Elliot’s Debates: Volume 1

Journal of the Federal Convention

Monday, August 20, 1787.

It was moved and seconded to refer the following propositions to the committee of five; which passed in the affirmative.

“Each house shall be the judge of its own privileges, and shall have authority to punish, by imprisonment, every person violating the same; or who, in the place where the legislature may be sitting, and during the time of its session, shall threaten any of its members for any thing said or done in the house; or who shall assault any of them therefor; or who shall assault or arrest any witness or other person ordered to attend either of the houses, in his way going or returning; or who shall rescue any person arrested by their order.

“Each branch of the legislature, as well as the supreme executive, shall have authority to require the opinions of the Supreme Judicial Court upon important questions of law, and upon solemn occasions.

“The privileges and benefits of the writ of habeas corpus shall be enjoyed in this government in the most expeditious and ample manner, and shall not be suspended by the legislature, except upon the most urgent and pressing occasions, and for a limited time, not exceeding         months.

“The liberty of the press shall be inviolably preserved.

“No troops shall be kept up, in time of peace, but by consent of the legislature.

“The military shall always be subordinate to the civil power, and no grants of money shall be made by the legislature for supporting military land forces for more than one year at a time.

“No soldier shall be quartered in any house, in time of peace, without consent of the owner.

“No person holding the office of President of the United States; a judge of their Supreme Court; secretary for the department of foreign affairs; of finance; of marine; of war; or of,         —shall be capable of holding, at the same time, any other office of trust or emolument under the United States, or an individual state.

“No religious test, or qualification, shall ever be annexed to any oath of office under the authority of the United States.

“The United States shall be forever considered as one body corporate and politic in law, and entitled to all the rights, privileges, and immunities, which to bodies corporate do, or ought to, appertain.

“The legislature of the United States shall have the power of making the great seal, which shall be kept by the President of the United States, or, in his absence, by the president of the Senate, to be used by them as the occasion may require. It shall be called the ’great seal of the United States,’ and shall be affixed to all laws.

“All commissions and writs shall run in the name of the United States.

“The jurisdiction of the Supreme Court shall be extended to all controversies between the United States and an individual state, or the United States and the citizens of an individual state.

“To assist the President in conducting the public affairs, there shall be a council of state composed of the following officers:—

“1. The chief justice of the Supreme Court, who shall, from time to time, recommend such alterations of, and additions to, the laws of the United States, as may, in his opinion, be necessary to the due administration of justice, and such as may promote useful learning, and inculcate sound morality throughout the Union. He shall be the president of the council, in the absence of the President.

“2. The secretary of domestic affairs, who shall be appointed by the President, and hold his office during pleasure. It shall be his duty to attend to matters of general police, the state of agriculture and manufactures, the opening of roads and navigations, and the facilitating communications through the United States; and he shall, from time to time, recommend such measures and establishments as may tend to promote those objects.

“3. The secretary of commerce and finance, who shall also be appointed by the President during pleasure. It shall be his duty to superintend all matters relating to the public finances; to prepare and report plans of revenue, and for the regulation of expenditures; and also to recommend such things as may, in his judgement, promote the commercial interests of the United States.

“4. The secretary of foreign affairs, who shall also be appointed by the President during pleasure. It shall be his duty to correspond with all foreign ministers, prepare plans of treaties, and consider such as may be transmitted from abroad, and generally to attend to the interests of the United States, in their connections with foreign powers.

“5. The secretary of war, who shall be appointed by the President during pleasure. It shall be his duty to superintend every thing relating to the war department, such as the raising and equipping of troops, the care of military stores, public fortifications, arsenals, and the like; also, in time of war, to prepare and recommend plans of offence and defence.

“6. The secretary of the marine, who shall also be appointed by the President during pleasure. It shall be his duty to superintend every thing relating to the marine department, the public shops, dock-yards, naval stores, and arsenals; also, in time of war, to prepare and recommend plans of offence and defence.

“7. The President shall also appoint a secretary of state, to hold his office during pleasure; who shall be secretary of the council of state, and also public secretary to the President. It shall be his duty to prepare all public despatches from the President, which he shall countersign.

“The President may, from time to time, submit any matter to the discussion of the council of state; and he may require the written opinions of any one or more of the members; but he shall, in all cases, exercise his own judgment, and either conform to such opinions, or not, as he may think proper. And every officer above mentioned shall be responsible for his opinion on the affairs relating to his particular department.

“Each of the officers above mentioned shall be liable to impeachment, and removal from office, for neglect of duty, malversation, or corruption.

“That the committee be directed to report qualifications for the President of the United States; and a mode for trying the supreme judges in cases of impeachment.”

It was moved and seconded to postpone the consideration of the 17th clause, 1st section, 7th article; which passed in the affirmative.

It was moved and seconded to insert the following clause in the 1st section, 7th article: “to make sumptuary laws;”

which passed in the negative.

Yeas: Delaware, Maryland, Georgia, 3. Nays: New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, 8.

It was moved and seconded to insert the following clause in the 1st section of the 7th article; “to establish all offices;”

which passed in the negative.

Yeas: Massachusetts, Maryland, 2. Nays: New Hampshire, Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, 9.

On the question to agree to the last clause of the 1st section, 7th article, as reported, it passed in the affirmative.

It was moved and seconded to insert the words “some overt act of,” after the word “in,” in the 2d section, 7th article; and to strike out the word “and” before the words “in adhering,” and to insert the word “or;” which passed in the affirmative.

It was moved and seconded to strike out the words “or any of them,” 2d section, 7th article; which passed in the affirmative.

It was moved and seconded to refer the 2d section of the 7th article to a committee; which passed in the negative.

Yeas: New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, Georgia, 5. Nays: New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Delaware, South Carolina, 5. Divided: North Carolina, 1.

It was moved and seconded to postpone the consideration of the 2d section, 7th article, in order to take up the following:—

“Whereas it is essential to the preservation of liberty to define, precisely and exclusively, what shall constitute the crime of treason,— it is therefore ordained, declared, and established, that if a man do levy war against the United States, within their territories, or be adherent to the enemies of the United States within the said territories, giving to them aid and comfort within their territories, or elsewhere, and thereof be probably attainted of open deed by the people of his condition, he shall be adjudged guilty of treason.”

On the question to postpone, it passed in the negative.

Yeas: New Jersey, Virginia, 2. Nays: Massachusetts, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, 8.

It was moved and seconded to strike out the words “against the United States,” 1st line, 2d section, 7th article; which passed in the affirmative.

Yeas: Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, South Carolina, Georgia, 8. Nays: Virginia, North Carolina, 2.

It was moved and seconded to insert the words “to the same overt act” after the word “witnesses,” 2d section, 7th article; which passed in the affirmative.

Yeas: New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, South Carolina, Georgia, 8. Nays: New Jersey, Virginia, North Carolina, 3.

It was moved and seconded to strike the words “some overt act” out of the 1st line, 2d section, 7th article; which passed in the affirmative.

It was moved and seconded to insert the words “sole and exclusive” before the word “power,” in the 2d clause, 2d section, 7th article; which passed in the negative.

Yeas: New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Delaware, South Carolina, 5. Nays: Connecticut, New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia, 6.

It was moved and seconded to reinstate the words “against the United States,” in the 1st line, 2d section, 7th article; which passed in the affirmative.

Yeas: Connecticut, New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia, 6. Nays: New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Delaware, South Carolina, 5.

It was moved and seconded to strike out the words “of the United States,” in the 3d line, 2d section, 7th article; which passed in the affirmative.

It was moved and seconded to amend the 1st clause of the 2d section, 7th article, to read:—

“Treason against the United States shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies;”

which passed in the affirmative.

It was moved and seconded to add the words “giving them aid and comfort,” after the word “enemies,” in the 2d section, 7th article; which passed in the affirmative.

Yeas: New Hampshire, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, 8. Nays: Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, 3.

It was moved and seconded to add, after the words “overt act,” the words “or confession in open court,” 2d section, 7th article; which passed in the affirmative.

Yeas: New Hampshire, Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, 7. Nays: Massachusetts, South Carolina, Georgia, 3. Divided: North Carolina, 1.

On the question to agree to the 2d section of the 7th article, as amended, it passed in the affirmative.

It was moved and seconded to strike the words “white and other” out of the 3d section, 7th article; which passed in the affirmative.

It was moved and seconded to strike out the word “six,” and to insert the word “three,” in the 3d section of the 7th article; which passed in the affirmative.

Yeas: New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, 9. Nays: South Carolina, Georgia, 2.

It was moved and seconded to add the following clause to the 3d section of the 7th article:—

“That, from the first meeting of the legislature of the United States, until a census shall be taken, all moneys for supplying the public treasury by direct taxation shall be raised from the several states, according to the number of their representation respectively in the first branch.”

Before a question was taken on the last motion, the house adjourned.

Back to Table of Contents

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.

View Feature

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.

View Feature

Interactive Ratification Map

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

View Interactive

TeachingAmericanHistory.org is a project of the Ashbrook Center at Ashland University

401 College Avenue | Ashland, Ohio 44805 (419) 289-5411 | (877) 289-5411 (Toll Free)

info@TeachingAmericanHistory.org