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might make false returns, and then make no provisions for new elections.
Mr. SHERMAN did not know but it might be best to retain the clause, though he had himself sufficient confidence in the State Legislatures.
The motion of Mr. PINCKNEY and Mr. RUTLEDGE did not prevail.
The word “respectively” was inserted after the word “State.”
On the motion of Mr. Read, the word “their” was struck out, and “regulations in such cases,” inserted in place of “provisions concerning them,”the clause then reading: "but regulations, in each of the foregoing cases, may, at any time, be made or altered by the Legislature of the United States." This was meant to give the national Legislature a power not only to alter the provisions of the States, but to make regulations, in case the States should fail or refuse altogether. Article 6, Sect. 1, as thus amended, was agreed to, nem. con.
FRIDAY, AUGUST 10TH.
In Convention,--Article 6, Sect. 2, was taken up.
Mr. PINCKNEY. The Committee, as he had conceived, were instructed to report the proper qualifications of property for the members of the National Legislature; instead of which they have referred the task to the National Legislature itself. Should it be left on this footing, the first Legislature will
meet without any particular qualifications of property; and if it should happen to consist of rich men they might fix such qualifications as may be too favorable to the rich; if of poor men, an opposite extreme might be run into. He was opposed to the establishment of an undue aristocratic influence in the Constitution, but he thought it essential that the members of the Legislature, the Executive, and the Judges, should be possessed of competent property to make them independent and respectable. It was prudent, when such great powers were to be trusted, to connect the tie of property with that of reputation in securing a faithful administration. The Legislature would have the fate of the nation put into their hands. The president would also have a very great influence on it. The Judges would not only have important causes between citizen and citizen, but also where foreigners are concerned. They will even be the umpires between the United States, and individual States; as well as between one State and another. Were he to fix the quantum of property which should be required, he should not think of less than one hundred thousand dollars for the President, half of that sum for each of the Judges, and in like proportion for the members of the National Legislature. He would, however, leave the sums blank. His motion was, that the President of the United States, the Judges, and members of the Legislature, should be required to swear that they were respectively possessed of a clear unincumbered estate, to the amount of
in the case of the President, &c., &c.
Mr. RUTLEDGE seconded the motion; observing,
that the Committee had reported no qualifications, because they could not agree on any among themselves, being embarrassed by the danger, on one side of displeasing the people, by making them high, and, on the other, of rendering them nugatory, by making them low.
Mr. ELLSWORTH. The different circumstances of different parts of the United States, and the
probable difference between the present and future circumstances of the whole, render it improper to have either uniform or fixed qualifications. Make them so high as to be useful in the Southern States, and they will be inapplicable to the Eastern States. Suit them to the latter, and they will serve no purpose, in the former. In like manner, what may be accommodated to the existing state of things among us, may be very inconvenient in some future state of them. He thought for these reasons, that it was better to leave this matter to the Legislative discretion, than to attempt a provision for it in the Constitution.
Doctor FRANKLIN expressed his dislike to every thing that tended to debase the spirit of the common people. If honesty was often the companion of wealth, and if poverty was exposed to peculiar temptation, it was not less true that the possession of property increased the desire of more property. Some of the greatest rogues he was ever acquainted with were the richest rogues. We should remember the character which the Scripture requires in rulers, that they should be men hating covetousness. This Constitution will be much read and attended to in Europe; and if it should betray a great partiality to
the rich, will not only hurt us in the esteem of the most liberal and enlightened men there, but discourage the common people from removing to this country
The motion of Mr. PINCKNEY was rejected by so general a no, that the States were not called.
Mr. Madison was opposed to the section, as vesting an improper and dangerous power in the Legislature. The qualifications of electors and elected were fundamental articles in a republican government, and ought to be fixed by the Constitution. If the Legislature could regulate those of either, it can by degrees subvert the Constitution. A Republic may be converted into an aristocracy or oligarchy, as well by limiting the number capable of being elected, as the number authorized to elect. In all cases where the representatives of the people will have a personal interest distinct from that of their constituents, there was the same reason for being jealous of them, as there was for relying on them with full confidence, when they had a common interest. This was one of the former cases. It was as improper as to allow them to fix their own wages, or their own privileges. It was a power, also, which might be made subservient to the views of one faction against another. Qualifications founded on artificial distinctions may be devised by the stronger in order to keep out partizans of a weaker faction.
Mr. ELLSWORTH admitted that the power was not unexceptionable; but he could not view it as dangerous. Such a power with regard to the electors would be dangerous, because it would be much more liable to abuse.
Mr. GOUVERNEUR MORRIS moved to strike out, “with regard to property,” in order to leave the Legislature entirely at large.
Mr. WILLIAMSON. This would surely never be admitted. Should a majority of the Legislature be composed of any particular description of men, of lawyers for example, which is no improbable supposition, the future elections might be secured to their own body.
Mr. MADISON observed that the British Parliament possessed the power of regulating the qualifications, both of the electors and the elected; and the abuse they had made of it was a lesson worthy of our attention. They had made the changes, in both cases, subservient to their own views, or to the views of political or religious parties.
On the question on the motion to strike out, “ with regard to property,”—Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Georgia, aye—4; New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Delaware,* Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, no—7.
Mr. RUTLEDGE was opposed to leaving the power to the Legislature. He proposed that the qualifications should be the same as for members of the State Legislatures.
Mr. Wilson thought it would be best, on the whole, to let the section go out. A uniform rule would probably never be fixed by the Legislature; and this particular power would constructively ex
power of regulating qualifications. On the question for agreeing to Article 6, Sect. 2,
* In the printed Journal, Delaware did not vote.