Debates in the Federal Convention of 1787

by James Madison


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Wednesday, September 12

In Convention,

Doctor JOHNSON, from the Committee of Style, &c., reported a digest of the plan, of which printed copies were ordered to be furnished to the members. He also reported a letter to accompany the plan to Congress.

REPORT1

We the people of the United States, inorder to form a more perfect union, to establish justice, insure domestic tranquillity, provide for the common defence, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America:

Article I.

Sect. 1. All Legislative powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.

Sect. 2.The House of Representatives shall be, composed of members chosen every second year, by the people of the several States, and the electors in each State shall have the qualifications requisite for electors of the most numerous branch of the State Legislature.

No person shall be a Representative who shall not have attained to the age of twenty-five years, and been seven years a citizen of the United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an inhabitant of that State in which he shall be chosen.

Representatives and direct taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole number of free persons, including those bound to servitude for a term of years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other persons. The actual enumeration shall be made within three years after the first meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent term of ten years, in such manner as they shall by law direct. The number of Representatives shall not exceed one for every forty thousand, but each State shall have at least one Representative: and until such enumeration shall be made, the State of New Hampshire shall be entitled to choose three; Massachusetts, eight; Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, one; Connecticut, five; New York, six; New Jersey, four; Pennsylvania, eight; Delaware, one; Maryland, six; Virginia, ten; North Carolina, five; South Carolina, five; and Georgia, three.

When vacancies happen in the representation from any State, the Executive authority thereof shall issue writs of election to fill such vacancies.

The House of Representatives shall choose their Speaker and other officers; and they shall have the sole power of impeachment.

Sect. 3. The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, chosen by the Legislature thereof, for six years; and each Senator shall have one vote.

Immediately after they shall be assembled in consequence of the first election, they shall be divided [by lot2 , as equally as may be, into three classes. The seats of the Senators of the first class shall be vacated at the expiration of the second year; of the second class at the expiration of the fourth year; and of the third class at the expiration of the sixth year; so that one third may be chosen every second year; and if vacancies happen by resignation, or otherwise, during the recess of the Legislature of any State, the Executive thereof may make temporary appointments, until the next meeting of the Legislature.

No person shall be a Senator who shall not have attained the age of thirty years, and been nine years a citizen of the United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an inhabitant of that State for which he shall be chosen.

The Vice President of the United States shall be President of the Senate, but shall have no vote, unless they be equally divided.

The Senate shall choose their other officers, and also a President pro tempore, in the absence of the Vice President, or when he shall exercise the office of President of the United States.

The Senate shall have the sole power to try all impeachments. When sitting for that purpose, they shall be on oath. When the President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside; and no person shall be convicted without the concurrence of two thirds of the members present.

Judgement in cases of impeachment shall not extend further than to removal from office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any office of honor, trust, or profit under the United States: but the party convicted shall nevertheless be liable and subject to indictment, trial, judgement, and punishment, according to law.

Sect. 4. The times, places, and manner of holding elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof: but the Congress may at any time by law make or alter such regulations.

The Congress shall assemble at least once in every year; and such meeting shall be on the first Monday in December, unless they shall by law appoint a different day.

Sect. 5. Each House shall be the judge of the elections, returns, and qualifications of its own members; and a majority of each shall constitute a quorum to do business: but a smaller number may adjourn from day to day, and may be authorized to compel the attendance of absent members, in such manner, and under such peanalties, as each House may provide.

Each House may determine the results of its proceedings; punish its members for disorderly behaviour, and, with the concurrence of two thirds, expel a member.

Each House shall keep a journal of its proceedings, and from time to time publish the same, excepting such parts as may in their judgement require secrecy; and the Yeas and Nays of the members of either House on any question shall, at the desire of one fifth of those present, be entered on the Journal.

Neither House, during the session of Congress, shall, without the cosent of the other, adjourn for more than three days, nor to any other place than that in which the two Houses shall be sitting.

Sect. 6. The Senators and Representatives shall receive compensation for their services, to be ascertained by law, and paid out of Treasury of the United States. They shall in all cases, except treason, felony, and breach of the peace, be privileged from arrest during their attendance at the session of their respective Houses, and in going to and returning from the same; and for any speech or debate in either House they shall not be questioned in any other place.

No Senator or Representative shall, during the time for which he was elected, be appointed to any civil office under the authority of the United States, which shall have been created, or the emoulments whereof shall have been increased during such time; and no person holding any office under the United States shall be a member of either House during his continuance in office.

Sect. 7. The enacting style of the laws shall be, “Be it enacted by the Senators and Representatives in Congress assembled.”

All bills for raising revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives: but the Senate may propose or concur with amendments, as on other bills.

Every bill which shall have passed the House of Representatives and the Senate, shall, before it becomes a law, be presented to the President of the United States. If he approve, he shall sign it; but if not, he shall return it with his objections, to that House in which it shall have originated, who shall enter the objections at large in their Journal, and proceed to reconsider it. If after such reconsideration two thirds of that House shall agree to pass the bill, it shall be sent, together with the objections, to the other House; by which it shall likewise be reconsidered; and if approved by two thirds of that House, it shall become a law. But in all such cases the votes of both Houses shall be determined by Yeas and Nays, and the names of the persons voting for and against the bill, shall be entered on the Journal of each House, respectively. If any bill shall not be returned by the President within ten days (Sundays excepted) after it shall have been presented to him, the same shall be a law, in like manner as if he had signed it, unless the Congress by their adjournment prevent its return, in which case it shall not be a law.

Every order, resolution, or vote, to which the concurrence of the Senate and House of Representatives may be necessary (except on a question of adjournment), shall be presented to the President of the United States; and before the same shall take effect shall be approved by him, or, being disapproved by him, shall be repassed by three fourths3 of the Senate and House of Representatives, according to the rules and limitations prescribed in the case of a bill.

Sect. 8. The Congress may by joint ballot appoint a Treasurer. They shall have power, —

To lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts, and excises, to pay the debts and provide for the common defence and general welfare of the United States.

To borrow money on the credit of the United States.

To regulate commerce with foreign nations, among the several states, and with the Indian tribes.

To establish an uniform rule of naturalization, and uniform laws on the subject of bankruptcies throughout the United States.

To coin money, regulate the value thereof, and of foreign coin, and fix the standard of weights and measures.

To provide for the punishment of counterfeiting the securities and current coin of the United States.

To establish post offices and post roads.

To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries.

To constitute tribunals inferior to the Supreme Court.

To define and punish piracies and felonies committed on the high seas, and [punish] 4 offences against the law of nations.

To declare war, grant letters of marque and reprisal, and make rules concerning captures on land and water.

To raise and support armies: but no appropriations of money to that use shall be for a longer term than two years.

To provide and maintain a navy.

To make rules for the government and regulation of the land and naval forces.

To provide for calling forth the militia, to execute the laws of the Union, suppress insurrections, and repel invasions.

To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining the militia, and for governing such part of them as may be employed in the service of the United States; reserving to the States, respectively, the appointment of the officers, and the authority of training the militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress.

To exercise exclusive legislation, in all cases whatsoever, over such district (not exceeding ten miles square) as may, by cession of particular States, and the acceptance of Congress, become the seat of government of the United States; and to exercise like authority over all places purchased by the consent of the Legislature of the State in which the same shall be, for the erection of forts, magazines, arsenals, dock-yards, and other needful buildings. And, —

To make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers, and all other powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any department or officer thereof.

Sect. 9. The migration or importation of such persons as the several States now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the year on thousand eight hundred and eight; but a tax or duty may be imposed on such importation, not exceeding ten dollars for each person.

The privilege of the writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when, in cases of rebellion or invasion, the public safety may require it.

No bill of attainder shall be passed, nor any ex post facto law.

No capitation tax shall be laid, unless in proportion to the census herein before directed to be taken.

No tax or duty shall be laid on articles exported from any State.

No money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in consequence of appropriations made by law.

No title of nobility shall be granted by the United States. And no person holding any office of profit or trust under them shall, without the consent of the Congress, accept of any present, emolument, office, or title, of any kind whatever, from any king, prince, or foreign state.

Sect. 10. No State shall coin money, or emit bills of credit, or make any thing but gold or silver coin a tender in payment of debts, or pass any bill of attainder, or ex post facto laws, or laws altering or impairing the obligation of contracts; or grant letters of marque and reprisal, or enter into any treaty, alliance, or confederation, or grant any title of nobility.

No State shall, without the consent of Congress, lay imposts or duties on imports or exports; or with such consent, but to the use of the Treasury of the United States; or keep troops or ships of war in time of peace; or enter into any agreement or compact with another State, or with any foreign power; or engage in any war, unless it shall be actually invaded by enemies, or the danger of invasion be so imminent as not to admit of delay until the Congress can be consulted.

Article II.

Sect. 1. The Executive power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America. He shall hold his office during the term of four years, and, together with the Vice President, chosen for the same term, be elected in the following manner:

Each State shall appoint, in such manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a number of Electors, equal to the whole number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in Congress: but no Senator or Representative shall be appoin ted an Elector, nor any person holding an office of trust or profit under the United States.

The Electors shall meet in their respective States, and vote by ballot for two persons, of whom one at least shall not be an inhabitant of the same State with themselves. And they shall make a list of all the persons voted for, and of the number of votes for each; which list they shall sign and certify, and transmit, sealed, to the seat of the General Government, directed to the President of the Senate. The President of the Senate shall, in the presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the certificates, and the votes shall then be counted. The person having the greatest number of votes shall be the President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of Electors appointed; and if there be more than one who have such majority, and have an equal number of votes, then the House of Representatives shall immediately choose by ballot one of them for President ; and if no person have a majority, then from the five highest on the list the said House shall in like manner choose the President. But in choosing the President, the votes shall be taken by States, and not per capita, the representation from each State having one vote. A quorum for this purpose shall consist of a member or members from two thirds of the States, and a majority of all the States shall be necessary to a choice. In every case, after the choice of the President by the Representatives, the person having the greatest number of votes of the Electors shall be the Vice President. But if there should remain two or more who have equal votes, the Senate shall choose from them, by ballot, the Vice President.

The Congress may determine the time of choosing the Electors, and the time in which they shall give their votes; but the election shall be on the same day, throughout the United States.

No person except a natural born citizen, or a citizen of the United States at the time of the adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the office of President; neither shall any person be eligible to that office who shall not have attained to the age of thirty-five years, and been fourteen years a resident within the United States.

In case of the removal of the President from office, or of his death, resignation, or inability to discharge the powers and duties of the said office, the same shall devolve on the Vice President, and the Congress may by law provide for the case of removal, death, resignation, or inability, both of the President and Vice President; declaring what officer shall then act as President; and such officer shall act accordingly, until the disability be removed, or the period for choosing another President arrive.

The President shall, at stated times, receive a fixed compensation for his services, which shall neither be increased nor diminished during the period for which he shall have been elected.

Before he enter on the execution of his office, he shall take the following oath or affirmation: “I, —, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will, to the best of my judgment and power, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

Sect. 2. The President shall be Commander-in-chief of the army and navy of the United States, and of the militia of the several States, when called into the actual service of the United States. He may require the opinion, in writing, of the principal officer in each of the Executive departments, upon any subject relating to the duties of their respective offices. And be shall have power to grant reprieves and pardons for offences against the United States, except in cases of impeachment.

He shall have power by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, to make treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, shall appoint ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls, judges of the supreme court, and all other officers of the United States, whose appointments are not herein otherwise provided for.

The President shall have power to fill up all vacancies that may happen during the recess of the Senate, by granting commissions which shall expire at the end of their next session.

Sect. 3. He shall from time to time give to the Congress information of the state of the Union, and recommend to their consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient. He may, on extraordinary occasions, covene both Houses, or either of them, and in case of disagreement between them, with respect to the time of adjournment, he may adjourn them to such time as be shall think proper: he shall receive ambassadors and other public ministers: he shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed, and shall commission all the officers of the United States.

Sect. 4. The President, Vice President, and all civil officers of the United States, shall be removed from office on impeachment for, and conviction of, treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.

Article III.

Sect. 1. The Judicial power of the United States, both in law and equity, shall be vested in one Supreme Court, and in such inferior courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish. The judges both of the supreme and inferior courts, shall hold their offices during good behaviour; and shall, at stated times, receive for their services a compensation, which shall not be diminished during their continuance in office.

Sect. 2. The Judicial power shall extend to all cases, both in law and equity, arising under this Constitution, the laws of the United States, and treaties made, or which shall be made, under their authority. To all cases affecting ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls. To all cases of admiralty and maritime jurisdiction. To controversies to which the United States shall be a party. To controversies between two or more States; between a State, and citizens of another State; between citizens of different States; between citizens of the same State claiming lands under grants of different States; and between a State, or the citizens thereof, and foreign states, citizens or subjects.

In cases affecting ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls, and those in which a State shall be a party, the Supreme Court shall have original jurisdiction. In all the other cases before mentioned, the Supreme Court shall have appellate jurisdiction, both as to law and fact, with such exceptions, and under such regulations, as the Congress shall make.

The trial of all crimes, except in cases of impeachment, shall be by jury; and such trial shall be held in the State where the said crimes shall have been committed; but when not commiued within any State, the trial shall be at such place or places as the Congress may by law have directed.

Sect. 3. Treason against the United States shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort. No person shall be convicted of treason unless on the testimony of two witnesses to the same overt act, or on confession in open court.

The Congress shall have power to declare the punishment of treason, but no attainder of treason shall work corruption of blood, nor forfeiture, except during the life of the person attainted.

Article IV.

Sect. 1. Full faith and credit shall be given, in each State, to the public acts, records, and judicial proceedings of every other State. And the Congress may by general laws, prescribe the manner in which such acts, records, and proceedings shall be proved, and the effect thereof.

Sect. 2. The citizens of each State shall be entitled to all privileges and immunities of citizens in the several States.

A person charged in any State with treason, felony, or other crime, who shall flee from justice, and be found in another State, shall, on demand of the executive authority of the State from which he fled, be delivered up, and removed to the State having jurisdiction of the crime.

No person legally held to service or labor in one State, escaping into another, shall, in consequence of regulations subsisting therein, be discharged from such service or labor; but shall be delivered up, on claim of the party to whom such service or labor may be due.

Sect. 3. New States may be admitted by the Congress into this Union; but no new State shall be formed or erected within the jurisdiction of any other State; nor any State be formed by the junction of two or more States, or parts of States; without the consent of the Legislatures of the States concerned, as well as of the Congress.

The Congress shall have power to dispose of and make all needful rules and regulations respecting the, territory or other property belonging to the United States: and nothing in this Constitution shall be so construed as to prejudice any claims of the United States, or of any particular State.

Sect. 4. The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a republican form of government; and shall protect each of them against invasion; and, on application of the Legislature or Executive, against domestic violence.

Article V.

The Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem necessary, or on the application of two thirds of the Legislatures of the several States, shall propose amendments to this Constitution; which shall be valid to all intents and purposes, as part thereof, when the same shall have been ratified by three fourths at least of the Legislatures of the several States, or by conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other mode of ratification may be proposed by the Congress: Provided, that no amendment which may be made prior to the year 1808 shall in any manner affect the — and — sections of the — article.

Article VI.

All debts contracted, and engagements entered into, before the adoption of this Constitution, shall be as valid against the United States under this Constitution as under the Confederation.

This Constitution, and the laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any thing in the Constitution or laws of any State to the contrary notwithstanding.

The Senators and Representatives beforementioned, and the members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by oath, or affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.

Article VII.

The ratification of the Conventions of nine States shall be sufficient for the establishment of this Constitution between the States so ratifying the same.

LETTER5

“We have now the honor to submit to the consideration of the United States, in Congress assembled, that Constitution which has appeared to us the most advisable.

“The friends of our country have long seen and desired, that the power of making war, peace, and treaties; that of levying money and regulating commerce, and the correspondent executive and judicial authorities, should be fully and effectually vested in the general government of the Union. But the impropriety of delegating such extensive trust to one body of men is evident. Thence results the necessity of a different organization. It is obviously impracticable, in the federal government of these States, to secure all rights of independent sovereignty to each, and yet provide for the interest and safety of all. Individuals entering into society must give up a share of liberty, to preserve the rest. The magnitude of the sacrifice must depend as well on situation and circumstances, as on the object to be obtained. It is at all times difficult to draw with precision the line between those rights which must be surrendered, and those which may be reserved. And on the present occasion this difficulty was increased by a difference among the several States, as to their situation, extent, habits, and particular interests.

“In all our deliberations on this subject, we kept steadily in our view that which appeared to us the greatest interest of every true American, the consolidation of our union, in which is involved our prosperity, felicity, safety, perhaps our national existence. This important consideration, seriously and deeply impressed on our minds, led each State in the Convention to be less rigid in points of inferior magnitude, than might have been otherwise expected. And thus the Constitution, which we now present, is the result of a spirit of amity, and of that mutual deference and concession, which the peculiarity of our political situation rendered indispensable.

“That it will meet the full and entire approbation of every State is not, perhaps to be expected. But each will doubtless consider, that had her interest alone been consulted, the consequences might have been particularly disagreeable and injurious to others. That it is liable to as few exceptions as could reasonably have been expected, we hope and believe; that it may promote the lasting welfare of that country so dear to us all; and secure her freedom and happiness, is our most ardent wish.”

Mr. WILLIAMSON moved to reconsider the clause requiring three fourths of each House to overrule the negative of the President, in order to strike out three fourths and insert two thirds. He had, he remarked, himself proposed three fourths instead of two thirds; but he had since been convinced that the latter proportion was the best. The former puts too much in the power of the President.

Mr. SHERMAN was of the same opinion; adding, that the States would not like to see so small a minority, and the President, prevailing over the general voice. In making laws, regard should be had to the sense of the people, who are to be bound by them; and it was more probable that a single man should mistake or betray this sense, than the Legislature.

Mr. GOUVERNEUR MORRIS. Considering the difference between the two proportions numerically, it amounts, in one House, to two members only; and in the other, to not more than five: according to the numbers of which the Legislature is at first to be composed. It is the interest, moreover, of the distant States, to prefer three fourths, as they will be oftenest absent, and need the interposing check of the President. The excess, rather than the deficiency, of laws was to be dreaded. The example of New York shows that two thirds is not sufficient to answer the purpose.

Mr. HAMILTON added his testimony to the fact, that two thirds in New York had been ineffectual, either where a popular object, or a legislative faction, operated; of which he mentioned some instances.

Mr. GERRY. It is necessary to consider the danger on the other side also. Two thirds will be a considerable, perhaps a proper security. Three fourths puts too much in the power of a few men. The primary object of the revisionary check of the President is, not to protect the general interest, but to defend his own department. If three fourths be required, a few Senators, having hopes from the nomination of the President to offices, will combine with him and impede proper laws. Making the Vice President Speaker increases the danger.

Mr. WILLIAMSON was less afraid of too few than of too many laws. He was, most of all, afraid that the repeal of bad laws might be rendered too difficult by requiring three fourths to overcome the dissent of the President.

Colonel MASON had always considered this as one of the most exceptionable parts of the system. As to the numerical argument of Mr. Gouverneur Morris, little arithmetic was necessary to understand that three fourths was more than two thirds, whatever the numbers of the Legislature might be. The example of New York depended on the real merits of the laws. The gentlemen citing it had no doubt given their own opinions. But perhaps there were others of opposite opinions, who could equally paint the abuses on the other side. His leading view was, to guard against too great an impediment to the repeal of laws.

Mr. GOUVERNEUR MORRIS dwelt on the danger to the public interest from the instability of laws, as the most to be guarded against. On the other side, there could be little danger. If one man in office will not consent where he ought, every fourth year another can be substituted. This term was not too long for fair experiments. Many good laws are not tried long enough to prove their merit. This is often the case with new laws opposed to old habits. The inspection laws of Virginia and Maryland, to which all are now so much attached, were unpopular at first.

Mr. PINCKNEY was warmly in opposition to three fourths, as putting a dangerous power in the hands of a few Senators, headed by the President.

Mr. MADISON. When three fourths was agreed to, the President was to be elected by the Legislature, and for seven years. He is now to be elected by the people, and for four years. The object of the revisionary power is two-fold, — first, to defend the Executive rights; secondly, to prevent popular or factious injustice. It was an important principle in this and in the State Constitutions, to check legislative injustice and encroachments. The experience of the States had demonstrated that their checks are insufficient. We must compare the danger from the weakness of two thirds, with the danger from the strength of three fourths. He thought, on the whole, the former was the greater. As to the difficulty of repeals, it was probable, that in doubtful cases, the policy would soon take place, of limiting the duration of laws, so as to require renewal instead of repeal.

The reconsideration being agreed to, —

On the question to insert two thirds in place of three fourths, —

Connecticut, New Jersey, Maryland, (Mr. McHENRY, no,) North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, aye, — 6; Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Virginia, (General WASHINGTON, Mr. BLAIR, Mr. MADISON, no; Colonel MASON, Mr. RANDOLPH, aye,) no, — 4; New Hampshire, divided.

Mr. WILLIAMSON observed to the House, that no provision was yet made for juries in civil cases, and suggested the necessity of it.

Mr. GORHAM. It is not possible to discriminate equity cases from those in which juries are proper. The Representatives of the people may be safely trusted in this matter.

Mr. GERRY urged the necessity of juries to guard against corrupt judges. He proposed that the Committee last appointed should be directed to provide a clause for securing the trial by juries.

Colonel MASON perceived the difficulty mentioned by Mr. Gorham. The jury cases cannot be specified. A general principle laid down, on this and some other points, would be sufficient. He wished the plan had been prefaced with a Bill of Rights, and, would second a motion, if made for the purpose. It would give great quiet to the people; and with the aid of the State Declarations, a bill might be prepared in a few hours.

Mr. GERRY concurred in the idea and moved for a Committee to prepare a Bill of Rights.

Colonel MASON seconded the motion.

Mr. SHERMAN was for securing the rights of the people where requisite. The State Declarations of Rights are not repealed by this Constitution; and being in force are sufficient. There are many cases where juries are proper, which cannot be discriminated. The Legislature may be safely trusted.

Colonel MASON. The laws of the United States are to be paramount to State Bills of Rights.

On the question for a Committee to prepare a Bill of Rights, —

New Hampshire, Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, aye, — 5; Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, no, — 5; Massachusetts, absent.

The clause relating to exports being reconsidered, at the instance of Colonel Mason, — who urged that the restrictions on the States would prevent the incidental duties necessary for the inspection and safe keeping of their produce, and be ruinous to the staple States, as he called the five Southern States, — he moved as follows: “provided, nothing herein contained shall be construed to restrain any State from laying duties upon exports for the sole purpose of defraying the charges of inspecting, packing, storing, and indemnifying the losses in keeping the commodities in the care of public officers, before exportation.” In answer to a remark which he anticipated, to wit, that the States could provide for these expenses, by a tax in some other way, he stated the inconvenience of requiring the planters to pay a tax before the actual delivery for exportation.

Mr. MADISON seconded the motion. It would at least be harmless; and might have the good effect of restraining the States to bonâ fide duties for the purpose, as well as of authorizing explicitly such duties; though perhaps the best guard against an abuse of the power of the States on this subject was the right in the General Government to regulate trade between State and State.

Mr. GOUVERNEUR MORRIS saw no objection to the motion. He did not consider the dollar per hogshead laid on tobacco in Virginia, as a duty on exportation, as no drawback would be allowed on tobacco taken out of the warehouse for internal consumption.

Mr. DAYTON was afraid the proviso would enable Pennsylvania to tax New Jersey, under the idea of inspection duties of which Pennsylvania would judge.

Mr. GORHAM and Mr. LANGDON thought there would be no security, if the proviso should be agreed to, for the States exporting through other States, against these oppressions of the latter. How was redress to be obtained, in case duties should be laid beyond the purpose expressed?

Mr. MADISON. There will be the same security as in other cases. The jurisdiction of the Supreme Court must be the source of redress. So far only had provision been made by the plan against injurious acts of the States. His own opinion was, that this was insufficient. A negative on the State laws alone could meet all the shapes which these could assume. But this had been overruled.

Mr. FITZSIMONS. Incidental duties on tobacco and flour never have been, and never can be, considered as duties on exports.

Mr. DICKINSON. Nothing will save the states in the situation of New Hampshire, New Jersey, Delaware, &c., from being oppressed by their neighbors, but requiring the assent of Congress to inspection duties. He moved that this assent should accordingly be required.

Mr. BUTLER seconded the motion.

Adjourned


1 “This is a literal copy of the printed Report. The Copy in the printed Journal contains some of the alterations subsequently made in the House.No transcript of the report was, however, made by Madison, but it was copied by Payne and inserted in this place in the Payne transcript. The text here printed is a copy of the printed report accompanying Madison’s notes. Return to text

The words “by lot,” were not in the Report as printed; but were inserted in manuscript as a typographical error, departing from the text of the Report referred to the Committee of Style and Arrangement.Return to text

3 In the entry of this Report in the printed Journal “two thirds” are substituted for “three fourths.” This change was made after the Report was receivedReturn to text

4 Punish, a typographical omission in the printed Report. Return to text

The draft of the letter accompanied the draft of the Constitution reported on this date, but was not printed with it. The Journal says: “The draft of a letter to Congress being at the same time reported was read once throughout; and afterwards agreed to by paragraphs.” (See Journal of the Federal Convention (1819), page 367.) The letter does not appear to have caused debate. Having been accepted September 12th, it was printed with the final Constitution September 17th. The text here used is that of the final print, which was also copied by Payne for the transcript. The letter is printed in full, infra, page 639.  Return to text


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Contents

Introduction

The year was 1787. The place: the State House in Philadelphia. This is the story of the framing of the federal Constitution.

The Convention

Read the four-act drama and day-by-day summary by Gordon Lloyd, as well as Madison’s Notes on the Convention.

Interactive Map of Historic Philadelphia in the Late 18th Century

Learn about historic Philadelphia and where the founders stayed, ate, and met.

View Interactive

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