Log In Register

Source & Citation Info

title:“Ezra Stiles to William S. Johnson”
authors:Ezra Stiles
date written:1789-4-3

permanent link
to this version:
https://consource.org/document/ezra-stiles-to-william-s-johnson-1789-4-3/20130122075955/
last updated:Jan. 22, 2013, 7:59 a.m. UTC
retrieved:July 18, 2019, 12:59 a.m. UTC

transcription
citation:
Stiles, Ezra. "Letter to William S. Johnson." Creating the Bill of Rights. Ed. Kenneth R. Bowling and Helen E. Veit. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1991. 227-28. Print.
manuscript
source:
Yale University

Ezra Stiles to William S. Johnson (April 3, 1789)

Give me Leave to ask whether the Senators are not equally Representatives with the house of Representatives? Why had it not been better to have said, Congress shall consist of Representatives in two Branches; the one of States as States, & the other of the People at large? to be denominated the upper & lower House of Congress or some new Name not founded upon Antiquity but on our own Circumstances. By callg. the lower House the House of Representatives we seem to exclude the Senate from being considered as a Representation. Both are Representatives of different Descriptions. Congress has always been the Represente. of the United States, standg. on Election; not a patrician Body as the Roman Senate, or that of Venice hereditary & perpetual. In the new federal Cong. all are representatives, altho' not Pares; for the Legati of the States as States, are certainly of a distinct, & I think in their own nature an Order of higher Dignity than that now called the House of Representatives. But this cannot be now altered, if indeed it would be best to alter. I could wish to have somethg. clearly intelligible. The Senatus Romanus we know consisted of Patricians Originally of one Order only. Perhaps we are not so well acquainted with the true Formation of the Senate of Carthage. But since the roman ages we have Senates innumerable, & of so different natures & Powers, that the Name no longer indicates the Powers. . . . Had our federal Constn. directed that the President & Vice Prest. shd. have been voted for separately, the Contingence wh. was aimed at by the Antifœderalists had been avoided; and Dr. Adams might have come in as unanimously Genl. Washington.1 We shall do well upon the present federal Constitution. Perhaps some Things might be amended. But if none but the Trifles I have mentioned above were found expedient to amend, I look upon them of so little Importance, that I shd. pray God they might never be amended. But there are probably others of some Moment & Magnitude & worthy to be amended hereafter. But I wish to have no Amendmts. made these 20 years; or not until by Experience &cool Judgt. we shd. be able to discern what Amendmts. are necessary. The Constitution is so good & excellent, that I do not wish to have it shaken by any speedy Alteration. However desirous a number of States may be for a speedy Convention & Revision, I wish it may be evaded & put off until we are as a public, able to judge upon Experiment.2

Resource Metadata

Type

Date

1789-4-3

Authors

Recipients

Collections