Skip to comments.Journal of the Federal Convention June 9th 1787
Posted on 06/09/2011 2:42:41 AM PDT by Jacquerie
Governors Elect National Executive. Senate Suffrage. William Patterson Speech. Small State Revolt.
Mr. Luther Martin from Maryland took up his seat in committee of the whole.
Mr. GERRY, according to previous notice given by him, moved "that the National Executive should be elected by the Executives of the States whose proportion of votes should be the same with that allowed to the States in the election of the Senate." If the appointmt. should be made by the Natl. Legislature, it would lessen that independence of the Executive which ought to prevail, would give birth to intrigue and corruption between the Executive & Legislature previous to the election, and to partiality in the Executive afterwards to the friends who promoted him. Some other mode therefore appeared to him necessary. He proposed that of appointing by the State Executives as most analogous to the principle observed in electing the other branches of the Natl. Govt.; the first branch being chosen by the people of the States, & the 2d. by the Legislatures of the States; he did not see any objection agst. letting the Executive be appointed by the Executives of the States. He supposed the Executives would be most likely to select the fittest men, and that it would be their interest to support the man of their own choice.
Mr. RANDOLPH, urged strongly the inexpediency of Mr. Gerry's mode of appointing the Natl. Executive. The confidence of the people would not be secured by it to the Natl. magistrate. The small States would lose all chance of an appointmt. from within themselves. Bad appointments would be made; the Executives of the States being little conversant with characters not within their own small spheres. The State Executives too notwithstanding their constitutional independence, being in fact dependent on the State Legislatures will generally be guided by the views of the latter, and prefer either favorites within the States, or such as it may be expected will be most partial to the interests of the State. A Natl. Executive thus chosen will not be likely to defend with becoming vigilance & firmness the National rights agst. State encroachments. Vacancies also must happen. How can these be filled? He could not suppose either that the Executives would feel the interest in supporting the Natl. Executive which had been imagined. They will not cherish the great Oak which is to reduce them to paltry shrubs.
On the question for referring the appointment of the Natl. Executive to the State Executives as propd. by Mr. Gerry Massts. no. Cont. no. N. Y. no. N. J. no. Pa. no. Del. divd. Md. no. Va. no. S. C. no. Geo. no. [FN1]
Mr. PATTERSON moves that the Committee resume the clause relating to the rule of suffrage in the Natl. Legislature.
Mr. BREARLY seconds him. He was sorry he said that any question on this point was brought into view. It had been much agitated in Congs. at the time of forming the Confederation, and was then rightly settled by allowing to each sovereign State an equal vote. Otherwise the smaller States must have been destroyed instead of being saved. The substitution of a ratio, he admitted carried fairness on the face of it; but on a deeper examination was unfair and unjust. Judging of the disparity of the States by the quota of Congs. Virga. would have 16 votes, and Georgia but one. A like proportion to the others will make the whole number ninity. There will be 3. large states, and 10 small ones. The large States by which he meant Massts. Pena. & Virga. will carry every thing before them.
It had been admitted, and was known to him from facts within N. Jersey that where large & small counties were united into a district for electing representatives for the district, the large counties always carried their point, and Consequently that [FN2] the large States would do so. Virga. with her sixteen votes will be a solid column indeed, a formidable phalanx. While Georgie with her Solitary vote, and the other little States will be obliged to throw themselves constantly into the scale of some large one, in order to have any weight at all. He had come to the convention with a view of being as useful as he could in giving energy and stability to the federal Government. When the proposition for destroying the equality of votes came forward, he was astonished, he was alarmed. Is it fair then it will be asked that Georgia should have an equal vote with Virga.? He would not say it was. What remedy then? One only, that a map of the U. S. be spread out, that all the existing boundaries be erased, and that a new partition of the whole be made into 13 equal parts.
Mr. PATTERSON considered the proposition for a proportional representation as striking at the existence of the lesser States. He wd. premise however to an investigation of this question some remarks on the nature structure and powers of the Convention. The Convention he said was formed in pursuance of an Act of Congs. that this act was recited in several of the Commissions, particularly that of Massts. which he required to be read: that the amendment of the confederacy was the object of all the laws and commissions on the subject; that the articles of the Confederation were therefore the proper basis of all the proceedings of the Convention. [FN3] We ought to keep within its limits, or we should be charged by our Constituents with usurpation, that the people of America were sharpsighted and not to be deceived. But the Commissions under which we acted were not only the measure of our power, they denoted also the sentiments of the States on the subject of our deliberation. The idea of a national Govt. as contradistinguished from a federal one, never entered into the mind of any of them, and to the public mind we must accomodate ourselves.
We have no power to go beyond the federal scheme, and if we had the people are not ripe for any other. We must follow the people; the people will not follow us. -The proposition could not be maintained whether considered in reference to us as a nation, or as a confederacy. A confederacy supposes sovereignty in the members composing it & sovereignty supposes equality. If we are to be considered as a nation, all State distinctions must be abolished, the whole must be thrown into hotchpot, and when an equal division is made, then there may be fairly an equality of representation. He held up Virga. Massts. & Pa. as the three large States, and the other ten as small ones; repeating the calculations of Mr. Brearly as to the disparity of votes which wd. take place, and affirming that the small States would never agree to it. He said there was no more reason that a great individual State contributing much, should have more votes than a small one contributing little, than that a rich individual citizen should have more votes than an indigent one. If the rateable property of A was to that of B as 40 to 1, ought A for that reason to have 40 times as many votes as B. Such a principle would never be admitted, and if it were admitted would put B entirely at the mercy of A. As A. has more to be protected than B so he ought to contribute more for the common protection. The same may be said of a large State wch. has more to be protected than a small one.
Give the large States an influence in proportion to their magnitude, and what will be the consequence? Their ambition will be proportionally increased, and the small States will have every thing to fear. It was once proposed by Galloway & some others that America should be represented in the British Parlt. and then be bound by its laws. America could not have been entitled to more than 1/3 of the no. of [FN4] Representatives which would fall to the share of G. B. Would American rights & interests have been safe under an authority thus constituted? It has been said that if a Natl. Govt. is to be formed so as to operate on the people and not on the States, the representatives ought to be drawn from the people. But why so? May not a Legislature filled by the State Legislatures operate on the people who chuse the State Legislatures? or may not a practicable coercion be found. He admitted that there was none such in the existing System. -He was attached strongly to the plan of the existing confederacy, in which the people chuse their Legislative representatives; and the Legislatures their federal representatives.
No other amendments were wanting than to mark the orbits of the States with due precision, and provide for the use of coercion, which was the great point. He alluded to the hint thrown out heretofore by Mr. Wilson of the necessity to which the large States might be reduced of confederating among themselves, by a refusal of the others to concur. Let them unite if they please, but let them remember that they have no authority to compel the others to unite. N. Jersey will never confederate on the plan before the Committee. She would be swallowed up. He had rather submit to a monarch, to a despot, than to such a fate. He would not only oppose the plan here but on his return home do every thing in his power to defeat it there.
Mr. WILSON hoped if the Confederacy should be dissolved, that a majority, that a minority of the States would unite for their safety. He entered elaborately into the defence of a proportional representation, stating for his first position that as all authority was derived from the people, equal numbers of people ought to have an equal no. of representatives, and different numbers of people different numbers of representatives. This principle had been improperly violated in the Confederation, owing to the urgent circumstances of the time. As to the case of A. & B, stated by Mr. Patterson, he observed that in districts as large as the States, the number of people was the best measure of their comparative wealth. Whether therefore wealth or numbers were [FN5] to form the ratio it would be the same. Mr. P. admitted persons, not property to be the measure of suffrage. Are not the Citizens of Pena. equal to those of N. Jersey? does it require 150 of the former to balance 50 of the latter? Representatives of different districts ought clearly to hold the same proportion to each other, as their respective Constituents hold to each other. If the small States will not confederate on this plan, Pena. & he presumed some other States, would not confederate on any other. We have been told that each State being sovereign, all are equal. So each man is naturally a sovereign over himself, and all men are therefore naturally equal. Can he retain this equality when he becomes a member of Civil Government? He can not. As little can a Sovereign State, when it becomes a member of a federal Governt. If N. J. will not part with her Sovereignty it is in vain to talk of Govt. A new partition of the States is desireable, but evidently & totally impracticable.
Mr. WILLIAMSON, illustrated the cases by a comparison of the different States, to Counties of different sizes within the same State; observing that proportional representation was admitted to be just in the latter case, and could not therefore be fairly contested in the former.
The Question being about to be put Mr. PATTERSON hoped that as so much depended on it, it might be thought best to postpone the decision till tomorrow, which was done nem. con.
The Come. rose & the House adjourned.
FN1 In the transcript the vote reads: "Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, South Carolina, Georgia, no; Delaware divided."
FN2 The word "that" is omitted in the transcript.
FN3 The word "that" is here inserted in the transcript.
FN4 The words "no. of" are omitted in the transcript.
FN5 The word "was" is substituted in the transcript for "were."
(The Randolph/Virginia Plan largely sailed through the first two weeks, to the consternation of the Small States. The Large State coalition was, VA, PA, MA, GA, SC, NC. These six had a working majority because RI and NH were absent. As Freeper Repeal The 17th pointed out a couple days ago, GA had low population as per the first Census, but it was assumed the Southern State populations would rapidly grow as they expanded to the West and would overtake, population wise, the Northeastern States. This coalition however, was fragile. PA and MA had little in common, economically, socially with the three Southern States aside from size. We know of course how the issue ended, the Small States got their equality in the Senate. But at the time, before the Large States compromised, it was an issue that threatened to destroy the Convention.)
Luther Martin (MD) took his seat. (Mr. Martin was an eccentric lawyer, statewide politician and well known supporter of State sovereignty. One of my references wondered if his appearance prompted the start of the Small State pushback.)
Still in Committee of the Whole. Elbridge Gerry (MA) proposed state governor election of the Executive, according to the proportion of votes used to elect Senators. He predicted too much intrigue and lack of independence if Congress elected the Executive. Governors could be counted on to elect the fittest of men.
(So in Gerrys mind, one house was elected directly by the people, one house by the state legislatures, and the Executive was to be elected by state governors. Once again we see the balancing act of democrat v. federal representation. Either the people or the states in some capacity will elect/appoint the members of two branches. Which will it be?)
Governor Edmund Randolph (VA) disagreed on every point. Small states wouldnt stand a chance of seeing their men elected. Governors would not be familiar with men outside their states. As a creature of the states, the Executive would not forcefully defend the country against state encroachments.
Mr. Gerrys motion to have governors elect the Executive was defeated, 10-0-1.
(It was a good thing I wasnt there, I think the idea had more merit than the vote indicated.)
(Next, the Small State counterattack.)
William Patterson (NJ) moved and David Brearly (NJ) seconded a motion to reconsider suffrage in Congress.
David Brearly (NJ) reminded the convention of the contentious nature of equal representation in Congress as eventually agreed to under the Articles of Confederation. It was essential to small state survival. Using a population ratio instead appeared fair, but was actually unjust. If proportional representation was used, the three large states, VA, MA, PA would carry every thing before them. In order to have any weight at all, the small states would have to select one of the large states as an ally. This disagreement between large and small states was so fundamental, that he offered a tongue in check solution; take out a map, erase state boundaries and redraw the states into equal parts.
William Patterson (NJ) regarded proportional representation as a mortal assault on the existence of small states. He refuted the power of the convention to discuss any alterations outside the limits of the Articles. State commissions under which they acted never considered a national government as opposed to a federal one. The people were not ready for anything other than the federal scheme. He drew a distinction between confederacies and nations. If we wished to become a nation, the states must be abolished.
He went on to compare large/small state suffrage to rich man/poor man suffrage. Do wealthy individuals have more votes? Patterson did not agree that a national government operating on individuals must depend on representatives drawn from the people. The present arrangement of the people selecting their state representatives who select members to Congress need only be amended. Better define the orbits of the states and provide for coercion to force state compliance with Congress.
Let the large states confederate among themselves if necessary; they cannot compel small states to join them. He would rather submit to a monarch, or a despot. If the plan as proposed is approved by the convention, he would fight it at home with every thing in his power.
James Wilson (PA) spoke of a dissolved confederacy. As for equal state representation under the Articles, it was only the emergency of the times that produced it. Equal numbers of people should have equal representation. Were the citizens of PA not equal in rights to those of NJ? In NJ it was impossible to talk of government on any other basis. Erasure of state lines for a new partition is desirable but would never happen.
Hugh Williamson (NC) noted that proportional representation was the general rule in the States.
(Mr. Patterson realized the question was about to be put, and the Small States would lose. If they lost, it was likely DE and probably NJ, NY would have left the Convention, leaving eight States. Instead, he motioned for postponement of the question, which passed. It can be said with little exaggeration, that Mr. Patterson saved the US on June 9th, 1787.)
(The next day, June 10th was Sunday. No Convention. It is thought that Roger Sherman (CN) and some Small State delegates met to discuss a compromise, a proportionally based House and equal State representation in the Senate.)
Constitutional Convention Ping!
Might be interesting to compare notes...Notes of the Secret Debates of the Federal Convention of 1787, Taken by the Late Hon Robert Yates, Chief Justice of the State of New York, and One of the Delegates from That State to the Said Convention.
SATURDAY, JUNE 9TH, 1787.
Met pursuant to adjournment.
Motion by Mr. Gerry to reconsider the appointment of the national executive.
That the national executive be appointed by the State executives.
He supposed that in the national legislature there will be a great number of bad men of various descriptions-these will make a wrong appointment. Besides, an executive thus appointed, will have his partiality in favor of those who appointed him-that this will not be the case by the effect of his motion, and the executive will by this means be independent of the national legislature, but the appointment by the State executives ought to be made by votes in proportion to their weight in the scale of the representation.
Mr. Randolph opposes the motion. The power vested by it is dangerous- confidence will be wanting-the large States will be masters of the election-an executive ought to have great experience, integrity, and activity. The executives of the States cannot know the persons properly qualified as possessing these. An executive thus appointed will court the officers of his appointment, and will relax him in the duties of commander of the militia-Your single executive is already invested with negativing laws of the State. Will he duly exercise the power? Is there no danger in the combinations of States to appoint such an executive as may be too favorable to local State governments? Add to this the expense and difficulty of bringing the executives to one place to exercise their powers. Can you suppose they will ever cordially raise the great oak, when they must sit as shrubs under its shade?
Carried against the motion, 10 noes, and Delaware divided.
On motion of Mr. Patterson, the consideration of the 2d resolve was taken up, which is as follows: Resolved, therefore, that the rights of suffrage in the national legislature ought to be apportioned to the quotas of contribution, or to the number of inhabitants, as the one or other rule may seem best in different cases.
Judge BREARLY. -The present question is an important one. On the principle that each State in the Union was sovereign, congress, in the articles of confederation, determined that each State in the public councils had one vote. If the States still remain sovereign, the form of the present resolve is founded on principles of injustice. He then stated the comparative weight of each State-the number of votes 90. Georgia would be 1, Virginia 16, and so of the rest. This vote must defeat itself, or end in despotism. If we must have a national government, what is the remedy? Lay the map of the confederation on the table, and extinguish the present boundary lines of the respective State jurisdictions, and make a new division so that each State is equal-then a government on the present system will be just.
Mr. Patterson opposed the resolve. Let us consider with what powers are we sent here? (moved to have the credentials of Massachusetts read, which was done.) By this and the other credentials we see, that the basis of our present authority is founded on a revision of the articles of the present confederation, and to alter or amend them in such parts where they may appear defective. Can we on this ground form a national government? I fancy not. - Our commissions give a complexion to the business; and can we suppose that when we exceed the bounds of our duty, the people will approve our proceedings?
We are met here as the deputies of 13 independent, sovereign States, for federal purposes. Can we consolidate their sovereignty and form one nation, and annihilate the sovereignties of our States who have sent us here for other purposes?
What, pray, is intended by a proportional representation? Is property to be considered as part of it? Is a man, for example, possessing a property of 4000 to have 40 votes to one possessing only 100? This has been asserted on a former occasion. If State distinctions are still to be held up, shall I submit the welfare of the State of New Jersey, with 5 votes in the national council, opposed to Virginia who has 16 votes? Suppose, as it was in agitation before the war, that America had been represented in the British parliament, and had sent 200 members; what would this number avail against 600? We would have been as much enslaved in that case as when unrepresented; and what is worse, without the prospect of redress. But it is said that this national government is to act on individuals and not on States; and cannot a federal government be so framed as to operate in the same way? It surely may. I therefore declare, that I will never consent to the present system, and I shall make all the interest against it in the State which I represent that I can. Myself or my State will never submit to tyranny or despotism.
Upon the whole, every sovereign State, according to a confederation, must have an equal vote, or there is an end to liberty. As long, therefore, as State distinctions are held up, this rule must invariably apply; and if a consolidated national government must take place, then State distinctions must cease, or the States must be equalized.
Mr. Wilson was in favor of the resolve. He observed that a majority, nay, even a minority of the States, have a right to confederate with each other, and the rest may do as they please. He considered numbers as the best criterion to determine representation. Every citizen of one State possesses the same rights with the citizen of another. Let us see how this rule will apply to the present question. Pennsylvania, from its numbers, has a right to 12 votes, when on the same principle New Jersey is entitled to 5 votes. Shall New Jersey have the same right or influence in the councils of the nation with Pennsylvania? I say no. It is unjust-I never will confederate on this plan. The gentleman from New Jersey is candid in declaring his opinion-I commend him for it-I am equally so. I say again, I never will confederate on his principles. If no State will part with any of its sovereignty, it is in vain to talk of a national government. The State who has five times the number of inhabitants ought, nay must have the same proportion of weight in the representation. If there was a probability of equalizing the States, he would be for it. But we have no such power. If, however, we depart from the principles of representation in proportion to numbers, we will lose the object of our meeting.
The question postponed for farther consideration.
Adjourned to to-morrow morning.
“A national government ought to be able to support itself without the aid or interference of the State governments, ...therefore it was necessary to have full sovereignty. Even with corporate rights the States will be dangerous to the national government, and ought to be extinguished, new modified, or reduced to a smaller scale.”
Great stuff! Thanks again...
A convention is about all it would take to obliterate what is left of our constitution.
Alexander Hamilton is a perfect example of why natural born citizens are required for the presidency. (So is Obumster)
I review the available notes of all delegates. When they have something to add to Madison, I include it. Yates had nothing to add; his notes mirrored Madison’s today. To post his notes or others for the mere sake of doing so is just so much spam.
As for a Constitutional Convention, replace Madison, Wilson, Sherman with Sheila Jackson Lee, Bawney Fwank, Pelosi . . . too hideous to imagine.
LOL. You’re funny. I’m going to post Yates notes on your threads. I think it will be an interesting addition.
And by the way, with as little action as your posts are getting, a little added info should be welcome. If nothing else, you can use the bump. As it is, they are the proverbial tree in the forest that no one hears.
Okay, it will save me the time of reading him.
Off topic, slightly. Your tagline “antifederalists were right” brought to mind my discussion with my 13 year old daughter. Helping her with U.S. history homework and the discussion of Federalists and AntiFederalists.
It seems that the teacher, and many of the modern-day references equate the Federalists with Republicans, and the anti-Federalists with Democrats. At the time I can perhaps see that (if there were Dems and Pubs around!).
But today - I see the conservatives being the anti-feds, and the dems as the Feds and gave example and references to my daughter. My daughter agreed and tried to explain that in class to no avail. I told her not to worry about it. The dems view themselves as the champion of the free man, the worker, bringing equal rights to the small guy, etc. so they have their mind set on the “little guy”. However, they use the Big Guy (Big Government) to accomplish their goals - which to me makes them Federalists.
Or am I the one that is confused?
You appear to care deeply about getting attention. Has it been a life long affliction?
But in terms of modern day, it makes no sense. Think about it, the Constitutional Convention was held in secret. The Federalists exceeded their authority in order to massively expand the power of the central government, and claimed that it must be passed or else catastrophe awaited. Who does that remind you of?
Meanwhile, the antifeds wanted to keep the states in control, did not want to exceed their authority, and distrusted the centralizing impulses of the Federalists. Who does that sound like?
But nowadays, basically, there are no antifederalists. The conservative movement is predominantly federalist in nature. It exalts the Constitution, which is a Federalist creation.
The closest thing to antifeds would be fringe libertarians, old South rebels, etc, but even they aren't really there. They want to believe that the Constitution, properly applied, supports their views. It doesn't.
The Constitution leads inevitably to where we are today. It is a centralizing document. It is about the consolidation of power. Look at the Hamilton and Madison quotes on my profile page for an inkling of what I mean.
But that's me. I'm extreme. The Federalists are too liberal for me. I would like to see the US go back to confederation, but I know that won't happen. We're stuck with big government. In short, I believe that the framers screwed the pooch.
Not at all. I just like getting antifederalist information into the discussion, since it is so woefully underrepresented in conservative discussion. This is a perfect place to add that voice.
Go to my profile page, click the link to Brutus' essays and just read the first one for an overview, and it'll blow your mind. The antifeds are treated as a sideshow or villians, and the Framers are the supposed geniuses, but that's just because they won the political battle. Check it out and see who makes more sense--Publius or Brutus. One promised a rose garden, the other hit the nail on the head.
Why were proceedings kept secret?
Why did the Convention propose to replace the Articles of Confederation?
Why has it taken so long for us to stand at the abyss of tyranny? If the Constitution is responsible, why so long?
If you like the Confederacy, you must love the United Nations.
Because the Federalists didn't want word to get out what they were up to until they had their ducks in a row.
Why did the Convention propose to replace the Articles of Confederation?
The "convention" did no such thing. Many protested that it was exceeding their authority. Some walked out because of it. The Federalists arriived with a variety of centralizing plans already drafted, because this was their opportunity to centralize the colonies into one consolidated government.
Why has it taken so long for us to stand at the abyss of tyranny? If the Constitution is responsible, why so long?
The southern states would argue it only took a short time. War broke out by 1861, but the hostilities, all a result of consolidation, were already brewing by the 1820s, just 30 years or so after ratification.
If you like the Confederacy, you must love the United Nations.
No, I'm not an internationalist. Far from it. Confederacies should be small, and republics even smaller. Just think, many thought the original 13 colonies were too big for one republic! A ratio of 30,000/1 representation was thought insufficient! Now it's 500,000/1!
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