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WEDNESDAY, MAY 30, 1787. - Max Farrand, The Records of the Federal Convention of 1787, vol. 1 
The Records of the Federal Convention of 1787, ed. Max Farrand (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1911). Vol. 1.
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WEDNESDAY, MAY 30, 1787.
The honorable Roger Sherman Esquire a Deputy of the State of Connecticut attended and took his seat.
The order of the day being read
The House resolved itself into a Committee of the whole House to consider of the state of the American union
Mr President left the chair.
Mr Gorham, chosen by ballot,1 took the chair of the Committee.
Mr President resumed the chair
Mr Gorham reported from the Committee, that the Committee had made a progress in the matter to them referred; and had directed him to move that they may have leave to sit again
Resolved that this House will to-morrow again resolve itself into a Committee of the whole House to consider of the state of the American union
And then the House adjourned till to-morrow at 10 o’clock A.M.
In a Committee of the Whole House.
Agreeably to the order of the day the House resolved itself into a Committee of the whole House to consider of the State of the American union. — Mr Gorham in the Chair:
The propositions offered yesterday to the consideration of the House by Mr Randolph were read — and on motion of Mr Randolph, seconded by Mr G. Morris
That the consideration of the first resolution contained in the said propositions be postponed.
it passed in the affirmative.
It was then moved by Mr Randolph and seconded by Mr G Morris to substitute the following resolution in the place of the first resolution
Resolved that an union of the States, merely fœderal, will not accomplish the objects proposed by the articles of confederation, namely “common defence, security of liberty, and general welfare.
It was moved by Mr Butler seconded by Mr Randolph to postpone the consideration of the said resolution in order to take up the following resolution submitted by Mr Randolph namely
Resolved that a national government ought to be established consisting of a supreme legislative, judiciary and executive.
It was moved by Mr Read seconded by Mr C. C. Pinckney to postpone the consideration of the last resolution in order to take up the following
Resolved That in order to carry into execution the design of the States in forming this convention and to accomplish the objects proposed by the confederation “a more effective government consisting of a Legislative, Judiciary, and Executive ought to be established”
On the question to postpone, in order to take up the last resolution, the question was lost.
On motion to agree to the said resolution moved by Mr Butler it passed in the affirmative [ayes — 6; noes — 1; divided — 1.]2 — and the resolution, as agreed to, is as follows.
Resolved that it is the opinion of this Committee that a national government ought to be established consisting of a supreme Legislative, Judiciary, and Executive
The following resolution was then moved by Mr Randolph,
Resolved that the rights of suffrage in the national legislature ought to be proportioned to the quotas of contribution, or to the number of free inhabitants, as the one or the other rule may seem best in different cases.
It was moved by Mr Hamilton seconded by Mr Spaight that the resolution be altered so as to read
Resolved that the rights of suffrage in the national legislature ought to be proportioned to the number of free inhabitants
It was moved and seconded that the resolution be postponed — and on the question to postpone it passed in the affirmative
The following resolution was moved by Mr Randolph seconded by Mr Madison
Resolved that the rights of suffrage in the national legislature ought to be proportioned — it was moved and seconded to add the words “and not according to the present system” — On the question to agree to the amendment it passed in the affirmative. [Ayes — 7; noes — 0.]3
It was then moved and seconded so to alter the resolution that it should read
Resolved that the rights of suffrage in the national legislature ought not to be according
It was then moved and seconded to postpone the consideration of the last resolution — And, on the question to postpone, it passed in the affirmative
The following resolution was then moved by Mr Madison seconded by Mr G. Morris.
Resolved that the equality of suffrage established by the articles of confederation ought not to prevail in the national legislature and that an equitable ratio of representation ought to be substituted
It was moved and seconded to postpone the consideration of the last resolution
And on the question to postpone it passed in the affirmative. [Ayes — 7; noes — 1.]4
It was moved and seconded that the Committee do now rise.
〈Roger Sherman (from Connecticut) took his seat.〉7
The House went into Committee of the Whole on the State of the Union. Mr. Gorham was elected to the Chair by Ballot.
The propositions of Mr. Randolph which had been referred to the Committee being taken up. He moved on the suggestion of Mr G. Morris
that the first of his propositions to wit 〈“Resolved8 that the articles of Confederation ought to be so corrected & enlarged, as to accomplish the objects proposed by their institution; namely, common defence, security of liberty & general welfare〉 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .NAshould be postponed in order to consider the 3 following.
1. that a Union of the States merely federal 〈will not accomplish the objects proposed by the articles of Condeferation, namely common defence, security of liberty, & genl. welfare.〉9
2. that no treaty or treaties among the whole or part of the States, as individual sovereignties, would be sufficient.
3 that a national Government 〈ought to be established〉 consisting of a supreme Legislative, Executive & Judiciary.
The motion for postponing was seconded by Mr. Govr. Morris and unanimously agreed to.
Some verbal criticisms were raised agst. the first proposition, and it was agreed 〈on motion of Mr Butler seconded by Mr. Randolph,〉7 to pass on to the third, which underwent a discussion. less however on its general merits than on the force and extent of the particular terms national10 & supreme.
Mr. Charles Pinkney wished to know of Mr. Randolph whether he meant to abolish the State Governts. altogether. Mr. R. replied that he meant by these general propositions merely to introduce the particular ones which explained the outlines of the system he had in view.
Mr. Butler said he had not made up his mind on the subject, and was open to the light which discussion might throw on it. 〈After some general observations he concluded with saying that he had〉11 opposed the grant of powers to Congs. heretofore, because the whole power was vested in one body. The proposed distribution of the powers into different bodies changed the case, and would induce him to go great lengths.
Genl. Pinkney expressed a doubt whether the act of Congs. recommending the Convention,12 or the Commissions of the deputies to it,13 could authorize a discussion of a System founded on different principles from the federal Constitution.
Mr. Gerry seemed to entertain the same doubt.
Mr. Govr. Morris explained the distinction between a federal and national, supreme, Govt.; the former being a mere compact resting on the good faith of the parties; the latter having a compleat and compulsive operation. He contended that in all communities there must be one supreme power, and one only.
Mr. Mason observed that the present confederation was not only deficient in not providing for coercion & punishment agst. delinquent States; but argued very cogently that punishment could not 〈in the nature of things be executed on〉 the States collectively, and therefore that such a Govt. was necessary as could directly operate on individuals, and would punish those only whose guilt required it.
Mr. Sherman who took his seat to day, admitted that the Confederation had not given sufficient power to Congs. and that additional powers were necessary; particularly that of raising money which he said would involve many other powers. He admitted also that the General & particular jurisdictions ought in no case to be concurrent. He seemed however not be disposed to Make too great inroads on the existing system; intimating as one reason, that it would be wrong to lose every amendment, by inserting such as would not be agreed to by the States
〈It was moved by Mr. Read 2ded by Mr. Chas. Cotesworth Pinkney, to postpone the 3d. proposition last offered by Mr. Randolph viz that a national Government ought to be established consisting of a supreme legislative Executive and Judiciary,” in order to take up the following — viz. “Resolved that in order to carry into execution the Design of the States in forming this Convention, and to accomplish the objects proposed by the Confederation a more effective Government consisting of a Legislative, Executive and Judiciary ought to be established.” The motion to postpone for this purpose was lost:
Yeas Massachusetts, Connecticut. Delaware S. Carolina — 4 Nays N. Y. Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina — 4〉14
On the question 〈as moved by Mr. Butler on the third proposition〉15 it was resolved in Committee of the whole that a national Governt. ought to be established consisting of a supreme Legislative Executive & Judiciary.” Massts. being ay — Connect. no. N. York divided (Col. Hamilton ay Mr. Yates no) Pena. ay. Delaware ay. Virga. ay. N. C. ay. S. C. ay. [Ayes — 6; noes — 1; divided — 1.]
〈The following Resolution being the 2d. of those proposed by Mr. Randolph was taken up. viz — “that the rights of suffrage in the National Legislature ought to be proportioned to the quotas of contribution, or to the number of free inhabitants, as the one or the other rule may seem best in different cases.”〉16
Mr. M〈adison〉 observing that the words 〈“or to the numberof〉 free inhabitants.” might occasion debates which would divert the Committee from the general question whether the principle of representation should be changed, moved that they might be struck out.
Mr. King observed that the quotas of contribution which would alone remain as the measure of representation, would not answer; because waving every other view of the matter, the revenue might hereafter be so collected by the general Govt. that the sums respectively drawn from the States would 〈not〉 appear; and would besides be continually varying.
〈Mr. Madison admitted the propriety of the observation, and that some better rule ought to be found.17
Col. Hamilton moved to alter the resolution so as to read “that the rights of suffrage in the national Legislature ought to be proportioned to the number of free inhabitants. Mr. Spaight 2ded. the motion.
It was then moved that the Resolution be postponed, which was agreed to.
Mr. Randolph and Mr. Madison then moved the following resolution — “that the rights of suffrage in the national Legislature ought to be proportioned”
It was moved and 2ded. to amend it by adding “and not according to the present system” — which was agreed to.
It was then moved and 2ded. to alter the resolution so as to read “that the rights of suffrage in the national Legislature ought not to be according to the present system.”
It was then moved & 2ded. to postpone the Resolution moved by Mr. Randolph & Mr. Madison, which being agreed to;
Mr. Madison, moved, in order to get over the difficulties, the following resolution — “that the equality of suffrage established by the articles of Confederation ought not to prevail in the national Legislature, and that an equitable ratio of representation ought to be substituted” This was 2ded. by Mr. Govr. Morris, and being generally relished, would have been agreed to; when,〉
Mr. Reed moved that the whole clause relating to the point of Representation be postponed; reminding the Come. that the deputies from Delaware were restrained by their commission from assenting to any change of the rule of suffrage, and in case such a change should be fixed on, it might become their duty to retire from the Convention.18
Mr. Govr. Morris observed that the valuable assistance of those members could not be lost without real concern, and that so early a proof of discord in the convention as a secession of a State, would add much to the regret; that the change proposed was however so fundamental an article in a national Govt. that it could not be dispensed with.
Mr. M〈adison〉 observed that whatever reason might have existed for the equality of suffrage when the Union was a federal one among sovereign States, it must cease when a national Governt. should be put into the place. In the former case, the acts of Congs. depended so much for their efficacy on the cooperation of the States, that these had a weight both within & without Congress, nearly in proportion to their extent and importance. In the latter case, as the acts of the Genl. Govt. would take effect without the intervention of the State legislatures, a vote from a small State wd. have the same efficacy & importance as 〈a vote〉 from a large one, and there was the same reason for 〈different numbers〉 of representatives from different States, as from Counties of different extents within particular States. He suggested as an expedient for at once taking the sense of the members on this point and saving the Delaware deputies from embarrassment, that the question should be taken in Committee, and the clause on report to the House 〈be postponed without a question there〉. This however did not appear to satisfy Mr. Read.
By several it was observed that no just construction of the Act of Delaware, could require or justify a secession of her deputies, even if the resolution were to be carried thro’ the House as well as the Committee. It was finally agreed however that the clause should be postponed: it being understood that in the event the proposed change of representation would certainly be agreed to, no objection or difficulty being started from any other quarter 〈than from Delaware.19
The motion of Mr. Read to postpone being agreed to
The Committee then rose. The Chairman reported progress, and the House having resolved to resume the subject in Committee tomorrow,20
Adjourned to 10 OClock〉
[May]21 30. — (pa. 38 to 47) Mr Sherman attended. In Comee of the whole — Mr Rs 1. res. was on his motion postponed. to consider three others introduced by him — the two first asserting the inefficiency of the federal & the 3d the necessity for a national & supreme govt. The latter after some discussion was resolved after debating the 2. res. on the right of suffrage it was postponed —
Convention met pursuant to adjournment.
The convention, pursuant to order, resolved itself into a committee of the whole — Mr. Gorham (a member from Massachusetts) appointed chairman.
Mr. Randolph then moved his first resolve, to wit: “Resolved, that the articles of the confederation ought to be so corrected and enlarged, as to accomplish the objects proposed by their institution, namely, common defence, security of liberty, and general welfare.”
Mr. G. Morris observed, that it was an unnecesaary resolution, as the subsequent resolutions would not agree with it. It was then withdrawn by the proposer, and in lieu thereof the following were proposed, to wit:
1.Resolved, That a union of the states, merely federal, will not accomplish the objects proposed by the articles of the confederation, namely, common defence, security of liberty, and general welfare.
2.Resolved, That no treaty or treaties among any of the states as sovereign, will accomplish or secure their common defence, liberty or welfare.
3.Resolved, That a national government ought to be established, consisting of a supreme judicial, legislative and executive.
In considering the question on the first resolve, various modifications were proposed, when Mr. Pinkney22 observed, at last, that if the convention agreed to it, it appeared to him that their business was at an end; for as the powers of the house in general were to revise the present confederation, and to alter or amend it as the case might require; to determine its insufficiency or incapability of amendment or improvement, must end in the dissolution of the powers.
This remark had its weight, and in consequence of it, the 1st and 2d resolve was dropt, and the question agitated on the third.
This last resolve had also its difficulties; the term supreme required explanation — It was asked whether it was intended to annihilate state governments? It was answered, only so far as the powers intended to be granted to the new government should clash with the states, when the latter was to yield.
For the resolution — Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Virginia, North-Carolina, South-Corolina.
Against it — Connecticut, New-York divided, Jersey and the other states unrepresented.
The next question was on the following resolve:
In substance that the mode of the present representation was unjust — the suffrage ought to be in proportion to number or property.
To this Delaware objected, in consequence of the restrictions in their credentials, and moved to have the consideration thereof postponed, to which the house agreed.
Adjourned to to-morrow.
Mr. Randolph wished the house to dissent from the first proposition on the paper delivered in to the convention in order to take up the following
1st. That a union of the States merely federal will not accomplish the object proposed by the articles of confederation, namely “common defence, security of liberty, and general welfare.”
2. That no treaty or treaties between the whole or a less number of the States in their sovereign capacities will accomplish their common defence, liberty, or welfare.
3. That therefore a national government ought to be established consisting of a supreme legislature, judi[c]iary and executive.
On a question taken on the last proposition after various attempts to amend it, the same was agreed to. For it, Massachusets Pennsylv. Delaware, Virginia, N. Carolina, and S. Carolina — against it Connecticut. New York divided.
The Committee then proceeded to consider the 2 Resolution in Mr. Randolphs paper viz
That the rights of suffrage in the national legislature ought to be proportioned to the quotas of contribution or to the number of free inhabitants as the one or the other rule may seem best in different cases.
As this gave the large States the most absolute controul over the lesser ones it met with opposition which produced an adjournment without any determination.
The Committee of the whole to sit to-morrow.
1st resolution from Mr. Randol.
Mr. R. wishes to have that resol. dissented to. The resol. postponed to take up the following:
1st. That a union of the States merely fœderal will not accomplish the object proposed by the articles of confederation, namely, “common defence, security of liberty, and general welfare”.
Mr. C. Pinkney wishes to know whether the establishment of this Resolution is intended as a ground for a consolidation of the several States into one.
Mr. Randol has nothing further in contemplation than what the propositions he has submitted yesterday has expressed.
2. Resolved that no treaty or treaties between the whole or a less number of the States in their sovereign capacities will accomplish their common defence, liberty or welfare.
3. Resolved therefore that a national governmen ought to be established consisting of a supreme legislature, judiciary and executive.
Mr. Whythe presumes from the silence of the house that they gentn. are prepared to pass on the resolution and proposes its being put.
Mr. Butler — does not think the house prepared, that he is not. Wishes Mr. Randolph to shew that the existence of the States cannot be preserved by any other mode than a national government.
Gen. Pinkney — Thinks agreeing to the resolve is declaring that the convention does not act under the authority of the recommendation of Congress.
The first resolution postponed to take up the 3d. viz — Resolved that a national government ought to be established consisting of a supreme legislature, judiciary and executive.
1787, 21 Febry. Resolution of Congress.
Resolved that in the opinion of Congress it is expedient that on the 2d Monday of May next a convention of delegates who shall have been appointed by the several States to be held at Philada. for the sole and expres purpose of revising the articles of confederation, and reporting to Congress and the several legislatures, such alterations and provisions therein as shall when agreeed to in Congress, and confirmed by the States, render the fœderal constitution, adequate to the exigencies of government and the preservation of the union.”
Mr. Randolph explains the intention of the 3d Resolution. Repeats the substance of his yesterdays observations. It is only meant to give the national government a power to defend and protect itself. To take therefore from the respective legislatures or States, no more soverignty than is competent to this end.
Mr. Dickinson. Under obligations to the gentlemen who brought forward the systems laid before the house yesterday. Yet differs from the mode of proceeding to which the resolutions or propositions before the Committee lead. Would propose a more simple mode. All agree that the confederation is defective all agree that it ought to be amended. We are a nation altho’ consisting of parts or States — we are also confederated, and he hopes we shall always remain confederated. The enquiry should be —
1. What are the legislative powers which we should vest in Congress.
2. What judiciary powers.
3 What executive powers.
We may resolve therefore, in order to let us into the business. That the confederation is defective; and then proceed to the definition of such powers as may be thought adequate to the objects for which it was instituted.
Mr. E. Gerry. Does not rise to speak to the merits of the question before the Committee but to the mode.
A distinction has been made between a federal and national government. We ought not to determine that there is this distinction for if we do, it is questionable not only whether this convention can propose an government totally different or whether Congress itself would have a right to pass such a resolution as that before the house. The commission from Massachusetts empowers the deputies to proceed agreeably to the recommendation of Congress. This the foundation of the convention. If we have a right to pass this resolution we have a right to annihilate the confederation.
Proposes — In the opinion of this convention, provision should be made for the establishment of a fœderal legislative, judiciary, and executive.
Governeur Morris. Not yet ripe for a decision, because men seem to have affixed different explanations to the terms before the house. 1. We are not now under a fœderal government. 2. There is no such thing. A fœderal government is that which has a right to compel every part to do its duty. The fœderal gov. has no such compelling capacities, whether considered in their legislative, judicial or Executive qualities.
The States in their appointments Congress in their recommendations point directly to the establishment of a supreme government capable of “the common defence, security of liberty and general welfare.
Cannot conceive of a government in which there can exist two supremes. A federal agreement which each party may violate at pleasure cannot answer the purpose. One government better calculated to prevent wars or render them less expensive or bloody than many.
We had better take a supreme government now, than a despot twenty years hence — for come he must.
Mr. Reed, Genl. Pky [Pinckney] 2dng. proposes — In order to carry into execution the design of the States inNAthis meeting and to accomplish the objects proposed by the confederation resolved that A more effective government consisting of a legislative judiciary and executive ought to be established.
In order to carry into execution
Mr. R. King — The object of the motion from Virginia, an establishment of a government that is to act upon the whole people of the U. S.
The object of the motion from Delaware seems to have application merely to the strenghtening the confederation by some additional powers —
Mr. Maddison — The motion does go to bring out the sense of the house — whether the States shall be governed by one power. If agreed to it will decide nothing. The meaning of the States that the confed. is defect. and ought to be amended. In agreeing to the . . .24
[1 ]On the back of the first loose page of the Detail of Ayes and Noes is
This is undoubtedly the vote for chairman of the committee of the whole. John Quincy Adams notes: “The vote for Rutledge was probably Gorham’s.” See Appendix A, CCCXXVIII.
[2 ]Vote 2, Detail of Ayes and Noes, see below note 6.
[3 ]Vote 3, Detail of Ayes and Noes. This is, however, by no means certain, see below note 6.
[4 ]Vote 4, Detail of Ayes and Noes. This is quite uncertain, see below note 6.
[5 ]This photograph reveals the carelessness with which the Secretary, William Jackson, kept certain of the records of the Convention (see Introduction, note 6). Subsequent pages were better arranged and are more serviceable, but as no dates are given, the assignment of votes is always more or less uncertain. In the present edition the original is produced as closely as possible by typographic devices. The votes have been assigned to the various days according to the editor’s best judgment in the light of all evidence obtainable. The numbers in brackets are prefixed to each vote by the editor for convenience of reference.
[7 ]Taken from Journal, see also Appendix A, XXXV.
[8 ]Copied from Journal, — a blank space had been left in the original record.
[9 ]Copied from Journal; crossed out “was insufficient for the purpose of securing the liberty and happiness &c.” See Appendix A, CCCLXXII.
[10 ]On the use of the term “national”, see above May 29 note 12.
[11 ]Madison struck out his original note and two later revisions of it, all of which were attempts to phrase a sentence to the effect that Butler was “guarded” or “cautious” in these observations.
[12 ]See Appendix A, I.
[13 ]See Appendix B.
[14 ]Taken from Journal. The vote probably should not be assigned to this question. See above note 6.
[15 ]Taken from Journal.
[16 ]Substance of this resolution was in the original, this wording was copied from Journal.
[17 ]Of this and seven paragraphs following the original record contained only the first and last paragraphs (with slightly different wording). The record as it stands was taken from Journal.
[18 ]See Records, May 25, note 12.
[19 ]This and the remainder of Madison’s records for this day were evidently based upon Journal and Yates.
[20 ]See further Appendix A, XXX.
[21 ]Memoranda by Madison, see May 25 note 13.
[22 ]Madison and McHenry ascribe expressions similar to this to Gen. C. C. Pinckney. Yates does not always distinguish between General Charles Cotesworth Pinckney and Mr. Charles Pinckney.
[23 ]This is from a loose folio sheet, in Dr. McHenry’s handwriting, which was found lying in the book containing the main body of his notes.
[24 ]End of paper. Unfinished.