Constitutional Convention begins

Constitutional Convention begins

Four years after the United States won its independence from England, 55 state delegates, including George Washington, James Madison and Benjamin Franklin, convene in Philadelphia to compose a new U.S. constitution.

The Articles of Confederation, ratified several months before the British surrender at Yorktown in 1781, provided for a loose confederation of U.S. states, which were sovereign in most of their affairs. On paper, Congress—the central authority—had the power to govern foreign affairs, conduct war, and regulate currency, but in practice these powers were sharply limited because Congress was given no authority to enforce its requests to the states for money or troops. By 1786, it was apparent that the Union would soon break up if the Articles of Confederation were not amended or replaced. Five states met in Annapolis, Maryland, to discuss the issue, and all the states were invited to send delegates to a new constitutional convention to be held in Philadelphia.

READ MORE: How the United States Constitution Came to Be

On May 25, 1787, delegates representing every state except Rhode Island convened at Philadelphia’s Pennsylvania State House for the Constitutional Convention. The building, which is now known as Independence Hall, had earlier seen the drafting of the Declaration of Independence and the signing of the Articles of Confederation. The assembly immediately discarded the idea of amending the Articles of Confederation and set about drawing up a new scheme of government. Revolutionary War hero George Washington, a delegate from Virginia, was elected convention president.

During three months of debate, the delegates devised a brilliant federal system characterized by an intricate system of checks and balances. The convention was divided over the issue of state representation in Congress, as more populated states sought proportional legislation, and smaller states wanted equal representation. The problem was resolved by the Connecticut Compromise, which proposed a bicameral legislature with proportional representation in the lower house (House of Representatives) and equal representation of the states in the upper house (Senate).

On September 17, 1787, the Constitution of the United States of America was signed by 38 of the 41 delegates present at the conclusion of the convention. As dictated by Article VII, the document would not become binding until it was ratified by nine of the 13 states.

Beginning on December 7, five states—Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Georgia, and Connecticut—ratified it in quick succession. However, other states, especially Massachusetts, opposed the document, as it failed to reserve un-delegated powers to the states and lacked constitutional protection of basic political rights, such as freedom of speech, religion, and the press. In February 1788, a compromise was reached under which Massachusetts and other states would agree to ratify the document with the assurance that amendments would be immediately proposed. The Constitution was thus narrowly ratified in Massachusetts, followed by Maryland and South Carolina. On June 21, 1788, New Hampshire became the ninth state to ratify the document, and it was subsequently agreed that government under the U.S. Constitution would begin on March 4, 1789.

On September 25, 1789, the first Congress of the United States adopted 12 amendments to the U.S. Constitution–the Bill of Rights–and sent them to the states for ratification. Ten of these amendments were ratified in 1791. In November 1789, North Carolina became the 12th state to ratify the U.S. Constitution. Rhode Island, which opposed federal control of currency and was critical of compromise on the issue of slavery, resisted ratifying the Constitution until the U.S. government threatened to sever commercial relations with the state. On May 29, 1790, Rhode Island voted by two votes to ratify the document, and the last of the original 13 colonies joined the United States. Today the U.S. Constitution is the oldest written national constitution in operation in the world.

WATCH: Secrets of the Founding Fathers on HISTORY Vault


Online Constitutional Convention Begins May 25th

If you've been paying attention, then you know that over the past five years there have been mainstream editorials (NYT, WSJ, WP, etc.) discussing whether or not we ought to convoke a federal convention for the purpose of proposing and deliberating amendments. Unfortunately both the right and the left political establishments have framed a convention as if it would have the power to ratify its own proposals. Of course that's ridiculous, because of course the three branches of government would deny such. Why is the GOP and groups like Common Cause promoting the idea that a convention might destroy the Constitution? Why are both political parties against it? When strange bedfellows appear, you can bet something profound is hidden from view.

Back in 2007, along with Michigan Chief Justice Tom Brennan and constitutional scholar Bill Walker, I was co-founder of Friends of the Article V Convention. We placed congressional records into PDF format showing the states have legally satisfied the convention clause many times over and that each member of Congress is engaged in federal criminal activity for failing to issue the call. Whether you believe that or not, you may have noticed that in the last several months many things now take place online. So why not an online convention to carry out what our society has been pussyfooting around for decades?

If you're an American and still paying attention you're probably outraged in one regard or another about how politicians act and how government responds. OK, here's your chance to lead by example. Here's your chance to do what our society is being denied by the federal government. The online convention is secured in a cloud, there are no cookies, no phishing, no advertising just Americans discussing/building consensus about constitutional amendments.

On matters of procedure, threads commented upon go to the top. Meaning, if someone posts an amendment to the National Floor it will enter in at the top. If the proposal generates discussion it will remain at or near the top until consensus is reached, and then will fall down the list as commenting dissipates. Proposals no one feels like wasting time on, because a delegate figures such could never get seven out of ten Americans to approve, will also fall down the list (that said, if a proposal has been overlooked/deserves more consideration, a delegate can comment and send it right back to the top).

When it appears no one has any more amendments to propose, someone else makes a motion to vote. At that point, I will take each thread/proposal and pin it to the top of the National Floor with a voting function. I will post five proposals at a time and give delegates 48 hours to vote on each slate of five when we've voted on everything, we're done. How long this will take is of course uncertain, but delegates can use discretion and wait until other proposals have reached consensus and begin to fall down the list before posting a new proposal. Meaning, delegates don't need to post all their proposals on May 25th.

Of course there will be delegates aiming for same/similar amendment language, and they should comment/caucus on the initial proposal, asking the delegate who proposed it if they would consider friendly/additional language. If the delegate proposing does not want to allow any alterations to their language, then any other delegate can propose what they think is a better version of the idea and let the final vote determine which is more worthy (we may end up with proposals of the same spirit, but different language).

Delegates can make motions at any time by typing MOTION: (and description) in the subject line of a thread. If a motion generates discussion, it too will remain at or near the top of the National Floor and can be dealt with by the convention.

Delegates who post an amendment proposal should place the initial attempt at language in bold and/or italic, and then edit the initial post to reflect any additions/alterations generated by discourse within the thread.

(Note: You can view every article as one long page if you sign up as an Advocate Member, or higher).

John De Herrera Social Media Pages:

Writer/artist/activist from California, with a degree in Creative Studies from the University of California at Santa Barbara. Advocating for the convention clause of Article V since 2001.

OpEdNews depends upon can't survive without your help.

If you value this article and the work of OpEdNews, please either Donate or Purchase a premium membership.


New constitution provided for three branches of government, rather than one

Although many of the delegates arrived in Philadelphia expecting to revise the Articles of Confederation, some had grander ideas. With the help of James Madison, fellow delegates from Virginia offered a new plan that set the stage for a fundamental transformation of the government. It proposed three branches, rather than one, and dividing Congress into two houses, both of which would be represented according to population rather than equally as in the unicameral Congress under the Articles of Confederation.

The Virginia Plan encountered opposition in the form of the New Jersey Plan, whose proponents were less devoted to a strong national government and more concerned with maintaining states&rsquo existing equality in Congress. In time, the Connecticut Compromise resolved this issue by allocating representation according to population in the U.S. House of Representation while retaining equal state representation in the Senate.

The convention adopted other compromises, including one that essentially left slavery in place where it existed, allowed the slave trade to continue for 20 years, and provided for representation of slaves by designating each one as three-fifths a free person. Delegates also devised the electoral college for selecting the president and adopted a much more extensive list of powers for Congress than that body held under the Articles of Confederation.


The Rules of the Convention

Monday May 14 was the day chosen by the Annapolis convention and confirmed by the Confederation Congress for the beginning of the Grand Convention. But only eight delegates were present on May 14 – four from Pennsylvania and four from Virginia. On May 25, seven of the states met their internal quorum requirement and so a majority (seven) of the thirteen states were represented at the Constitutional Convention. The deliberations could finally begin.

The rules adopted reinforced an irony: a convention called to reconsider the efficacy of the Articles of Confederation began by adopting, without argument, five voting rules of the Articles: (1) a quorum required a majority of states, (2) each state was allotted one vote, (3) the voting was to be by states and not by individuals, (4) each state set its own internal quorum requirements, and (5) each state could send up to seven delegates. (The Convention, without argument, accepted Benjamin Franklin as an eighth Pennsylvania delegate.)

Among the most important of the rules adopted at the Convention was closing the curtains over the windows and adopting what unsympathetic historians over the decades have called the “secrecy rule.” The merits and demerits of the secrecy rule have been a subject of considerable debate throughout American history. Jefferson disapproved of the rule: “I am sorry they began their deliberations,” he wrote to John Adams, “by so abominable a precedent as that of tying up the tongues of their members. Nothing can justify this example but the innocence of their intentions, and ignorance of the value of public discussions.” Madison, however, supported the rule of secrecy. To James Monroe he wrote, “I think the rule was a prudent one not only as it will effectually secure the requisite freedom of discussion, but as it will save both the Convention and the Community from a thousand erroneous and perhaps mischievous reports.”

Source: Gordon Lloyd, ed., Debates in the Federal Convention of 1787 by James Madison, a Member (Ashland, OH: Ashbrook Center, 2014), 3–6.

. . . Mr. Wythe [1] from the Committee for preparing rules, made a report, which employed the deliberations of this day.

Mr. King [2] objected to one of the rules in the report authorizing any member to call for the Yeas and Nays and have them entered on the minutes. He urged that, as the acts of the Convention were not to bind the constituents, it was unnecessary to exhibit this evidence of the votes and improper, as changes of opinion would be frequent in the course of the business, and would fill the minutes with contradictions.

Colonel Mason [3] seconded the objection, adding, that such a record of the opinions of members would be an obstacle to a change of them on conviction and in case of its being hereafter promulgated, must furnish handles to the adversaries of the result of the meeting.

The proposed rule was rejected, nem. con. [4] The standing rules agreed to were as follows:

“A House to do business shall consist of the Deputies of not less than seven States and all questions shall be decided by the greater number of these which shall be fully represented. But a less number than seven may adjourn from day to day.

“Immediately after the President shall have taken the Chair, and the members their seats, the minutes of the preceding day shall be read by the Secretary.

“Every member, rising to speak, shall address the President and, while he shall be speaking, none shall pass between them, or hold discourse with another, or read a book, pamphlet, or paper, printed or manuscript. And of two members rising to speak at the same time, the President shall name him who shall be first heard.

“A member shall not speak oftener than twice, without special leave, upon the same question and not the second time, before every other who had been silent shall have been heard, if he choose to speak upon the subject.

“A motion, made and seconded, shall be repeated, and, if written, as it shall be when any member shall so require, read aloud, by the Secretary, before it shall be debated and may be withdrawn at any time before the vote upon it shall have been declared.

“Orders of the day shall be read next after the minutes and either discussed or postponed, before any other business shall be introduced.

“When a debate shall arise upon a question, no motion, other than to amend the question, to commit it, or to postpone the debate, shall be received.

“A question which is complicated shall, at the request of any member, be divided, and put separately upon the propositions of which it is compounded.

“The determination of a question, although fully debated, shall be postponed, if the Deputies of any State desire it, until the next day.

“A writing which contains any matter brought on to be considered shall be read once throughout, for information then by paragraphs, to be debated and again, with the amendments, if any, made on the second reading and afterwards the question shall be put upon the whole, amended, or approved in its original form, as the case shall be.

“Committees shall be appointed by ballot and the members who have the greatest number of ballots, although not a majority of the votes present, shall be the Committee. When two or more members have an equal number of votes, the member standing first on the list, in the order of taking down the ballots, shall be preferred.

“A member may be called to order by any other member, as well as by the President and may be allowed to explain his conduct, or expressions, supposed to be reprehensible. And all questions of order shall be decided by the President, without appeal or debate.

“Upon a question to adjourn, for the day, which may be made at any time, if it be seconded, the question shall be put without a debate.

“When the House shall adjourn, every member shall stand in his place until the President pass him.”* . . .

Mr. Butler [5] moved that the House provide against interruption of business by absence of members, and against licentious publications of their proceedings.

To which was added, by Mr. Spaight, [6] a motion to provide that, on the one hand, the House might not be precluded by a vote upon any question from revising the subject matter of it, when they see cause, nor, on the other hand, be led too hastily to rescind a decision which was the result of mature discussion. Whereupon it was ordered, that these motions be referred for the consideration of the Committee appointed to draw up the standing rules, and that the Committee make report thereon.

Adjourned till tomorrow, at ten o’clock.

Previous to the arrival of a majority of the States, the rule by which they ought to vote in the Convention had been made a subject of conversation among the members present. It was pressed by Gouverneur Morris, [7] and favored by Robert Morris [8] and others from Pennsylvania, that the large States should unite in firmly refusing to the small States an equal vote, as unreasonable, and as enabling the small states to negative every good system of government, which must, in the nature of things, be founded on a violation of that equality. The members from Virginia, conceiving that such an attempt might beget fatal altercations between the large and small States and that it would be easier to prevail on the latter, in the course of the deliberations, to give up their equality for the sake of an effective government, than, on taking the field of discussion, to disarm themselves of the right, and thereby throw themselves on the mercy of the larger States, discountenanced and stifled the project.

. . . The following rules were added, on the Report of Mr. Wythe from the Committee –

“That no member be absent from the House, so as to interrupt the representation of the State, without leave.

“That Committees do not sit whilst the House shall be, or ought to be, sitting.

“That no copy be taken of any entry on the Journal, during the sitting of the House, without leave of the House.

“That members only be permitted to inspect the Journal.

“That nothing spoken in the House be printed, or otherwise published, or communicated, without leave.

“That a motion to reconsider a matter which has been determined by a majority, may be made, with leave, unanimously given, on the same day on which the vote passed but otherwise, not without one day’s previous notice in which last case, if the House agree to the reconsideration, some future day shall be assigned for that purpose.”

Study Questions

A. How and why is the laying down of rules important for encouraging the subsequent discussion of potentially divisive issues? Do you agree with Jefferson or Madison concerning the adoption of the rule of secrecy? Do you think that consideration of the other rules has been overwhelmed by the secrecy rule?

B. Did these rules have an impact on the nature of the discussion process that took place during the 88 days at the Constitutional Convention? Did the rules inhibit the free exchange of ideas? Compare and contrast with the rules articulated in other documents. See The Fundamental Orders of Connecticut, Pennsylvania Charter of Privileges, and Articles of Confederation.


The Constitutional Convention

This collection of documents on the creation of the Constitution attempts to accomplish five objectives.

First, it draws attention to the American colonial experience. Why study the colonial past? Beginning with the French Revolution (1789–99), which ended in a dictatorship, revolutions have tended to ignore the past as a source of authority for the present and as a guide to the future. Americans, while acknowledging the importance of 1776 as the start of something new, showed a decent respect for the opinions and actions of their forefathers from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. In particular, they showed a concern for the forms of government under which they had lived. To secure these forms, charters were created and then signed by their creators. Two colonial charters (Documents 1 and 2) highlight the connection between the colonial experience of developing forms of government and the Constitution written in 1787, which continues to structure our government and laws today.

Second, this collection draws attention to the problems Americans confronted during the 1780s. Between 1776 and 1780 (Documents 3 and 6), Americans created a new kind of republicanism at the state level after due deliberation by elected representatives. Each of these republican forms had its own peculiarity, but all shared the premise that there should be a separation of powers, with the legislative branch being dominant, the executive branch dependent on the legislative, and the judicial branch practically nonexistent. (Massachusetts was a notable exception: its executive was elected by the people and the judiciary could issue advisory opinions.) These republican governments existed alongside a federal government of limited powers, established in 1781 (Document 6), whose legislative sessions were irregularly attended by state delegates. The documents thus highlight the problem of active and powerful state governments operating within a league with limited ability to direct the mutual affairs of its members. Document 7 is James Madison’s account in 1787 of the vices of this political system.

Third, the collection addresses how the delegates to the Constitutional Convention responded to the problems in the American political system. What should be done to correct them? Should the powers of the Confederation be increased and the structure kept the same? Was there an intrinsic problem – a systemic deficiency – or a problem that could be settled with a few improvements here and there? And who should authorize changes and by what authority should these alterations be adopted? Thus the collection introduces the reader to the several alternative plans discussed over 88 days at the Convention by up to 55 delegates (for example, Documents 10, 13, 15).

Fourth, the collection allows the reader to grasp the personal dynamics at work during the Convention. Some delegates were eloquent and thoughtful others petulant and shortsighted. Some stayed until the end, revising their views as the debates continued others stuck to their original positions, leaving early in frustration. Still others rode out the entire convention, announcing only at the last minute the scruples that prevented them from signing the agreed-upon plan. Put differently, for the first time in the history of the world, a genuine democratic conversation took place over an attempt to secure a regime dedicated to liberty and justice. All previous regimes had been founded by one or a few persons and eventually collapsed because of the violence of faction. And none of these previous regimes had sought liberty as a defining principle. To reveal the personal dynamics and what was at stake, the collection covers the debates during several crucial days in the life of the Convention as well as the difficulty involved over the creation of the presidency and the meaning of the necessary and proper clause. Is the case for executive independence the same as the case for judicial independence? Is the necessary and proper clause an enabling or a restraining clause?

Fifth, the collection addresses the clauses of the Constitution that refer to slavery, which provoked controversy at the Convention and have continued to do so ever since. The collection traces the origin and development of the three slavery clauses of the Constitution: the Three-Fifths Clause the Slave Trade Clause and the Fugitive Slave Clause. When and why did these three clauses appear during the constitutional debates? How does the language used when the clauses were introduced change before their insertion in the Constitution? How do these changes affect the interpretation of the slavery clauses?

Thirty-nine delegates signed their names to the Constitution on the “Seventeenth Day of September in the Year of Our Lord one thousand seven hundred and Eighty seven and of the Independence of the United States of America the Twelfth.” The conscious attempt to join together the old and the new represents an example of the American mind at work. We wonder whether the colonists of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries would have recognized and applauded the work of the Founding Fathers? To be sure, even though several of the Framers of the Constitution had different ideas about what should be done to secure the blessings of liberty – see the variety of plans – 39 reached sufficient agreement through a mixture of principle and compromise to sign the document. Aristotle might well call that prudent statesmanship. Others might well criticize their compromising as unacceptable and embarrassing.

But we need to remember that, unlike previous foundings in history that were the work of powerful individuals who could enforce their will, the American founding occurred through the civil deliberations of citizens from a variety of backgrounds, representing a variety of regional interests and philosophical positions. Never before had such a task been accomplished.

A Note on Usage

We have modernized spelling and some punctuation but not capitalization. On occasion we have divided longer speeches into paragraphs.

In recording the debates at the Convention, Madison uses the terms “house” and “branch” interchangeably with reference to what would become the House of Representatives and the Senate. To modern ears, “branch” connotes the three divisions of our government (legislative, executive, and judicial). However, to respect the language used by Madison and the delegates, in this volume we generally use the term “legislative branches” when speaking of the two houses of Congress.

While a few delegates, following the British way of thinking, used the terms “upper” and “lower” to distinguish between what we call the House and the Senate, most delegates preferred to speak of the House of Representatives as the “first” branch of the legislature and of the Senate as the “second” branch. The terms “upper” and “lower” carried an aristocratic connotation. Madison and many other delegates preferred the more democratic terminology of “first” and “second.”

Study Questions

For each of the Documents in this collection, we suggest below in section A questions relevant for that document alone and in Section B questions that require comparison between documents.

1. The Fundamental Orders of Connecticut (1638–39)
A. On what authority does the Connecticut Orders rely? What structure of government, if any, did the Orders create? Are oaths an important part of enforcing the content of the Orders?
B. Compare and contrast the Orders with other plans of government included in this volume. See Documents 2, 3, 5, 10, 13, 15, and 25.

2. The Pennsylvania Charter of Privileges (1701)
A. Is there something “constitutional” that is recognizable in this document? Should the 1701 Pennsylvania Charter retain its status through the ages?
B. How is this constitution similar to and different from the “constitutionalism” of other colonial and early state documents? See Documents 1, 3, 5, and 6.

3. Virginia Declaration of Rights and Constitution (June 12 and 29, 1776)
A. Does it seem curious that (1) the Virginia Declaration and the Virginia Constitution were written two weeks apart and that (2) both preceded the passage of the Declaration of Independence? According to these two documents, what is the purpose of government? What is the role of the Legislature, Executive, and Judiciary in the newly adopted Virginia Constitution? What sort of “republicanism” do these two documents express? Is it surprising that the Bill of Rights precedes the Constitution?
B. By what authority was the Virginia Declaration of Rights and Constitution initiated and adopted? Compare and contrast the Virginia authorization with other authorizations during this period. See Documents 1, 2, 5, 8, 10, 14, and 26.

4. Thomas Jefferson, Draft of the Declaration of Independence (July 2–4, 1776)
A. Does Jefferson’s draft convey a substantially different meaning from that of the Declaration of Independence the Continental Congress signed (Appendix D)? Would the less moderate tone of the draft have communicated a different message to the audience outside of America? To American loyalists and those uncertain whether to join the Revolution? Is it likely that the explicit condemnation of slavery would have changed the conversation about slavery at the Founding or during the next 80 years?
B. Is there a parallel between the complaints listed in the draft and the rights to be secured by the Virginia Declaration of Rights (Document 3)? Are there parallels between the complaints it lists and the rights secured by the Constitution and its first ten amendments (Appendix E)?

5. Massachusetts Bill of Rights (March 2, 1780)
A. How do the Massachusetts Bill of Rights and Constitution provide for religious liberty, economic liberty, and political liberty? What are the roles of the Executive and Judicial branches? How is the Constitution to be ratified?
B. How is the Massachusetts version of republicanism similar to and different from that found in the Virginia Declaration of Rights and Constitution (Document 3), as well as in the earlier colonial documents (Documents 1 and 2)?

6. Articles of Confederation (1781)
A. Is there a central contradiction at the heart of the Articles, given that the union is supposed to be perpetual, “a firm league of friendship,” yet the powers of the union are “expressly delegated”? Is there a separation of powers under the Articles? Why is it significant that the delegates should sign the document? What is the status of the states under the Articles? How is the union to operate under the Articles? What is the difference between a confederation/federation and a national government with respect to: (1) the structure of the institutions and (2) the powers of the union?
B. Compare the Articles to the Virginia Plan (Document 10), the New Jersey Plan (Document 13), and the solution proposed in Document 16.

7. James Madison, “Vices of the Political System of the United States” (April 1787)
A. Why does Madison argue that the very structure of the Articles of Confederation needs to be altered? What is Madison’s case against the traditional small republic, and how does that argument assist in his critique of the inadequacies of the Confederation?
B. Madison’s critique of the Articles does not assume that republican government will necessarily be supported by the virtue of the governed. How does this critique anticipate the Virginia Plan (Document 10) and the Hamilton Plan (Document 15)? How does it anticipate Madison’s argument in Federalist 10 (see The American Founding: Core Documents, Document 20)?

8. The Two Authorizations (September 1786 and February 1787)
A. Are the two authorizations compatible? If not, which authorization should prevail? Did the Congress limit the Convention to the discussion of specific and particular matters, or did the Congress empower the Convention to propose whatever alterations the delegates deemed necessary to preserve the principles of the Revolution? Must any plan devised by the Convention require not only the approval of Congress, but approval by all the state legislatures to become law? Is there room in the Congressional endorsement of the Convention for ratification by the consent of the governed?
B. How did the two authorizations enter the debate at the Constitutional Convention of 1787? See for example Documents 13, 16, and 17. Do you see a significant relation between, on the one hand, supporters of the Virginia Plan and those delegates selected according to the Annapolis authorization and, on the other hand, supporters of the New Jersey Plan and those delegates selected according to the Confederation Congress mandate?

9. The Rules of the Convention (May 28–29, 1787)
A. How and why is the laying down of rules important for encouraging the subsequent discussion of potentially divisive issues? Do you agree with Jefferson or Madison concerning the adoption of the rule of secrecy? Do you think that consideration of the other rules has been overwhelmed by the secrecy rule?
B. Did these rules have an impact on the nature of the discussion process that took place during the 88 days at the Constitutional Convention? Did the rules inhibit the free exchange of ideas? Compare and contrast with the rules articulated in other documents. See Documents 1, 2, and 6.

10. The Virginia Plan (May 29, 1787)
A. Do the states have any significant role under the Virginia Plan? The Virginia Plan seems to place significant authority in the national legislature, yet at the same the Council of Revision seems to tilt the balance of power toward the Executive and the Judiciary. Is there a tension at the heart of the Virginia Plan?
B. In what way is the Virginia Plan a radical departure from the Articles of Confederation (Document 6)? Is the vision of republicanism similar to or different from earlier statements of representative government? See Documents 1, 2, 3, and 5.

11. The Madison-Sherman Exchange (June 6, 1787)
A. Why does Sherman think that people are happier in smaller communities? Why does Madison disagree?
B. Compare Madison’s argument here against majority faction with the argument he presented in Document 7. Why does the intent and success of the Virginia Plan turn so much on the case for the extended commercial republic? What does Madison include in his list of items as examples of majority faction? See Documents 7 and 10.

12. The Three-Fifths Clause and Federal Representation (June 11, 1787)
A. What were the arguments in favor of including the Three-Fifths Clause in the scheme of representation in the first branch? Why was there resistance to including the clause in the second branch? What role did Madison and Sherman play in response to the introduction of the Three-Fifths Clause?
B. How did the introduction of the Three-Fifths Clause alter the conversation over representation of the people or representation of the states? Compare this model with the Articles of Confederation, the Virginia Plan, the New Jersey Plan, and the final Constitution (Documents 6, 10, 13, and Appendix E).

13. The Revised Virginia Plan and the New Jersey Plan (June 13 and 15, 1787)
A. How is the New Jersey Plan a rejection of the Revised Virginia Plan? How are we to interpret Dickinson’s remark that it was Madison’s unwillingness to compromise that brought about this breakdown in negotiations. Where does the Three-Fifths Clause fit in to the two documents? Can we say that these two documents show it is pretty clear that the key debate is between the small states and the large states?
B. Is the Revised Virginia Plan pretty much the same as the original Virginia Plan (Document 10)? Is the New Jersey Plan pretty much the same as the Articles of Confederation (Document 6)?

14. The Two Authorizations Revisited (June 16, 1787)
A. What is the main defense of the New Jersey Plan? How do the supporters of the Revised Virginia Plan respond? Who, if any, of the delegates are acting like statesmen in this exchange? Are we witnessing an exchange that pits advocates of the rule of man made law against delegates who appeal to a higher law?
B. How do the documents in the two authorizations play a part in discussions over the support for or rejection of the New Jersey Plan and the very legality and propriety of the Convention itself? See Document 8.

15. The Hamilton Plan (June 18, 1787)
A. Hamilton suggests that his plan is still within the proper sphere of both republicanism and federalism, rather than being a reformulation of monarchy and nationalism. Does his plan support his claim? Do the states have any role under his plan? Has he elevated the presidency to a position of greater importance than the governors of the states?
B. Compare and contrast Hamilton’s position on the separation of powers with that found in the Virginia Plan, the New Jersey Plan, and the Committee of Detail Report (Documents 10, 13, and 19).

16. Partly National, Partly Federal (June 29 and 30, 1787)
A. When Ellsworth argues on behalf of equal representation of the states in the Senate, is he offering a principled compromise? Is Madison’s argument that the great divide in American politics is the issue of slavery persuasive? How does the Three-Fifths Clause become part of the discussion of representation? What role did Madison and Sherman play in response to the introduction of the Three-Fifths Clause?
B. How is this discussion over the “partly national, partly federal” character of the union similar to and different from earlier and later discussions of the issue of federal representation? When Sherman previously argued on behalf of equal representation of the states in the Senate (see Document 13), was he arguing from principle? How does the debate on June 29 and 30 influence the later discussion of the Three-Fifths Clause (Document 18)?

17. The Gerry Committee Report (July 2 and 5, 1787)
A. Students of the American Founding are usually introduced to the partly national, partly federal nature of the Constitution through reading Federalist 39. In that essay, it is not completely clear where Madison (writing as Publius) stands on the five tests of federalism and nationalism to which he subjects the Constitution. At the Convention, Madison argues that the partly national, partly federal solution is unprincipled what is his argument? Who at the Constitutional Convention understood the partly national, partly federal solution to rise to the level of principle, albeit a newly discovered principle? What kind of compromise is a 5–4–1 vote with three absent?
B. Reflect on the “dynamics” of the Convention between May 28 and the Report of the Gerry Committee. Who has “won,” and who has “lost” – or has everyone actually won by the time we get to July 16?

18. The Three-Fifths Clause and the Connecticut Compromise (July 11–14 and 16, 1787)
A. Is it surprising that the South Carolina delegates want to count slaves as “five-fifths” of a person? Do they offer any logical grounds for this position? Why is the Three-Fifths Clause embedded in a discussion about the “scheme of representation” appropriate for a federal republic?
B. Do the arguments between July 11 and 16 on the representation of people, states, and wealth mirror and flesh out the discussions on June 11, June 29, and June 30, or do they break new ground (Documents 12 and 16)?

19. The Committee of Detail Report (July 23–24 and August 6, 1787)
A. From which states were the five delegates chosen? Does this matter? What strikes you as novel and what as traditional in this draft of the Constitution? Were there any changes made to the Connecticut Compromise that settled the structural, or representative, question? How does the Committee of Detail propose that the Constitution be adopted and altered?
B. Compare and contrast the powers of Congress listed in the Committee of Detail Report with the powers of Congress found in the Articles of Confederation (Document 6), the Virginia Plan (Document 10), the Revised Virginia Plan and the New Jersey Plan (Document 13), and the final Constitution (Appendix E).

20. The Slave Trade Clause (August 21,22, 24, and 25, 1787)
A. In what way did the Committee of 11 alter the Report of the Committee of Detail concerning the slave trade? Who was on that committee who was not on the Committee of Detail? Did the delegates who voted against the 1808 compromise want a date of “never” or of 1800?
B. Why did it take until the end of August to consider the slave trade clause? Does this clause resolve issues raised by Sections 4, 5 and 6 of Article VII of the Committee of Detail Report (Document 19)? How does the Fugitive Slave Clause (Document 24) temper our understanding of the Founders’ expectation that the institution of slavery would end?

21. The Judiciary (June 4 July 21 August 15 and 27, 1787)
A. The phrase “judicial review” does not appear in the Constitution. Can a reasonable case nevertheless be made that the Framers wanted to secure “subsequent review” of public policy but not “prior review” of public policy? What clause in the Constitution might reasonably be interpreted to grant judicial review to the Supreme Court? Is it surprising that Madison initially wanted a robust role for the judiciary but then expressed reservation at Johnson’s proposition about the role of the judiciary. How does the discussion over the Council of Revision fit into the debate over the reach of the judiciary and the power of the executive?
B. The creation of the Judiciary went through several “enhancements” during the debates of the Convention. What were the critical developments that were and were not made concerning the status of the Judiciary from the Articles of Confederation to the state constitutions through the various plans presented to the Convention (Documents 5, 6, 10, and 13)?

22. Creating the Electoral College (September 4 and 6, 1787)
A. What role did Madison and Sherman play in the final construction of the Electoral College? What evidence is there to support the claim that the Electoral College reflects an opposition to the role of the people in directly electing the president? Does the Connecticut Compromise play a role in the compromise over the election of the president?
B. Compare and contrast the Electoral College with earlier proposals for the election of the president (Documents 10, 13, and 15).

23. Objections to the Constitution (September 10, 12, 15, and 17, 1787)
A. Do Randolph, Gerry, and Mason have similar reasons for declining to sign the Constitution? Do they share a central concern about the Constitution? Other delegates had reservations, yet they still signed do Randolph, Gerry, and Mason expect a kind of perfection that would have been impossible? Or does their dissent demonstrate an admirable feature of the American experiment?
B. Prior to this point, other delegates have dissented to decisions made during the 88 days of the Constitutional Convention. See, for example, Patterson’s introduction of the New Jersey Plan (Document 13), Sherman’s objection to the Virginia Plan for representation in the Senate (Document 13), Hamilton’s introduction of his own plan (Document 15), and Madison’s refusal to vote for the Connecticut Compromise (Documents 16 and 17). Does it strike you as odd that Randolph, who introduced and defended the Virginia Plan, objected to signing the Constitution? What is so different about these three dissents from other objections?

24. The Fugitive Slave Clause (July 14 August 6, 28 and 29 and September 12, 15, and 17, 1787)
A. What is the significance of the change in language from “justly” to “legally” to “under the laws thereof”? Why is the Fugitive Slave Clause located right under the Extradition Clause in the Constitution? Is there a significant difference between the language of the Fugitive Slave Clause and the Extradition Clause?
B. Do the Fugitive Slave Clause and the Three-Fifths Clause (Document 18) contradict the claim in the Declaration of Independence that all men are created equal? How do the discussions of these provisions in the Constitutional Convention address that question? What do the inclusion of these clauses and the inclusion of the ban on the slave trade (Document 20) tell us about the relationship between the Declaration and the Constitution?

25. The Powers of Congress (September 12 and 14, 1787)
A. Should the inclusion of the general welfare and common defense clauses in both the Preamble and Article I, Section 8, have an influence on how to read the “necessary and proper” clause? Based on the exchange between the delegates on September 14, is the “necessary and proper” clause, in their opinion, an elastic clause or a confining clause?
B. Is the “necessary and proper” clause a constitutional compromise, one somewhere between the Virginia Plan disposition not to enumerate any congressional powers at all and the concern of the New Jersey Plan to limit the reach of Congress to those items expressly itemized? On August 6, the Committee of Detail presented the first draft of the Constitution. How are the enumerated powers similar and different in the Committee of Detail Report (Document 19) and the Committee of Style Report (Document 25)? Is the general welfare clause in both documents? Is it in the Articles of Confederation (Document 6)?

26. The Signing of the Constitution (September 17, 1787)
A. Is it disappointing or a relief that the Framers signed a “more perfect” Constitution rather than a perfect Constitution? Do you agree with Franklin that with the closure of the debates there are serious reasons for optimism rather than pessimism regarding the future of the country? Why did Washington attempt to reconcile Randolph? What are we to make of the phenomenon of “signing” that permeates the American experience?
B. What would (1) Madison, (2) Randolph, (3) Patterson, and (4) Hamilton consider to be an even more perfect union than the Constitution? See Documents 3, 6, 10, 13, 16, 13, and 15.


The Constitutional Convention

This exhibit provides a twelve-step guide to understanding the Constitutional Convention tips on navigating the various sections and Gordon Lloyd’s introduction can be found here.

Introduction

The year was 1787. The place: the State House in Philadelphia. This is the story of the framing of the federal Constitution.

The Convention

Read the four-act drama and day-by-day summary by Gordon Lloyd, as well as Madison’s account of the Convention Debates.

The Delegates

For four months, 55 delegates from the several states met to frame a Constitution for a federal republic that would last into “remote futurity.”

Resources on the Convention

View Gordon Lloyd’s Convention attendance record, major themes of the convention, and other resources about the creation of the Constitution.

Visualizing the Signing of the Constitution

See how different artists have portrayed the significance of the Constitutional Convention in art.

Interactive Map of Historic Philadelphia in the Late 18th Century

Learn about historic Philadelphia and where the founders stayed, ate, and met.


The executive branch

Delegates had highly conflicting ideas about the executive branch. Some favored a weak presidency or a plural executive of several individuals others favored a powerful president with a lengthy term and absolute veto over legislation. The Constitution's comparatively "energetic" (powerful) presidency was a compromise between these views.

To avoid choosing between popular election of the president and election of the president by Congress or legislatures, the convention agreed that the president would be chosen by an electoral college whose membership formula would be weighted toward small states and whose members would be chosen by states using state election rules. The president was given a four-year term, with no limit on the number of terms, but was made impeachable for "treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors," a standard that, combined with a requirement for a two-thirds vote to impeach, was intended to make impeachment a rarely used remedy.

The president's powers included a strong veto that could be overridden only by a two-thirds vote of both houses of Congress, a compromise between those who wanted to give the president an absolute veto and those who wanted the veto exercisable only together with the judiciary. The president was given "the power of the sword" as commander in chief. The president shared the treaty power and the power to appoint officers of the United States with the Senate.


Constitutional Convention. Notes Taken in the Federal Convention1

1 . This document consists of rough notes made by H of debates in the Constitutional Convention. Not so complete as those taken by Madison, Yates, Lansing, or King, H’s notes, unlike other records of the debates in the Convention, include his opinion of the remarks made by other delegates.

H’s notes have been printed, as nearly as possible, in chronological order. The order in which they were made cannot be precisely determined, for H’s versions of the remarks made by the various delegates do not always correspond with those reported by Madison, Lansing, Yates, or King. Nor is it always possible to determine whether an opinion recorded in his notes was made by one of the delegates or represented his own thoughts, for he sometimes inserted his own ideas into the record he made of remarks by others. The arrangement of H’s notes printed here differs in minor particulars from that made by Worthington C. Ford in “Alexander Hamilton’s Notes in the Federal Convention of 1787,” The American Historical Review , X (October, 1904), 97–109, and from the order in which they are arranged in the Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress.

2 . On June 1 the Convention debated the seventh resolution of the plan of government proposed by Edmund Randolph of Virginia. The resolution provided for a national executive to be chosen by the national legislature for an unspecified number of years.

3 . Madison made no record of his remarks on this date, but Rufus King’s version of this statement reads as follows: “If [the Executive Power is] large, we shall have the Evils of Elective Monarchies” ( King, The Life and Correspondence of Rufus King description begins Charles R. King, The Life and Correspondence of Rufus King (New York, 1894). description ends , I, 588).

4 . Madison’s version of Edmund Randolph’s remark reads:

“Mr. Randolph strenuously opposed a unity in the Executive magistracy. He regarded it as the foetus of monarchy. We had he said no motive to be governed by the British Governmt. as our prototype. He did not mean however to throw censure on that Excellent fabric. If we were in a situation to copy it he did not know that he should be opposed to it but the fixt genius of the people of America required a different form of Government. He could not see why the great requisites for the Executive department, vigor, despatch & responsibility could not be found in three men, as well as in one man. The Executive ought to be independent. It ought therefore in order to support its independence to consist of more than one.” ( Hunt and Scott, Debates description begins Gaillard Hunt and James Brown Scott, eds., The Debates in the Federal Convention of 1787 Which Framed the Constitution of the United States of America. Reported by James Madison (New York, 1920). description ends , 38.)

5 . H substituted “slaves” for the words “former Continental army” which he wrote and crossed out.

6 . James Wilson, delegate from Pennsylvania, spoke five times on June 1. None of his remarks as recorded by Madison ( Hunt and Scott, Debates description begins Gaillard Hunt and James Brown Scott, eds., The Debates in the Federal Convention of 1787 Which Framed the Constitution of the United States of America. Reported by James Madison (New York, 1920). description ends , 37–41) closely corresponds to the remarks attributed to him by H.

7 . Gunning Bedford, delegate from Delaware. James Madison recorded the following version of Bedford’s speech:

“Mr. Bedford was strongly opposed to so long a term as seven years. He begged the committee to consider what the situation of the Country would be, in case the first magistrate should be saddled on it for such a period and it should be found on trial that he did not possess the qualifications ascribed to him, or should lose them after his appointment. An impeachment he said would be no cure for this evil, as an impeachment would reach misfeasance only, not incapacity. He was for a triennial election, and for an ineligibility after a period of nine years.” ( Hunt and Scott, Debates description begins Gaillard Hunt and James Brown Scott, eds., The Debates in the Federal Convention of 1787 Which Framed the Constitution of the United States of America. Reported by James Madison (New York, 1920). description ends , 40–41.)

8 . According to the several recorded versions of debates in the Convention, Bedford did not make the observations which H recorded under the rubric “Princ[iple].” They probably were H’s own comments.

9 . The notes following the word “Sent[ence]” are probably H’s own ideas rather than a summary of the remarks of someone else and do not necessarily pertain to the debate of June 1. They appear at the top of the MS page which records the first statement made by Charles Pinckney, delegate from South Carolina, on June 6.

10 . On this date the Convention considered a motion by Charles Pinckney “that the first branch of the national Legislature be elected by the State Legislatures, and not by the people” ( Hunt and Scott, Debates description begins Gaillard Hunt and James Brown Scott, eds., The Debates in the Federal Convention of 1787 Which Framed the Constitution of the United States of America. Reported by James Madison (New York, 1920). description ends , 62).

11 . The remarks by Charles Cotesworth Pinckney were recorded in greater length by Madison ( Hunt and Scott, Debates description begins Gaillard Hunt and James Brown Scott, eds., The Debates in the Federal Convention of 1787 Which Framed the Constitution of the United States of America. Reported by James Madison (New York, 1920). description ends , 66). The remarks immediately following were also made by Charles Cotesworth Pinckney.

12 . Charles Pinckney’s motion (see note 10) was negatived and the Convention took up a motion by James Wilson “to reconsider the vote excluding the Judiciary from a share in the revision of the laws and to add after ‘National Executive’ the words ‘with a convenient number of the national Judiciary’” ( Hunt and Scott, Debates description begins Gaillard Hunt and James Brown Scott, eds., The Debates in the Federal Convention of 1787 Which Framed the Constitution of the United States of America. Reported by James Madison (New York, 1920). description ends , 67). H’s comments, recorded under “Principle” and “Note,” were apropos of Wilson’s motion.

13 . According to Madison, George Mason, delegate from Virginia, “was for giving all possible weight to the revisionary institution. The Executive power ought to be well secured agst. Legislative usurpations on it. The purse & the sword ought never to get into the same hands whether Legislative or Executive” ( Hunt and Scott, Debates description begins Gaillard Hunt and James Brown Scott, eds., The Debates in the Federal Convention of 1787 Which Framed the Constitution of the United States of America. Reported by James Madison (New York, 1920). description ends , 68).

14 . H’s statement of “Maddisons Theory” is based on Madison’s speech of June 6 in which, in the course of arguing that one branch of the legislature should be elected by the people, Madison discussed the ideas which he believed should be the basis for a new government ( Hunt and Scott, Debates description begins Gaillard Hunt and James Brown Scott, eds., The Debates in the Federal Convention of 1787 Which Framed the Constitution of the United States of America. Reported by James Madison (New York, 1920). description ends , 64–65).

15 . This and the two paragraphs which follow are, of course, H’s objections to Madison’s theory.

16 . This is presumably a rough paraphrase of the following remarks made by Madison: “The gentleman (Mr. Sharman) had admitted that in a very small State, faction & oppression wd. prevail. It was to be inferred then that wherever these prevailed the State was too small. Had they not prevailed in the largest as well as the smallest tho’ less than in the smallest and were we not thence admonished to enlarge the sphere as far as the nature of the Govt. would admit. This was the only defence agst. the inconveniences of democracy consistent with the democratic form of Govt” ( Hunt and Scott, Debates description begins Gaillard Hunt and James Brown Scott, eds., The Debates in the Federal Convention of 1787 Which Framed the Constitution of the United States of America. Reported by James Madison (New York, 1920). description ends , 64).

17 . On this date John Dickinson, delegate from Delaware, spoke in support of his motion that members of the second branch of the government be chosen by the state legislatures. H reported the first of two speeches which Dickinson made on this date ( Hunt and Scott, Debates description begins Gaillard Hunt and James Brown Scott, eds., The Debates in the Federal Convention of 1787 Which Framed the Constitution of the United States of America. Reported by James Madison (New York, 1920). description ends , 70, 72).

18 . According to Madison’s account of George Mason’s speech, Mason contended that some powers under the proposed new form of government must be left with the states. The states, he concluded, should be made “a constituent part of, the Natl. Establishment” ( Hunt and Scott, Debates description begins Gaillard Hunt and James Brown Scott, eds., The Debates in the Federal Convention of 1787 Which Framed the Constitution of the United States of America. Reported by James Madison (New York, 1920). description ends , 74).

19 . On this date the Convention debated a motion by Charles Pinckney “that the National Legislature shd. have authority to negative all laws which they shd. judge to be improper” ( Hunt and Scott, Debates description begins Gaillard Hunt and James Brown Scott, eds., The Debates in the Federal Convention of 1787 Which Framed the Constitution of the United States of America. Reported by James Madison (New York, 1920). description ends , 75).

21 . Elbridge Gerry, delegate from Massachusetts, according to Madison’s account, was opposed to giving the national legislature power to negative any state law it should consider improper. He favored “a remonstrance agst. unreasonable acts of the States” and proposed the use of force if the remonstrance was unavailing. Gerry, however, “had no objection to authorize a negative to paper money and similar measures” ( Hunt and Scott, Debates description begins Gaillard Hunt and James Brown Scott, eds., The Debates in the Federal Convention of 1787 Which Framed the Constitution of the United States of America. Reported by James Madison (New York, 1920). description ends , 76).

22 . Madison reported Gerry as saying that new states would not enter the union if the national legislature were given a negative on state laws ( Hunt and Scott, Debates description begins Gaillard Hunt and James Brown Scott, eds., The Debates in the Federal Convention of 1787 Which Framed the Constitution of the United States of America. Reported by James Madison (New York, 1920). description ends , 76).

23 . H was probably mistaken in attributing this remark to James Wilson. Madison attributed it to Elbridge Gerry who, he reported, argued that the national legislature should not be given a negative on state laws because new states entering the union “may even be under some foreign influence are they in such case to participate in the negative on the will of the other States?” ( Hunt and Scott, Debates description begins Gaillard Hunt and James Brown Scott, eds., The Debates in the Federal Convention of 1787 Which Framed the Constitution of the United States of America. Reported by James Madison (New York, 1920). description ends , 76).

24 . This statement presumably was made by Wilson. The meaning of the laconic statement written by H is that the union of the states was responsible both for their opposition to Great Britain and the establishment of their independence. This meaning conforms to Madison’s account of Wilson’s remarks ( Hunt and Scott, Debates description begins Gaillard Hunt and James Brown Scott, eds., The Debates in the Federal Convention of 1787 Which Framed the Constitution of the United States of America. Reported by James Madison (New York, 1920). description ends , 77).

25 . Gunning Bedford, delegate from Delaware.

26 . Madison gives a different version of this statement. He states that Bedford said, “if a State does not obey the law of the new System, must not force be resorted to as the only ultimate remedy, in this as in any other system” ( Hunt and Scott, Debates description begins Gaillard Hunt and James Brown Scott, eds., The Debates in the Federal Convention of 1787 Which Framed the Constitution of the United States of America. Reported by James Madison (New York, 1920). description ends , 78).

27 . Pierce Butler, delegate from South Carolina. Madison’s version of Butler’s remarks is as follows: “Mr. BUTLER was vehement agst. the Negative in the proposed extent, as cutting off all hope of equal justice to the distant States. The people there would not he was sure give it a hearing” ( Hunt and Scott, Debates description begins Gaillard Hunt and James Brown Scott, eds., The Debates in the Federal Convention of 1787 Which Framed the Constitution of the United States of America. Reported by James Madison (New York, 1920). description ends , 79).

28 . On this date the Convention debated the merits and deficiencies of the two major plans for a new government which had been submitted, the New Jersey Plan, introduced by William Paterson, and the Virginia Plan, introduced by Edmund Randolph.

29 . John Lansing, Jr., H’s fellow delegate from New York.

30 . William Paterson, according to Madison’s record of the Convention debates, said: “The plan of Mr. R. will also be enormously expensive. Allowing Georgia & Del. two representatives each in the popular branch the aggregate number of that branch will be 180. Add to it half as many for the other branch and you have 270” ( Hunt and Scott, Debates description begins Gaillard Hunt and James Brown Scott, eds., The Debates in the Federal Convention of 1787 Which Framed the Constitution of the United States of America. Reported by James Madison (New York, 1920). description ends , 107).

31 . Madison’s version of this statement by Wilson reads as follows: “He would not repeat the remarks he had formerly made on the principles of Representation. He would only say that an inequality in it, has ever been a poison contaminating every branch of Govt.” ( Hunt and Scott, Debates description begins Gaillard Hunt and James Brown Scott, eds., The Debates in the Federal Convention of 1787 Which Framed the Constitution of the United States of America. Reported by James Madison (New York, 1920). description ends , 108).

32 . Madison’s account of Wilson’s statement reads: “When Lord Chesterfield had told us that one of the Dutch provinces had been seduced into the views of France, he need not have added, that it was not Holland, but one of the smallest of them” ( Hunt and Scott, Debates description begins Gaillard Hunt and James Brown Scott, eds., The Debates in the Federal Convention of 1787 Which Framed the Constitution of the United States of America. Reported by James Madison (New York, 1920). description ends , 108–09).

33 . Charles Pinckney, whose remarks H failed to record, said, according to Madison, that “the whole comes to this, as he conceived. Give N. Jersey an equal vote, and she will dismiss her scruples, and concur in the Natl. system. He thought the Convention authorized to go any length in recommending, which they found necessary to remedy the evils which produced this Convention” ( Hunt and Scott, Debates description begins Gaillard Hunt and James Brown Scott, eds., The Debates in the Federal Convention of 1787 Which Framed the Constitution of the United States of America. Reported by James Madison (New York, 1920). description ends , 109).

34 . Madison reported that Oliver Ellsworth, delegate from Connecticut, “proposed as a more distinctive form of collecting the mind of the Committee on the subject, ‘that the Legislative power of the U. S. should remain in Congs.’” ( Hunt and Scott, Debates description begins Gaillard Hunt and James Brown Scott, eds., The Debates in the Federal Convention of 1787 Which Framed the Constitution of the United States of America. Reported by James Madison (New York, 1920). description ends , 109).

35 . On this date the Convention again took up the plan offered by William Paterson of New Jersey.

36 . Madison’s version of his own remarks reads as follows: “It had been alledged (by Mr. Patterson), that the Confederation having been formed by unanimous consent, could be dissolved by unanimous Consent only. Does this doctrine result from the nature of compacts? does it arise from any particular stipulation in the articles of Confederation? If we consider the federal union as analogous to the fundamental compact by which individuals compose one Society, and which must in its theoretic origin at least, have been the unanimous act of the component members, it can not be said that no dissolution of the compact can be effected without unanimous consent. A breach of the fundamental principles of the compact by a part of the Society would certainly absolve the other parts from their obligations to it” ( Hunt and Scott, Debates description begins Gaillard Hunt and James Brown Scott, eds., The Debates in the Federal Convention of 1787 Which Framed the Constitution of the United States of America. Reported by James Madison (New York, 1920). description ends , 121).

37 . Madison, as proof of his contention that the New Jersey Plan would fail to prevent state encroachments on the federal authority, pointed out the provision in the Plan which gave only appellate jurisdiction to the Federal Court. “Of what avail,” he questioned, “cd. an appellate tribunal be, after an acquittal?” ( Hunt and Scott, Debates description begins Gaillard Hunt and James Brown Scott, eds., The Debates in the Federal Convention of 1787 Which Framed the Constitution of the United States of America. Reported by James Madison (New York, 1920). description ends , 123).

38 . This illustration was given by Madison to assure the smaller states that under the proportional representation proposed by the Virginia Plan they would not be under the complete dominance of the larger states. The monarch to whom Madison referred was the King of France ( Hunt and Scott, Debates description begins Gaillard Hunt and James Brown Scott, eds., The Debates in the Federal Convention of 1787 Which Framed the Constitution of the United States of America. Reported by James Madison (New York, 1920). description ends , 126).

39 . Charles Cotesworth Pinckney’s remarks were placed by H with his notes on the debates of June 19. According to Madison’s record, these statements were made by Pinckney on June 21.

40 . Madison’s version of this statement is as follows:

“It had been asserted by his colleague (Col. Hamilton) that there was no coincidence of interests among the large States that ought to excite fears of oppression in the smaller. If it were true that such a uniformity of interests existed among the States, there was equal safety for all of them, whether the representation remained as heretofore, or were proportioned as now proposed.” ( Hunt and Scott, Debates description begins Gaillard Hunt and James Brown Scott, eds., The Debates in the Federal Convention of 1787 Which Framed the Constitution of the United States of America. Reported by James Madison (New York, 1920). description ends , 133.)

41 . This phrase is not in any other account of Lansing’s speech.

42 . Lansing did not, according to Madison, endorse the whole of the system of government proposed by H but said only that he believed “the National Govt. must have the influence arising from the grant of offices and honors. In order to render such a Government effectual he believed such an influence to be necessary. But if the States will not agree to it, it is in vain, worse than in vain to make the proposition” ( Hunt and Scott, Debates description begins Gaillard Hunt and James Brown Scott, eds., The Debates in the Federal Convention of 1787 Which Framed the Constitution of the United States of America. Reported by James Madison (New York, 1920). description ends , 133).

43 . That is, the system proposed by Edmund Randolph of Virginia.

44 . This statement, as recorded by H, is not closely paralleled in Madison’s record of debates. According to Yates’s account of the debates, Mason stated that the opposition of the people to a unicameral legislature arose from their state constitutions ( Yates, Secret Proceedings and Debates description begins Robert Yates, Secret Proceedings and Debates of the Convention Assembled at Philadelphia, in the Year 1787, For the Purpose of Forming the Constitution of The United States of America (Albany, 1821). description ends , 144).

45 . Luther Martin, delegate from Maryland.

46 . Madison wrote that Martin said, “Nor could the rule of voting have been ground of objection, otherwise ten of the States must always have been ready, to place further confidence in Congs” ( Hunt and Scott, Debates description begins Gaillard Hunt and James Brown Scott, eds., The Debates in the Federal Convention of 1787 Which Framed the Constitution of the United States of America. Reported by James Madison (New York, 1920). description ends , 136).

47 . This remark by Martin is not found in other versions of the Convention debates. Madison’s version, which also mentions requisitions, states only that the Virginia Plan “must depend for the deficiency of its revenues on requisitions & quotas” ( Hunt and Scott, Debates description begins Gaillard Hunt and James Brown Scott, eds., The Debates in the Federal Convention of 1787 Which Framed the Constitution of the United States of America. Reported by James Madison (New York, 1920). description ends , 136).

48 . Roger Sherman, delegate from Connecticut.

49 . On June 26 the Convention debated the proposals for forming a Senate. These remarks by H were probably recorded on that date. They do not, however, conform to the record of debates given by any other notes of debates on that date, and they may have constituted H’s ideas on the proper organization of the Senate.


Contents

Eight state constitutions in effect at the time of the 1787 Constitutional Convention convened in Philadelphia included an amendment mechanism. Amendment-making power rested with the legislature in three of the states and in the other five it was given to specially elected conventions. The Articles of Confederation provided that amendments were to be proposed by Congress and ratified by the unanimous vote of all thirteen state legislatures. This was seen by the Federalists as a major flaw in the Articles, as it created a nearly insurmountable obstacle to constitutional reform. The amendment process crafted during the Constitutional Convention, James Madison later wrote in The Federalist No. 43, was designed to establish a balance between pliancy and rigidity: [17]

It guards equally against that extreme facility which would render the Constitution too mutable and that extreme difficulty which might perpetuate its discovered faults. It moreover equally enables the General and the State Governments to originate the amendment of errors, as they may be pointed out by the experience on one side, or on the other.

Creation of the amendment process Edit

One of the main reasons for the 1787 Convention was that the Articles of Confederation required the unanimous consent of all 13 states for the national government to take action. This system had proved unworkable, and the newly written Constitution sought to address this problem.

The first proposal for a method of amending the Constitution offered in the Constitutional Convention, contained in the Virginia Plan, sought to circumvent the national legislature, stating that "the assent of the National Legislature ought not to be required." [18] This was subsequently modified by the Committee of Detail to include a process whereby Congress would call for a constitutional convention on the request of two-thirds of the state legislatures. [19]

During the debate on the Committee of Detail's report, James Madison expressed concern about the lack of detail in the article regarding how the convention amendment process would work, stating that "difficulties might arise as to the form" a convention would take. [20] He later proposed removing reference to the convention amendment process, thus giving the national legislature sole authority to propose amendments whenever it thought necessary or when two-thirds of the states applied to the national legislature. [21] Several delegates voiced opposition to the idea of the national legislature retaining sole power to propose constitutional amendments. [22] George Mason argued from the floor of the Convention that it "would be improper to require the consent of the National Legislature, because they may abuse their power, and refuse their consent on that very account." Mason added that, "no amendments of the proper kind would ever be obtained by the people, if the Government should become oppressive." [23] In response to these concerns, the Convention unanimously voted to add the language allowing states to apply to Congress for a convention to propose amendments to the Constitution. [22]

A frequent question is whether applications from the states can omit to mention subject matter, and instead request an unlimited convention. Past practice suggests that separate unlimited applications submitted to Congress at different times are not allowed. [24] Article V itself calls for "the application of the legislatures" instead of calling for plural "applications".

States have requested that Congress convene an Article V convention to propose amendments on a variety of subjects. According to the National Archives, Congress has, however, never officially tabulated the applications, nor separated them by subject matter. [25] On at least one occasion though, the Congressional Record has included such a tabulation, which indicated that, as of 22 September 1981 [update] , thirty states had made a request for a balanced budget amendment. [26] In 1993, professor Michael Paulsen and his research staff assembled a listing of all state applications to date, but neither Paulsen's list, nor any other, can be safely characterized as "complete" since there may very well be state applications that have been overlooked and/or forgotten. [27]

In two law review articles in 1993 and again in 2011, Paulsen argued that state applications for an Article V convention limited to a particular subject matter are invalid and that only applications that include a call for an unrestricted convention are valid. [27] If Paulsen's criteria that state applications must not be limited to particular subject matter and that a rescission by states are valid, then forty-five applications from states were active as of 1993. Paulsen argues that Congress has had ample direction to call a convention on these grounds. [24] [28]

There has been no definitive determination by the Supreme Court regarding the state convention amendment method, though it has handled several cases and an array of arguments on the scope which Amendments can ultimately affect. The 1939 case Coleman v. Miller, which questioned whether a state legislature could relinquish endorsement of an Amendment pertaining to child labor, decided in part, "the question whether a reasonable time had elapsed since submission of the proposal was a nonjusticiable political question, the kinds of considerations entering into deciding being fit for Congress to evaluate, and the question of the effect of a previous rejection upon a ratification was similarly nonjusticiable, because the 1868 Fourteenth Amendment precedent of congressional determination 'has been accepted.'" [29] The case is seen to stand as authority for the proposition that at least some decisions with respect to the proposal and ratifications of constitutional amendments are exclusively within the purview of Congress, either because they are textually committed to Congress or because the courts lack adequate criteria of determination to pass on them.

Because no Article V convention has ever been convened, there are various questions about how such a convention would function in practice. One major question is whether the scope of the convention's subject matter could be limited. [22]

The language of Article V leaves no discretion to Congress, merely stating that Congress "shall" call a convention when the proper number of state applications have been received. Comments made at the time the Constitution was adopted indicate that it was understood when the Constitution was drafted that Congress would have no discretion. In The Federalist, Alexander Hamilton stated that when the proper number of applications had been received, Congress was "obliged" to call a convention and that "nothing is left to the discretion of Congress." [30] James Madison also affirmed Hamilton's contention that Congress was obligated to call a convention when the requisite number of states requested it. [31]

In the North Carolina debates about ratifying the Constitution, James Iredell, who subsequently became one of the founding members of the Supreme Court, stated that when two-thirds of states have applied to Congress for a convention, Congress is "under the necessity of convening one" and that they have "no option." [32]

By citing the Constitution's Necessary and Proper Clause, Congress has tried to enact a statute to regulate how an Article V convention would function. Sponsored by the late Senator Sam Ervin, such a bill passed the U.S. Senate unanimously in 1971 and again in 1973, [33] but the proposed legislation remained bottled up in the Committee on the Judiciary in the U.S. House of Representatives and died both times. Senator Orrin Hatch made a similar proposal several times in the late 1980s culminating in 1991 with no more success. Opponents to congressional regulation of an Article V convention's operations argue that neither Article I nor Article V of the Constitution grants Congress this power, and that the Founders intended that Congress "have no option." There has been no opportunity for federal courts to decide whether Congress has such authority because such legislation has never been adopted by Congress.

Some scholars believe that states have the power to limit the scope of an Article V convention: Larry Sabato is one scholar who advanced that view. [34] Some feel that Congress's duty to call a convention when requested by the states means that it must call the convention that the states requested. If the states, therefore, request a convention limited to a certain subject matter, then the convention that is called would likely need to be limited in the way the states requested. [35]

If states have the power to limit an Article V convention to a particular subject matter, and Congress only has power to call a convention but no further power to control or regulate it, then a potential concern becomes whether an Article V convention could become a "runaway convention" that attempts to exceed its scope. If a convention did attempt to exceed its scope, none of the amendments it proposed would become part of the constitution until three-fourths of the states ratified them, which is more states than are required to call a convention in the first place. [36] Some proponents of a convention express doubt that an Article V convention would exceed its scope, in light of the United States' experience with state constitutional conventions over 600 state constitutional conventions have been held to amend state constitutions, with little evidence that any of them have exceeded their scope. [37] This is reinforced by the fact that prior to the 1787 Philadelphia Convention, there were many other conventions of the states (some called by Congress, but most called by the states themselves) where the delegates operated within the scope of their commissions. [38]

Further, at many Conventions, States have directly controlled their delegates. In the New Hampshire Convention to ratify the U.S. Constitution, delegates were sent with instructions to vote against the Constitution: when they were convinced that the voters had been mistaken, the delegates later returned to their constituents to convince them and request new instructions, allowing the Convention to represent the true voice of the people.

Similarly, in the 1787 Convention, problems arose after two of New York's delegates walked out in protest, as the New York State Legislature had created a rule that required two delegates to agree to cast a vote on behalf of the state. As the legislature opted not to send new delegates, Alexander Hamilton accepted the authority of the state and was unable to cast a vote for the remainder of the Convention. This is the fundamental difference between a Delegate to a Convention, there to do the bidding of their constituents, and a Representative to a Legislature, there to stand in place of their constituents and make decisions based on their own deliberation.

The delegates to the 1787 Constitutional Convention did disregard Congress's recommendation to "solely amend the Articles" [39] but as Madison noted in Federalist No. 40, the resolution Congress passed in February 1787 endorsing the Convention was only a recommendation. [40] Regardless, the delegates sent nothing to the States at all, sending their new Constitution to Congress, as was their mandate. Congress debated the matter before voting to send it on to the States for ratification with no recommendation for or against.

The legislatures of some states have adopted rescissions of their prior applications. It is not clear from the language of Article V whether a subsequent vote to rescind an application is permissible. As discussed above, however, if the purpose of Article V is to give state legislatures power over a recalcitrant Congress—and if state lawmakers may indeed limit their applications by specific subject matter—it is possible that federal courts would hold that rescissions of previous applications are likewise valid, in order to give more meaningful effect to the power which Article V confers upon state legislators. [41]

If it is ultimately adjudicated that a state may not rescind a prior application, then Ohio's 2013 application for a balanced budget amendment convention would be the 33rd and Michigan's 2014 application would be the 34th (out of the necessary 34) on that topic, rather than the 20th and 22nd, respectively. [42] The balanced budget amendment applications by Ohio and Michigan were new, first-time convention applications, whereas the renewed applications from Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Tennessee, South Dakota, and Utah simply reprised applications made by those states during the 1970s but which had been rescinded during the period between 1988 and 2010.

Those [ who? ] claiming that rescission is impossible often also argue that different topics can be combined during a convention's deliberations. Congress has more than enough applications on a single issue to call a convention—if rescission is not valid—and more than enough applications on multiple topics regardless of rescissions. Consequently, if a State believes that combining topics could be done by Congress, even if a State feels that doing so would be contrary to the intent of the Constitution, then that State would also have to conclude that Congress can ignore rescission.

Since 2016, four state legislatures (Delaware in 2016 and New Mexico, Maryland and Nevada in 2017) have rescinded previous applications to call for a convention on the topic of a federal balanced budget amendment.

While the Supreme Court has never definitively interpreted the meaning of Article V, it has, on four separate occasions, referred to the Article V convention process:

Dodge v. Woolsey, 59 U.S. 331 (1855): "[The people] have directed that amendments should be made representatively for them, by the Congress . or where the legislatures of two thirds of the several States shall call a convention for proposing amendments, which, in either case, become valid, to all intents and purposes, as a part of the constitution, when ratified . "

Hawke v. Smith, 253 U.S. 221 (1920): "[Article V] makes provision for the proposal of amendments either by two-thirds of both houses of Congress or on application of the legislatures of two-thirds of the states, thus securing deliberation and consideration before any change can be proposed. The proposed change can only become effective by the ratification of the legislatures of three-fourths of the states or by conventions in a like number of states. The method of ratification is left to the choice of Congress." [43]

Dillon v. Gloss 256 U.S. 368 (1921): In a ruling upholding Congress's authority to place a deadline on a particular Constitutional amendment's ratification, the Court reaffirmed that "A further mode of proposal—as yet never invoked—is provided, which is that, on the application of two-thirds of the states, Congress shall call a convention for the purpose." [44]

United States v. Sprague, 282 U.S. 716 (1931): "[A]rticle 5 is clear in statement and in meaning, contains no ambiguity and calls for no resort to rules of construction. . It provides two methods for proposing amendments. Congress may propose them by a vote of two-thirds of both houses, or, on the application of the legislatures of two-thirds of the States, must call a convention to propose them."

Because of the political question doctrine and the Court's ruling in the 1939 case of Coleman v. Miller (307 U.S. 433), it remains an open question whether federal courts could assert jurisdiction over a legal challenge to Congress, if Congress were to refuse to call a convention.

Every state except Hawaii has applied for an Article V Convention at one time or another. The majority of such applications were made in the 20th century. Before any official count had been taken, one private count puts the total number of applications at over 700. [46] [47] This is widely considered an overestimate. The United States House of Representatives is in the process of building its own official count which currently stands at over 120 with 35 states having current live calls that have not been rescinded. This is an underestimate as it so far does not include anything before the 1960s and there are many known Convention calls subsequent to 1960 which are not yet included in the House's 1960 to 2019 tally. Both Wolf-PAC and the Convention of the States estimate, based on spot checking, that the real figure is in the range of 400 calls.

Even though the Article V Convention process has never been used to amend the Constitution, the number of states applying for a convention has nearly reached the required threshold several times. Congress has proposed amendments to the Constitution on some occasions, at least in part, because of the threat of an Article V Convention. Rather than risk such a convention taking control of the amendment process away from it, Congress acted pre-emptively to propose the amendments instead. The Bill of Rights, which includes the first ten amendments, as well as the Twenty-seventh Amendment, were proposed in part because of a Convention application by the New York and Virginia legislatures at the suggestion of a letter from the New York State Convention to ratify the Constitution. The Convention would have been limited to those changes discussed at the various State ratifying Conventions. At least four other amendments (the Seventeenth, Twenty-First, Twenty-Second, and Twenty-Fifth Amendments) have been identified as being proposed by Congress at least partly in response to the threat of an Article V convention, bringing the total to 15 out of 27, a majority of the Amendments. [48]

Direct election of Senators Edit

In the late 1890s, the House of Representatives passed multiple resolutions for a constitutional amendment providing for direct election of senators. The Senate refused to consider those resolutions. [49] In 1893, Nebraska filed the first Article V application for direct election of senators. By 1911, 29 states [50] had Article V convention applications on file for an amendment providing for direct election of senators, just two short of the 31-state threshold. [51] As new states were being added the threshold increased, however those States had already passed resolutions supporting such a Convention. The final count is somewhat uncertain, but when either one or two further states were required the Senate finally conceded and passed its version of an amendment in May 1911, which was then approved by the House in 1912 and submitted to the states.

Congressional apportionment Edit

There have been two nearly successful attempts to amend the Constitution via an Article V Convention since the late 1960s. The first try was an attempt to propose an amendment that would overturn two Supreme Court decisions, Wesberry v. Sanders and Reynolds v. Sims, decisions that required states to adhere to the one man, one vote principle in drawing electoral districts for state and federal elections. The attempt fell only one state short of reaching the 34 needed to force Congress to call a convention in 1969, but ended by the death of its main promoter Senator Everett Dirksen. After this peak, several states (whose legislatures by this point had been re-engineered in the wake of the rulings) rescinded their applications, and interest in the proposed amendment subsided. [52]

Balanced budget Edit

In response to increasing federal deficits, a movement in the 1970s by the states to impose fiscal discipline on the federal government began. Between 1975 and 1979, thirty states petitioned Congress for a convention to write a balanced budget amendment. [53] By 1983, the number of applications had reached 32, only two states short of the 34 needed to force such a convention. [54] In addition, at least four states (California, Illinois, Kentucky, and Montana) had adopted resolutions requesting that Congress propose a deficit spending amendment. [55] California and Montana were set to hold ballot initiatives that would have forced their legislatures to file convention applications, but state courts ruled the two ballot initiatives unconstitutional, and the effort stalled. [56] Enthusiasm for the amendment subsided in response to fears that an Article V Convention could not be limited to a single subject [55] and because Congress passed the Gramm–Rudman–Hollings Balanced Budget Act in 1985 [55] (The act was overturned by the Supreme Court in 1986 [54] but Congress enacted a reworked version of the law in 1987 [57] ). By 1988, two states (Alabama and Florida) had rescinded their applications on the topic of a federal balanced budget amendment. [55] Similar rescissions were approved in Louisiana (1990), Oregon (1999), Idaho (2000), Utah, (2001), North Dakota (2001) Wyoming (2001), Arizona (2003) and Georgia (2004). [55]

Recently the movement has seen a revival. On November 20, 2013, the Ohio General Assembly applied to Congress for a convention to propose a balanced budget amendment. This effort made Ohio the 21st state to join a push for a national convention of states. [58] On March 26, 2014, the Michigan Legislature applied to Congress for a convention to propose a balanced budget amendment, making Michigan the 22nd to participate in the national effort. [59] On April 27, 2016, the Oklahoma Senate approved an Article V convention on a balanced budget amendment, making Oklahoma the 29th state to participate in the national effort. [60] On November 7, 2017, the Wisconsin Legislature approved an Article V convention resolution for a balanced budget amendment.

Campaign finance Edit

A political action committee called Wolf-PAC emerged from New York's Occupy Wall Street movement in October 2011. Wolf-PAC calls for a convention of states in order to propose a constitutional amendment that addresses the issue of campaign finance. The resolution reads "Corporations are not people. They have none of the Constitutional rights of human beings. Corporations are not allowed to give money to any politician, directly or indirectly. No politician can raise over $100 from any person or entity. All elections must be publicly financed." [61] [62]

As of 2020 [update] , Wolf-PAC's application had been adopted in five states: California, Illinois and Vermont in 2014 New Jersey in 2015 and Rhode Island in 2016.

Convention of States Project Edit

The conservative group Citizens for Self-Governance (CSG) is engaged in an ongoing effort to call an Article V Convention. Through its "Convention of States Project", CSG is seeking "to urge and empower state legislators to call a convention of states." CSG states that it initiated the Convention of States project "for the purpose of stopping the runaway power of the federal government." [63] [64] [65] [66] [67] Mark Levin has supported CSG's efforts to a call a convention for the purpose of proposing amendments to the constitution. [67]

In December 2013, nearly 100 legislators from 32 states met at Mount Vernon to talk about how to call a convention of states. According to Slate, "The meeting lasted four hours, ending when legislators agreed to meet again in the spring of 2014. That’s the most progress anyone’s made in decades toward a states-first constitutional amendment campaign." [67]

In February 2014, U.S. Senator Tom Coburn announced that after his retirement from Congress, he would focus on promoting the Convention of States to state legislatures. [68] In December 2015, Marco Rubio endorsed CSG's efforts to a call an Article V Convention. [67] [69] In January 2016, Texas Governor Greg Abbott called for a Convention of States to restrict the power of the federal government. In June 2017, former U.S. Senator and former Heritage Foundation president Jim DeMint announced his role as a senior adviser for the Convention of States project. [70]

In September 2016, CSG held a simulated convention to propose amendments to the United States Constitution in Williamsburg, Virginia. [71] An assembly of 137 delegates representing every state gathered to conduct a simulated convention. [72] The simulated convention passed amendments relating to six topics, including requiring the states to approve any increase in the national debt, imposing term limits, restricting the scope of the Commerce Clause, limiting the power of federal regulations, requiring a supermajority to impose federal taxes and repealing the 16th Amendment, and giving the states the power to abrogate any federal law, regulation, or executive order. [73]

As of 2020 [update] , CSG's application for a Convention of States has been passed in 15 states. [14]

Single Subject Amendment PAC Edit

A Super PAC called Single Subject Amendment registered with the Federal Election Commission on March 1, 2013. It is actively engaged in an effort to call an Article V Convention for the limited purpose of proposing an amendment to provide every law enacted by Congress shall embrace only one subject which shall be clearly expressed in the bill's title. [74] [75] [76] Forty-one state constitutions have a single subject provision but this provision is not in the United States Constitution. In April 2014, Florida became the first state to make an application for an Article V Convention to constitutionally prohibit unrelated riders in Congress. [77] [78] [79]

  1. ^"The Constitutional Amendment Process". The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration . Retrieved November 17, 2015 .
  2. ^ Korte, Greg. "Balanced budget amendment push sparks debate", USA Today (November 29, 2011).
  3. ^ Rappaport, Michael. "The Constitutionality of a Limited Convention: An Originalist Analysis", Constitutional Commentary, Vol. 81, p. 53 (2012).
  4. ^
  5. Kelly, Robert. "An Article V Convention Can Be Limited". Convention of States . Retrieved March 21, 2016 .
  6. ^ ab
  7. James O'Toole (December 12, 2011). "Constitutional convention call gains traction". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette . Retrieved December 14, 2011 . Article V of the Constitution, however, in the same section that set up that procedure, set forth the legal possibility for the legislatures of two-thirds of the states to instruct Congress to call a constitutional convention, a mechanism, in the view of some government critics, whose time has come.
  8. ^
  9. Gregory Korte (November 29, 2011). "Balanced budget amendment push sparks debate". USA Today . Retrieved December 14, 2011 . Some supporters of a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution are turning to a method last used by the founding fathers: A constitutional convention.
  10. ^
  11. Christopher Shea (November 2, 2011). "Time for a Constitutional Convention?". Wall Street Journal . Retrieved December 14, 2011 . As you might guess, they’re coming at the issue from different angles, but they and other conference attendees shared a frustration with the current structure of the government (or recent Supreme Court decisions, or both).
  12. ^
  13. Turley, Jonathan (February 11, 2010). "Real political reform should go beyond campaign finance". Los Angeles Times . Retrieved March 8, 2012 .
  14. ^Proposed Amendment by Governor Greg Abbott of Texas (Retrieved May 15, 2018)
  15. ^(Retrieved June 9, 2018)
  16. ^
  17. Sherfinski, David (February 2, 2015). "Virginia weighs joining convention of states effort to rein in federal powers". Washington Times . Retrieved February 25, 2015 .
  18. ^
  19. "Utah wins! State legislature becomes 14th nationwide to call for Convention of States".
  20. ^
  21. "Progress Map: States that have passed the Convention of States Article V application".
  22. ^ ab
  23. Pollack, Cassandra (May 27, 2017). "Convention of states-related bill hits Gov. Greg Abbott's desk". Texas Tribune . Retrieved May 30, 2017 .
  24. ^
  25. Bogdan, Jennifer (June 20, 2016). "At R.I. State House, Wolf-PAC lobbyists made late push". Providence Journal . Retrieved April 10, 2017 .
  26. ^
  27. H. Neale, Thomas (November 15, 2017). "The Article V Convention to Propose Constitutional Amendments: Current Developments" (PDF) . fas.org. Congressional Research Service . Retrieved May 6, 2021 .
  28. ^
  29. England, Trent & Spalding, Matthew. "Essays on Article V: Amendments". The Heritage Foundation . Retrieved July 31, 2014 .
  30. ^ Farrand, Max. The Records of the Federal Convention of 1787 (1937), vol. 1, p. 22. Also see "Records of the Federal Convention", The Founders Constitution, ed. Philip Kurland and Ralph Lerner (U. Chicago Press).
  31. ^
  32. England, Trent & Spalding, Matthew. "Essays on Article V: Amendments". The Heritage Foundation . Retrieved January 18, 2017 .
  33. ^ Farrand, Max. The Records of the Federal Convention of 1787 (1937), vol. 2, pp. 629–30
  34. ^Rogers 2007, p. 1007.
  35. ^ abcRogers 2007.
  36. ^ Caplan, Russell. Constitutional Brinksmanship, pp. 27–29 quoting Max Farrand, ed., The Records of the Federal Convention of 1787, 4 vols., (New Haven: Yale University Press, revised ed., 1937), 1:22, 202–03, 629.
  37. ^ abPaulsen 1993, p. 764.
  38. ^ Ross, Rodney. Center for Legislative Archives, National Archives and Records Administration, March 12, 2007 letter to U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders, Vermont, "Unfortunately there is no single category for petitions asking for amendments to the Constitution, let alone for amendments by the convention route."
  39. ^129 Cong. Rec. S21538 (1981) (collecting applications calling for a constitutional convention since 1974).
  40. ^ abPaulsen 1993.
  41. ^Rogers 2007, p. 1018.
  42. ^
  43. "Annotation 3 - Article V". Findlaw.
  44. ^ Hamilton, Alexander. Federalist Papers, no. 85 (1788). In the third to last paragraph, Hamilton states:

But there is yet a further consideration, which proves beyond the possibility of a doubt, that the observation is futile. It is this that the national rulers, whenever nine States concur, will have no option upon the subject. By the fifth article of the plan, the Congress will be obliged "on the application of the legislatures of two thirds of the States [which at present amount to nine], to call a convention for proposing amendments, which shall be valid, to all intents and purposes, as part of the Constitution, when ratified by the legislatures of three fourths of the States, or by conventions in three fourths thereof."

The words of this article are peremptory: the Congress "shall call a convention." Nothing in this particular is left to the discretion of that body. And of consequence, all the declamation about the disinclination to a change vanishes in air. Nor however difficult it may be supposed to unite two-thirds or three-fourths of the State legislatures, in amendments which may affect local interests, can there be any room to apprehend any such difficulty in a union on points which are merely relative to the general liberty or security of the people. We may safely rely on the disposition of the State legislatures to erect barriers against the encroachments of the national authority.

If the foregoing argument is a fallacy, certain it is that I am myself deceived by it, for it is, in my conception, one of those rare instances in which a political truth can be brought to the test of a mathematical demonstration.


Watch the video: Η Ευρωπαϊκή Σύμβαση Δικαιωμάτων του Ανθρώπου στη νέα εποχή live webcast