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title:“Theophilus Parson's Notes of the Massachusetts Ratification Convention”
authors:Theophilus Parsons
date written:1788-1-16

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last updated:Jan. 22, 2013, 8:03 a.m. UTC
retrieved:Jan. 31, 2023, 1:34 p.m. UTC

Parsons, Theophilus. "Theophilus Parson'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. 1221-22. Print.
Massachusetts Archives

Theophilus Parson's Notes of the Massachusetts Ratification Convention (January 16, 1788)

Mr PIERCE, of Partridgefield. He objects, 1. That Congress may declare - that he that has the most votes shall be chosen, not he who has a majority of votes. 2. That Congress may order Boston to be the place of election, and by that means may influence elections. Congress may do so, and may have sufficient motives so to do.1 3. A bankrupt may be chosen.
Col. PORTER. If a State should require a majority of the votes in the State it ought to be altered, and there is no reason to presume a majority of the people would choose a bankrupt.
Mr BISHOP. He should have no objection to the controlling power of Congress in case the States refuse to make the necessary regulations-but to give Congress this controlling power when a State does not refuse, is to give up the liberties of the people.2
Gov BOWDOIN. As to Rhode Island, he has not the records of Rhode Island, but has always so understood it, and the printed accounts of their journals, as published in the newspapers, confirm it.
Mr. KING affirms that the State of Rhode Island did recall their delegates, as appears by the journals of Congress.
Mr. BISHOP does not believe it.
Mr. GORHAM affirms as Mr King did.
Mr. BISHOP says he has been informed to the contrary.
Col. PORTER. If Mr Bishop will not believe it, it is—
Mr. BISHOP now believes it, and repeats his former objections to the Constitution.
Hon. Mr. STRONG. It is clear that the Federal Constitution could not provide a general regulation for elections, as the practice of different States will be different. There were, then, but two ways of obtaining this regulation—either by Congress, or the State legislatures. But it will not be safe to trust it wholly with the States; the people will be remiss in exercising their privileges, and a disunion may be the consequence.
Mr. BISHOP admits that Congress may have this power in case the States do not make proper regulations; if this was the case, still Congress must judge of the regulations, which comes to the same thing.
Mr. BISHOP says his objection is against the unlimited power to which he can see no end.
Mr. CABOT, of Beverly. As to the propriety of biennial elections he would add one thing—the necessity of continuing long enough to form a system.3 But as to the fourth section. The representative branch is the popular branch, they are designed to balance and check the Federal Senate.4
Mr. ADAMS, of Ashley [i.e., Ashby].

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