Elliot’s Debates: Volume 1

Roger Sherman and Oliver Ellsworth to the Governor of Connecticut

LETTER FROM THE HON. ROGER SHERMAN, AND THE HON. OLIVER ELLSWORTH, ESQUIRES,
DELEGATES FROM THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT, IN THE LATE FEDERAL CONVENTION,
TO HIS EXCELLENCY, THE GOVERNOR OF SAID STATE.

New London, September 26, 1787.

Sir: We have the honor to transmit to your excellency a printed copy of the Constitution formed by the Federal Convention, to be laid before the legislature of the state.

The general principles which governed the Convention in their deliberations on the subject, are stated in their address to Congress.

We think it may be of use to make some further observations on particular parts of the Constitution.

The Congress is differently organized; yet the whole number of members, and this state’s proportion of suffrage, remain the same as before.

The equal representation of the states in the Senate, and the voice of that branch in the appointment to offices, will secure the rights of the lesser, as well as of the greater states.

Some additional powers are vested in Congress, which was a principal object that the states had in view in appointing the Convention. Those powers extend only to matters respecting the common interests of the Union, and are specially defined, so that the particular states retain their sovereignty in all other matters.

The objects for which Congress may apply moneys are the same mentioned in the eighth article of the Confederation, viz., for the common defence and general welfare, and for payment of the debts incurred for those purposes. It is probable that the principal branch of revenue will be duties on imports. What may be necessary to be raised by direct taxation is to be apportioned on the several states, according to the number of their inhabitants; and although Congress may raise the money by their own authority, if necessary, yet that authority need not be exercised, if each state will furnish its quota.

The restraint on the legislatures of the several states respecting emitting bills of credit, making any thing but money a tender in payment of debts, or impairing the obligation of contracts by ex post facto laws, was thought necessary as a security to commerce, in which the interest of foreigners, as well as of the citizens of different states, may be affected.

The Convention endeavored to provide for the energy of government on the one hand, and suitable checks on the other hand, to secure the rights of the particular states, and the liberties and properties of the citizens. We wish it may meet the approbation of the several states, and be a means of securing their rights, and lengthening out their tranquillity.

With great respect, we are, sir, your excellency’s obedient, humble servants,

ROGER SHERMAN,

OLIVER ELLSWORTH

His Excellency, Governor Huntington.

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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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