no
Mr. Gerry moved that the items they had so far approved (excluding the Executive) be referred to a committee to be drafted ...
... into a document for their consideration.
Gen. Pinckney stated that if the committee did not include protection against the abolition of slavery & the imposition ...
... of export taxes, he would be bound by duty to his state (SC) to vote against whatever document it produced.
The delegates agreed, without dissent, to appoint a committee. It was 1st proposed that the committee consist of 7 members, ..
... but this was defeated on a split vote (5 states yes, 5 no). It was then agreed that the committee would be 5 members.
Tue, Jul 24
The manner of selecting the national executive was reopened for debate.
Mr. Houston, seconded by Mr. Spaight, moved for appointment by the national legislature. They argued that the travel ...
... would deter good men from accepting the office. Mr. Gerry disagreed, believing the general excitement involved ...
... in the selection process would motivate the best to become involved. If the motion passed, the Executive would need ...
... to be made ineligible for a 2nd term, in order to maintain his independence from the national legislature.
Mr. Strong said ineligibility would not be required, as new legislative elections would have changed the men who first ...
... appointed the Executive, and therefore he could no longer be dependent on them.
Mr. Williamson wanted to return to a one term, 7 year Executive. He felt the best men would never be electors, ...
... as they would choose to be Senators, thereby making themselves ineligible as electors.
Mr. Houston's motion to have the Executive appointed by the national legislature passed; 7 states yes, 4 no.
The delegates then debated again eligibility for re-election & the length of the Executive term, but reached no decisions.
They agreed, without dissent, to postpone this debate & appointed the 5 members to the Committee of Detail that they ...
... had established yesterday to prepare a draft Constitution for consideration by the convention. They further agreed to ...
... let the committee include the alternate plans submitted earlier by Mr. Pinckney & Mr. Patterson in their deliberations.
Wed, Jul 25
The delegates resumed debate on the resolution concerning the national Executive.
Mr. Ellsworth moved that the Executive be appointed by the legislature, except when the incumbent was a candidate for ...
... re-election. In that case, the election shall be by electors chosen by the state legislatures.
Mr. Gerry stated that appointment by the legislature was wrong, and moved that the Executive be selected by state governors.
Madison pointed out that there were valid objections to all methods of selecting the Executive. He reviewed many of the ...
... objections, & observed that the least objectionable were direct popular election & selection by popularly elected electors
As electors had been recently overwhelmingly rejected, he proposed direct popular election, which he preferred anyway.
The two objections he saw to it were: (1) the propensity of people to prefer someone from their own state, thus hurting ...
... the chances of candidates from small states; & (2) the fact that southern states had large non-voting slave populations.
He thought that, given time, laws would change, southern populations would grow and these disadvantages would disappear.
Mr. Ellsworth thought that people would always prefer candidates from their own states; permanently hurting small states.
Mr. Ellsworth's motion was defeated; 7 states no, 4 yes.
Mr. Pinckney moved for election by the national legislature from candidates who had not served 6 years in the last 12.
He thought this dealt with expressed concerns about re-eligibility and too great a dependence of the Exec on the legislature.
Most did not agree. Mr. Williamson suggested the native state problem could be avoided by having voters vote for 3 candidates.
Gouverneur Morris liked the idea, but suggested substituting 2 for 3 candidates, at least 1 of whom must be from another state
Madison liked the idea too, but felt people might cast an obscure 2nd vote in order to enhance the chances of their 1st choice
Mr. Gerry opposed popular election on principle, feeling most people were ignorant & easily misled by organized groups.
Mr. Dickenson thought the propensity of people to vote for individuals from their own states could be turned to advantage ...
... by having each state select 1 candidate by popular vote. The nat. leg. could then choose the Exec. from among the winners.
These proposals were all voted down by votes of 6 states no, 5 yes. They then voted 9 states to 1 to allow the Committee ...
... to have copies of their deliberations on the Executive with which to work. Some expressed concern that they had not ...
... approved any general principles about the Executive branch to help guide the committee as it began drafting the document.
Thu, Jul 26
After summarizing the problems the convention has had with the Executive resolution, Col. Mason moved the reinstatement ...
... of the original wording, appointment for one 7 year term, ineligible thereafter. Motion passed; 7 states yes, 1 no, 1 abs.
A vote was then taken on the entire Executive paragraph. It passed; 6 states yes, 3 no, 1 absent, 1 divided.
The delegates then turned to the question of qualifications for holding national public office.
Mr. Mason proposed officeholders be citizens of the U.S. who owned land, & sought to disqualify those owing money to the gov.
He feared that debtors would seek to get into office so as to secure laws relieving them of their debts.
Mr. King was concerned that requiring land ownership would exclude those from the growing commercial class.
Mr. Dickenson opposed specifying qualifications, as it would be difficult to add new ones that might be needed in the future.
Madison moved to drop landed so as to give the Committee of Detail flexibility in determining criteria here. He felt that ...
... though the commercial & manufacturing classes were small compared to the landed class; their numbers would grow, ...
... & they should not be barred from gov service by a too restrictive qualifications clause. Landed was dropped 10 yes to 1 no
The remainder of Mr. Mason's motion for qualifications (U.S. citizenship & property ownership) passed; 8 states yes, 3 no.
The remainder of his motion (having to do with disqualifications) was defeated; 9 states no, 2 yes.
The delegates then began a discussion of where to locate the national government, but no decisions were made.
Finally, the delegates unanimously referred their proceedings to the Committee of Detail, and ...
... the Convention adjourned until Monday, Aug 6 in order to allow the Committee time to draft a Constitution for discussion.
Mon, Aug 6
The Committee of Detail distributed its report. Read it at http://avalon.law.yale.edu/18th_century/debates_806.asp
Tue, Aug 7
The Convention took up discussion of the draft Constitution presented by the Committee of Detail.
The preamble, and Articles I and II were agreed to without dissent. Debate began over Article III.
The delegates struck out, as redundant, the Article III phrase giving each house veto power over the other; 7 states yes, 3 no.
They next struck out, as too restrictive, the sentence fixing a meeting date each year on the 1st Monday in December.
In its place they inserted language calling for Congress to convene at least once in every calendar year, on the 1st Monday ...
... in December unless a different date is fixed by law. They then turned to Article IV, section 1, electing House members.
The 1st motion was to strike out the definition of electors in order to substitute language allowing votes to landholders only.
Mr. Wilson thought this a bad idea as it would mean some people who voted for state legislators could not vote for House reps.
Gouverneur Morris said people in some states already could vote for some offices and not others, and were not confused or upset.
Some thought that restricting voting rights to landholders might incite those excluded to revolution.
Mr. Dickenson thought landholders would best protect liberty and property; and be a check against future ignorant multitudes.
He argued that currently landholders were the overwhelming majority of citizens and would appreciate restricted voting rights.
Mr. Ellsworth was concerned that merchants & manufacturers would be excluded as they often did not own land.
Gouverneur Morris felt that voters without land would sell votes to those with wealth, creating an aristocracy in the House.
Madison agreed that landholders would be the best guardians of liberty & property. He feared that as the number of ...
... those without land grew in the future, if they had the vote they would be manipulated by those with wealth. He saw an ...
... example of this in England, where boroughs dominated by the poor were rife with bribery and corruption.
Benjamin Franklin came to the defense of the common citizen, pointing out their valor & sacrifice during the revolution.
He pointed out that sons of landholders, without land themselves, would not take kindly to disenfranchisement. Nor should they.
Mr. Mercer argued that common people were ignorant and would make poor choices if given the vote.
The motion to restrict voting rights to landholders was defeated; 7 states no, 1 yes, 1 divided, 1 absent.
Wed, Aug 8
The delegates resumed their debate over voting rights, but in the end left Article IV, section 1 unchanged.
They then moved on to Art. IV, sec. 2; age, citizenship and residency requirements for members of the House.
Col. Mason felt 3 years citizenship was not long enough. He did not want foreigners making laws for us. He moved for 7 years.
Mason's motion was seconded, and all states except for Connecticut supported the change.
They next turned to the requirement that House members be "residents" of the state from which they are elected.
Some wanted a 7 year residency requirement so that representatives would have had time to get to know their constituents.
Madison pointed out that in the case of new states, no representatives would qualify for seating during its first 7 years.
They decided not to specify a residency period, but did agree to change the word resident to inhabitant; then moved on to sec 3
Art. IV, sec. 3 (the number of reps allocated to the first House) was approved, after which they moved on to sec. 4.
Sec. 4 dealt with the manner of appointing the number of reps for new states as they were admitted to the Union.
Mr. Williamson moved to amend sec. 4 to make it state that reps would be allocated based on the rule for direct taxation.
Williamson's motion passed; 9 states yes, 2 no. Mr. King questioned whether this change would allow including slave counts.
He was strongly opposed to slavery, & was deeply concerned that the Constitution would bar the elimination of the slave trade.
In addition he said that it also barred the taxation of exports, most of which were produced by slaves. These he couldn't abide
His concern was that northern states would be taxed to defend southern states that would not pay taxes on much of their wealth.
Mr. Sherman too opposed the slave trade, but supported the representation rule since it had taken so long to forge it.
Madison was concerned about fixing 1 representative for each 40,000 inhibatants. He thought that as the country grew, and ...
... the nation's population increased, the number of reps would grow to large to allow the House to operate efficiently.
Mr. Ghorum wondered if the nation would last long enough for Madison's concern to become a problem.
Mr. Ellsworth said that if the nation lasted long enough, future generations could amend the Constitution to change the number.
Messers. Sherman & Madison moved to change the language to "not exceeding 1 for every 40,000." Motion approved without dissent.
Gouverneur Morris moved to insert the word "free" before "inhabitants". He opposed slavery and could not support it in any way.
He argued that if slaves were counted towards representation, then slaveholders who paid to have fellow human beings ...
... torn from home and loved ones, and damned to bondage, would have more say in the running of a nation devoted to ...
... human rights, than the citizens of Pennsylvania who loathe the slave trade and the wretched bondage of those enslaved.
Not only that, they would be taxed to pay for a navy to protect slave ships which will bring more slaves to increase ...
... the number of reps to vote for more taxes to be used to protect ships bringing more slaves. He preferred to be taxed ...
... for purchasing the freedom of all negroes in the US than to saddle future citizens with such a proposed Constitution.
Morris' motion to insert free before inhabitants was defeated; 10 states no, 1 yes.
Mr. Dickenson suggested that each state be given at least one representative. This was agreed to without dissent.
The delegates then took up sec. 5, providing that all money bills originate in the House.
Morris, Ghorum & Pinckney wanted to strike sec. 5, arging that the Senate could surely be trusted to appropriate money.
Col. Mason opposed the motion as the sec was the result of a hard to achieve compromise, & he did not want to refight the issue
The motion to strike proposed Article IV, section 5 was approved; 7 states yes, 4 no.
Thu, Aug 9
Messers. Randolph & Williamson said they would ask for a reconsideration of the vote striking sect. 5 (money bill origination).
They said that its removal endangered the compromises that supported the entire Constitution, & was otherwise unacceptable too.
Mr. Wilson also announced that he would move to reconsider the vote allowing 3 years citizenship as qualification for the House
Article IV, sections 6 and 7 were agreed to without dissent. The delegates then moved on to Article V, section 1.
Mr. Wilson objected to allowing state executives to fill vacancies in the Senate. He wanted people's reps to choose always.
Mr. Randolph replied that not all states had legislatures that met yearly; & that exec. appointment would keep the Senate full.
Wilson's motion to strike out state executive appointment to fill Senate vacancies was defeated; 8 states no, 1 yes, 1 divided.
Mr. Williamson moved to add the phrase after executive appointment, "unless the legislature makes other provisions."
Williamson's motion was defeated; 6 states no, 4 yes. Madison then moved to change the word "vacancies" to ...
... "happening by refusals to accept, resignations or otherwise may be supplied by the Legislature of the State in the ...
... representation of which such vacancies shall happen, or by the Executive thereof until the next meeting of the Legislature"
Gouverneur Morris argued this was essential since they had determined that federal officers were ineligible for other office.
He said state legislatures could otherwise appoint people who would not accept as a way to bar them from other office.
Madison's motion was agreed to without dissent.
Mr. Randolph then asked to postpone consideration of the sentence giving each Senator 1 vote until IV, sec. 5 was reconsidered.
The delegates voted to accept Article V, sect. 1 without the last sentence; 7 states yes, 3 no, 1 divided.
Randolph then moved to postpone consideration of the sentence giving each Sen. 1 vote. Defeated; 8 states no, 2 yes, 1 divided.
The sentence was then agreed to as part of Article V, section 1 without dissent. Randolph then said he would move to reconsider
Article V, section 2 was then agreed without dissent after a minor change proposed by Gouverneur Morris.
They then moved on to Article V, section 3 (eligibility requirements for Senators).
Gouverneur Morris moved to up the naturalized citizenship requirement from 4 to 14 years. Pinckney seconded.
They feared the dangers that could come from allowing foreigners into our national policy making bodies.
Madison said he could never agree to Morris' motion. 1st, he thought that a restriction in the Constitution was unnecessary ...
... as the Congress will have the power to regulate naturalization; and unwise as meritorious foreigners who might ...
... want to come to the US and could offer great service and skill would be deterred by our show of distrust.
Mr. Randolph reminded the delegates of the great service foreigners had rendered the US during the revolution, and thought ...
... we should not repay them in such an unwelcoming way. Mr. Wilson pointed out that he was not native, and said it would be ..
... a great irony if he were barred from holding office under the very Constitution he helped draft. He said that he had ...
... been barred from certain privileges when he moved to Maryland and found it grating and mortifying.
Morris' motion was defeated; 7 states no, 4 yes. By the same vote 13, 10 and 9 years were rejected in succession.
They then agreed to substitute the word "inhabitant" for "resident" before accepting Article V, section 3 as amended.
Article V, section 4 was agreed to without dissent. The delegates then took up Article VI, section 1.
Without dissent they agreed to the first clause, allowing state legislatures to set the time and place for elections.
The 2nd part was debated as many felt that the national legislature should not have power to overrule states here.
Madison argued that states might not always act for the common good, & they could easily abuse the power to set election dates.
The 2nd part of Art. VI, section 1 was maintained; but modified slightly so that the National Legislature would be given ...
... the power to alter dates & places set by the states, and to provide them if states refused. The section was then approved.
Fri, Aug 10
The delegates took up proposed Article VI, section 2; property requirements for members of the House and Senate.
Mr. Pinckney believed that the Committee of Detail had been instructed to set property requirements in the Constitution, ...
... not to leave it to the House and Senate to do so. He feared that if unpropertied people dominated the first Congress, ...
... they would establish rules that perpetuated membership by people like themselves into the future. This was ...
... not acceptable to him, as he felt propertied men were the only ones with the independence & respectability ...
... to properly run a government. He therefore moved that section 2 include a provision that before officers of the U.S. ...
... be allowed to take their seats, they must swear that their unencumbered estates are equal to or greater than ___.
Mr. Rutledge seconded the motion. Mr. Ellsworth opposed fixed qualifications since circumstances across the nation were ...
not the same, & would undoubtedly change. He thought it better to let Congress deal with changing circumstances as it saw fit.
Benjamin Franklin also spoke in opposition as some of the greatest rogues he ever met were wealthy. He pointed out that the ..
... Constitution would be widely read in Europe; and if it favored wealth, it would discourage common men from immigrating.
As the general feeling against Pinckney's motion was obvious, it was rejected without a vote being called.
Madison opposed the sec. as he felt Congressional control of these qualifications, could eventually subvert the Constitution.
For the same reason, he opposed allowing office holders to fix their own salaries.
Gouverneur Morris moved to strike out the phrase "with regard to property". His motion was defeated; 7 states no, 4 yes.
A vote was called to accept the section as written. It failed; 7 states no, 3 yes.
The delegates then voted to reconsider Art. IV, sec. 2 (restoring 3 years citizenship in place of 7 for House membership).
The reconsideration motion passed; 6 states yes, 5 no; and the issue was scheduled to be taken up on Monday, August 13.
They then took up Art. VI, sec. 3 (establishing a quorum in the House and Senate). There was concern that requiring ...
... a majority might cause difficulty, so it was eventually moved to set a minimum less than a majority that ...
... could be changed by Congress as its membership grew in size. Opponents argued that it would be a comfort to citizens ...
... to know that laws could not be imposed on them by a few men. The motion was defeated; 9 states no, 2 yes.
Madison then moved to add a phrase allowing each House to compel the attendance of absent members. This passed; 9 yes to 1 no.
Art VI, secs 3-5 were then accepted without dissent. Taking up section 6, Madison observed that the right of expulsion ...
... was too important to be left to a bare majority of a quorum; and moved to require a 2/3 vote before expelling a member.
Madison's motion was passed; 10 states yes, 1 divided. With this change, section 6 was then agreed to without dissent.
Section 7 (providing for the recording of and publishing proceedings of each house) was then taken up.
Debate ensued over who (& how many) should be allowed to call for votes, & the potential abuses each position might generate.
The delegates voted to modify section 7 by striking the phrase "when acting in its Legislative capacity"; 7 yes, 3 no, 1 div.
Sat, Aug 11
The delegates returned to Article VI, section 7. With some minor modifications, they approved it without dissent.
Moving on the Article VI, section 8; they again modified the proposed language slightly before agreeing to it without dissent.
Mr. Randolph moved to take up reconsideration of Article IV, section 5 (money bill origination).
Reconsideration was agreed to; 9 states yes, 1 no, 1 divided. The section will be taken up again on Monday, August 13.
Sun, Aug 12
The delegates did not meet.
Mon, Aug 13
The delegates began reconsidering Article IV, section 2 (qualifications for membership in the House of Representatives).
Several delegates proposed changing the residency requirement for naturalized citizens from 7 to 4 or 9 years.
One wanted only native born citizens to be allowed to serve, as he feared foreign powers mingling in our affairs.
Alexander Hamilton wanted to encourage foreign immigration, so moved to require only citizenship & residency. Madison seconded
Madison argued that America benefited immensely from immigration, & those states that encouraged it most did best in all areas
Hamilton's motion was defeated; 7 states no, 4 yes. The motion for 9 years was defeated; 8 states no, 3 yes.
The motion to shorten the requirement from 7 to 4 years also lost; 8 states no, 3 yes.
Gouverneur Morris moved to add a statement that those currently citizens when the Constitution is ratified would not be limited
Mr. Rutledge thought the qualification should apply to all naturalized citizens regardless of when they were naturalized.
Mr. Sherman said that some states had been open to foreigners, but not the nation; therefore the nation could qualify.
Madison argued that it was the states who would be forming the Constitution, so it must support the promises states ...
... had made, or force them to retract them. Also, foreign supporters whom we needed would be watching closely.
On a close vote, Morris' motion was defeated; 6 states no, 5 yes. A move to require 5 years was defeated; 7 no, 3 yes, 1 div.
Article IV, section 2 was then accepted as proposed without dissent.
They then began a reconsideration of Article IV, section 5 (origination of money bills in the House).
Mr. Randolph moved that the section be changed to say that bills for raising or appropriating money originate in the House ...
... and that the Senate not be allowed to change any sum so raised or appropriated. It could only reject or pass the bill.
Supporters argued that this change was necessary to ensure that the people's reps controlled taxes and spending.
Opponents argued that the Senate could keep rejecting bills until they wore out the House, an inefficient process.
Madison argued that the Senate should at least be allowed to check the House's possible extravagance by lowering amounts.
Randolph argued that the seeds of aristocracy lay in the Senate working with the Executive. Therefore it must not ...
... be allowed to control taxes, spending, or to declare war. Those must be reserved for the people's House.
Mr. Rutledge said that experience in SC, where the Senate was barred from origination or change, served no good purpose.
It only served to create conflict between the two branches, and diminish the effectiveness of government.
After dividing the motion, a vote on the 1st part (House origination of money bills) saw it defeated; 7 states no, 4 yes.
They next voted to defeat the proposal to originate in the House, but allow the Senate to amend; 7 states no, 4 yes.
Lastly, they defeated the motion to bar appropriations of money that did not originate in the House; 10 states no, 1 yes.
Tue, Aug 14
The delegates began debating proposed Article VI, section 9 (ineligibility of federal officeholders to hold other offices).
Those opposing the section thought it would discourage talented men from lending their talents to the government while, ...
... those supporting it argued that without it, corruption would run rampant and aristocracy would flourish.
Mr. Pinckney's motion that opposed section 9 was defeated on a split vote; 5 states yes, 5 no, 1 divided.
Gouverneur Morris then moved to amend the section to allow federal officeholders to take commissions in the military in wartime
He feared that barring talented men from leaving Congress to serve in the army and navy during wartime might lead to defeat.
Messers. Butler & Pinckney then moved to postpone sec 9 until the powers of the Senate were decided. Agreed to without dissent
Article VI, section 10 (having states pay the salaries of members of Congress) was now taken up.
Mr. Ellsworth moved to have payment made from the national treasury. Gouverneur Morris agreed, arguing that ...
... requiring states to pay would put an unfair burden on states most distant from the capitol, as their costs would be more.
Mr. Butler argued for payment by states, esp. for Senators, since if they did not have to return home to be paid they'd ...
... lose touch with their constituents. Mr. Gerry thought states might force men from office early by reducing their salaries.
Mr. Sherman feared that salaries set by Congress or the states could be set so low that only rich men would be able to serve.
He thought the best plan was to set a small salary in the Constitution, then let states adjust it upward if they wished.
He proposed $5 per day as the base to be set in the Constitution.
The motion to have members of Congress paid from the national treasury was approved: 9 states yes, 2 no.
The motion to have that pay set at $5 per day was defeated; 9 states no, 2 yes.
Without dissent, the delegates agreed to allow the amount to be set by law, then adjourned for the day.
Wed, Aug 15
The delegates approved Article VI, section 11 without dissent, then moved on to Article VI, section 12.
Mr. Strong moved to amend the article to specify that the Senate should be able to amend money bills.
Yesterday's debate began again, & Mr. Williamson moved to postpone until after the Senate's powers were defined. Passed; 6-5.
Madison moved that all acts before made law be submitted for approval to the Executive and Supreme Court; & that ...
... if either one should object, 2/3 of both houses of Congress would be needed to override the veto. Mr. Wilson seconds.
Mr. Pinckney opposed the motion on the grounds that judges should not prejudge laws upon which they might later have to rule.
Madison's motion was defeated; 8 states no, 3 yes. Gouverneur Morris was concerned over this defeat.
He suggested requiring 3/4 of each house to vote for an override to block the hasty passage of bad law. Alternatively, ...
... he suggested an absolute veto for the Executive which could not be overridden. He acknowledged the potential problems ...
... having judges prejudge law, but considered the dangers of having bad laws enacted to be worse. He proposed ...
... postponing finalization of this point until they could come up with a better check than a 2/3 override vote.
Mr. Ghorum saw no end to these difficulties and postponements. The arguments seemed circular to him.
Mr. Rutledge was adamant against another postponement. He said that the meetings were becoming tedious.
Mr. Ellsworth agreed with Rutledge. He said that if they could not decide soon, they would be unable to reach decisions.
Morris' motion to postpone was defeated; 9 states no, 2 yes. Mr. Williamson moved to change 2/3 to 3/4 for an override.
Williamson's motion passed; 6 states yes, 4 no, 1 divided.
Madison was concerned that Executive vetoes were confined to "bills", and could be evaded by calling acts something else.
His proposal to change the language to make this less likely was defeated; 8 states no, 3 yes.
They then changed the section to allow the President 10 days instead of 7 to submit a veto, and adjourned for the day.
Thu, Aug 16
Mr. Randolph moved to amend Art VI, sec 13 to substitute "order, resolution or vote" for "bill" to clarify the veto power.
In this form, it passed; 9 states yes, 1 no, 1 absent. The delegates then took up Art VII, section 1 (the powers of Congress).
The first power (to collect and impose taxes, duties, imposts & excises) reignited the earlier debate over export taxes, ...
... which were opposed by the slave states, and were now to be barred by Art VII, section 4.
They finally agreed to postpone debate on export taxation until they reached sec 4; then passed sec 1, only 1 state objecting.
They agreed to the clauses for coining money, regulating commerce, foreign coins, & weights & measures without dissent.
Mr. Mercer moved to add Post Office Roads to the clause giving power to estab. Post Offices. This passed; 6 states yes, 4 no.
The clause granting power to borrow money and print paper currency generated debate when ...
... Gouverneur Morris moved to strike the provision granting power to print paper bills.
Many disliked the idea of paper currency, but were loathe to ban it as they thought it might be necessary in the future.
Others were so adamant that they threatened to vote against the entire Constitution if this clause remained.
Indeed, Mr. Reed said that if it was kept, it would be as alarming as placing the mark of the Beast on the document.
Morris' motion to strike the clause empowering the government to print paper money passed; 9 states yes, 2 no.
The remaining part authorizing the government to borrow money then passed without dissent and the delegates adjourned.
Fri, Aug 17
The delegates resumed debating the list of powers given congress, picking up at appointing the treasurer by ballot.
To clarify, they voted (7 states yes, 3 no) to require a joint vote of both the House and Senate to name the Treasurer.
They then agreed, without dissent, to the clause allowing Congress to set up inferior national courts.
They then agreed (7 states yes, 3 no) to strike the word punishment from the clause setting rules on piracy.
By the same vote (7 states yes, 3 no), they shortened the language to "define & punish piracies" in the 1st part of the clause
There was some debate as to whether to require the application of a state legislature before sending national troops ...
... to put down a rebellion or insurrection. They voted (5 yes, 3 no, 2 divided) to require it unless the leg. could not meet.
They modified it further to clarify that if a rebellion was against the nat gov, force could be used without state permission.
The entire clause was then voted on, but lost on a divided vote; 4 states yes, 4 no, 1 absent.
The clause empowering the Congress to make war created a major debate. Some were opposed to it, saying that ...
... since Congress would meet only once per year, it might not be able to make a timely declaration. They wanted ...
... to vest the war power in the President, who they were certain would use it only if there were popular support for war.
Others were shocked to hear talk, in a Republic, of giving an Executive sole power to make war.
Mr. Ellsworth wanted to assign a power to make peace, feeling that it should be easier to get out of a war than into one.
A motion was made to substitute "declare" for "make" in the war clause. It passed; 8 states yes, 1 no, 1 absent.
Mr. Pinckney moved to strike the entire clause, but his motion failed without dissent.
Mr. Butler moved to give Congress the power to make war and peace. This was unanimously defeated too.
Sat, Aug 18
Madison introduced 9 legislative powers he wanted the Committee of Detail to consider including. Pinckney proposed 11 more.
They were unanimously referred. The lists may be read at http://avalon.law.yale.edu/18th_century/debates_818.asp
Messers. Gerry, Rutledge and Mason also proposed new powers, and they too were referred to the Committee of Detail.
Mr. Rutledge then proposed the creation of a Grand Committee to look into whether the nat. gov. should assume all state debt.
The delegates passed Rutledge's motion to create a new Grand Committee for this purpose; 6 states yes, 4 no, 1 divided.
Mr. Rutledge then moved that each daily session commence at 10 am & be adjourned precisely at 4 pm, ...
... with no adjournment motion allowed before then. He was concerned that the Convention was dragging on too long.
Rutledge's motion passed; 9 states yes, 2 no. The delegates then took up the proposed legislative power "to raise armies".
They, without dissent, amended it to "to raise and support armies", then moved on to "to build and equip fleets".
They changed that to say "to provide and maintain a navy", then added the power ...
... "To make rules for the Government and regulation of the land & naval forces" from the existing Articles of Confederation.
They then agreed, without dissent, to add a provision to limit the size of the army in peace time to no greater than 1,000 men
They then took up the question of who would control state militias, appoint officers & provide for uniform rules and training.
This proved a contentious issue, so a motion was made to refer it also to the Grand Committee appointed earlier.
The question was referred to the Grand Committee (8 states yes, 2 no, 1 divided), and the Convention adjourned until Monday.
Sun, Aug 19
The delegates did not meet.
Mon, Aug 20
Mr. Pinckney proposed 13 additional items that were referred to the committee without debate. Gouverneur Morris added 9.
They then passed the last item on the list of Congressional powers from the draft Const., "make all laws necessary & proper.."
They moved on the Article VII, section 2, the definition of and punishment for treason against the United States.
After debating the wording, a motion was made to send it back to committee; but the motion failed; 5 states yes, 5 no, 1 div.
The debate focused on whether one could commit treason only against the U.S., or against individual states as well.
A motion was made to strike the phrase "against the United States" from the section. This passed; 8 states yes, 2 no.
They then voted (8 states yes, 3 no) to require two witnesses before someone could be convicted of an act of treason.
Turning again to the question of whether treason could only be committed against the nation as a whole, the voted ...
... to reinstate the phrase "against the United States" by a vote of 6 states yes, 5 no.
Feeling the clause was still not clearly defined, Madison moved that it be amended to specify that ...
... treason shall consist only of making war against the U.S., or in adhering to their enemies. Agreed to without dissent.
The phrase "adhering to their enemies" was then dropped in favor of "giving them aid and comfort".
The punishment section was also amended by adding the phrase "or confession in open court" after the word "conviction"; 7-3-1.
With these changes, Article VII, section 2 was agreed to as amended with no dissent.
Art. VII, sec. 3 was taken up. A motion was made to require a census within 3 rather than 6 years of the Congress' 1st meeting
The motion passed; 9 states yes, 2 no. Turning to direct taxation & its apportionment, they adjourned before taking any action
Tue, Aug 21
The Grand Committee presented its report on assuming state debt, and control of the state militia. Tabled without dissent.
The delegates then resumed discussion on Article VII, section 3 (concerning direct taxation). It was agreed to 10 yes, 1 no.
Art. VI, section 12 (dealing with money bills which had been postponed earlier) was called for by Col. Mason.
He stated that he would support nothing further until this section was dealt with. However, ...
... the delegates decided to return to yesterday's debate on how direct taxation would be levied prior to the 1st census.
Mr. Gerry moved that states be taxed according to their percentage representation in the 1st House of Representatives.
Mr. Ellsworth felt that since the initial apportionment of reps would not be just, they should not levy taxes by that %.
Mr. Gerry's motion was defeated; 2 states yes, 8 no, 1 divided. They then took up Art VII, sec. 4 (a ban on export taxes).
Some feared that if the nat. gov. were denied the power to tax exports, states would tax each other & eventually make war.
Others argued that if the nat. gov. could tax exports it could blackmail states with that power.
Madison felt that the power might become necessary in the future as manufacturing grew, and barring it would harm the nation.
2 attempts were made to modify the section. The 1st to allow export taxes only for raising revenue failed; 8 states no, 3 yes.
The 2nd, to allow the imposition of export taxes only by a vote of 3/4 of Congress also failed; 6 states no, 5 yes.
Article VII, section 4 then passed with its wording unchanged; 7 states yes, 4 no.
Luther Martin then moved to add a clause to section 4 that would prohibit the importation of slaves, or to tax the trade.
He claimed that allowing such trade was a dishonorable feature to have in a Constitution.
Mr. Ellsworth opposed the motion, arguing that each state should be left alone to decide what was moral and immoral.
Mr. Pinckney said that SC would never ratify a const. that prohibits the slave trade; although, if left alone, it might do so.
Wed, Aug 22
The delegates resumed debate on Article VII, section 4 (the ban on export taxes and its relationship to the slave trade).
Slave state delegates argued that even if they signed the Constitution, they could not get it ratified if slavery was attacked
Mr. Baldwin argued that only national issues should be addressed by the Convention, not local ones such as slavery.
Delegates from GA and SC said that if left to themselves, their states would probably abandon the slave trade shortly.
Mr. King thought that if slave states would not ratify a slave trade ban, some northern states would not accept continuing it.
Mr. Sherman felt the union could not survive without the slave states, so better to allow continued trade than to break apart.
The debate turned to a motion to return this section to committee to be reworked.
Mr. Sherman argued that since it had already been passed, it could not be sent back to committee.
Mr. Randolph felt that rather than risk the loss of two states, they should try letting a committee find common ground.
The delegates voted 7 states yes, 3 no, 1 absent to send sections 4 and 5 back to committee.
Messers. Pinckney and Langdon then moved to do the same with section 6. This also passed; 9 states yes, 2 no.
A committee of 11 was appointed, then the delegates heard the report of the committee appointed on Aug. 18 & 20.
Messers. Gerry and McHenry moved to insert a clause after Art VII, sec 2 prohibiting bills of attainder & ex post facto laws.
The motion was divided, and the part barring bills of attainder was passed without dissent.
After some debate, the provision to ban ex post facto laws also passed; 7 states yes, 3 no, 1 divided.
They then took up the report of the committee appointed to deal with the question of how to deal with existing debt.
Gouverneur Morris moved that the Congress shall discharge all debts, and fulfill the engagements of the U.S.
Morris' motion was agreed to unanimously.
Thu, Aug 23
The delegates took up the section of the Committee of Eleven's report concerning state militias.
Some thought that allowing the nat. gov. to provide uniform rules for militia's weaponry, training, etc., would be seen as ...
... a move towards despotism. These delegates felt it would be the same as disarming the states, and could not support it.
Others argued that the nat. & state governments were not enemies, but both were on the people's side.
Taking from one & giving to the other a thing it could do better, strengthened the nation & made people better off.
Madison argued that many states neglected their militias, and that uniform standards were necessary to secure the nation.
The delegates voted 9 states yes, 2 no to approve the first part of the report on the militia (making laws for organizing, ...
... arming and disciplining state militias, and commanding them when employed in the service of the U.S.).
Madison moved to amend the 2nd part to allow the nat. gov. to appoint generals; leaving the states to appoint lower ranks.
This motion was defeated; 8 states no, 3 yes. They then agreed, without dissent, to allow states to appoint all officers.
They then voted 7 states yes, 4 no, to allow the states to train militias following standards set nationally.
Article VII, section 7 (barring the U.S. from granting titles of nobility) was agreed to without dissent.
Mr. Rutledge then moved to amend Art. VIII to bind state judges to uphold nat. treaties even if state laws or const. differed.
Rutledge's amendment passed without dissent. They then returned to Art VII, sec 1 (Congressional powers).
Mr. Pinckney moved to add the power to veto state laws (with a 2/3 vote required) that opposed the national interest.
Mr. Sherman thought the motion unnecessary as the national law had already been declared supreme.
Madison wanted to refer the motion to committee. He favored it, but felt it could be better stated if worked on more.
Mr. Rutledge thought this motion would condemn the Constitution to failure, as no state would allow such power to be exercised
The move to refer it to committee failed. Mr. Pinckney then withdrew his motion.
The delegates then amended & approved Art VII, sec 1 to allow the U.S. to pay debts & lay & collect duties, imposts & excises.
Mr. Butler said that he would move to reconsider this vote tomorrow as he thought it meant repaying Rev. war profiteers.
They then moved to take up proposed Article IX (powers of the Senate).
Gouverneur Morris moved to amend section 1 to provide that treaties would only be binding if ratified by law.
The motion was defeated; 8 states no, 1 yes. Section 1 was then sent to the Committee of Five to be reworked.
Fri, Aug 24
The Committee of 11 made its report on Art VII, sec 4-6. No bar on the slave trade till 1800, allow taxes on it, strike sec 6.
Mr. Butler moved to reconsider the portion of Art VII, sec 1 relating to debt.
Voting 7 yes, 2 no, 1 absent; they agreed to take it up tomorrow. They then turned to Art IX, sections 2 and 3.
Arguing that these sections were unnecessary under the proposed Constitution, Mr. Rutledge moved to strike them.
The motion passed; 8 states yes, 2 no, 1 absent. They then took up Art X, sec 1 (the Presidency).
Without dissent, they accepted 1st part of the section, vesting the Executive power in one person and his title.
Mr. Carroll moved to substitute election by the people in place of by the legislature. Defeated; 9 states no, 2 yes.
They then amended the sec to change election by the legislature to election by joint ballot of the legislature; 7 yes, 4 no.
Defeating a motion to give each state 1 vote in the election, they passed one to require a majority vote; 10 states yes, 1 no.
Gouverneur Morris opposed election by the leg, moving instead to require election by electors chosen by the people.
Morris' motion was narrowly defeated; 6 states no, 5 yes.
The remainder of Article X, section 1 was then postponed until tomorrow at the insistence of the delegates from New Jersey.
They then took up Article X, sec 2 (the powers and oath of office of the President).
Mr. Sherman moved to add the phrase, "or by law" to the power allowing the Pres to appoint officers not provided by the Const.
Sherman's motion was defeated; 9 states no, 1 yes, 1 absent. Mr. Dickenson moved to change the wording to allow the Pres ...
... to appoint all offices created by the Const. and other that may be created later, except when otherwise provided for.
Dickenson's motion passed; 6 states yes, 4 no, 1 abs. Finally, they changed the close of business from 4 pm to 3 pm each day.
Sat, Aug 25
The delegates began reconsidering Art VII, sec 1 (paying for debts incurred by the states and the Congress under the Articles)
The debate revolved around whether the government would collect taxes to pay creditors who had cheated the gov during the war.
Mr. Randolph eventually moved to postpone Butler's motion in favor of one saying that all debts and contracts entered ...
... into by Congress under this Constitution or the Articles would be valid against the U. S. Passed 10 states yes, 1 no.
The delegates then moved back to consideration of the report of the committee of eleven.
General Pinckney moved to change the termination date of the slave trade from 1800 to 1808. Passed; 7 states yes, 4 no.
Gouverneur Morris moved to insert the names of the states (NC, SC, & GA) which would be allowed to trade slaves until 1808.
Col. Mason opposed Morris' motion, saying it would offend the people of those states.
Mr. Williamson said that he opposed slavery & its trade, but did not want to offend states and cause them to leave the union.
Gouverneur Morris then withdrew his motion.
Mr. Dickenson moved to change the language to specify that it applied to states that had not voluntarily ended the slave trade
Dickenson's motion was agreed to without dissent. The entire clause, as amended, was then agreed to; 7 states yes, 4 no.
They then agreed to allow import taxes to be collected on slaves brought into the country.
Northerners didn't like it, as it amounted to accepting human beings as property; but felt they had to agree or lose the union
Mr. Ghorum thought they should look on the tax not as acceptance of slaves as property, but as a way to discourage the trade.
Mr. Sherman said that a small tax was not a discouragement, but just a way to raise revenue.
Madison opposed the tax, as he thought it wrong to have the Constitution embody the idea that men could be property.
They finally amended the clause to put a max tax of $10 per person, and agreed to it without dissent.
They chose to use the word person rather than slave as a compromise. Art VII, sec 5 was also agreed to, & sec 6 was postponed.
Art VIII was amended to read "all treaties made or which shall be made" to clarify that past treaties would be honored.
Some delegates fearing that the power to regulate trade might favor some ports over others, succeeded in having ...
... the trade provision referred to a new committee composed of a one member from each state.
Returning to Article X, section 2, they voted down Mr. Dickenson's motion; 6 states no, 3 yes, 1 divided.
They then struck out the clause allowing the President to correspond with state executives on appointments; 9 states yes, 1 no
They agreed, without dissent, to the power of the President to receive ambassadors and ministers.
Finally, they amended the pardon power to exclude impeachments, & to strike the ban on legal appeals of pardons.
Sun, Aug 26
The delegates did not meet.
Mon, Aug 27
The delegates resumed debate on Article X, section 2 (the powers of the President).
An amendment to give the President command of the militia when in service of the U.S. passed; 6 states yes, 2 no, 3 absent.
Without dissent, they postponed debate of the clause on impeachment by the House & removal if convicted by the Supreme Court.
Gouverneur Morris objected to using the Supreme Court as the trial court.
He also opposed designating the Pres of the Senate as the replacement for the removed President, preferring the Chief Justice.
Madison agreed with Morris, except that he preferred the President's council to exercise Executive power if a Pres was removed
Mr. Williamson suggested that Congress be given the power to name Presidential successors, & moved postponement of the clause.
Postponement was agreed to without dissent. Col. Mason and Mr. Madison moved to add a clause to the Presidential oath ...
..."and will to the best of my judgment and power preserve protect and defend the Constitution of the U. S." Passed; 7-1-3 abs
Moving on the Article XI, Dr. Johnson moved to amend section 1 to specify that the judicial power cover both law and equity.
Johnson's motion passed; 6 states yes, 2 no, 3 absent. And, by the same vote, they approved the amended Article XI, sect. 1.
Mr. Dickenson moved that instead of serving during good behavior (life), sec 2 allow Justices to serve unless removed by Cong.
Dickenson's motion was voted down (only 1 state voting yes) as delegates felt states would pressure Congress on removal votes.
Article XI, section 2 was then approved as submitted. Unanimously, they agreed to strike the last sentence of section 3.
Without dissent, they added the power to hear disputes between citizens of one state over grants of land by different states.
Tue, Aug 28
Mr. Sherman reported for the committee appointed on Aug. 25. Their report was accepted and tabled.
A motion was made to replace "it shall be appellate" (the Supreme Court) in Article XI, section 3 with ...
... "the Supreme Court shall have appellate jurisdiction". The motion passed; 9 states yes, 1 no, 1 absent.
Without dissent, they amended section 4 to clarify that jury trials for crimes not committed in a state were required.
Gouverneur Morris moved that habeas corpus shall not be suspended, except in case of rebellion, war or demands of public safety
The 1st part (banning the suspension of habeas corpus) was agreed to without dissent. The remainder passed; 7 states yes, 3 no
Article XI, section 5 (regarding impeachment) was agreed to without dissent; and Article XII was taken up.
Messers. Wilson & Sherman moved to amend Article XII to ban the printing of paper money.
The first part of the motion was passed; 8 states yes, 1 no, 1 divided. The rest was agreed to without dissent.
They then passed a ban on bills of attainder & retrospective laws; 7 states yes, 3 no. Art. XII was then agreed to as amended.
Article XIII (restrictions on state powers) was taken up & amended to make it more restrictive regarding taxes; then approved.
Gen. Pinckney was dissatisfied as he wanted Article XIII to include language protecting property held as slaves.
Article XIV (granting all state citizens the rights of citizens of the U.S.) was approved as written; 9 states yes, 1 divided.
Article XV (requiring states to return felons from other states to the state where their crime was committed) was taken up.
Mr. Butler wanted a provision to require the return of fugitive slaves, but withdrew his motion so it could be added later.
Article XV, with "high misdemeanor" replaced by "other crime" was then approved without dissent.
Wed, Aug 29
Article XVI was sent to committee for redrafting in order to clarify its meaning. The vote to commit was 9 states yes, 2 no.
The delegates then took up the committee of 11 report to strike out Art VII, sec 6 (2/3 vote required on navigation acts).
There was a motion to postpone its consideration in favor of substitute language. This triggered a lengthy debate ...
... on the opposing commercial needs of the southern agricultural states versus the northern manufacturing ones.
The south wanted no laws interfering with its ability to ship it products, while the north would benefit from controls.
Southern delegates saw simple majority votes allowing passage of controls as odious, just 1 more reason to reject the Const.
Northern delegates felt the same about a 2/3 requirement that would limit their ability to get commercial protections.
By a vote of 7 states no, 4 yes; they rejected the substitute language, then agreed to strike Art VII, sec 6 without dissent.
Mr. Butler made a motion to insert language after Art XV requiring the return of fugitive slaves found in non-slave states.
Butler's motion was agreed to without dissent. Article XVII (admission of new states) was then taken up.
Gouverneur Morris moved to strike the last two sentences so as to not bind Congress to admit western states on these terms.
He did not want to admit them with rights equal to the 13 original states. Morris' motion passed; 9 states yes, 2 no.
Morris then moved to substitute for Art. XVII, text banning taking territory from a state to make another without its consent.
Without dissent, the delegates agreed to the 1st part authorizing the national government to admit new states.
The 2nd part (on carving a new state from part of an older one) was agreed to also; 6 states yes, 5 no.
The entire text of the new Article XVII was then taken up. Supporters said it was important to provide a clear procedure.
Opponents thought that the language would scare away states likely to lose territory from ratifying the Constitution.
Thu, Aug 30
The delegates resumed their debate on Article XVII (admitting new states).
The question was whether a new state could be admitted if its territory was claimed by an existing state. Vermont was at issue
After a heated debate, they agreed to language that, after Vermont, would require all land claims by states to be abandoned ..
... before Congress could admit contested territory into the union as a new state.
They moved on to Article XVIII (defending states against invasion and domestic violence).
They easily agreed to the nat. gov. guaranteeing states a republican form of government, and protecting them from invasion.
However, the clause about protecting them against domestic violence was contentious.
Some argued that such violence would most likely results from disputes between state legislatures and executives.
These delegates argued that the national government might not know which side to support & which one to put down.
After making minor modifications to the language of Art. XVIII, the delegates approved it; 9 states yes, 2 no.
Article XIX (calling a new convention to amend the constitution) was next approved without dissent.
Article XX (loyalty oaths required of federal & state officials) was next up.
Mr. Pinckney moved to add a clause barring religious tests as qualification for public office in the U.S.
Mr. Sherman thought it unnecessary as the diversity of religions would be sufficient to make such testing untenable.
Gouverneur Morris & Gen. Pinckney supported the motion, which was then adopted without dissent. Art XX was approved as amended.
Article XXI (the number of state ratifications necessary to put the constitution into effect) was then taken up.
7, 8, 9, 10 and 13 were discussed; as was a proposal to have fewer if those agreeing were contiguous, more if not.
Madison argued that even if only 7, 8 or 9 ratified; then the constitution would be binding on all 13.
Mr. Wilson argued the opposite, saying that the constitution could bind only those states ratifying it.
Mr. Butler argued for 9, saying he could not accept that a small number could overrule the will of the majority.
Mr. Carroll argued for 13, saying that since the confederation had been unanimously established, fewer could not replace it.
Fri, Aug 31
The delegates voted to add the phrase, "between the said states" to the end of Article XXI; 9 states yes, 1 no, 1 divided.
Their purpose was to confirm that the constitution would apply only to the states that ratified it.
Returning to determining the number of state ratifications necessary for putting the constitution into effect ...
... Madison proposed 7 or more with a total of 33+ members of the House; thereby constituting a majority of states & people.
A motion to postpone Art XXI failed on an equally divided vote.
Gouverneur Morris moved to strike conventions as the mode of ratifications, in order to leave that choice to the states.
He thought this would make easier for states to ratify. Madison opposed this proposal as more likely to cause rejections.
Morris' proposal was rejected; 6 states no, 4 yes. A requirement for unanimous ratification was rejected; 10 states no, 1 yes.
A motion to require 10 state ratifications was defeated; 7 states no, 4 yes. Finally, requiring 9 states passed; 8 yes, 3 no.
With that, Article XXI was approved as amended; 10 states yes, 1 no.
Article XXII (requiring ratification by Congress and a national convention) was then taken up.
After some debate on its language, it was approved with minor modification; 10 states yes, 1 no.
Article XXIII (procedure for establishing the government after ratification by the states) was taken up.
The blank in Article XXIII was filled with 9 without dissent. The article was then approved without dissent too.
The delegates then took up the report of the grand committee of eleven that had been postponed on Aug. 28.
Without dissent, they agreed to add a provision to Art VII, sec 4 barring Congress from favoring one port over another.
They then agreed (8 states yes, 2 no) to a provision barring states from charging fees to ships on their way to other states.
They then agreed without dissent to make "all duties, imposts and excises" uniform throughout the nation.
Finally, they agreed to refer all remaining postponed items to a new committee made up of 1 delegate from each state.
Sat, Sep 1
The delegates received the reports from the committees considering postponed items, then adjourned for the day.
Sun. Sep 2
The delegates did not meet.
Mon, Sep 3
Taking up the committee's proposed amendment to Art XVI re:mutual recognition of the public laws & acts of states, ...
... Gouverneur Morris moved to clarify and strengthen its language. Morris' amendment passed; 6 states yes, 3 no.
Madison also offered an amendment to modify the language which was agreed to without dissent. Art XVI was then agreed to.
Mr. Pinckney moved to postpone further consideration of the committee's report in order to substitute language on eligibility.
The motion to postpone was voted down (8 states no, 2 yes) and the delegates took up the committee language on eligibility.
Mr. King moved to change the language so that members of Congress would be ineligible for other federal office only in cases ..
... where the office in question was created during the congressional term in which they served.
Mr. Sherman wanted to totally keep them out of other federal office. He feared that otherwise they would pressure the President
Gouverneur Morris contended that if ineligible themselves, they would pressure the President to appoint friends and relatives.
Mr. Gerry thought that allowing eligibility would drive out good officials who would be fired to make room for congressmen.
Mr. Ghorum thought that state experience proved eligibility was an inducement for good people to enter gov. hoping to advance.
Mr. Baldwin said state experience was not a good guide. There would be many fewer federal offices, & these would be desirable.
Col. Mason argued that ineligibility would fight corruption by keeping out office hunters willing to bribe and deal.
Mr. Pinckney argued the 1st congress would be filled with the nation's best. Making them ineligible would cripple our future.
Mr. King's motion lost on an evenly divided vote; 5 states yes and 5 no.
An amendment to the language was made, and the amended proposal passed; 5 states yes, 4 no, 1 divided.
The amended report on eligibility was then agreed to without dissent, and the delegates adjourned for the day.
Tue, Sep 4
The Committee of Eleven delivered its report. You may read it at http://avalon.law.yale.edu/18th_century/debates_904.asp
The first and second clauses were agreed to without dissent, and the third was postponed until after Pres. election decisions.
The delegates then took up clause 4 (the manner of electing the President).
Debate at first centered on the provision to make the runner-up in the electoral college the vice-president.
Mr. Ghorum feared that an unknown man with little support could be given high office if the President received a huge majority.
Messers. Randolph & Pinckney were concerned that the mode of election had been taken from the legislature & given to electors.
Gouverneur Morris explained this had been done to keep the President independent of the legislature, and to lessen ...
... the possibility that a cabal would form to determine the President. Electors would be far apart & unable to conspire.
Col. Mason objected that having the Senate vote if no majority vote for President was cast would make the President dependent.
Many delegates believed that the Senate would most often end up electing the President, & they objected to this.
Mr. Pinckney said that electors would be unlikely to know many candidates, & thus unable to intelligently choose among them.
Mr. Baldwin observed that as the nation matured, information would flow nationally, & electors would know more of distant men.
Mr. Wilson thought the new plan a vast improvement, but wondered why ties would be decided by the Senate rather than the House.
Gouverneur Morris replied that since the Senate would hold fewer men, the President would be less in debt.
Morris also believed that in case of a re-election, the Senate would base its judgment on the President's conduct in office.
Feeling the need to think carefully about the committee's proposals, the delegates took written copies to study & adjourned.
Wed, Sep 5
The committee of 11 reported more clauses to the convention. Read them: http://avalon.law.yale.edu/18th_century/debates_905.asp
Without dissent they agreed to the 1st, giving the President the power to grant letters of marquis & reprisal.
The 2nd clause granted the power to raise & support armies, but limited money for this to no more than 2 years.
Mr. Gerry objected to extending money support from 1 to 2 years, claiming it implied a standing army which he felt dangerous.
Mr. Sherman said that 2 year appropriations were optional & would be necessary if the Congress didn't meet in the 2nd year.
With that assurance, the delegates approved clause 2 without dissent. Gouverneur Morris moved to postpone on the grounds ...
... that it was a compromise in committee and he wanted to dissent from it. The postponement was approved; 9 states yes, 2 no.
Clause 4 was agreed to without dissent, & clause 5's language was modified slightly before it too was agreed to without dissent
They then adopted without dissent the committee's resolution for Congress to pay the Secretary & officers of the convention.
Mr. Gerry gave notice that he would move to reconsider Articles XIX, XX, XXI & XXII.
Mr. Williamson gave notice that he would move to reconsider the number of members of the House, which he felt too low.
The delegates then returned to yesterday's unfinished debate over the manner of electing the President of the United States.
Those opposing the plan believed that electors would likely vote for men from their own states, thus denying a majority ...
... thereby in fact allowing the Senate to decide all Presidential elections. This would make the Pres a creature of the Senate
They also objected to the fact that it allowed a Pres to be re-elected, which they thought meant more submission to the Senate.
Those supporting the plan thought the math favored easily attained majorities by one candidate.
As for re-election, they argued a good Pres would easily win, while a bad one would force voters to unite behind one opponent.
Mr. Wilson moved to strike out Senate and replace it with Legislature. Madison objected, arguing that since the large states ..
... would control the House, they'd spend too much time on picking candidates rather than looking at who would do the best job.
He thought that giving the decision to the Senate, where small states controlled, would mean the large states would focus ...
... on backing a candidate that would win outright, thus avoiding letting the small states make the pick.
Mr. Randolph argued that in his opinion they were creating a monarch in the President, & an aristocracy in the Senate.
Mr. Wilson's motion to substitute Legislature for Senate was defeated; 7 states no, 3 yes, 1 divided.
Madison & Williamson moved to change the initial election requirement from 1/2 to 1/3 of the electors.
They argued that this would keep the ultimate choice from the Senate in most elections.
Opponents argued that a low threshold would allow 3 or 4 large states to choose the President.
Madison & Williamson's motion was defeated; 9 states no, 2 yes.
Col. Mason moved to reduce the number of candidates sent to the Senate from 5 to 3. This too was defeated; 9 states no, 2 yes.
2 more efforts were made to tinker with the numbers, and they too were defeated.
Col. Mason said that the plan left the selection to so few men, that it guaranteed aristocracy worse than an absolute monarchy.
He therefore opposed it. On that note, the delegates adjourned for the day.
Thu, Sep 6
The delegates agreed without dissent to bar members of Congress from service as Presidential electors.
Mr. Gerry proposed that if a President ran for re-election, no candidate received a majority of electors, and ...
... the President was among the top 5 electoral vote-getters, then the House, not the Senate should decide the winner.
His reasoning is that this would make a sitting President less likely to feel he needed to curry favor with the Senate.
Mr. Sherman suggested that if the House got the choice, each state should get 1 vote to counter the influence of large states.
Mr. Wilson felt that the constitution gave far too much power to the Senate. He feared it would quickly become an aristocracy.
Many delegates were concerned over the possibility of creating an undesired aristocracy in the Senate.
Alexander Hamilton said he opposed the entire structure of government being proposed, but would support it nevertheless ...
... as he believed that doing nothing would be much worse. As for Presidential elections, he proposed allowing the man ...
... receiving the highest number of electoral votes becoming the winner. This would preclude any need to curry favor.
As for the argument that a man could become President without a majority, he pointed out that ...
... the Senate could give the office to the man with the fewest electoral votes under the proposed plan.
There were then attempts to lengthen the presidential term to 6 or 7 years, but both failed & it remained at 4.
A motion was then made that the electors meet at the national capitol to make their selection. This failed, only 1 state yes.
Voting 7 states yes, 3 no, the delegates decided that the electors meet on the same day throughout the nation.
Madison moved that at least 2/3 of the Senate be present before a vote electing the President could be taken.
Mr. Gorham objected as it might postpone for a long time the President's election, but the motion passed; 6 yes, 4 no, 1 abs.
A motion was made to have the House, voting by state, elect if electors did not produce a majority. It passed; 10 yes, 1 no.
Madison pointed out that if only two large state delegations were present in the House, they alone could choose a President.
A motion to require at least 2/3 of the states to be present for a House vote failed; 6 states no, 5 yes.
The final language on Presidential election is near the bottom of http://avalon.law.yale.edu/18th_century/debates_906.asp
Fri, Sep 7
Returning again to the section on Presidential election, Mr. Randolph proposed an addition that would allow Congress to ...
... name which officer would act as President in case of the death, disability or resignation of both the President & VP.
Madison, recognizing that the language did not provide for an intermediate Presidential election, moved to add the phrase, ...
... "until such disability be removed, or a President shall be elected." This was seconded and approved without dissent.
Some expressed concern that it would be difficult to call Presidential elections other than at the fixed periods provided for.
As amended, Mr. Randolph's motion passed; 6 states yes, 4 no, 1 divided.
Mr. Gerry then moved that when the House was voting to elect a President, states with fewer than 3 reps must include their ...
... Senators in their decision, and that a majority of states would be required to elect the President.
Mr. Read observed that states with only one rep would have no vote if either the rep or a Senator were absent or ill.
Madison noted that even without a requirement for 3 reps, a state with 1 rep who is sick or absent rep would lose its vote.
He also felt it evil that 1 rep in 1 state might overrule the wishes of much larger states. This would encourage corruption.
Mr. Gerry withdrew the first part of his motion, and the 2nd (requiring a majority to elect) then passed without dissent.
Also without dissent, they approved the section requiring a President to be natural born, 14 years a resident, & at least 35.
They next took up the provision making the Vice President ex-officio President of the Senate.
Objectors said this would tie the executive too closely to the legislature; urging that they must be kept strictly separate.
Supporters said that without this, the VP would have no duties and one Senator would lose his vote by being forced to preside.
Mr. Williamson stated there was no need for a Vice President.
Col. Mason took the occasion to say he objected to having the Senate involved in making appointments to office.
He felt the Senate would be in continuous session, & that would be dangerous. He also feared giving the power to the Pres alone
Far better to have the Senate appoint a small Privy Council to 6 year terms to act with the President in appointing officers.
The delegates agreed (8 states yes, 2 no, 1 absent) to make the Vice President ex offico President of the Senate.
Taking up the provision giving the President the right to make treaties with the advice and consent of the Senate, ...
... Mr. Wilson moved to add the House as well. Since treaties were treated as laws, they ought to be adopted the same way.
Mr. Wilson's motion was defeated; 10 states no, 1 yes. The original provision was then agreed to without dissent.
The clause granting appointment power to the President with the advice and consent of the Senate was taken up.
Mr. Wilson's objection to including the Senate was discussed & rejected; then, after including consuls, the clause was approved
Then, without dissent, they agreed that the President should fill vacancies alone while the Senate was in recess; but that ...
... these recess appointments should expire at the end of the next Senate session.
They then took up that portion of the treaty power requiring the approval of 2/3 of the Senate for treaties to go into effect.
Without dissent, they approved Madison's motion to allow peace treaties to be approved by a simple majority.
Madison argued that it should be easy to end wars. He then moved to allow 2/3 of the Senate to end wars without a Pres approval
Madison felt that a President would derive so much power from war, that he might be tempted to impede a peace treaty.
Mr. Gorham thought this unnecessary as war would be conducted by the legislature, not the President.
Gouverneur Morris thought that the President, as general guardian of the national interest, must be involved in making peace.
Mr. Butler thought Madison's motion a necessary guard against the potential of ambitious and corrupt Presidents.
Mr. Gerry thought that peace treaties were on a par with others, and therefore should be approved in a like manner.
Madison's motion was defeated; 8 states no, 3 yes. The clause as amended was then passed; 8 states yes, 3 no.
Col. Mason then moved that a council of 6 members appointed by the Senate work with the President to make appointments.
Supporters said that leaving appointment power in the hands of an individual was inviting corruption.
Gouverneur Morris said this idea had been rejected in committee because they felt the Pres would pressure the members ...
... to support bad appointments in the Senate, thus making it less likely the Senate would see and reject them.
Col. Mason's motion was then defeated; 8 states no, 3 yes.
The delegates then approved the clause authorizing the President to request written reports from his department heads.
Sat, Sep 8
The delegates again took up the report from the committee of eleven.
Mr. King moved to reconsider the exception to the 2/3 Senate vote requirement for peace treaties. Reconsideration was granted.
Mr. Wilson wanted to require a majority vote for all treaties. He argued that only unfit societies do not trust majorities.
Gouverneur Morris argued to keep the peace treaty exception, fearing that a majority would not approve war if peace was too hard
Mr. Williamson wanted the House to approve peace treaties, otherwise a few states could maintain war against a popular majority
Mr. Gerry feared the Senate would be susceptible to foreign corrupted, & did not want the fate of the country entrusted to it.
By a vote of 8 states yes, 3 no, the exception granting peace treaty approval by a majority Senate vote was struck.
Mr. Wilson & Mr. Dayton then moved to strike the 2/3 vote for all treaties. Their motion failed; 9 states no, 1 yes, 1 divided.
There were several attempts to require all or 2/3 of the Senators be present to vote on treaties, but they all failed to pass.
The clause in the committee report regarding 2/3 Senate approval for treaties then passed; 9 states yes, 2 no.
The delegates then took up the provision for a Senate trial of an impeached President for treason and bribery.
Col. Mason moved to add maladministration after treason & bribery.
Madison argued that adding such a vague term was tantamount to having the President serve at the pleasure of the Senate.
Gouverneur Morris argued that an election every four years would be a check on maladministration.
Col. Mason withdrew maladministration and subsituted "and other high crimes and misdemeanors against the state" in its place.
Col. Mason's motion was then approved as amended; 8 states yes, 3 no.
Madison objected to a trial by the Senate, especially if he could be impeached for a "misdemeanor". He thought this would ...
... make the Pres too dependent on the Senate. He preferred a trial by the Supreme Court, or a tribunal of which it was a part.
Gouverneur Morris thought only the Senate could be trusted. The Supreme Court would be too small and easily corrupted.
Morris believed that the Senate would be made up of men of honor who would not violate their oaths to judge honestly & fairly.
Madison's motion to substitute another tribunal for the Senate in Presidential impeachment trials failed; 9 states no, 2 yes.
In order to avoid ambiguity, the delegates unanimously replaced "state" with "United States" in the clause just approved.
They then voted to approve the impeachment trial clause as amended; 10 states yes, 1 no.
They then agreed to add the Vice President and other civil officers of the U.S. to the impeachment trial clause.
The delegates then took up the report made (and postponed) on Sept 5 regarding origination of money bills in the House.
The first part of the report requiring all money bills to originate in the House was approved; 9 states yes, 2 no.
Without dissent, the language in the 2nd part was replaced with language from the constitution of Massachusetts.
By a vote of 9-2, they approved Gouverneur Morris motion to require Senators to be "on oath" during impeachment trials.
Mr. Henry moved to modify the language giving the President power to convene the legislature on extraordinary occasions by ...
... by refining it to say he may convene either or both houses on extraordinary occasions. Motion passed; 7 states yes, 4 no.
The delegates then appointed a committee of five to "revise the stile and arrange the articles" approved by the convention.
Mr. Williamson moved that the convention reconsider increasing the number of seats given to the House of Representatives.
Though seconded by Madison & vigorously supported by Alexander Hamilton, the motion failed; 6 states no, 5 yes.
Sun, Sep 9
The delegates did not meet.
Mon, Sep 10
Mr. Gerry moved to reconsider the provision in Art XIX allowing 2/3 of the states to petition Congress to call ...
... a convention to amend the constitution. He thought it improper as states could thereby subvert the constitutional ...
.. protections designed to protect the state constitutions themselves. Hamilton seconded the motion, but for different reasons
He believed that it should be easy to amend the constitution, as experience had shown the problems when it was hard.
Madison supported the motion to reconsider too. His reason was that the existing article was too vague.
He asked: For what purpose would a convention be called? By what rules would it operate? What would be the force of its acts?
The motion to reconsider was passed; 9 states yes, 1 no, 1 divided.
Mr. Sherman then moved that Art XIX be amended to require that no amendment go into effect until approved by __% of the states.
A motion to insert 2/3 into the blank was defeated; 6 states no, 5 yes. 3/4 was then approved without dissent.
Madison moved to postpone the amended language to take up a replacement that would allow proposed amendments on votes by ...
... 2/3 of each house of Congress or 2/3 of the states. Amendments would go into effect once approved by 3/4 of the states.
Mr. Rutledge said he could not accept a procedure where amendments on slavery could be decided by states opposed to it.
Madison's proposal was adopted; 9 states yes, 1 no, 1 divided.
Mr. Gerry moved to reconsider Articles XXI & XXII, as he believed the existing Congress should approve the new constitution.
Hamilton agreed, & wanted to go farther. He thought the new constitution shouldn't go to the states until Congress approved it
Mr. Randolph said that if these articles were not changed, he would be unable to accept any part of the new constitution.
He wanted to give the ratifying conventions the ability to amend the const, with any amendments considered by a 2nd convention
Gerry's motion to reconsider Articles XXI and XXII passed; 7 states yes, 3 no, 1 divided.
Hamilton them moved that the plan he had outlined earlier be used to replace Article XXI. Mr. Gerry seconded the motion.
Mr. Wilson strongly objected, saying that NY had been absent for much of the convention & now put up an obstacle to its work.
Hamilton's motion was defeated; 10 states no, 1 yes. Article XXI was then taken up for debate and re-approved unanimously.
Mr. Randolph took this opportunity to state his long list of objections to the proposed constitutional system.
He objected to Senate trials of Presidential impeachments; the requirement of 3/4 rather than 2/3 to override vetoes; ...
... the small size of the House of Representatives; the absence of a bar on a standing army; the power to tax exports; ...
... the unqualified power of the President to pardon treason; the ability of Congress to set its own salary; & several others.
The only way he could sign such a document was if it first had to be approved by the existing Congress, then by the states ...
... all with the power to amend the document and return it to a second convention to approve or reject the changes.
He made a motion to require what he had just outlined. Benjamin Franklin seconded Randolph's motion.
Col. Mason urged that the motion be tabled for a day or two to see what steps might be taken to address Randolph's objections.
Mr. Pinckney moved that the committee on style be instructed to prepare a letter to the people to accompany the constitution.
He also asked that it be sent as well to the existing Congress. Without dissent this was referred to the committee on style.
Randolph moved to also refer to the committee a motion regarding pardoning treason. This too was agreed to without dissent.
Tue, Sep 11
As the report of the Committee on Style and Arrangement was not ready for consideration, the convention adjourned for the day.
Wed, Sep 12
The report from the Committee on Style was distributed. Read it at http://avalon.law.yale.edu/18th_century/debates_912.asp
Mr. Williamson moved to replace the 3/4 requirement for overriding Presidential vetoes with one for a 2/3 vote in each house.
He remarked that even though he originally proposed 3/4, he now thinks that it puts too much power into Presidential hands.
Mr. Gerry added that 3/4 gave too much power to a few Senators who might be trying to secure Presidential appointments.
He added that making the Vice President the president of the Senate adds to this danger.
Mr. Williamson said he was more afraid of too many rather than too few laws, & felt 3/4 might keep bad law from being repealed
Gouverneur Morris was more afraid of making laws too easy to change & the instability that would result from that.
As for too much Presidential power, he said elections every 4 years would limit that; as usurpers could be tossed out.
He further argued that sometimes a good law required time to prove itself. If repeal was too easy, all might suffer.
Madison felt the danger in weakening the Presidential check by lowering 3/4 was greater than that from a potential small cabal
As for the danger of too many quick repeals, he thought most laws would be enacted for short periods with renewals optional.
The motion to require 2/3 rather than 3/4 for veto overrides passed; 6 states yes, 4 no, 1 divided.
Mr. Williamson noted that there was no requirement for jury trials in civil cases, and proposed it as a necessity.
Mr. Ghorum thought that Congress was in the best position to decide what types of cases warranted juries.
Mr. Gerry felt jury trials were a mandatory check against potential judicial corruption.
Col. Mason said that he wished the constitution had been prefaced with a Bill of Rights to lay out protected principles.
Mr. Gerry then moved to appoint a committee to prepare a Bill of Rights. Col. Mason seconded the motion.
Mr. Sherman said that the constitution did not repeal existing state bills of rights, which he felt sufficient protection.
Col. Mason pointed out that national law was to be supreme over state law, so state bills were insufficient protection.
The motion to create a committee to prepare a bill of rights lost on a divided vote; 5 states yes, 5 no, 1 divided.
Prior to adjournment, Col. Mason proposed to amend the restriction on states' abilities to tax exports. Action was not taken.
Thu, Sep 13
Col. Mason's motion to give states limited power to impose export taxes to defray inspection costs passed without dissent.
He also moved that a committee be formed to create language designed to encourage the production of American manufactures.
Without dissent, the motion passed and a committee was appointed.
The convention then took up the report of the Committee on Style in order to make any final corrections leading to approval.
In Art. 1, sect. 2, the word servitude was replaced by service to avoid any suggestion that the article referred to slavery.
A motion was made to strike the phrase "and direct taxes" from Art. 1, sect. 2 as improper in a clause setting up the House.
The motion was defeated; 8 states no, 3 yes.
Madison, seconded by Randolph, moved to refine Art. 1, sect. 7 to avoid any confusion on the 10 day limit on Pres. vetoes.
Showing impatience, several delegates called the question to preclude debate. The motion was defeated; 8 states no, 3 yes.
A further report from the Committee on Style proposed replacing the ratification articles with new language.
The committee's report was accepted, and the convention adjourned for the day.
Fri, Sep 14
Mr. Williamson moved to increase the number of members of the House. The motion was defeated; 6 states no, 5 yes.
The phrase "by lot" was removed from Art 1, sec 3 without dissent so that both Senators would not be up for election together.
Mr. Rutledge & Mr. Gerry moved that people impeached be suspended from office until acquitted by the Senate.
Madison opposed, arguing that would make the President too dependent, as he could be punished without being found guilty.
The motion was defeated; 8 states no, 3 yes.
Art 1, sec 4 was modified slightly without dissent in order to keep Congress from exercising power over state capitals.
Mr. Rutledge moved to strike Art 1, sec 8 so the Treasurer would be appointed in the same manner as other federal officers.
Rutledge's motion passed; 8 states yes, 3 no. So that part of Art 1, sec 8 was removed.
The part of Art 1, sec 8 dealing with duties and imposts was unanimously attached to the clause on taxation.
Gouverneur Morris moved to strike the word punish from Art 1, sec 8 so that Congress could define the law of nations.
Mr. Wilson thought the nation would be laughed at by others if we had the audacity to attempt such definition.
Nevertheless, Morris' motion passed; 6 states yes, 5 no.
Benjamin Franklin moved to add a provision to allow the nat. gov. to pay for digging canals that states would not fund.
Madison moved to enlarge the motion to let the nation pay for anything that would prove of value that states would not fund.
Mr. King thought the power unnecessary, but Mr. Wilson thought it imperative to keep states from blocking the general welfare.
The two motions were killed by a vote of 8 states no, 3 yes.
Col. Mason aware that a ban on standing armies in peace time might be dangerous, nevertheless moved to preface the language ..
... on organizing & arming militias with a statement that it was to secure against the danger of standing armies in peacetime.
Gouverneur Morris objected to the motion on the grounds that it was an unnecessary affront to the military. Defeated; 9 - 2.
Col. Mason moved to strike the prohibition on Ex Post Facto laws from Art 1, sec 9, as impractical in Civil Cases.
Mason's motion was unanimously defeated.
Mr. Gerry & Mr. Pinckney moved to insert a declaration that freedom of the press should be inviolably observed.
Mr. Sherman said this was unnecessary as Congressional powers did not extend to the press. Motion defeated; 7 states no, 4 yes
Without dissent, Art 1, sec 9 was expanded so that "capitation tax" became "capitation or other direct tax".
By a 10-1 vote, they approved Col. Mason's motion to add "or other enumeration" to "census" in the same line.
Col. Mason them moved to require publication of an annual account of public expenditures.
Madison moved to strike annual & replace it with from time to time, arguing that Cong. would need the latitude to decide when.
Both motions were agreed to without dissent.
The wording in Article 1, section 10 was rearranged, but nothing was added or dropped.
Mr. Gerry made a motion seeking to bind Congress in the same ways states were bound to uphold contracts, but could find no 2nd
Sat, Sep 15
Mr. Carroll reminded the convention that they had not yet prepared an address to the people on the proposed constitution.
As such addresses had become customary on occasions such as this, he moved that a committee be formed to draft one.
Mr. Rutledge & Mr. Gerry objected that such a move was premature, as the existing Congress had yet to accept the proposal.
Mr. Carroll's motion was defeated; 6 states no, 4 yes, 1 absent.
Mr. Langdon moved to reconsider the number of reps in the House allocated to the small states. He wanted an increase.
The motion to reconsider was approved; 8 states yes, 2 no, 1 divided. Mr. Langdon then moved to add 1 rep each for RI & NC.
Mr. King said that as state counts didn't justify an increase, he would refuse to sign the constitution if the motion passed.
The motions to add 1 rep each to RI and NC were defeated; 6 states no, 5 yes.
Art. I, sec. 10 was reworked to strengthen the power of the federal government to act as sole regulator of national commerce.
The Pres succession language in Art II, sec. 1, para. 6 was modified to replace "...chusing another President arrive" with ...
... "or a President shall be elected." This would allow Congress to call interim Presidential elections if deemed necessary.
The delegates passed (7-4) a motion to add to Art II, sec. 1, para. 7 language that limited Pres. pay to his official salary.
Mr. Randolph & Col. Mason moved and seconded to remove treason from the Presidential pardon power.
Randolph argued that the potential for abuse was too great. The President himself, or his associates, might be traitors.
Mr. Wilson responded that in such cases, the Pres could be impeached & removed. He felt an unhindered pardon power was needed.
Randolph's motion was defeated; 8 states no, 2 yes, 1 divided.
Gouverneur Morris moved to add to the end of Art II, sec 2, para 2 a statement that gave Congress the power to designate ...
... the appointment of inferior offices to the Pres alone, or to the courts or department heads. Failed on divided vote; 5-5-1
The delegates feeling such a provision necessary, immediately reconsidered and passed the amendment without dissent.
The Presidential election language in Art II, sec 1, para 1 was modified slightly to strike phrases thought superfluous.
The phrase "and which shall be established by law" was added to Article II, section 2, paragraph 2 to clarify intent.
Mr. Pinckney & Mr. Gerry moved to add a phrase to Art III, sec 2, para 3 to protect trial by jury in civil cases.
As rules for civil cases differed from state to state, the delegates rejected the motion without dissent.
The word "legally" was struck from Art IV, sec 2, para 2 (fugitive slaves) & "under the laws thereof" after state was added ..
... to appease those who thought "legal" implied the morality of slavery, and could not accept that implication.
Article IV, section 4 was modified to add the phrase "where the legislature cannot be convened" after the word "executive".
Article V (the amendment procedure) generated a great deal of debate.
Mr. Sherman & Col. Mason felt it would allow 3/4 to deprive remaining states of rights such as equal Senate representation ...
.. and that proposed amendments supported by the people would not be passed. They asked that the bar on slave trade amendments
... be extended to one that also barred changes to internal state policies and equality of representation in the Senate.
Gouverneur Morris & Mr. Gerry moved an amendment to allow a convention to be called at the request of 2/3 of the states.
This was agreed to without dissent.
Mr. Sherman & Mr. Gerry moved amendments that would limit Art V in ways that addressed their expressed concerns.
Their proposed amendments were defeated by wide margins. Mr. Sherman then moved to strike Article V altogether.
Mr. Sherman's motion was defeated; 8 states no, 2 yes, 1 divided.
Gouverneur Morris then moved to amend Art V to provide that no state be deprived of equal Senate suffrage without its consent.
Amid "circulating murmurs of the small states", Morris' amendment was agreed to unanimously.
Col. Mason, concerned at the power given Congress to legislate navigation acts, moved that no law in this area be allowed ...
... prior to 1808 without a 2/3 vote of both houses of Congress. Motion defeated; 7 states no, 3 yes, 1 absent.
At this point, Mr. Randolph, expressing his great fears at the powers given Congress by the convention, moved that ...
... the Constitution not become effective unless state ratifying conventions be given the power to amend it; & that ...
... such amendments be referred to a 2nd Constitutional convention with the power to accept or reject them.
Col. Mason seconded the motion, stating he too could not sign a document that would lead to monarchy and aristocracy.
Mr. Gerry stated he would not sign the proposed constitution. He objected to (1) lengthy, unlimited terms for Senators, ...
... (2) the power of the House to conceal its records; (3) Congressional power over places of election; ...
... (4) Congressional power to set its own salaries; (5) MA not receiving its fair share of House seats; ...
... (6) 3/5 Blacks being represented as if they were freemen; (7) commerce power would lead to monopolies; and ...
... (8) the Vice President serving as president of the Senate. Despite these, he could still sign were it not that ...
... the rights of citizens were rendered insecure by the power of Congress to make any law it deemed necessary & proper; ...
... to raise armies and money without limit; and to establish courts without juries in civil cases.
Mr. Pinckney, argued that state amendments would cause chaos. He objected to parts too, but would sign to avoid disunion & war
Mr. Randolph's motion was unanimously defeated.
The states then unanimously approved the Constitution as amended, and ordered a copy prepared for signing.
Sun, Sep 16
The delegates did not meet.
Mon, Sep 17
The session opened with a reading of the proposed Constitution.
Unable to stand and speak due to illness and age, Benjamin Franklin had Mr. Wilson read his prepared remarks.
Franklin's eloquent remarks deserve to be read in full. Please do so. http://avalon.law.yale.edu/18th_century/debates_917.asp
Ending his remarks, Franklin pleaded for unanimity and moved the phrasing to appear above the signatures on the Constitution.
Madison noted that the phrase had been drafted by Gouverneur Morris, but given to Franklin in an effort to win over dissenters.
Mr. Ghorum, in an effort to lessen objections, moved that the number of reps in the House be increased by changing ...
.. shall not exceed 1 in 40,000 to 1 in 30,000 in Article I, section 2. This would not be absolute, but give Congress latitude
When he rose to put the question, Gen. Washington, for the 1st time in the convention, asked permission to speak to the issue.
He agreed with those who'd argued that the small number of reps in the House was a danger, & wished to see the motion passed.
No opposition to Ghorum's motion was offered, so it was adopted unanimously.
No further motions being made, the states unanimously voted to accept the Constitution as amended for signing.
Mr. Randolph, who had presented the plan which had been crafted into the Constitution, rose to apologize for refusing to sign.
He said he didn't mean to indicate he would publicly oppose the Constitution, only that he wanted to keep his options open.
He refused to sign because he believed that by barring amendments in state ratifying conventions, not enough states would ...
... ratify, and the opportunity to resolve the nation's problems would be lost.
Gouverneur Morris said that he too had objections, but would sign despite them. He believed that when the Constitution was ...
.. put to the states, the question would be shall there be a national government or not? Since anarchy would result if no, ...
... he believed that the Constitution would most surely be ratified.
Hamilton feared that if not all signed, word would get out and the opponents of national government would be emboldened.
He said the Constitution was far from his ideal of government, but he would sign it as he saw anarchy if ratification failed.
Mr. Blount had not planned to sign, but changed his mind so the Constitution would be the unanimous act of all convened states
Randolph said that his refusal to sign might be the most awful decision in his life, but it was a matter of conscience.
Mr. Gerry described his pain & embarrassment at not signing, but said he feared the document would incite civil war.
Nevertheless, he pledged that his views would remain confined to the convention hall, & not be uttered once he left.
A vote was then taken on Franklin's motion for the phrase to appear above the signatures of those who decided to sign.
Franklin's motion passed; 10 states yes, 1 divided.
Mr. King then suggested that all convention journals & documents be destroyed or put into safekeeping with Gen. Washington.
He feared that if made public, the opponents of the Constitution would use them to fight its ratification.
Mr. Wilson had 1st preferred their destruction, but had changed his mind; believing they may be needed to counter false claims
A vote was taken on placing the papers in the hands of the convention president for safekeeping. It passed; 10 yes, 1 no.
Gen. Washington asked what the convention wanted him to do with the records.
Without dissent, he was instructed to keep them pending a decision by Congress should it be formed under the Constitution.
The members (except for Mr. Randolph, Col. Mason & Mr. Gerry) signed the Constitution, and the convention adjourned sine die.
One of the first actions of the convention (on May 29) was to adopt
strict secrecy rules. They were so strict that information about
convention events did not become public until 1819 (32 years after the
convention ended), when the federal government published the official
convention journal. Madison's notes were not published until 1840, 4
years after his death, and 53 years after the convention ended. Could
such secrecy be maintained today? How might our constitution and
history have been different had the delegates not required that their
proceedings be kept secret? What might have happened had they carried
mobile phones running Twitter?
The delegates spent a great deal of time debating the method for
electing the President of the U.S. They consistently rejected election
by popular vote. Why were they so opposed? (see July 17) If they were
able to return to life and watch a Presidential election cycle today,
would they approve or disapprove of what they'd witness?
Many on the nation's political right assert that the framers intended
our government to embody Christian principles. (Indeed, a 2007 First
Amendment Center Poll shows that 65% of the U.S. public agrees with
them.) After reading the summaries of the debates on June 28 & 29,
do you think these assertions have any basis in fact?
The battle between the supporters and opponents of slavery and the
slave trade several times threatened to deadlock the convention and
prevent a constitution from being approved for ratification. Madison on
June 30, and Gouverneur Morris on August 8 addressed this contentious
issue. What eventually was done to keep the convention together and
allow the delegates to finish their work?
April 1, 2010 is Census Day in the United States. The constitution
mandates that a population census be conducted every 10 years. The
census was one of the more hotly debated topics in the convention,
taking up much of the debate from July 10 through July 13. Since most
of us don't think much about the census today, what issues were of such
concern that delegates felt compelled to spend almost four days trying
to work them out?
Money was also a central issue in the convention. At one point delegates debated having federal officers serve without pay. Why did they decide against this? What pay plans were considered? (see June 2, 12, 22 & 26; & July 18) Might the ones not selected have been successful?
Constitution Day assignment. Pick a day from @Philly1787. Read its tweets. Write a news headline based on them that could appear in a paper today.
Extra credit assignment. Cut & paste your @Philly1787 day's tweet text into Wordle.net. Print the resulting cloud. Do headline words emerge?
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original web posting: Wednesday, December 30, 2009
last modified: Sunday, July 03, 2011