Notes of Debates in the Federal Convention of 1787

by James Madison


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Thursday, September 13

IN CONVENTION

Col: MASON. He had moved without success for a power to make sumptuary regulations. He had not yet lost sight of his object. After descanting on the extravagance of our manners, the excessive consumption of foreign superfluities, and the necessity of restricting it, as well with oeconomical as requblican views, he moved that a Committee be appointed to report articles of association for encouraging by the advice the influence and the example of the members of the Convention, oeconomy frugality and american manufactures.

Docr. JOHNSON 2ded. the motion which was without debate agreed to; nem: con: and a Committee appointed, consisting of Col: Mason, Docr. Franklin, Mr. Dickenson, Docr. Johnson, and Mr. Livingston.2

Col: MASON renewed his proposition of yesterday on the subject of inspection laws, with an additional clause giving to Congress a controul over them in case of abuse-as follows,

“Provided that no State shall be restrained from imposing the usual duties on produce exported from such State, for the sole purpose of defraying the charges of inspecting, packing, storing, and indemnifying the losses on such produce, while in the custody of public officers: but all such regulations shall in case of abuse, be subject to the revision and controul of Congress.”

There was no debate & on the question

N. H. ay. Mas. ay. Ct. ay. Pa. no. Del. no. Md. ay. Va. ay. N. C. ay. S. C. no. Geo. ay.4

The Report from the Committee of stile & arrangement, was taken up, in order to be compared with the articles of the plan as agreed to by the House & referred to the Committee, and to receive the final corrections and sanction of the Convention.

Art. 1. sect. 2. On motion of Mr. RANDOLPH the word “servitude” was struck out, and “service”5 unanimously inserted, the former being thought to express the condition of slaves, & the latter the obligations of free persons.

Mr. DICKENSON & Mr. WILSON moved to strike out “and direct taxes,” from sect. 2. art. 1. as improperly placed in a clause relating merely to the Constitution of the House of Representatives.

Mr. Govr. MORRIS. The insertion here was in consequence of what had passed on this point; in order to exclude the appearance of counting the negroes in the Representation. The including of them may now be referred to the object of direct taxes, and incidentally only to that of Representation.

On the motion to strike out “and direct taxes” from this place

N. H. no. Mas. no. Ct. no. N. J. ay. Pa. no. Del. ay. Md. ay. Va. no. N. C. no. S. C. no. Geo. no.6

Art. 1. sect. 7 “-if any bill shall not be returned by the president within ten days (Sundays excepted) after it shall have been presented to him &c”

Mr. MADISON, moved to insert between “after” and “it” in Sect. 7. Art. 1 the words “the day on which,” in order to prevent a question whether the day on which the bill be presented, ought to be counted or not as one of the ten days.

Mr. RANDOLPH 2ded. the motion.

Mr. GOVERNUr. MORRIS. The amendment is unnecessary. The law knows no fractions of days.

A number of members being very impatient & calling for the question

N. H. no. Mas. no. Ct. no. N. J. no. Pa. ay. Del. no. Md. ay. Va. ay. N. C. no S. C. no. Geo. no-7

Docr. JOHNSON made a further report from the Committee of stile &c of the following resolutions to be substituted for 22 & 23 articles

“Resolved that the preceding Constitution be laid before the U. States in Congress assembled, and that it is the opinion of this Convention, that it should afterwards be submitted to a Convention of Delegates chosen in each State by the people thereof, under the recommendation of its Legislature, for their assent & ratification; & that each Convention assenting & ratifying the same should give notice thereof to the U.S. in Congs. assembled.

“Resolved that it is the opinion of this Convention that as soon as the Conventions of nine States, shall have ratified this Constitution, the U.S. in Congs. assembled should fix a day on which electors should be appointed by the States which shall have ratified the same; and a day on which the Electors should assemble to vote for the President; and the time and place for commencing proceedings under this Constitution-That after such publication the Electors should be appointed, and the Senators and Representatives elected: That the Electors should meet on the day fixed for the election of the President, and should transmit their votes certified signed, sealed and directed, as the Constitution requires, to the Secretary of the U. States in Congs. assembled: that the Senators and Representatives should convene at the time & place assigned; that the Senators should appoint a President for the sole purpose of receiving, opening, and counting the votes for President, and that after he shall be chosen, the Congress, together with the President should without delay proceed to execute this Constitution.”

Adjourned


1 The year “1787″ is omitted in the transcript.  Return to text

2 This motion & appointment of the Comittee, not3 in the printed Journal. No report was made by the Come.  Return to text

3 The words “do not appear” are substituted in the transcript for “not.”  Return to text

4 In the transcript the vote reads: “New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia, aye-7; Pennsylvania, Delaware, South Carolina, no-3.”  Return to text

5 See page 372 of the printed Journal.  Return to text

6 In the transcript the vote reads: “New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, aye-3; New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, no-8.”  Return to text

7 In the transcript the vote reads: “Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, aye- 3; New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey, Delaware, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, no-8.”  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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