Page images
PDF
EPUB

July 17. The Convention proceeded to the consideration of a resolution concerning the two branches of the legislature, and from this date till the 26th was engaged in discussing the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of the government. Nothing, however, was elicited that would properly come within the scope of this work, or that would be particularly interesting to the general reader.

On the 26th, the resolutions of Mr. Randolph having been a second time gone through with, they, together with those of Messrs. Patterson and Pinckney, were referred to the Committee of Detail, and the Convention adjourned till August 6th, to give the Committee time to prepare and report a Constitution.

The resolutions as committed, expressing the sense of the Convention upon the principles of a Constitution, were as follows:

1. Resolved, That the government of the United States ought to consist of a supreme legislative, judiciary, and executive.

2. Resolved, That the legislature consist of two branches.

3. Resolved, That the members of the first branch of the legislature ought to be elected by the people of the several States for the term of two years; to be paid out of the public treasury; to receive an adequate compensation for their services; to be of the age of twenty-five years at least; to be ineligible to, and incapable of holding, any office under the authority of the United States (except those peculiarly belonging to the functions of the first branch) during the term of service of the first branch.

4. Resolved, That the members of the second branch of the legislature of the United States ought to be chosen by the individual legislatures; to be of the age of thirty years at least; to hold their offices for six years, one third to go out biennially; to receive a compensation for the devotion of their time to the public service; to be ineligible to, and incapable of holding, any office under the authority of the United States (except those peculiarly belonging to the functions of the second branch) during the term for which they are elected, and for one year thereafter.

5. Resolved, That each branch ought to possess the right of originating acts.

6. Resolved, That the national legislature ought to possess the legislative rights vested in Congress by the Confederation; and, moreover, to legislate in all cases for the general interests of the Union, and also in those to which the States are separately incompetent, or in which the harmony of the United States may be interrupted by the exercise of individual legislation.

7. Resolved, That the legislative acts of the United States, made by virtue and in pursuance of the articles of union, 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 inhabitants; and that the judiciaries of the several States shall be bound thereby in their decisions, any thing in the respective laws of the individual States to the contrary notwithstanding.

8. Resolved, That in the general formation of the legislature of the United States, the first branch thereof shall consist of sixty-five members; of which number, New Hampshire shall send 3; Massachusetts, 8; Rhode Island, 1; Connecticut, 5; New York, 6; New Jersey, 4; Pennsylvania, 8; Delaware, 1; Maryland, 6; Virginia, 10; North Carolina, 5; South Carolina, 5; Georgia, 3.

But, as the present situation of the States may probably alter in the number of their inhabitants, the legislature of the United States shall be authorized, from time to time, to apportion the number of representatives; and in case any of the States shall hereafter be divided, or enlarged by addition of territory, or any two or more States united, or any new States created within the limits of the United States, the legislature of the United States shall possess authority to regulate the number of representatives, in any of the foregoing cases, upon the principle of their number of inhabitants, according to the provisions hereafter mentioned, namely-Provided always, that representation ought to be proportioned to direct taxation. And, in order to ascertain the alteration in the direct taxation which may be required from time to time, by the changes in the relative circumstances of the States,

9. Resolved, That a census be taken within six years from the first meeting of the legislature of the United States, and once within the term of every ten years afterwards, of all the inhabitants of the United States, in the manner and according to the ratio recommended by Congress in their resolution of the 18th of April, 1783; and that the legislature of the United States shall proportion the direct taxation accordingly.

10. Resolved, That all bills for raising or appropriating money, and for fixing the salaries of the officers of the government of the United States, shall originate in the first branch of the legislature of the United States, and shall not be altered or amended by the second branch ; and that no money shall be drawn from the public treasury, but in pursuance of appropriations to be originated by the first branch.

11. Resolved, That, in the second branch of the legislature of the United States, each State shall have an equal vote.

12. Resolved, That a national executive be instituted, to consist of a single person ; to be chosen by the national legislature for the term of seven years; to be ineligible a second time; with power to carry into execution the national laws; to appoint to offices in cases not otherwise provided for; to be removable on impeachment, and conviction of malpractice or neglect of duty; to receive a fixed compensation for the devotion of his time to the public service, to be paid out of the public treasury.

13. Resolved, That the national executive shall bave a right to negative any legislative act; which shall not be afterwards passed, unless by two-thirds of each branch of the national legislature.

14. Resolved, That a national judiciary be established, to consist of one supreme tribunal, the judges of which shall be appointed by the second branch of the national legislature; to hold their offices during good behavior; to receive punctually, at stated times, a fixed compensation for their services, in which no diminution, shall be made so as to affect the persons actually in office at the time of such diminution.

15. Resolved, That the national legislature be empowered to appoint inferior tribunals.

16. Resolved, That the jurisdiction of the national judiciary shall extend to cases arising under laws passed by the general legislature, and to such other questions as involve the national peace and harmony.

17. 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 legislature less than the whole.

18. Resolved, That a republican form of government shall be guaranteed to each State; and that each State shall be protected against foreign and domestic violence.

19. Resolved, That provision ought to be made for the amendment of the articles of union, whensoever it sball seem necessary.

20. Resolved, That the legislative, executive, and judi. ciary powers, within the several States, and of the national government, ought to be bound, by oath, to support the articles of union.

21. 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.

22. Resolved, That the representation in the second branch of the legislature of the United States shall consist of two members from each State, who shall vote per capita.

23. Resolved, That it be an instruction to the committee to whom were referred the proceedings of the Convention for the establishment of a national government, to receive a clause, or clauses, requiring certain qualifications of property and citizenship in the United States, for the executive, the judiciary, and the members of both branches of the legislature of the United States.

August 6. Mr. Rutledge delivered the report of the committee of detail, reporting a constitution at large. [This report was so nearly like the constitution as finally adopted, and as we shall give that at the close of this chapter, it is not thought necessary to occupy space by copying it here ]

August 7. The report of the committee of detail being taken up, Mr. Morris moved that that the right of suffrage be restrained to freeholders. A long debate ensued. Col. Mason opposed it as leading to an aristocracy.

Mr. Madison was for leaving this matter to the States. Some States required it, and others did not. His own opinion was that freeholders would be the safest depositaries of liberty. Those without property might become the tools of the rich and ambitious, hence there would be just the same danger as from the property qualification.

Dr. Franklin opposed the views of Mr. Madison. He

« PreviousContinue »