Edmund Randolph’s Objections
from James Madison’s Notes of Debates in the Federal Convention, September 10, 1787
Mr. RANDOLPH took this opportunity to state his objections to the System. They turned on the Senate’s being made the Court of Impeachment for trying the Executive – on the necessity of 3/4 instead of 2/3 of each house to overrule the negative of the President – on the smallness of the number of the Representative branch, – on the want of limitation to a standing army – on the general clause concerning necessary and proper laws – on the want of some particular restraint on navigation acts – on the power to lay duties on exports – on the Authority of the General Legislature to interpose on the application of the Executives of the States – on the want of a more definite boundary between the General & State Legislatures – and between the General and State Judiciaries – on the the unqualified power of the President to pardon treasons – on the want of some limit to the power of the Legislature in regulating their own compensations. With these difficulties in his mind, what course he asked was he to pursue? Was he to promote the establishment of a plan which he verily believed would end in Tyranny? He was unwilling he said to impede the wishes and Judgment of the Convention, but he must keep himself free, in case he should be honored with a seat in the Convention of his State, to act according to the dictates of his judgment. The only mode in which his embarrassments could be removed, was that of submitting the plan to Congs. to go from them to the State Legislatures, and from these to State Conventions having power to adopt reject or amend; the process to close with another General Convention with full power to adopt or reject the alterations proposed by the State Conventions, and to establish finally the Government. He accordingly proposed a Resolution to this effect.