Elliot’s Debates: Volume 1

Amendments

At the first session of the first Congress under the Constitution, the following resolution was adopted:—

“Congress of the United States;
“Begun and held at the City of New York, on Wednesday, the 4th of March, 1789.

“The conventions of a number of the states having, at the time of their adopting the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added; and as extending the ground of public confidence in the government will best insure the beneficent ends of its institution;—

Resolved, by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America, in Congress assembled, two thirds of both houses concurring, that the following articles be proposed to the legislatures of the several states, as amendments to the Constitution of the United States, all or any of which articles, when ratified by three fourths of the said legislatures, to be valid, to all intents and purposes, as part of the said Constitution, namely,—

Articles in Addition to, and Amendment of, the Constitution of the United States of America, proposed by Congress, and ratified by the Legislatures of the several States, pursuant to the Fifth Article of the original Constitution.

“Art. I. After the first enumeration required by the first article of the Constitution, there shall be one representative for every thirty thousand, until the number shall amount to one hundred, after which the proportion shall be so regulated by Congress, that there shall not be less than one hundred representatives, nor less than one representative for every forty thousand persons, until the number of representatives shall amount to two hundred, after which the proportion shall be so regulated by Congress, that there shall not be less than two hundred representatives, nor more than one representative for every fifty thousand.

“Art. II. No law varying the compensation for services of the senators and representatives shall take effect, until an election of representatives shall have intervened.

“Art. III. Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

“Art. IV. A well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

“Art. V. No soldier shall, in time of peace, be quartered in any house without the consent of the owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner prescribed by law.

“Art. VI. The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated; and no warrants shall issue, but upon principal cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

“Art. VII. No person shall be held to answer for a capital or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia when in actual service, in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject, for the same offence, to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled, in any criminal case, to be a witness against himself; nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use without just compensation.

“Art. VIII. In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right of a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law; and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor; and to have the assistance of counsel for his defence.

“Art. IX. In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury shall be otherwise reexamined, in any court of the United States, than according to the rules in common law.

“Art. X. Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

“Art. XI. The enumeration, in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

“Art. XII. The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states, respectively, or to the people.

“FREDERICK AUGUSTUS MUHLENBERG, Speaker of the House of Representatives.

“JOHN ADAMS, Vice-President of the United States, and President of the Senate.

“Attest, John Beckley, Clerk of the House of Representatives.

“Samuel A. Otis, Secretary of the Senate.

Which, being transmitted to the several state legislatures, were decided upon by them, according to the following returns:—

By the State of New Hampshire.—Agreed to the whole of the said amendments, except the 2d article.

By the State of New York.—Agreed to the whole of the said amendments, except the 2d article.

By the State of Pennsylvania.—Agreed to the 3d, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th articles of the said amendments.

By the State of Delaware.—Agreed to the whole of the said amendments, except the 1st article.

By the State of Maryland.—Agreed to the whole of the said twelve amendments.

By the State of South Carolina.—Agreed to the whole said twelve amendments.

By the State of North Carolina.—Agreed to the whole of the said twelve amendments.

By the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations.—Agreed to the whole of the said twelve articles.

By the State of New Jersey.—Agreed to the whole of the said amendments, except the second article.

By the State of Virginia.—Agreed to the whole of the said twelve articles.

No returns were made by the states of Massachusetts, Connecticut, Georgia, and Kentucky.

The amendments thus proposed became a part of the Constitution, the first and second of them excepted, which were not ratified by a sufficient number of the state legislatures.

At the first session of the third Congress, the following amendment was proposed to the state legislatures:—

“United States in Congress assembled.

Resolved, by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, two thirds of both houses concurring, That the following article be proposed to the legislatures of the several states, as an amendment to the Constitution of the United States; which, when ratified by three fourths of the said legislatures, shall be valid as part of the said Constitution, namely,—

“The judicial power of the United States shall not be construed to extend to any suit in, law or equity, commenced or prosecuted against one of the United States, by citizens of another state, or by citizens or subjects of any foreign state.”

“FREDERICK AUGUSTUS MUHLENBERG, Speaker of the House of Representatives.

“JOHN ADAMS, Vice-President of the United States, and President of the Senate.

“Attest. J. Beckley, Clerk of the House of Representatives.

“Sam. A. Otis, Secretary of the Senate.”

From the Journals of the House of Representatives, at the second session of the third Congress, it appears that returns from the state legislatures, ratifying this amendment, were received, as follows:—

From New York, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, Georgia, and Delaware.

At the first session of the fourth Congress, further returns, ratifying the same amendment, were received from Rhode Island and North Carolina.

At the second session of the fourth Congress, on the 2d of March, 1787, the following resolution was adopted:—

“United States in Congress assembled.

“Resolved, by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the President be requested to adopt some speedy and effectual means of obtaining information from the states of Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, and South Carolina, whether they have ratified the amendment proposed by Congress to the Constitution concerning the suability of states; if they have, to obtain the proper evidence thereof.

“JONATHAN DAYTON, Speaker of the House of Representatives.

“WILLIAM BINGHAM, President, pro tempore, of the Senate.

Approved, March 2, 1797.

GEORGE WASHINGTON, President of the United States.”

At the second session of the fifth Congress, the following message from the President of the United States was transmitted to both houses:—

From a report of the secretary of state, made under the direction of President Adams, on the 28th December, 1797, it appeared that the states of Connecticut, Maryland, and Virginia, had ratified the amendment; that New Jersey and Pennsylvania had not ratified it; South Carolina had not definitely acted upon it. No answers had been received from Kentucky and Tennessee.

MESSAGE.

“Gentlemen of the Senate, and Gentlemen of the House of Representatives:—

“I have an opportunity of transmitting to Congress a report of the secretary of state, with a copy of an act of the legislature of the state of Kentucky, consenting to the ratification of the amendment of the Constitution of the United States proposed by Congress, in their resolution of the second day of December, 1793, relative to the suability of states. This amendment having been adopted by three fourths of the several states, may now be declared to be a part of the Constitution of the United States.

“United States, January 8, 1798.

JOHN ADAMS.”

At the first session of the eighth Congress, the following amendment was proposed by Congress to the state legislatures:—

“Eighth Congress of the United States.

At the First Session, begun and held at the City of Washington, in the Territory of Columbia, on Monday, the seventeenth of October, one thousand eight hundred and three.

“Resolved, by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, two thirds of both houses concurring, That, in lieu of the third paragraph of the first section of the second article of the Constitution of the United States,—which, when ratified by three fourths of the legislatures of the several states, shall be valid to all intents and purposes, as part of the said Constitution, to wit,—

“’The electors shall meet in their respective states, and vote by ballot for President and Vice-President, one of whom, at least, shall not be an inhabitant of the same state with themselves; they shall name in their ballots the person voted for as President, and in distinct ballots the person voted for as Vice-President; and they shall make distinct lists of all persons voted for as President, and of all persons voted for as Vice-President, and of the number of votes for each; which lists they shall sign and certify, and transmit sealed to the seat of the government of the United States, directed to the president of the Senate. The president of the Senate shall, in the presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the certificates, and the votes shall then be counted. The person having the greatest number of votes for President shall be the President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of electors appointed; and if no person have such majority, then from the persons having the highest numbers, not exceeding three, on the list of those voted for as President, the House of Representatives shall choose immediately, by ballot, the President. But in choosing the President, the votes shall be taken by states, the representation from each state having one vote; a quorum for this purpose shall consist of a member or members from two thirds of the states, and a majority of all the states shall be necessary to a choice. And if the House of Representatives shall not choose a President whenever the right of choice shall devolve upon them, before the fourth day of March next following, then the Vice-President shall act as President, as in the case of the death or other constitutional disability of the President.

“’The person having the greatest number of votes as Vice-President shall be the Vice-President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of electors appointed; and if no person have a majority, then, from the two highest numbers on the list, the Senate shall choose the Vice-President. A quorum for that purpose shall consist of two thirds of the whole number of senators, and a majority of the whole number shall be necessary to a choice.

“’But no person constitutionally ineligible to the office of President shall be eligible to that of Vice-President of the United States.’

John Beckley, Clerk of the House of Rep’s of the U. States.

“Attest.
“Sam. A. Otis, Secretary to the Senate of the United States.”

At the same session, an act passed, of which the following is the 1st section:—

“An Act supplementary to an Act, entitled An Act relative to the Election of a President and Vice-President of the United States, and declaring the Officer who shall act as President, in Case of Vacancies in the Offices both of President and Vice-President.

“Be it enacted, by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That, whenever the amendment proposed, during the present session of Congress, to the Constitution of the United States, respecting the manner of voting for President and Vice-President of the United States, shall have been ratified by the legislatures of three fourths of the several states, the secretary of state shall forthwith cause a notification thereof to be made to the executive of every state, and shall also cause the same to be published in at least one of the newspapers printed in each state, in which the laws of the United States are annually published. The executive authority of each state shall cause a transcript of the said notification to be delivered to the electors appointed for that purpose, who shall first thereafter meet in such state, for the election of a President and Vice-President of the United States; and whenever the said electors shall have received the said transcript of notification, or whenever they shall meet more than five days subsequent to the publication of the above-mentioned amendment, in one of the newspapers of the state, by the secretary of state, they shall vote for President and Vice-President of the United States, respectively, in the manner directed by the above-mentioned amendment; and, having made and signed three certificates of all the votes given by them, each of which certificates shall contain two distinct lists,—one, of the votes given for President, and the other, of the votes given for Vice-President,—they shall seal up the said certificates, certifying on each that lists of all the votes of such state given for President, and of all the votes given for Vice-President, are contained therein, and shall cause the said certificates to be transmitted and disposed of, and in every other respect act in conformity with the provisions of the act to which this is a supplement. And every other provision of the act to which this is a supplement, and which is not virtually repealed by this act, shall extend and apply to every election of a President and Vice-President of the United States, made in conformity to the above-mentioned amendment to the Constitution of the United States.”

And on the 25th of September, 1804, the following notice, in pursuance of the above provision, was issued from the state department:—

“By James Madison, Secretary of State of the United States.

“Public notice is hereby given, in pursuance of the act of Congress passed on the 26th March last, entitled ’An Act supplementary to the Act entitled An Act relative to the Election of a President and Vice-President of the United States, and declaring the Officer who shall act as President, in Case of Vacancies in the Offices both of President and Vice-President,’—That the amendment proposed, during the last session of Congress, to the Constitution of the United States, respecting the manner of voting for President and Vice-President of the United States, has been ratified by the legislatures of three fourths of the several states,—to wit, by those of Vermont, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia, and has thereby become valid as part of the Constitution of the United States.

“Given under my hand, at the city of Washington, this twenty-fifth day of September, 1804.             (Signed)             JAMES MADISON.”

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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.

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

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