September 15th, 1787

Everyone wanted to get out of Philadelphia, and today they might be able to finish their business.  But they had a lot of work to do. It was going to be a long day.

Historians and legal scholars have pored over Madison’s Notes of the Convention since they were finally made public after his death in 1836.  But to make them come alive, to really understand them, you have to have served in a legislature.  The last day of the session.  A ton of things to get done.   And everyone wants to go home.

This was what was on their calendar:

  1. The desirability of drafting an address to the people.
  2. The addition of Representatives, and electoral votes, to North Carolina, Rhode Island and Delaware.
  3. Amending Article I, Sec 10, dealing with the denial to the states of the power to impose duties on imports and exports.
  4. The rights of states to clear harbors and erect lighthouses.
  5. Presidential emoluments
  6. The Presidential pardoning power
  7. The Presidential appointment power.
  8. Technical amendments to Article II, Sec. 1
  9. Technical amendment to Article II, Sec. 2
  10. Technical amendment to Article III, Sec.2
  11. A substantive amendment to Article III, Sec. 2
  12. A technical amendment to Article IV, Sec. 2
  13. An attempt to amend Article IV, Sec, 2  Debated and defeated.
  14. A technical amendment to Article IV, Sec. 4
  15. Article V

After the long and contentious debate on Article V, with a number of proposed amendments, and a motion to delete the Article entirely, they passed it in what they thought was its proper form.  But it was, technically, incorrect.  But since this was the last day before engrossment, no further technical amendments would be introduced.

The day ended with a discussion of the navigation acts, and at the end, with speeches from John Randolph, George Mason, Thomas Pinckney and Elbridge Gerry.  Pinckney said he was inclined to vote no, “… but apprehending the danger of a general confusion, and an ultimate decision by the sword…”  he gave the plan his support.

Mason and Randolph of Virginia, and Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts, all spoke to explain why they must vote no.  Mason’s words are remembered best.  He said he didn’t know if this government would end in a monarchy or a tyrranical aristocracy, but it would be one of the two.

I think Mason was right.  Because if Congress isn’t a tyrranical aristocracy, what is?

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