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In Convention,—The Report of the Committee of Detail being taken up, —
Mr. PINCKNEY moved that it be referred to a Committee of the Whole. This was strongly opposed by Mr. Gorham and several others, as likely to produce unnecessary delay; and was negatived,-Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia, only being in the affirmative.292 The preamble of the Report was agreed to, nem.
So were Articles 1 and 2. Article 3 being considered,-Col. Mason doubted the propriety of giving each branch a negative on the other "in all cases." There were some cases in which it was, he supposed, not intended to be given, as in the case of balloting for appointments.
Mr. G. Morris moved to insert “ legislative acts,”. instead of " all cases.” Mr. WILLIAMSON seconds him.
Mr. SHERMAN. This will restrain the operation of the clause too much. It will particularly exclude
a mutual negative in the case of ballots, which he hoped would take place.
Mr. GORHAM contended, that elections ought to be made by joint ballot. If separate ballots should be made for the President, and the two branches should be each attached to a favorite, great delay, contention and confusion may ensue. These inconveniences have been felt in Massachusetts, in the election of officers of little importance compared with the Executive of the United States. The only objection against a joint ballot is, that it may deprive the Senate of their due weight; but this ought not to prevail over the respect due to the public tranquillity and welfare.
Mr. Wilson was for a joint ballot in several cases at least; particularly in the choice of a President; and was therefore for the amendment. Disputes between the two Houses, during and concerning the vacancy of the Executive, might have dangerous consequences.
Col. Mason thought the amendment of Mr. GouvERNEUR MORRIS extended too far. Treaties are in a subsequent part declared to be laws; they will therefore be subjected to a negative, although they are to be made, as proposed, by the Senate alone. He proposed that the mutual negative should be restrained to “cases requiring the distinct assent" of the two Houses. Mr. GOUVERNEUR Morris thought this but a repetition of the same thing; the mutual negative and distinct assent being equivalent expressions. Treaties he thought were not laws.
Mr. Madison moved to strike out the words, "each of which shall in all cases have a negative on the other;" the idea being sufficiently expressed in the
preceding member of the Article, vesting “ the legislative power” in “distinct bodies;" especially as the respective powers, and mode of exercising them, were fully delineated in a subsequent Article.
General PINCKNEY seconded the motion.
On the question for inserting, “ legislative acts," as moved by Mr. GOUVERNEUR Morris, it passed in the negative, the votes being equally divided,,New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, aye—5; Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, South Carolina, Georgia, no—5.
On the question for agreeing to Mr. Madison's motion to strike out, &c.—New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Virginia, South Carolina, Georgia, aye—7; Connecticut, Maryland, North Carolina, no-3.
Mr. MADISON wished to know the reasons of the Committee for fixing by the Constitution the time of meeting for the Legislature; and suggested, that it be required only that one meeting at least should be held every year, leaving the time to be fixed or varied by law.
Mr. GOUVERNEUR Morris moved to strike out the sentence. It was improper to tie down the Legislature to a particular time, or even to require a meeting every year. The public business might not require it. Mr. PINCKNEY concurred with Mr. MADISON.
Mr. GORHAM. If the time be not fixed by the Constitution, disputes will arise in the Legislature; and the States will be at a loss to adjust thereto the times of their elections. In the New England States, the annual time of meeting had been long fixed by their charters and constitutions, and no inconvenience had resulted. He thought it necessary
that there should be one meeting at least every year, as a check on the Executive department.
Mr. ELLSWORTH was against striking out the words. The Legislature will not know, till they are met, whether the public interest required their meeting or not. He could see no impropriety in fixing the day, as the Convention could judge of it as well as the Legislature. Mr. Wilson thought, on the whole, it would be best to fix the day.
Mr. KING could not think there would be a necessity for a meeting every year. A great vice in our system was that of legislating too much. The most numerous objects of legislation belong to the States. Those of the National Legislature were but few. The chief of them were commerce and
When these should be once settled, alterations would be rarely necessary and easily made.
Mr. Madison thought, if the time of meeting should be fixed by a law, it would be sufficiently fixed, and there would be no difficulty then, as had been suggested, on the part of the States in adjusting their elections to it. One consideration appeared to him to militate strongly against fixing a time by the Constitution. It might happen that the Legislature might be called together by the public exigencies and finish their session but a short time before the annual period. In this case it would be extremely inconvenient to re-assemble so quickly, and without the least necessity. He thought one annual meeting ought to be required; but did not wish to make two unavoidable.
Colonel Mason thought the objections against fixing the time insuperable; but that an annual meeting ought to be required as essential to the