U.S. Constitutional Convention 1787 (2019 Edition)

Grand Convention at Philadelphia, May to September, 1787, Quill Project 2019 Edition.

The Convention

The main chamber of the Constitutional Convention, consisting of all delegates.

To see the full record of a committee, click on the corresponding committee on the map below.

Session 2748: 1787-05-29 10:00:00

Additional rules agreed. Virginia Plan and Pinckney Plan proposed.

Resources (10):

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Resource Items (10):

Pinckney Plan (Recreated Original) - (text)

APPENDIX D: THE PINCKNEY PLAN Farrand writes: "On May 29, after Randolph had presented the Virginia Plan to the Convention, “Mr. Charles Pinckney . . . laid before the House for their consideration, the draught of a fœderal government to be agreed upon between the free and independent States of America.” This plan was referred to the Committee of the Whole House, which was to take the Virginia Plan into consideration. Nothing more is recorded of it, except that on July 24 the Committee of the Whole was formally discharged from further consideration of it and it was referred to the Committee of Detail which was appointed to draft a constitution upon the basis of the proceedings of the Convention at that date. When John Quincy Adams was preparing the Journal for publication, the Pinckney Plan was not to be found among the secretary’s papers, and Pinckney himself was appealed to for a copy of the missing document. In response Pinckney stated: “I have already informed you I have several rough draughts of the Constitution I proposed & that they are all substantially the same differing only in words & the arrangement of the Articles — at the distance of nearly thirty two Years it is impossible for me now to say which of the 4 or 5 draughts I have was the one but enclosed I send you the one I believe was it — I repeat however that they are substantially the same differing only in form & unessentials — — ”. Adams accepted this statement and printed the following document... Only a few of the members of the Convention were still living when the Journal was published in 1819, but two of those, King and Madison, expressed privately their conviction that the document printed in the Journal was not the same as that originally presented by Pinckney in 1787. Madison also prepared a somewhat elaborate criticism to be appended to the document, which he evidently intended to include in his Debates. It does not seem necessary in this connection to do anything more than point out the lines of evidence followed in disproving the document in question. In the first place, the writing, the ink, and the paper of the document are the same as the letter accompanying it — the paper bearing the watermark of 1797 — so that it cannot be the original, but was probably copied or prepared in 1818. In the second place, its provisions, in several important particulars, are directly at variance with Pinckney’s opinions as expressed in the Convention. In the next place, the document embodies several provisions that were only reached after weeks of bitter disputes — compromises and details, that it was impossible for any human being to have forecast accurately. And finally, shortly after the Convention was over, Pinckney printed for private circulation a pamphlet entitled “Observations on the Plan of Government submitted to the Federal Convention, by Mr. Charles Pinckney”, etc., which seems to have been a speech prepared in advance to be delivered in presenting his plan to the Convention, but which never was delivered, owing probably to lack of time. This speech outlines the principal features of the plan which differ radically from the provisions of the document sent to John Quincy Adams. The problem then presents itself to determine as accurately as possible what Pinckney’s original plan was. In 1786, Pinckney was a delegate to the Continental Congress and obtained the appointment of a grand committee, of which he became a member, to recommend amendments to the Articles of Confederation. He was the chairman of a sub-committee of three that drew up a report, which was accepted by the grand committee, and which proposed seven important changes or new articles to the original Articles of Confederation. George Bancroft in his History of the Constitution, remarks that “these amended resolutions may well be taken as representing the intentions of Charles Pinckney at that time”. Here, at least, is a starting-point, and as one proceeds in this investigation he becomes more and more convinced that Pinckney’s working motive in his original proposals in the Federal Convention was a reform of the Articles of Confederation.1 These amendments, therefore, which he endorsed in 1786 and probably originated, are not merely a starting-point, they show somewhat of the character of the Pinckney Plan. In the debates of the Federal Convention itself, during the discussion of the Randolph Resolutions in the Committee of the Whole — that is, during approximately the first two weeks of the Convention’s work — Pinckney’s attitude upon the various questions may be taken as fairly representing his original ideas, especially when his position was opposed to that of the leaders or to the general sentiment of the Convention. His later attitude was undoubtedly modified by the development of proceedings and can only be used with caution, although some suggestions may be obtained therefrom. While the delegates were gathering in Philadelphia and were waiting for a sufficient number to commence proceedings, George Read, of Delaware, wrote to his colleague Dickinson that he was “in possession of a copied draft of a federal system intended to be proposed,” and he outlined a few of the conspicuous features. These do not at all correspond to the features of the Virginia Plan, but they do tally exactly with certain characteristics of the Pinckney Plan that have been obtained from the study of the debates. There can be no doubt that it is the latter plan that is here described, especially as we have on other authority that Pinckney prepared his plan in advance of his going to Philadelphia. From this letter of Read’s we get a few additional particulars, and the helpful suggestion that “some of its principal features are taken from the New York system of government.” The pamphlet entitled “Observations” must be used with some caution, as it was not printed until after the Convention was over, and Pinckney may have modified some of his statements or added somewhat to his speech as originally prepared. And there is also the draft sent to John Quincy Adams in 1818. In the light of the documents already noticed, it is established beyond all doubt that this draft does not represent “Pinckney’s original plan with some additions and modifications.” It does not even have Pinckney’s original plan as its basis. Not only does it radically differ from the original plan in several essential matters, it is constructed on an entirely different framework. Indeed, when one notes its striking resemblance to the draft reported by the Committee of Detail on August 6, it is difficult not to agree with Mr. Jameson’s conclusion that if Pinckney had copied “the printed report of the Committee of Detail, paraphrasing to a small extent here and there, and interweaving as he went along some of the best remembered features of his own plan,” the results would have been precisely like the document that was sent to John Quincy Adams. There is no proof, however, it is only a possible hypothesis, that in the points of difference from the draft of the Committee of Detail the document sent to Adams reproduces portions of the original plan. The most that can be said is, that when other evidence confirms the inclusion of such provisions, a possible reading of those clauses may here be found. Following the same line of argument, although ignoring the amendments to the Articles of Confederation and treating the Observations with “considerable skepticism,” Mr. Jameson was able to establish the main points of Pinckney’s original plan. By a piece of brilliant criticism Mr. Jameson was thus enabled to identify a document among the Wilson drafts of the Committee of Detail as a series of extracts from the Pinckney Plan, and Mr. McLaughlin was able to identify another document among the same papers as an outline of the entire plan." Square brackets are insertions by Farrand, parts taken from the “Observations” are placed in parentheses, while quotation marks indicate extracts from Wilson’s part copy, while everything else is taken from Wilson’s outline.

Pinckney Plan (Redraft) - (text)

APPENDIX D: THE PINCKNEY PLAN Farrand writes: "On May 29, after Randolph had presented the Virginia Plan to the Convention, “Mr. Charles Pinckney . . . laid before the House for their consideration, the draught of a fœderal government to be agreed upon between the free and independent States of America.” This plan was referred to the Committee of the Whole House, which was to take the Virginia Plan into consideration. Nothing more is recorded of it, except that on July 24 the Committee of the Whole was formally discharged from further consideration of it and it was referred to the Committee of Detail which was appointed to draft a constitution upon the basis of the proceedings of the Convention at that date. When John Quincy Adams was preparing the Journal for publication, the Pinckney Plan was not to be found among the secretary’s papers, and Pinckney himself was appealed to for a copy of the missing document. In response Pinckney stated: “I have already informed you I have several rough draughts of the Constitution I proposed & that they are all substantially the same differing only in words & the arrangement of the Articles — at the distance of nearly thirty two Years it is impossible for me now to say which of the 4 or 5 draughts I have was the one but enclosed I send you the one I believe was it — I repeat however that they are substantially the same differing only in form & unessentials — — ”. Adams accepted this statement and printed the following document... Only a few of the members of the Convention were still living when the Journal was published in 1819, but two of those, King and Madison, expressed privately their conviction that the document printed in the Journal was not the same as that originally presented by Pinckney in 1787. Madison also prepared a somewhat elaborate criticism to be appended to the document, which he evidently intended to include in his Debates. It does not seem necessary in this connection to do anything more than point out the lines of evidence followed in disproving the document in question. In the first place, the writing, the ink, and the paper of the document are the same as the letter accompanying it — the paper bearing the watermark of 1797 — so that it cannot be the original, but was probably copied or prepared in 1818. In the second place, its provisions, in several important particulars, are directly at variance with Pinckney’s opinions as expressed in the Convention. In the next place, the document embodies several provisions that were only reached after weeks of bitter disputes — compromises and details, that it was impossible for any human being to have forecast accurately. And finally, shortly after the Convention was over, Pinckney printed for private circulation a pamphlet entitled “Observations on the Plan of Government submitted to the Federal Convention, by Mr. Charles Pinckney”, etc., which seems to have been a speech prepared in advance to be delivered in presenting his plan to the Convention, but which never was delivered, owing probably to lack of time. This speech outlines the principal features of the plan which differ radically from the provisions of the document sent to John Quincy Adams."

The 1819 Journal manuscript pages for 29 May - (link)

Link to the Archive.org copy of the 1819 Journal manuscript.

The Journal record for 29 May - (link)

Link to the Archive.org 1819 publication of the Journal.

Virginia Plan - (text)

The Virginia Plan was proposed by Edmund Randolph at the start of the Convention, and was the first plan taken up for consideration. As a result the plan set the overall agenda for the process of framing the constitution. Though sometimes referred to as the Randolph Plan, it was largely drafted by James Madison.

Virginia Plan (Madison's Version) - (text)

APPENDIX C: THE VIRGINIA PLAN OR RANDOLPH RESOLUTIONS. Farrand writes: "As their state had taken the lead in calling the Federal Convention, the Virginia delegates felt a sense of responsibility. They accordingly prepared an outline of a new government, which was presented on May 29 in the form of a series of resolutions by Randolph, the governor of the state.1 These resolutions, commonly known as the Randolph Resolutions, but more properly designated as the Virginia Plan, became the basis of the work of the Convention and, expanded and developed, eventually grew into the Constitution as adopted. In the later stages of the proceedings of the Convention the delegates were provided with printed copies of the more important documents, but in the earlier stages the delegates were forced to make their own copies. As the importance of the Virginia Plan was early recognized and was the subject of discussion for two weeks in a committee of the whole house, not a few of the delegates made copies of this plan, of which several are still in existence, — e.g., Madison’s, Washington’s, Brearley’s, McHenry’s et al. The original document is missing, and the various copies differ among themselves. There are inevitable slight variations in wording, spelling, and punctuation, but the most significant differences are found in the sixth and ninth resolutions. The sixth resolution reads: “That the National Legislature ought to be empowered . . . to negative all laws passed by the several states, contravening in the opinion of the National Legislature the articles of Union”, and at this point some of the texts add “or any treaty subsisting under the authority of the Union”. The records show clearly that this additional clause was not in the original, as it was inserted on the motion of Franklin, May 31. Madison’s copy gives the correct reading. In Madison’s copy the ninth resolution reads: “9. Resd. that a National Judiciary be established to consist of one or more supreme tribunals, and of inferior tribunals to be chosen by the National Legislature, . . . that the jurisdiction of the inferior tribunals shall be to hear & determine in the first instance, [594] and of the supreme tribunal to hear and determine in the dernier resort, all piracies & felonies on the high seas, captures from an enemy;” etc. The other texts vary in the reading of the second, third, and fourth clauses, either by omitting them altogether, or by modifying or omitting one or more of them. Mr. Jameson argues that the specification of supreme and inferior tribunals could not have been in the original document because it was voted, on June 4, “to add these words to the first clause of the ninth resolution, namely: ‘To consist of one supreme tribunal, and of one or more inferior tribunals.’ ” In support of this he cites the authority of both the Journal and Madison’s notes. By referring to the Records of that date, however, it will be seen that Madison’s entry was copied from Journal and this evidence, therefore, rests upon the somewhat doubtful authority of the Journal alone. In the next place, it will be noticed that the wording of June 4 is slightly different from that of the original resolution (as reported by Madison), and so the phrase “to add” might well be used instead of “to accept” or “to agree to”. And finally, the texts that in other respects prove to be the most accurate — Madison’s, Washington’s, McHenry’s — all agree in the wording of this resolution. The same reasoning applies to the latter part of the resolution respecting the jurisdiction of the inferior and superior tribunals, which Mr. Jameson argues is corrupted in the Madison copy. In the editor’s judgment, then, the Madison text of the Virginia Plan or Randolph Resolutions as given in the Records (May 29) is an accurate copy of the original."


Summary of events in this session:

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List of postpone debate voted on

List of other proposals voted on

Procedure:

List of procedural motion

List of motions debated

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