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title:“Jasper Yeates' Notes of the Pennsylvania Ratification Convention”
date written:1787-11-28

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last updated:Jan. 22, 2013, 7:57 a.m. UTC
retrieved:Jan. 17, 2018, 11:14 a.m. UTC

"Jasper Yeates' Notes of the Pennsylvania Ratification Convention." The Documentary History of the Ratification of the Constitution. Vol. 2. Ed. Gaspare J. Saladino and John P. Kaminski. Madison: Wisconsin Historical Society Press, 1976. 386, 387, 390, 392, 399-400, 406, 411, 420-421. Print.

Jasper Yeates' Notes of the Pennsylvania Ratification Convention (November 28, 1787)

Smilie: Is there an expression in the Constitution that justifies the people altering the Constitution, if they think proper?1 Reads the Declaration of Independence.
McKean: There is no necessity for a bill of rights.2
Wilson: 8 Vol. Parly. Histy. 150-Peto of Rights with the King's answer-2 Vol. Parl Deb. 258 -64.
At the Revolution of 1688 the rights of the people were considered as founded on a compact (1 Blackst. 233 to this point). Our government differ from England, and the refore a bill of rights may be necessary there; it is not so here. Virginia, Jersey, New York, South Carolina, Connecticut, Rhode Island have no bill of rights. So of New Hampshire and Georgia. An enumeration of the rights of the people would be dangerous-for what are omitted are to be supposed to be excluded.
Smilie: Delaware, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and North Carolina have a bill of right [s].
Trials by jury in criminal cases are reserved and the privilege of the habeas corpus act. These are mere parts of our bill of rights and all that are given to us. In this Constitution there is no security for the rights of conscience.
The section of 6th Article sweeps away all the rights we have under the states' governments.
Whitehill: The present Constitution is a violation of our engagements under the Confederation. No state nor Convention had such powers. The act of Assembly gave no such power. This Constitution gives a general consolidated government.6 The general legislative power is too large and undefined.7 Annual elections necessary to liberty. Congress may increase the periods of their sitting.8 Congress ought not to control the times, modes, and places of choosing House of Representatives. Senators may amass wealth by sitting for 6 years. It is the nature of power to exceed its boundaries. What have we to do with Magna Charta or Great Britain? The late Convention deliberately intended to destroy the state governments. Have we a right to give away the rights of conscience?9
Wilson: If the state governments fall, the government of United States falls also, for there can be no election of Representatives unless there are elections in state legislatures, and the Senators can only be chosen by state legislatures. And each state has an equal vote. No state to be deprived of its equal suffrage in the Senate without its consent (Article 6) [i.e., Article V]. The President is to be appointed by Electors chosen by the legislature of each state. If the legislative and executive powers (which clearly depend on the state governments) cease to exist; the judicial power must cease also.
Smilie: The federal government does not immediately abolish the state governments but eventually it will produce it. Instead of the word "People" in the Preamble, it should be "State." This shows theConvention intended to destroy the state governments. The general government have such extensive powers in point of taxation, that the states can do but little–they can only tax the little that is left, if anything.11 The power of raising armies, the power of Congress over the militia of each state, is formidable to liberty. If state governments cannot raise money enough to pay their officers, they will not serve those governments without salaries.12 The forms of government may subsist when the substance is gone as in the case of ancient Rome.
McKean: There are but 7 governments in the world which have a bill of rights.
The powers of Congress cannot be so safely vested in any other body—they are the objects of our own choice and have our confidence. The enumeration of their powers exclude the rest admissio unius est exclusio alterisis. Their powers are absolutely to our existence as a confederate government.