Notes on the Debates in the Federal Convention
By James Madison
August 8, 1787
Wednesday August 8, 1787


Art: IV. Sect. I. Mr. MERCER expressed his dislike of the whole plan, and his opinion that it never could succeed.

Mr. GHORUM. He had never seen any inconveniency from allowing such as were not freeholders to vote, though it had long
been tried. The elections in Philadelphia, New York and Boston where the Merchants and Mechanics votes are at least as good
as those made by freeholders only. The case in England was not accurately stated yesterday [by Mr. Madison] The Cities and
large towns are not the seat of Crown influence and corruption. These prevail in the Boroughs, and not on account of the
right which those who are not freeholders have to vote, but of the smallness of the number who vote. The people have been
long accustomed to this right in various parts of America, and will never allow it to be abridged. We must consult their rooted
prejudices if we expect their concurrence in our propositions.

Mr. MERCER did not object so much to an election by the people at large including such as were not freeholders, as to their
being left to make their choice without any guidance. He hinted that Candidates ought to be nominated by the State

On question for agreeing to Art: IV- Section 1: it passed nem con.

Art IV. Section 2 taken up.

Col. MASON was for opening a wide door for emigrants, but did not choose to let foreigners and adventurers make laws for
us and govern us. Citizenship for three years was not enough for ensuring that local knowledge which ought to be possessed
by the Representative. This was the principal ground of his objection to so short a term. It might also happen that a rich
foreign Nation, for example Great Britain, might send over her tools who might bribe their way into the Legislature for
insidious purposes. He moved that "seven" years instead of "three," be inserted.

Mr. Govr. MORRIS 2nded. the Motion, and on the question, all the States agreed to it except Connecticut.

Mr. SHERMAN moved to strike out the word "resident" and insert "inhabitant," as less liable to misconstruction.

Mr. MADISON 2nded the motion. Both were vague, but the latter least so in common acceptation, and would not exclude
persons absent occasionally for a considerable time on public or private business. Great disputes had been raised in Virginia
concerning the meaning of residence as a qualification of Representatives which were determined more according to the
affection or dislike to the man in question, than to any fixed interpretation of the word.

Mr. WILSON preferred "inhabitant."

Mr. Govr. MORRIS, was opposed to both, and for requiring nothing more than a freehold. He quoted great disputes in New
York occasioned by these terms, which were decided by the arbitrary will of the majority. Such a regulation is not necessary.
People rarely choose a nonresident. It is improper as in the 1st branch, the people at large, not the States, are represented.

Mr. RUTLIDGE urged and moved that a residence of 7 years should be required in the State Wherein the Member should be
elected. An emigrant from New England to South Carolina or Georgia would know little of its affairs and could not be
supposed to acquire a thorough knowledge in less time.

Mr. READ reminded him that we were now forming a National Government and such a regulation would correspond little
with the idea that we were one people.

Mr. WILSON enforced the same consideration.

Mr. MADISON suggested the case of new States in the West, which could have perhaps no representation on that plan.

Mr. MERCER. Such a regulation would present a greater alienship among the States than existed under the old federal
system. It would interweave local prejudices and State distinctions in the very Constitution which is meant to cure them. He
mentioned instances of violent disputes raised in Maryland concerning the term "residence".

Mr. ELSEWORTH thought seven years of residence was by far too long a term: but that some fixed term of previous
residence would be proper. He thought one year would be sufficient, but seemed to have no objection to three years.

Mr. DICKENSON proposed that it should read "inhabitant actually resident for ____ years. This would render the meaning
less indeterminate.

Mr. WILSON. If a short term should be inserted in the blank, so strict an expression might be construed to exclude the
members of the Legislature, who could not be said to be actual residents in their States whilst at the Seat of the General

Mr. MERCER. It would certainly exclude men, who had once been inhabitants, and returning from residence elsewhere to
resettle in their original State; although a want of the necessary knowledge could not in such case be presumed.

Mr. MASON thought 7 years too long, but would never agree to part with the principle. It is a valuable principle. He thought
it a defect in the plan that the Representatives would be too few to bring with them all the local knowledge necessary. If
residence be not required, rich men of neighboring States, may employ with success the means of corruption in some
particular district and thereby get into the public Councils after having failed in their own State. This is the practice in the
boroughs of England.

On the question for postponing in order to consider Mr. Dickensons motion.

New Hampshire, no; Massachusetts, no; Connecticut, no; New Jersey, no; Pennsylvania, no; Delaware, no; Maryland, aye;
Virginia, no; North Carolina, no. South Carolina, aye; Georgia, aye.

On the question for inserting "inhabitant" in place of "resident" -agreed to nem con.

Mr. ELSEWORTH and Col. MASON moved to insert "one year" for previous inhabitancy.

Mr. WILLIAMSON liked the Report as it stood. He thought "resident" a good enough term. He was against requiring any
period of previous residence. New residents if elected will be most zealous to Conform to the will of their constituents, as
their conduct will be watched with a more jealous eye.

Mr. BUTLER and Mr. RUTLIDGE moved "three years" instead of "one year" for previous inhabitancy.

On the question for 3 years-

New Hampshire, no; Massachusetts, no; Connecticut, no; New Jersey, no; Pennsylvania, no; Delaware, no; Maryland, no;
Virginia, no; North Carolina, no; South Carolina, aye; Georgia, aye.

On the question for "1 year"-

New Hampshire, no; Massachusetts, no; Connecticut, no; New Jersey, aye; Pennsylvania, no; Delaware, no; Maryland,
divided; Virginia, no; North Carolina, aye; South Carolina, aye; Georgia, aye.

Art. IV. Sect. 2. As amended in manner preceding, was agreed to nem con.

Art: IV. Sect. 3 taken up.

Gen. PINKNEY & Mr. PINKNEY moved that the number of representatives allotted to South Carolina be "six".

On the question: New Hampshire, no; Massachusetts, no; Connecticut, no; New Jersey, no; Pennsylvania, no; Delaware, aye;
Maryland, no; Virginia, no; North Carolina, aye; South Carolina, aye; Georgia, aye;

The 3rd Section of Art: IV was then agreed to.

Art. IV. Section 4 taken up.

Mr. WILLIAMSON moved to strike out "according to the provisions hereinafter made" and to insert the words "according to
the rule hereafter to be provided for direct taxation". -See Art. VII. sect. 3.

On the question for agreeing to Mr. Williamson's amendment

New Hampshire, aye; Massachusetts, aye; Connecticut, aye; New Jersey, no; Pennsylvania, aye; Delaware, no; Maryland,
aye; Virginia, aye; North Carolina, aye; South Carolina, aye; Georgia, aye.

Mr. KING wished to know what influence the vote just passed was meant have on the succeeding part of the Report,
concerning the admission of slaves into the rule of Representation. He could not reconcile his mind to the article, if it was to
prevent objections to the latter part. The admission of slaves was a most grating circumstance to his mind, and he believed
would be so to a great part of the people of America. He had not made a strenuous opposition to it heretofore because he had
hoped that this concession would have produced a readiness which had not been manifested, to strengthen the General
Government, and to mark a full confidence in it.

The Report under consideration had by the tenor of it, put an end to all those hopes. In two great points the hands of the
Legislature were absolutely tied. The importation of slaves could not be prohibited and exports could not be taxed. Is this
reasonable? What are the great objects of the General System? (1). Defense against foreign invasion. (2) against internal
sedition. Shall all the States then be bound to defend each; and shall each be at liberty to introduce a weakness which will
render defense more difficult? Shall one part of the U. S. be bound to defend another part, and that other part be at liberty not
only to increase its own danger, but to withhold the compensation for the burden?

If slaves are to be imported shall not the exports produced by their labor, supply a revenue the better to enable the General
Government to defend their masters? There was so much inequality and unreasonableness in all this, that the people of the
Northern States could never be reconciled to it. No candid man could undertake to justify it to them. He had hoped that some
accommodation would have taken place on this subject; that at least a time would have been limited for the importation of
slaves. He never could agree to let them be imported without limitation and then be represented in the National Legislature.
Indeed he could so little persuade himself of the rectitude of such a practice, that he was not sure he could assent to it under
any circumstances. At all events, either slaves should not be represented, or exports should be taxable.

Mr. SHERMAN regarded the slave trade as iniquitous; but the point of representation having been settled after much difficulty
and deliberation, he did not think himself bound to make opposition; especially as the present article as amended did not
preclude any arrangement whatever on that point in another place of the Report.

Mr. MADISON objected to 1 for every 40,000, inhabitants as a perpetual rule. The future increase of population, if the Union
should be permanent, will render the number of Representatives excessive.

Mr. GHORUM. It is not to be supposed that the Government will last so long as to produce this effect. Can it be supposed
that this vast Country including the Western territory will 150 years hence remain one nation?

Mr. ELSEWORTH. If the Government should continue so long, alterations may be made in the Constitution in the manner
proposed in a subsequent article.

Mr. SHERMAN and Mr. MADISON moved to insert the words "not exceeding" before the words "1 for every 40,000,
which was agreed to nem con.

Mr. Govr. MORRIS moved to insert "free" before the word inhabitants. Much he said would depend on this point. He never
would concur in upholding domestic slavery. It was a nefarious institution. It was the curse of heaven on the States where it
prevailed. Compare the free regions of the Middle States, where a rich and noble cultivation marks the prosperity and
happiness of the people, with the misery and poverty which overspread the barren wastes of Virginia, Maryland and the other
States having slaves.

Travel through the whole Continent and you behold the prospect continually varying with the appearance and disappearance of
slavery. The moment you leave the Eastern States and enter New York, the effects of the institution become visible, passing
through the Jerseys and entering Pennsylvania, every criterion of superior improvement witnesses the change. Proceed
southwardly and every step you take through the great region of slaves presents a desert increasing, with the increasing
proportion of these wretched beings. Upon what principle is it that the slaves shall be computed in the representation? Are
they men? Then make them Citizens and let them vote. Are they property? Why then is no other property included?

The Houses in this city [Philadelphia] are worth more than all the wretched slaves which cover the rice swamps of South
Carolina. The admission of slaves into the Representation when fairly explained comes to this; that the inhabitant of Georgia
and South Carolina who goes to the Coast of Africa, and in defiance of the most sacred laws of humanity, tears away his
fellow creatures from their dearest connections and damns them to the most cruel bondages, shall have more votes in a
Government instituted for protection of the rights of mankind, than the Citizen of Pennsylvania or New Jersey who views
with a laudable horror, so nefarious a practice.

He would add that domestic slavery is the most prominent feature in the aristocratic countenance of the proposed
Constitution. The vassalage of the poor has ever been the favorite offspring of Aristocracy. And What is the proposed
compensation to the Northern States for a sacrifice of every principle of right, of every impulse of humanity? They are to bind
themselves to march their militia for the defense of the Southern States; for their defense against those very slaves of whom
they complain. They must supply vessels and seamen in case of foreign Attack. The Legislature will have indefinite power to
tax them by excises, and duties on imports; both of which will fall heavier on them than on the Southern inhabitants; for the
bohea tea used by a Northern freeman, will pay more tax than the whole consumption of the miserable slave, which consists
of nothing more than his physical subsistence and the rag that covers his nakedness.

On the other side the Southern States are not to be restrained from importing fresh supplies of wretched Africans, at once to
increase the danger of attack, and the difficulty of defense; nay, they are to be encouraged to it by an assurance of having
their votes in the National Government increased in proportion, and are at the same time to have their exports and their slaves
exempt from all contributions for the public service. Let it not be said that direct taxation is to be proportioned to
representation. It is idle to suppose that the General Government can stretch its hand directly into the pockets of the people
scattered over so vast a Country. They can only do it through the medium of exports, imports and excises. For what then are
all these sacrifices to be made? He would sooner submit himself to a tax for paying for all the negroes in the United States,
than saddle posterity with such a Constitution.

Mr. DAYTON 2nded the motion. He did it he said, that his sentiments on the subject might appear whatever might be the fate
of the amendment.

Mr. SHERMAN did not regard the admission of the Negroes into the ratio of representation, as liable to such insuperable
objections. It was the freemen of the Southern States who were in fact to be represented according to the taxes paid by them,
and the Negroes are only included in the Estimate of the taxes. This was his idea of the matter.

Mr. PINKNEY, considered the fisheries and the Western frontier as more burdensome to the U. S. than the slaves. He
thought this could be demonstrated if the occasion were a proper one.

Mr. WILSON thought the motion premature. An agreement to the clause would be no bar to the object of it.

Question On motion to insert "free" before "inhabitants."

New Hampshire, no; Massachusetts, no; Connecticut, no; New Jersey, aye; Pennsylvania, no; Delaware, no; Maryland, no;
Virginia, no; North Carolina, no; South Carolina, no; Georgia, no.

On the suggestion of Mr. DICKENSON the words, "provided that each State shall have one representative at least”, were
added nem con.

Art. IV. Sect. 4 as amended was agreed to nem con.

Art. IV. Sect. 5 taken up

Mr. PINKNEY moved to strike out Section 5 as giving no peculiar advantage to the House of Representatives, and as clogging
the Government. If the Senate can be trusted with the many great powers proposed, it surely may be trusted with that of
originating money bills.

Mr. GHORUM was against allowing the Senate to originate; but only to amend.

Mr. Govr. MORRIS. It is particularly proper that the Senate should have the right of originating money bills. They will sit
constantly, will consist of a smaller number, and will be able to prepare such bills with due correctness; and so as to prevent
delay of business in the other House.

Col. MASON was unwilling to travel over this ground again. To strike out the section, was to unhinge the compromise of
which it made a part. The duration of the Senate made it improper. He does not object to that duration. On the Contrary he
approved of it. But joined with the smallness of the number, it was an argument against adding this to the other great powers
vested in that body. His idea of an Aristocracy was that it was the government of the few over the many. An aristocratic
body, like the screw in mechanics, working its way by slow degrees, and holding fast whatever it gains, should ever be
suspected of an encroaching tendency. The purse strings should never be put into its hands.

Mr. MERCER considered the exclusive power of originating Money bills as so great an advantage, that it rendered the
equality of votes in the Senate ideal and of no consequence.

Mr. BUTLER was for adhering to the principle which had been settled.

Mr. WILSON was opposed to it on its merits without regard to the compromise.

Mr. ELSEWORTH did not think the clause of any consequence, but as it was thought of consequence by some members
from the larger States, he was willing it should stand.

Mr. MADISON was for striking it out; considering it as of no advantage to the large States as fettering the Government and
as a source of injurious altercations between the two Houses.

On the question for striking out "Sect. 5, Art. IV”:

New Hampshire, no; Massachusetts, no; Connecticut, no; New Jersey, aye; Pennsylvania aye; Delaware, aye; Maryland, aye;
Virginia, aye; North Carolina, no; South Carolina, aye; Georgia, aye.  
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