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

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last updated:Jan. 22, 2013, 8:08 a.m. UTC
retrieved:Nov. 30, 2023, 2:58 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. 505-07. Print.

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

WILLIAM FINDLEY: (81) The partial negative of the President is a part of legislative authority, as no bill can become a law without his revision.
(82) Mr. Adams defines a natural aristocracy. "Such as have a separate interest from the community." "Those that, in most countries, are called the nobles."
(83) The larger the districts, the purer the elections is a novel doctrine to us, and opposed to the very end of elections.
(84) Adam's, Def. Pref. p. 3.
(85) The voice of the people is the law of the land
(86) Are 8 members a better representation of Pennsylvania than what they now enjoy?
(87) While the forms of state governments continue, all their apparatus of offices continue.
(88) We all mean the same thing about the sovereignty of the people. Sovereignty remains essentially in them.
(89) Annual elections are an annual recognition of the sovereignty of the people.
(90) Are the state governments a snare? They are not wrapped in mystery and darkness.
(91) I believe that there are governments that keep the several powers more distinct than the system before us.
(92) We are agreed as to the independence of the judges.
(93) The present system has increased the difficulty of drawing the line between general and state governments by encroaching into internal objects.
(94) The President may aid the aristocratical Senate and must aid it.
(95) Internal powers in a federal government are inadmissible.
(96) There is no guard against Congress making paper money.
(97) The states have redeemed their paper money better than Congress have done.
(98) Amendments will always take more power from the people and give more to the government.
(99) There is no security for such amendments as we want. If we don't obtain them now; we shall probably never procure them.
(100) The system ought to speak for itself; and not need explanations.
STEPHEN CHAMBERS: From the silence on the other side, I conclude they have no more to say against the first Article. I move to proceed to the consideration of the second Article.
ANTHONY WAYNE: I second the motion. I hope the reasons in favor of the proposed Constitution will induce many of the opposition to come over.
ROBERT WHITEHILL: (101) If we go to the 2d Article, shall we be permitted to draw our objections from the first, to show that this is a consolidating government and will annihilate the states?
(102) Article 1, section 3: How shall the seats of the first, etc. class of the Senators be vacated? This must be made by law of the Senators and Representatives. But they may make or not make this law at their pleasure.7 (103) The present Congress or some other body should have decided this matter.
(104) The Senate may be enlarged under the 5th Article. "Its equal Suffrage" may mean a suffrage in proportion to numbers; and consequently would increase the numbers and influence of the Senate.
(105) Such members may be chosen as the city of Philadelphia shall please-men of wealth, etc.
(106) Article 5: To whom are Congress to propose amendments? To a few men of the different states if they please.
(107) Congress, when they propose amendments, will have it in their power to regulate the elections of convention; or may order one election and one convention for the whole Union.
(108) As long as the world stands, there never will be another amendment if the present system be confirmed.
(109) Even post roads are in the power of Congress.
(110) A citizen of one state may sue a citizen of another state for an inheritance of land claimed by will under the law of the state where the land is.
(111) They may establish the right of primogeniture.
JOHN SMILIE: (112) Has not this day been pretty closely occupied by us in the opposition?

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