Mr. President: I rise in support of the motion made by the honorable member [Thomas McKean] that this Convention do assent to and ratify the Constitution of the United States as lately agreed to on the 17 September last by the Convention of the United States. The intentions of the member have been fully and clearly stated. No precipitation or hurry is affected. A fair dispassionate, deliberate discussion of the principles of the system proposed to us is desired by all; and that the most ample time should be given for the bringing forward and investigating every objection that can be made to the new Constitution. Precipitation and hurry on the one hand and affected delay and unnecessary procrastination on the other should equally be avoided.
The primary question then will be in what form or shape our deliberations shall be conducted—whether we shall proceed to the discussion in full Convention as a body delegated for this express purpose, or whether pursuing the general system of the House of Assembly on bills before them, we shall resolve ourselves into a committee of the whole, choose a chairman, take it up paragraph by paragraph, collect the votes on each paragraph, and make report to the Convention of our proceedings and resolutions.
I am strongly inclined to pursue the first mode on principles of propriety, ease, and public utility.
We are not met here to amend or alter the Constitution. We have no such power delegated to us. We do not resemble the legislature in this particular, nor are their precedents binding on us. The powers which carried into exercise necessarily produce this effect with them of resolving themselves into a committee of the whole to alter, amend, and improve any particular bill, do not exist with us. The cause ceasing with us, the effect must cease also. We are brought here for the discussion of a simple point and in the event to determine whether we will ratify or reject the Constitution offered to us. This is the grand question which we are to solve.
If we go into a committee of the whole we shall, after spending considerable time on the system, have to travel the same groundover again in Convention, and thereby incur unnecessary expense as well as a considerable loss of time.
But why debate it paragraph by paragraph? Surely there [are,] at least, some things [in] it [that are] unexceptionable, etc.