Skip to comments.Journal of the Federal Convention July 16th 1787
Posted on 07/16/2011 2:55:51 AM PDT by Jacquerie
The Great Compromise. Initial House Apportionment. Enumerated Powers. Treatment of New States. Decennial Census. Three Fifths of Slaves. House Money Bills Unalterable by Senate. Equal Senatorial State Suffrage. Threat of Dissolution.
On the question for agreeing to the whole Report as amended & including the equality of votes in the 2d. branch. it passed in the Affirmative.
Mas. divided Mr. Gerry, Mr. Strong, ay. Mr. King Mr. Ghorum no. Cont. ay. N.J.ay. Pena.no. Del.ay. Md.ay. Va.no. N.C. ay. Mr. Spaight no. S.C.no. Geo.no. [FN1] [Here enter the whole in the words entered in the Journal July 16] [FN2]
The whole, thus passed is in the words following viz
"Resolved that in the original formation of the Legislature of the U. S. the first branch thereof shall consist of sixty five members, of which number N. Hampshire shall send 3. Massts. 8. Rh. I. 1. Connt. 5. N. Y. 6. N. J. 4. Pena. 8. Del. 1. Maryd. 6. Virga. 10. N. C. 5. S. C. 5. Geo. 3.
-But as the present situation of the States may probably alter in the number of their inhabitants, the Legislature of the U. S. shall be authorized from time to time to apportion the number of Reps.; and in case any of the States shall hereafter be divided, or enlarged by, addition of territory, or any two or more States united, or any new States created with [FN3] the limits of the U. S. the Legislature of the U. S. shall possess authority to regulate the number of Reps. in any of the foregoing cases, upon the principle of their number of inhabitants, according to the provisions hereafter mentioned, namely [FN4]- provided always that representation ought to be proportioned according to direct taxation; and in order to ascertain the alteration in the direct taxation, which may be required from time to time by the changes in the relative circumstances of the States-
Resolved, that a Census be taken within six years from the 1st. meeting of the Legislature of the U. S. and once within the term of every 10 years afterwards of all the inhabitants of the U. S. in the manner and according to the ratio recommended by Congress in their Resolution of April 18. [FN5] 1783, and that the Legislature of the U. S. shall proportion the direct taxation accordingly-
"Resolved, that all bills for raising or appropriating money, and for fixing the salaries of officers of the Govt. of the U. S. shall originate in the first branch of the Legislature of the U. S. and shall not be altered or amended in the 2d. branch: and that no money shall be drawn from the public Treasury, but in pursuance of appropriations to be originated in the 1st. branch.
"Resolvd. that in the 2d. branch of the Legislature of the U. S. each State shall have an equal vote."
The 6th. Resol: in the Report from the Come. of the whole House, which had been postponed in order to consider the 7 & 8th. Resolns.: was now resumed. see the Resoln.
The 1st. member [FN6] "That the Natl. Legislature ought to possess the Legislative Rights vested in Congs. by the Confederation." was agreed to nem. Con.
The next, [FN7] "And moreover to legislate in all cases to which the separate States are incompetent; or in which the harmony of the U. S. may be interrupted by the exercise of individual legislation," being read for a question Mr. BUTLER calls for some explanation of the extent of this power: particularly of the word incompetent. The vagueness of the terms rendered it impossible for any precise judgment to be formed.
Mr. GHORUM. The vagueness of the terms constitutes the propriety of them. We are now establishing general principles, to be extended hereafter into details which will be precise & explicit.
Mr. RUTLIDGE, urged the objection started by Mr. Butler and moved that the clause should be committed to the end that a specification of the powers comprised in the general terms, might be reported.
On the question for a [FN8] commitment, the States [FN9] were equally divided.
Mas. no. Cont. ay. N. J. no. Pa. no. Del. no. Md. ay. Va. ay. N.C. no. S. C. ay. Geo. ay: [FN10] So it was lost.
Mr. RANDOLPH. The vote of this morning [involving an equality of suffrage in 2d. branch] had embarrassed the business extremely. All the powers given in the Report from the Come. of the whole, were founded on the supposition that a Proportional representation was to prevail in both branches of the Legislature. When he came here this morning his purpose was to have offered some propositions that might if possible have united a great majority of votes, and particularly might provide agst. the danger suspected on the part of the smaller States, by enumerating the cases in which it might lie, and allowing an equality of votes in such cases. [FN*] But finding from the preceding vote that they persist in demanding an equal vote in all cases, that they have succeeded in obtaining it, and that N. York if present would probably be on the same side, he could not but think we were unprepared to discuss this subject further. It will probably be in vain to come to any final decision with a bare majority on either side. For these reasons he wished the Convention might [FN13] adjourn, that the large States might consider the steps proper to be taken in the present solemn crisis of the business, and that the small States might also deliberate on the means of conciliation.
Mr. PATTERSON, thought with Mr. R. that it was high time for the Convention to adjourn that the rule of secrecy ought to be rescinded, and that our Constituents should be consulted. No conciliation could be admissible on the part of the smaller States on any other ground than that of an equality of votes in the 2d. branch. If Mr. Randolph would reduce to form his motion for an adjournment sine die, he would second it with all his heart.
Genl. PINKNEY wished to know of Mr. R. whether he meant an adjournment sine die, or only an adjournment for the day. If the former was meant, it differed much from his idea. He could not think of going to S. Carolina and returning again to this place. Besides it was chimerical to suppose that the States if consulted would ever accord separately, and beforehand.
Mr. RANDOLPH, had never entertained an idea of an adjournment sine die; & was sorry that his meaning had been so readily & strangely misinterpreted. He had in view merely an adjournment till tomorrow, in order that some conciliatory experiment might if possible be devised, and that in case the smaller States should continue to hold back, the larger might then take such measures, he would not say what, as might be necessary.
Mr. PATTERSON seconded the adjournment till tomorrow, as an opportunity seemed to be wished by the larger States to deliberate further on conciliatory expedients. On the question for adjourning till tomorrow, the States were equally divided.
Mas. no. Cont. no. N.J.ay. Pa.ay. Del.no. Md.ay. Va.ay. N.C.ay. S.C.no. Geo.no. [FN14] So it was lost. Mr. GERRY observed that Masts. was opposed to an adjournment, because they saw no new ground of compromise. But as it seemed to be the opinion of so many States that a trial shd-be made, the State would now concur in the adjournmt.
Mr. RUTLIDGE could see no need of an adjournt. because he could see no chance of a compromise. The little States were fixt. They had repeatedly & solemnly declared themselves to be so. All that the large States then had to do, was to decide whether they would yield or not. For his part he conceived that altho' we could not do what we thought best, in itself, we ought to do something. Had we not better keep the Govt. up a little longer, hoping that another Convention will supply our omissions, than abandon every thing to hazard. Our Constituents will be very little satisfied with us if we take the latter course.
Mr. RANDOLPH & Mr. KING renewed the motion to adjourn till tomorrow.
On the question. Mas. ay. Cont. no. N. J. ay. Pa. ay. Del. no. Md. ay. Va.ay. N.C.ay. S.C.ay. Geo.divd. [FN15]
On the morning following before the hour of the convention a number of the members from the larger States by common agreement met for the purpose of consulting on the proper steps to be taken in consequence of the vote in favor of an equal Representation in the 2d. branch, and the apparent inflexibility of the smaller States on that point. Several members from the latter States also attended. The time was wasted in vague conversation on the subject, without any specific proposition or agreement. It appeared indeed that the opinions of the members who disliked the equality of votes differed so [FN16] much as to the importance of that point, and as to the policy of risking a failure of any general act of the Convention, by inflexibly opposing it. Several of them supposing that no good Governnt. could or would be built on that foundation, and that as a division of the Convention into two opinions was unavoidable; it would be better that the side comprising the principal States, and a majority of the people of America, should propose a scheme of Govt. to the States, than that a scheme should be proposed on the other side, would have concurred in a firm opposition to the smaller States, and in a separate recommendation, if eventually necessary. Others seemed inclined to yield to the smaller States, and to concur in such an act however imperfect & exceptionable, as might be agreed on by the Convention as a body, tho' decided by a bare majority of States and by a minority of the people of the U. States. It is probable that the result of this consultation satisfied the smaller States that they had nothing to apprehend from a union of the larger, in any plan whatever agst. the equality of votes in the 2d. branch.
FN1 In the transcript the vote reads: "Connecticut, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, North Carolina [Mr. Spaight, no], aye-5; Pennsylvania, Virginia, South Carolina, Georgia, no-4; Massachusetts, divided, [Mr. Gerry, Mr. Strong, aye; Mr. King, Mr. Gorham, no.]"
FN2 Madison's direction is omitted in the transcript.
FN3 The word "within" is substituted in the transcript for the word "with."
FN4 The word "namely" is omitted in the transcript.
FN5 The date "April 18" is changed to "the eighteenth of April" in the transcript.
FN6 The words "The 1st. member" are omitted in the transcript.
FN7 The words "The next" are omitted in the transcript.
FN8 The word "a" is omitted in the transcript.
FN9 The word "votes" is substituted in the transcript for "States."
FN10 In the transcript the vote reads: "Connecticut, Maryland, Virginia, South Carolina, Georgia, ave 5; Massachusetts, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, North Carolina, no-5."
FN* See the paper in [FN11] appendix communicated by Mr. R. to J.M. July 10. [FN12]
FN11 The word "the" is here inserted in the transcript.
FN12 The transcript here inserts "No.-"
FN13 The word "to" is substituted in the transcript for "might."
FN14 In the transcript the vote reads: "New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina aye-5; Massachusetts, Connecticut, Delaware, South Carolina, Georgia, no-5."
FN15 In the transcript the vote reads: "Massachusetts, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia North Carolina, South Carolina, aye-7; Connecticut, Delaware, no-2; Georgia, divided."
FN16 The word "so" is omitted in the transcript.
Aye: CN, NJ, MD, DE, NC
Nay: PA, VA, SC, GA
Absent: NY, NH, RI
Key elements: Assignment of initial numbers of reps in House of Representatives and subsequent treatment of new states, a decennial census, count 3/5 of slaves, money bills will originate in the House and shall not be altered in the Senate, the government shall not spend money but as appropriated by the House, (and the biggie) and equal State representation in the Senate.
(Origination of money bills in the House and non modification by the Senate was viewed by some as a bone tossed from the small to large states. The idea was to keep direct State interests away from any influence over public expenditures.)
Without opposition, the Convention passed the first clause of the 6th Resolution, that the national Legislature ought to be empowered to enjoy the legislative rights vested in Congress by the Confederation.
The next clause, . . . and moreover to legislate in all cases to which the separate States are incompetent: or in which the harmony of the United States may be interrupted by the exercise of individual legislation, was taken up.
Pierce Butler (SC) called for an explanation of the extent of the power. The clause was too vague.
Nathaniel Gorham (MA) declared the terms as general principles to be later defined in precise and explicit detail.
John Rutlidge (SC) moved to place the clause within a committee to specify the powers.
The motion to commit the clause failed on an even vote.
Governor Edmund Randolph (VA) returned to the first vote of the day involving Senate suffrage. He reminded the Convention that powers outlined in the Resolutions of June 19th were based on proportional representation in the Senate. An enumeration of powers prior to this mornings vote may have allayed small state fears. (Mr. Randolph must have been very angry) But, the issue was decided.
Mr. Randolph mused to adjourn the Convention. Let the Large and Small state contingents go their separate ways.
William Patterson (NJ) challenged Mr. Randolph to motion adjournment and he would second it. Rescind the secrecy rule and let the delegates consult their constituents.
General Pinckney (SC) asked if he meant adjournment without a scheduled return, (sine die) or for the day. He could not imagine going home, explaining events, and returning.
Governor Edmund Randolph said no, not sine die, but until tomorrow, when he hoped the Smaller States would consider his alternative. (Backstroke)
William Patterson (NJ) seconded the motion, which fell on an equal vote.
Jacob Broome (DE) opposed adjournment sine die; it would be fatal. Something must be done.
Elbridge Gerry (MA) didnt see any room for compromise, but thought his fellow state delegates would now approve of a one day adjournment.
John Rutlidge (SC) did not see room for compromise as the Small States were fixed. Perhaps further conventions would correct the problem. He was for going further with a defective system than hazard none.
Governor Edmund Randolph and Rufus King (MA) motioned and seconded to adjourn until tomorrow by a 7-2-1 vote.
In the hour or so before the next meeting, several large state and small state delegates met. It was clear to the small that opinion varied among the large to the point there was little chance of forcing change to the equal suffrage clause. (A lot of work and negotiations took place off the Convention floor for which there is little record.)
(Settlement of this issue was essential to the continued existence of the Convention. The Great Compromise nearly assured the delegates would work to complete the Constitution. It was a 50/50 accommodation between the Nationalist principles of the Virginia Plan and Federalist principles of the existing Confederacy. Coming events would move more smoothly, with less resistance and more yielding by the Small States. There was now, no way the Large States could combine and overwhelm them. Nothing, not the coming debate over enumeration of powers to Congress, taxes, nor slavery came close to upending the Convention as did the question of State representation in Congress. Recognition of the States as essential political realities would lead to a thriving United States, the envy of the world.)
Constitutional Convention Ping!
It is a good thing the small states stuck to their guns. Even so, it seems we are constantly being pushed into accepting laws that are more popular in NY and California than they are in the smaller states.
Flyover country might be even worse off had these smaller states not stuck to their guns. However, it is ironic that the Senate is actually the one that is more likely to enact big government policies that tread on the rights of the states.
I guess that is a result of loyalty to party instead of loyalty to ones home state? As well as a majority of liberals composing the Senate?
It is thought CN went to the small state side because it feared the new western states would rapidly increase their population and come to dominate the House of Reps. It was also clear that despite the problems with a State based confederacy, the States were an elemental part of our traditions and had to be represented. It is doubtful the people's delegates would have ratified the Constitution without this provision.
Despite the close vote, the feeling was that it would not have been if NY, NH and RI were present.
From the Framer's viewpoint, the 17th amendment was a double disaster. First,they never seriously considered popularly elected officials for more than two years. The only reason we do not have annual elections for reps is that travel was so difficult in the 18th century.
Second, a democratic based Congress would be sure to eventually trample upon the rights of property, contracts, sound money. One house was to protect the people, while the Senate would protect the men of property.
I doubt that the 17th could be repealed, but I have wondered if the states could amend their constitutions to allow for right of recall on vote of 2/3 of the State government or something, providing that the voters in each state approved it. Course recall can open a can of worms too.
Absent the 16th and 17th, there would be no Leviathan government. Repeal as you said is not likely, for we have become a debased and immoral people. Scotus shot down term limits some time ago, so IMO it is doubtful they would go along with any sort of recall by the States.
Three amendments have really upset the checks and balances the framers tried to set up IMO. Income tax, 17th amendment, and nullification of the 10th by the courts continually bootstrapping everything to the commerce and health and welfare clause.
I concur and would only add evisceration of the Ninth Amendment to your list.
Agreed. I always considered the 9th and 10th to be the same idea more or less.