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title:“James Wilsons' Notes of the Pennsylvania Ratification Convention”
date written:1787-12-5

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retrieved:March 21, 2023, 7:39 a.m. UTC

"James Wilsons' Notes of the Pennsylvania Ratification Convention." The Documentary History of the Ratification of the Constitution. Vol. 2. Ed. Merrill Jensen. Madison: Wisconsin Historical Society Press, 1976. 502-03. Print.

James Wilsons' Notes of the Pennsylvania Ratification Convention (December 5, 1787)

WILLIAM FINDLEY: (48) The states made bills of rights, not because they were known in Britain; but because they were proper.
(49) A majority of the states have them.
(50) M. b. 2. c. 2. "The People, in whom the Supreme Power resides."
(51) Vat. b. 1. s. 1. 2. "Sovereignty."
(52) The sovereignty is essentially in the people; but is vested in a senate or a monarch.
(53) Vat. b. 1. s. 11. 10.
(54) If all the powers of sovereignty are vested in one man or body; it is a tyranny.
(55) The states have already parted with a portion of their sovereignty. It is now proposed to give more. But the people did not mean that the whole should be given up to the general government.
(56) The state governments are not subordinate to the general government as to internal taxes and other internal purposes.
(57) Congress may, with safety, raise a revenue from commerce.
(58) The general government is farther removed from the people than the state governments. (59) There cannot be two taxing powers on the same subject—taxation draws legislation with it. There will [be] no sovereignty in the states with regard to taxation.
(60) There is no sovereignty left in the state governments—the only one is in the general government.
(61) The general interests of Pennsylvania were not represented in the Convention.
(62) Sovereignty essentially resides in the people, but they have vested certain parts of it in the state governments, and other parts in the present Congress.
(63) We never said that the people were made for the states.
(64) Who denied that sovereignty was inalienably in the people?
(65) There is a declaration in the bill of rights of Pennsylvania that the people may change the constitution—and they only add a constitutional right—which is also done in the system before us. The same thing has also been done in some of the other states.
(66) The checks on the Senate are not sufficient.
(67) We ought to draw instruction from the state constitutions. Many of them—Virginia in particular—declare that the legislative, executive and judicial departments should be kept distinct and independent.
(68) What can be a greater source of corruption than for the legislature to appoint officers and fix salaries?
(69) I would be at any expense rather than submit to the beginnings of corruption such as this. (70) There can be no legislation without taxation. The states will not be able to raise a civil list.2 (71) I mean by a consolidating government that which puts all the thirteen states into one.
(72) This is a consolidating government as to all useful purposes of sovereignty.
(73) In the Senate, a citizen of Delaware enjoys ten votes for one that a citizen of Pennsylvania enjoys.3
(74) It is not all one for a citizen of Pennsylvania to be taxed by a Representative from Georgia, as for by his own Representative.
(75) The smaller states have a majority in the Senate; and they may lay taxes on the larger states.
(76) Congress may make the number of Representatives as few as they please.
(77) In Pennsylvania before the Revolution, the new counties were unequally represented.
(78) Pennsylvania is unequally represented in the House of Representatives.
(79) 100 members are enough for a deliberative body. And, on the present plan, the number will be either too large, or the representation too small. To avoid this, let us have a federal government. Internal power in a federal government is inadmissible.
(80) To state the danger of refusing this plan is improper. It is the tyrant's plea: Take this or nothing.

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