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title:“Abraham Baldwin in the United Sates Senate”
authors:Abraham Baldwin
date written:1806-11-16

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last updated:Jan. 22, 2013, 7:59 a.m. UTC
retrieved:Sept. 27, 2023, 10:21 p.m. UTC

Baldwin, Abraham. "Abraham Baldwin in the United Sates Senate." Supplement to Max Farrand's The Records of the Federal Convention of 1787. Ed. James H. Hutson. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1987. 305. Print.

Abraham Baldwin in the United Sates Senate (November 16, 1806)

In a conversation this day with Abraham Baldwin a senator from Georgia & a member of the Convention who formed1 the Constitution of the United States—he said that, Genl. Washington at that time, in a morning's walk, told him he did not expect the constitution would exist more than 20 years.
He said, That the convention was more than once upon the point of dissolving without agreeing upon any system.23 Many believed they had no authority to report a new system, but only propose amendments to the old articles of Confederation. Some were for a government of energy embracing many objects of legislation—but others to have a more limited authority & to extend to fewer objects. All were better pleased with it when the propositions were reduced to form &connected together than they expected. All the members present, except three signed it—these were Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts, George Mason & Edmund Randolph of Virginia.
Mr. Baldwin observed That after the instrument was engrossed & ready to be signed, Genl. Washington then President of the convention rose, with his pen in his hand—& observed, That his duty as presiding officer, & his inclination had united in preventing him from taking an active part in the interesting debates of that body—That doubts might exist whether he approved of the instrument, or only signed it by order of the Convention—he tho't it his duty to remove these doubts by explicitly declaring That tho' he did not consider it a perfect system—yet he approved of it as a man, & as a delegate from Virginia.—There was however one feature in it he wished, even at this late hour, might be changed—It was the only favor he had, or would ask of the Convention—That was the representation of the States—40,000 souls he tho't too high a number for a representative.—A state, who has from 70 to 100 representatives in its Legislature, will if this principle is retained have not more than 2, 3, or 4 representatives in the House of Representatives in Congress. This principle, to him, appeared antirepublican—He wished the convention would strike out 40, & insert 30,000—To this the Convention unanimously agreed.4

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