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title:“Robert R. Livingston's Notes of the New York Ratification Convention Debates”
authors:Robert R. Livingston
date written:1788-6-24

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last updated:Jan. 22, 2013, 8:30 a.m. UTC
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Livingston, Robert R.. "Robert R. Livingston'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. 1839. Print.
Robert R. Livingston, Notes, New-York Historical Society

Robert R. Livingston's Notes of the New York Ratification Convention Debates (June 24, 1788)

G. LIVINGSTON. Objects. That Senate is less numerous than assembly. greater powers— Legislative—judicial—appoint officers Great influence & power never get out [of] office1
Difference between them &council of appointmt Council is one year only— Checks on congress. 3 years out of 6.—rotation venerates spirit government last was— not run extremes— Desultary remarks— Senate defended wall adamant wall gold—low to this spot— Associate only with own class— Legislate for people not knowing feelings Plan.
Return former situation—rotation Confidence Am[endmen]t propos'd 6 yrs. in 12—power State to recal-—
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R. R. LIVINGSTON. He observed that the am[endmen]t had two objects first to place the senate under the absolute controul of the State Legislatures & second to establish a rotation of its members—2
Under the first of these heads he said it would be necessary proper to take a survey of the powers of the Senate from whence the necessity of their permanent establishment might be inferred—independent of the constant controul of the State Legislatures. But treaties with foreign nations were to fall particularly under their managment—that the formation of these not only required a genl knowledge of the politicks of their own country & foreign nations but frequently demanded a sacrifice of the partial interest of a State to the general interests of the union.
That local politicks could not (even as the senate is now proposed to be formed) but have considerable influence on the sentiments and conduct of one who considered himself as a State agent but that this would be greatly increased when the Senator held his place during the pleasure of the State only— That a man of a firm mind & extensive views might some times be induced to overlook the frowns of his State who might from partial views disapprove of a public measure—relying as before the expiration of his six years its ability would be sufficient notorious to justify him— But that upon the plan proposed this hope could not operate & if a man should now & then be found of sufficient elevation of mind to rise above the state of dependance in which this am[endmen]t proposed to place him he would instantly be sacraficed to the partial views of the State— He observed that the great object of governmt required a permanent system & that wth. that view it was designed that the members shd. not only have some stability but that the senate shd. never be totally changed—That this design would be defeated if the amendment pas [i.e., passed] since the frequent change of the members by the State Legislatures would not only break in upon the established rotation but change the whole body in a shorter period that [i.e., than] was intended—3That those only would remain who had their Eyes constantly fixed upon the mutations in their State Legislatures—& who would condescend to be the servile instruments of State parties— He observed further that as the place of senator became more important it would be the sourse of constant intrigues in the State Legislatures—That those who wished to retain that rank would injure the characters & misrepresent the conduct of those that were in possession of it And that they would generally be succesful in these attempts from the different views lights in which every publick measure may be placed by artful men when those who are to judge of them are not possessed of all the circumstances on which they are founded—When the accuser is a member of the body that is to judge & when the absence of the accused leaves him ignorant of the charge— As to the second point he insisted that a rotation was an unnecessary abrigemt. of the right of the State Legislature—That their situation &characters rendered them the properest judges of the conduct of those that served them that to compel them to remove one in whose fidelity & abilities they had confidence was not only a reflection upon their judgments but might at times be attended with obvious inconveniences to the State—This subject he said had been fully investigated in the Convention which formed the state government as might be remembered by some gent. then on the floor—that after the most mature deliberation they had rejected it—But experience had since justified their conduct—and that the people in reelecting their first magistrate for a series of years had testified the value they put upon the priviledge of shewing their approbation of his conduct— He treated as chimerical the arguments which were urged to shew that the Senators could by their influence on the State legislatures render their places permanent—since this not only supposed corruption in the senate but that the influence of that corruption would extend to all the State Legislatures by whom they were eligible-He observed that all the powers of the Senate were checked by the other branches of the government, and that the Gent. from Albany who had supposed them possessed of a power to declare war (Mr Lansing) had erroneously attributed to the Senate singly a right which was vested in Congress only—4
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R. R. LIVINGSTON. Answer. 1 Check by States 2 rotation 1 All foreing affairs transacted by Senate hence duration necessary to system. 2 Genl. Objects frequently clash with those of States. 3 Power States reduce them to improper dependance 4. Advantage Legislature wd. have over the people whose representatives are for 2 years 5. Subject govt. perpetual of those that wanted their places absent not able defend them selves II. Rotation Obs: rights of States. Consider'd & rejected in our governmt. Permanency by influence This supposes corruption over Legislature
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LANSING. Supports motion. Represent the State should be dependant on them Congress sometimes divided by parties. Perpetuity. from 1/2 going out—ther[e]fore from State govmts recall if practicable— Senate shd not be devested local interest. Distinguish between—Senate—Reps. one represent sovereignity the No instance where States recalled — right declare war— Sheriff &coroner not for more than 4 years—
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SMITH. State goverments may refuse to elect— & destroy Governmt.
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LANSING. Not convinced. [Govn On the presentation?] State & people— If govn. opposed State & Genl. Local reasons will operate—proposition give them a greater operation— States not opposed to genl government but Genl government organized to protect a particular govmt.
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SMITH. Stated no proper check to so extensive a government could be devised. As many as necessary shd. be devised— Admitts necessity Stability Questn. not sufficient wth. amt.
1. time [of] service 6 yrs. sufficient [to] obtain that knowledge— 2. power will exist when formed will continue till abuse felt— 3. Duration lessens attachment to State—

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