Hugh Williamson (NC) did not understand precisely what was meant, and moved to substitute the words from the Articles of Confederation on the subject. (Article IV of the Confederation read, Full faith and credit shall be given in each of these States to the records, acts, and judicial proceedings of the courts and magistrates of every other State. So what is the difference?)
James Wilson (PA) and Dr. William Samuel Johnson (CN), (by their questions and assumptions showed why the Article needed work.)
Charles Pinckney (SC) motioned to send Article XVI to a committee, to work on the proposition, "To establish uniform laws upon the subject of bankruptcies, and respecting the damages arising on the protest of foreign bills of exchange."
Nathaniel Gorham (MA) and James Madison (VA) agreed to both the Article and motion to commit. Mr. Madison would have the National Government be involved in the execution of State Judgments.
Governor Edmund Randolph disagreed with Mr. Madison and proposed:
"Whenever the act of any State, whether Legislative, Executive or Judiciary shall be attested & exemplified under the seal thereof, such attestation and exemplification, shall be deemed in other States as full proof of the existence of that act-and its operation shall be binding in every other State, in all cases to which it may relate, and which are within the cognizance and jurisdiction of the State, wherein the said act was done."
On the motion to commit Article XVI along with Mr. Pinckneys proposition, it passed 9-2. Committee members: Mr. Rutlidge, Mr. Randolph, Mr. Gorham, Mr. Wilson, & Mr. Johnson.
Governeur Morris (PA) moved to add another proposition to the committee dealing with acts of other States. It moved to committee without opposition.
John Dickinson (DE) noted that ex post facto laws as referenced in Blackstones Commentaries on The Laws of England, dealt only with criminal statutes. The term as used would not prevent retrospective laws in civil matters; some provision must be made to correct this.
(For some unexplained reason, no debate on the matter followed.) Article VII Section 6 as reported by the Committee of Eleven on 24 Aug was taken up, No navigation act shall be passed without the assent of two thirds of the members present in the each House. The Committee recommended to strike the Section entirely.
(The nub of this issue was distrust between Southern and Northern States. Northern shipping interests continued to suffer after the war as Great Britain prohibited all but British ships from trade with the West Indies and the home island. Simultaneously, their ships carried goods to and from their recent colonies with few restrictions because the Confederate Congress could not regulate trade. Southern agricultural products were thus shipped in British bottoms at reasonable rates. If given Commerce and Navigation powers, this beneficial arrangement would be threatened. Southern delegates had real reasons to distrust John Jay, a New Yorker, who had already offered to give up commercial rights to the Mississippi River.) Charles Pinckney (SC) motioned and Mr. Martin seconded to postpone debate in order to consider his proposition, "That no act of the Legislature for the purpose of regulating the commerce of the U- S. with foreign powers, or among the several States, shall be passed without the assent of two thirds of the members of each House." There were five distinct areas of commercial interest.
1. Fisheries and West Indies Trade of the New England States.
2. NY interest in free trade.
3. Wheat and flour exports from NJ, PA.
4. Tobacco exports from MD, VA, NC.
5. Rice & Indigo from GA, SC.
These important concerns should not be left up to simple majority abuse. The power to regulate commerce was a concession from the Southern States, and no, they did not need maritime protection at the present time.
(He said States pursue interests with less scruple than individuals. How true with almost any group. That which most people would not even consider, say stealing, can become noble when done by Congress and called a Law. In addition, there is once again no indication our Framers considered commerce to extend to State manufactures. Commerce is synonymous with trade, the actual movement of physical goods. That is all.)
(General Pinckney (SC) then said more than his words conveyed. I do not think we can grasp today the sectional rivalries and plain mistrust of those in other states. Since the war, they viewed each other increasingly as competitors. They were sovereign rivals to be beaten in trade, and prosperity as any nation would attempt to treat others. Think about the wild threads at FR when the Civil War is discussed. Multiply that by 100 to get a feel for the atmosphere of 1787. General Pinckney (SC) admitted after three months of working with delegates from distant states, that they were not Martians, but decent fellows with ideas as liberal as his. Considering the Southern delegates knew many in the Eastern States abolish slavery if they could, this was a remarkable admission.)
George Clymer (PA) acknowledged the necessity of commercial regulation to the Northern and Middle States. Foreign restrictions, if left in place, would ruin them.
Roger Sherman (CN) viewed diverse commercial interests as security in itself. He cautioned super-majority requirements; it had lead to crippling inaction in the Confederation Congress.
General Pinckney (SC) described his enumeration as five minute interests. The great division was North/South.
Governeur Morris (PA) viewed protective Navigation Acts as essential. They would encourage our merchant marine, and a Navy was essential protection. Seaborne trade was a dangerous business and stood in need of public patronage.
Hugh Williamson (NC) favored a two thirds majority. He disagreed with Mr. Sherman; no worthwhile act was defeated for lack of nine votes. Southern States were apprehensive, rest their minds. They could build their own ships if needed.
Richard Spaight opposed the two thirds requirement; Southern States could build ships as needed.
Pierce Butler (SC), in the interest of comity with his Northern brethren, whose differences with the Southern States were as that between Russia and Turkey, would vote against a two thirds majority requirement.
George Mason (VA) (Uttered words of wisdom our rulers should heed today) said any lasting government must have the confidence and affection of the people. In so many words, he said the Southern States, which would be outnumbered in both the House and Senate, would not sit idly by to be screwed by the Eastern States.
James Wilson (PA) retorted that large majority requirements only mean the larger is governed by the smaller. If all interests were to be covered, unanimous consent should be required. No, the fact was that the Confederation nine vote requirement caused great inconvenience.
James Madison (VA) (summed things up nicely) thought the only disadvantage to a Navigation Act was a temporary increase in Southern shipping rates. The advantages were more North/South shipping activity, more seamen visiting southern ports and elimination of ruinous trade wars between the States. A simple majority would be more difficult to corrupt with foreign money than a smaller one third. He also asked delegates to consider how the form of our government, a two House Congress, independent Executive with veto power is not likely to pass heinous legislation. Also, the Middle and Northern States could not be described as purely commercial; CN and NJ in particular were agricultural and even the interior parts of commercial States had strong agricultural interests. Oh, and agriculture would certainly dominate new Western States. Southern States would benefit from Naval protection and the coasting trade. Trade would promote wealth, to the benefit of all.
(I notice the delegates never defined what a Navigation Act was, or what its component parts could be. They didnt because it was understood. The British enacted and amended Navigation Acts on a regular basis to protect home island merchant and manufacturing interests.)
John Rutlidge (SC) opposed Mr. Pinckneys motion. He asked delegates to once again think of the future nation and not their current, narrow State interests. There was much gain to be had in the West Indies trade, a Navigation Act was crucial.
Governor Edmund Randolph doubted he could sign the Constitution; there were too many odious features. A rejection of the two thirds requirement would complete the deformity of the system. He informed the Convention of a possible declaration from him against the evolving Constitution.
Nathaniel Gorham (MA) responded to Mr. Randolph. Absent trade relief, there was no reason for Eastern States to join the Union. They did not lack protection. Southern States did, and if the plan should fall apart, it will be their fault. He could not envision Eastern States ganging up on the Southern over trade.
On the question to postpone, it failed 7-4.
As recommended by the Committee, Article VII Section 6, No navigation act shall be passed without the assent of two thirds of the members present in the each House, was struck.
(The effect of this was to treat Navigation Acts as any other acts under the Commerce Clause, meaning a simple majority for passage.)
Pierce Butler (SC) motioned, and the Convention agreed without opposition, to the following addition to Article XV, "If any person bound to service or labor in any of the U. States shall escape into another State, he or she shall not be discharged from such service or labor, in consequence of any regulations subsisting in the State to which they escape, but shall be delivered up to the person justly claiming their service or labor."
Article XVII was next, New States lawfully constituted or established within the limits of the United States may be admitted, by the Legislature, into this Government; but to such admission the consent of two thirds of the members present in each House shall be necessary. If a new State shall arise within the limits of any of the present States, the consent of the Legislatures of such States shall be also necessary to its admission. If the admission be consented to, the new States shall be admitted on the same terms with the original States. But the Legislature may make conditions with the new States, concerning the public debt which shall be then subsisting.
Governeur Morris moved to strike the last two sentences. He once again did not wish to force Congress to admit new States on the same basis as the old.
James Madison opposed the motion once again as degrading.
George Mason thought the idea somewhat foolish. The people were moving West and it would be best to treat them as friends, not enemies. (The idea of my country, the US, was weak at best. Some Western settlers had petitioned the Spanish King for trading licenses.)
Governeur Morris said he did not wish to discourage the settlers, yet did not wish to yield dominant power to them.
Roger Sherman opposed Mr. Morris and supported equality of privileges in the Constitution.
John Langdon could not declare why he supported the motion, but he did.
Hugh Williamson wished to let Congress decide, and supported Mr. Morris motion. (If I read Madisons notes correctly, Mr. Williamson would entertain denying new States two Senators.)
Mr. Morris motion to strike the last two Sentences of Article XVII passed 8-3.
The struck sentences were, If the admission be consented to, the new States shall be admitted on the same terms with the original States. But the Legislature may make conditions with the new States, concerning the public debt which shall be then subsisting.
(I think resistance to admit new States reflected apprehension over the new plan as much as a concerted effort to deny State equality.)
Luther Martin and Governeur Morris (wished to make state admission a simple majority matter) moved to strike from Article XVII, "but to such admission the consent of two thirds of the members present shall be necessary."
Until the question could be put,
Governeur Morris motioned to replace Article XVII with, New States may be admitted by the Legislature into this Union: but no new State shall be erected within the limits of any of the present States, without the consent of the Legislature of such State, as well as of the Genl. Legislature."
The first clause to Union, passed without opposition.
Luther Martin opposed the remainder because it would require States with known, limited perimeters (like MD) to obtain permission from large States with unknown western extents to form new States. (I think he also suspected Large States would oppose entry of Vermont and allow nearby States to absorb it. Mr. Martin brought up what would become TN and perhaps Franklin, NC at the western edge of the State.)
On Mr. Morris motion to substitute Article XVII, it passed 6-5.
(The new Article XVII was not approved, only Mr. Morris substitution.)
The amended Article XVII was under consideration.
Roger Sherman opposed it as unnecessary; no State could be dismembered without its permission.
Hugh Langdon gave great weight to Mr. Martins argument; be careful this amendment would bring opposition to the plan.
Governeur Morris (was he sarcastic?) said Small States should support his amendment for it could lead to dismemberment of the Large States.
Pierce Butler predicted a mess if new States could be formed without consent of the existing State.
Dr. William Samuel Johnson (CN) expressed concern over NY domination of emerging Vermont. He thought Vermont should be compelled to come into the Union.
John Langdon (NH) appeared to fear increased taxation if Vermont was not admitted to the Union.
John Dickinson (DE) opposed the Article.
James Wilson said when the majority of a State wished to divide it could do so. Opposition appeared to be from those who fear a faction in Congress could encourage a State minority to promote division.
Governeur Morris thought those members from States who were possibly the object of division, knew it and would not join the Union.
The Convention adjourned without voting on Article XVII.
The second greatest compromise of the Convention roared back today.
Just as equality of State suffrage in the Senate was a do or die issue for small states, so was Slavery to the South and National Government regulation of commerce to the North.
Navigation Acts, the rules over foreign commerce had earlier in the Convention required a 2/3 majority of Congress. Southern States were fearful what simple majorities could do to the Slave trade. Their fears were put to rest in recent days. The Committee of Eleven, composed of one delegate from each attending State, hammered out a deal to allow simple majorities to determine foreign trade laws in exchange for previous guarantees to the institution of Slavery.
Now, Southern delegates had to date never shown any reluctance to protect their peculiar institution on either moral or practical grounds. The deal had been made and things were going smoothly until Charles Pinckney (SC) motioned to revive the 2/3 requirement for Navigation Acts.
His cousin, General Pinckney immediately arose and protested. Fellow South Carolinian Pierce Butler did as well. They knew the Convention would blow up without this compromise. Charles Pinckneys motion was thus rejected without debate.
So what of Slavery? Could the North have held out for restrictions, closer limits? I think so. Immediate abolition was never spoken of, it didnt have chance. Still, the three Southernmost States would have had a hard time outside the union and could have been pushed for a concession. They were under populated, feared slave uprisings and had few means of supporting or protecting themselves either in manufactures or a Navy.
IMHO, the Northern States could have driven a better bargain. I think Slavery could have been restricted to the existing States without jeopardizing their ratification of the Constitution. It would have been in their economic interests to do so, for there would have been less agricultural competition from new States envisioned in the southwest. Forcing the issue probably would have saved us from civil war.
That the Framers did not do so, does not reflect poorly on them. No one envisioned black equality at the time. They gathered in Philly not to compose the best government possible, but rather the best the people would accept.