« ZurückWeiter »
A letter from sundry persons of the State of Rhode Island, addressed to the Chairman of the General Convention, was presented to the Chair by Mr. GOUVERNEUR Morris; and, being read, was ordered to lie on the table for further considera
Mr. Butler moved that the House provide against interruption of business by absence of members, and against licentious publications of their proceedings. To which was added, by Mr. Spaight, a motion to provide, that, on the one hand, the House might not be precluded by a vote upon any question from revising the subject matter of it, when they see cause, nor, on the other hand, be led too hastily to rescind a decision which was the result of mature discussion. Whereupon it was ordered, that these motions be referred for the consideration of the Committee appointed to draw up the standing rules, and that the Committee make report thereon.
Adjourned till to-morrow, at ten o'clock.
TUESDAY, MAY 29TH.
In Convention,-John DICKINSON, and ELBRIDGE Gerry, the former from Delaware, the latter froin Massachusetts, took their seats. The following rules were added, on the Report of Mr. WYTHE, from the Committee
* For the letter, see Appendix, No. 1.
“ That no member be absent from the House, so as to interrupt the representation of the State, without leave.
" That Committees do not sit whilst the House shall be, or ought to be, sitting.
“That no copy be taken of any entry on the Journal during the sitting of the House, without leave of the House.
"That members only be permitted to inspect the Journal.
“ That nothing spoken in the House be printed, or otherwise published, or communicated without leave.
" That a motion to reconsider a matter which has been determined by a majority, may be made, with leave, unanimously given, on the same day on which the vote passed ; but otherwise, not without one day's previous notice; in which last case, if the House agree to the reconsideration, some future day shall be assigned for that purpose."
Mr. C. PINCKNEY moved, that a Committee be appointed to superintend the minutes.
Mr. G. Morris objected to it. The entry of the proceedings of the Convention belonged to the Secretary as their impartial officer. A Committee might have an interest and bias in moulding the the entry, according to their opinions and wishes.
The motion was negatived, five Noes, four Ayes. Mr. RANDOLPH then opened the main business :
He expressed his regret, that it should fall to him, rather than those who were of longer standing in life and political experience, to open the great subject of their mission. But as the Convention had originated from Virginia, and his colleagues supposed that some proposition was expected from them, they had imposed this task on him.
He then commented on the difficulty of the crisis, and the necessity of preventing the fulfilment of the prophecies of the American downfall.
He observed, that, in revising the federal system we ought to inquire, first, into the properties which such a government ought to possess; secondly, the defects of the Confederation; thirdly the danger of our situation; and fourthly, the remedy.
1. The character of such a government ought to secure, first, against foreign invasion; secondly, against dissensions between members of the Union, or seditions in particular States; thirdly, to procure to the several States various blessings of which an isolated situation was incapable; fourthly, it should be able to defend itself against encroachment; and fifthly, to be paramount to the State Constitutions.
2. In speaking of the defects of the Confederation, he professed a high respect for its authors, and considered them as having done all that patriots could do, in the then infancy of the science of constitutions, and of confederacies; when the inefficiency of requisitions was unknown-no commercial discord had arisen among any States-no rebellion had appeared, as in Massachusetts-foreign debts had not become urgent—the havoc of paper-money had not been foreseen-treaties had not been violated-and perhaps nothing better could be obtained, from the
jealousy of the States with regard to their sovereignty
He then proceeded to enumerate the defects :- XX First, that the Confederation produced no security against foreign invasion; Congress not being permitted to prevent a war, nor to support it by their own authority. Of this he cited many examples; most of which tended to shew, that they could not cause infractions of treaties, or of the law of nations, to be punished; that particular States might by their conduct provoke war without control; and that, neither militia nor drafts being fit for defence on such occasions, enlistments only could be successful, and these could not be executed without money.
Secondly, that the Federal Government could not check the quarrel between States, nor a rebellion in any, not having constitutional power nor means to interpose according to the exigency.
Thirdly, that there were many advantages which the United States might acquire, which were not attainable under the Confederation-such as a productive impost-counteraction of the commercial regulations of other nations--pushing of commerce ad libitum, &c. &c.
Fourthly, that the Federal Government could not defend itself against encroachments from the States.
Fifthly, that it was not even paramount to the State Constitutions, ratified as it was in many of the States.
3. He next reviewed the danger of our situation ; and appealed to the sense of the best friends of the
United States—to the prospect of anarchy from the laxity of government every where—and to other considerations.
4. He then proceeded to the remedy; the basis of which he said must be the republican principle.
He proposed, as conformable to his ideas, the following resolutions, which he explained one by
1. “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, and general welfare."
2. “Resolved, therefore, 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.
3. “Resolved, that the National Legislature ought to consist of two branches.
4. “Resolved, that the members of the first branch of the National Legislature ought to be elected by the people of the several States every for the term of ; to be of the age of years at least; to receive liberal stipends by which they may be compensated for the devotion of their time to the public service; to be ineligible to any office established by a particular State, or under the authority of the United States, except those peculiarly belong to the functions of the first branch, during the term of service, and for the space of
after its expiration; to be incapable of reelection for the space
after the expiration