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Article I, Sections 1 thru 4, Constitution

Article. I.

Section. 1.
All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.

Section. 2.
The House of Representatives shall be composed of Members chosen every second Year by the People of the several States, and the Electors in each State shall have the Qualifications requisite for Electors of the most numerous Branch of the State Legislature.

No Person shall be a Representative who shall not have attained to the Age of twenty five Years, and been seven Years a Citizen of the United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an Inhabitant of that State in which he shall be chosen.

Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons¹.

The actual Enumeration shall be made within three Years after the first Meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent Term of ten Years, in such Manner as they shall by Law direct. The Number of Representatives shall not exceed one for every thirty Thousand, but each State shall have at Least one Representative; and until such enumeration shall be made, the State of New Hampshire shall be entitled to chuse three, Massachusetts eight, Rhode-Island and Providence Plantations one, Connecticut five, New-York six, New Jersey four, Pennsylvania eight, Delaware one, Maryland six, Virginia ten, North Carolina five, South Carolina five, and Georgia three.

When vacancies happen in the Representation from any State, the Executive Authority thereof shall issue Writs of Election to fill such Vacancies.

The House of Representatives shall chuse their Speaker and other Officers; and shall have the sole Power of Impeachment.

Section. 3.
The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, chosen by the Legislature² thereof for six Years; and each Senator shall have one Vote.

Immediately after they shall be assembled in Consequence of the first Election, they shall be divided as equally as may be into three Classes. The Seats of the Senators of the first Class shall be vacated at the Expiration of the second Year, of the second Class at the Expiration of the fourth Year, and of the third Class at the Expiration of the sixth Year, so that one third may be chosen every second Year; and if Vacancies happen by Resignation, or otherwise, during the Recess of the Legislature of any State, the Executive thereof may make temporary Appointments until the next Meeting of the Legislature, which shall then fill such Vacancies².

No Person shall be a Senator who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty Years, and been nine Years a Citizen of the United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an Inhabitant of that State for which he shall be chosen.

The Vice President of the United States shall be President of the Senate, but shall have no Vote, unless they be equally divided.

The Senate shall chuse their other Officers, and also a President pro tempore, in the Absence of the Vice President, or when he shall exercise the Office of President of the United States.

The Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments. When sitting for that Purpose, they shall be on Oath or Affirmation.

When the President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside: And no Person shall be convicted without the Concurrence of two thirds of the Members present.

Judgment in Cases of Impeachment shall not extend further than to removal from Office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any Office of honor, Trust or Profit under the United States: but the Party convicted shall nevertheless be liable and subject to Indictment, Trial, Judgment and Punishment, according to Law.

Section. 4.
The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof; but the Congress may at any time by Law make or alter such Regulations, except as to the Places of chusing Senators.

The Congress shall assemble at least once in every Year, and such Meeting shall be on the first Monday in December³, unless they shall by Law appoint a different Day.

The italicized portions have been changed/superceded by subsequent Amendments, as follows:

¹Representatives shall be apportioned among the several States according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each State, excluding Indians not taxed.

But when the right to vote at any election for the choice of electors for President and Vice-President of the United States, Representatives in Congress, the Executive and Judicial officers of a State, or the members of the Legislature thereof, is denied to any of the male inhabitants of such State, being twenty-one years of age,* and citizens of the United States, or in any way abridged, except for participation in rebellion, or other crime, the basis of representation therein shall be reduced in the proportion which the number of such male citizens shall bear to the whole number of male citizens twenty-one years of age in such State.
Passed by Congress June 13, 1866. Ratified July 9, 1868]

*The right of citizens of the United States, who are eighteen years of age or older, to vote shall not be denied of abridged by the United States or by any State on account of age.
Passed by Congress March 23, 1971.
Ratified July 1, 1971]

²The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, elected by the people thereof, for six years; and each Senator shall have one vote. The electors in each State shall have the qualifications requisite for electors of the most numerous branch of the State legislatures.

When vacancies happen in the representation of any State in the Senate, the executive authority of such State shall issue writs of election to fill such vacancies: Provided, That the legislature of any State may empower the executive thereof to make temporary appointments until the people fill the vacancies by election as the legislature may direct.

This amendment shall not be so construed as to affect the election or term of any Senator chosen before it becomes valid as part of the Constitution.
Passed by Congress May 13, 1912. Ratified April 8, 1913]

³The Congress shall assemble at least once in every year, and such meeting shall begin at noon on the 3d day of January, unless they shall by law appoint a different day.
Passed by Congress March 2, 1932. Ratified January 23, 1933]

Notes from the debate in the Federal Convention, May 31, 1787:
MR. SHERMAN opposed the election by the people, insisting that it ought to be by the State legislatures.
The people he said, immediately should have as little to do as may be about the Government. They want information and are constantly liable to be misled.

MR. GERRY: The evils we experience flow from the excess of democracy. The people do not want virtue, but are the dupes of pretended patriots.
In Massachusetts it had been fully confirmed by experience that they are daily misled into the most baneful measures and opinions by the false reports circulated by designing men, and which no one on the spot can refute.  
One principal evil rises from the want of due provision for those employed in the administration of Government.  It would seem to be a maxim of democracy to starve the public servants.  He mentioned the popular clamour in Massachusetts for the reduction of salaries and the attack made on that of the Governor though secured by the spirit of the Constitution itself.
He had, he said, been too republican heretofore: he was still however republican, but had been taught by experience the danger of the revolting spirit.

MR. MASON argued strongly for an election of the larger branch by the people. It was to be the grand depository of the democratic principle of the government.
It was, so to speak, to be our House of Common - It ought to know and sympathize with every part of the community; and ought therefore to be taken not only from different parts of the whole republic, but also from different districts of the larger members of it, which had in several instances particularly in Virginia different interests and views arising from difference of produce, of habits etc., etc.  
He admitted that we had been too democratic but was afraid we should incautiously run into the opposite extreme.  We ought to attend to the rights of every class of the people.  
He had often wondered at the indifference of the superior classes of society to this dictate of humanity and policy; considering that however affluent their circumstances, or elevated their situations, might be, the course of a few years, not only might but certainly would, distribute their posterity throughout the lowest classes of Society.
Every selfish motive therefore, every family attachment, ought to recommend such a system of policy as would provide no less carefully for the rights and happiness of the lowest than of the highest orders of Citizens.

MR. WILSON contended strenuously for drawing the most numerous branch of the legislature immediately from the people.
He was for raising the federal pyramid to a considerable altitude, and for that reason wished to give it as broad a basis as possible. No government could long subsist without the confidence of the people. In a republican Government this confidence was peculiarly essential.
He also thought it wrong to increase the weight of the State Legislatures by making them the electors of the National Legislature. All interference between the general and local governments should be obviated as much as possible.
On examination it would be found that the opposition of States to federal measures had proceded much more from the officers of the States, than from the people at large.

Mr. MADISON considered the popular election of one branch of the National Legislature as essential to every plan of free Government.
He observed that in some of the States one branch of the Legislature was composed of men already removed from the people by an intervening body of electors.
That if the first branch of the general legislature should be elected by the State Legislatures, the second branch elected by the first, the Executive by the second together with the first; and other appointments agaln made for subordinate purposes by the Executive, the people would be lost sight of altogether; and the necessary sympathy between them and their rulers and officers, too little left.  
He was an advocate for the policy of refining the popular appointments by successive filtrations, but thought it might be pushed too far.  He wished the expedient to be resorted to only in the appointment of the second branch of the Legislature, and in the Executive and judiciary branches of the Government.  
He thought too that the great fabric to be raised would be more stable and durable, if it should rest on the solid foundation of the people themselves, than if it should stand merely on the pillars of the Legislatures.

MR. GERRY did not like the election by the people. The maxims taken from the British constitution were often fallacious when applied to our situation, which was extremely different.
Experience, he said, had shown that the State legislatures drawn immediately from the people did not always possess their confidence.  
He had no objection however to an election by the people if it were so qualified that men of honor and character might not be unwilling to be joined in the appointments.
He seemed to think the people might nominate a certain number out of which the State Legislatures should be bound to choose.
--- end debate notes ---

The Vice President of the United States shall be President of the Senate, but shall have no Vote, unless they be equally divided.

i asked my polsci prof, why...what where the founders expectations?
to give the veep something to do?
to give the executive branch that little extra push, because presumably the veep would vote the executive branches interest?

i didn't get an answer right away...the good doctor would ponder a question for which he didn't have a handy answer.

two days later i got my answers.
'maybe' to the first.
'definitely' to the second.

scrutney wrote:
i asked my polsci prof, ...what where the founders expectations?
to give the veep something to do?
to give the executive branch that little extra push, because presumably the veep would vote the executive branches interest?

two days later i got my answers.
'maybe' to the first.
'definitely' to the second.

Noting that the Electors from each state had two votes - the person with the most votes became President and the one with the second most became Vice-President - I concur that the VP would vote the Executive Branch's interest as he saw it in breaking a tie vote, BUT than wouldn't necessarily the interest of the sitting President as they could hold quite different philosophies and "Party" allegiences.  

The "tiebreaker" was simply that - governing requires a final decision-maker in all instances.

The VP's role was to be available to take over the reins if/when the President was killed, died, or was otherwise incapacitated.

But those are only my observations; the Founders were a bit more eloquent in their examinations and worries:

1. From the Records of the Federal Convention 1787:

[4 Sept. original draft]

Sect. 3. The Vice President shall be ex officio, President of the Senate, except when they sit to try the impeachment of the President, in which case the Chief Justice shall preside, and excepting also when he shall exercise the powers and duties of President, in which case, and in case of his absence, the Senate shall chuse a President pro tempore--The Vice President when acting as President of the Senate shall not have a vote unless the House be equally divided

[7 Sept.]

Section 3. (see Sept. 4). "The vice President shall be ex officio President of the Senate"

Mr. Gerry opposed this regulation: We might as well put the President himself at the head of the Legislature. The close intimacy that must subsist between the President & vice-president makes it absolutely improper. He was against having any vice President.

Mr Governor Morris: The vice president then will be the first heir apparent that ever loved his father--If there should be no vice president, the President of the Senate would be temporary successor, which would amount to the same thing.

Mr Sherman saw no danger in the case. If the vice-President were not to be President of the Senate, he would be without employment, and some member by being made President must be deprived of his vote, unless when an equal division of votes might happen in the Senate, which would be but seldom.

Mr. Randolph concurred in the opposition to the clause.

Mr. Williamson observed that such an officer as vice-President was not wanted. He was introduced only for the sake of a valuable mode of election which required two to be chosen at the same time.

Col. Mason thought the office of vice-President an encroachment on the rights of the Senate; and that it mixed too much the Legislative & Executive, which as well as the Judiciary departments, ought to be kept as separate as possible. He took occasion to express his dislike of any reference whatever of the power to make appointments to either branch of the Legislature. On the other hand he was averse to vest so dangerous a power in the President alone. As a method for avoiding both, he suggested that a privy Council of six members to the president should be established; to be chosen for six years by the Senate, two out of the Eastern two out of the middle, and two out of the Southern quarters of the Union, & to go out in rotation two every second year; the concurrence of the Senate to be required only in the appointment of Ambassadors, and in making treaties. which are more of a legislative nature. This would prevent the constant sitting of the Senate which he thought dangerous, as well as keep the departments separate & distinct. It would also save the expence of constant sessions of the Senate. He had he said always considered the Senate as too unwieldy & expensive for appointing officers, especially the smallest, such as tide waiters &c. He had not reduced his idea to writing, but it could be easily done if it should be found acceptable.

On the question shall the vice President be ex officio President of the Senate?
[Ayes--8; noes--2; absent--1.]

[Committee of Style, 7 Sept.]
Sect. 3. The Vice President shall be ex officio, President of the Senate, except when they sit to try the impeachment of the President, in which case the Chief Justice shall preside, and excepting also when he shall exercise the powers and duties of President, in which case, and in case of his absence, the Senate shall chuse a President pro tempore--The Vice President when acting as President of the Senate shall not have a vote unless the House be equally divided
. . . . .
The Vice-President of the United States shall be, ex officio, President of the senate, but shall have no vote, unless they be equally divided.

[14 Sept.]
"Ex officio" struck out of the same section as superfluous.

2. Debate in North Carolina Ratifying Convention
24--25 July 1788

[24 July]

Mr. Caldwell:  Mr. Chairman, I am sorry to be objecting, but I apprehend that all the legislative powers granted by this Constitution are not vested in a Congress consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives, because the Vice-President has a right to put a check on it. This is known to every gentleman in the Convention.

How can all the legislative powers granted in that Constitution be vested in the Congress, if the Vice-President is to have a vote in case the Senate is equally divided?

I ask for information, how it came to be expressed in this manner, when this power is given to the Vice-President.

Mr. Maclaine declared, that he did not know what the gentleman meant.

Mr. Caldwell said, that the Vice-President is made a part of the legislative body, although there was an express declaration, that all the legislative powers were vested in the Senate and House of Representatives, and that he would be glad to know how these things consisted together.

Mr. Maclaine expressed great astonishment at the gentleman's criticism. He observed, that the Vice-President had only a casting vote in case of an equal division in the Senate--that a provision of this kind was to be found in all deliberative bodies--that it was highly useful and expedient--that it was by no means of the nature of a check which impedes or arrests, but calculated to prevent the operation of the government from being impeded--that, if the gentleman could show any legislative power to be given to any but the two houses of Congress, his objection would be worthy of notice.

Some other gentlemen said, they were dissatisfied with Mr. Maclaine's explanation--that the Vice-President was not a member of the Senate, but an officer of the United States, and yet had a legislative power, and that it appeared to them inconsistent--that it would have been more proper to have given the casting vote to the President.

His excellency, Gov. Johnston, added to Mr. Maclaine's reasoning, that it appeared to him a very good and proper regulation--that, if one of the Senate was to be appointed Vice-President, the state which he represented would either lose a vote if he was not permitted to vote on every occasion, or if he was, he might, in some instances, have two votes--that the President was already possessed of the power of preventing the passage of a law by a bare majority; yet laws were said not to be made by the President, but by the two houses of Congress exclusively.

[25 July]

Mr. Maclaine:  Mr. Chairman, I will state to the committee the reasons upon which this officer was introduced. I had the honor to observe to the committee, before, the causes of the particular formation of the Senate--that it was owing, with other reasons, to the jealousy of the states, and, particularly, to the extreme jealousy of the lesser states of the power and influence of the larger members of the confederacy.

It was in the Senate that the several political interests of the states were to be preserved, and where all their powers were to be perfectly balanced. The commercial jealousy between the Eastern and Southern States had a principal share in this business. It might happen, in important cases, that the voices would be equally divided. Indecision might be dangerous and inconvenient to the public.

It would then be necessary to have some person who should determine the question as impartially as possible. Had the Vice-President been taken from the representation of any of the states, the vote of that state would have been under local influence in the second. It is true he must be chosen from some state; but, from the nature of his election and office, he represents no one state in particular, but all the states. It is impossible that any officer could be chosen more impartially.

He is, in consequence of his election, the creature of no particular district or state, but the officer and representative of the Union. He must possess the confidence of the states in a very great degree, and consequently be the most proper person to decide in cases of this kind. These, I believe, are the principles upon which the Convention formed this officer.

3. From Monroe's Writings in 1788:  

The Vice-President has been introduced from the State Government of New York. This useful, though surely inoffensive officer, has been made by some objectors the bugbear of the Constitution. It is a strong proof of want of argument in the enemies to it, when they hold up this officer as dangerous. He is elected by the same persons as the President, and in the same manner. He presides in the Senate, but has no vote except when they are divided. This is the only power incident to his office whilst he continues Vice-President; and he is obviously introduced into the government to prevent the ill-consequences which might otherwise happen from the death or removal of the President. This is the purpose for which a similar officer has been introduced into the Constitution of New-York.

4. From Joseph Story's Commentaries on the Constitution in 1833:

The original article, as first reported, authorized the senate to choose its own president, and other officers; and this was adopted in the convention. But the same draft authorized the president of the senate, in case of the removal, death, resignation, or disability of the president, to discharge his duties. When at a late period of the convention it was deemed advisable, that there should be a vice president, the propriety of retaining him, as presiding officer of the senate, seems to have met with general favour, eight states voting in the affirmative, and two only in the negative.

Some objections have been taken to the appointment of the vice president to preside in the senate.
It was suggested in the state conventions, that the officer was not only unnecessary, but dangerous; that it is contrary to the usual course of parliamentary proceedings to have a presiding officer, who is not a member; and that the state, from which he comes, may thus have two votes, instead of one.

It has also been coldly remarked by a learned commentator, that "the necessity of providing for the case of a vacancy in the office of president doubtless gave rise to the creation of that officer; and for want of something else for him to do, whilst there is a president in office, he seems to have been placed, with no very great propriety, in the chair of the senate."

There is no novelty in the appointment of a person to preside, as speaker, who is not a constituent member of the body, over which he is to preside. In the house of lords in England the presiding officer is the lord chancellor, or lord keeper of the great seal, or other person appointed by the king's commission; and if none such be so appointed, then it is said, that the lords may elect. But it is by no means necessary, that the person appointed by the king should be a peer of the realm or lord of parliament. Nor has this appointment by the king ever been complained of, as a grievance, nor has it operated with inconvenience or oppression in practice. It is on the contrary deemed an important advantage, both to the officer, and to the house of peers, adding dignity and weight to the former, and securing great legal ability and talent in aid of the latter. This consideration alone might have had some influence in the convention.

The vice president being himself chosen by the states, might well be deemed, in point of age, character, and dignity, worthy to preside over the deliberations of the senate, in which the states were all assembled and represented. His impartiality in the discharge of its duties might be fairly presumed; and the employment would not only bring his character in review before the public; but enable him to justify the public confidence, by performing his public functions with independence, and firmness, and sound discretion.

A citizen, who was deemed worthy of being one of the competitors for the presidency, could scarcely fail of being distinguished by private virtues, by comprehensive acquirements, and by eminent services. In all questions before the senate he might safely be appealed to, as a fit arbiter upon an equal division, in which case alone he is entrusted with a vote.

But the strong motive for this appointment was of another sort, founded upon state jealousy, and state equality in the senate. If the speaker of the senate was to be chosen from its own members, the state, upon whom the choice would fall, might possess either more or less, than its due share of influence. If the speaker were not allowed to vote, except where there was an equal division, independent of his own vote, then the state might lose its own voice; if he were allowed to give his vote, and also a casting vote, then the state might, in effect, possess a double vote.

Either alternative would of itself present a predicament sufficiently embarrassing. On the other hand, if no casting vote were allowed in any case, then the indecision and inconvenience might be very prejudicial to the public interests, in case of an equality of votes. It might give rise to dangerous feuds, or intrigues, and create sectional and state agitations. The smaller states might well suppose, that their interests were less secure, and less guarded, than they ought to be. Under such circumstances, the vice president would seem to be the most fit arbiter to decide, because he would be the representative, not of one state only, but of all; and must be presumed to feel a lively interest in promoting all measures for the public good.

This reasoning appears to have been decisive in the convention, and satisfactory to the people. It establishes, that there was a manifest propriety in making the arrangement conducive to the harmony of the states, and the dignity of the general government. And as the senate possesses the power to make rules for its own proceedings, there is little danger, that there can ever arise any abuse of the presiding power.

The danger, if any, is rather the other way, that the presiding power will be either silently weakened, or openly surrendered, so as to leave the office little more, than the barren honour of a place, without influence and without action.

A question, involving the authority of the vice president, as presiding officer in the senate, has been much discussed in consequence of a decision recently made by that officer. Hitherto the power of preserving order during the deliberations of the senate in all cases, where the rules of the senate did not specially prescribe another mode, had been silently supposed to belong to the vice president, as an incident of office. It had never been doubted, much less denied, from the first organization of the senate; and its existence had been assumed, as an inherent quality, constitutionally delegated, subject only to such rules, as the senate should from time to time prescribe.

In the winter session of 1826, the vice president decided in effect, that, as president of the senate, he had no power of preserving order, or of calling any member to order, for words spoken in the course of debate, upon his own authority, but only so far, as it was given, and regulated by the rules of the senate. This was a virtual surrender of the presiding power (if not universally, at least in that case) into the hands of the senate; and disarmed the officer even of the power of self-protection from insult or abuse, unless the senate should choose to make provision for it.

If, therefore, the senate should decline to confer the power of preserving order, the vice president might become a mere pageant and cipher in that body.

If, indeed, the vice president had not this power virtute officii, there was nothing to prevent the senate from confiding it to any other officer chosen by itself. Nay, if the power to preside had not this incident, it was difficult to perceive, what other incident it had. The power to put questions, or to declare votes, might just as well, upon similar reasoning, be denied, unless it was expressly conferred.

The power of the senate to prescribe rules could not be deemed omnipotent. It must be construed with reference to, and in connexion with the power to preside; and the latter, according to the common sense of mankind, and of public bodies, was always understood to include the power to keep order; upon the clear ground, that the grant of a power includes the authority to make it effectual, and also of self-preservation.

The subject at that time attracted a good deal of discussion; and was finally, as a practical inquiry, put an end to in 1828, by a rule made by the senate, that "every question of order shall be decided by the president without debate, subject to appeal to the senate."

But still the question, as one of constitutional right and duty, liable to be regulated, but not to be destroyed by the senate, deserves, and should receive, the most profound investigation of every man solicitous for the permanent dignity and independence of the vice presidency.

The propriety of entrusting the senate with the choice of its other officers, and also of a president pro tempore in the absence of the vice president, or when he exercises the office of president, seems never to have been questioned; and indeed is so obvious, that it is wholly unnecessary to vindicate it. Confidence between the senate and its officers, and the power to make a suitable choice, and to secure a suitable responsibility for the faithful discharge of the duties of office, are so indispensable for the public good, that the provision will command universal assent, as soon as it is mentioned.

It has grown into a general practice for the vice president to vacate the senatorial chair a short time before the termination of each session, in order to enable the senate to choose a president pro tempore, who might already be in office, if the vice president in the recess should be called to the chair of state. The practice is founded in wisdom and sound policy, as it immediately provides for an exigency, which may well be expected to occur at any time; and prevents the choice from being influenced by temporary excitements or intrigues, arising from the actual existence of a vacancy. As it is useful in peace to provide for war; so it is likewise useful in times of profound tranquillity to provide for political agitations, which may disturb the public harmony.
--- end commentary ---

Re: Article I, Sections 1 thru 4, Constitution

--- excerpts ---
"The House of Representatives shall be composed of Members chosen every second Year by the People of the several States, and the Electors in each State shall have the Qualifications requisite for Electors of the most numerous Branch of the State Legislature."

[Amended later]

"But when the right to vote at any election for the choice of electors for President and Vice-President of the United States, Representatives in Congress, the Executive and Judicial officers of a State, or the members of the Legislature thereof, is denied to any of the male inhabitants of such State..., or in any way abridged, except for participation in rebellion, or other crime...."

[Amended later]

"The right of citizens of the United States, who are eighteen years of age or older, to vote shall not be denied of abridged...."

"The electors in each State shall have the qualifications requisite for electors of the most numerous branch of the State legislatures."
--- end excerpts from U.S. Constitution as in force today ---

If readers here are like the majority of us we've probably passed by the phrase "have the qualifications requisite for electors of the most numerous branch of the State legislatures" without much thought or attention.

But the question of "Who should have the right to vote?" (a/k/a "suffrage", from Latin) was of primary importance to the Founders, as it continues to be today. As indicated in the above quotes, the right to vote is NOT an unalienable human right, but instead is civil right with conditions established by elected legislators.  

Check out the often heated arguments in the Convention in 1787, which ultimately led to the weaseling out compromise of "have the qualifications requisite for electors of the most numerous branch of the State legislatures."

At the bottom of the above linked page there is a treatise written in the 1820s about the Constitution and its provisions; an excerpt with much relevance today:

"There may be at present, a Majority of the Nation, who are even freeholders, or the heirs, or aspirants to Freeholds.

"And the day may not be very near when such will cease to make up a Majority of the community. But they cannot always so continue.

"With every admissible subdivision of the Arable lands, a populousness not greater than that of England or France, will reduce the holders to a Minority.

"And whenever the Majority shall be without landed or other equivalent property and without the means or hope of acquiring it, what is to secure the rights of property against the danger from an equality and universality of suffrage, vesting compleat power over property in hands without a share in it: not to speak of a danger in the mean time from a dependence of an increasing number on the wealth of a few?

"In other Countries this dependence results in some from the relations between Landlords and Tenants in other both from that source, and from the relations between wealthy capitalists and indigent labourers.

"In the U. S. the occurrence must happen from the last source; from the connection between the great Capitalists in Manufactures and Commerce and the members employed by them.

"Nor will accumulations of Capital for a certain time be precluded by our laws of descent and of distribution; such being the enterprize inspired by free Institutions, that great wealth in the hands of individuals and associations, may not be unfrequent.

"But it may be observed, that the opportunities, may be diminished, and the permanency defeated by the equalizing tendency of the laws."

Created equal? Inalienable rights?

The first iteration of the Constitution subject to debate in the Constitutional Convention of 1787 read:

"The proportions of direct taxation shall be regulated by the whole number of white and other free citizens and inhabitants of every age, sex and condition, including those bound to servitude for a term of years, and three fifths of all other persons not comprehended in the foregoing description, (except Indians not paying taxes).

"No tax or duty shall be laid by the Legislature on ... the migration or importation of such persons as the several States shall think proper to admit; nor shall such migration or importation be prohibited."

From the Debate on August 21 & 22, 1787:

Mr. L. MARTIN proposed to vary the [wording] so as to allow a prohibition or tax on the importation of slaves - as five slaves are to be counted as 3 free men in the apportionment of Representatives such a clause would leave an encouragement to this trafic. Slaves weakened one part of the Union which the other parts were bound to protect - the privilege of importing them was therefore unreasonable. It was inconsistent with the principles of the revolution and dishonorable to the American character to have such a feature in the Constitution.

Mr. RUTLIDGE did not see how the importation of slaves could be encouraged by this Section. He was not apprehensive of insurrections and would readily exempt the other States from the obligation to protect the Southern against them. Religion and humanity had nothing to do with this question. Interest alone is the governing principle with nations. The true question at present is whether the Southern States shall or shall not be parties to the Union. If the Northern States consult their interest, they will not oppose the increase of Slaves which will increase the commodities of which they will become the carriers.

Mr. ELSEWORTH was for leaving the clause as it stands. Let every State import what it pleases. The morality or wisdom of slavery are considerations belonging to the States themselves. What enriches a part enriches the whole, and the States are the best judges of their particular interest. The old confederation had not meddled with this point, and he did not see any greater necessity for bringing it within the policy of the new one....

Mr. PINKNEY: South Carolina can never receive the plan if it prohibits the slave trade. In every proposed extension of the powers of the Congress, that State has expressly and watchfully excepted that of meddling with the importation of negroes. If the States be all left at liberty on this subject, S. Carolina may perhaps by degrees do of herself what is wished, as Virginia and Maryland have already done.

Mr. SHERMAN was for leaving the clause as it stands. He disapproved of the slave trade; yet as the States were now possessed of the right to import slaves, as the public good did not require it to be taken from them, and as it was expedient to have as few objections as possible to the proposed scheme of Government, he thought it best to leave the matter as we find it. He observed that the abolition of Slavery seemed to be going on in the United States and that the good sense of the several States would probably by degrees compleat it. He urged on the Convention the necessity of despatching its business.

COLONEL MASON: This infernal trafic originated in the avarice of British Merchants. The British Government constantly checked the attempts of Virginia to put a stop to it. The present question concerns not the importing States alone but the whole Union. The evil of having slaves was experienced during the late war. Had slaves been treated as they might have been by the Enemy, they would have proved dangerous instruments in their hands. But their folly dealt by the slaves, as it did by the Tories. He mentioned the dangerous insurrections of the slaves in Greece and Sicily; and the instructions given by Cromwell to the Commissioners sent to Virginia, to arm the servants and slaves, in case other means of obtaining its submission should fail. Maryland and Virginia he said had already prohibited the importation of slaves expressly. North Carolina had done the same in substance. All this would be in vain if South Carolina and Georgia be at liberty to import. The Western people are already calling out for slaves for their new lands, and will fill that Country with slaves if they can be got through South Carolina and Georgia. Slavery discourages arts and manufactures. The poor despise labor when performed by slaves. They prevent the immigration of Whites, who really enrich and strengthen a Country. They produce the most pernicious effect on manners. Every master of slaves is born a petty tyrant. They bring the judgment of heaven on a Country. As nations can not be rewarded or punished in the next world they must be in this. By an inevitable chain of causes and effects providence punishes national sins, by national calamities. He lamented that some of our Eastern brethren had from a lust of gain embarked in this nefarious traffic. As to the States being in possession of the Right to import, this was the case with many other rights, now to be properly given up. He held it essential in every point of view that the General Government should have power to prevent the increase of slavery.

Mr. ELSWORTH as he had never owned a slave could not judge of the effects of slavery on character: He said however that if it was to be considered in a moral light we ought to go farther and free those already in the Country. As slaves also multiply so fast in Virginia and Maryland that it is cheaper to raise than import them, whilst in the sickly rice swamps foreign supplies are necessary, if we go no farther than is urged, we shall be unjust towards South Carolina and Georgia. Let us not intermeddle. As population increases poor laborers will be so plenty as to render slaves useless. Slavery in time will not be a speck in our Country. Provision is already made in Connecticut for abolishing it. And the abolition has already taken place in Massachusetts. As to the danger of insurrections from foreign influence, that will become a motive to kind treatment of the slaves.

Mr. PINCKNEY: If slavery be wrong, it is justified by the example of all the world. He cited the case of Greece, Rome and other ancient States - the sanction given by France, England, Holland and other modern States. In all ages one half of mankind have been slaves. If the Southern States were let alone they will probably of themselves stop importations. He would himself as a Citizen of South Carolina vote for it. An attempt to take away the right as proposed will produce serious objections to the Constitution which he wished to see adopted.

General PINCKNEY declared it to be his firm opinion that if himself and all his colleagues were to sign the Constitution and use their personal influence, it would be of no avail towards obtaining the assent of their Constituents. South Carolina and Georgia cannot do without slaves. As to Virginia she will gain by stopping the importations. Her slaves will rise in value, and she has more than she wants. It would be unequal to require South Carolina and Georgia to confederate on such unequal terms. He said the Royal assent before the Revolution had never been refused to South Carolina as to Virginia. He contended that the importation of slaves would be for the interest of the whole Union. The more slaves, the more produce to employ the carrying trade; The more consumption also, and the more of this, the more of revenue for the common treasury. He admitted it to be reasonable that slaves should be dutied like other imports, but should consider a rejection of the clause as an exclusion of South Carolina from the Union.

Mr. BALDWIN had conceived national objects alone to be before the Convention, not such as like the present were of a local nature. Georgia was decided on this point.
That State has always hitherto supposed a General Government to be the pursuit of the central States who wished to have a vortex for every thing - that her distance would preclude her from equal advantage - and that she could not prudently purchase it by yielding national powers. From this it might be understood in what light she would view an attempt to abridge one of her favorite prerogatives.
If left to herself, she may probably put a stop to the evil. As one ground for this conjecture, he took notice of the sect of [_______] which he said was a respectable class of people, who carried their ethics beyond the mere equality of men, extending their humanity to the claims of the whole animal creation.

Mr. WILSON observed that if South Carolina and Georgia were themselves disposed to get rid of the importation of slaves in a short time as had been suggested, they would never refuse to Unite because the importation might be prohibited. As the Section now stands all articles imported are to be taxed. Slaves alone are exempt. This is in fact a bounty on that article.

Mr. GERRY thought we had nothing to do with the conduct of the States as to Slaves, but ought to be careful not to give any sanction to it.

Mr. DICKENSON considered it as inadmissible on every principle of honor and safety that the importation of slaves should be authorised to the States by the Constitution. The true question was whether the national happiness would be promoted or impeded by the importation, and this question ought to be left to the National Government not to the States particularly interested. If England and France permit slavery, slaves are at the same time excluded from both those Kingdoms. Greece and Rome were made unhappy by their slaves. He could not believe that the Southern States would refuse to confederate on the account apprehended; especially as the power was not likely to be immediately exercised by the General Government.

Mr. WILLIAMSON stated the law of North Carolina on the subject, to wit that it did not directly prohibit the importation of slaves. It imposed a duty of £5 on each slave imported from Africa, £10 on each from elsewhere, and £50 on each from a State licensing manumission. He thought the Southern States could not be members of the Union if the clause should be rejected, and that it was wrong to force any thing down, not absolutely necessary, and which any State must disagree to.

Mr. KING thought the subject should be considered in a political light only. If two States will not agree to the Constitution as stated on one side, he could affirm with equal belief on the other, that great and equal opposition would be experienced from the other States. He remarked on the exemption of slaves from duty whilst every other import was subjected to it, as an inequality that could not fail to strike the commercial sagacity of the Northern and middle States.

Mr. LANGDON was strenuous for giving the power to the General Government. He could not with a good conscience leave it with the States who could then go on with the traffic, without being restrained by the opinions here given that they will themselves cease to import slaves.

GENERAL PINCKNEY thought himself bound to declare candidly that he did not think South Carolina would stop her importations of slaves in any short time, but only stop them occasionally as she now does. He moved to commit the clause that slaves might be made liable to an equal tax with other imports which he thought right and which would remove one difficulty that had been started.

Mr. RUTLIDGE: If the Convention thinks that North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia will ever agree to the plan, unless their right to import slaves be untouched, the expectation is vain. The people of those States will never be such fools as to give up so important an interest...
--- end debate ---

The compromised wording, as finally ratified, in the U.S. Constitution:
"Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons.

"The Migration or Importation of such Persons as any of the States now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the Year one thousand eight hundred and eight, but a Tax or duty may be imposed on such Importation, not exceeding ten dollars for each Person."

Here again there was a major compromise, with the caveat that views and opinions on slavery, Negros, and Indians in the 18th century - while almost as varied as today - also carried the legal issue of chattel/property.  

And property rights were as hallowed then as they are now to some.  

Seemingly the main reason for the compromise was simply that banning the importation and sale of slaves outright inevitably meant the Constitution would never be ratified, and there would be at least two Confederations in lieu of one Union.  Pragmatism over principle.

And yet another example of compromise following the debates on the first draft of the Constitution in 1787 is the election process and qualifications of Representatives and Senators.

The first draft required Senators to be 30 years old and Representatives 25; with 4 years and 3 years as Citizens - which was equated with continuous residency in one or more of the States - respectively.

The House had the sole power to impeach - Senate wasn't involved at all.

Original Draft of the Constitution which was the subject of the debates:

The debates, which ended up in the compromises and the ultimately ratified Constitution here:

In the end the period of required Citizenship for Senators was raised to nine years; and seven years for Representatives (14 years was the initial proposal for change). This seemingly small compromise was a result of much argument about the potential loyalty of immigrants and foreigners, not arguments about the actual qualifications of experience, opinions and philosophy of the candidates (follow above links for details).

In addition there were many arguments about the merits of citizens directly electing federal representatives, as opposed to state governments doing so; and arguments about "one vote, one person" v. delegated authority (follow above links for details).

The addition of the two little words "to try" in the Senate's "sole power" statement, in addition to the inclusion of the Senate in the overall impeachment proceedings, i.e., removal from office and punishment of the impeached, has been of great significance through the years. Forum Index -> We the People
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