The Debates in the
Federal Convention of 1787
Mr. John Francis Mercer from Maryland took his seat.
Mr. RUTLIDGE delivered in the Report of
the Committee of detail as follows: a printed copy being at the same time
furnished to each member:
"We the people of the States of New Hampshire, Massachussetts,
Rhode-Island and Providence Plantations, Connecticut, New-York, New-Jersey,
Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North-Carolina, South-Carolina, and
Georgia, do ordain, declare, and establish the following Constitution for the
Government of Ourselves and our Posterity.
The stile of the Government shall be, "The United States of America"
The Government shall consist of supreme legislative, executive; and judicial
The legislative power shall be vested in a Congress, to consist of two
separate and distinct bodies of men, a House of Representatives and a Senate;
each of which shall in all cases have a negative on the other. The Legislature
shall meet on the first Monday in December 3
Sect. 1. The members of the House of Representatives shall be chosen every
second year, by the people of the several States comprehended within this Union.
The qualifications of the electors shall be the same, from time to time, as
those of the electors in the several States, of the most numerous branch of
their own legislatures.
Sect. 2. Every member of the House of Representatives shall be of the age of
twenty five years at least; shall have been a citizen in the United States for
at least three years before his election; and shall be, at the time of his
election, a resident of the State in which he shall be chosen.
Sect. 3. The House of Representatives shall, at its first formation, and
until the number of citizens and inhabitants shall be taken in the manner herein
after described, consist of sixty five Members, of whom three shall be chosen in
New-Hampshire, eight in Massachusetts, one in Rhode-Island and Providence
Plantations, five in Connecticut, six in New-York, four in New-Jersey, eight in
Pennsylvania, one in Delaware, six in Maryland, ten in Virginia, five in
North-Carolina, five in South-Carolina, and three in Georgia.
Sect. 4. As the proportions of numbers in different States will alter from
time to time; as some of the States may hereafter be divided; as others may be
enlarged by addition of territory; as two or more States may be united; as new
States will be erected within the limits of the United States, the Legislature
shall, in each of these cases, regulate the number of representatives by the
number of inhabitants, according to the provisions herein after made, at the
rate of one for every forty thousand.
Sect. 5. All bills for raising or appropriating money, and for fixing the
salaries of the officers of Government, shall originate in the House of
Representatives, and shall not be altered or amended by the Senate. No money
shall be drawn from the Public Treasury, but in pursuance of appropriations that
shall originate in the House of Representatives.
Sect. 6. The House of Representatives shall have the sole power of
impeachment. It shall choose its Speaker and other officers.
Sect. 7. Vacancies in the House of Representatives shall be supplied by
writs of election from the executive authority of the State in the
representation from which it 4 shall
Sect. 1. The Senate of the United States shall be chosen by the Legislatures
of the several States. Each Legislature shall chuse two members. Vacancies may
be supplied by the Executive until the next meeting of the Legislature. Each
member shall have one vote.
Sect. 2. The Senators shall be chosen for six years; but immediately after
the first election they shall be divided, by lot, into three classes, as nearly
as may be, numbered one, two and three. The seats of the members 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, of the third class at the expiration of
the sixth year, so that a third part of the members may be chosen every second
Sect. 3. Every member of the Senate shall be of the age of thirty years at
least; shall have been a citizen in the United States for at least four years
before his election; and shall be, at the time of his election, a resident of
the State for which he shall be chosen.
Sect. 4. The Senate shall chuse its own President and other officers.
Sect. 1. The times and places and manner of holding the elections of the
members of each House shall be prescribed by the Legislature of each State; but
their provisions concerning them may, at any time be altered by the Legislature
of the United States.
Sect. 2. The Legislature of the United States shall have authority to
establish such uniform qualifications of the members of each House, with regard
to property, as to the said Legislature shall seem expedient.
Sect. 3. In each House a majority of the members shall constitute a quorum
to do business; but a smaller number may adjourn from day to day.
Sect. 4. Each House shall be the judge of the elections, returns and
qualifications of its own members.
Sect. 5. Freedom of speech and debate in the Legislature shall not be
impeached or questioned in any Court or place out of the Legislature; and the
members of each House shall, in all cases, except treason felony and breach of
the peace, be privileged from arrest during their attendance at Congress, and in
going to and returning from it.
Sect. 6. Each House may determine the rules of its proceedings; may punish
its members for disorderly behaviour; and may expel a member.
Sect. 7. The House of Representatives, and the Senate, when it shall be
acting in a legislative capacity, shall keep a journal of their proceedings, and
shall, from time to time, publish them: and the yeas and nays of the members of
each House, on any question, shall at the desire of one-fifth part of the
members present, be entered on the journal.
Sect. 8. Neither House, without the consent of the other, shall adjourn for
more than three days, nor to any other place than that at which the two Houses
are sitting. But this regulation shall not extend to the Senate, when it shall
exercise the powers mentioned in the ______ article.
Sect. 9. The members of each House shall be ineligible to, and incapable of
holding any office under the authority of the United States, during the time for
which they shall respectively be elected: and the members of the Senate shall be
ineligible to, and incapable of holding any such office for one year afterwards.
Sect. 10. The members of each House shall receive a compensation for their
services, to be ascertained and paid by the State, in which they shall be
5 Sect. 11. The enacting stile of the
laws of the United States shall be. "Be it enacted by the Senate and
Representatives in Congress assembled."
Sect. 12. Each House shall possess the right of originating bills, except in
the cases beforementioned.
Sect. 13. Every bill, which shall have passed the House of Representatives
and the Senate, shall, before it become 6
a law, be presented to the President of the United States for his revision: if,
upon such revision, he approve of it, he shall signify his approbation by
signing it: But if, upon such revision, it shall appear to him improper for
being passed into a law, he shall return it, together with his objections
against it, to that House in which it shall have originated, who shall enter the
objections at large on their journal and proceed to reconsider the bill. But if
after such reconsideration, two thirds of that House shall, notwithstanding the
objections of the President, agree to pass it, it shall together with his
objections, be sent to the other House, by which it shall likewise be
reconsidered, and if approved by two thirds of the other House also, it shall
become a law. But in all such cases, the votes of both Houses shall be
determined by yeas and nays; and the names of the persons voting for or against
the bill shall be entered on the journal of each House respectively. If any bill
shall not be returned by the President within seven days after it shall have
been presented to him, it shall be a law, unless the legislature, by their
adjournment, prevent its return; in which case it shall not be a law.
Sect. 1. The Legislature of the United States shall have the power to lay
and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises;
To regulate commerce with
foreign nations, and among the several States;
To establish an uniform rule
of naturalization throughout the United States;
To coin money;
regulate the value of foreign coin;
To fix the standard of weights and
To establish Post-offices;
To borrow money, and emit bills on
the credit of the United States;
To appoint a Treasurer by ballot;
constitute tribunals inferior to the Supreme Court;
To make rules concerning
captures on land and water;
To declare the law and punishment of piracies
and felonies committed on the high seas, and the punishment of counterfeiting
the coin of the United States, and of offenses against the law of nations;
subdue a rebellion in any State, on the application of its legislature;
To raise armies;
To build and equip fleets;
To call forth
the aid of the militia, in order to execute the laws of the Union, enforce
treaties, suppress insurrections, and repel invasions;
And to make all laws
that shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing
powers, and all other powers vested, by this Constitution, in the government of
the United States, or in any department or officer 7
Sect. 2. Treason against the United States shall consist only in levying war
against the United States, or any of them; and in adhering to the enemies of the
United States, or any of them. The Legislature of the United States shall have
power to declare the punishment of treason. No person shall be convicted of
treason, unless on the testimony of two witnesses. No attainder of treason shall
work corruption of blood, nor forfeiture, except during the life of the person
Sect. 3. 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) which number shall, within six years after the
first meeting of the Legislature, and within the term of every ten years
afterwards, be taken in such 8 manner as
the said Legislature shall direct.
Sect. 4. No tax or duty shall be laid by the Legislature on articles
exported from any State; nor 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.
Sect. 5. No capitation tax shall be laid, unless in proportion to the Census
hereinbefore directed to be taken.
Sect. 6. No navigation act shall be passed without the assent of two thirds
of the members present in the each House.
Sect. 7. The United States shall not grant any title of Nobility.
The Acts of the Legislature of the United States made in pursuance of this
Constitution, and all treaties made under the authority of the United States
shall be the supreme law of the several States, and of their citizens and
inhabitants; and the judges in the several States shall be bound thereby in
their decisions; any thing in the Constitutions or laws of the several States to
the contrary notwithstanding.
Sect 1. The Senate of the United States shall have power to make treaties,
and to appoint Ambassadors, and Judges of the Supreme Court.
Sect. 2. In all disputes and controversies now subsisting, or that may
hereafter subsist between two or more States, respecting jurisdiction or
territory, the Senate shall possess the following powers. Whenever the
Legislature, or the Executive authority, or lawful agent of any State, in
controversy with another, shall by memorial to the Senate, state the matter in
question, and apply for a hearing; notice of such memorial and application shall
be given by order of the Senate, to the Legislature or the Executive authority
of the other State in Controversy. The Senate shall also assign a day for the
appearance of the parties, by their agents, before the 9
House. The Agents shall be directed to appoint, by joint consent, commissioners
or judges to constitute a Court for hearing and determining the matter in
question. But if the Agents cannot agree, the Senate shall name three persons
out of each of the several States; and from the list of such persons each party
shall alternately strike out one, until the number shall be reduced to thirteen;
and from that number not less than seven nor more than nine names, as the Senate
shall direct, shall in their presence, be drawn out by lot; and the persons
whose names shall be so drawn, or any five of them shall be commissioners or
Judges to hear and finally determine the controversy; provided a majority of the
Judges, who shall hear the cause, agree in the determination. If either party
shall neglect to attend at the day assigned, without shewing sufficient reasons
for not attending, or being present shall refuse to strike, the Senate shall
proceed to nominate three persons out of each State, and the Clerk of the Senate
shall strike in behalf of the party absent or refusing. If any of the parties
shall refuse to submit to the authority of such Court; or shall not appear to
prosecute or defend their claim or cause, the Court shall nevertheless proceed
to pronounce judgment. The judgment shall be final and conclusive. The
proceedings shall be transmitted to the President of the Senate, and shall be
lodged among the public records, for the security of the parties concerned.
Every Commissioner shall, before he sit in judgment, take an oath, to be
administred by one of the Judges of the Supreme or Superior Court of the State
where the cause shall be tried, "well and truly to hear and determine the
matter in question according to the best of his judgment, without favor,
affection, or hope of reward."
Sect. 3. All controversies concerning lands claimed under different grants
of two or more States, whose jurisdictions, as they respect such lands shall
have been decided or adjusted subsequent 10
to such grants, or any of them, shall, on application to the Senate, be finally
determined, as near as may be, in the same manner as is before prescribed for
deciding controversies between different States.
Sect. 1. The Executive Power of the United States shall be vested in a
single person. His stile shall be, "The President of the United States of
America;" and his title shall be, "His Excellency." He shall be
elected by ballot by the Legislature. He shall hold his office during the term
of seven years; but shall not be elected a second time.
Sect. 2. He shall, from time to time, give information to the Legislature,
of the state of the Union: he may recommend to their consideration such measures
as he shall judge necessary, and expedient: he may convene them on extraordinary
occasions. In case of disagreement between the two Houses, with regard to the
time of adjournment, he may adjourn them to such time as he thinks proper: he
shall take care that the laws of the United States be duly and faithfully
executed: he shall commission all the officers of the United States; and shall
appoint officers in all cases not otherwise provided for by this Constitution.
He shall receive Ambassadors, and may correspond with the supreme Executives of
the several States. He shall have power to grant reprieves and pardons; but his
pardon shall not be pleadable in bar of an impeachment. He shall be commander in
chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the
several States. He shall, at stated times, receive for his services, a
compensation, which shall neither be increased nor diminished during his
continuance in office. Before he shall enter on the duties of his department, he
shall take the following oath or affirmation, "I _____ solemnly swear,
(or affirm) that that 11 I will
faithfully execute the office of President of the United States of America."
He shall be removed from his office on impeachment by the House of
Representatives, and conviction in the supreme Court, of treason, bribery, or
corruption. In case of his removal as aforesaid, death, resignation, or
disability to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the President of
the Senate shall exercise those powers and duties, until another President of
the United States be chosen, or until the disability of the President be
Sect. 1. The Judicial Power of the United States shall be vested in one
Supreme Court, and in such inferior Courts as shall, when necessary, from time
to time, be constituted by the Legislature of the United States.
Sect. 2. The Judges of the Supreme Court, and of the Inferior Courts, shall
hold their offices during good behaviour. They shall, at stated times, receive
for their services, a compensation, which shall not be diminished during their
continuance in office.
Sect. 3. The Jurisdiction of the Supreme Court shall extend to all cases
arising under laws passed by the Legislature of the United States; to all cases
affecting Ambassadors, other Public Ministers and Consuls; to the trial of
impeachments of officers of the United States; to all cases of Admiralty and
maritime jurisdiction; to controversies between two or more States, (except such
as shall regard Territory or Jurisdiction) between a State and Citizens of
another State, between Citizens of different States, and between a State or the
Citizens thereof and foreign States, citizens or subjects. In cases of
impeachment, cases affecting Ambassadors, other Public Ministers and Consuls,
and those in which a State shall be party, this jurisdiction shall be original.
In all the other cases beforementioned, it shall be appellate, with such
exceptions and under such regulations as the Legislature shall make. The
Legislature may assign any part of the jurisdiction abovementioned (except the
trial of the President of the United States) in the manner, and under the
limitations which it shall think proper, to such Inferior Courts, as it shall
constitute from time to time.
Sect. 4. The trial of all criminal offences (except in cases of
impeachments) shall be in the State where they shall be committed; and shall be
Sect. 5. Judgment, in cases of Impeachment, shall not extend further than to
removal from office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any office of
honour, 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.
No State shall coin money; nor grant letters of marque and reprisal; nor
enter into any Treaty, alliance, or confederation; nor grant any title of
No State, without the consent of the Legislature of the United States, shall
emit bills of credit, or make any thing but specie a tender in payment of debts;
nor lay imposts or duties on imports; nor keep troops or ships of war in time of
peace; nor enter into any agreement or compact with another State, or with any
foreign power; nor engage in any war, unless it shall be actually invaded by
enemies, or the danger of invasion be so imminent, as not to admit of delay,
until the Legislature of the United States can be consulted.
The Citizens of each State shall be entitled to all privileges and
immunities of citizens in the several States.
Any person charged with treason, felony or high misdemeanor in any State,
who shall flee from justice, and shall be found in any other State, shall, on
demand of the Executive power of the State from which he fled, be delivered up
and removed to the State having jurisdiction of the offence.
Full faith shall be given in each State to the acts of the Legislatures, and
to the records and judicial proceedings of the Courts and magistrates of every
New States lawfully constituted or established within the limits of the
United States may be admitted, by the Legislature, into this Government; but to
such admission the consent of two thirds of the members present in each House
shall be necessary. If a new State shall arise within the limits of any of the
present States, the consent of the Legislatures of such States shall be also
necessary to its admission. If the admission be consented to, the new States
shall be admitted on the same terms with the original States. But the
Legislature may make conditions with the new States, concerning the public debt
which shall be then subsisting.
The United States shall guaranty to each State a Republican form of
Government; and shall protect each State against foreign invasions, and, on the
application of its Legislature, against domestic violence.
On the application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the States in the
Union, for an amendment of this Constitution, the Legislature of the United
States shall call a Convention for that purpose.
The members of the Legislatures, and the Executive and Judicial officers of
the United States, and of the several States, shall be bound by oath to support
The ratifications of the Conventions of ______ States shall be sufficient
for organizing this Constitution.
This Constitution shall be laid before the United States in Congress
assembled, for their approbation; and it is the opinion of this Convention, that
it should be afterwards submitted to a Convention chosen, 12
under the recommendation of its legislature, in order to receive the
ratification of such Convention.
To introduce this government, it is the opinion of this Convention, that
each assenting Convention should notify its assent and ratification to the
United States in Congress assembled; that Congress, after receiving the assent
and ratification of the Conventions of ______ States, should appoint and publish
a day, as early as may be, and appoint a place for commencing proceedings under
this Constitution; that after such publication, the Legislatures of the several
States should elect members of the Senate, and direct the election of members of
the House of Representatives; and that the members of the Legislature should
meet at the time and place assigned by Congress, and should, as soon as may be,
after their meeting, choose the President of the United States, and proceed to
execute this Constitution."
A motion was made to adjourn till Wednesday, in order to give leisure to
examine the Report; which passed in the negative — N. H. no. Mas. no. Ct.
no. Pa. ay. Md. ay. Virg. ay. N. C. no. S. C. no. 13
The House then adjourned till to morrow 14
1. Madison's printed copy is marked: "As
Reported by Com. of Detail viz of five. Aug. 6. 1787." It is a large folio
of seven pages. In the enumeration of the Articles by a misprint VI. was
repeated, and the alterations in Article VII, and succeeding articles were made
by Madison. In Sec. 11 of Article VI., as it was printed, it appeared: "The
enacting stile of the laws of the United States shall be. 'Be it enacted, and it
is hereby enacted by the House of Representatives, and by the Senate of the
United States, in Congress assembled."' which Madison altered to read: "The
enacting stile of the laws of the United States shall be. 'Be it enacted by the
Senate & representatives in Congress assembled."' The printed copy
among the Madison papers is a duplicate of the copy filed by General Washington
with the papers of the Constitution, and Sec. 11 is there given as actually
printed. Madison accurately transcribed the report for his notes and it is this
copy which is used in the text.
2. The word "Article" is here
inserted in the transcript.
3. The word "in" is here
inserted in the transcript.
4. The word "it" is crossed out
and the word "they" is written above it in the transcript.
5. Section 11 is copied in the transcript
as originally printed. See footnote 14 on p. 471.
6. The word "becomes" is
substituted in the transcript for "become."
7. The letter "r" is stricken
from the word "officer" in the transcript.
8. The word "a" is here inserted
in the transcript.
9. The word "the" is changed to "that"
in the transcript.
10. The syllable "ly" is added
in the transcript to the word "subsequent."
11. The word "that" is omitted
in the transcript.
12. The phrase "in each State"
is here inserted in the transcript.
13. In the transcript the vote reads: "Pennsylvania,
Maryland, Virginia, aye — 3; New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut,
North Carolina, South Carolina, no — 5."
14. The word "at" is here
inserted in the transcript.