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title:“Ezra Stiles: Diary”
authors:Ezra Stiles
date written:1787-12-21

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last updated:Jan. 22, 2013, 8:03 a.m. UTC
retrieved:Feb. 23, 2024, 3:35 a.m. UTC

Stiles, Ezra. "Ezra Stiles: Diary." The Records of the Federal Convention of 1787. Vol. 3. Ed. Max Farrand. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1911. Print.

Ezra Stiles: Diary (December 21, 1787)

[December] 21. [1787]. Mr. Baldwin was one of the Continental Convention at Philada last Summer. He gave me an Acct of the whole Progress in Convention. It appeared that they were pretty unanimous in the followg Ideas, viz. 1. In a firm fœderal Government. 2. That this shd be very popular or stand on the People at large. 3. That their Object shd comprehend all Things of common fœderal Concern & wc individual States could not determine or enforce. 4. That the Jurisdictions & Govt of each State shd be left intire & preserved as inviolate as possible consistent with the coercive Subordina for preservg the Union with Firmness. 5. That the present fœderal Govt was inadequate to this End. 6. That a certain Portion or Deg. of Dominion as to Laws and Revenue, as well as to Treaties with foreign Nations, War & Armies, was necessy to be ceded by individual States to the Authory of the National Council. 7. That the National Council shd consist of two Branches viz, a Senate, & Representatives. That the last shd be a local Representa apportioned to the Property & Number of Inhabitants, as far as practicable. That this shd be the governg Idea. And yet that the Distinction of States shd be preserved in the House of Representa as well as in the Senate. 8. That the Senate stand on the Election & Distinction of States as at present in Congress, and tho' like the Representa be in some measure proportioned to the No of Inhab. yet that besides this the Vote in Senate shd be by States, tho' in the House of Representa the Vote shd be by Plurality of Members present indeed but not by States as States. Hereby two things are secured, one, that the People at large shall be efficaciously represented, the other that the States as separate States be as also efficaciously represented. 9. That these two Branches combined into one Republican Body be the supreme Legislature & become vested with the Sovereignty of the Confederacy; & have powers of Govt & Revenue adequate to these Ends. 10. As to a President, it appeared to the Opin. of Convention, that he shd be a Character respectable by the Nations as well as by the fœderal Empire. To this End that as much Power shd be given him as could be consistently with guardg against all possibility of his ascending in a Tract of years or Ages to Despotism & absolute Monarchy: — of which all were cautious. Nor did it appear that any Members in Convention had the least Idea of insidiously layg the Founda of a future Monarchy like the European or Asiatic Monarchies either antient or modern. But were unanimously guarded & firm against every Thing of this ultimate Tendency. Accordinly they meant to give considerable Weight as Supreme Executive, but fixt him dependent on the States at large, and at all times impeachable. 10. They vested Congress thus modified with the Power of an adequate Revenue, by Customs on Trade, Excise and direct Taxation by Authory of Congress; as well as with the Army, Navy & makg War & Peace. These were delicate Things, on which all felt sollicitous & yet all were unanimously convinced that they were necessary. 11. They were unanimous also in the Expedy & Necessy of a supreme judiciary Tribunal of universal Jurisdiction — in Controversies of a legal Nature between States — Revenue — & appellate Causes between subjects of foreign or different States. 12. The Power of appointing Judges & Officers of the supreme Judiciary to be in the Senate.1
These & other general &commandg Ideas the Members found themselves almost unanimous in. The Representa would feel for the Interests of their respective local Representations: and the Senate must feel, not for particular local Districts but a Majority of the States or the Universal Interest.
After some Discourses, it was proposed that any & all the Members shd. draught their Ideas. These were all bro't in & examd & as approved, entered, until all were satisfied they had gone through. Then they reduced these to one Sheet (written) of Articles or Members of the Constitution. These they considered afresh, sometimes in Committee of the Whole, & sometimes in Convention, with subjoyned Alterations & Additions until August; when they adjourned a few Weeks leavg all to be digested by a Committee of 5 Messrs Sherman, Elsworth, On the Return of Adjournt the whole Digest was printed and every Member entered his Remarks, Altera & Corrections. These again were committed to a Committee of one Member of each State of wc Mr. Baldwin one. This maturated the whole. Finally a Committee of 5 viz, Mess. Dr Johnson, Governeur Morris. Wilson, —— These reduced it to the form in which it was published. Messrs Morris & Wilson had the chief hand in the last Arrangt & Composition. This was completed in September. By this Time several Members were absent party Judge Yates of Albany, Mr. Wyth of Virginia, Judge Sherman & Elsworth. About 42 signed it. Messrs Mason of Virg. & Gerry of Boston & Gov. Randolph refused. Dr Franklin sd he did not entirely approve it but, tho't it a good one, did not know but he shd. hereafter think it the best, on the whole was ready to sign it & wished all would sign it, & wished all would sign it, & that it shd be adopted by all the States.
Dr Franklins Idea that the American Policy, be one Branch only or Representative Senate of one Order, proportioned to Number of Inhab. & Property — often elected —, with a President assisted with an executive Council: but this last have nothg to do in Legislation & Senatorial Government. Teste Mr. Baldwin.

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