The Debates in the
Federal Convention of 1787
MONDAY SEPr 3. 1787
1 IN CONVENTION
Mr. GOVr. MORRIS
moved to amend the Report concerning the respect to be paid to Acts Records &c
of one State, in other States (see Sepr. 1.) by
striking out "judgments obtained in one State shall have in another"
and to insert the word "thereof" after the word "effect"
Col: MASON favored the motion, particularly if the "effect"
was to be restrained to judgments & Judicial proceedings Mr. WILSON remarked, that if the Legislature were not allowed to
declare the effect the provision would amount to nothing more than what
now takes place among all Independent Nations.
thought the amendment as worded would authorise the Genl. Legislature to declare
the effect of Legislative acts of one State, in another State.
Mr. RANDOLPH considered it as
strengthening the general objection agst. the plan, that its definition of the
powers of the Government was so loose as to give it opportunities of usurping
all the State powers. He was for not going farther than the Report, which
enables the Legislature to provide for the effect of Judgments.
On the amendment as moved by Mr. Govr. Morris
Mas. ay. Ct. ay. N. J. ay. Pa. ay. Md. no. Va. no. N. C. ay. S. C. ay. Geo.
On motion of Mr. MADISON, 3
"ought to" was
4 struck out, and "shall"
inserted; and "shall" between "Legislature" & "by
general laws" struck out, and "may" inserted, nem: con:
On the question to agree to the report as amended viz "Full faith &
credit shall be given in each State to the public acts, records & judicial
proceedings of every other State, and the Legislature may by general laws
prescribe the manner in which such acts records & proceedings shall be
proved, and the effect thereof" 5
Agreed to witht. a count of 6 Sts.
The clause in the Report "To establish uniform laws on the subject of
Bankruptcies" being taken up.
Mr. SHERMAN observed that Bankruptcies
were in some cases punishable with death by the laws of England, & He did
not chuse to grant a power by which that might be done here.
Mr. GOVr. MORRIS
said this was an extensive & delicate subject. He would agree to it because
he saw no danger of abuse of the power by the Legislature of the U. S.
On the question to agree to the clause
N. H. ay. Mas. ay. Ct. no. N. J. ay. Pa. ay. Md. ay. Va. ay. N. C. ay. S. C.
ay. Geo. ay. 7
Mr. PINKNEY moved to postpone the Report
of the Committee of Eleven (see Sepr. 1) in order to take up the following,
"The members of each House shall be incapable of holding any office
under the U. S. for which they or any other for their benefit, receive any
salary, fees or emoluments of any kind, and the acceptance of such office shall
vacate their seats respectively." He was strenuously opposed to an
ineligibility of members to office, and therefore wished to restrain the
proposition to a mere incompatibility. He considered the eligibility of members
of the Legislature to the honorable offices of Government, as resembling the
policy of the Romans, in making the temple of virtue the road to the temple of
On this question
N. H. no. Mas. no. Ct. no. N. J. no. Pa. ay. Md. no. Va. no. N. C. ay. S. C.
no. Geo. no. 8
Mr. KING moved to insert the word "created"
before the word "during" in the Report of the Committee. This he said
would exclude the members of the first Legislature under the Constitution, as
most of the offices wd. then be created.
Mr. WILLIAMSON 2ded. the motion. He did
not see why members of the Legislature should be ineligible to vacancies
happening during the term of their election.
Mr. SHERMAN was for entirely
incapacitating members of the Legislature. He thought their eligibility to
offices would give too much influence to the Executive. He said the incapacity
ought at least to be extended to cases where salaries should be increased
as well as created, during the term of the member. He mentioned also the
expedient by which the restriction could be evaded to wit: an existing officer
might be translated to an office created, and a member of the Legislature be
then put into the office vacated.
Mr. GOVr. MORRIS
contended that the eligibility of members to office wd. lessen the influence of
the Executive. If they cannot be appointed themselves, the Executive will
appoint their relations & friends, retaining the service & votes of the
members for his purposes in the Legislature. Whereas the appointment of the
members deprives him of such an advantage.
Mr. GERRY. thought the eligibility of
members would have the effect of opening batteries agst. good officers, in order
to drive them out & make way for members of the Legislature.
Mr. GORHAM was in favor of the
amendment. Without it we go further than has been done in any of the States, or
indeed any other Country. The experience of the State Governments where there
was no such ineligibility, proved that it was not necessary; on the contrary
that the eligibility was among the inducements for fit men to enter into the
Mr. RANDOLPH was inflexibly fixed
against inviting men into the Legislature by the prospect of being appointed to
Mr. BALDWIN remarked that the example of
the States was not applicable. The Legislatures there are so numerous that an
exclusion of their members would not leave proper men for offices. The case
would be otherwise in the General Government.
Col: MASON. Instead of excluding merit, the
ineligibility will keep out corruption, by excluding office-hunters.
Mr. WILSON considered the exclusion of
members of the Legislature, as increasing the influence of the Executive as
observed by Mr. Govr. Morris at the same time that it would diminish, the
general energy of the Government. He said that the legal disqualification for
office would be odious to those who did not wish for office, but did not wish
either to be marked by so degrading a distinction.
Mr. PINKNEY. The first Legislature will
be composed of the ablest men to be found. The States will select such to put
the Government into operation. Should the Report of the Committee or even the
amendment be agreed to, The great offices, even those of the Judiciary
Department which are to continue for life, must be filled whilst those most
capable of filling them will be under a disqualification.
On the question on Mr. King's motion
N. H. ay. Mas. ay. Ct. no. N. J. no. Pa. ay. Md. no. Va. ay. N. C. ay. S. C.
no. Geo. no. 9
The amendment being thus lost by the equal division of the States, Mr.
WILLIAMSON moved to insert the words "created or
the emoluments whereof shall have been increased" before the word "during"
in the Report of the Committee
Mr. KING 2ded. the motion, &
On the question
N. H. ay. Mas. ay. Ct. no. N. J. no. Pa. ay. Md. no. Va. ay
N. C. ay. S. C. no. Geo. divided. 10
The last clause rendering a Seat in the Legislature & an office
incompatible was agreed to nem. con:
The Report as amended & agreed to is as follows.
"The members of each House shall be ineligible to any Civil office
under the authority of the U. States, created, or the emoluments whereof shall
have been increased during the time for which they shall respectively be elected
— and no person holding any office under the U. S. shall be a member of
either House during his continuance in office."
1. The year "1787" is omitted in
2. In the transcript the vote reads: "Massachusetts,
Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, South Carolina, aye —
6; Maryland, Virginia, Georgia, no — 3."
3. The expression "the words" is
here inserted in the transcript.
4. The word "was" is crossed out
in the transcript and "were" is written above it.
5. The words "it was" are here
inserted in the transcript.
6. The word "the" is here
inserted in the transcript.
7. In place of the vote by States the
transcript reads: "Pennsylvania. North Carolina, aye — 2; New
Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia, South
Carolina, Georgia, no — 8."
9. In the transcript the vote reads: "New
Hampshire, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina, aye — 5;
Connecticut, New Jersey, Maryland, South Carolina, aye — 4; Georgia,