Mr. George Mason.
— Mr. Chairman — With respect to commerce and navigation, he has given it as his opinion, that their regulation, as it now stands, was a sine qua non
of the union, and that without it, the states in convention would never concur. I differ from him. It never was, nor in my opinion ever will be, a sine qua non
of the union. I will give you, to the best of my recollection, the history of that affair. This business was discussed at Philadelphia for four months, during which time the subject of commerce and navigation was often under consideration; and I assert, that eight states out of twelve, for more than three months, voted for requiring two-thirds of the members present in each house to pass commercial and navigation laws. True it is, that afterwards it was carried by a majority, as it stands. If I am right, there was a great majority for requiring two-thirds of the states in this business, till a compromise took place between the northern and southern states; the northern states agreeing to the temporary importation of slaves, and the southern states conceding, in return, that navigation and commercial laws should be on the footing on which they now stand. If I am mistaken, let me be put right. These are my reasons for saying that this was not a sine qua non
of their concurrence.
The Newfoundland fisheries will require that kind of security which we are now in want of: The eastern states therefore agreed at length, that treaties should require the consent of two-thirds of the members present in the senate.2