Speech Of Charles Pinckney In The Constitutional Convention
July 23, 1787
Monday. July 23. in Convention
<Mr. John Langdon & Mr. Nicholas Gilman from N. Hampshire took their seats.>
Resoln: 17. that provisions ought to be made for future amendments of the articles of Union. Agreed to nem con.
Resoln. 18. “requiring the Legis: Execut: & Judy. of the States to be bound by oath to support the articles of Union”. taken into consideration
Mr. Williamson suggests that a reciprocal oath should be required from the National officer, to support the Governments of the States.
Mr Gerry moved to insert as an amendmt. that the oath of the Officers of the National Government also should extend to the support of the Natl. Govt. which was agreed to nem. con.
Mr. Wilson said he was never fond of oaths, considering them as a left handed security only. A good Govt. did not need them. and a bad one could not or ought not to be support. He was afraid they might too much trammel the the members of the Existing Govt in case future alterations should be necessary; and prove an obstacle to Resol: 17. just agd. to.
Mr Ghorum did not know that oaths would be of much use; but could see no inconsistency between them and the 17. Resol: or any regular amendt. of the Constitution. The oath could only require fidelity to the existing Constitution. A constitutional alteration of the Constitution, could never be regarded as a breach of the Constitution, or of any oath to support it.
Mr Gerry thought with Mr. Ghorum there could be no shadow of inconsistency in the case. Nor could he see any other harm that could result from the Resolution. On the other side he thought one good effect would be produced by it. Hitherto the officers of <the two> Governments had considered them as distinct from, not as parts of the-General System, & had in all cases of interference given a preference to the State Govts. The proposed oaths will cure that error.-
The Resoln. (18). was agreed to nem. con.-
Resol: 19. referring the new constitution to Assemblies to be chosen by the people for the express purpose of ratifying it” was next taken into consideration.
Mr. Elseworth moved that it be referred to the Legislatures of the States for ratification. Mr. Patterson 2ded. the motion.
Col. Mason considered a reference of the plan to the authority of the people as one of the most important and essential of the Resolutions. The Legislatures have no power to ratify it. They are the mere creatures of the State Constitutions, and cannot be greater than their creators. And he knew of no power in any of the Constitutions, he knew there was no power in some of them, that could be competent to this object. Whither then must we resort? To the people with whom all power remains that has not been given up in the Constitutions derived from them. It was of great moment he observed that this doctrine should be cherished as the basis of free Government. Another strong reason was that admitting the Legislatures to have a competent authority, it would be wrong to refer the plan to them, because succeeding Legislatures having equal authority could undo the acts of their predecessors; and the National Govt. would stand in each State on the weak and tottering foundation of an Act of Assembly. There was a remaining consideration of some weight. In some of the States the Govts. were <not> derived from the clear & undisputed authority of the people. This was the case in Virginia. Some of the best & wisest citizens considered the Constitution as established by an assumed authority. A National Constitution derived from such a source would be exposed to the severest criticisms.
Mr Randolph. One idea has pervaded all <our> proceedings, to wit, that opposition as well from the States as from individuals, will be made to the System to be proposed. Will it not then be highly imprudent, to furnish any unnecessary pretext by the mode of ratifying it. Added to other objections agst. a ratification by Legislative authority only, it may be remarked that there have been instances in which the authority of the Common law has been set up in particular States agst. that of the Confederation which has had no higher sanction than Legislative ratification.-Whose opposition will be most likely to be excited agst. the System? That of the local demogagues who will be degraded by it from the importance they now hold. These will spare no efforts to impede that progress in the popular mind which will be necessary to the adoption of the plan, and which every member will find to have taken place in his own, if he will compare is present opinions with those brought with him into the Convention. It is of great importance therefore that the consideration of this subject should be transferred from the Legislatures where this class of men, have their full influence to a field in which their efforts can be less mischievous. It is moreover worthy of consideration that some of the States are averse to any change in their Constitution, and will not take the requisite steps, unless expressly called upon to refer the question to the people.
Mr. Gerry. The arguments of Col. Mason & Mr. Randolph prove too much, they prove an unconstitutionality in the present federal <system> & even in some of the State Govts. Inferences drawn from such a source must be inadmissible. Both the State Govts. & the federal Govt. have been too long acquiesced in, to be now shaken. He considered the Confederation to be paramount to any State Constitution. The last article of it authorizing alterations must consequently be so as well as the others, and everything done in pursuance of the article must have the same high authority with the article.-Great confusion he was confident would result from a recurrence to the people. They would never agree on any thing. He could not see any ground to suppose that the people will do what their rulers will not. The rulers will either conform to, or influence the sense of the people.
Mr. Ghorum was agst. referring the plan to the Legislatures. 1. Men chosen by the people for the particular purpose, will discuss the subject more candidly than members of the Legislature who are to lose the power which is to be given up to the Genl. Govt. 2. Some of the Legislatures are composed of several branches. It will consequently be more difficult in these cases to get the plan through the Legislatures, than thro' a Convention. 3. in the States many of the ablest men are excluded from the Legislatures, but may be elected into a Convention. Among these may be ranked many of the Clergy who are generally friends to good Government. Their services were found to be valuable in the formation & establishment of the Constitution of Massachts. 4. the Legislatures will be interrupted with a variety of little business. by artfully pressing which, designing men will find means to delay from year to year, if not to frustrate altogether the national. 5-If the last art: of the Confedeartion is to be pursued the unanimous concurrence of the States will be necessary. But will any one say. that all the States are to suffer themselves to be ruined, if Rho. Island should persist in her opposition to general measures. Some other States might also tread in her steps. The present advantage which N. York seems to be so much attached to, of taxing her neighbours <by the regulation of her trade>, makes it very probable, that she will be of the number. It would therefore deserve serious consideration whether provision ought not to be made for giving effect to the System without waiting for the unanimous concurrence of the States,
Mr. Elseworth. If there be any Legislatures who should find themselves incompetent to the ratification, he should be content to let them advise with their constituents and pursue such a mode as wd be competent. He thought more was to be expected from the Legislatures than from the people. The prevailing wish of the people in the Eastern States is to get rid of the public debt; and the idea of strengthening the Natl. Govt. carries with it that of strengthening the public debt. It was said by Col. Mason 1. that the Legislatures have no authority in this case. 2. that their successors having equal authority could rescind their acts. As to the 2d. point he could not admit it to be well founded. An Act to which the States by their Legislatures, make themselves parties, becomes a compact from which no one of the parties can recede of itself. As to the 1st. point, he observed that a new sett of ideas seemed to have crept in since the articles of Confederation were established. Conventions of the people, or with power derived expressly from the people, were not then thought of. The Legislatures were considered as competent. Their ratification has been acquiesced in without complaint. To whom have Congs. applied on subsequent occasions for further powers? To the Legislatures; not to the people. The fact is that we exist at present, and we need not enquire how, as a federal Society, united by a charter one article of which is the Legislative that alterations therein may be made by the Legislative authority of the States. It has been said that if the confederation is to be observed, the States mustunanimously concur in the proposed innovations. He would answer that if such were the urgency & necessity of our situation as to warrant a new compact among a part of the States, founded on the consent of the Legislatures.
Mr. Williamson thought the Resoln. (19) so expressed as that it might be submitted either to the Legislatures or to Conventions recommended by the Legislatures. He observed that some Legislatures were evidently unauthorized to ratify the system. He thought too that Conventions were to be preferred as more likely to be composed of the ablest men in the states.
Mr. Govr. Morris considered the inference of Mr. Elseworth from the plea of necessity as applied to the establishment of a new System on ye. consent of the people of a part of the States, in favor of a like establishment on the consent of a part of the Legislatures as a non sequitur. If the Confederation is to be pursued no alteration can be made without the unanimous consent of the Legislatures: Legislative alterations not conformable to the federal compact, would clearly not be valid. The Judges would consider them as null & void. Whereas in case of an appeal to the people of the U. S., the supreme authority, the federal compact may be altered by a majority of them; in like manner as the Constitution of a particular State may be altered by a majority of the people of the State. The amendmt. moved by Mr. Elseworth erroneously supposes that we are proceeding on the basis of the Confederation. This Convention is unknown to the Confederation.
Mr. King thought with Mr. Elseworth that the Legislature had a competent authority, the acquiescence of the people o America in the Confederation, being equivalent to a formal ratification by the people. He thought with Mr. E-also that the plea of necessity was as valid in the one case as in the other. At the same time he preferred a reference to the authority of the people expressly delegated to Conventions, as the most certain means of obviating all disputes & doubts concerning the legitimacy of the new Constitution; as well as the most likely means of drawing forth the best men in the States to decide on it. He remarked that among other objections made in the State of N. York to granting powers to Congs. one had been that such powers as would operate within the State, could not be reconciled to the Constitution; and therefore were not grantible by the Legislative authority. He considered it as of some consequence also to get rid of the scruples which some members of the States Legislatures might derive from their oaths to support & maintain the existing Constitutions.
Mr. <Madison> thought it clear that the Legislatures were incompetent to the proposed changes. These changes would make essential inroads on the State Constitutions, and it would be a novel & dangerous doctrine that a Legislature could change the constitution under which it held its existence. There might indeed be some Constitutions within the Union, which had given, a power to the Legislature to concur in alterations of the federal Compact. But there were certainly some which had not; and in the case of these, a ratification must of necessity be obtained from the people. He considered the difference between a system founded on the Legislatures only, and one founded on the people, to be the true difference between a league or treaty, and a Constitution. The former in point of moral obligation might be as inviolable as the latter. In point of political operation, there were two important distinctions in favor of the latter. 1. A law violating a treaty ratified by a preexisting law, might be respected by the Judges as a law, though an unwise or perfidious one. A law violating a constitution established by the people themselves, would be considered y the Judges as null & void. 2. The doctrine laid down by the law of Nations in the case of treaties is that a breach of any one article by any of the parties, frees the other parties from their engagements. In the case of a union of people under one Constitution, the nature of the pact has always been understood to exclude such an interpretation. Comparing the two modes in point of expediency he thought all the considerations which recommended this Convention in preference to Congress for proposing the reform were in favor of State Conventions in preference to the Legislatures for examining and adopting it.
On question on Mr Elseworth's motion to refer the plan to the Legislatures of the States
N. H. no. Mas. no. Ct. ay. Pa. no-Del. ay-Md. ay. Va. no. N- C- no. S. C-no. Geo. no. [Ayes-3; noes-7.]
Mr. Govr. Morris moved that the reference of the plan be made to one general Convention, chosen & authorized by the people to consider, amend, & establish the same.-Not seconded.
On question for agreeing to Resolution 19, touching the mode of Ratification <as reported from the Committee of the Whole; viz, to refer the Constn. after the approbation of Congs. to assemblies chosen by the people :>
N. H. ay. Mas- ay. Ct. ay. Pa. ay. Del. no. Md. ay. Va. ay. N. C. ay. S. C. ay. Geo. ay. [Ayes-9; noes-1.]
Mr. Govr. Morris & Mr. King moved that the representation in the second branch consist of members from each State, who shall vote per capita.
Mr Elseworth said he had alway approved of voting in that mode.
Mr. Govr. Morris moved to fill the blank with three. He wished the Senate to be a pretty numerous body. If two members only should be allowed to each State, and a majority be made a quorum the power would be lodged in 14 members, which was too small a number for such a trust.
Mr Ghorum preferred two to three members for the blank. A small number was most convenient for deciding on peace & war &c. which he expected would be vested in the 2d. branch. The number of States will also increase. Kentucky, Vermont the province of Mayne & Franklin will probably soon be added to the present number. He presumed also that some of the largest States would be divided. The strenghth of the general Govt. will lie not in the largeness, but in the smallness of the States.
Col. Mason thought 3 from each State including new States would make the 2d. branch too numerous. Besides other objections, the additional expence ought always to form one, where it was not absolutely necessary.
Mr. Williamson. If the number be too great, the distant States will not be on an equal footing with the nearer States. The latter can more easily send & support their ablest Citizens, He approved of the voting per capita.
On the question for filling the blank with “three”
N. H. no. Mas. no. Cont. no. Pa. ay. Del. no. Va. no. N. C, no. S, C. no. Gee. no. [Ayes-1; noes-8.]
On question for filling it with “two.” Agreed to nem- con,
Mr. L Martin was opposed to voting per Capita, as departing from the idea of theStates being represented in the 2d. branch.
Mr. Carroll, was not struck with any particular objection agst. the mode; but he did not wish so hastily to make so material an innovation.
On the question on the whole motion viz. the 2d, b. to consist of 2 members from each State and to vote per capita.”
N. H. ay. Mas. ay. Ct. ay. Pa. ay. Del. ay. Md. no. Va. ay. N. C. ay. S. C. ay. Geo. ay. [Ayes-9; noes-1.]
Mr. Houston & Mr. Spaight moved” that the appointment of the Executive by Electors chosen by the Legislatures of the States, be reconsidered.” Mr. Houston urged the extreme inconvenience & the considerable expense, of drawing together men from all the States for the single purpose of electing the Chief Magistrate.
On the question which was put without any debate
N. H. ay. Mas. ay. Ct. ay. Pa. no. Del -ay. Md. no. Virga. no. N. C. ay. S. C. ay. Geo. ay. [Ayes-7; noes-3.]
Ordered that to morrow be assigned for the reconsideration. <Cent & Pena. no-all the rest ay->
Mr. Gerry moved that the proceedings of the Convention for the establishment of a Natl. Govt. <except the part relating to the Executive>, be referred to a Committee to prepare & report a Constitution conformable thereto.
Genl. Pinkney reminded the Convention that if the Committee should fail to insert some security to the Southern States agst. an emancipation of slaves, and taxes on exports, he shd. be bound by duty to his State to vote agst. their Report.-
The appt. of a Come. as moved by Mr. Gerry. Agd. to nem. con.
Shall the Come. consist of 10 members” <one from each State prest.>.-All the States were no. except Delaware. ay.
Shall it consist of 7. members.
N. H. ay Mas. ay. Ct. ay. Pa. no. Del. no. Md. ay. Va. no. N. C. no. S. C. ay. Geo. no. [Ayes-5; noes-5.] The question being lost <by an equal division of Votes.>
It was agreed nem-con-that the Commttee consist of 5 members, <to be appointed tomorrow.>
Speeches Of John Rutledge And Charles Pinckney In The Constitutional Convention, August 21, 1787
Tuesday. August 21. in Convention
Governour Livingston, from the Committee of Eleven to whom was referred the propositions respecting the debts of the several States, and also the Militia, entered on the 18th.
inst: delivered the following report:
“The Legislature of the U.S. shall have power to fulfil the engagements which have been entered into by Congress, and to discharge as well the debts of the U-S: as the debts incurred by the several States during the late war, for the common defence and general welfare”
“To make laws for organizing arming and disciplining the Militia, and for governing such part of them as may be employed in the service of the U-S reserving to the States respectively, the appointment of the officers, and the authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by the U. States”>
Mr. Gerry considered giving the power only, without adopting the obligation, as destroying the security now enjoyed by the public creditors of the U-States. He enlarged on the merit of this class of citizens, and the solemn faith which had been pledged under the existing Confederation. If their situation should be changed as here proposed great opposition would be excited agst. the plan- He urged also that as the States had made different degrees of exertion to sink their respective debts, those who had done most would be alarmed, if they were now to be saddled with a share of the debts of States which had done least.
Mr. Sherman. It means neither more nor less than the confederation as it relates to this subject.
Mr Elseworth moved that the Report delivered in by Govr. Livingston should lie on the table. Agreed to nem. con.
Art: VII. sect. 3. resumed.-Mr. Dickenson moved to postpone this in order to reconsider Art: IV. sect. 4. and to limit the number of representatives to be allowed to the large States. Unless this were done the small States would be reduced to entire insignificancy, and encouragement given to the importation of slaves.
Mr. Sherman would agree to such a reconsideration, but did not see the necessity of postponing the section before the House.-Mr. Dickenson withdrew his motion.
Art: VII. sect. 3. then agreed to <10 ays. Delaware alone being no.>
Mr. Sherman moved <to add to sect 3, the following clause “and all accounts of supplies furnished, services performed, and monies advanced by the several States to the U-States, or by the U. S. to the several States shall be adjusted by the same rule.”>
Mr. Governr. Morris 2ds. the motion.
Mr. Ghorum, thought it wrong to insert this in the Constitution. The Legislature will no doubt do what is right. The present Congress have such a power and are now exercising it.
Mr Sherman unless some rule be expressly given none will exist under the new system.
Mr. Elseworth. <Though> The contracts of Congress will be binding, there will be no rule for executing them on the States;-and one ought to be provided.
Mr Sherman withdrew his motion to make way for one of Mr Williamson to add to sect-3. “By this rule the <several> quotas of the States <shall be determined in> Settling the expences of the late war”-
Mr. Carrol brought into view the difficulty that might arise on this subject from the establishment of the Constitution as intended without the Unanimous consent of the States
Mr Williamson's motion was postponed nem. con.
Art: VI sect. 12. which had been postponed Aug: 15. was now called for by Col. Mason. who wished to know how the proposed amendment as to money bills would be decided, before he agreed to any further points.
Mr. Gerry's motion of yesterday that previous to a census, direct taxation be proportioned on the States according to the number of Representatives, was taken up-He observed that the principal acts of Government would probably take place within that period, and it was but reasonable that the States should pay in proportion to their share in them.
Mr. Elseworth thought such a rule unjust-there was a great difference between the number of Represents. and the number of inhabitants as a rule in this case. Even if the former were proportioned as nearly as possible to the latter, it would be a very inaccurate rule- A State might have one Representative only, that had inhabitants enough for 11/2 or more, if fractions could be applied-&c-. He proposed to amend the motion by adding <the words “subject to a final liquidation by the foregoing rule when a census shall have been taken.”>
Mr. M<adison.> The last appointment of Congs., on which the number of Representatives was founded, was conjectural and meant only as a temporary rule till a Census should be established.
Mr. Read. The requisitions of Congs. had been accommodated to the impoverishments produced by the war; and to other local and temporary circumstances-
Mr. Williamson opposed Mr Gerry's motion
Mr Langdon was not here when N. H. was allowed three members. If it was more than her share; he did not wish for them.
Mr. Butler contended warmly for Mr Gerry's motion as founded in reason and equity.
Mr. Elseworth's proviso to Mr. Gerry's motion was agreed to nem con.
Mr. King thought the power of taxation given to the Legislature rendered the motion of Mr Gerry altogether unnecessary.
On Mr Gerry's motion as amended
N- H- no Mas- ay. Ct no N- J- no. Pa. no- Del. no- Md no- Va no- N- Ci- divd. S- C. ay. Geo. no- [Ayes-2; noes-8; divided-1.]
On a question Shall art: VI sect. 12 with the amendment to it proposed & entered on the 15 instant, as called for by Col Mason be now taken up? <it passed in the Negative.>
N. H. ay- Mas- no- Ct ay- N- J- no- Pa no- Del- no- Md ay. Va ay. N- C- ay- S- C- no- Geo. no- [Ayes-5; noes-6.]
Mr L. Martin. The power of taxation is most likely to be criticised by the public. Direct taxation should not be used but in case; of absolute necessity; and then the States will be best Judges of the mode. He therefore moved <the following addition to sect: 3. Art: VII “And whenever the Legislature of the U: S: shall find it necessary that revenue should be raised by direct taxation, having apportioned the same, according to the above rule on the several States,-requisitions shall be made of the respective States to pay into the Continental Treasury their respective quotas within a time in the said requisitions specified; and in case of any of the States failing to comply with such requisitions, then and then only to devise and pass acts directing the mode, and authorizing the collection of the same”>
Mr McHenry 2ded. the motion-there was no debate, and on the question
N- H- no- Ct. no. N. J. ay. Pena. no. Del. no. Md. divd. (Jenifer & Carrel no). Va. no. N. C. no. S. C. no. Geo. no. [Ayes-1: noes-8; divided-1.]
Art. VII. sect. 4.-Mr. Langdon. by this section the States are left at liberty to tax exports. N. H. therefore with other non-exporting States, will be subject to be taxed by the States exporting its produce. This could not be admitted. It seems to be feared that the Northern States will oppress the trade of the Southn. This may be guarded agst by requiring the concurrence of 2/3 or 3/4 of the legislature in such cases.
Mr Elseworth-It is best as it stands-The power of regulating trade between the States will protect them agst each other-Should this not be the case, the attempts of one to tax the produce of another passing through its hands, will force a direct exportation and defeat themselves-There are solid reasons agst. Congs taxing exports. 1. it will discourage industry, as taxes on imports discourage luxury. 2. The produce of different States is such as to prevent uniformity in such taxes. there are indeed but a few articles that could be taxed at all; as Tobo. rice & indigo, and a tax on these alone would be partial & unjust. 3. The taxing of exports would engender incurable jealousies.
Mr Williamson. Tho' N- C. has been taxed by Virga by a duty on 12,000 Hhs of her Tobo. exported thro' Virga yet he would never agree to this power. Should it take take place, it would destroy the last hope of an adoption of the plan.
Mr. Govr Morris. These local considerations ought not to impede the general interest. There is great weight in the argument, that the exporting States will tax the produce of their uncommercial neighbors. The power of regulating the trade between Pa & N. Jersey will never prevent the former from taxing the latter. Nor will such a tax force a direct exportation from N- Jersey- The advantages possessed by a large trading City, outweigh the disadvantage of a moderate duty; and will retain the trade in that channel- If no tax can be laid on exports, an embargo cannot be laid, though in time of war such a measure may be of critical importance -Tobacco, lumber, and live-stock are three objects belonging to different States, of which great advantage might be maed by a power to tax exports-To these maybe added Ginseng and Masts for Ships by which a tax might be thrown on other nations. The idea of supplying the West Indies with lumber from Nova Scotia, is one of the many follies of lord Sheffield's pamphlets. The State of the Country also, will change, and render duties on exports, as skins, beaver & other peculiar raw materials, politic in the view of encouraging American Manufactures.
Mr. Butler was strenuously opposed to a power over exports; as unjust and alarming to the staple States.
Mr. Langdon suggested a prohibition on the States from taxing the produce of other States exported from their harbours.
Mr. Dickenson. The power of taxing exports may be inconvenient at present; but it must be of dangerous consequence to prohibit it with respect to all articles and for ever. He thought it would be better to except particular articles from the power.
Mr. Sherman- It is best to prohibit the National legislature in all cases. The States will never give up all power over trade. An enumeration of particular articles would be difficult invidious and improper.
Mr M<adison> As we ought to be governed by national and permanent views, it is a sufficient argument for giving ye power over exports that a tax, tho' it may not be expedient at present, may be so hereafter. A proper regulation of exports may & probably will be necessary hereafter, and for the same purposes as the regulation of-imports; viz, for revenue-domestic manufactures-and procuring equitable regulations from other nations. An Embargo may be of absolute necessity, and can alone be effectuated by the Genl. authority. The regulation of trade between State and State can not effect more than indirectly to hinder a State from taxing its own exports; by authorizing its Citizens to carry their commodities freely into a neighboring State which might decline taxing exports in order to draw into its channel the trade of its neighbors-As to the fear of disproportionate burdens on the more exporting States, it might be remarked that it was agreed on all hands that the revenue wd. principally be drawn from trade, and as only a given revenue would be needed, it was not material whether all should be drawn wholly from imports-or half from those, and half from exports-The imports and exports must be pretty nearly equal in every State-and relatively the same among the different States.
Mr Elseworth did not conceive an embargo by the Congress interdicted by this section.
Mr. McHenry conceived that power to be included in the power of war.
Mr. Wilson. Pennsylvania exports the produce of Maryd. N. Jersey, Delaware & will by & by when the River Delaware is opened, export for N- York. In favoring the general power over exports therefore, he opposed the particular interest of his State. He remarked that the power had been attacked by reasoning which could only have held good in case the Genl Govt. had been compelled, instead of authorized, to lay duties on exports. To deny this power is to take from the Common Govt. half the regulation of trade-It was his opinion that a power over exports might be more effectual than that over imports in obtaining beneficial treaties of commerce.
Mr. Gerry was strenuously opposed to the power over exports. It might be made use of to compel the States to comply with the will of the Genl Government, and to grant it any new powers which might be demanded-We have given it more power already than we know how will be exercised-it will enable the Genl Govt to oppress the States, as much as Ireland is oppressed by Great Britain.
Mr. Fitzimmons would be agst. a tax on exports to be laid immediately; but was for giving a power of laying the tax when a proper time may call for it-This would certainly be the case when America should become a manufacturing country-He illustrated his argument by the duties in
G- Britain on wool &c.
Col. Mason-If he were for reducing the States to mere corporations as seemed to be the tendency of some arguments, he should be for subjecting their exports as well as imports to a power of general taxation-He went on a principle often advanced & in which he concurred, that “a majority when interested will oppress the minority”. This maxim had been verified by our own Legislature (of Virginia). If we compare the States in this point of view the 8 Northern States have an interest different from the five Southn. States,-and have in one branch of the legislature 36 votes agst 29. and in the other, in the proportion of 8 agst 5. The Southern States had therefore good ground for their suspicions. The case of Exports was not the same with that of imports. The latter were the same throughout the States: the former very different. As to Tobacco other nations do raise it, and are capable of raising it as well as Virga. &c. The impolicy of taxing that article had been demonstrated by the experiment of Virginia-
Mr Clymer remarked that every State might reason with regard to its particular productions, in the same manner as the Southern States. The middle States may apprehend an oppression of their wheat flour, provisions, &c. and with more reason, as these articles were exposed to a competition in foreign markets not incident to Tobo. rice &c-They may apprehend also combinations agst. them between the Eastern & Southern States as much as the latter can apprehend them between the Eastern & middle-He moved as a qualification of the power of taxing Exports that it should be restrained to regulations of trade, <by inserting after the word “duty” Sect 4 art VII the words> “for the purpose of revenue.”
On Question on Mr. Clymer's motion
N. H- no- Mas. no. Ct. no. N. J- ay. Pa ay. Del. ay. Md. no. Va. no. N- C. no. Geo. no. [Ayes-3; noes-7.]
Mr. M<adison,> In order to require 2/3 of each House to tax exports-as a lesser evil than a total prohibition <moved to insert the words “unless by consent of two thirds of the Legislature”>, Mr Wilson 2ds. and on this question, <it passed in the Negative.>
N. H. ay. Mas- ay. Ct. no. N. J. ay. Pa. ay. Del. ay. Md. no. Va. no. (<Col. Mason, Mr. Randolph Mr. Blair no.> Genl Washington & J. M. ay.) N. C. no. S-C. no. Geo. no. [Ayes-5; noes-6.]
Question on sect: 4. art VII. as far as to “no tax shl. be laid on exports-<It passed in the affirmative>-
N. H. no. Mas. ay. Ct. ay. N-J. no. Pa. no-Del. no. Md ay. Va. ay (Genl W. & J. M. no.) N. C. ay. S. C. ay, Geo-ay. [Ayes-7; noes-4.]
Mr L-Martin, proposed to vary the sect: 4. art VII so as to allow a prohibition or tax on the importation of slaves. 1, As five slaves are to be counted as 3 free men in the apportionment of Representatives; such a clause wd. leave an encouragement to this trafic. 2 slaves weakened one part of the Union which the other parts were bound to protect: the privilege of importing them was therefore unreasonable-3. 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 & humanity had nothing to do with this question-Interest alone is the governing principle with Nations-The true question at present is whether the Southn. 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 Congress, that State has expressly & 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 & Maryland have already done.
Speeches Of Charles Pinckney, Abraham Baldwin, And Hugh Williamson In The Constitutional Convention
August 22, 1787
Wednesday August 22. in Convention
Art. VII sect 4. resumed. 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, & 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 U. S. & that the good sense of the several States would probably by degrees compleat it. He urged on the Convention the necessity of despatch<ing its business.>
Col. Mason. This infernal trafic originated in the avarice of British Merchants. The British Govt. 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 & slaves, in case other means of obtaining its submission should fail. Maryland & Virginia he said had already prohibited the importation of slaves expressly. N. Carolina had done the same in substance. All this would be in vain if S. Carolina & 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 thro' S. Carolina & Georgia. Slavery discourages arts & manufactures. The poor despise labor when performed by slaves. They prevent the immigration of Whites, who really enrich & 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 & 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 Genl. Govt. 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 & 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 S. Carolina & 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. Pinkney-If slavery be wrong, it is justified by the example of all the world. He cited the case of Greece Rome & other antient States; the sanction given by France England, Holland & other modern States. In all ages one half of mankind have been slaves, If the S. States were let alone they will probably of themselves stop importations. He wd. himself as a Citizen of S. 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 Pinkney declared it to be his firm opinion that if himself & all his colleagues were to sign the Constitution & use their personal influence , it would be of no avail towards obtaining the assent of their Constituents. S. Carolina & Georgia cannot do without slaves. As to Virginia she will gain by stopping the importations. Her slaves will rise in value, & she has more than she wants. It would be unequal to require S. C. & Georgia to confederate on such unequal terms. He said the Royal assent before the Revolution had never been refused to S. 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 S. Carola 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 Genl Governmt 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-& 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 carryed their ethics beyond the mere equality of men, extending their humanity to the claims of the whole animal creation.
Mr. Wilson observed that if S. C. & 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 & safety that the importation of slaves should be authorized 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 Govt. not to the States particularly interested. If Engd. & 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 Southn. States would refuse to confederate on the account apprehended; especially as the power was not likely to be immediately exercised by the Genl. Government.
Mr Williamson stated the law of N. 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, & £50 on each from a State licensing manumission. He thought the S. 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 & 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 Northn. & middle States.
Mr. Langdon was strenuous for giving the power to the Genl. Govt. He cd. 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.
Genl. Pinkney thought himself bound to declare candidly that he did not think S. 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 he thought right & wch. wd. remove one difficulty that had been started.
Mr. Rutlidge. If the Convention thinks that N. C; S. C. & 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. He was strenuous agst. striking out the Section, and seconded the motion of Genl. Pinkney for a commitment.
Mr Govr. Morris wished the whole subject to be committed including the clauses relating to taxes on exports & to a navigation act. These things may form a bargain among , the Northern & Southern States.
Mr. Butler declared that he never would agree to the power of taxing exports.
Mr. Sherman said it was better to let the S. States import slaves than to part with them, if they made that a sine qua non. He was opposed to a tax on slaves imported as making the matter worse, because it implied they were property. He acknowledged that if the power of prohibiting the importation should be given to the Genl. Government that it would be exercised. He thought it would be its duty to exercise the power.
Mr. Read was for the commitment provided the clause; concerning taxes on exports should also be committed.
Mr. Sherman observed that that clause had been agreed to & therefore could not committed.
Mr. Randolph was for committing in order that some middle ground might, if possible, be found. He could never agree to the clause as it stands. He wd. sooner risk the constitution-He dwelt on the dilemma to which the Convention was exposed. By agreeing to the clause, it would revolt the Quakers,.the Methodists, and many others in the States having no slaves. On the other hand, two States might be lost to the Union. Let us then, he said, try the chance of a commitment.
On the question for committing the remaining part of Sect 4 & 5. of art: 7. N. H. no. Mas. abst. Cont. ay N. J. ay Pa. no. Del. no Maryd ay. Va ay. N. C. ay S. C. ay. Geo. ay. [Ayes-7; noes-3; absent-1.]
Mr. Pinkney & Mr. Langdon moved to commit sect. 6. as to navigation act <by two thirds of each House.>
Mr. Gorham did not see the propriety of it. Is it meant to require a greater proportion of votes? He desired it to be remembered that the Eastern States had no motive to Union but a commercial one. They were able to protect themselves. They were not afraid of external danger, and did not need the aid of the Southn States.
Mr. Wilson wished for a commitment in order to reduce the proportion of votes required.
Mr. Elsworth was for taking the plan as it is. This widening of opinions has a threatening aspect. If we do not agree on this middle & moderate ground he was afraid we should lose two States, with such others as may be disposed to stand aloof, should fly into a variety of shapes & directions, and most probably into several confederations and not without bloodshed.
On Question for committing 6 sect. as to navigation Act to a member from each State-N. H. ay-Mas. ay. Ct no. N. J. no. Pa. ay. Del. ay. Md. ay. Va. ay. N. C. ay. S. C. ay. Geo. ay. [Ayes-9; noes-2.]
The Committee appointed were Mr. Langdon, King, Johnson, Livingston, Clymer, Dickenson, L. Martin, Madison, Williamson, C. C. Pinkney, & Baldwin.
To this committee were referred also the two clauses above mentioned, of the 4 & 5. sect: of art. 7.
Mr. Rutlidge, from the Committee to whom were referred on the 18 & 20th. instant the propositions of Mr. Madison & Mr. Pinkney, made the Report following.- (<Here insert>----the Report (from) the Journal of the Convention of this date.)-
A motion to rescind the order of the House respecting the hours of meeting & adjourning, was negatived:
<Mas: Pa. Del. Mard. . . . . . . . . . ay
N. H. Con: N. J. Va. N. C. S. C. Geo. no>
Mr. Gerry & Mr. McHenry moved to insert after the 2d. sect. art: 7. the clause following to wit, “The Legislature shall pass no bill of attainder nor <any> ex post facto law”
Mr. Gerry urged the necessity of this prohibition, which he said was greater in the National than the State Legislature, because the number of members in the former being fewer, they were on that account the more to b feared.
Mr. Govr. Morris thought the precaution as to ex post facto laws unnecessary; but essential as to bills of attainder
Mr Elseworth contended that there was no lawyer, no civilian who would not say that ex post facto laws were void of themselves. It cannot then be necessary to prohibit them.
Mr. Wilson was against inserting anything in the Constitution as to ex post facto laws. It will bring reflexions on the Constitution-and proclaim that we are ignorant of the first principles of Legislation, or are constituting a Government which will be so.
The question being divided, The first part of the motion relating to bills of attainder was agreed to nem. contradicente.
On the second part relating to ex post facto laws-
Mr Carrol remarked that experience overruled all other calculations. It had proved that in whatever light they might be viewed by civilians or others, the State Legislatures had passed them, and they had taken effect.
Mr. Wilson. If these prohibitions in the State Constitutions have no effect, it will be useless to insert them in this Constitution. Besides, both sides will agree to the principle & will differ as to its application.
Mr. Williamson. Such a prohibitory clause is in the Constitution of N. Carolina, and tho it has been violated, it has done good there & may do good here, because the Judges can take hold of it
Docr. Johnson thought the clause unnecessary, and implying an improper suspicion of the National Legislature.
Mr. Rutlidge was in favor of the clause
On the question for inserting the prohibition of ex post facto laws.
N-H-ay-Mas. ay. Cont. no. N. J-no. Pa. no. Del-ay. Md. ay. Virga. ay N-C. divd. S. C. ay-Geo. ay. [Ayes-7; noes-3; divided-1.]
The report of the committee of 5. made by Mr. Rutlidge, was taken up & then postponed that each member Might furnish himself with a copy.
The Report of the Committee of Eleven delivered in & entered on the Journal of the 21st. inst. was then taken up and the first clause containing the words “The Legislature of the U. S. shall have power to fulfil the engagements which have been entered into by Congress” being under consideration,
Mr. Elsworth argued that they were unnecessary. The U-S-heretofore entered into Engagements by Congs who were their Agents. They will hereafter be bound to fulfil them by their new agents.
Mr Randolph thought such a provision necessary; for though the U. States will be bound, the new Govt will have no authority in the case unless it be given to them.
Mr. Madison thought it necessary to give the authority in order to prevent misconstruction. He mentioned the attempts made by the Debtors to British subjects to shew that contracts under the old Government, were dissolved by the Revolution which destroyed the political identity of the Society.
Mr Gerry thought it essential that some explicit provision should be made on this subject, so that no pretext might remain for getting rid of the public engagements.
Mr. Govr. Morris moved by way of amendment to substitute-“The Legislature shall discharge the debts & fulfil the engagements <of the U. States>”.
It was moved to vary the amendment by striking out “discharge the debts” & to insert “liquidate the claims”, which being negatived,
The amendment moved by Mr. Govr. Morris was agreed to all the States being in the affirmative.
It was moved & 2ded. to strike the following words-out of the 2d. clause of the report” and the authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by the U-S.” <Before a question was taken>
The House adjourned