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PART 3: The Achievement of the Philadelphia Convention - James McClellan, Liberty, Order, and Justice: An Introduction to the Constitutional Principles of American Government 
Liberty, Order, and Justice: An Introduction to the Constitutional Principles of American Government (3rd ed.) (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2000).
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The Achievement of the Philadelphia Convention
POINTS TO REMEMBER
1. The initial task of the Constitutional Convention was to revise and improve the Articles of Confederation, not to write a new constitution.
2. The delegates were soon persuaded, however, that the Articles were fundamentally flawed and that a new constitution, based upon a separation of powers among three branches of the national government, and a division of powers between the national government and the States, was essential.
3. One of the major difficulties that the Framers confronted was reconciling the differences between the large States and the small States. This they accomplished by giving all of the States representation in the national government, while at the same time giving a substantial share of power to the large States.
4. The Framers of the Constitution were gentlemen of great learning and ability and religious conviction. The Convention was an unusual gathering of America’s greatest leaders of the day. They resolved their differences by careful reasoning and thoughtful deliberation, not by force or violence.
5. The form of government which the Framers sought to create was a republic, or more specifically an extended republic that was both democratic and federal.
6. The Virginia Plan, the first proposal for a new political system debated at the Convention, favored a strong national government. The delegates who opposed this scheme and wished to reserve most political power to the States rallied around the New Jersey Plan.
7. Under the “Connecticut Compromise,” the delegates satisfied the demands of both the small States and the large States on the crucial question of representation in Congress. The interests of the small States were protected by giving all of the States equal representation in the Senate, and those of the large States by establishing representation in the House of Representatives on population.
8. The delegates wanted a strong Chief Executive who was independent and not chosen by or subservient to the legislature. They also desired a judiciary independent of the executive, but subject to some control by the legislature.
9. The delegates also reached an agreement on questions pertaining to slavery. They agreed to allow Congress to prohibit the importation of slaves after 1808. They also allowed the States to include three-fifths of their slave population for purposes of establishing representation in the House of Representatives. This came to be known as the “Three-Fifths Compromise.” Under the fugitive slave clause, the new Constitution also provided that slaves who might escape from one State into another must be returned to their owners.
In the heart of Philadelphia stands a handsome two-story brick building with central tower, belfry, spire, and conspicuous exterior clocks. It was erected before 1735 as the State House of Pennsylvania. Today it is called Independence Hall.
Here, in 1776, the Declaration of Independence was signed. Here again, on May 25, 1787, twenty-nine gentlemen assembled to prepare a constitution for a nation. Some days later they were joined by twenty-six more delegates. Fifty-five delegates attended the Constitutional Convention in the summer of 1787, but for voting purposes the number of States represented during the Convention’s four months of debate never rose above eleven at any one time. None ever arrived from Rhode Island.
Great empires have crashed since that day in May, but the Constitution framed in Independence Hall endures. Related here is the story of what happened at that Pennsylvania State House during the summer of 1787.
The Problems of the Convention
As noted earlier, the Articles of Confederation contained a number of flaws. How might the Articles be revised to remedy such defects? As matters soon turned out, the Convention delegates found it desirable to sweep away the Articles altogether and substitute an entirely new Constitution.
Whether under the old Articles or through some new instrument of government, the delegates to the Philadelphia Convention were expected to devise means for improving the operation of the Articles of Confederation. Fundamentally, the Convention was called to accomplish the following objectives:
(1) Put the general government on a sound financial footing.
(2) Remove trade barriers, both with foreign countries and among the several States, and improve the flow of commerce.
(3) Provide sound money for the country, and improve both public and private credit.
(4) Set up means for strengthening the United States in the conduct of foreign policy—including enforcement of Britain’s obligations to the United States under the terms of the Peace of Paris, concluded in 1783 at the end of the War of Independence.
(5) Obtain a greater degree of cooperation among the thirteen States, and require the State legislatures to protect the rights of property owners.
(6) Maintain good order under a republican form of government by preventing rebellions and mob violence when the State governments might be incompetent for that important task.
(7) Give the whole country such advantages as uniform bankruptcy laws, copyrights and patents, a postal service, management of western territories and Indian relations, naturalization of immigrants, and in general provide important services that the State governments could not.
These tasks seemed sufficiently formidable, but as the Convention delved into its business, many delegates decided that they must do more than alleviate the weaknesses of the Articles of Confederation. In the short Preamble to the seven articles of the new Constitution, as the document took shape, the drafters of this new frame of government expressed their larger aims:
“… to form a more perfect union …” That would require satisfying both the large States and the small States, and reassuring people who dreaded the powers of a central government. It meant, in short, effective federalism and a new relationship between the national government and the State governments.
“… establish justice …” That meant a systematic Federal judiciary, Montesquieu’s “depository of laws,” with an independent Supreme Court.
“… insure domestic tranquillity …” That implied adequate military force to maintain peace and order, and to avert organized violence.
“… provide for the common defense …” That signified the need to give the general government the means by which to raise and support an army and a navy to defend the country.
“… promote the general welfare …” Here the Framers had in mind one of their principal objectives: to establish a government that promoted the common good, and not just the interests of the few.
“… and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity …” This reference to freedom meant that one of the major purposes of the Constitution was to protect individual liberty, not to sacrifice it for other goals.
In addition, the Convention delegates also had to resolve the following major difficulties if the Constitution was to be acceptable to the American people:
A. Political sovereignty—which certain philosophers believed to be indivisible—had to be divided between a Federal government and the several State governments, with jurisdiction over some public concerns assigned to the Federal government and over others reserved to the States. It would not be easy to persuade champions of State sovereignty—the people and their locally elected leaders—to surrender their States’ independence.
B. Arrangements had to be made for separation of powers among the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government. A system of checking and balancing power in order to avert the one extreme of tyranny and the other extreme of anarchy would also have to be designed.
C. A legislative branch of the Federal government which would truly represent the people of the nation and yet not deny adequate representation to the State governments had to be established. In doing so, the delegates would have to reconcile the claim of the smaller States to equality with the larger States, and also the claim of the richer and more populous States to greater representation.
D. An independent executive, a President able to act decisively, especially in diplomatic and military affairs, yet limited in power so as not to menace the legislative and judicial branches, had to be created.
E. A Federal judiciary had to be set up, one that would be firm and just, competent to rule on cases transcending State boundaries and able to guard the Constitution, while not usurping the functions of the State courts or of the other branches of the Federal government.
F. Important political and legal institutions inherited from the Confederation, colonial governments, and the English constitution had to be incorporated in the new constitution. In addition, the new constitution would have to recognize and preserve longstanding rights that Americans had enjoyed under English law, such as trial by jury in criminal cases.
G. The delegates had to come to grips with the fundamental problem of politics, which is how to reconcile the need for order with the need for freedom—or, to put the matter another way, the problem of how to provide for both the security of the commonwealth and the personal rights of the citizen.
H. The delegates had to write a constitution that would be a practical instrument of government, effectively limiting power, and not a mere declaration of abstract goals. They would have to try to make the written constitution permanent, yet subject to amendment when change might become necessary.
Few of the delegates to Philadelphia had clearly in mind all of these responsibilities when they were appointed to the Philadelphia Convention. But gradually most of them became aware of how much they had undertaken, and how much the Articles of Confederation would have to be altered. Then the question was raised among them, especially by delegates from Delaware and Maryland, as to whether their States had authorized them to write a new constitution.
Despite such doubts, however, the large majority of delegates moved rather swiftly away from a proposed revision of the Articles toward the framing of a new political system. This was one reason why they decided to keep their proceedings secret. Word that a handful of men were preparing a political structure to supplant the Articles of Confederation presumably would have alarmed a large part of the population of every State.
No subsequent constitutional convention, in any country on any continent, has enjoyed such success as America’s in dealing with great difficulties. And yet the greatest difficulty facing the country was not surmounted when the Philadelphia Convention wound up its business in September of 1787. That difficulty was persuading the American public that the new Constitution offered them important advantages. The exercise of the art of persuasion would be undertaken by Hamilton, Madison, and Jay in The Federalist; by John Dickinson in his series of papers called The Letters of Fabius; and by the speeches and pamphlets of other notable delegates.
They were men of distinction, those gentlemen politicians, who could design such a lucid Constitution and persuade the skeptics of thirteen highly independent States to ratify it.
The Delegates to the Convention
The eighteenth-century gentlemen who drafted the Constitution did not outwardly resemble the members of Congress or the State legislatures today, because they wore knee breeches and long coats. Many of them also had short wigs on their heads. They looked very much like English gentlemen at a London assembly-room or in a London club, and very unlike the “tradesmen” or “mechanics” who thronged the narrow streets in the neighborhood of the old State House at Philadelphia. In addition, not many years earlier, some of these gentlemen politicians had worn swords at their sides.
Of the fifty-five delegates, twenty-one had fought in the Revolution (some as high officers), forty-six had served in colonial assemblies or State legislatures, twenty-four had been members of the Continental Congress, thirty-nine had served in the Congress under the Articles, ten had taken a hand in drafting State constitutions, six had signed the Declaration of Independence, and four had signed the Articles of Confederation. Twenty had been, were then, or later would be, governors of States, and twenty were at one time or another United States Senators.
Almost all were men of some property. A half-dozen were American aristocrats of great family and possessions, thirty-five were slaveholders, and some were prosperous merchants. Not all were rich. The two among them who in 1787 were the most prosperous, Robert Morris and James Wilson, would later die bankrupt, while the delegate of the smallest means, William Few, a Georgia frontiersman, ended his days as the well-to-do president of the City Bank in New York.
More than half the members of the Convention had been, or were, judges or lawyers. A good many Framers had been teachers at one time or another, and most were well educated. Many had studied at American colleges, at Oxford or Cambridge, or at the Scottish and Irish universities.
The spirit of religion and the spirit of a gentleman, an Irish statesman named Edmund Burke wrote in 1790, had sustained European man- ners and civilization. What, then, was the religion of these gentlemen-politicians meeting at Philadelphia? At least fifty of the Framers would have subscribed to the Apostles’ Creed. Among them were some twenty-three Episcopalians, ten Presbyterians, seven Congregationalists, two Catholics, two Lutherans, two Quakers, and at least one Methodist. Two of the Framers professed a belief in the Almighty but did not belong to any religious sect.
Such were the common elements among the fifty-five Framers. In general, they got on uncommonly well with one another. Despite their differences on political questions, the Framers formed almost a club of gentlemen that was united to secure an enduring social order. The civility of the debates and the reasonable acceptance of compromises contrasts that Great Convention with all other grand attempts, ancient or modern, to form a new constitution. In an era of duelling, not one delegate “called out” any other delegate to an encounter with pistols—though two of them (Alexander Hamilton and Richard Dobbs Spaight) were in later years killed in duels with enemies.
The first article of the Constitution provided that the United States might grant no title of nobility, and that no office-holder should accept a foreign title without the consent of the Congress. But the men who framed that article were not opposed to the idea of a gentleman. What they opposed were hereditary titles and special privileges based on birth. Some of the Framers, especially the Episcopalians, had read Thomas Fuller’s essays on the “True Gentleman” and the “Degenerous Gentleman,” published in Fuller’s big book, The Holy State and the Profane State (1642). “He is courteous and affable to his neighbors,” Fuller wrote of the True Gentleman. “As the sword of the best tempered metal is most flexible, so the truly generous are to their inferiors.” The gentleman should be a man of honor who would not lie or cheat. He should be a man of valor who would serve the commonwealth as magistrate or member of an assembly, and a man of charity, both spiritual and material. No doubt a few of the Framers were what Fuller called Degenerous Gentlemen, that is, selfish and cunning opportunists. But most lived by gentlemen’s rules as best they could. And some of them—Washington, George Mason, John Dickinson, Gouverneur Morris, Alexander Hamilton, C. C. Pinckney, Rufus King, John Rutledge, James Madison, Daniel Carroll, and others—fulfilled throughout their lives the gentleman’s obligations of manners, honor, valor, duty, and charity.
The Constitutional Convention was therefore often more like a gathering of polite friends than an assemblage of angry political zealots. Under the influence of gentle manners, the Convention was conducted with a decorum not since encountered in these United States, as delegates of differing views observed with one another the old traditions of civility. Temperate speech led to moderation, and moderation made it possible for the Framers to resolve their differences peaceably and to achieve a lasting consensus.
Such was the general tone of things at Independence Hall in the summer of 1787. Of course in any legislative body, or large council or committee, most of the work is accomplished by a minority of the members. So it was at the Convention of 1787. A score at least of the delegates were very active, while the others, quiet enough, approved or disapproved developments. With that understanding let us examine the character and ideas of the Convention’s leading men.
A Wide Range of Talents
George Washington, the most popular and most dignified of Americans, presided impartially over the Constitutional Convention. He was now first in peace as he had been first in war and represented both the American people as a whole and his native Virginia.
Edmund Randolph, Governor of Virginia, a man of great family and perfect manners, presented the Virginia Plan to the Convention. Eventually he decided not to sign the Constitution as it was drawn up at Philadelphia. Later still, however, he recommended its ratification by his State.
George Mason, of Gunston Hall in Virginia, author of the Virginia Bill of Rights and an accomplished debater, was a champion of the South and of the powers of the State governments. He was also a grand gentleman, admired for his integrity.
James Madison, a very learned man from Virginia, kept the most thorough notes on the Convention. More than anyone else he shaped the Constitution’s principal provisions—though it is something of an exaggeration to call him “the Father of the Constitution.” He saw the necessity for a strong national government, though he was the close friend of Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson also favored the Constitution but later became the leader of the Republicans, many of whom were former Anti-Federalists. In 1809, Madison was inaugurated as the fourth President of the United States.
William Paterson, of New Jersey, an Irish immigrant, had been a member of the Continental Congress and the Attorney-General of his State. A man of much knowledge, he presented the Convention with the “New Jersey Plan.” In 1793 he became a Justice of the Supreme Court, as a Federalist.
Robert Morris, of Pennsylvania, the chief financier of the American Revolution and an authority on fiscal concerns, was a celebrated debater and a conservative who signed the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, and the Constitution.
James Wilson, of Pennsylvania, a Scot with much learning in the law, professed his trust in the people, but was personally unpopular. A Philadelphia mob stormed his house in 1779, leaving many dead and wounded on both sides of the fight. A Carlisle crowd in Pennsylvania rioted against him and burned him in effigy in 1788. He would later write the first American treatise on the law and serve as a member of the Supreme Court of the United States.
Gouverneur Morris, of Pennsylvania, regarded by some as the most brilliant delegate, was a public man of high courage and great wealth. It was he who actually put down in writing the final draft of the Constitution. Never handicapped by his wooden leg and crippled arm, he later served as the United States Minister to Paris at the height of the French Revolution.
John Dickinson, previously of Pennsylvania and now the leading delegate from Delaware, the smallest of the States, had been a chief leader of the Continental Congress and chairman of the committee that drafted the Articles of Confederation. Also, he was the composer of the young republic’s most popular anthem, “The Song of the Farmer.” He was cautious and persuasive, and many of his views were incorporated into the Constitution.
Alexander Hamilton, from New York, was born in the West Indies. He was a master of finance, a successful soldier, a considerable political thinker, and the close friend of George Washington. He later became the first Secretary of the Treasury under the Constitution, and died in a duel with Aaron Burr. He was not able to exert much influence at the Convention, but he later did much to obtain the Constitution’s ratification in New York and elsewhere.
John Rutledge, of South Carolina. He was a man of great force of character whose approval would have been required for any new constitution—not merely in South Carolina, but nationally. He was insistent upon the security of private property in any social order.
Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, of South Carolina, had studied under the great English jurist Sir William Blackstone at Oxford University. He also studied botany, chemistry, and military science in France. He was convinced that the United States must develop military strength for national defense, and that the public debt must be drastically reduced through sound fiscal policies.
Elbridge Gerry, of Massachusetts, an astute politician, had also succeeded as a merchant. Like George Mason, he was suspicious of consolidation and centralized government. A powerful spokesman for States’ Rights, he was elected Vice President of the United States on the ticket with James Madison in 1812.
Rufus King, of Massachusetts (later of New York), was one of the younger delegates. Very much a Yankee, he was rather hostile toward the South and the West. He was an outspoken opponent of slavery; he also advocated constitutional guarantees to prohibit the States from violating the sanctity of contracts.
William Samuel Johnson, a Connecticut lawyer originally trained for the church. He held degrees from Yale, Harvard, and Oxford, and was always addressed as Dr. Johnson. He had been neutral during the Revolution, though he was active in the earlier Stamp Act Congress. Johnson served as one of his State’s first Senators under the new Constitution and as the first president of Columbia College.
Roger Sherman, of Connecticut, the mayor of New Haven, was a self-made man who began as a shoemaker. He spoke nearly a hundred and forty times at the convention—always effectively—and was a principal negotiator of its compromises.
Oliver Ellsworth, judge of the Supreme Court of Connecticut, was a defender of the small States and an advocate of the New Jersey Plan. He feared the possibility of intrusions by a federal government into the affairs of the several States.
Luther Martin, of Maryland, argued in favor of keeping most political power in the States, though he was willing to revise the Articles of Confederation. An immensely successful lawyer, he later fought the Federalists in courts during the first two decades of the nineteenth century.
Most of the delegates lived interesting lives. Anyone who studies the careers of all the fifty-five Framers must be surprised by the great energy that nearly all of them possessed. They came from a variety of backgrounds, including agriculture, trade, the law, the military, and political administration. Hugh Williamson of North Carolina, for example, had been Presbyterian preacher, professor of mathematics, physician, businessman, physical scientist (especially in astronomy), philosopher, political pamphleteer, Surgeon General of North Carolina, a member of the North Carolina legislature, and a member of the Continental Congress. He held more than seventy thousand acres of land on the frontier. Williamson put forth a variety of interesting and original proposals for the new Constitution, but few were accepted by his fellow-delegates.
Surprisingly, two of the more famous and talented of the delegates contributed little to the framing. One was Benjamin Franklin, because of his great age (though he remained witty and helpful), and the other was George Wythe, the great professor of law at William and Mary College. He had to depart early from Philadelphia because his wife was dying back at Williamsburg.
As noted earlier, the Framers in outward appearance did not much resemble the members of a twentieth-century American legislature. Neither did they much resemble today’s politicians in their style as public speakers, nor in the sort of education they had obtained. For the men at Philadelphia in 1787 had studied formal rhetoric, and so spoke with care—and often with eloquence. The majority of them had attended colleges or universities during an era when intellectual disciplines were taken seriously. It was remarked, even then, that this was a gathering, as Jefferson put it, of “demigods.” Yet some of America’s most brilliant leaders were absent. Jefferson himself was in Paris and John Adams was in London, both representing the United States as foreign ministers. Patrick Henry and Richard Henry Lee of Virginia had refused to attend, and John Jay of New York had been refused an appointment.
Many of the Framers were intensely ambitious men who had great expectations for both the nation and themselves. They were acutely aware that at Philadelphia they had become involved in high concerns. That consciousness was reflected in their manner and speech. It has been remarked by many writers and political leaders that it would probably not be possible in the United States today to assemble a group of delegates equal in talent to the fifty-five men who met at Philadelphia two centuries ago. Qualified by personal experience, schooling, and character, and moved by their knowledge of America’s necessities, the Framers of our Constitution acted with unusual wisdom.
Plans and Progress at Philadelphia
The more one reads about those delegates of 1787, the more one becomes aware that they came to Philadelphia with open minds—in the sense that few were committed in advance to any particular scheme for improving upon the Articles of Confederation. They believed strongly in certain political principles, but they did not advocate elaborately detailed political systems or master plans for the “perfect” commonwealth. The plans of government that were offered at the outset of the Convention were intended to serve merely as general guidelines.
Of course they took certain matters for granted. One was that the United States should remain a republic, as had been declared in 1776. By a republic, as we noted earlier, the Framers meant a state in which the sovereign power rests in the people as a whole but is exercised by representatives chosen by a popular vote. History furnishes examples of monarchic, aristocratic, and democratic republics. Sparta, Athens, and Rome, for example, were called republics, but their limited franchise gave them an aristocratic character. Venice was styled a republic though absolute power was exercised by a small body of hereditary nobles. In the modern world, the term republic is so much abused that even despotic regimes apply it to their forms of government. Thus the Russians called their system the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), implying that it was both federal and republican. In actuality it was a centralized form of government, governed by an elite cadre of Communist Party members who were neither chosen by, nor politically responsible to, the people.
James Madison, in The Federalist, stated that “The two points of difference between a democracy and a republic, are, first, the delegation of the government, in the latter to a number of citizens elected by the rest; secondly, the greater number of citizens and the greater sphere of country over which the latter may be extended.” The American republic, according to Madison, then, was more precisely understood as a democratic and extended (or federal) republic, encompassing a broad geographical area and a large population. Thomas Jefferson, on the other hand, thought that “the first principle of republicanism” was simply rule by the majority. Perhaps the best definition is that offered by Judge Thomas Cooley of Michigan in his classic work, Principles of Constitutional Law (1890): “By a republican form of government is understood a government by representatives chosen by the people; and it contrasts on the one side with a democracy, in which the people or community as one organized whole wield the sovereign powers of government, and, on the other side, with the rule of one man, as king, emperor, czar, or sultan, or with that of one class of men, as an aristocracy.”
A republic seemed to be the only possibility for the United States in 1787. The Americans had no royal family, no hereditary nobility; and few of the delegates were inclined toward the idea of a king, even if elected. Most of the delegates did see the need, however, for an executive head and a judiciary as well as a representative assembly—something lacking under the Articles. The word “democracy” was often used in the convention as a term of opprobrium and disgrace, because “democracy” was then understood to mean mob rule. Shays’ Rebellion, fresh in the minds of the Framers and put down earlier that fateful year of 1787, was what “democracy” meant to the delegates. Not until the late 1820s did the term “democracy” become at all popular in America’s practical politics.
In addition, the delegates were generally agreed, from the beginning, that the Articles of Confederation needed strengthening and improvement. This was true even of Luther Martin, George Mason, and other delegates who favored a weak central government. It was clear enough to everyone that somehow a means must be found by which the “general” government (that is, the existing government of the Articles) might improve the flow of commerce and raise revenue, because the economy was stagnant and national debt was becoming ruinous. It was clear, too, that at least in foreign affairs the general government must be enabled to act with greater firmness and authority.
But there were also points of disagreement among the delegates, the most significant being the question of whether the United States should remain a confederacy of sovereign States or whether a new form of national government should be undertaken. Allied to this dispute was the argument as to whether large and small States should remain equal in power under any new constitution, or whether representation in a new national government should be in accord with population and wealth, and so confer a heavy preponderance of political power upon the more populous, larger states. By the end of the Convention in September, all of these and most other differences were resolved.
The Meaning of “Federal”
In America today, the tendency is to contrast “federal government” with “state government”—almost as if to suggest “central government” versus “regional government.” But that is not an adequate distinction.
Until nearly the end of the eighteenth century, the word “federal” was a synonym for the word “confederate.” In politics, a federation was a league of states or cities. This had been the definition of such words from ancient times.
The member-states or member-cities of a “federation” or “confederation” did not acknowledge or create a central government. They remained independent, but were joined together loosely by a treaty or some other agreement by which the members pledged themselves to cooperate with each other under certain circumstances or for certain limited purposes—usually military action. A federal government scarcely was a government at all. It amounted to no more than a simple apparatus for enabling the members of the confederation to confer and cooperate.
Such federations were distinguished from a central government, which had always been understood to mean a political structure in which there is one central sovereign power that all lesser political units must obey. A centralized regime, sometimes called a consolidated or unitary system of government, is one in which most political power is vested in authorities located at a common center—usually a city. The growth of centralization means the transfer of power from the local level and its greater and greater concentration in the hands of central authorities. This power may be legislative, executive, or judicial, and is usually all three. In the modern world, France, Spain, and Italy are examples of centralized political systems, whereas Switzerland, Germany, and Austria have federal systems.
So the government of the United States under the Articles of Confederation from 1781 to 1789 was a “federal” government in the old sense of that term. The United States was a league of sovereign States, banded together for common advantages, but each retaining its independence. The coordinating body, chiefly the Congress, was called the government of the United States.
In the summer of 1787, the advocates of political reform, especially James Madison and Alexander Hamilton, were trying to bring into being a quite new form of general government—sometimes referred to as “national”—which would greatly reduce the powers of the States. Such plans were opposed by those delegates to the Great Convention who for a variety of reasons viewed with hostility any designs for centralizing power. The proponents of a strong national government first proposed what was called the Virginia or Randolph Plan. A second group of delegates, shocked by the nationalism of the Virginia Plan, put forward their New Jersey or Paterson Plan. Less detailed plans were proposed by Alexander Hamilton of New York and Charles Pinckney of South Carolina.
There emerged from this encounter a draft of a new constitution which was the result of a series of compromises among groups of delegates. It called for a constitution that would be neither a confederacy nor a centralized government. This new system would be a form of government that would forever change the meaning of the word “federal.”
To understand how this novel proposal—our Constitution—took form, we first need to look at the rival plans laid before the Convention in its early weeks.
The Virginia Plan: A Supreme National Government
By May 29, the delegates had made their way through the preliminary stages of organization. The delegates from Virginia, then the most populous of the States, promptly presented to the Convention a bold design for abolishing the Articles of Confederation and substituting a national government.
Edmund Randolph, the Governor of Virginia, introduced the Virginia Plan. It consisted of fifteen resolutions that were drawn up primarily by James Madison. The first resolution criticized the operation of the Articles of Confederation. Then, in the succeeding resolutions, the Virginians proposed a new form of government for the whole nation.
They proposed three separate branches of government: legislative, executive, and judicial.
The legislative branch was to have two houses—a lower house (what we now call the House of Representatives) elected by the people of the several States, and an upper house (what we now call the Senate) whose members would be chosen by the first house from among persons nominated by the State legislatures.
For both houses of the national legislature, voting was to be in proportion to the amount of money contributed by each State to the national government, or in proportion to the number of free inhabitants of each State, or in proportion to both. This system of representation would give the large, populous States control of the legislature.
The legislature was to inherit the powers of the Congress of the Confederation, and be given additional powers. It would enact laws “in all cases to which the separate States are incompetent, or in which the harmony of the United States may be interrupted by the exercise of individual legislation.” This new legislature would be empowered to wipe out all State laws contrary to the new articles of union. And it could use force against any State that disobeyed national policy.
As for the executive branch, the executive was to be chosen by the legislature. The Virginia resolutions did not indicate whether the executive was to consist of one person or of several persons, but it did specify that the executive could serve only one term. Also, the executive’s salary could not be altered while the executive held office. (This was a protection against the executive being threatened by the legislature with loss of salary, as colonial assemblies had done to colonial governors.) The executive, together with “a convenient number of the national judiciary,” could veto acts of the legislature. But the two houses of the legislature could overrule the executive’s veto.
The judicial branch would consist of judges chosen by the Federal legislature. It was to have one or more supreme courts and also lesser Federal courts, and would try cases of maritime law, cases involving foreigners, and cases concerning “the collection of the national revenue, impeachments of any national officers, and questions which may involve the national peace and harmony.”
Of the several other resolutions in the Virginia Plan, one required that all State officers swear to support the new constitution. Another required that the new constitution be ratified by State conventions chosen by popular vote.
The day after the Virginia Plan was introduced, Gouverneur Morris proposed that “a national Government ought to be established consisting of a supreme Legislative, Executive, and Judiciary.” In adopting this resolution, the Convention in effect discarded the Articles of Confederation and embarked upon the task of drawing up a new constitution.
The details of the Virginia Plan remained to be debated, however, and very debatable they were. Opponents of centralization, together with delegates from the smaller States, were alarmed by the boldness and abruptness of the Virginia delegation’s proposal. Many delegates had not even arrived at Philadelphia, and as they did, opposition to the Virginia Plan increased.
Had the Virginia Plan been adopted in its entirety, the smaller States would have been overshadowed by the larger States in the new government. The national legislature would have been supreme over the executive and judicial branches of the government. The several States would have been converted into little more than provinces directed by a central government.
Even if most Americans had been willing to accept such a centralized political structure—and they clearly were not willing in 1787 to do so—its operation would have been difficult. The United States encompassed an immense area and was growing rapidly westward. Communication among the States and even within the States was still chiefly by ship or boat. There was no body of civil servants to carry on the administration of a central government. That the Virginia Plan was even seriously considered by the delegates at Philadelphia was made possible only by the high reputation of George Washington, who was known to favor the Plan, and by the skillful management of James Madison.
Thus, the leading men of Virginia in 1787 were the most vigorous advocates of political centralization. By contrast, only twelve years later, the State of Virginia adopted the famous Virginia Resolutions protesting Federal usurpations of State powers under the Alien and Sedition Acts. And it was principally James Madison who wrote both the resolutions of the Virginia Plan in 1787 and the Virginia Resolutions of 1798. In 1787, however, it seemed as though Virginia would dominate national policies. The Virginia delegation to the Convention, except for George Mason, envisioned a powerful central government in which Virginia would play a dominant role.
Two weeks passed before opponents of the Virginia Plan were ready to offer an alternative design. Meanwhile, discussion of the Virginia Plan as the basis for a new constitution advanced. On June 15, William Paterson proposed the New Jersey Plan. He was supported by his own delegation and by the delegations from Connecticut, New York, and Delaware, and by one or two delegates from Maryland. Before debate on the alternative New Jersey Plan could commence, however, the young delegate from New York, Alexander Hamilton, proposed a third plan for a new governmental system.
Hamilton’s Concept of a Unified America
For Hamilton, neither the New Jersey Plan nor the Virginia Plan went far enough. He made it clear that he desired for the United States a completely centralized government resembling that of England, one able to restrain “the amazing violence and turbulence of the democratic spirit.” He hoped for an orderly America led by able men of property, and he expected the United States to become a great commercial and industrial power. The nation’s government, he suggested, should be designed for such a future.
Therefore Hamilton proposed to give the national legislature “power to pass all laws whatsoever.” His legislature would consist of two houses, of which the members of the upper house, a senate, would be chosen by electors—and those electors themselves were to be chosen by other electors whom the people would choose. The executive was also to be chosen by electors, who in turn would be chosen by other electors, and would be elected for life—as would be the members of the upper house. The executive would have an absolute veto over all legislation.
As for the States, they would be reduced to agencies of the central government, although they would retain their own legislatures. But each State’s governor would be appointed by the central government, and would have power of the veto over all State legislation.
This scheme would never have been accepted by the public in 1787. Indeed, it was not accepted by any of Hamilton’s colleagues at the Convention. Not long thereafter, Hamilton returned to New York. His real role in the development of American constitutionalism would soon be his masterful contribution to the essays of The Federalist, and his commanding role in President Washington’s administration.
Hamilton did not propose to establish a monarchy, although some of his political adversaries accused him of intending to do just that. Though personally very courageous, Hamilton dreaded the power of mobs. There had been much unrest in several States after independence was secured, including the burning of court houses, confiscation of property, debasement of the currency, and Shays’ Rebellion. Hamilton therefore sought as far as possible to remove political power from the control of the ignorant masses, and to place it in the hands of more responsible citizens. He believed that an all-powerful government was necessary to control lawless and unruly citizens. But his plan would have been even less acceptable to most Americans of that day than the one proposed by the Virginia delegates, and so nothing more was said about it at the Convention.
The New Jersey Plan:Checks upon Central Power
If the delegations that united in mid-June behind the New Jersey Plan had brought forward their ideas at the beginning of the Convention, they might have prevailed over James Madison, James Wilson, and the large delegations from Virginia and Pennsylvania. For as William Paterson and his friends argued, their Plan much more nearly corresponded to the sentiments of the average American citizen than did the Virginia Plan. But as it is true in battle that the force which fires first ordinarily wins the fight, so in public discussions a great advantage is gained often by the side which speaks first and forcefully. By being introduced first, the Virginia Plan had become the basic design of the Convention before proponents of the New Jersey Plan spoke up. Put on the defensive, Paterson, Luther Martin, Oliver Ellsworth, and other critics of the Virginia Plan were able merely to modify the centralizing tendency of the Virginians’ proposal.
Shorter than the Virginia Plan, the New Jersey Plan consisted of nine resolutions, intended to improve the Articles of Confederation rather than create a new constitutional instrument. It would have given the Congress authority to raise revenues through taxes on imports, stamp taxes, and postal charges. Power to regulate commerce among the States would have been conferred upon the Congress. If the Federal government still needed more money, it could requisition funds from the several States, proportionate to each State’s population (counting three-fifths of the slaves as part of the population). Acts of Congress and treaties would have been declared the supreme law of the United States.
The New Jersey Plan would have included a Federal executive consisting of several persons (as was the Pennsylvania executive at that time), without a power of veto over acts of Congress. There would have been a United States Supreme Court, appointed by the executive, with original jurisdiction over cases of impeachment of Federal officers. The court would receive on appeal from State courts various cases affecting treaties, international and interstate trade, and collection of Federal taxes.
The New Jersey Plan would have preserved a strong influence for the smaller States in the Union, and in general tone would have made it clear that the several States were not being wholly subordinate to some central power. The Plan was supported by delegates who were alarmed at the lack of checks and balances in the Virginia design. As John Dickinson told Madison, “You see the consequences of pushing things too far.”
On June 19, the Convention made its choice on whether to proceed with the Virginia Plan or the New Jersey Plan. The Virginia Plan won with votes from Massachusetts, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia. New York, New Jersey, and Delaware voted for the New Jersey Plan. The Maryland delegation was divided.
But the apparent defeat of the New Jersey faction was not total. The victorious supporters of the Virginia Plan now saw that if they wished the delegations from all States to sign a new Constitution, they must make important concessions to their colleagues, who feared centralization and who represented the smaller States. Even more importantly, the general public would have to be assured that the majority of men at the Convention did not mean to strike down the State governments by their new instrument of national government.
The Benefits of Compromise
In national politics, as in private life, it is sometimes wise to compromise one’s goals on certain occasions. Not everybody can have everything he wants; and half a loaf is better than none. In every country there are competing interests, differing bodies of opinion, distinct classes, and other rival groups or factions. So from late June onward, the gentlemen politicians at the Convention endeavored to reconcile their differences.
Madison dropped from the Virginian proposals the word “national” because it offended the moderate delegates. Reference to the possible use of force against dissenting State governments also was eliminated. One faction of delegates wanted to elect members of the “first house” of the new legislature for three years, and another faction argued in favor of one-year terms. They finally agreed on a two-year term—and that became part of the draft of the new constitution. Agreements were also reached on a six-year term for the “second house” and on lesser concerns. Nonetheless, there remained a principal obstacle to consensus at the Convention.
The great stumbling block was the old issue of representation that had surfaced earlier under the Articles of Confederation. Proponents of the Virginia Plan wanted to base representation of each State on the State’s population or its contribution to financial support of the Federal treasury. This was the position of most delegates from the larger and more wealthy States. By contrast, supporters of the New Jersey Plan wanted all the States to have equal representation in Congress—as they had enjoyed under the Articles of Confederation, with one State, one vote. This was the position of most delegates from the smaller States.
Presently a committee of one delegate from each State was chosen to arrange some compromise on this heated question. Dr. Benjamin Franklin appears to have worked out the committee’s agreement, which in effect gave the small-State delegates more or less what they sought. The committee’s report was hotly debated, and there were threats on either side that States might turn to violence if their cause was denied. More committees were therefore appointed, more concessions were made by either side, and at length the “Great Compromise” of the Convention was achieved. Five States voted for the Great Compromise, four against it, one was divided, and one State’s delegation—New York’s—went home in dismay. The result was a narrow margin of victory, but a victory that has nonetheless endured for two hundred years.
The concept of this Great Compromise was originally John Dickinson’s. Other delegates adopted it. Madison opposed it. It is sometimes known as the “Connecticut Compromise” because Dr. William S. Johnson, Oliver Ellsworth, and Roger Sherman of Connecticut vigorously urged its adoption. By the provisions of this Great Compromise, each State would have an equal vote in the upper house of the Federal legislature. This meant, in effect, that each State—no matter how large or how small, nor how rich or how poor—would retain in the upper house (now the Senate) the power that it had enjoyed under the Confederation. This arrangement also satisfied the general desire of the delegates to keep the size of the Senate small for purposes of debate. If all thirteen States joined the new union, the Senate would therefore consist of only 26 senators—two from each state.
In the lower house (what is now the House of Representatives), the number of members for the first Congress was specified for each of the States. Thereafter, apportionment would be made by the Congress itself on the basis of population, with three-fifths of the slaves being counted in each State for purposes of representation. In other words, the upper house (the Senate) would treat all States as equal, thus giving the small States a strong voice in that body. Membership in the lower house (the House of Representatives) would be based on population, thus giving an obvious advantage to the more populous States.
Many other important details remained to be settled by the Convention. The Virginia Plan had become the basis of the Convention’s work, but much of that plan needed to be modified or clarified.
Of the many complicated issues confronting the members of the Philadelphia Convention, the nature of the presidency proved to be almost as troublesome as the basis of representation in the legislature. In fact, in some respects the creation of the executive office was more difficult, and not until the closing days of the Convention were the delegates able to come to a complete agreement. The Virginia Plan offered little more than a general recommendation that “a national executive … chosen by the national legislature be instituted,” with the power to exercise “the executive rights” that had been vested in Congress under the Articles of Confederation. The Plan was silent on other specifics. Was the president to be one person or a collection of individuals? Instead of being chosen by the Congress, why not by the State governors, or by electors? Or should he be chosen directly by the people in a national vote? How long should he serve? Four years? Six? Seven? Eight? Eleven? Fifteen? For as long as the executive displayed “good behavior”? Should he be eligible for re-election? Should it be possible to impeach the chief executive, as members of the cabinet could be impeached by the House of Commons?
American precedents for a strong, independent executive under the first State constitutions, as we noted previously, were sparse. Reacting against the highhandedness of the royal governors, the framers of the State constitutions had generally created weak executives and strong legislatures; and the Articles of Confederation had vested all executive power in a unicameral Congress. Experience had shown, however, that many of these State legislatures had acted without restraint and abused their power, and that certain executive functions should not be conferred on a legislative body. There was therefore considerable support for the establishment of a reasonably powerful executive to check the legislature.
The New York constitution offered a better guide than the Virginia Plan and served as a point of departure. It provided for the election of a governor by the people, who was thus independent of the legislature. His term was three years and he was indefinitely re-eligible. Except for his power to appoint and veto laws proposed by the legislature, he did not need the approval of another body to carry out the executive function. He was in charge of the militia, possessed the pardoning power, and was empowered to execute the laws. In Federalist No. 69, Hamilton later observed the similarities and differences between the President and the New York governor.
When the executive portion of the Virginia Plan was taken up on June 1, James Wilson of Pennsylvania moved that the executive should consist of a single person. He argued in favor of a strong executive—elected by the people, and free of dependence on the legislature as well as the States. Wilson also wanted an executive who was empowered to veto legislation (in concurrence with a council of revision) and was eligible for re-election indefinitely. The great requisites of the executive department, the delegates agreed, were “vigor, dispatch and responsibility,” and Wilson’s proposal met these requirements.
The vote on Wilson’s motion was put over until the questions of method of selection, length of term, manner of removal, and powers of the office were determined. The Convention agreed that the executive should be independent of the legislature, but set its face against direct popular election of the executive, preferring instead an indirect method using State electors. “It would be as unnatural to refer the choice of a proper character for Chief Magistrate to the people,” remarked Gouverneur Morris, “as it would to refer a trial of colors to a blind man.” The term of office was set at four years, with indefinite re-eligibility, and the executive was armed with a veto power subject not to approval by a council of revision but to an override by a two-thirds vote of both houses of Congress. Given broad authority to exercise “the executive power” the Chief Executive was at the same time held in check by the people through presidential electors and subject to removal by Congress through the impeachment process. In general, then, Wilson was triumphant in attempting to lay the groundwork for the development of a strong independent executive, even though he was unsuccessful and virtually alone in advocating direct popular election of the President.
As for the judicial branch, the Virginia Plan suggested only “that a national judiciary be established” consisting of “one or more supreme tribunals, and of inferior tribunals to be chosen by the national legislature.” The Plan further provided that the judges hold their offices “during good behavior,” that their salaries be immune from legislative manipulation, and that their jurisdiction be limited to a narrow range of cases. The Plan thus envisaged a weak judiciary but one that was totally independent of the executive and partially removed from the influence of the legislature.
The members of the Convention were unanimously agreed that a national judiciary be established, but decided to strike the provision for inferior tribunals on the ground that they were not needed because State courts could deal with Federal cases at the trial stage. They ultimately decided, at the insistence of Wilson and Madison, that Congress be given the power to establish inferior courts as the need arose. As finally worked out in committee, the judicial power was increased well beyond the scope of the Virginia Plan.
At the apex of the national judiciary they established a Supreme Court headed by a chief justice. Before any Federal court could exercise the judicial power, however, it would first have to have jurisdiction over the case, meaning the authority to decide it. Placing primary responsibility for control of the courts in the hands of the legislature, the Framers gave Congress full authority not only to establish lower courts but to fix the size of the Supreme Court, regulate the jurisdiction of both the lower courts and the Supreme Court, set judicial salaries (but not reduce them), determine the time and place for sitting, and in general create and organize the whole judicial branch. As soon as the Constitution was ratified, Congress filled in these details in the Judiciary Act of 1789. The role of the President was limited to the appointment of the judges, subject to Senate confirmation. There were other questions: how should the new constitution be presented to the States and the people? Should it be submitted to the State legislatures? Should it be submitted to special State conventions, popularly elected? Could it go into effect if ratified by less than all the States? Eager to establish the Constitution on a popular base, but to recognize as well the residual sovereignty of the States, the delegates decided to submit the Constitution to State ratifying conventions chosen by the people. The Constitution would go into effect as soon as nine States ratified it.
In reaching decisions and compromises on all these and many other important matters, the Convention relied heavily on key committees to resolve issues that were not addressed on the floor or had been left undecided, to hammer out the details, and to put the Constitution in writing. On July 26, the Convention adjourned until August 6 so the Committee of Detail could prepare a report. This committee consisted of five delegates: Rutledge of South Carolina, Randolph of Virginia, Gorham of Massachusetts, Wilson of Pennsylvania, and Ellsworth of Connecticut—all of whom had been active in the Convention debates. These delegates were expected to work out, in the space of ten days, all these difficult concerns. From August 6 to September 10, the Convention considered this report in detail. A Committee of Style, consisting of Johnson of Connecticut, Hamilton of New York, Gouverneur Morris of Pennsylvania, Madison of Virginia, and King of Massachusetts, was chosen on September 8 to put the new Constitution into final literary form.
Compromise and Consensus
With astonishing speed the Committee on Detail, headed by James Wilson, and the Committee on Style, headed by Gouverneur Morris, succeeded in putting together what we now know as the seven articles of the original Constitution of the United States. Wilson’s committee arrived at acceptable agreements concerning the election of the executive (the President), the length of his term, impeachment, appointment of Federal judges and the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court, terms and functions of United States senators, and means of ratifying the proposed constitution.
Some subjects roused serious debate, particularly the matter of slavery, which greatly complicated questions concerning the basis of direct taxation and of representation. The system of requisitions—State contributions to the Federal treasury upon request—that prevailed under the Confederation might be continued, but how should those requisitions be allocated among the States? Oddly, there was no distinct recognition that the normal basis of representation ought to be persons, and that the normal basis of taxation ought to be wealth. It was finally decided, however, that both representatives and direct taxes should be apportioned among the several States according to population. The larger the population the greater the number of representatives. As a concession to the southern States, the population to be counted included three-fifths of the slave population, even though slaves were not entitled to vote.
The inclusion of three-fifths of the slaves constituted the so-called “Three-Fifths Compromise.” There was some objection to it in the Convention, but the issue was not vigorously challenged there or in the State ratifying conventions. This adjustment, in fact, had already been suggested in the Confederation Congress, and it was not altogether strange or novel to the delegates.
Although the question of slavery would later bring about disunion and civil war, in 1787 it was overshadowed by other considerations. Of paramount concern to the delegates was the desperate need to reach a compromise on a great variety of issues and to develop a consensus sufficient to persuade the delegates and the State ratifying conventions to endorse the final draft of the Constitution. Far more troublesome than slavery was the jealousy between the large States and the small States—a jealousy that reached back to the Revolutionary War period and that, had it been aroused by a prohibition against slavery, would probably have made Union impossible.
This jealousy was based not on differences between free States and slave States, as would later be the case, but upon political, cultural, and economic factors. Among the delegates, there were slaveholders from the North as well as the South. We noted earlier, in fact, that nearly all of the States in 1787 had slaves, and that the opponents of slavery were not confined to any particular State. Some of the New England delegates—Rufus King of Massachusetts, in particular—objected to having the Constitution recognize slavery, but no less an opponent of this practice was George Mason of Virginia.
On the other hand, some of the delegates from the lower South—the Carolinas and Georgia—thought slavery was economically necessary. The people of those States looked forward to expanding into the western lands that now form Alabama, Mississippi, and Tennessee. They believed that only by employing slave labor could they carry on their rural plantation economy.
General Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, speaking for those three southern States, feared that Congress, under the new Constitution, could forbid the importation of slaves into the United States—as, indeed, King, Mason, and other delegates wished to do as soon as possible. Pinckney and his colleagues therefore warned that these States might refuse to join the Union if some protections of their economic interests were not included in the Constitution. One of the most passionate debates of the Convention was brought on by this conflict of convictions. The matter was finally settled by a compromise that was arranged in part by Oliver Ellsworth of Connecticut.
The antislavery delegates reluctantly agreed to a constitutional provision that would forbid Congress from interfering with the importation of slaves until the year 1808, and would permit a Federal tax on such importation of not more than ten dollars per slave. This compromise became part of Section 9 of Article I of the Constitution. Significantly, the exemption from Federal interference was limited to “the States now existing” and did not apply to territories or new States entering the Union. General Pinckney recognized that he could not obtain any better concession from the Convention but he had secured some time for the planters of North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia to adjust to the new restriction. As for the domestic slave trade, the new Constitution provided merely (Article IV, Section 2) that slaves who might escape from one State into another must be returned to their owners.
If it was possible to compromise on the slave trade, it was clearly possible to compromise on other questions. By September 17, 1787, therefore, the delegates were ready to publicize the Constitution they had written. Only thirty-nine of the original fifty-five delegates put their signatures to the document because several had gone home, including some in dissent. Three gentlemen who were present declined, for various reasons, to sign the Constitution. They were George Mason and Edmund Randolph of Virginia, and Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts.
No signer of the Constitution considered the document to be perfect, but all were ready to explain it to citizens of the republic. In its final form, the Constitution gave far less power to the Federal government than James Madison had intended by his Virginia Plan. Indeed, the document that was presented for ratification followed moderate lines approved by that wise old man John Dickinson, even though Dickinson had not presented the Convention with a separate plan of his own.
As one looks back on these proceedings two hundred years later, it is easy to understand why historians have often referred to the Constitutional Convention as “the Miracle of Philadelphia.” It seems incredible nowadays that such an event could actually occur, and even then it was viewed by the American people and foreign observers as an extraordinary affair. Here were fifty-five individuals, all prominent leaders of their States, many traveling long distances under primitive means of transportation, gathered in one room for four months to forge a new system of government such as the world had never seen. At considerable personal sacrifice—and many had already suffered severe losses during the Revolution—they were away from their homes, their families, their businesses, and their farms for an entire summer. A deep sense of civic pride and virtue, and a feeling of moral responsibility for the welfare of the American people and future generations, explain only in part what motivated these gentlemen. They were also driven by a profound intellectual and emotional attachment to individual liberty. What is truly remarkable is that they all realized at the time the historic significance of what they were seeking to accomplish. For never in recorded history had a society had the opportunity, under the direction of its natural leaders and best minds, to deliberate at such length on the best form of government, to write a fundamental law for a whole nation, and to establish a constitutional republic for liberty, order, and justice.
In Philadelphia, the American people said their final good-bye to the baleful influences of arbitrary and unrestricted government, feudalism, class privilege, and other stultifying and corrupting Old World influences. The great German thinker and poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe spoke for many European onlookers when he congratulated the Americans on escaping the “ghosts” that had haunted Europe. The Framers had written not only a new Constitution but a new chapter in the history of mankind. The world would never be the same.
1. Resolved, that the Articles of 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.
2. Resolved therefore, 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.
3. Resolved, that the National Legislature ought to consist of two branches.
4. Resolved, that the Members of the first Branch of the National Legislature ought to be elected by the people of the several States every for the term of years, to be of the age of at least , to receive liberal stipends, by which they may be compensated for the devotion of their time to public service—to be ineligible to any office established by a particular State, or under the authority of the United States, (except those peculiarly belonging to the functions of the first Branch) during the term of service, and for the space after its expiration; to be incapable of re-election for the space of after the expiration of their term of service, and to be subject to recall.
5. Resolved, that the members of the second branch of the National Legislature ought to be elected by those of the first, out of a proper number of persons nominated by the individual Legislatures, to be of the age of years at least; to hold their offices for a term sufficient to ensure their independency; to receive liberal Stipends by which they may be compensated for the devotion of their time to the public service; and to be in-eligible to any office established by a particular State, or under the authority of the United States (except those peculiarly belonging to the functions of the second Branch) during the term of service, and for the space of after the expiration thereof.
6. Resolved, that each Branch ought to possess the right of originating Acts, that the National Legislature ought to be empowered to enjoy, the Legislative rights vested in Congress by the Confederation, and moreover to Legislate in all cases to which the Separate States are incompetent; or in which the harmony of the United States may be interrupted, by the exercise of individual Legislation—to negative all Laws passed by the several States, contravening, in the opinion of the National Legislature, the articles of Union; and to call forth the force of the Union against any Member of the Union, failing to fulfil its duty under the articles thereof.
7. Resolved, that a National Executive be instituted; to be chosen by the National Legislature, for the term of years—to receive punctually at stated times a fixed compensation for the services rendered, in which no increase or diminution shall be made so as to affect the Magistracy, existing at the time of such increase or diminution, and to be in-eligible a second time; and that beside a general authority to execute the National laws, it ought to enjoy the Executive rights vested in Congress by the Confederation.
8. Resolved, that the Executive and a convenient number of the National Judiciary, ought to compose a Council of revision, with authority to examine every act of the National Legislature before it shall operate, and every act of a particular Legislature before a negative thereon shall be final; and that the dissent of the said council shall amount to a rejection, unless the act of the National Legislature be again passed, or that of a particular Legislature be again negatived by of the Members of each Branch.
9. Resolved, that a National Judiciary be established to Consist of one or more supreme tribunals, and of inferior tribunals to be chosen by the National Legislature; to hold their Offices during good behavior, and to receive punctually at stated times fixed compensation for their services, in which no increase or diminution shall be made, so as to affect the persons actually in office at the time of such increase or diminution.
That the jurisdiction of the inferior Tribunals shall be to hear and determine in the first instance, and of the supreme tribunal to hear and determine in the dernier resort; all piracies and felonies on the high Seas, captures from an enemy; cases in which foreigners or citizens of other States applying to such jurisdictions may be interested, or which respect the collection of the National revenue; impeachments of any National officers and questions which may involve the national peace and harmony.
10. Resolved, that provision ought to be made for the admission of States lawfully arising within the limits of the United States, whether from a voluntary junction of Government and Territory or otherwise, with the consent of a number of voices in the National Legislatures less than the whole.
11. Resolved, that a Republican Government and the territory of each State (except in the instance of a voluntary junction of Government and Territory) ought to be guaranteed by the United States to each State.
12. Resolved, that provision ought to be made for the continuance of Congress and their authorities and privileges, until a given day after the reform of the Articles of Union shall be adopted, and for the completion of all their engagements.
13. Resolved, that provision ought to be made for the amendment of the Articles of Union whensoever it shall seem necessary (and that the assent of the National Legislature ought not to be required thereto).
14. Resolved, that the Legislative, Executive and Judiciary powers within the several States ought to be bound by oath to support the Articles of Union.
15. Resolved, that the amendments which shall be offered to the Confederation, by the Convention, ought at a proper time, or times, after the approbation of Congress, to be submitted to an assembly or assemblies of Representatives, recommended by the several Legislatures, to be expressly chosen by the people, to consider and decide thereon.
New Jersey Plan
1. Resolved, that the Articles of Confederation ought to be so revised, corrected, and enlarged as to render the federal Constitution adequate to the exigencies of Government, and the preservation of the Union.
2. Resolved, that in addition to the Powers vested in the United States in Congress by the present existing Articles of Confederation, they be authorized to pass Acts for raising a Revenue by levying a duty or duties on all goods or merchandise of foreign growth or manufacture, imported into any part of the United States,—by Stamps on Paper vellum or parchment,—and by a postage on all letters or packages passing through the general Post Office, to be applied to such federal purposes as they shall deem proper and expedient; to make rules and regulations for the collection thereof, and the same from time to time, to alter and amend in such manner as they shall think proper: to pass Acts for the regulation of trade and commerce, as well with foreign Nations, as with each other; provided that all punishments, fines, forfeitures and penalties to be incurred for contravening such acts, rules, and regulations shall be adjudged by the common Law Judiciarys of the State in which any offence contrary to the true intent and meaning of such acts and regulations shall have been committed or perpetrated; with liberty of commencing in the first instance all suits and prosecutions for that purpose in the superior Common Law Judiciary of such State, subject nevertheless, for the correction of all errors, both in law and fact, in rendering judgment, to an appeal to the Judiciary of the United States.
3. Resolved, that whenever requisitions shall be necessary, instead of the rule for making requisition mentioned in the Articles of Confederation, the United States in Congress be authorized to make such requisitions in proportion to the whole number of white and other free citizens and Inhabitants of every age, sex and condition, including those bound to servitude for a term of years, and three fifths of all other persons not comprehended in the foregoing description—(except Indians not paying Taxes); that if such requisitions be not complied with, in the time to be specified therein, to direct the collection thereof in the non-complying States and for that purpose to devise and pass Acts directing and authorizing the same; provided that none of the powers hereby vested in the United States in congress shall be exercised without the consent of at least States, and in that proportion, if the number of confederated States should be hereafter increased or diminished.
4. Resolved, that the United States in Congress be authorized to elect a federal Executive to consist of persons, to continue in office for the Term of years; to receive punctually at stated times a fixed compensation for their services in which no increase or diminution shall be made so as to affect the persons composing the Executive at the time of such increase or diminution; to be paid out of the Federal Treasury; to be incapable of holding any other office or appointment during their time of service, and for years thereafter; to be ineligible a second time, and removable by Congress on application by a majority of the Executives of the several States; that the Executive, besides their general authority to execute the federal Acts, ought to appoint all federal officers not other wise provided for, and to direct all military operations; provided that none of the persons composing the federal Executive shall on any occasion take command of any troops so as personally to conduct any enterprise as General or in any other capacity.
5. Resolved, that a federal Judiciary be established, to consist of a supreme Tribunal, the Judges of which to be appointed by the Executive, and to hold their Offices during good behavior, to receive punctually at stated times a fixed compensation for their services, in which no increase or diminution shall be made so as to affect the persons actually in office at the time of such increase or diminution;—That the Judiciary so established shall have authority to hear and determine in the first instance on all impeachments of federal officers, and by way of appeal in the dernier resort in all cases touching the rights of Ambassadors, in all cases of captures from an enemy, in all cases of piracies and felonies on the high Seas, in all cases in which foreigners may be interested in the construction of any treaty or treaties, or which may arise on any of the Acts for regulation of trade, or the collection of the federal Revenue: that none of the Judiciary shall during the time they remain in Office be capable of receiving or holding any other Office or appointment during their time of service, or for thereafter.
6. Resolved, that all Acts of the United States in Congress made by virtue and in pursuance of the powers hereby vested in them, and all Treaties made and ratified under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the respective States, as far as those Acts or Treaties shall relate to the said States or their Citizens, and that the Judiciary of the several States shall be bound thereby in their decisions, anything in the respective laws of the Individual States to the contrary notwithstanding; and that if any State, or any body of men in any State, shall oppose or prevent the carrying into execution such acts or treaties, the federal Executive shall be authorized to call forth the power of the Confederated States, or so much thereof as may be necessary to enforce and compel an obedience to such Acts, or an Observance of such Treaties.
7. Resolved, that provision be made for the admission of new States into the Union.
8. Resolved, that the Rule for naturalization ought to be the same in every State.
9. Resolved, that a Citizen of one State committing an offence in another State of the Union, shall be deemed guilty of the same offence, as if it had been committed by a Citizen of the State in which the Offence was committed.
Constitution of the United States of America (1787)
We the people of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this constitution for the United States of America.
Section. 1. All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.
Section. 2. [Cl. 1.] The House of Representatives shall be composed of Members chosen every second Year by the People of the several States, and the Electors in each State shall have the Qualifications requisite for Electors of the most numerous Branch of the State Legislature.
[Cl. 2.] No Person shall be a Representative who shall not have attained to the Age of twenty-five Years, and been seven Years a Citizen of the United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an Inhabitant of that State in which he shall be chosen.
[Cl. 3.] Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, [which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons.] The actual Enumeration shall be made within three Years after the first Meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent Term of ten Years, in such Manner as they shall by Law direct. The Number of Representatives shall not exceed one for every thirty Thousand, but each State shall have at Least one Representative; and until such enumeration shall be made, the State of New Hampshire shall be entitled to choose three, Massachusetts eight, Rhode Island and Providence Plantations one, Connecticut five, New-York six, New Jersey four, Pennsylvania eight, Delaware one, Maryland six, Virginia ten, North Carolina five, South Carolina five, and Georgia three.]
[Cl. 4.] When vacancies happen in the Representation from any State, the Executive Authority thereof shall issue Writs of Election to fill such Vacancies.
[Cl. 5.] The House of Representatives shall choose their Speaker and other Officers; and shall have the sole Power of Impeachment.
Section. 3. [Cl. 1.] The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State chosen by the Legislature thereof, for six Years; and each Senator shall have one Vote.
[Cl. 2.] Immediately after they shall be assembled in Consequence of the first Election, they shall be divided as equally as may be into three Classes. The Seats of the Senators of the first Class shall be vacated at the Expiration of the second Year, of the second Class at the Expiration of the fourth Year, and of the third Class at the Expiration of the sixth Year, so that one third may be chosen every second Year; and if Vacancies happen by resignation, or otherwise, during the Recess of the Legislature of any State, the Executive thereof may make temporary Appointments until the next Meeting of the Legislature, which shall then fill such Vacancies.
[Cl. 3.] No Person shall be a Senator who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty Years, and been nine Years a citizen of the United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an Inhabitant of that State for which he shall be chosen.
[Cl. 4.] The Vice President of the United States shall be President of the Senate but shall have no Vote, unless they be equally divided.
[Cl. 5.] The Senate shall choose their other Officers, and also a President pro tempore, in the Absence of the Vice President, or when he shall exercise the Office of President of the United States.
[Cl. 6.] The Senate shall have the sole Power to try all impeachments. When sitting for that Purpose, they shall be on Oath or Affirmation. When the President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside: And no Person shall be convicted without the Concurrence of two thirds of the Members present.
[Cl. 7.] Judgment in Cases of Impeachment shall not extend further than to removal from Office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any Office of honor, Trust or Profit under the United States; but the Party convicted shall nevertheless be liable and subject to Indictment, Trial, Judgment and Punishment, according to Law.
Section. 4. [Cl. 1.] The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof; but the Congress may at any time by Law make or alter such Regulations, except as to the Places of choosing Senators.
[Cl. 2.] The Congress shall assemble at least once in every Year, and such Meeting shall be on the first Monday in December, unless they shall by Law appoint a different Day.
Section. 5. [Cl. 1.] Each House shall be the Judge of the Elections, Returns and Qualifications of its own Members, and a Majority of each shall constitute a Quorum to do Business; but a smaller Number may adjourn from day to day, and may be authorized to compel the attendance of absent Members, in such Manner, and under such Penalties as each House may provide.
[Cl. 2.] Each House may determine the Rules of its Proceedings, punish its Members for Disorderly Behavior, and, with the Concurrence of two thirds, expel a Member.
[Cl. 3.] Each House shall keep a Journal of its Proceedings, and from time to time publish the same, excepting such parts as may in their Judgment require Secrecy; and the Yeas and Nays of the Members of either House on any question shall, at the Desire of one fifth of those Present, be entered on the Journal.
[Cl. 4.] Neither House, during the Session of Congress, shall, without the Consent of the other, adjourn for more than three days, nor to any other Place than that in which the two Houses shall be sitting.
Section. 6. [Cl. 1.] The Senators and Representatives shall receive a Compensation for their Services, to be ascertained by Law, and paid out of the Treasury of the United States. They shall in all Cases, except Treason, Felony and Breach of the Peace, be privileged from Arrest during their Attendance at the Session of their respective Houses, and in going to and returning from the same; and for any Speech or Debate in either House, they shall not be questioned in any other Place.
[Cl. 2.] No Senator or Representative shall, during the Time for which he was elected, be appointed to any civil Office under the Authority of the United States, which shall have been created, or the Emoluments whereof shall have been increased during such time; and no person holding any Office under the United States, shall be a Member of either House during his Continuance in Office.
Section. 7. [Cl. 1.] All Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with Amendments as on other Bills.
[Cl. 2.] Every Bill which shall have passed the House of Representatives and the Senate, shall, before it becomes a Law, be presented to the President of the United States: If he approves, he shall sign it, but if not he shall return it, with his Objections to that House in which it shall have originated, who shall enter the Objections at large on their Journal, and proceed to reconsider it. If, after such Reconsideration two-thirds of that House shall agree to pass the Bill, it shall be sent, together with the Objections, to the other House, by which it shall likewise be reconsidered, and if approved by two-thirds of that House, it shall become a law. But in all such Cases the Votes of both Houses shall be determined by yeas and Nays, and the Names of the Persons voting for and against the Bill shall be entered on the Journal of each House respectively. If any Bill shall not be returned by the President within ten Days (Sundays excepted) after it shall have been presented to him, the same shall be a Law, in like Manner as if he had signed it, unless the Congress, by their Adjournment prevent its Return, in which Case it shall not be a Law.
[Cl. 3.] Every Order, Resolution, or Vote, to which the Concurrence of the Senate and House of Representatives may be necessary (except on a question of Adjournment) shall be presented to the President of the United States; and before the same shall take Effect, shall be approved by him, or being disapproved by him, shall be repassed by two thirds of the Senate and House of Representatives, according to the Rules and Limitations prescribed in the Case of a Bill.
Section. 8. The Congress shall have Power [Cl. 1.] To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;
[Cl. 2.] To borrow Money on the credit of the United States;
[Cl. 3.] To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes;
[Cl. 4.] To establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization, and uniform Laws on the subject of Bankruptcies throughout the United States;
[Cl. 5.] To coin Money, regulate the value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and fix the Standard of Weights and Measures;
[Cl. 6.] To provide for the Punishment of counterfeiting the Securities and current Coin of the United States;
[Cl. 7.] To establish Post Offices and post Roads;
[Cl. 8.] To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries;
[Cl. 9.] To constitute Tribunals inferior to the supreme Court;
[Cl. 10.] To define and punish Piracies and Felonies committed on the high Seas, and Offenses against the Law of Nations;
[Cl. 11.] To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water;
[Cl. 12.] To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years;
[Cl. 13.] To provide and maintain a Navy;
[Cl. 14.] To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces;
[Cl. 15.] To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections, and repel Invasions;
[Cl. 16.] To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;
[Cl. 17.] To exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten Miles square) as may, by Cession of particular States, and the Acceptance of Congress, become the Seat of the Government of the United States, and to exercise like Authority over all Places purchased by the Consent of the Legislature of the State in which the same shall be, for the Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards, and other needful Buildings;—And
[Cl. 18.] To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or officer thereof.
Section. 9. [Cl. 1.] [The Migration or Importation of such Persons as any of the States now existing shall think proper to admit shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the Year one thousand eight hundred and eight, but a Tax or duty may be imposed on such Importation, not exceeding ten dollars for each Person.
[Cl. 2.] The privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it.
[Cl. 3.] No Bill of Attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed.
[Cl. 4.] No Capitation, or other direct, Tax shall be laid, unless in Proportion to the Census or Enumeration herein before directed to be taken.
[Cl. 5.] No Tax or Duty shall be laid on Articles exported from any State.
[Cl. 6.] No Preference shall be given by any Regulation of Commerce or Revenue to the Ports of one State over those of another: nor shall Vessels bound to, or from, one State, be obliged to enter, clear, or pay Duties in another.
[Cl. 7.] No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law; and a regular Statement and Account of the Receipts and Expenditures of all public Money shall be published from time to time.
[Cl. 8.] No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind what ever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.
Section. 10. [Cl. 1.] No State shall enter into any Treaty, Alliance, or Confederation; grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal; coin Money; emit Bills of Credit; make any Thing but gold and silver Coin a Tender in payment of Debts; pass any Bill of Attainder, ex post facto Law, or Law impairing the Obligation of Contracts, or grant any Title of Nobility.
[Cl. 2.] No State shall, without the Consent of the Congress, lay any Imposts or Duties on Imports or Exports, except what may be absolutely necessary for executing its inspection Laws: and the net Produce of all Duties and Imposts, laid by any State on Imports or Exports, shall be for the Use of the Treasury of the United States; and all such Laws shall be subject to the Revision and Control of the Congress.
[Cl. 3.] No State shall, without the Consent of Congress, lay any Duty of Tonnage, keep Troops, or Ships of War in time of Peace, enter into any Agreement or Compact with another State, or with a foreign Power, or engage in War, unless actually invaded, or in such imminent Danger as will not admit of delay.
Section. i. [Cl. 1.] The executive Power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America. He shall hold his Office during the Term of four Years, and, together with the Vice President, chosen for the same Term, be elected, as follows:
[Cl. 2.] Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress: but no Senator or Representative, or Person holding an Office of Trust or Profit under the United States, shall be appointed an Elector.
[The Electors shall meet in their respective States, and vote by Ballot for two Persons, of whom one at least shall not be an Inhabitant of the same State with themselves. And they shall make a List of all the Persons voted for, and of the Number of Votes for each; which List they shall sign and certify, and transmit sealed to the Seat of the Government of the United States, directed to the President of the Senate. The President of the Senate shall, in the Presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the Certificates, and the Votes shall then be counted. The Person having the greatest Number of Votes shall be the President, if such Number be a Majority of the whole Number of Electors appointed; and if there be more than one who have such Majority and have an equal Number of Votes, then the House of Representatives shall immediately choose by Ballot one of them for President; and if no Person have a Majority, then from the five highest on the list the said House shall in like Manner choose the President. But in choosing the President, the Votes shall be taken by States, the Representation from each State having one Vote; A quorum for this Purpose shall consist of a Member or Members from two-thirds of the States, and a Majority of all the States shall be necessary to a Choice. In every Case, after the Choice of the President, the Person having the greatest Number of Votes of the electors shall be the Vice President. But if there should remain two or more who have equal Votes, the Senate shall choose from them by Ballot the Vice President.]
[Cl. 3.] The Congress may determine the Time of choosing the Electors, and the Day on which they shall give their Votes; which Day shall be the same throughout the United States.
[Cl. 4.] No Person, except a natural-born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to that Office of President; neither shall any Person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty-five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.
[Cl. 5.] In Case of the Removal of the President from Office, or of his Death, Resignation, or Inability to discharge the Powers and Duties of the said Office, the Same shall devolve on the Vice President, and the Congress may by Law provide for the Case of Removal, Death, Resignation, or Inability, both the President and Vice President, declaring what Officer shall then act as President, and such Officer shall act accordingly, until the Disability be removed, or a President shall be elected.
[Cl. 6.] The President shall, at stated Times, receive for his Services, a Compensation, which shall neither be increased nor diminished during the Period for which he shall have been elected, and he shall not receive within that Period any other Emolument from the United States, or any of them.
[Cl. 7.] Before he enter on the Execution of his Office, he shall take the following Oath or affirmation:—
“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will, to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.”
Section. 2. [Cl. 1.] The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States; he may require the Opinion, in writing, of the principal Officer in each of the executive Departments, upon any Subject relating to the Duties of their respective Offices, and he shall have Power to grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offences against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment.
[Cl. 2.] He shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint, Ambassadors, other public Ministers, and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by Law: but the Congress may by Law vest the Appointment of such inferior Officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the Courts of Law, or in the Heads of Departments.
[Cl. 3.] The President shall have Power to fill up all Vacancies that may happen during the Recess of the Senate, by granting Commissions which shall expire at the End of their next Session.
Section. 3. He shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient; he may, on extraordinary Occasions, convene both Houses, or either of them, and in Case of Disagreement between them, with Respect to the Time of Adjournment, he may adjourn them to such Time as he shall think proper; he shall receive Ambassadors and other public Ministers; he shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed, and shall Commission all the Officers of the United States.
Section. 4. The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.
Section. 1. The judicial Power of the United States, shall be vested in one supreme Court, and in such inferior Courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish. The Judges, both of the supreme and inferior Courts, shall hold their Offices during good Behavior, and shall, at stated Times, receive for their Services, a Compensation, which shall not be diminished during their Continuance in Office.
Section. 2. [Cl. 1.] The judicial Power shall extend to all Cases in Law and Equity, arising under this Constitution, the Laws of the United States, and Treaties made, or which shall be made, under their Authority;—to all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers, and Consuls;— to all Cases of admiralty and maritime Jurisdiction;—to Controversies to which the United States shall be a Party;—to Controversies between two or more States;—between a State and Citizens of another State;— between Citizens of different States,—between Citizens of the same State claiming Lands under Grants of different States, and between a State, or the Citizens thereof, and foreign States, Citizens or Subjects.
[Cl. 2.] In all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers, and Consuls, and those in which a State shall be Party, the supreme Court shall have original Jurisdiction. In all the other Cases before mentioned, the supreme Court shall have appellate Jurisdiction, both as to Law and Fact, with such Exceptions, and under such Regulations as the Congress shall make.
[Cl. 3.] The Trial of all Crimes, except in Cases of Impeachment, shall be by jury; and such Trial shall be held in the State where the said Crimes shall have been committed; but, when not committed within any State, the Trial shall be at such Place or Places as the Congress may by Law have directed.
Section. 3. [Cl. 1.] Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.
[Cl. 2.] The Congress shall have Power to declare the Punishment of Treason, but no Attainder of Treason shall work Corruption of Blood, or Forfeiture except during the Life of the Person attainted.
Section. 1. Full Faith and Credit shall be given in each State to the public Acts, Records, and judicial Proceedings of every other State. And the Congress may by general Laws prescribe the Manner in which such Acts, Records and Proceedings shall be proved, and the Effect thereof.
Section. 2. [Cl. 1.] The Citizens of each State shall be entitled to all Privileges and Immunities of Citizens in the several States.
[Cl. 2.] A Person charged in any State with Treason, Felony, or other Crime, who shall flee from Justice, and be found in another State, shall on Demand of the executive Authority of the State from which he fled, be delivered up, to be removed to the State having Jurisdiction of the Crime.
[Cl. 3.] [No Person held to Service or Labor in one State, under the Laws thereof, escaping into another, shall, in consequence of any Law or Regulation therein, be discharged from such Service or Labor, but shall be delivered up on Claim of the Party to whom such Service or Labor may be due.]
Section. 3. [Cl. 1.] New States may be admitted by the Congress into this Union; but no new State shall be formed or erected within the Jurisdiction of any other State; nor any State be formed by the Junction of two or more States, or Parts of States, without the Consent of the Legislatures of the States concerned, as well as of the Congress.
[Cl. 2.] The Congress shall have Power to dispose of and make all needful Rules and Regulations respecting the Territory or other Property belonging to the United States; and nothing in this Constitution shall be so construed as to Prejudice any Claims of the United States, or of any particular State.
Section. 4. The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government, and shall protect each of them against Invasion; and on Application of the Legislature, or of the Executive (when the Legislature cannot be convened), against domestic Violence.
The Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose Amendments to this Constitution, or, on the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments, which, in either Case, shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, as Part of this Constitution, when ratified by the Legislatures of three fourths of the several States, or by Conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other Mode of Ratification may be proposed by the Congress; provided [that no Amendment which may be made prior to the Year One thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any Manner affect the first and fourth Clauses in the Ninth Section of the first Article; and] that no State, without its Consent, shall be deprived of its equal Suffrage in the Senate.
[Cl. 1.] All Debts contracted and Engagements entered into, before the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be as valid against the United States under this Constitution, as under the Confederation.
[Cl. 2.] This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.
[Cl. 3.] The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.
The Ratification of the Conventions of nine States, shall be sufficient for the Establishment of this Constitution between the States so ratifying the Same.
Whatever may be the judgment pronounced on the competency of the architects of the Constitution, or whatever may be the destiny of the edifice prepared by them, I feel it a duty to express my profound and solemn conviction, derived from my intimate opportunity of observing and appreciating the views of the Convention, collectively and individually, that there never was an assembly of men, charged with a great and arduous trust, who were more pure in their motives or more exclusively or anxiously devoted to the object committed to them to … best secure the permanent liberty and happiness of their country.
James Madison, Notes of the Debates in the Federal Convention (1835)