The Debates in the
Federal Convention of 1787
MAY 14, FRIDAY
Monday May 14th 1787 was the day fixed for the meeting of the deputies in
Convention for revising the federal system of Government. On that day a small
number only had assembled. Seven States were not convened till,
Friday 25 of May, when the following members 2
appeared to wit: see Note A. 3 viz,
3 From Massachusetts Rufus King.
N. York Robert Yates, 4 Alexr.
Hamilton. N. Jersey, David Brearly, William Churchill Houston,
4 William Patterson. Pennsylvania,
Robert Morris, Thomas Fitzsimmons, James Wilson, 4
Govurneur Morris. Delaware, George Read, Richard Basset, 4
Jacob Broome. Virginia, George Washington, Edmund Randolph, John Blair,
James Madison, George Mason, George Wythe, 4
James Mc.Clurg. N. Carolina, Alexander Martin, William Richardson Davie,
Richard Dobbs Spaight, 4 Hugh Williamson.
S. Carolina, John Rutlidge, Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, Charles
4 Pierce Butler. Georgia, William
Mr. ROBERT MORRIS
informed the members assembled that by the instruction & in behalf, of the
deputation of Pena. he proposed George Washington Esqr. late Commander in chief
for president of the Convention.
5 Mr. JNo.
RUTLIDGE seconded the motion; expressing his confidence
that the choice would be unanimous, and observing that the presence of Genl.
Washington forbade any observations on the occasion which might otherwise be
proper. General WASHINGTON was accordingly unanimously
elected by ballot, and conducted to the Chair by Mr. R. Morris and Mr. Rutlidge;
from which in a very emphatic manner he thanked the Convention for the honor
they had conferred on him, reminded them of the novelty of the scene of business
in which he was to act, lamented his want of better qualifications, and claimed
the indulgence of the House towards the involuntary errors which his
inexperience might occasion.
6 [The nomination came with particular
grace from Penna. as Docr. Franklin alone could have been thought of as a
competitor. The Docr. was himself to have made the nomination of General
Washington, but the state of the weather and of his health confined him to his
Mr. WILSON moved that a Secretary be
appointed, and nominated Mr. Temple Franklin.
Col HAMILTON nominated Major Jackson.
On the ballot Majr. Jackson had 5 votes & Mr. Franklin 2 votes. On
reading the credentials of the deputies it was noticed that those from Delaware
were prohibited from changing the article in the Confederation establishing an
equality of votes among the States.
The appointment of a Committee, consisting of Messrs. Wythe, Hamilton &
C. Pinckney, on the motion of Mr. C. PINCKNEY,
7 to prepare standing rules & orders
was the only remaining step taken on this day.
1. The original notes did not have a
title, and Madison's Notes, as they are sometimes called, have been published
under various titles, including Notes on the Debates in the Federal
Convention. We are choosing the most popular title. Text is taken from
several sources, mainly from the third of the five-volume set Documentary
History of the Constitution of the United States of America, Department of
State, 1900, and from The Debates in the Federal Convention of 1787,
edited by Gailard Hunt and James Brown Scott (Washington, 1920), from which we
take most of the footnotes, with some minor modifications, but use a sequential
numbering system, indicating Madison's own footnotes by preceding the number
with an asterisk. Most of these footnotes cite differences between Madison's
original manuscript and the transcript in the Library of Congress.
word "Debates" is used as a heading in the transcript.
2. Madison is not uniform in the spelling
of proper names, but the correct form in each instance is to be found in the
credentials of the delegates.
3. The words "to wit: see Note A.
viz," are omitted in the transcript.
4. The work "and" is here
inserted in the transcript.
5. The paragraph in brackets beginning
with the works "The nomination" and ending with the work "house"
is printed as a footnote in the transcript with reference mark after the word "Convention."
6. See footnote. 5
7. The phrase "on the motion of Mr.
C. Pinckney, consisting," etc.