Skip to comments.Journal of the Federal Convention July 13th 1787
Posted on 07/13/2011 2:45:53 AM PDT by Jacquerie
Taxation & Representation. Population, not Wealth Basis in First Branch. Morris Speech. Mississippi River.
It being moved to postpone the clause in the Report of the Committee of Eleven as to the originating of money bills in the [FN1] first branch, in order to take up the following "that in the 2d. branch each State shall have an equal voice."
Mr. GERRY, moved to add as an amendment to the last clause agreed to by the House, "that from the first meeting of the Legislature of the U. S. till a census shall be taken all monies to be raised for supplying the public Treasury by direct taxation, shall be assessed on the inhabitants of the several States according to the number of their Representatives respectively in the 1st. branch." He said this would be as just before as after the Census: according to the general principle that taxation & Representation ought to go together.
Mr. WILLIAMSON feared that N. Hamshire will have reason to complain. 3 members were allotted to her as a liberal allowance, for this reason among others, that she might not suppose any advantage to have been taken of her absence. As she was still absent, and had no opportunity of deciding whether she would chuse to retain the number on the condition, of her being taxed in proportion to it, he thought the number ought to be reduced from three to two, before the question [FN2] on Mr. G's motion. Mr. READ could not approve of the proposition. He had observed he said in the Committee a backwardness in some of the members from the large States, to take their full proportion of Representatives. He did not then see the motive. He now suspects it was to avoid their due share of taxation. He had no objection to a just & accurate adjustment of Representation & taxation to each other.
Mr. Govr. MORRIS & Mr. MADISON answered that the charge itself involved an acquittal, since notwithstanding the augmentation of the number of members allotted to Masts. & Va. the motion for proportioning the burdens thereto was made by a member from the former State & was approved by Mr-M from the latter who was on the Come. Mr. Govr. Morris said that he thought Pa. had her due share in 8 members; and he could not in candor ask for more. Mr. M. said that having always conceived that the difference of interest in the U, States lay not between the large & small, but the N. & Southn. States, and finding that the number of members allotted to the N. States was greatly superior, he should have preferred, an addition of two members to the S. States, to wit one to N. & 1 to S. Carla. rather than of one member to Virga. He liked the present motion, because it tended to moderate the views both of the opponents & advocates for rating very high, the negroes.
Mr. ELSEWORTH hoped the proposition would be withdrawn. It entered too much into detail. The general principle was already sufficiently settled. As fractions can not be regarded in apportioning the No. of representatives, the rule will be unjust, until an actual census shall be made. After that taxation may be precisely proportioned according to the principle established, to the number of inhabitants.
Mr. WILSON hoped the motion would not be withdrawn. If it shd. it will be made from another quarter. The rule will be as reasonable & just before, as after a Census. As to fractional numbers, the Census will not distroy, but ascertain them. And they will have the same effect after as before the Census: for as he understands the rule, it is to be adjusted not to the number of inhabitants, but of Representatives.
Mr. SHERMAN opposed the motion. He thought the Legislature ought to be left at liberty: in which case they would probably conform to the principles observed by Congs.
Mr. MASON did not know that Virga. would be a loser by the proposed regulation, but had some scruple as to the justice of it. He doubted much whether the conjectural rule which was to precede the Census, would be as just, as it would be rendered by an actual census.
Mr. ELSEWORTH & Mr. SHERMAN moved to postpone the motion of Mr. Gerry, on ye. question, it passed in the negative. Mas. no. Cont. ay. N. J. ay. Pa. no. Del. ay. Md. ay. Va.no. N.C.no. S.C.no. Geo.no. [FN3]
[FN 4] Question on Mr. Gerry's motion; it passed in the negative, the States being equally divided.
Mas.ay. Cont.no. N. J. no. Pa.ay. Del.no. Md.no. Va. no. N.C.ay. S.C.ay. Geo.ay. [FN5]
Mr. GERRY finding that the loss of the question had proceeded from an objection with some, to the proposed assessment of direct taxes on the inhabitants of the States, which might restrain the Legislature to a poll tax, moved his proposition again, but so varied as to authorise the assessment on the States, which wd. leave [FN 6] the mode to the Legislature, at this caret insert the words interlined [FN7] viz "that from the 1st. meeting of the Legislature of the U. S. untill a census shall be taken, all monies for supplying the public Treasury by direct taxation shall be raised from the said several States according to the number of their representatives respectively in the 1st. branch."
On this varied question, it passed in the affirmative
Mas.ay. Cont.no. N.J.no. Pa.divd. Del.no. Md.no. va.ay. N.C.ay. S.C.ay. Geo.ay. [FN8]
On the motion of Mr. Randolph, the vote of Saturday [FN9] last authorising the Legislre. to adjust from time to time, the representation upon the principles of wealth & numbers of inhabitants was reconsidered by common consent in order to strike out "Wealth" [FN10] and adjust the resolution to that requiring periodical revisions according to the number of whites & three fifths of the blacks: the motion was in the words following-"But as the present situation of the States may probably alter in the number of their inhabitants, that the Legislature of the U. S. be authorized from time to time to apportion the number of representatives: and in case any of the States shall hereafter be divided or any two or more States united or new States created within the limits of the U. S. the Legislature of [FN11] U. S. shall possess authority to regulate the number of Representatives in any of the foregoing cases, upon the principle of their number of inhabitants; according to the provisions hereafter mentioned."
Mr. Govr. MORRIS opposed the alteration as leaving still an incoherence. If Negroes were to be viewed as inhabitants, and the revision was to proceed on the principle of numbers of inhabts. they ought to be added in their entire number, and not in the proportion of 3/5 . If as property, the word wealth was right, and striking it out, would produce the very inconsistency which it was meant to get rid of.-The train of business & the late turn which it had taken, had led him he said, into deep meditation on it, and He wd. candidly state the result. A distinction had been set up & urged, between the Nn. & Southn. States. He had hitherto considered this doctrine as heretical. He still thought the distinction groundless. He sees however that it is persisted in, and that the Southn. Gentlemen will not be satisfied unless they see the way open to their gaining a majority in the public Councils. The consequence of such a transfer of power from the maritime to the interior & landed interest will he foresees be such an oppression of [FN12] commerce, that he shall be obliged to vote for ye. various principle of equality in the 2d. branch in order to provide some defence for the N. States agst. it.
But to come more to the point; either this distinction is fictitious or real; if fictitious let it be dismissed & let us proceed with due confidence. If it be real, instead of attempting to blend incompatible things, let us at once take a friendly leave of each other. There can be no end of demands for security if every particular interest is to be entitled to it. The Eastern States may claim it for their fishery, and for other objects, as the Southn. States claim it for their peculiar objects. In this struggle between the two ends of the Union, what part ought the middle States in point of policy to take: to join their Eastern brethren according to his ideas. If the Southn. States get the power into their hands, and be joined as they will be with the interior Country, they will inevitably bring on a war with Spain for the Mississippi. This language is already held. the interior Country having no property nor interest exposed on the sea, will be little affected by such a war. He wished to know what security the Northn. & middle States will have agst. this danger. It has been said that N. C. S. C., and Georgia only will in a little time have a majority of the people of America. They must in that case include the great interior Country, and every thing was to be apprehended from their getting the power into their hands.
Mr. BUTLER. The security the Southn. States want is that their negroes may not be taken from them, which some gentlemen within or without doors, have a very good mind to do. It was not supposed that N. C. S. C. & Geo. would have more people than all the other States, but many more relatively to the other States than they now have. The people & strength of America are evidently bearing Southwardly & S. westwdly. Mr. WILSON. If a general declaration would satisfy any gentleman he had no indisposition to declare his sentiments. Conceiving that all men wherever placed have equal rights and are equally entitled to confidence, he viewed without apprehension the period when a few States should contain the superior number of people. The majority of people wherever found ought in all questions to govern the minority. If the interior Country should acquire this majority, it will not only have the right, but will avail themselves [FN13] of it whether we will or no. This jealousy misled the policy of G. Britain with regard to America.
The fatal maxims espoused by her were that the Colonies were growing too fast, and that their growth must be stinted in time. What were the consequences? first. enmity on our part, then actual separation. Like consequences will result on the part of the interior settlements, if like jealousy & policy be pursued on ours. Further, if numbers be not a proper rule, why is not some better rule pointed out. No one has yet ventured to attempt it. Congs. have never been able to discover a better. No State as far as he had heard, has suggested any other. In 1783, after elaborate discussion of a measure of wealth all were satisfied then as they are now that the rule of numbers, does not differ much from the combined rule of numbers & wealth.
Again he could not agree that property was the sole or the [FN14] primary object of Governt. & society. The cultivation & improvement of the human mind was the most noble object. With respect to this object, as well as to other personal rights, numbers were surely the natural & precise measure of Representation. And with respect to property, they could not vary much from the precise measure. In no point of view however could the establishmt. of numbers as the rule of representation in the 1st. branch vary his opinion as to the impropriety of letting a vicious principle into the 2d. branch.-On the Question to strike out wealth, & to make the change as moved by Mr. Randolph, it passed in the affirmative-
Mas. ay. Cont. ay. N. J. ay. Pa. ay. Del. divd. Md. ay. Va. ay. N. C. ay. S. C. ay. Geo. ay. [FN15]
Mr. REED moved to insert after the word- "divided," "or enlarged by addition of territory" which was agreed to nem. con. [his object probably was to provide for such cases as an enlargemt. of Delaware by annexing to it the Peninsula on the East side of [FN16] Chesapeak]
FN1 The word "the" is not italicized in the transcript.
FN2 The words "was taken" are here inserted in the transcript.
FN3 In the transcript the vote reads: "Connecticut, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, aye-4; Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, no-6."
FN4 The words "On the" are here inserted in the transcript.
FN5 In the transcript the vote reads: "Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, South Carolina. Georgia, aye-5; Connecticut, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, no-5."
FN6 The word "leaves" is substituted in the transcript for "wd. leave."
FN7 Madison's direction concerning the interlined words is omitted in the transcript.
FN8 In the transcript the vote reads: "Massachusetts, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, aye-5; Connecticut, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, no-4; Pennsylvania, divided."
FN9 The word "Saturday" is changed to "Monday" in the transcript.
FN10 The transcript italicizes the word "Wealth."
FN11 The word "the" is here inserted in the transcript.
FN12 The word "to" is substituted in the transcript for "of."
FN13 The word "itself" is substituted in the transcript for "themselves."
FN14 The word "the" is omitted in the transcript.
FN15 In the transcript the vote reads: "Massachusetts, Connecticut New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, aye- 9; Delaware, divided."
FN16 The word "the" is here inserted in the transcript; and the sentence in brackets is a footnote.
Well, not yet. Mr. Gerry revisited yesterdays business.
Elbridge Gerry (MA) moved that in the event Congress imposed direct taxation upon the people, it shall be according to their representation in the House as agreed to yesterday, before the census is taken.
Hugh Williamson (NC) noted that NH, which was still absent from the Convention, would not appreciate taxation at a rate due from her share of three Congressmen. (NH was allotted three reps as a measure of goodwill, before the issue of proportional taxation came up) In her absence, he thought it best to reduce her representation to two.
Judge George Read (DE), while a member of the committee, saw reluctance on the part of large states to take a full share of representation. He now knew why. (His tone implied more animosity and mistrust. It was amazing these fifty some delegates ended up agreeing to anything at all)
Governeur Morris (PA) and James Madison (VA) reminded Mr. Read that large state members made the allotment of representatives proposal in the first place. Mr. Madison repeated that in his view, the interests to balance were between the Northern and Southern States, not the large and small.
Judge Oliver Ellsworth (CN) asked the Convention to avoid getting down too far into the weeds. Let representation and taxation go forth as agreed to yesterday.
James Wilson (PA) supported the amendment. The rule would be as reasonable before as after the census.
More from Mr. Sherman, Mr. Mason.
The motion of Mr. Gerry did not pass on a 5-5 vote.
Elbridge Gerry (MA) modified his proposal such that the states could raise taxes according to the rule of representation by any method they wished.
The motion squeaked by, 5-4-1.
By common consent, Mr. Randolphs resolution from last week was modified to remove wealth as a measure. Population only, all whites and three fifths of slaves would be the basis of representation. (Whew, finally!)
Governeur Morris (PA) addressed Southern efforts to achieve a majority in the House. The 3/5 rule and expected population growth in the southwest territories were disturbing to Northern well being. He foresaw oppression when interior landed interests grew to dominate northern maritime commercial interests. For that reason, he would support equal State suffrage in the Senate as a counterbalance. If the perceived divisions between North and South were illusory, the Convention should proceed. Should they be real, the delegates should take their friendly leave of each other because the issues separating them could not be reconciled.
(Did Mr. Morris not foresee the divisions that would produce war some 80 years later?)
He feared Southern State instigated war with Spain over the Mississippi. New England and Middle States would be exposed to naval predations that much of the interior and southern states would not. (See my note on this subject below.)
Pierce Butler (SC) broached an open secret, that if given a chance, certain elements would deprive the South of its slaves. Their property must be protected. Like most, he assumed the greatest populations would soon be in the south and west.
James Wilson (PA) compared efforts to deny rights to Western States as Great Britain denied her American colonies their rights. There would be like consequences. He did not agree that protection of property was the first duty of government. Numbers should dictate representation, for wealth had been tried and was found to be too difficult.
On the Question to strike out wealth, & to make the change as moved by Mr. Randolph, (use population only)
(But as the present situation of the States may probably alter in the number of their inhabitants that the Legislature of the United States be authorised from time to time to apportion the number of representatives: and in case any of the States shall hereafter be divided, or any two or more States united, or any new States created within the limits of the United States, the Legislature of the U. S. shall possess authority to regulate the number of representatives in any of the foregoing cases upon the principle of their number of inhabitants, according to the provisions hereafter mentioned)
It passed 9-0-1.
Note: (Spain closed the port of New Orleans to American shipping after the war. The Confederation almost blew up over a 1786 proposed treaty by John Jay of NY that abandoned claims to the Mississippi River in exchange for a commercial treaty with Spain. Extended closing of the Mississippi would stem the draw of northeastern populations westward as well as support both northeastern real estate values and the merchandise they transported. The treaty would open up Caribbean markets which were largely closed to American bottoms. Mississippi River closure was advantageous to Northern interests.
Jays treaty only confirmed Southern suspicions. The northeast mercantile powers would happily sacrifice the entire commercial value of the lands west of the mountains and induce stillborn States in order to keep population and profits.
Fortunately, the treaty went nowhere despite the predominance of Northern over Southern States in the Confederate Congress where each State had one vote. Southern delegates were able to fight off a vote in part by not attending sessions. It sounds odd today, but the Confederate Congress had so little power that delegates often did not bother to show up for scheduled business. These influential men were generally busy at home in their businesses and doing their duty in State government.
Southwestern immigration illustrated the interconnectedness of issues. Mr. Morris, a large state delegate told the Convention today he would support equality of State suffrage in the Senate because the Southern Slave States were expected to eventually dominate the House of Reps.)
Constitutional Convention Ping!
Which was worse?
Taxation without representation?
Or representation without taxation? (50% of our citizens, now)
Section 21 . Right to Bear Arms The right of the citizens to bear arms in defense of themselves and the State shall not be questioned.
This clearly defines the individual and not the collective with the right to bear arms.
From the New England Confederation of 1643, State Constitutions of 1776-1777, down to today, there are extensive enumerations of rights to religious expression and to keep and bear arms.
Unfortunately, about five of nine blackrobes think they can legitimately deny us those rights and others.
Good thread - - the 3/5ths question is a good subject.
In addition to historic interest, it makes liberal heads explode, which is always a pleasure.
I sent a newsletter to you. I’ll include more soon.
My wife just read Coulter’s Demonic. I want to read that and Reckless Endangerment after this Convention project.
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