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title:“James Wilsons' Notes of the Pennsylvania Ratification Convention”
date written:1787-12-10

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last updated:Jan. 22, 2013, 8:11 a.m. UTC
retrieved:Nov. 30, 2023, 3:23 p.m. UTC

"James Wilsons' Notes of the Pennsylvania Ratification Convention." The Documentary History of the Ratification of the Constitution. Vol. 2. Ed. Gaspare J. Saladino and John P. Kaminski. Madison: Wisconsin Historical Society Press, 1976. 532, 545-47. Print.

James Wilsons' Notes of the Pennsylvania Ratification Convention (December 10, 1787)

Findley: As to the trial by jury in Sweden (Mod Un His Vol. 33, p. 21 22). Juries remain in office for life (3. Bl. 349, 380. 381).
McKean: 1. Consider Objections. 2. Give Reasons in Favor of the Plan.
Objections: 1 Elections not frequent enough. 2. Number of Representatives too few.1 3. Senate have too many blended powers. 4. Congress times, etc. elections. 5. Powers of Congress too large. Appropriations too long. 6. Whole of the executive power not lodged in President alone.2 Vice President should not have a voice in Senate.3 7. Compensation of judges may be incidentally increased. 8. No bill of rights. 9. A consolidating government-not a federal one. 10. An aristocracy.
I. Elections not frequent enough. The different durations of Parliament. Service of Senators should be longer than that of Representatives.
II. The representation is large enough. Before 25 years the number will be doubled.4
III. None of the simple forms of government are the best. There is no writer of reputation but has allowed that the British government was the best in the world before the emancipation of United States.
When a judge, etc. is impeached, it is probable that none of those who appointed him will be present. The danger lies from the desire of removal. In Pennsylvania, Executive Council appoint and impeach officers.
IV. Article 1, section 4 : Every house is judge of qualification and elections. Are not all the states interested in the elections?5
V. Power of internal taxes not too great. Foreigners may compel payment of their debts. Have we not had experience enough of requisitions?6 Is it not necessary that Congress should have a power of raising and supporting armies and the command and discipline of the militia?7
"All Laws necessary & proper," etc. This liable to no just exceptions.
"This Constitution," etc. "shall be the Supreme Law."
"Importation, &c." Subject of applause.
VI. In Pennsylvania, there is no responsibility in Council; because the president has given up his right of nomination. And they appoint by ballot, and therefore are not responsible. There is scarce a king in Europe that has not some check upon him in the appointment of officers.
VII. Offices to judges' relations the same as to themselves. There might be improvements in the institution of juries; particularly as to the mode of appointing them. The House of Lords have an appellate jurisdiction in law and fact. Appellate jurisdiction from orphans courts. In the Eastern States, causes tried by juries are removed on appeal.
VIII. What occasion for a bill of rights when only delegated powers are given? One possessed of 1000 acres, conveys 250. Is it necessary to reserve the 750? (Locke on Gov. p. 2. s. 141. 152.)
IX. I shall not quarrel about names.
X. An aristocracy is the best security against external force.
Consequences of accepting: strengthen the government, assistance from the people of all the states, settle and perpetuate our independence, encourage our allies and make new treaties, break our parties and divisions, invigorate commerce, shipbuilding.
The clause of amendment, Article 5. This is the best system this world can now produce.
WILLIAM FINDLEY: The principle of our argument not stated-consolidating government. In connection with this principle were all our arguments. JOHN SMILIE: Those who clap and laugh are not the people of Pennsylvania. If the gallery was filled with bayonets, it would not intimidate me.
It is a great misfortune that another state has been before - us in the surrender of their liberties.

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