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title:“John McKesson's Notes of the New York Ratification Convention Debates”
authors:John McKesson
date written:1788-6-24

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McKesson, John. "John McKesson's Notes of the New York Ratification Convention Debates." The Documentary History of the Ratification of the Constitution. Vol. 22. Ed. John P. Kaminski. Madison: Wisconsin Historical Society Press, 2008. 1838-39. Print.
McKesson's Notes, New-York Historical Society

John McKesson's Notes of the New York Ratification Convention Debates (June 24, 1788)

§ 3d. paragraph 3d No person shall be a Senator under the age of 30 years &c G. LIVINGSTON. This Clause Important A Senator has great Power his Service longer than a Represent in Assembly Have judicial Power Try the Officers they themselves make They are made a Council to the President in all foreign Treaties As if too much Power could not be given to them They are a Council of Appointment for the united States and appoint for the Continent Ambassadors foreign Ministers &c How unlike the Ideas of Liberty & Safety to be read in the Confederation The Delegates can Serve but 3 years out of Six can at any time be recalled When we consider the amazing Influence & Connections this Body will form They will if they please hold their places for Life They will be immured in a federal City a Sacred Spot where no such thing as unhallowed State Laws may enter Surrounded with a Wall of Gold Unobserved by their Constituents They should be oblidged to return to Citizenship and reside with the People This Will be a Stimulus to men to acquire knowledge & fit themselves for Office It will give Confidence to the People As they cannot be encreased in Number their Power should be circumscribed They should legislate for themselves as well as others As the Senate are now Constituted they have little or no Check and their Powers too large1 I am Strengthend in this by a Gent. from N York "There is no fear of Corrupt in the Members of Assemy as they return to the People in 2 years" This has double force as to the Senators whose duration is Six years. Mr. Livingston proposed Amendment Resolved that no person shall be Eligible as a Senator for more than Six years in any term of twelve years, and that it shall be in the Power of the Legislatures of the Several States, to recall their Senators or either of them, and to elect others in their stead to Serve the Remainder of the Time for which Such Senator or Senators so recalled was appointed
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LANSING. in Support of the Amendmt. Attention to the mode of appointmt. duration of Office and Limi tation of the Powers of the Senate— The Upper House devised to represent the Sovereignties of the States— They should be more dependant on the States— No Man would ever be recalled who was pursuing the true Interests of the State-2 Rotation has been of use in Congress— It has destroyed Factions— No evil can arise from the Senate being dependant on the States If Members pursue Measures agt. the Interest of the State they should be recalled Is there no danger that A Member or Members may pursue private Interests not Consistant with the Interest of the Constituents— This Body was intended to prevent part of the State injuring others—
This Body very Small—If a Member Sick or not fit or able to attend the State not represented—They may refuse to attend—The State has no Controul over them— Will the Members present be anxious to Compel the attendance of Members— If a Minority only should request their attendance they cannot compel it—The Members may receive and hold offices & Emoluments Provided— May not a Member be induced not to pursue the public Good to obtain an Office—The Right of recal necessary to enable the States to perpetuate their Soverignties and retain that portion of Power reserved from the Genl Goverment
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R. R. LIVINGSTON. The Amendmt. has in View two things —1st. That the Senators may be dependant on the State Legislatures—2d. Rotation— It is said the State should have Power over them—surely Not Right Have the People Power over the State Legislatures—No— Should the Senate be recalled by a State Legislature they would never take a Measure for the genl. State Govt.3 Will it not happen that let a Senator Act from the best Intentions will not factions misrepresent him—he will be recalled Tho' the Measure was the most absolutely necessary for the Genl. Good— Exam[ple] of Navigation Laws— A Thousand National Objects which ought to be done That may in some Instances interfere with particular States— They will Secure the Independence of the States I do not fear Corruption—I cannot See the Sources of it— Are people to bribe with their own Gold— The Senate cannot apply Money alone—The House of Representatives must join in it— As to Rotation it was considered fully and Rejected in Convention— It is abridging the Rights of the People Example the Reelection of our present Govr. It is an Abridgmt. of the Rights of the People—Shall two Men who have acted well and know their Duty & Business not be sufferd to Continue to Serve their Constituents when none others can Serve so well— The Officers in their Gift not half so numerous or Important as those in the Gift of the first Magistrate of the State— The Objections are Chimerical—I did not expect this Objection-
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LANSING. in reply— The Object of the Amendt. to make the Senators dependt. on the State of Legislature and to procure rotation that bring them back to private Life—4 Can any Interest as to foreign Nations Suffer—The Body perpetual 2/3ds always remain—they will be informed— No man will be elected who has not sufficient Knowledge of the Interests of the State—It is obviously impracticable to have the Representatives in the State Legislatures recalled—otherwise it would be— Can local Views be destroyed will [i.e., while] we are States— Will not navigating and nonnavigating procure local Views— —Is not one Branch to Secure the Soverignty of the States The Other a Democratic Branch— Corruption—Admit it has not appeared This will not apply—have Members been recalled— To be a Member of Congress was a high Honor—and pursued with Avidity— The Power Still Existed—It has no doubt be[en] useful Experience in favor of it— Admit—The Interest of individual States may necessarily be Sacraficed to the Genl Interest— The Rights which will involve the disposition of Money are solely with the Presidt. Senate— They may declare War That to have a Rotation is Said to be an Infringmt. of the Rights of the People—A Broad Assertion Not an Essential Right of the People— Sheriffs Coroners— Men may be corrupted by Money Influence Office we are Subject to the Lot of Humanity Govermt. instituted for the weak and the wicked It has been said [by Robert R. Livingston] Ideas are— Chimerical if that can be proved by Argument it will be attended to— If not it will not weigh with the Committee—
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R. R. LIVINGSTON. The Senate and President do not declare War—but Congress—5 The President alone has the Nomination to Offices—The Senate Consent—The Seats will become objects of Envy—The Legislature will give way to the wishes of Men—The Seats will be precarious—the Governmt. mere factions— Our Govermt all wrong if his Ideas right—Why our Govr. elected for 3 years Senators 4 years &c There is a Sistem in Govt which cannot be had from the People— Under Sheriffs in england to be removed in 3 years He admits that there should be a duration and says two thirds will remain I alledge that factions would 9 times out of 10 Annually change— I say that the Senate are to guard the Independence—but they are also to represent and guard the general Interests of the States—
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MORRIS. Happy to find that it [is] conceded that a Strong [federal government is essential to the preservation of our Union] We are to see if the rights of the People preserved we—ought not to render the Constitution useless— The Amendment would If we create a Power which will destroy the Govt. we do not make the Govt. energetic nor attend to the Rights— Suppose an Attack on the Eastern States The Southern States say the Evil is at a Distance—how shall we If it was in the Constitution I should think it an Evil and that it would destroy the Govt.
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G. LIVINGSTON. When we can suppose America so blind as not to preserve a Sister State and preserve herself from that
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HARISON. It is granted that Govt. should be strong and that their Should be two Branches-— 1st. It should represent the national Sovereignty 2d A part of the National Legislature We Strengthen this Branch for National Purposes rather than to be dependant on the State Govts. If Local Views will govern— It is necessary by a Security in Office to give him a counterpoise agt. Local Views that he may attend to the National Interest— He will Still be dependt. as he must return at the End of Office— Nothing can Secure him but Rectitude which in Time will be known in the State Legislature— But the Gent Amendmt. also requires Rotation that he may return to private Life— This is not necessary— He will remember that he will not be reelected unless he has promoted the Genl. Interest of his Country—6 Suppose the two best men have been elected and Served their Country well—Suppose them negociating Treaties— Shall We compel the Legislature to change them— Corruption a few Words— Corruption cannot be exercised with the public Money The Article of the Constitution an effectual Check agt. Corruption by Office— The Gent of the Committee will suppose the Amendmt not only useless but Improper—
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R. R. LIVINGSTON. The Powers of the Senate alone are very Small—
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SMITH. The Gent. [Robert R. Livingston] says every Govt. should have the Power to continue itself— Then the Senate should perpetuate itself—7 As it now Stands let the Legislatures neglect or refuse to elect it will destroy the Govt—
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LANSING. The Honorable Gent. (Mr Livingston) alledged that the members be liable to annual Election is not annalagous— Taking up the Idea of a Recall and not rotation Is a Man who is in office until a Recal-— In Congress—if not recalled one year—in the other Instance Six years— If the Power has existed— yet has not been exercised or Injured the Interests of General Governmt— If a Member is recalled the Reasons will be investigated— it will be his duty to explain Measures and Vindicate his Conduct— In the Instance of Sheriffs & Coroners I only meant to Shew that the Convention did consider it such an Essentional Right of the People as to be uniformly adhered to— The Gent. says this does not deprive the People it only confers the Rights to the Presidt. & Council— In one Instance Represent the Democracy In the other—the Interests of the States— If necessary to have different Interests in the two Houses A Gent from NY. [(] Ch. Just. [Richard Morris]) says Two reasons why this cannot happen— 1 When ever a State recals it must send a Substitute 2d. What would Induce any State to see another ruined when that would involve its own ruin— Another Gen (R Livingston) Says duration of Office is to be a Counterpoise to local prejudices— Yet says his wish to be reelected will retain him to his State Interest— Then it will have the Same Effect as the Amendment— In the operation of this Govt. State passions8
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HAMILTON. We all Aim at the best Govt.— We should mix the Happy Ingredients, and not go into Extremes or we shall build Utopia upon Utopia—It was a time of Jealosy—We seemed to have attended only to tie the Representat Another Prin[ciple]— To have in our Govt. some Stable Body that will pursue a System Guard agt. Innovations and know and direct public Affairs The People of every Country desire the Interests of the Country— But in many Cases The People want [i.e., lack] Necessary Information respecting public measures— peculiarly relating to foreign affairs
2d. The People are mislead by Men of Influence who have partial Views
Therefore 2 objects To have one Body dependt. on the People who will have a quick Sensibility of the Ideas of the People The Representatives for 2 years The other object To have some permanent Body who will pursue the public Interest notwithstanding some popular dissatisfactions the Arts of Demagouges and designing Men—Hence the Senate—9 Why have we a Senate with a duration of 4 years & one
3d. to go Out every year We should look at Truth with a degree of firmness, and without prejudice— This is a Senate.
What is the Amendmt.
That the Senators shall depend on the will of the State Legislatures but not be continued beyond Six years— If so the Senators will not have the Stability necessary Nor the firmness to abide by National Interests—
A Measure may appear to affect a State Interest yet be for its Benefit—Nay It may in Some Instances be agt. a particular State Interest— yet ought to be done Without a power of this House your Building will be a House of Sand Will the People agree their States Govt should be given up—if not will not the persons elected by the People preserve them The State Govts. will have greater Influence than the National Govt.
2000 Repres[ent]atives in State Govts.
100 Represent. in the National Govt.
State Governmts. appoint many Offices Genl Govt. but few.
Ambassadors and foreign ministers no influence Some Judges—not Many Officers of the Customs—not many— The State Govermts will provide Laws respecting agriculture and such things as more effectually or sensibly affect Individuals When Men know that Men with Arms in their Hands under the Influence of the State Govts.
The State Govts. will have a vast Influence on the National Governmt.
The Members will have their Connections in their own States which will influence The Observation of the Hon member from Alb. [(]Mr Lansing)
The Argumt. then should be [to] oppose the principal of Local Interests as far as possible Has the form of Governt. carried this Power too far -No One third may be changed in two years —the whole in Six years-
Every Election here changes one half Will they not be sufficiently dependt.
Did not the former Represent before the War represent the People and were sufficiently The Representatives will watch their Representatives in the National Senate-This will make them perhaps too dependent—yet that duration of Office will give firmness to a certain Extent— The Persons who would be sent to Senate will endeavour to please Six years soon elapses-As the Time shortens the Influence will be greater—One third thrown into the Body will always keep the Body from Corrupt Measures You will find a Number always ready to Supplant the Senators The Objects to which the Senate is destined requires Permancy-
They are with the President to make Treaties, manage Commerce and direct the foreign Interests
This Knowledge gained by Experience Permancy also necessary to its Responsibility— In its objects will be a System of Links They must have a lasting Tenure to be responsible for the Effect of their Measures
They should have a National Character, and have a Sensibility of it— As the public Eye will be turned on them This not necessary for a Body who transact temporary measures from day to day-
With the Amendment they will be dependt. to a degree that will disqualify The Amend will thro [w] State Interests and factions into your National Govt will create a Mutability of measures which will prevent the Country from enjoying advantages Without blending Liberty and Stability we cannot establish a good republican Govermt.
Let us rescue Republican Govt. from mutability inconstancy &c charged on it
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LANSING. I have closely attended the Reasons &c by (Mr Hamilton)
It is not contended but there should be two Bodies of men the one to be a check on the other— I alledge that the Govt. will be more perfect if both the People & the States are represented—12
If the State Govt. should Not watch the Genl Govt. and have local [control]— The Liberties of the People would be insecure— The State Govts. Power and Influence by little offices admitted But See the Powers of the State Govt— They have the Powers to levy and raise Money—to declare War— Arm Men—Command the militia—&c If the[y] please to destroy the State what can save them— That one third of the Senate go out every two years meliorates the System— Tho local Objects will at all events operate—yet the Power now Contended for will give local Objects a greater operation in the Genl. Governmt.
Is it not better to call forth the local Objects on the purest Views The Senate are to support the Genl. Govt. in its power— But the Idea should be to institute the Genl Governmt. so as to establish and protect the State Govts.— Otherwise One great Object of the Govt. is entirely lost—13
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SMITH. I Stated That it was impossible to bring forth a genuine proper Representation Over this Extensive Continent— That therefore Checks were necessary which were not necessary in a State Govt. where a full & genuine Represent can be had— Will not a Sufficient degree of perminancy & Stability be given to this Body with the Checks proposed It is a Small Body—with great Powers—removed from the Inspection of the People— Perpetual & never die— Will not this render men void in a degree of the Influence of Independ Will they not be independent—14 15 The[y] must Sit the greater part of the year—will probably remove to the Seat of Legislature—become in great measure estranged to their States— Admitted the Confederat defective—but certain things in it deserve great Attention—By that Delegates elected annually and cannot Serve more than The objection is that factions would take place—it is possible— But who would rise and move to recall a man to Serve a party—

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