U.S. Constitutional Convention 1787 (2019 Edition)

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

Committee of the Whole House

Committee consisting of all delegates to the Convention.

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Session 2945: 1787-06-18 11:00:00

New Jersey Plan debated. Hamilton Plan introduced.

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Hamilton Plan (Draft) - (text)

Hamilton's papers contain his draft notes for his speech of 18 June 1787, where he laid out his plan for a constitution. Farrand included these in his volume, along with the various reports of what Hamilton said, recorded by Madison, King, Lansing, and Yates. As this is the over version in Hamilton's own hands it is recorded here for comparison with Madison's version and Hamilton's own substantial redraft dating from much later in the Convention.

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

APPENDIX F: THE HAMILTON PLAN Farrand writes: "In connection with his important speech of June 18, Hamilton read a sketch of a plan of government which “was meant only to give a more correct view of his ideas, and to suggest the amendments which he should probably propose to the plan of Mr. R. in the proper stages of its future discussion.” Although this plan was not formally before the Convention in any way, several of the delegates made copies that show considerable differences in certain articles, — namely, the fourth, seventh and eighth. In the fourth article, which relates to the executive, the variations are in that part which prescribes the (indirect) mode of his election. Hamilton’s own copy (found among his papers, but may have been retouched by its author) provides for “his election to be made by electors chosen by electors chosen by the people in the election districts aforesaid,” meaning the single-member districts arranged for the choice of senators. That is to say, it provides not that his election shall be secondary, but that it shall be, if the phrase is permissible, a tertiary election. An alternative is provided, which appears in no other of the texts, namely, “or by electors chosen for that purpose by the respective legislatures” — an election still tertiary. The Brearley and Paterson copies, though they do not give the second member of this alternative, agree exactly with the phraseology of the first. In Madison’s copy the process becomes simply that of secondary election — “the election to be made by electors chosen by the people in the election districts aforesaid.” Read’s copy agrees with this. Arguments from one or another of these texts derived from expressions used in the subsequent debates seem to be lacking. The more intricate form in which the Hamilton copy provides for the election of the executive is sustained by the longer plan which Hamilton gave to Madison at the close of the Convention, for this provided for a tertiary rather than a secondary election, and it is easy in copying to omit one of two similar phrases when the repetition is not perfectly well known to be intentional. On the other hand, it is not easy to imagine that the alternative method which is suggested in Hamilton’s copy was really the document read on June 18, yet escaped all notice on the part of all of those whose versions have come down to us. In the seventh article, relating to the judiciary, the number of judges in the Supreme Court is left blank in the others, whereas in Hamilton’s copy the blank is filled with the word twelve. Much the most probable conclusion is that the document originally read had a blank at this point, which Hamilton subsequently filled in with the number. In his longer plan he provides for a court of from six to twelve judges. The eighth article in Hamilton’s copy reads: “The Legislature of the United States to have power to institute courts in each State for the determination of all causes of capture and of all matters relating to their revenue, or in which the citizens of foreign nations are concerned.” In the other copies we find a less specific definition of their jurisdiction: “for the determination of all matters of general concern.” It would be natural, according to the usual rules respecting copying, to suppose that the more specific phrase was the original, the more general derivative; but this presumption is much weakened when we find several independent texts agreeing exactly in their phrasing of this provision. Finally, in the ninth article, the various texts differ markedly in respect to the composition of the court for trying impeachments. Hamilton’s copy provides that they shall be tried by a court consisting “of the judges of the Federal Supreme Court, chief or senior judge of the superior court of law of each State.” The others make no mention of the judges of the Federal Supreme Court. Once they were introduced, it is easy to see why the blank in Article 7 should be filled with the word twelve, lest in impeachments of Federal officers they be quite outnumbered by the thirteen chief justices of the States, or so many of them as could attend. But the other copies, while they confine the tribunal to the State judges, have minor variations in their definition of them — Madison, “to consist of the chief or judge of the superior court of law of each State”; Read, “chief or judges”; Brearley and Paterson, “chief or senior judge”. It is not difficult to imagine that, if the writer did not feel perfectly acquainted with the judicial systems of all the States, and therefore could not in advance of discussion decide what phrase should be used to cover the case of States which did not precisely have a chief judge, he might at first write “chief or judge,” and afterward fill in the blank with the word “senior”. In Hamilton’s longer plan, the court for the trial of impeachments in the case of the higher officials is composed of the Supreme Court of the United States, (which was to consist of from six to twelve judges), plus the chief or senior judge of each State, any twelve to constitute a court. No other data being available, it is impossible to reach a positive conclusion upon the correct reading of any of these variations, but the editor is inclined to rely upon the accuracy of the Madison copy."

Hamilton Plan (Redraft) - (text)

APPENDIX F: THE HAMILTON PLAN Farrand writes: "In connection with his important speech of June 18, Hamilton read a sketch of a plan of government which “was meant only to give a more correct view of his ideas, and to suggest the amendments which he should probably propose to the plan of Mr. R. in the proper stages of its future discussion.” Although this plan was not formally before the Convention in any way, several of the delegates made copies that show considerable differences in certain articles, — namely, the fourth, seventh and eighth. In the fourth article, which relates to the executive, the variations are in that part which prescribes the (indirect) mode of his election. Hamilton’s own copy (found among his papers, but may have been retouched by its author) provides for “his election to be made by electors chosen by electors chosen by the people in the election districts aforesaid,” meaning the single-member districts arranged for the choice of senators. That is to say, it provides not that his election shall be secondary, but that it shall be, if the phrase is permissible, a tertiary election. An alternative is provided, which appears in no other of the texts, namely, “or by electors chosen for that purpose by the respective legislatures” — an election still tertiary. The Brearley and Paterson copies, though they do not give the second member of this alternative, agree exactly with the phraseology of the first. In Madison’s copy the process becomes simply that of secondary election — “the election to be made by electors chosen by the people in the election districts aforesaid.” Read’s copy agrees with this. Arguments from one or another of these texts derived from expressions used in the subsequent debates seem to be lacking. The more intricate form in which the Hamilton copy provides for the election of the executive is sustained by the longer plan which Hamilton gave to Madison at the close of the Convention, for this provided for a tertiary rather than a secondary election, and it is easy in copying to omit one of two similar phrases when the repetition is not perfectly well known to be intentional. On the other hand, it is not easy to imagine that the alternative method which is suggested in Hamilton’s copy was really the document read on June 18, yet escaped all notice on the part of all of those whose versions have come down to us. In the seventh article, relating to the judiciary, the number of judges in the Supreme Court is left blank in the others, whereas in Hamilton’s copy the blank is filled with the word twelve. Much the most probable conclusion is that the document originally read had a blank at this point, which Hamilton subsequently filled in with the number. In his longer plan he provides for a court of from six to twelve judges. The eighth article in Hamilton’s copy reads: “The Legislature of the United States to have power to institute courts in each State for the determination of all causes of capture and of all matters relating to their revenue, or in which the citizens of foreign nations are concerned.” In the other copies we find a less specific definition of their jurisdiction: “for the determination of all matters of general concern.” It would be natural, according to the usual rules respecting copying, to suppose that the more specific phrase was the original, the more general derivative; but this presumption is much weakened when we find several independent texts agreeing exactly in their phrasing of this provision. Finally, in the ninth article, the various texts differ markedly in respect to the composition of the court for trying impeachments. Hamilton’s copy provides that they shall be tried by a court consisting “of the judges of the Federal Supreme Court, chief or senior judge of the superior court of law of each State.” The others make no mention of the judges of the Federal Supreme Court. Once they were introduced, it is easy to see why the blank in Article 7 should be filled with the word twelve, lest in impeachments of Federal officers they be quite outnumbered by the thirteen chief justices of the States, or so many of them as could attend. But the other copies, while they confine the tribunal to the State judges, have minor variations in their definition of them — Madison, “to consist of the chief or judge of the superior court of law of each State”; Read, “chief or judges”; Brearley and Paterson, “chief or senior judge”. It is not difficult to imagine that, if the writer did not feel perfectly acquainted with the judicial systems of all the States, and therefore could not in advance of discussion decide what phrase should be used to cover the case of States which did not precisely have a chief judge, he might at first write “chief or judge,” and afterward fill in the blank with the word “senior”. In Hamilton’s longer plan, the court for the trial of impeachments in the case of the higher officials is composed of the Supreme Court of the United States, (which was to consist of from six to twelve judges), plus the chief or senior judge of each State, any twelve to constitute a court. No other data being available, it is impossible to reach a positive conclusion upon the correct reading of any of these variations, but the editor is inclined to rely upon the accuracy of the Madison copy. The document that has just been discussed is to be distinguished from the following, which was not submitted to the Convention and has no further value than attaches to the personal opinions of Hamilton. Copy of a paper Communicated to J. M. by Col. Hamilton, about the close of the Convention in Philada. 1787, which he said delineated the Constitution which he would have wished to be proposed by the Convention: He had stated the principles of it in the course of the deliberations."


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Procedure:

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