Skip to comments.Journal of the Federal Convention August 11th 1787
Posted on 08/11/2011 2:56:56 AM PDT by Jacquerie
Article VI Sections 7- 8. Journal. NYC. Capital of US. Money Bills.
Mr. MADISON & Mr. RUTLIDGE moved "that each House shall keep a journal of its proceeding, [FN1] & shall publish the same from time to time; except such part of the proceedings of the Senate, when acting not in its Legislative capacity as may be judged by that House to require secrecy."
Mr. MERCER. This implies that other powers than legislative will be given to the Senate which he hoped would not be given. Mr. Madison & Mr. R's motion. was disagd. to by all the States except Virga.
Mr. GERRY & Mr. SHARMAN moved to insert after the words "publish them" the following "except such as relate to treaties & military operations." Their object was to give each House a discretion in such cases. -On this question
N. H. no. Mas. ay. Ct. ay. N. J. no. Pa. no. Del. no. Va. no. N. C. no. S. C. no. Geo. no. [FN2]
Mr. ELSEWORTH. As the clause is objectionable in so many shapes, it may as well be struck out altogether. The Legislature will not fail to publish their proceedings from time to time. The people will call for it if it should be improperly omitted.
Mr. WILSON thought the expunging of the clause would be very improper. The people have a right to know what their Agents are doing or have done, and it should not be in the option of the Legislature to conceal their proceedings. Besides as this is a clause in the existing confederation, the not retaining it would furnish the adversaries of the reform with a pretext by which weak & suspicious minds may be easily misled.
Mr. MASON thought it would give a just alarm to the people, to make a conclave of their Legislature.
Mr. SHERMAN thought the Legislature might be trusted in this case if in any.
[FN3] Question on [FN4] 1st. part of the section down to "publish them" inclusive: [FN5] Agreed to nem. con.
[FN3] Question on the words to follow, to wit except such parts thereof as may in their Judgment require secrecy." N. H. divd. Mas. ay. Ct. ay. N. J. ay. Pa. no. Del. no. Md. no. Va. ay. N. C. ay. S. C. no. Geo. ay. [FN6]
The remaining part as to yeas & nays,- [FN7] agreed to nem. con. Art VI. Sect. 8. [FN8], [FN9] taken up.
Mr. KING remarked that the section authorized the 2 Houses to adjourn to a new place. He thought this inconvenient. The mutability of place had dishonored the federal Govt. and would require as strong a cure as we could devise. He thought a law at least should be made necessary to a removal of the Seat of Govt. Mr. MADISON, viewed the subject in the same light, and joined with Mr. King in a motion requiring a law.
Mr. GOVERNR. MORRIS proposed the additional alteration by inserting the words "during the Session" &c."
Mr. SPAIGHT. this will fix the seat of Govt. at N. Y. The present Congress will convene them there in the first instance, and they will never be able to remove; especially if the Presidt. should be [FN10] Northern Man.
Mr. Govr. MORRIS such a distrust is inconsistent with all Govt.
Mr. MADISON supposed that a central place for the seat of Govt. was so just and wd. be so must insisted on by the H. of Representatives, that though a law should be made requisite for the purpose, it could & would be obtained. The necessity of a central residence of the Govt. wd. be much greater under the new than old Govt. The members of the new Govt. wd. be more numerous. They would be taken more from the interior parts of the States; they wd. not like members of ye. present Congs. come so often from the distant States by water. As the powers & objects of the new Govt. would be far greater yn. heretofore, more private individuals wd. have business calling them to the seat of it, and it was more necessary that the Govt. should be in that position from which it could contemplate with the most equal eye, and sympathize most equally with, every part of the nation. These considerations he supposed would extort a removal even if a law were made necessary. But in order to quiet suspicions both within & without doors, it might not be amiss to authorize the 2 Houses by a concurrent vote to adjourn at their first meeting to the most proper place, and to require thereafter, the sanction of a law to their removal.
The motion was accordingly moulded into the following form- "the Legislature shall at their first assembling determine on a place at which their future sessions shall be held; neither House shall afterwards, during the session of the House of Reps. without the consent of the other, adjourn for more than three days, nor shall they adjourn to any other place than such as shall have been fixt by law"
Mr. GERRY thought it would be wrong to let the Presidt. check the will of the 2 Houses on this subject at all
Mr. WILLIAMSON supported the ideas of Mr. Spaight
Mr. CARROL was actuated by the same apprehensions
Mr. MERCER, it will serve no purpose to require the two Houses at their first meeting to fix on a place. They will never agree. After some further expressions from others denoting an apprehension that the seat of Govt. might be continued at an improper place if a law should be made necessary to a removal, and [FN11] the motion above stated with another for recommitting the section had been negatived, the section was left in the shape it which it was reported as to this point. The words "during the session of the Legislature were prefixed to the 8th section-and the last sentence "But this regulation shall not extend to the Senate when it shall exercise the powers mention [FN12] in the ------ article" struck struck out. The 8th. section as amended was then agreed to.
Mr. RANDOLPH moved according to notice to reconsider Art: IV. Sect. 5. [FN13] concerning money-bills which had been struck out. He argued 1. [FN14] that he had not wished for this privilege whilst a proportional Representation in the Senate was in contemplation, but since an equality had been fixed in that house, the large States would require this compensation at least. 2. [FN14] that it would make the plan more acceptable to the people, because they will consider the Senate as the more aristocratic body, and will expect that the usual guards agst. its influence [FN15] be provided according to the example in [FN16] G. Britain. 3. [FN14] the privilege will give some advantage to the House of Reps. if it extends to the originating only-but still more, if it restrains the Senate from amendg. 4. [FN14] he called on the smaller States to concur in the measure, as the condition by which alone the compromise had entitled them to an equality in the Senate. He signified that he should propose instead of the original Section, a clause specifying that the bills in question should be for the purpose of Revenue, in order to repel ye. objection agst. the extent of the words "raising money," which might happen incidentally, and that the Senate should not so amend or alter as to increase or diminish the sum; in order to obviate the inconveniences urged agst. a restriction of the Senate to a simple affirmative or negative. Mr. WILLIAMSON 2ded. the motion Mr. PINKNEY was sorry to oppose the opportunity gentlemen asked to have the question again opened for discussion, but as he considered it a mere waste of time he could not bring himself to consent to it. He said that notwithstanding what had been said as to the compromise, he always considered this section as making no part of it. The rule of Representation in the 1st. branch was the true condition of that in the 2d. branch. -Several others spoke for & agst. the reconsideration, but without going into the merits- On the Question to reconsider
N. H. ay. Mas. ay. Ct. ay. N. J. [FN17] ay. Pa. ay. Del. ay. Md. no. Va. ay. N. C. ay. S. C. divd. Geo. ay. - [FN18] Monday was then assigned- [FN19]
FN1 The transcript uses the word "proceeding" in the plural.
FN2 In the transcript the vote reads: "Massachusetts, Connecticut, aye-2; New Hampshire, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, no-8."
FN3 The words "On the" are here inserted in the transcript.
FN4 The word "the" is here inserted in the transcript.
FN5 The words "it was" are here inserted in the transcript.
FN6 In the transcript the vote reads: "Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey, Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia, aye-6; Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, South Carolina, no-4; New Hampshire, divided."
FN7 The word "was" is here inserted in the transcript.
FN8 See ante.
FN9 The words "was then" are here inserted in the transcript.
FN10 The word "a" is here inserted in the transcript.
FN11 The word "after" is here inserted in the transcript.
FN12 The word "mentioned" is substituted in the transcript for "mention."
FN13 See ante.
FN14 The figures "1," "2," "3" and "4" are changed in the transcript to "first," "Secondly" etc.
FN15 The word "will' is here inserted in the transcript.
FN16 The word "of" is substituted in the transcript for "in".
FN17 In the printed Journal N. Jersey-No.
FN18 In the transcript the vote reads: "New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey, [FN*] Pennsylvania, Delaware, Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia, aye-9; Maryland, no-1; South Carolina, divided."
FN19 The words "for the reconsideration" are here inserted in the transcript.
Tuesday August 13, 1787 [FN1]
James Madison (VA) & John Rutlidge (SC) motioned "that each House shall keep a journal of its proceeding, [FN1] & shall publish the same from time to time; except such part of the proceedings of the Senate, when acting not in its Legislative capacity as may be judged by that House to require secrecy," as an amendment to Article VI Section 7,
The House of Representatives, and the Senate, when it shall be acting in a legislative capacity, shall keep a journal of their proceedings, and shall, from time to time, publish them: and the yeas and nays of the members of each House, on any question, shall at the desire of one-fifth part of the members present, be entered on the journal.
John Mercer (MD) said the motion implied the Senate would have powers other than Legislative.
Mr. Madisons motion was rejected by all states except VA.
Elbridge Gerry (MA) & Roger Sherman (CN) moved to insert after the words "publish them" the following "except such as relate to treaties & military operations." Their object was to give each House a discretion in such cases.
On Mr. Gerrys question, it failed 9-2.
Judge Oliver Ellsworth (CN) thought the clause should be done away with.
James Wilson (PA) responded that the people have a right to know what their Agents are up to. (Our Agents are up to . . . If only our politicos viewed us as their principals.) His next point is most excellent; the clause is in the Articles of Confederation. To remove it would be to arm opponents.
George Mason (VA) agreed. The people would be justly outraged.
Roger Sherman (CN) would trust this to Congress.
Article VI Section 7 down to publish them, passed without opposition.
As to the question on the words to follow, except such parts thereof as may in their Judgment require secrecy," it passed 6-4-1.
(This is would end up nearly unchanged in Article I Section 5 of our Constitution)
The remaining portion of Article VI Section 7 was agreed to without opposition.
Article VI Section 8 was next: Neither House, without the consent of the other, shall adjourn for more than three days, nor to any other place than that at which the two Houses are sitting. But this regulation shall not extend to the Senate, when it shall exercise the powers mentioned in the ----- article.
Rufus King (MA) (Congress met in various locations under the Articles of Confederation) made note of the dishonor to the government of meeting in new places. He thought at least a law was necessary to move the seat of government (From NYC).
James Madison (VA) joined Mr. King.
Governeur Morris (PA) motioned to add during the session. (Im not positive where in the clause this would go.)
Richard Spaight reasoned that since the government sat in NYC and a law would be required to move it. It would remain there for at least one Congress.
Governeur Morris (PA) found such a distrust is inconsistent with all Govt.
James Madison (VA) mused on a seat of government. He motioned "the Legislature shall at their first assembling determine on a place at which their future sessions shall be held; neither House shall afterwards, during the session of the House of Reps. without the consent of the other, adjourn for more than three days, nor shall they adjourn to any other place than such as shall have been fixt by law."
Elbridge Gerry (MA) pointed out that as a law, the President could check the will of the two houses. Bad idea.
Hugh Williamson (NC) & Daniel Carroll (MD) supported Mr. Spaight.
John Mercer (MD) agreed the seat of government would not be moved if a law was required to move it. The words, "during the session of the Legislature were prefixed to the 8th section. The last sentence of the 8th section, But this regulation . . . , was removed.
Article VI Section 8 as amended, was approved.
Governor Edmund Randolph moved to reconsider Article IV Section 5 which was struck on 8 Aug.
Article IV Section 5. All bills for raising or appropriating money, and for fixing the salaries of the officers of Government, shall originate in the House of Representatives, and shall not be altered or amended by the Senate. No money shall be drawn from the Public Treasury, but in pursuance of appropriations that shall originate in the House of Representatives.
This was a concession to Large States for equal State suffrage in the Senate. The Large States as well as the people will require it as defense against the more Aristocratic leaning Senate. He asked the Small States to support the section.
Hugh Williamson (NC) seconded.
Charles Pinckney (SC) opposed.
The motion to reconsider Article IV Section 5 passed 8-2-1.
About five weeks and a lot of work remain. Notice Mr. Randolph's motion at the end to revisit money bills, which in the Report of August 6th were to originate in the House and be subject to only an up or down vote in the Senate.
House control over the content of appropriations, where the people and large States would dominate, was part of the compromise to grant equality of State Suffrage in the Senate.
To Governor Randolph, the Senate was aristocratic enough before the money bill compromise was rejected. It would form the basis of his decision to not sign the Constitution.
Fellow Virginian George Mason will grow increasingly uneasy too, and not sign it for similar reasons.
The third big name to eventually not sign was Elbridge Gerry. His opposition will be more general in nature, but will center on his fear of standing armies.
While Governor Randolph will come to defend the Constitution at the VA Ratifying Convention, George Mason will join Patrick Henry as two of its most critical opponents.
Mr. Gerry will do the same in MA.
I bring this up because opposition from these three will become more obvious as the Convention works its way into September.
Once I seem to remember thinking of our written Constitution as if it magically appeared one day -or always was there but hidden. Then the more I learned the more I realized I do not know But the report from Mr.Wilson on The people having a right to know struck a chord—perhaps touching my college education in journalism? (as poor and incomplete as it was) Your point reminding of Mr.Wilson’s most excellent point reminded me of the salient point Our constitution sprang from and rested upon that which was Law before it—the Articles of Confederation. and those in turn reflected for the most part British Common Law. (Unless I am mistaken)
Unless we learn our history— where we’ve been -what we came from —we can never hope to understand how we came to be where we are today and where some would lead us.And for imparting this history of the Convention as you have done so well— T’anks!—Many T’anks!!!
I think I was in my twenties before I found out the Articles even existed. IMO, there was no way we would have a Constitution without the Articles of Confederation way station.
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