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The vexed question of the representation of the states in Congress being next taken up, it was voted, seven states to threc, 25 that “The right of suffrage in the first branch of the national legislature ought not to be according to the rule established in the Articles of Confederation, but according to some more equitable ratio of representation.”
A motion that each state be allowed one vote in the second branch being lost by six states against five, 28 the convention then decided by a similar vote that the ratio of representation in the second branch should be the same as in the first.27
The fourteenth resolution contained in the Virginia plan: “Resolved, That the executive, legislative and judiciary powers, within the several states, ought to be bound by oath to support the Articles of Union” was adopted by the vote of the same states which carried the previous resolution. The states had now become sharply divided into two antagonistic groups, and the convention had reached its bitterest and most critical period. At times it seemed as if no common ground could be found for agreement between the large states and the supporters of a strong central government on the one side and the small states and the extreme champions of state rights on the other.
The fifteenth resolution, relative to referring the new system to the people of the United States for ratification, was adopted without discussion.28
from them as would defeat their
aye-7; New York, New Jersey, Delaware, no-3; Maryland, divided.
28 Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, aye -5; Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, no-6
27 Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, aye-6; Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, no-5.
28 Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina; Georgia, aye—6; Con
25 Massachusetts, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia,
The term of office of members of the House of Representatives was fixed at three years, in spite of the strong effort of the New England states to secure annual elections. 29
The required age for members of the upper branch of Congress was fixed at thirty years30 and their term of office at seven years.31
The consideration of the Virginia plan was completed by the Committee of the Whole on June 13th. The committee had reported this Virginia plan, as amended and enlarged by them, to the convention, when Mr. Patterson, of New Jersey, stated to the convention that it was the wish of several deputations, particularly that of New Jersey, that further time might be allowed them to contemplate the plan reported from the Committee of the Whole, and to digest a plan purely federal and contradistinguished from the reported plan. He said they hoped to have such a one ready by the next day to be laid before the convention, and the convention thereupon adjourned that leisure might be given for that purpose.32
$71. The New Jersey Plan.—The New Jersey plan appears to have been drawn up mainly by the delegates from New Jersey and Delaware, and was introduced on June 15th by Mr. Patterson, of New Jersey.33 The New Jersey plan aimed merely to amend the Articles of Confederation, retaining the confederation system and equal representation of the states in Congress. Its greatest advance on the Articles of Confederation was in giving to Congress the power to raise 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 passing through the general post-office.” The first resolution read: “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.” This plan provided for an executive council and a federal judiciary to consist of one supreme tribunal, which was to have original jurisdiction over all impeachments of federal officers and appellate jurisdiction 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 might be interested, in the construction of any treaty or treaties and in all cases relative to the regulation of trade or the collection of the federal revenue.
necticut, New York, New Jersey, no-3; Delaware, Maryland, divided.
* For triennial elections: New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, Georgia, aye--7; Massachusetts, Connecticut, North Carolina, South Carolina, no—4.
zo Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina,
aye-7; Connecticut, New Jersey, Delaware, Georgia, no—4.
31 New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, aye—8; Connecticut, no -1; Massachusetts, New York, divided.
32 Madison's Journal of the Federal Convention, under date of June 14th.
33 See Appendix G.
The sixth resolution contained the greatest surrender to the principles of a strong central government. It was, however, a resolution containing within itself the seeds of a dissolution of the Union and of civil war. The resolution in full was as follows: “Resolved, That all acts of the United States in Congress, made by virtue and in pursuance of the powers hereby, and by the Articles of Confederation, 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, so far as these 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 as much thereof as may be necessary, to enforce and compel an obedience to such acts, or an observance of such treaties."
The resolution appeared as a confession on the part of the State Rights Party that the only alternative to the granting to the central government of the power to act directly on the individual citizens was to grant to them the power to make war on the states, a power the exercise of which could hardly have failed to have destroved the Union. With these alternatives before them the decision of the convention cannot seem surprising 3
** Mr. Lansing called for the reading of the first resolution of each plan, which he considered as involving principles directly in contrast. That of Patterson, says he, sustains the sovereignty of the respective States; that of Mr. Randolph destroys it. The latter requires a negative on all the laws of the particular States, the former only certain general power for the general good. The plan of Mr. Randolph, in short, absorbs all power, except what may be exercised in the little local matters of the States which are not objects worthy of the supreme cognizance. He grounded his preference of Mr. Patterson's plan, chiefly, on two objections to that of Mr. Randolph ; first, want of power in the convention to discuss and propose it; secondly, the improbability of its being adopted.
Mr. Patterson preferred it because it accorded: first, with the powers of the Convention; secondly, with the sentiments of the people. If the Confederacy was radically wrong, let us return to our States and obtain large powers, not
them ourselves. I came here not to speak my own sentiments, but the sentiments of those who sent me. Our object is not such a government as may be best in itself, but such a one
our constituents have authorized us to prepare, and as they will approve. If we argue the
matter on the supposition that no Confederacy at present exists, it cannot be denied that all the States stand on the footing of equal sovereignty. All, therefore, must concur before any can be bound. If a proportional representation be right, why do we not vote so here? If we argue on the fact that a Federal compact actually exists, and consult the articles of it, we still find an equal sovereignty to be the basis of it. He reads the fifth article of Confederation, giving each State a vote; and the thirteenth, declaring that no alteration shall be made without unanimous consent. This is the nature of all treaties. What is unanimously done, must he unanimously undone. It was observed (by Wilson) that the larger States gave up the point, not because it was right, but because the circumstances of the moment urged the concession. Be it so. Are they for that reason at liberty to take it back? Can the donor resume his gift without the consent of the donee? This doctine may be convenient, but it is a doctrine that will sacrifice the lesser States. The larger States acceeded readily to the Confederacy. It was the small ones that came in reluctantly and slowly. New Jersey and Maryland were the two last, the former objecting to the want of power in Congress over trade; both of them to laws in all cases to which the separate States are incompetent, etc.; in place of this, Congress is to have additional power in a few cases only. (7) A negative on the laws of the State; in place of this coercion to be substituted. (8) The Executive to be removable on impeachment and conviction, in one plan; in the other, to be removable at the instance of a majority of the executives of the States. (9) Revision of the laws provided for, in one;
After a general debate upon the respective merits of the two plans, from June 15th to June 19th, the test vote between the Virginia and New Jersey plans as a whole came up on the latter
the want of power to appropriate the vacant territory to the benefit of the whole. If the sovereignty of the States is to be maintained, the representation must be drawn immediately from the States, not from the people; and we have no power to vary the idea of equal sovereignty. The only expedient that will cure the difficulty is that of throwing the States into hotchpot. To say that this is impracticable will not make it so. Let it be tried and shall whether the citizens of Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and Virginia acceded to it.
Mr. Wilson entered into a contrast of the principal points of the two plans, so far, he said, as there had been time to examine the last proposed. These points were: (1) In the Virginia plan there are two, and in some degree three, branches in the Leg. islature; in the plan from New Jersey there is to be a single Leg. islature only. (2) Representation of the people at large is the basis of one; the State Legislatures the pillars of the other. (3) Proportional representation prevails in one, equality of suffrage in the other. (4) A single executive magistrate is at the head of the one, a plurality is held out in the the other. (5) In the one a majority of the people of the United States must prevail, in the other a minority may prevail. (6) The National Legislature is to make
no such check in the other. (10) Inferior national tribunals, in one; none such in the other. (11) In the one jurisdiction of national tribunals to extend, etc., and appellate jurisdiction only allowed in the other. (12) Here the jurisdiction is to extend to all cases affecting the national
peace and harmony; there a few cases only are marked out. (13) Finally, the ratification is in this to be by the people themselves; in that, by the legislative authorities, according to the Thirteenth Article of the Confederation. With regard to the power of the Convention, he conceived himself authorized to conclude nothing, but to be at liberty to propose anything.
In this particular he felt himself perfectly indifferent to the two plans.
With regard to the sentiments of the people, he conceived it difficult to know precisely what they are. Those of the particular circle in which one moved were com