Elliot’s Debates: Volume 1

Journal of the Federal Convention

TUESDAY, May 29, 1787.

Mr. Wythe reported, from the committee to whom the motions made by Mr. Butler and Mr. Spaight were referred, that the committee had examined matters of the said motions, and had come to the following resolutions thereupon:—

“Resolved, That it is the opinion of this committee that provision be made for the purposes mentioned in the said motions; and to that end, the committee beg leave to propose, that the rules written under their resolution be added to the standing orders of the house.”

And the said rules were once read throughout, and then, a second time, one by one; and on the question, severally put thereupon, were, with amendments to some of them, agreed to by the house; which rules, so agreed to, are as follow:—

“RULES.

“That no member be absent from the house, so as to interrupt the representation of the state, without leave.

“That committees do not sit whilst the house shall be, or ought to be, sitting.

“That no copy be taken of any entry on the Journal during the sitting of the house, without the leave of the house.

“That members only be permitted to inspect the Journal.

“That nothing spoken in the house be printed, or otherwise published, or communicated, without leave.

“That a motion to reconsider a matter which had been determined by a majority, may be made, with leave unanimously given, on the same day on which the vote passed; but otherwise not without one day’s previous notice; in which last case, if the house agree to the reconsideration, some future day shall be assigned for that purpose.

“Resolved, That the said rules be added to the standing orders of the house.”

The Hon. John Dickinson, Esq., a deputy of the state of Delaware, and the Hon. Elbridge Gerry, Esq., a deputy from the state of Massachusetts, attended and took their seats.

Mr. Randolph, one of the deputies of Virginia, laid before the house, for their consideration, sundry propositions, in writing, concerning the American Confederation, and the establishment of a national government.

RESOLUTIONS OFFERED BY MR. EDMUND RANDOLPH TO THE CONVENTION, MAY 29, 1787.

“1. Resolved, That the Articles of the Confederation ought to be so corrected and enlarged as to accomplish the objects proposed by their institution; namely, common defence, security of liberty, and general welfare.

“2. Resolved, therefore, That the right of suffrage, in the national legislature, ought to be proportioned to the quotas of contribution, or to the number of free inhabitants, as the one or the other may seem best, in different cases.

“3. Resolved, That the national legislature ought to consist of two branches.

“4. Resolved, That the members of the first branch of national legislature ought to be elected by the people of the several states, every … , for the term of … , to be of the age of … years, at least; to receive liberal stipends, by which they may be compensated for the devotion of their time to the public service; to be ineligible to any office established by a particular state, or under the authority of the United States, (except those peculiarly belonging to the functions of the first branch,) during the term of service and for the space of … after its expiration; to be incapable of reelection for the space of … after the expiration of their term of their service; and to be subject to recall.

“5. Resolved, That the members of the second branch of the national legislature ought to be elected by those of the first, out of a proper number of persons nominated by the individual legislatures, to be of the age of … years, at least; to hold their offices for a term sufficient to insure their independency; to receive liberal stipends, by which they may be compensated for the devotion of their time to the public service; and to be ineligible to any office established by a particular state, or under the authority of the United States, (except those particularly belonging to the functions of the second branch,) during the term of service; and for the space of … after the expiration thereof.

“6. Resolved, That each branch ought to possess the right of originating acts; that the national legislature ought to be empowered to enjoy the legislative right vested in Congress by the Confederation; and, moreover, to legislate in all cases to which the separate states are incompetent, or in which the harmony of the United States may be interrupted by the exercise of individual legislation; to negative all laws passed by the several states, contravening, in the opinion of the national legislature, the articles of union, or any treaty subsisting under the authority of the Union; and to call forth the force of the Union against any member of the Union failing to fulfil its duty under the articles thereof.

“7. Resolved, That a national executive be instituted, to be chosen by the national legislature for the term of … years, to receive punctually, at stated times, a fixed compensation for the services rendered, in which no increase or diminution shall be made, so as to affect the magistracy existing at the time of the increase or diminution; to be ineligible a second time; and that, besides a general authority to execute the national laws, it ought to enjoy the executive rights vested in Congress by the Confederation.

“8. Resolved, That the executive, and a convenient number of the national judiciary, ought to compose a council of revision, with authority to examine every act of the national legislature, before it shall operate, and every act of a particular legislature, before a negative thereon shall be final; and that the dissent of the said council shall amount to a rejection, unless the act of the national legislature be again passed, or that of a particular legislature be again negatived by … of a members of each branch.

“9. Resolved, That a national judiciary be established … to hold their offices during good behavior, and to receive punctually, at stated times, a fixed compensation for their services, in which no increase or diminution shall be made, so as to affect the persons actually in office at the time of such increase or diminution. That the jurisdiction of the inferior tribunals shall be to hear and determine in the first instance, and of the supreme tribunal to hear and determine in the dernier ressort, all piracies and felonies on the seas; captures from an enemy; cases in which foreigners, or citizens of other states, applying to such jurisdictions, may be interested, or which respect the collection of the national revenue; impeachments of any national officer; and questions which involve the national peace or harmony.

“10. Resolved, That provision ought to be made for the admission of states, lawfully arising within the limits of the United States, whether from a voluntary junction of government or territory, or otherwise, with the consent of a number of voices in the national legislature less than the whole.

“11. Resolved, That a republican government, and the territory of each state, (except in the instance of a voluntary junction of government and territory,) ought to be guarantied by the United States to each state.

“12. Resolved, That provision ought to be made for the continuance of Congress, and their authorities and privileges, until a given day, after the reform of the articles of union shall be adopted, and for the completion of all their engagements.

“13. Resolved, That provision ought to be made for the amendment of the articles of union, whensoever it shall seem necessary; and that the assent of the national legislature ought not to be required thereto.

“14. Resolved, That the legislative, executive, and judiciary powers within the several states ought to be bound by oath to support the articles of union.

“15. Resolved, That the amendments, which shall be offered to the Confederation by the Convention, ought, at a proper time or times, after the approbation of Congress, to be submitted to an assembly or assemblies of representatives, recommended by the several legislatures, to be expressly chosen by the people to consider and decide thereon.

“16. Resolved, That the house will to-morrow resolve itself into a committee of the whole house, to consider of the state of the American Union.

Ordered, That the propositions this day laid before the house, for their consideration, by Mr. Randolph, be referred to the said committee.”

Mr. Charles Pinckney, One of the deputies of South Carolina, laid before the house, for their consideration, the draft of a federal government, to be agreed upon between the free and independent states of America.

MR. CHARLES PINCKNEY’S DRAFT OF A FEDERAL GOVERNMENT.

[Paper furnished by Mr. Pinckney.]

“We, the people of the states of New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia, do ordain, declare, and establish the following constitution, for the government of ourselves and posterity.

“Art. I. The style of this government shall be The United States of America, and the government shall consist of supreme legislative, executive, and judicial powers.

“Art. II. The legislative power shall be vested in a Congress, to consist of two separate houses; one to be called the House of Delegates, and the other the Senate, who shall meet on the … day of … in every year.

“Art. III. The members of the House of Delegates shall be chosen every … year by the people of the several states; and the qualifications of the electors shall be the same as those of the electors in the several states for their legislatures. Each member shall have been a citizen of the United States for … years, shall be of … years of age, and a resident in the state he is chosen for … , until a census of the people shall be taken in the manner herein mentioned. The House of Delegates shall consist of … , to be chosen from the different states in the following proportions: for New Hampshire, … ; for Massachusetts, … ; for Rhode Island, … ; for Connecticut, … ; for New York, … ; for New Jersey, … ; for Pennsylvania, … ; for Delaware, … ; for Maryland, … ; for Virginia, … ; for North Carolina, … ; for South Carolina, … ; for Georgia, … ;—and the legislature shall hereafter regulate the number of delegates by the number of inhabitants, according to the provisions hereinafter made, at the rate of one for every … thousand. All money bills, of every kind, shall originate in the House of Delegates, and shall not be altered by the Senate. The House of Delegates shall exclusively possess the power of impeachment, and shall choose its own officers; and vacancies therein shall be supplied by the executive authority of the state in the representation from which they shall happen.

“Art. IV. The Senate shall be elected and chosen by the House of Delegates, which house, immediately after their meeting, shall choose by ballot … senators from among the citizens and residents of New Hampshire; … from among those of Massachusetts; … from among those of Rhode Island; … from among those of Connecticut; … from among those of New York; … from among those of New Jersey; … from among those of Pennsylvania; … from among those of Virginia; … from among those of North Carolina; … from among those of South Carolina; and … from among those of Georgia. The senators chosen from New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut, shall form one class; those from New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware, one class; and those from Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia, one class. The House of Delegates shall number these classes one, two, and three, and fix the times of their service by lot. The first class shall serve for … years, the second for … years, and the third for … years. As their times of service expire, the House of Delegates shall fill them up by elections for … years, and they shall fill all vacancies that arise from death, or resignation, for the time of service remaining of the members so dying or resigning. Each senator shall be … years of age, at least; shall have been a citizen of the United States four years before his election; and shall be … a resident of the state he is chosen from. The Senate shall choose its own officers.

“Art. V. Each state shall prescribe the time and manner of holding elections by the people for the House of Delegates; and the House of Delegates shall be the judges of the elections, returns, and qualifications of their members.

“In each house a majority shall constitute a quorum to do business. Freedom of speech and debate in the legislature shall not be impeached, or questioned, in any place out of it; and the members of both houses shall, in all cases except for treason, felony, or breach of the peace, be free from arrest during their attendance on Congress, and in going to and returning from it. Both houses shall keep journals of their proceedings, and publish them, except on secret occasions; and the yeas and nays may be entered thereon at the desire of one … of the members present. Neither house, without the consent of the other, shall adjourn for more than … days, nor to any place but where they are sitting.

“The members of each house shall not be eligible to, or capable of holding, any office under the Union, during the time for which they have been respectively elected; nor the members of the Senate for one year after. The members of each house shall be paid for their services by the states which they represent. Every bill which shall have passed the legislature shall be presented to the President of the United States, for his revision; if he approves it, he shall sign it; but if he does not approve it, he shall return it, with his objections, to the house it originated in; which house, if two thirds of the members present, notwithstanding the President’s objections, agree to pass it, shall send it to the other house, with the President’s objections; where, if two thirds of the members present also agree to pass it, the same shall become a law; and all bill sent to the President and not returned by him within … days, shall be laws, unless the legislature, by their adjournment, prevent their return, in which case they shall not be laws.

“Art. VI. The legislature of the United States shall have the power to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts, and excises;

“To regulate commerce with all nations, and among the several states;

“To borrow money and emit bills of credit;

“To establish post-offices;

“To raise armies;

“To build and equip fleets;

“To pass laws for arming, organizing, and disciplining, the militia of the United States;

“To subdue a rebellion in any state, on application of its legislature;

“To coin money, and to regulate the value of all coins, and fix the standard of weights and measures;

“To provide such dock-yards and arsenals, and erect such fortifications, as may be necessary for the United States, and to exercise exclusive jurisdiction therein;

“To appoint a treasurer, by ballot;

“To constitute tribunals inferior to the Supreme Court;

“To establish post and military roads;

“To establish and provide for a national university at the seat of government of the United States;

“To establish uniform rules of naturalization;

“To provide for the establishment of a seat of government for the United States, not exceeding … miles square, in which they shall have exclusive jurisdiction;

“To make rules concerning captures from an enemy;

“To declare the law and punishment of piracies and felonies at sea, and of counterfeiting coin, and of all offences against the laws of nations;

“To call forth the aid of the militia to execute the laws of the Union, enforce treaties, suppress insurrections, and repel invasion;

“And to make all laws for carrying the foregoing powers into execution.

“The legislature of the United States shall have the power to declare the punishment of treason, which shall consist only in levying war against the United States, or any of them, or in adhering to their enemies. No person shall be convicted of treason but by the testimony of two witnesses.

“The proportion of direct taxation shall be regulated by the whole number of inhabitants of every description; which number shall, within … years after the first meeting of the legislature, and within the term of every … year, be taken, in the manner to be prescribed by the legislature.

“No tax shall be paid on articles exported from the states; nor capitation tax, but in proportion to the census before directed.

“All laws regulating commerce shall require the assent of two thirds of the members present in each house. The United States shall not grant any title of nobility. The legislature of the United States shall pass no law on the subject of religion, nor touching or abridging the liberty of the press; nor shall the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus ever be suspended, except in case of rebellion or invasion.

“All acts made by the legislature of the United States, pursuant to this constitution, and all treaties made under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and all judges shall be bound to consider them as such in their decisions.

“Art. VII. The Senate shall have the sole and exclusive power to declare war; and to make treaties; and to appoint ambassadors and other ministers to foreign nations, and judges of the Supreme Court.

“They shall have the exclusive power to regulate the manner of deciding all disputes and controversies now subsisting, or which may arise, between the states, respecting jurisdiction or territory.

“Art. VIII. The executive power of the United States shall be vested in a President of the United States of America, which shall be his style; and his title shall be His Excellency. He shall be elected for … years; and shall be re

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Contents

General Overview

In 1787 and 1788, following the Constitutional Convention, a great debate took place throughout America over the Constitution that had been proposed.

In-Doors Debate

View in-depth studies of the Massachusetts, Virginia, and New York state ratifying conventions.

The Federal Pillars

View drawings of the federal pillars rising published by the Massachusetts Centinel during the ratification debate.

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The Stages of Ratification: An Interactive Timeline

View the six stages of the ratification of the Constitution with links to many other features on this site.

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Interactive Ratification Map

View interactive maps showing the breakdown of Federalist-Antifederalist strength at the state level during the Ratification debate.

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