Skip to comments.Journal of the Federal Convention August 14th 1787
Posted on 08/14/2011 3:30:10 AM PDT by Jacquerie
Article VI Sections 9-10. Office Holders & Corruption. Mercer & Aristocratic Property. A Junta. Confidence is the Road to Tyranny. Military Officers. Janissaries. Congressional Salaries.
Article VI. Sect. 9. [FN1], [FN2] taken up.
Mr. PINCKNEY argued that the making the members ineligible to offices was degrading to them, and the more improper as their election into the Legislature implied that they had the confidence of the people; that it was inconvenient, because the Senate might be supposed to contain the fittest men. He hoped to see that body become a School of public Ministers, a nursery of Statesmen: that it was impolitic, because the Legislature would cease to be a magnet to the first talents and abilities. He moved to postpone the section in order to take up the following proposition viz-"the members of each House shall be incapable of holding any office under the U.S. for which they or any of [FN3] others for their benefit receive any salary, fees, or emoluments of any kind- and the acceptance of such office shall vacate their seats respectively"
Genl. MIFFLIN 2ded. the motion.
Col. MASON ironically proposed to strike out the whole section, as a more effectual expedient for encouraging that exotic corruption which might not otherwise thrive so well in the American Soil- for compleating that Aristocracy which was probably in the contemplation of some among us, and for inviting into the Legislative Service, those generous & benevolent characters who will do justice to each other's merit, by carving out offices & rewards for it. In the present state of American morals & manners, few friends it may be thought will be lost to the plan, by the opportunity of giving premiums to a mercenary & depraved ambition.
Mr. MERCER. It is a first principle in political science, that wherever the rights of property are secured, an aristocracy will grow out of it. Elective Governments also necessarily become aristocratic, because the rulers being few can & will draw emoluments for themselves from the many. The Governments of America will become aristocracies. They are so already. The public measures are calculated for the benefit of the Governors, not of the people. The people are dissatisfied & complain. They change their rulers, and the public measures are changed, but it is only a change of one scheme of emolument to the rulers, for another. The people gain nothing by it, but an addition of instability & uncertainty to their other evils.-Governmts. can only be maintained by force or influence. The Executive has not force, deprive him of influence [FN4] by rendering the members of the Legislature ineligible to Executive offices, and he becomes a mere phantom of authority. The aristocratic part will not even let him in for a share of the plunder. The Legislature must & will be composed of wealth & abilities, and the people will be governed by a Junto. The Executive ought to have a Council, being members of both Houses. Without such an influence, the war will be between the aristocracy & the people. He wished it to be between the Aristocracy & the Executive. Nothing else can protect the people agst. those speculating Legislatures which are now plundering them throughout the U. States.
Mr. GERRY read a resolution of the Legislature of Massts. passed before the Act of Congs. recommending the Convention, in which her deputies were instructed not to depart from the rotation established in the 5th. art: of [FN5] Confederation, nor to agree in any case to give to the members of Congs. a capacity to hold offices under the Government. This he said was repealed in consequence of the Act of Congs. with which the State thought it proper to comply in an unqualified manner. The Sense of the State however was still the same. He could not think with Mr. Pinkney that the disqualification was degrading.
Confidence is the road to tyranny.
As to Ministers & Ambassadors few of them were necessary. It is the opinion of a great many that they ought to be discontinued, on our part; that none may be sent among us, & that source of influence be [FN6] shut up. If the Senate were to appoint Ambassadors as seemed to be intended, they will multiply embassies for their own sakes. He was not so fond of those productions as to wish to establish nurseries for them. If they are once appointed, the House of Reps. will be obliged to provide salaries for them, whether they approve of the measures or not. If men will not serve in the Legislature without a prospect of such offices, our situation is deplorable indeed. If our best Citizens are actuated by such mercenary views, we had better chuse a single despot at once. It will be more easy to satisfy the rapacity of one than of many. According to the idea of one Gentlemen [Mr. Mercer] our Government it seems is to be a Govt. of plunder. In that case it certainly would be prudent to have but one rather than many to be employed in it.
We cannot be too circumspect in the formation of this System. It will be examined on all sides and with a very suspicious eye. The People who have been so lately in arms agst. G. B. for their liberties, will not easily give them up. He lamented the evils existing at present under our Governments, but imputed them to the faults of those in office, not to the people. The misdeeds of the former will produce a critical attention to the opportunities afforded by the new system to like or greater abuses. As it now stands it is as compleat an aristocracy as ever was framed If great powers should be given to the Senate we shall be governed in reality by a Junto as has been apprehended. He remarked that it would be very differently constituted from Congs- 1. [FN7] there will be but 2 deputies from each State, in Congs. there may be 7. and are generally 5.-2. [FN8] they are chosen for six years, those of Congs. annually. 3. [FN9] they are not subject to recall; those of Congs. are. 4. In Congs. 9 States [FN10] are necessary for all great purposes- here 8 persons will suffice.
Is it to be presumed that the people will ever agree to such a system? He moved to render the members of the H. of Reps. as well as of the Senate ineligible not only during, but for one year after the expiration of their terms.-If it should be thought that this will injure the Legislature by keeping out of it men of abilities who are willing to serve in other offices it may be required as a qualification for other offices, that the Candidate shall have served a certain time in the Legislature.
Mr. Govr. MORRIS. Exclude the officers of the army & navy, and you form a band having a different interest from & opposed to the civil power: you stimulate them to despise & reproach those "talking Lords who dare not face the foe." Let this spirit be roused at the end of a war, before your troops shall have laid down their arms, and though the Civil authority "be intrenched in parchment to the teeth" they will cut their way to it. He was agst. rendering the members of the Legislature ineligible to offices. He was for rendering them eligible agn. after having vacated their Seats by accepting office. Why should we not avail ourselves of their services if the people chuse to give them their confidence. There can be little danger of corruption either among the people or the Legislatures who are to be the Electors. If they say, we see their merits, we honor the men, we chuse to renew our confidence in them, have they not a right to give them a preference; and can they be properly abridged of it. >p> Mr. WILLIAMSON; introduced his opposition to the motion by referring to the question concerning "money bills." That clause he said was dead. Its ghost he was afraid would notwithstanding haunt us. It had been a matter of conscience with him, to insist upon [FN11] it as long as there was hope of retaining it. He had swallowed the vote of rejection, with reluctance. He could not digest it. All that was said on the other side was that the restriction was not convenient. We have now got a House of Lords which is to originate money- bills.-To avoid another inconveniency, [FN12] we are to have a whole Legislature at liberty to cut out offices for one another. He thought a self- denying ordinance for ourselves would be more proper. Bad as the Constitution has been made by expunging the restriction on the Senate concerning money bills he did not wish to make it worse by expunging the present Section. He had scarcely seen a single corrupt measure in the Legislature of N. Carolina, which could not be traced up to office hunting.
Mr. SHERMAN. The Constitution shd. lay as few temptations as possible in the way of those in power. Men of abilities will increase as the Country grows more populous and, and [FN13] the means of education are more diffused.
Mr. PINKNEY. No State has rendered the members of the Legislature ineligible to offices. In S. Carolina the Judges are eligible into the Legislature. It can not be supposed then that the motion will be offensive to the people. If the State Constitutions should be revised he believed restrictions of this sort wd. be rather diminished than multiplied.
Mr. WILSON could not approve of the Section as it stood, and could not give up his judgment to any supposed objections that might arise among the people. He considered himself as acting & responsible for the welfare of millions not immediately represented in this House. He had also asked himself the serious question what he should say to his constituents in case they should call upon him to tell them why he sacrified his own Judgment in a case where they authorised him to exercise it? Were he to own to them that he sacrificed it in order to flatter their prejudices, he should dread the retort: did you suppose the people of Penna. had not good sense enough to receive a good Government? Under this impression he should certainly follow his own Judgment which disapproved of the section. He would remark in addition to the objections urged agst. it, that as one branch of the Legislature was to be appointed by the Legislatures of the States, the other by the people of the States, as both are to be paid by the States, and to be appointable to State offices, nothing seemed to be wanting to prostrate the Natl. Legislature, but to render its members ineligible to Natl. offices, & by that means take away its power of attracting those talents which were necessary to give weight to the Governt. and to render it useful to the people. He was far from thinking the ambition which aspired to Offices of dignity and trust, an ignoble or culpable one. He was sure it was not politic to regard it in that light, or to withold from it the prospect of those rewards, which might engage it in the career of public service. He observed that the State of Penna. which had gone as far as any State into the policy of fettering power, had not rendered the members of the Legislature ineligible to offices of Govt.
Mr. ELSWORTH did not think the mere postponement of the reward would be any material discouragement of merit. Ambitious minds will serve 2 years or 7 years in the Legislature for the sake of qualifying themselves for other offices. This he thought a sufficient security for obtaining the services of the ablest men in the Legislature, although whilst members they should be ineligible to Public offices. Besides, merit will be most encouraged, when most impartially rewarded. If rewards are to circulate only within the Legislature, merit out of it will be discouraged.
Mr. MERCER was extremely anxious on this point. What led to the appointment of this Convention? The corruption & mutability of the Legislative Councils of the States. If the plan does not remedy these, it will not recommend itself; and we shall not be able in our private capacities to support & enforce it: nor will the best part of our Citizens exert themselves for the purpose.-It is a great mistake to suppose that the paper we are to propose will govern the U. States? It is The men whom it will bring into the Governt. and interest in maintaining it that is [FN14] to govern them. The paper will only mark out the mode & the form. Men are the substance and must do the business. All Govt. must be by force or influence. It is not the King of France-but 200,000 janisaries of power that govern that Kingdom. There will be no such force here; influence then must be substituted; and he would ask whether this could be done, if the members of the Legislature should be ineligible to offices of State; whether such a disqualification would not determine all the most influencial men to stay at home, and & prefer appointments within their respective States.
Mr. WILSON was by no means satisfied with the answer given by Mr. Elsewoth to the argument as to the discouragement of merit. The members must either go a second time into the Legislature, and disqualify themselves-or say to their Constituents, we served you before only from the mercenary view of qualifying ourselves for offices, and having answered this purpose we do not chuse to be again elected.
Mr. Govr. MORRIS put the case of a war, and the Citizen the [FN15] most capable of conducting it, happening to be a member of the Legislature. What might have been the consequence of such a regulation at the commencement, or even in the Course of the late contest for our liberties?
On [FN16] question for postponing in order to take up Mr. Pinkneys motion, it was lost.
N. H. ay. Mas. no. Ct. no. N. J. no. Pa. ay. Del. ay. Md. ay. Va. ay. N. C. no. S. C. no. Geo. divd. [FN17]
Mr. Govr. MORRIS moved to insert, after "office," except offices in the army or navy: but in that case their offices shall be vacated.
Mr. BROOM 2ds. him.
Mr. RANDOLPH had been & should continue uniformly opposed to the striking out of the clause; as opening a door for influence & corruption. No arguments had made any impression on him, but those which related to the case of war, and a co-existing incapacity of the fittest commanders to be employed. He admitted great weight in these, and would agree to the exception proposed by Mr. Govr. Morris.
Mr. BUTLER & Mr. PINKNEY urged a general postponemt. of 9 Sect. Art. VI. till it should be seen what powers would be vested in the Senate, when it would be more easy to judge of the expediency of allowing the officers of State to be chosen out of that body. -a general postponement was agreed to nem. con.
Art: VI. sect. 10. [FN18], [FN19] taken up- "that members be paid by their respective States." Mr. ELSEWORTH said that in reflecting on this subject he had been satisfied that too much dependence on the States would be produced by this mode of payment. He moved to strike [FN20] out and insert "that they should" be paid out of the Treasury of the U.S. an allowance not exceeding (blank) dollars per day or the present value thereof.
Mr. Govr. MORRIS, remarked that if the members were to be paid by the States it would throw an unequal burden on the distant States, which would be unjust as the Legislature was to be a national Assembly. He moved that the payment be out of the Natl. Treasury; leaving the quantum to the discretion of the Natl. Legislature. There could be no reason to fear that they would overpay themselves.
Mr. BUTLER contended for payment by the States; particularly in the case of the Senate, who will be so long out of their respective States, that they will lose sight of their Constituents unless dependent on them for their support.
Mr. LANGDON was agst. payment by the States. There would be some difficulty in fixing the sum; but it would be unjust to oblige the distant States to bear the expence of their members in travelling to and from the Seat of Govt.
Mr. MADISON If the H. of Reps. is to be chosen biennially- and the Senate to be constantly dependent on the Legislatures which are chosen annually, he could not see any chance for that stability in the Genl. Govt. the want of which was a principal evil in the State Govts. His fear was that the organization of the Govt. supposing the Senate to be really independt. for six years, would not effect our purpose. It was nothing more than a combination of the peculiarities of two of the State Govts. which separately had been found insufficient. The Senate was formed on the model of that of Maryld. The Revisionary check, on that of N. York. What the effect of a union of these provisions might be, could not be foreseen. The enlargement of the sphere of the Government was indeed a circumstance which he thought would be favorable as he had on several occasions undertaken to shew. He was however for fixing at least two extremes not to be exceeded by the Natl. Legislre. in the payment of themselves.
Mr. GERRY. There are difficulties on both sides. The observation of Mr. Butler has weight in it. On the other side, the State Legislatures may turn out the Senators by reducing their salaries. Such things have been practised.
Col. MASON. It has not yet been noticed that the clause as it now stands makes the House of Represents. also dependent on the State Legislatures; so that both houses will be made the instruments of the politics of the States whatever they may be.
Mr. BROOM could see no danger in trusting the Genl. Legislature with the payment of themselves. The State Legislatures had this power, and no complaint had been made of it.
Mr. SHERMAN was not afraid that the Legislature would make their own wages too high; but too low, so that men ever so fit could not serve unless they were at the same time rich. He thought the best plan would be to fix a moderate allowance to be paid out of the Natl. Treasy. and let the States make such additions as they might judge fit. He moved that 5 dollars per day be the sum, any further emoluments to be added by the States.
Mr. CARROL had been much surprised at seeing this clause in the Report. The dependence of both Houses on the State Legislatures is compleat; especially as the members of the former are eligible to State offices. The States can now say: if you do not comply with our wishes, we will starve you: if you do we will reward you. The new Govt. in this form was nothing more than a second edition of Congress in two volumes, instead of one, and perhaps with very few amendments.
Mr. DICKENSON took it for granted that all were convinced of the necessity of making the Genl. Govt. independent of the prejudices, passions, and improper views of the State Legislatures. The contrary of This was effected by the section as it stands. On the other hand there were objections agst. taking a permanent standard as wheat which had been suggested on a former occasion, as well as against leaving the matter to the pleasure of the Natl. Legislature. He proposed that an Act should be passed every 12 years by the Natl. Legislre. settling the quantum of their wages. If the Genl. Govt. should be left dependent on the State Legislatures, it would be happy for us if we had never met in this Room.
Mr. ELSEWORTH was not unwilling himself to trust the Legislature with authority to regulate their own wages, but well knew that an unlimited discretion for that purpose would produce strong, tho' perhaps not insuperable objections. He thought changes in the value of money, provided for by his motion in the words, "or the present value thereof."
Mr. L. MARTIN. As the Senate is to represent the States, the members of it ought to be paid by the States.
Mr. CARROL. The Senate was to represent & manage the affairs of the whole, and not to be the advocates of State interests. They ought then not to be dependent on nor paid by the States.
On the question for paying the Members of the Legislature out of the Natl. Treasury,
N. H. ay. Mas. no. Ct. ay. N. J. ay. Pa. ay. Del. ay. Md. ay. Va. ay. N. C. ay. S. C. no. Geo. ay. [FN21]
Mr. ELSEWTH moved that the pay be fixed at 5 dollrs. or the present value thereof per day during their attendance & for every thirty miles in travelling to & from Congress.
Mr. STRONG preferred 4 dollars, leaving the Sts. at liberty to make additions.
On [FN22] question for fixing the pay at 5 dollars.
N. H. no. Mas. no. Ct. ay. N. J. no. Pa. no. Del. no. Md. no. Va. ay. N. C. no. S. C. no. Geo. no. [FN23]
Mr. DICKENSON proposed that the wages of the members of both houses Sd. be required to be the same.
Mr. BROOME seconded him.
Mr. GHORUM. this would be unreasonable. The Senate will be detained longer from home, will be obliged to remove their families, and in time of war perhaps to sit constantly. Their allowance should certainly be higher. The members of the Senates in the States are allowed more, than those of the other house. Mr. DICKENSON withdrew his motion.
It was moved & agreed to amend the Section by adding-"to be ascertained by law."
The Section [Art VI. Sec. 10] as amended, agreed to nem. con.
FN1 See ante.
FN2 The word "was" is here inserted in the transcript.
FN3 The word "of" is omitted in the trancript.
FN4 The transcript italicizes the word "influence."
FN5 The word "the" is here inserted in the transcript.
FN6 The word "be" is omitted in the transcript.
FN7 The figure "1" is changed to "In the first place" in the transcript.
FN8 The figure "2" is changed to "In the second place" in the transcript.
FN9 The figure "3" is changed to "In the third place" in the transcript.
FN10 The phrase "And finally, in Congress nine States" is substituted in the transcript for "4. In Congs. 9 States."
FN11 The word "on" is substituted in the transcript for "upon."
FN12 The word "inconveniency" is changed to " nconvenience" in the transcript.
FN13 The word "as" is substituted in the transcript for "and."
FN14 The word "are" is substituted in the transcript for "is."
FN15 The word "the" is omitted in the transcript.
FN16 The word "the" is here inserted in the transcript.
FN17 In the transcript the vote reads: "New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, aye-5; Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey, North Carolina, South Carolina, no-5; Georgia, divided."
FN18 See ante.
FN19 The words "was then" are here inserted in the transcript.
FN20 The word "it" is here inserted in the transcript.
FN21 In the transcript the vote reads: "New Hampshire, Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia, aye-9; Massachusetts, South Carolina, no-2."
FN22 The word "the" is here inserted in the transcript.
FN23 In the transcript the vote reads: "Connecticut, Virginia, aye-2; New Hampshire, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, no-9."
Up next was Article VI Section 9, The members of each House shall be ineligible to, and incapable of holding any office under the authority of the United States, during the time for which they shall respectively be elected: and the members of the Senate shall be ineligible to, and incapable of holding any such office for one year afterwards.
Charles Pinckney (SC) considered it an insult to trust a man enough to elect him but not enough to allow him to also hold an appointive office as well. He viewed the Senate especially as a school for future ministers, a Nursery of Statesmen. He motioned to postpone the Section in order to offer, the members of each House shall be incapable of holding any office under the U.S. for which they or any of others for their benefit receive any salary, fees, or emoluments of any kind- and the acceptance of such office shall vacate their seats respectively." His solution was to allow for non-emolument office holding.
Thomas Mifflin (PA) seconded the motion.
George Mason (VA) thought it best to strike the entire Section. Let the Aristocratic tendencies of some delegates prevail. Let them carve out lucrative positions for each other. (Mr. Mason was being sarcastic. He would not sign the Constitution in part because of its Aristocratic tendencies.)
John Mercer (MD) opened with a blast, Wherever the rights of property are secured, an aristocracy will grow out of it. Elected governments will become aristocratic as they draw wealth from the populace. The Executive ought to have a Council, being members of both Houses.
Without such an influence, the war will be between the Aristocracy & the People. He wished it to be between the Aristocracy & the Executive. Nothing else can protect the people against those speculating Legislatures which are now plundering them throughout the U. States.
As I understand Mr. Mercer, absent multiple Executives, an Aristocratic Congress will oppress the People. With multiple Executives, the conflict will be between an Aristocratic Congress and the Executive.
Elbridge Gerry (MA) could not agree with Mr. Pinckneys assertion of debasement. The People of his State would not agree to members of Congress holding concurrent Offices. Few ministers and ambassadors were needed. He did not wish to establish nurseries for them. If expectations of well paid offices were necessary to attract people to serve in Congress, the country was in a sorry situation. If so, let us get it over with and select a despot right now. We must be ever so careful how we design the system. All eyes, from the States and countries around the world will be upon our Constitution. Do not expect the people who fought so hard, endured so much, to give up their precious liberties. He also feared an Aristocracy if the Senate was given the powers contemplated. We would be governed by a junta.
Mr. Gerry compared Congress under the Articles of Confederation and under the proposed system.
In the current Congress, each state could send up to seven delegates who theoretically served for annual terms and were term limited. They could be recalled by the States at any time. Nine State votes were necessary to pass what passed for legislation.
Under the developing Constitution, each State would have two Senators to serve for six years and be non-recallable. Eight individuals could determine great things.
He would prevent both Congressman and Senators from holding Executive branch offices for one year after departing Congress.
Governeur Morris (PA) would exempt officers of the Navy and Army. He thought they would develop dangerous attitudes toward the civil government if not allowed to participate. A military coup détat was not out of the question. (Some great quotes here, Talking Lords who dare not face the foe, and brave politicians who will Be entrenched in parchment to the teeth.)
Hugh Williamson (NC) lamented the death of House only Money Bill origination. Its death would haunt us. We were left with a powerful House of Lords that will impose Money Bills. Far be it from us to inconvenience Lords from cutting out offices for one another. (Ouch!) A self denying clause for delegates to the Convention would be appropriate. Expunging the Money Bill Section was bad enough; do not worsen it by expunging the present Section. BTW, almost every corrupt measure in the NC Legislature could be traced to office hunting.
Roger Sherman (CN) thought the Constitution should offer as few temptations as reasonable.
Charles Pinckney (SC) defended his position. He drew upon the experience of SC in which Judges may hold seats in the Legislature.
James Wilson (PA) disapproved the section. He expounded on his duty to his State and the millions of citizens to follow. Shame would follow any appeal to emotional prejudices. Were not the people of PA virtuous enough to accept good Government? He did not think ambition to high offices an ignoble or culpable effort. His State had gone as far as any to fetter the powerful, yet let Legislative members hold offices of Government.
Judge Oliver Ellsworth (CN) did not think postponement for one year would be any great sacrifice or discouragement. Appointments will not be solely from Congress.
John Mercer (MD) let lose another blast. The corruption and mutability of the State Legislatures, were the reasons for the Convention. It will be men, and not the Constitution that will govern us. Government governs by force or influence.
The King of France did not govern the kingdom, but the 200,000 janissaries he employed. (Heck, thatll never happen here.)
James Wilson (PA) was not satisfied with Mr. Ellsworths explanation.
Governeur Morris (PA) asked, without saying George Washington, what would have been the outcome of the late war if Mr. Washington had been a member of Congress and therefore inadmissible to serve the distinguished post he did? On the question to postpone the question of Article VI Section 9 in order to consider Mr. Pinckneys motion, The members of each House shall be incapable of holding any Office under the United States for which they, or any other for their benefit, receive any salary, fees, or emoluments of any kind and the acceptance of such office shall vacate their seats respectively, it failed 5-5-1.
Governeur Morris (PA) moved to exempt officers of the Navy and Army from the one year deferral. Jacob Broome (DE) seconded.
Governor Edmund Randolph strongly supported the Section, but would agree to the forceful argument for military exceptions as per Mr. Morris.
Pierce Butler (SC) and Charles Pinckney (SC), sensing a deadlock, motioned to postpone consideration of Article VI Section 9 until the enumerated powers of the Senate were settled. The motion was agreed to without opposition.
Article VI Section10, The members of each House shall receive a compensation for their services, to be ascertained and paid by the State, in which they shall be chosen, was next.
Judge Oliver Ellsworth (CN) moved they should be paid out of the US Treasury and would set an inflation adjusted amount in the Constitution. He changed his mind on this topic from previous debates.
Governeur Morris (PA) thought the burden of supporting members by distant States was unjust. Pay them from the National Treasury at a rate determined by Congress. There was little to fear from them overpaying themselves. (They just put salary increases on autopilot and never have to vote on them again, despite the 27th Amendment. This is modern corruption at its finest.) Pierce Butler (SC) would have the States pay them, especially Senators who will be away from home for long periods of time and should be reminded of why they served.
John Langdon (NH) did not wish to burden the States. (Did this not illustrate the awful condition of State finances?)
James Madison (VA) connected payment of salaries by the National Government to the object of Government stability. With biannual House elections and annual State Legislature elections which could affect the stability of the Senate, Mr. Madison wanted to head off the possibility of non-attendance for want of money. (This was a demonstrable deficiency under the Articles of Confederation where Congress occasionally could not conduct business because States refused to fund attendance by their Congressmen. Also, the NH delegates were late to the convention because the State refused to fund their trip. They paid for it themselves.) Elbridge Gerry (MA) remained non-committed; the arguments of both sides carried weight.
George Mason (VA) brought up a new point. Members of the House, chosen by the people, would be dependent upon State Legislatures for salaries and could become instruments of them.
Jacob Broome (DE) could see no danger with salaries from the National Government.
Roger Sherman (CN) took a different tack. There was danger not from self serving high salaries, but salaries that were too low. It would make even the House an assembly of the rich. He would provide a modest sum from the National Government, say five dollars per day and allow the States to provide any additional wages.
Daniel Carroll (MD) hammered the problems with State supported salaries. Both houses of Congress would be reduced to appendages of the State Legislatures. Vote a particular way and be rewarded; vote against and be impoverished. The new Congress would be a two volume set of the old and just as ineffective. (Ouch!)
John Dickinson (DE) took the temperature of the Convention and knew it favored payment by the National Government. He proposed the National Legislature adjust salaries every twelve years. If Section 10 was allowed to stand as it was, it would unravel all of the other works of the Convention and they might as well go home.
Judge Oliver Ellsworth (CN) could let Congress regulate its own wages, though he acknowledged there would be opposition. What again of an inflation adjusted set wage?
Luther Martin (MD) said that since the Senate represents the States, Senators should be paid by them.
Daniel Carroll (MD) disagreed. Senators were to look toward the best interests of the Union, not their States.
Judge Oliver Ellsworth (CN)s motion to pay Senators and Congressmen from the National Treasury passed 9-2.
Judge Oliver Ellsworth (CN) motioned to fix Congressional salary and allow for inflation.
Caleb Strong (MA) would allow for extra State compensation.
Mr. Ellsworths motion to set a five dollar/day compensation adjusted for inflation failed, 9-2.
John Dickinson (DE) proposed and Jacob Broome (DE) seconded equal salaries for Congressmen and Senators.
Mr. Dickinson withdrew his motion on the argument of Mr. Gorham.
It was moved & agreed to amend the Section by adding-"to be ascertained by law."
The amended Article VI Section 10 passed without opposition.
From Chris Colliers book Decision in Philadelphia, We remember that the delegates were very conscious of how King George had manipulated Parliament, and the royal governors, the colonial legislatures, by dangling lucrative appointments before influential politicians. In order to prevent this, the Virginia Plan expressly forbade congressmen from holding other public offices. Nonetheless, a president could easily get around the provision by offering plums to family or friends of congressmen; it seemed best to limit his (the President) appointing power as sharply as possible.
Our Framers were determined to minimize the problem yet not discourage talented men from service. It was a delicate balancing act, for if there had been a ban during and up to one year after legislative service, George Washington would not have been appointed General during the late war.
Back in the Horse and wagon days. I love addressing the philosophical elements of the constitutional arguments and then being served a reminder of the difficulties that were an every day labor to the people of those days.
I was of a mod to agree with Mr.Mercer taking some pleasure at comparing his view to modern day. But I am mediated by Mr.Gerrys’ response -and note Mr.Mercer seemed to be pretty much ignored(if I am right)And rightly so for his comment seemed the antithesis of the very purpose they had been delegated to achieve?
Still, his irritating bombasts were prescient. We have something of a Congressional Aristocracy lorded over by a President with Kingly qualities.
In reading Madison's notes through to the end, it occurred to me the federalists and anti-federalist were not as far apart as popularly assumed. The foundational difference between the two was the amount of time each side thought it would take to for our republic to descend into tyranny.
Difficulty of travel certainly figured in some of their decisions. Congressmen have two year terms v. one for that reason.
Somehow this hasn’t stopped Obama from amassing a gaggle of czars, which are harmful for a different reason than the risk of turning individual influential politicians to him. But there would be nothing keeping an Obama II from carrying that to the next step.
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