Letter to John Dickinson

George Read

Philadelphia

May 21, 1787

It was rather unlucky that you had not given me a hint of your wish to be in a lodging-house at an earlier day. Mrs. House’s,1 where I am, is very crowded, and the room I am presently in so small as not to admit of a second bed. That which I had heretofore, on my return from New York, was asked for Governor Randolph, it being then expected he would have brought his lady with him, which he did not, but she is expected to follow some time hence.

I have not seen Mr. Bassett, being from my lodgings when he called last evening. He stopt at the Indian Queen, where Mr. Mason, of Virginia, stays, the last of their seven deputies who came in. We have now a quorum from six States, to wit: South and North Carolina, Virginia, Delaware, Pennsylvania, and New York, and single deputies from three others, —Georgia, New Jersey, and Massachusetts, —whose additional ones are hourly expected, and also the Connecticut deputies, who have been appointed, within the last ten days, by the Legislature there. We have no particular accounts from New Hampshire, other than that the delegates to Congress were appointed deputies to this convention. Maryland you may probably have heard more certain accounts of than we who are here. Rhode Island hath made no appointment as yet.

The gentlemen who came here early, particularly Virginia, that had a quorum on the first day, express much uneasiness at the backwardness of individuals in giving attendance. It is meant to organize the body as soon as seven States’ quorums attend. I wish you were here.

I am in possession of a copied draft of a Federal system intended to be proposed, if something nearly similar shall not precede it. Some of its principal features are taken from the New York system of government. A house of delegates and senate for a general legislature, as to the great business of the Union. The first of them to be chosen by the Legislature of each State, in proportion to its number of white inhabitants, and three-fifths of all others, fixing a number for sending each representative. The second, to wit, the senate, to be elected by the delegates so returned, either from themselves or the people at large, in four great districts, into which the United States are to be divided for the purpose of forming this senate from, which, when so formed, is to be divided into four classes for the purpose of an annual rotation of a fourth of the members. A president having only executive powers for seven years. By this plan our State may have a representation in the House of Delegates of one member in eighty. I suspect it to be of importance to the small States that their deputies should keep a strict watch upon the movements and propositions from the larger States, who will probably combine to swallow up the smaller ones by addition, division, or impoverishment; and, if you have any wish to assist in guarding against such attempts, you will be speedy in your attendance.

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