Elliot’s Debates: Volume 1

Journal of the Federal Convention

Monday, June 18, 1787.

The order of the day being read, the house resolved itself into a committee of the whole house, to consider of the state of the American Union. Mr. President left the chair.

In Committee of the whole House.

Mr. Gorham in the chair.

It was moved by Mr. Dickinson, seconded by, to postpone the consideration of the 1st resolution submitted by Mr. Patterson, in order to introduce the following, namely:—

Resolved, That the Articles of Confederation ought to be revised and amended, so as to render the government of the United States adequate to the exigencies, the preservation, and the prosperity of the Union.”

And on the question to agree to the same, it passed in the affirmative.

Yeas: Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, 10. Divided: Pennsylvania, 1.

[See Colonel Hamilton’s Plan, on next page.]

It was then moved and seconded that the committee do now rise, report a further progress, and request leave to sit again. The committee then rose.

In the House.

Mr. President resumed the chair.

Mr. Gorham reported, from the committee, That the committee had made a further progress in the matter to them referred, and had directed him to move that they may have leave to sit again.

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

COLONEL HAMILTON’S PLAN OF GOVERNMENT.

The following paper was read by Colonel Hamilton, as containing his ideas of a suitable Plan of Government for the United States, in a speech upon the foregoing motion of Mr. Dickinson.
[Paper furnished by General Bloomfield.]

“1. The supreme legislative power of the United States of America to be vested in two distinct bodies of men, the one to be called the Assembly, the other the Senate; who, together, shall form the legislature of the United States, with power to pass all laws whatsoever, subject to the negative hereafter mentioned.

“2. The Assembly to consist of persons elected by the people, to serve for three years.

“3. The Senate to consist of persons elected to serve during good behavior; their election to be made by electors chosen for that purpose by the people. In order to this, the states to be divided into election districts. On the death, removal, or resignation of any senator, his place to be filled out of the district from which he came.

“4. The supreme executive authority of the United States to be vested in a governor, to be elected to serve during good behavior. His election to be made by electors, chosen by electors, chosen by the people in the election districts aforesaid. His authorities and functions to be as follows:—

“To have a negative upon all laws about to be passed, and the execution of all laws passed; to have the entire direction of war, when authorized or begun; to have, with the advice and approbation of the Senate, the power of making all treaties; to have the sole appointment of the heads or chief officers of the departments of finance, war, and foreign affairs; to have the nomination of all other officers, (ambassadors of foreign nations included,) subject to the approbation or rejection of the Senate; to have the power of pardoning all offences except treason, which he shall not pardon without the approbation of the Senate.

“5. On the death, resignation, or removal of the governor, his authorities to be exercised by the president of the Senate, until a successor be appointed.

“6. The Senate to have the sole power of declaring war; the power of advising and approving all treaties; the power of approving or rejecting all appointments of officers, except the heads or chiefs of the departments of finance, war, and foreign affairs.

“7. The supreme judicial authority of the United States to be vested in…judges, to hold their offices during good behavior, with adequate and permanent salaries. This court to have original jurisdiction in all causes of capture; and an appellate jurisdiction in all causes in which the revenues of the general government, or the citizens of foreign nations, are concerned.

“8. The legislature of the United States to have power to institute courts in each state, for the determination of all matters of general concern.

“9. The governors, senators, and all officers of the United States to be liable to impeachment for mal and corrupt conduct; and, upon conviction, to be removed from office, and disqualified for holding any place of trust or profit. All impeachments to be tried by a court, to consist of the chief or senior judge of the superior court of law, in each state; provided, that such judge hold his place during good behavior, and have a permanent salary.

“10. All laws of the particular states, contrary to the Constitution or laws of the United States, to be utterly void. And the better to prevent such laws being passed, the governor or president of each state shall be appointed by the general government, and shall have a negative upon the laws about to be passed in the state of which he is governor or president.

“11. No state to have any forces, land or naval; and the militia of all the states to be under the sole and exclusive direction of the United States; the officers of which to be appointed and commissioned by them.”

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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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