Documents Illustrative of the Formation of the Union of the American States

By Charles C. Tansill; Library of Congress Legislative Reference Service | Go to book overview

NOTES OF RUFUS KING IN THE FEDERAL
CONVENTION OF 17871

Among the manuscripts in the handwriting of Rufus King is one containing an abstract of a portion of the debates in the Convention for the formation of the Constitution, which appears to have been made as the debate proceeded. The copy was written out, nearly verbatim, by him, somewhere about 1818-212 (for the paper bears the watermark of 1818), from rough notes taken at the time. It will be observed that he does not reproduce his own remarks, except in speeches on the powers of the Convention. There is no new information as to the proceedings, or the opinions of members of the Convention, but the reports previously published in the Madison and Yates papers are corroborated in these.


THURSDAY, MAY 31

House of Representatives to be elected by the People. Gerry opposes. Appointment by the State Legislature preferable, because the People want information.

Mason, Virginia--in favor of popular choice, because the first Branch is to represent the People. We must not go too far. A portion of Democracy should be preserved; our own children in a short time will be among the general mass.

Wilson of Penn. agrees with Mason. We ought to adopt measures to secure the popular confidence, and to destroy the Rivalry between the Genl. and State Governments; in this way both will proceed immediately from the People.

Madison agrees with Wilson. The measure immediately introduces the People, and will naturally inspire the affection for the Genl. Govt. that exists toward our own offspring. A legislative appointment will remove the Govt. too far from the People. In Maryland the Senate is two Removes from the People, and a

____________________
Reprinted from the Life and Correspondence of Rufus King ( N. Y., 1894), Vol. I, pp. 587-619.
2
Probably at the time of the publication of the Madison report. Both this copy and the original notes are in the possession of the Editor.

-844-

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