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title:“Pierce Butler to Weedon Butler”
authors:Pierce Butler
date written:1787-10-8

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last updated:Jan. 22, 2013, 8:19 a.m. UTC
retrieved:Feb. 22, 2024, 9:31 p.m. UTC

Butler, Pierce. "Letter to Weedon Butler." The Records of the Federal Convention of 1787. Vol. 3. Ed. Max Farrand. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1911. Print.
British Museum, Additional manuscripts, 16603; Copy, Department of Historical Research of the Carnegie Institution of Washington.

Pierce Butler to Weedon Butler (October 8, 1787)

New York, October 8th, 1787.
After four months close Confinement, We closed on the 17th of last month the business Committed to Us. If it meets with the approbation of the States, I shall feel myself fully recompensed for my share of the trouble, and a Summer's Confinement which injured my health much. . . . We, in many instances took the Constitution of Britain, when in its purity, for a model, and surely We cou'd not have a better. We tried to avoid what appeared to Us the weak parts of Antient as well as Modern Republicks. How well We have succeeded is left for You and other Letterd Men to determine. It is somewhat singular yet so the fact is, that I have never met with any Dutch man who understood the Constitution of his own Country. It is certainly a very complex unwieldy piece of business. I have read different Histories of it with attention, and to this hour I have but a very inadequate idea of it. Pray give me your opinion freely of the One I had some small hand in frameing, after you have read it. In passing judgment on it you must call to mind that we had Clashing Interests to reconcile — some strong prejudices to encounter, for the same spirit that brought settlers to a certain Quarter of this Country is still alive in it. View the system then as resulting from a spirit of Accomodation to different Interests, and not the most perfect one that the Deputies cou'd devise for a Country better adapted for the reception of it than America is at this day, or perhaps ever will be. It is a great Extent of Territory to be under One free Government; the manners and modes of thinking of the Inhabitants, differing nearly as much as in different Nations of Europe. If we can secure tranquillity at Home, and respect from abroad, they will be great points gain'd.1 We have, as you will see, taken a portion of power from the Individual States, to form a General Government for the whole to preserve the Union. The General Government to Consist of two Branches of Legislature and an Executive to be vested in One person for four years, but elligible again — the first Branch of the Legislature to be elected by the People of the different States, agreeable to a ratio of numbers and wealth, to serve for two years. The Second to Consist of two members from each State, to be appointed by the Legislature of the States to serve for six years. One third to go out every two years, but to be Elligible again if their State thinks proper to appoint them. A Judiciary to be Supreme in all matters relating to the General Government, and Appellate in State Controversies. The powers of the General Government are so defined as not to destroy the Sovereignty of the Individual States.2 These are the outlines, if I was to be more minute I shou'd tire your patience.

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