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title:“Notes on Debates by John Lansing”
authors:John Lansing, Jr.
date written:1787-6-16

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Lansing, John, Jr. "Notes on Debates by John Lansing." Supplement to Max Farrand's The Records of the Federal Convention of 1787. Ed. James H. Hutson. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1987. 77-79. Print.

Notes on Debates by John Lansing (June 16, 1787)

Met according to Adjournment. I stated the difference between National and fœderal Systems—the first subjects all to the Controul of the general Government and draws its Representation from Individuals—the fœderal has its Representation from States collectively and subjects great fœderal Concerns to general Government. The one involves a total Subversion of State Sovereignties—the other delegates only Part.—I urged that the Confederation ought to be the Basis of our System. This Power now contended for too great to be given by Implication. Improbable that so many individual States should adopt same Language to describe an Intention which cannot be inferred from the wording of it.1 It may be objected Union one of the Articles subject to Revision. But the distinct Sovergnties essential to constitute it. Two Reasons assigned—one that public Mind ripe for System. 2ndly that it must accomodate. If public Mind to be collected from public Acts instead of being fluctuating—it has been uniform a considerable Time. Impost an Instance—Most States annexed Clauses expressive of their Distrusts. What Reason to suppose Change? If public Mind to accomodate it must either happen gradually—then useless—suddenly—then Effect of some great Commotion—it cannot be controul'd or directed. The national System proposes two Houses. All Reasoning on Systems unaided by Experience has generally been productive of false Inferences. Why go into unexplored Ground? The new Government will be regarded with that Jealousy inseperable from new Establishments. Congress is a body respected and known. Patterson—has proposed his Plan. 1. Because it accords with Powers. 2. With Sentiments of the People. If we wish to meet Approbation walk in Sphere assigned to you. 77 78 SUPPLEMENT TO FARRAND'S RECORDS Practicable Virtue preferable to finest theoretic System. Larger States have agreed that each should have one Vote. They cannot recal their Assent. Patterson—Maryland and Jersey came last into Confederation. Wilson's Principles applied to States totally wrong. If you will form national Government equalize the States and throw all your public Lands in common. Two branches of Legislature unnecessary—Congress is competent—the additional Powers ought therefore to be exerted by them. The Expence of national System another Objection. Wilson—compares Plans. Observe their relative Merits must be drawn from Experience and Reasoning. Powers he will first consider. Supposes himself authorized to propose every Thing—but can conclude Nothing. State Sovergnties not Idols of People. A Citizen of national Government will not be degraded. From every State we hear Complaints that their Governments are inadequate. Does not mean to collect Sentiments from conversing with People—let the System go to the States—and let them consider it. Would give Congress Power with great Reluctance- 1. Congress is not on Principles of a free Government derived from People. 2. Because only one Body. Inequality in Representation is a Poison which will contaminate every Branch of Government. Great Britain Judicial not appointed by a venal Parl't—the Judicial uncorrupt—Not so House of Commons. United States another Instance—Rhode Island one. Executive ought to be single. Triumvirate cemented by Interest—Kings of Sparta and Consuls shew necessity of single Executive.2 C. Pinkney—Discovers if Jersey had a single Vote would agree to national System. Our Powers only recommendatory. Grecian Confederation—Lycia League-23 Towns—Some had 1 others 2 and the largest 3 Votes. Governor Randolph—The Resolutions from Virginia were drawn under Conviction of reforming Confederation. If Powers not competent ought not to hesitate. This a great Occasion—Step boldly beyond prudential Rules. King of France unpaid, Creditors ruined, and Soldiers languishing. SATURDAY, JUNE 16, 1787 79 We would be Traitors to our Country if we did not embrace this parting Angel. States not Objects of Coercion. If done by distressing Trade—some not commercial—by Inroad—tardy, expensive and dangerous. Members of Congress particularly dependent on their own States. This last attempt to confederate— Adjourned.

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