Notes on the Debates in the Federal Convention
By James Madison
June 12, 1787
Tuesday June 12, 1787

IN COMMITTEE OF  WHOLE

The Question taken on Resolution 15, to wit, referring the new system to the people of the States for ratification it passed in
the affirmative:

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

Mr. SHARMAN & Mr. ELSEWORTH moved to fill the blank left in the 4th. Resolution for the periods of electing the
members of the first branch with the words, "every year." Mr. Sharman observing that he did it in order to bring on some
question.

Mr. RUTLIDGE proposed "every two years."

Mr. JENNIFER proposed, "every three years," observing that the too great frequency of elections rendered the people
indifferent to them, and made the best men unwilling to engage in so precarious a service.

Mr. MADISON seconded the motion for three years. Instability is one of the great vices of our republics, to be remedied.
Three years will be necessary, in a Government so extensive, for members to form any knowledge of the various interests of
the States to which they do not belong, and of which they can know but little from the situation and affairs of their own. One
year will be almost consumed in preparing for and travelling to and from the seat of national business.

Mr. GERRY. The people of New England will never give up the point of annual elections, they know of the transition made in
England from triennial to septennial elections, and will consider such an innovation here as the prelude to a like usurpation. He
considered annual elections as the only defense of the people against tyranny. He was as much against a triennial House as
against a hereditary Executive.

Mr. MADISON, observed that if the opinions of the people were to be our guide, it would be difficult to say what course we
ought to take. No member of the Convention could say what the opinions of his Constituents were at this time; much less
could he say what they would think if possessed of the information and lights possessed by the members here; and still less
what would be their way of thinking 6 or 12 months hence.

We ought to consider what was right and necessary in itself for the attainment of a proper Government. A plan adjusted to
this idea will recommend itself. The respectability of this convention will give weight to their recommendation of it.
Experience will be constantly urging the adoption of it, and all the most enlightened and respectable citizens will be its
advocates. Should we fall short of the necessary and proper point, this influential class of Citizens will be turned against the
plan, and little support in opposition to them can be gained to it from the unreflecting multitude.

Mr. GERRY repeated his opinion that it was necessary to consider what the people would approve. This had been the policy
of all Legislators. If the reasoning of Mr. Madison were just, and we supposed a limited Monarchy the best form in itself, we
ought to recommend it, though the genius of the people was decidedly adverse to it, and having no hereditary distinctions
among us, we were destitute of the essential materials for such an innovation.

On the question for triennial election of the 1st. branch
Massachusetts, no. [Mr. King, aye.] Mr. Ghorum, wavering. Connecticut no. New York,  aye. New Jersey, aye.
Pennsylvania, aye. Delaware, ay. Maryland ay. Virginia, aye. North Carolina, no. South Carolina, no. Georgia, aye.

The words requiring members of ye. 1st. branch to be of the age of years were struck out Maryland alone, no. The words
"liberal compensation for members" being considered. Mr. MADISON moves to insert the words, "and fixed." He observed
that it would be improper to leave the members of the National legislature to be provided for by the State Legislatures because
it would create an improper dependence; and to leave them to regulate their own wages, was an indecent thing, and might in
time prove a dangerous one. He thought wheat or some other article of which the average price throughout a reasonable
period preceding might be settled in some convenient mode, would form a proper standard.

Col. MASON seconded the motion; adding that it would be improper for other reasons to leave the wages to be regulated by
the States. 1. The different States would make different provision for their representatives, and an inequality would be felt
among them, whereas he thought they ought to be in all respects equal. 2. the parsimony of the States might reduce the
provision so low that as had already happened in choosing delegates to Congress, the question would be not who were most
fit to be chosen, but who were most willing to serve.

On the question for inserting the words "and fixt."
Massachusetts no. Connecticut no. New York, aye. New Jersey, aye. Pennsylvania, aye. Delaware, aye. Maryland aye.
Virginia, aye. North Carolina, aye. South Carolina, no. Georgia, aye.

Dr. FRANKLIN said he approved of the amendment just made for rendering the salaries as fixed as possible; but disliked the
word "liberal." he would prefer the word moderate if it was necessary to substitute any other. He remarked the tendency of
abuses in every case, to grow of themselves when once begun, and related very pleasantly the progression in ecclesiastical
benefices, from the first departure from the gratuitous provision for the Apostles, to the establishment of the papal system.
The word "liberal" was struck out nem con.

On the motion of
Mr. PIERCE, that the wages should be paid out of the National Treasury,

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

Question on the clause relating to term of service & compensation of  1st. Branch,

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

On a question for striking out the "ineligibility of members of National Legislature to State offices."

Massachusetts, divided. Connecticut, aye. New York, aye. New Jersey, no. Pennsylvania, no. Delaware, no. Maryland
divided. Virginia, no. North Carolina, aye. South Carolina, aye. Geogia, no.

On the question for agreeing to the clause as amended Massachusetts, aye. Connecticut, no. New York, aye. New Jersey,
aye. Pennsylvania, aye. Delaware, aye. Maryland, aye. Virginia, aye. North Carolina, aye. South Carolina, aye. Georgia, aye.

On a question for making Members of National legislature ineligible to any office under the National Government for the term
of 3 years after ceasing to be members.

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

On the question for such ineligibility for one year
Massachusetts, aye. Connecticut, aye. New York, no. New Jersey, aye. Pennsylvania, aye. Delaware, aye. Maryland, divided.
Virginia, aye. North Carolina, aye. South Carolina aye. Georgia, no.

On question moved by Mr. PINCKNEY for striking out "incapable of re-election into 1st branch of National Legislature for
years, and subject to recall" agreed to nem con.

On question for striking out from Resolution 5, the words requiring members of the senatorial branch to be of the age of
years at least____.

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

On the question for filling the blank with 30 years as the qualification; it was agreed to.
Massachusetts, aye. Connecticut, no. New York, aye. New Jersey, no. Pennsylvania, aye. Delaware, no. Maryland, aye.
Virginia, aye. North Carolina, aye. South Carolina, aye. Georgia, no.

Mr. SPAIGHT moved to fill the blank for the duration of the appointments to the 2d. branch of the National Legislature with
the words "7 years.”

Mr. SHERMAN, thought 7 years too long. He grounded his opposition he said on the principle that if they did their duty well,
they would be reelected. And if they acted amiss, an earlier opportunity should be allowed for getting rid of them. He
preferred 5 years which would. be between the terms of 1st. branch and of the executive.

Mr. PIERCE proposed 3 years. 7 years would raise an alarm. Great mischief had arisen in England from their septennial act
which was reprobated by most of their patriotic Statesmen.

Mr. RANDOLPH was for the term of 7 years. The democratic licentiousness of the State Legislatures proved the necessity
of a firm Senate. The object of this 2d. branch is to control the democratic branch of the National Legislature. If it be not a
firm body, the other branch being more numerous, and coming immediately from the people, will overwhelm it. The Senate of
Maryland constituted on like principles had been scarcely able to stem the popular torrent. No mischief can be apprehended,
as the concurrence of the other branch, and in some measure, of the Executive, will in all cases be necessary. A firmness and
independence may be the more necessary also in this branch, as it ought to guard the Constitution against encroachments of
the Executive who will be apt to form combinations with the demagogues of the popular branch.

Mr. MADISON, considered 7 years as a term by no means too long. What we wished was to give to the Government that
stability which was every where called for, and which the Enemies of the Republican form alleged to be inconsistent with its
nature. He was not afraid of giving too much stability by the term of Seven years. His fear was that the popular branch would
still be too great an overmatch for it. It was to be much lamented that we had so little direct experience to guide us. The
Constitution of Maryland was the only one that bore any analogy to this part of the plan. In no instance had the Senate of
Maryland created just suspicions of danger from it. In some instances perhaps it may have erred by yielding to the House of
Delegates. In every instance of their opposition to the measures of the House of Delegates they had had with them the
suffrages of the most enlightened and impartial people of the other States as well as of their own. In the States where the
Senates were chosen in the same manner as the other branches of the Legislature, and held their seats for 4 years, the
institution was found to be no check whatever against the instabilities of the other branches.

He conceived it to be of great importance that a stable and firm Government organized in the republican form should be held
out to the people. If this be not done, and the people be left to judge of this species of Government by the operations of the
defective systems under which they now live, it is much to be feared the time is not distant when, in universal disgust, they
will renounce the blessing which they have purchased at so dear a rate, and be ready for any change that may be proposed to
them.

On the question for "seven years" as the term for the 2d. Branch,

Massachusetts, divided (Mr. King, Mr. Ghorum, aye -Mr. Gerry, Mr. Strong, no) Connecticut, no. New York, divided. New
Jersey, aye. Pennsylvania, aye. Delaware, aye. Maryland, ay. Virginia, aye. North Carolina, aye. South Carolina, aye. Geogia,
aye.

Mr. BUTLER & Mr. RUTLIDGE proposed that the members of the 2d. branch should be entitled to no salary or
compensation for their services.

On the question,  Massachusetts, divided. Connecticut, aye. New York, no. New Jersey, no. Pennsylvania, no. Delaware,
aye. Maryland, no. Virginia, no. North Carolina, no. South Carolina, aye. Georgia, no.

It was then moved and agreed that the clauses respecting the stipends and ineligibility of the 2d branch be the same as of the
1st branch of Congress, disagreeing to the ineligibility.

It was moved and 2ded to alter Resolution 9, so as to read "that the jurisdiction of the supreme tribunal shall be to hear and
determine in the dernier resort, all piracies, felonies, etc."

It was moved and 2ded to strike out, "all piracies & felonies on the high seas," which was agreed to.

It was moved and agreed to strike out "all captures from an enemy."

It was moved and agreed to strike out "other States" and insert "two distinct States of the Union".

It was moved and agreed to postpone the consideration of Resolution 9, relating to the Judiciary.

The Committee then rose and the House adjourned.
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