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title:“Jeremy Belknap's Notes of the Massachusetts Ratification Convention”
authors:Jeremy Belknap
date written:1788-1-28

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last updated:Jan. 22, 2013, 8:05 a.m. UTC
retrieved:Dec. 1, 2023, 10:43 p.m. UTC

Belknap, Jeremy. "Jeremy Belknap's Notes of the Massachusetts Ratification Convention." The Documentary History of the Ratification of the Constitution. Vol. 6. Ed. Gaspare J. Saladino and John P. Kaminski. Madison: Wisconsin Historical Society Press, 2000. 1361-63. Print.

Jeremy Belknap's Notes of the Massachusetts Ratification Convention (January 28, 1788)

Jeremy Belknap: Notes of Convention Debates, 28 January P. M.
PM. Mr Coffin Jones read a Letter from Alexandria in Virga informg (that the) State had laid new duties on certain enumerated articles imported am[on]g (the) rest 20/ C[ent] on Beef wh[ich] amounts to a prohibition—this was to shew (the) necessity of uniform Imposts as proposed in (the) Constitution.
The Executive Power (Art 2.) then came on—Mr. Gorham explained (the) nature of (the) Presidts Office—(the) advantage of (the) responsibility of one Man &c Mr. King, stated (the) reasons for not appointg Council wh[ich] were (that the) small States would insist on havg one at least & that would make another body similar to (the) Senate—(there)fore it was tho't (that) in some Cases (the) Senate might answer & in others (the) Presidt might require (the) Opinion of (the) Officers of State—(that) in this Case Secrecy dispatch & fidelity were more to be expected than where there is a multitudinous Executive.1
Bishop of Rehoboth—a noted Insurgent—urged objections wh[ich] were founded as usual on a supposed breach of trust & suspicion of roguery in (the) Presidt & Senate—as that he might combine with foreigners—make treaties to transport Troops to any part of( the) World—& then having (the) power of Pardon previous to Conviction might Screen himself & other Offenders—It was answd by Dana, Parsons & King (that) it was necessary to have power of Pardong previous to conviction to prevent people who might be led astray from suffering ignominy—(that) if Pardons were grantd for secret offences they could avail nothing unless pleaded & recorded—this would bring (the) Crime to light—2(that) Money was necessary to transport forces & appropriations for this must be made by Congress—&c &c—Old White—said (that) if (the) President had (the) Power of Life he had also (the) power of Death & (that) witho[ut] a Jury—(that) in our former Controversy (with) Brittain all (the) Cry was a jury—a jury—a jury—but now we were giving up this darling Privilege &c—this raised an universal Laugh—after it had subsided Mr. S Adams observed (that) his friend was mistaken—(that the) Presidt had no power to put any man to Death but either to pardon him or put him to his Jury for trial.
The fœderalists now seem to be sure of carrying (the) Constitutn Thompson—one of (the) antifed Champions sd this day publickly in (the) House (that) if (the) Constn. should be carried (a thing wh[ich] he never before would admit as possible) it would be but by a bare majority.

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