Notes on the Debates in the Federal Convention
By James Madison
May 30, 1787
Wednesday May 30, 1787

Roger Sherman (from Connecticut) took his seat.

The House went into Committee of the Whole on the State of the Union. Mr. Gorham was elected to the Chair by Ballot.

The propositions of Mr. Randolph which had been referred to the Committee being taken up. He moved on the suggestion of
Mr. G. Morris, that the first of his propositions to wit "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 &
general welfare: ---should be postponed, in order to consider the 3 following:

1. that a Union of the States merely federal will not accomplish the objects proposed by the articles of Confederation, namely
common defence, security of liberty, and general welfare.

2. that no treaty or treaties among the whole or part of the States, as individual Sovereignties, would be sufficient.

3. that a national Government ought to be established consisting of a supreme Legislative, Executive & Judiciary.

The motion for postponing was seconded by Mr. Govurneur Morris and unanimously agreed to.

Some verbal criticisms were raised against the first proposition, and it was agreed on motion of Mr. Butler, seconded by Mr.
Randolph, to pass on to the third, which underwent a discussion, less however on its general merits than on the force and
extent of the particular terms national and supreme.

Mr. CHARLES PINKNEY wished to know of Mr. Randolph whether he meant to abolish the State Governments altogether.
Mr. R. replied that he meant by these general propositions merely to introduce the particular ones which explained the outlines
of the system he had in view.

Mr. BUTLER said he had not made up his mind on the subject, and was open to the light which discussion might throw on it.
After some general observations he concluded with saying that he had opposed the grant of powers to Congress heretofore,
because the whole power was vested in one body. The proposed distribution of the powers into different bodies changed the
case, and would induce him to go great lengths.

Gen. PINKNEY expressed a doubt whether the act of Congress recommending the Convention, or the Commissions of the
Deputies to it, could authorize a discussion of a System founded on different principles from the federal Constitution.

Mr. GERRY seemed to entertain the same doubt.

Mr. G. MORRIS explained the distinction between a federal and national, supreme, Government.; the former being a mere
compact resting on the good faith of the parties; the latter having a complete and compulsive operation. He contended that in
all Communities there must be one supreme power, and one only.

Mr. MASON observed that the present confederation was not only deficient in not providing for coercion and punishment
against delinquent States; but argued very cogently that punishment could not in the nature of things be executed on the States
collectively, and therefore that such a Government was necessary as could directly operate on individuals, and would punish
those only whose guilt required it.

Mr. SHERMAN who took his seat today, admitted that the Confederation had not given sufficient power to Congress and
that additional powers were necessary; particularly that of raising money which he said would involve many other powers. He
admitted also that the General and particular jurisdictions ought in no case to be concurrent. He seemed however not be
disposed to make too great inroads on the existing system; intimating as one reason that it would be wrong to lose every
amendment, by inserting such as would not be agreed to by the States.

It was moved by Mr. Read, 2ded. by Mr. Charles Cotesworth Pinkney, to postpone the 3d. proposition last offered by Mr.
Randolph, viz, that a national Government ought to be established consisting of a supreme Legislative Executive and
Judiciary," in order to take up the following-viz. "Resolved that in order to carry into execution the Design of the States in
forming this Convention, and to accomplish the objects proposed by the Confederation a more effective Government
consisting of a Legislative, Executive and Judiciary ought to be established."

The motion to postpone for this purpose was lost:

4 Yeas, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Delaware, South Carolina- 4 Nays.  New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina.

On the question as moved by Mr. Butler, on the third proposition it was resolved in Committee of the whole that a national
government ought to be established consisting of a supreme Legislative Executive and Judiciary.

Massachusetts being aye-Connect.-no. New York divided [Col. Hamilton aye, Mr. Yates no] Pennsylvania, aye. Delaware, aye
Virginia aye. North Carolina, aye. South Carolina aye.

Resolution 2. of Mr. Randolph's proposition to wit -see May 29. The following Resolution being the 2d. of those proposed
by Mr. Randolph was taken up, viz -"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."

Mr. MADISON observing that the words "or to the number of free inhabitants," might occasion debates which would divert
the Committee from the general question whether the principle of representation should be changed, moved that they might be
struck out.

Mr. KING observed that the quotas of contribution which would alone remain as the measure of representation, would not
answer, because waving every other view of the matter, the revenue might hereafter be so collected by the general Govt. that
the sums respectively drawn from the States would not appear; and would besides be continually varying.

Mr. MADISON admitted the propriety of the observation, and that some better rule ought to be found.

Col. HAMILTON moved to alter the resolution so as to read "that the rights of suffrage in the national Legislature ought to be
proportioned to the number of free inhabitants. Mr. SPAIGHT 2ded. the motion. It was then moved that the Resolution be
postponed, which was agreed to.

Mr. RANDOLPH and Mr. MADISON then moved the following resolution---"that the rights of suffrage in the national
Legislature ought to be proportioned." It was moved and 2ded. to amend it by adding "and not according to the present
system"---which was agreed to. It was then moved and 2ded. to alter the resolution so as to read "that the rights of suffrage
in the national Legislature ought not to be according to the present system." It was then moved and 2ded. to postpone the
Resolution moved by Mr. Randolph & Mr. Madison, which being agreed to:

Mr. MADISON, moved, in order to get over the difficulties, the following resolution-"that the equality of suffrage established
by the articles of Confederation ought not to prevail in the national Legislature, and that an equitable ratio of representation
ought to be substituted." This was 2ded. by Mr. G. MORRIS, and being generally relished, would have been agreed to; when,

Mr. REED moved that the whole clause relating to the point of Representation be postponed; reminding the Committee that
the deputies from Delaware were restrained by their commission from assenting to any change of the rule of suffrage, and in
case such a change should be fixed on, it might become their duty to retire from the Convention.

Mr. GOVURNEUR MORRIS observed that the valuable assistance of those members could not be lost without real concern,
and that so early a proof of discord in the Convention as a secession of a State, would add much to the regret; that the
change proposed was however so fundamental an article in a national Govt. that it could not be dispensed with.

Mr. MADISON observed that whatever reason might have existed for the equality of suffrage when the Union was a federal
one among sovereign States, it must cease when a national Government should be put into the place. In the former case, the
acts of Congress depended so much for their efficacy on the cooperation of the States, that these had a weight both within
and without Congress, nearly in proportion to their extent and importance. In the latter case, as the acts of the General
Government would take effect without the intervention of the State legislatures, a vote from a small State would have the
same efficacy and importance as a vote from a large one, and there was the same reason for different numbers of
representatives from different States, as from Counties of different extents within particular States. He suggested as an
expedient for at once taking the sense of the members on this point and saving the Delaware deputies from embarrassment,
that the question should be taken in Committee, and the clause on report to the House be postponed without a question there.
This however did not appear to satisfy Mr. Read. By several it was observed that no just construction of the Act of Delaware,
could require or justify a secession of her deputies, even if the resolution were to be carried through the House as well as the
Committee. It was finally agreed however that the clause should be postponed: it being understood that in the event the
proposed change of representation would certainly be agreed to, no objection or difficulty being started from any other
quarter than from Delaware.

The motion of Mr. Read to postpone being agreed to, The Committee then rose. The Chairman reported progress, and the
House having resolved to resume the subject in Committee tomorrow.

Adjourned to 10 O’clock.
The Illinois Conservative