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title:“Charles Pinckney to John Quincy Adams”
authors:Charles Pinckney
date written:1818-12-30

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Pinckney, Charles. "Letter to John Quincy Adams." The Records of the Federal Convention of 1787. Vol. 3. Ed. Max Farrand. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1911. Print.

Charles Pinckney to John Quincy Adams (December 30, 1818)

In Charleston, Dec. 30th 1818.
Sir On my return to this City as I promised I examined carefully all the numerous notes & papers which I had retained relating to the federal Convention — among them I found several rough draughts of the Constitution I proposed to the Convention — although they differed in some measure from each other in the wording & arrangement of the articles — yet they were all substantially the same — they all proceeded upon the idea of throwing out of View the attempt to amend the existing Confederation (then a very favourite idea of a number) & proceeding de novo — of a Division of the Powers of Government into legislative executive & judicial & of making the Government to operate directly upon the People & not upon the States — — My Plan was substantially adopted in the sequel except as to the Senate & giving more power to the Executive than I intended — the force of Vote which the small & middling states had in the Convention prevented our obtaining a proportional representation in more than one branch & the great power given to the President was never intended to have been given to him while the Convention continued in that patient &coolly deliberative situation in which they had been for nearly the whole of the preceding five months of their session,1 nor was it until within the last week or ten days that almost the whole of the Executive Department was altered — I can assure you as a fact that for more than Four months & a half out of Five The power of exclusively making treaties, appointing public Ministers & judges of the supreme Court was given to the Senate after numerous debates &considerations of the subject both in Committee of the whole & in the house — this I not only aver but can prove by printed Documents in my possession to have been the case — & should I ever have the pleasure to see you &converse on this subject will state to you some things relative to this business that may be new and perhaps surprising to you — the Veil of secrecy from the Proceedings of the Convention being removed by Congress & but very few of the members alive would make disclosures now of the scenes there acted less improper than before — With the aid of the journal & the numerous notes & memorandums I have preserved should now be in my power to give a View of the almost insuperable difficulties the Convention had to encounter & of the conflicting opinions of the members & I believe I should have attempted it had I not always understood Mr Madison intended it — he alone I believed possessed & retained more numerous & particular notes of their proceedings than myself — I will thank you sir to do me the honour to send me or to get the President to direct a copy of the Journal of the Convention to be sent me as also of the Secret Journals of Congress should it be considered not improper in me to make the request — —
I have already informed you I have several rough draughts of the Constitution I proposed & that they are all substantially the same differing only in words & the arrangement of the Articles — at the distance of nearly thirty two Years it is impossible for me now to say which of the 4 or 5 draughts I have was the one but enclosed I send you the one I believe was it — I repeat however that they are substantially the same differing only in form & unessentials — — It may be necessary to remark that very soon after the Convention met I changed & avowed candidly the change of my opinion on giving the power to Congress to revise the State Laws in certain cases & in giving the exclusive Power to the Senate to declare War thinking it safer to refuse the first altogether & to vest the latter in Congress —
[Endorsed:] Pinckney Charles, December 30. 1818.
Recd January 6 1819.
with a Copy of the Dft of his Constitutions proposed in the federal Convention.
[Footnotes as included or written by Farrand]
  • 1 For Madison's criticism of this and the following statements see CCCLXXXII below.
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