U.S. Constitutional Convention 1787 (2021 Edition)

Grand Convention at Philadelphia, May to September, 1787, Quill Project 2021 Edition.

Committee of Detail

Committee charged with creating a Constitution based on the resolutions agreed by the Convention.

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Document introduced in:

Session 6307: 1787-07-25 11:00:00

Committee convened and received proceedings from Convention. Randolph proposed his constitutional framework.

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Document IV: Randolph's Constitutional Framework

There are 0 proposed amendments related to this document on which decisions have not been taken.

In the draught of a fundamental constitution, two things deserve attention:

1. To insert essential principles only, lest the operations of government should be clogged by rendering those provisions permanent and unalterable, which ought to be accomodated to times and events. And

2. To use simple and precise language, and general propositions, according to the example of the constitutions of the several states.

1. A preamble seems proper not for the purpose of designating the ends of government and human polities — This display of theory, howsoever proper in the first formation of state governments, is unfit here; since we are not working on the natural rights of men not yet gathered into society, but upon those rights, modified by society, and interwoven with what we call the rights of states — Nor yet is it proper for the purpose of mutually pledging the faith of the parties for the observance of the articles — This may be done more solemnly at the close of the draught, as in the confederation — But the object of our preamble ought to be briefly to declare, that the present foederal government is insufficient to the general happiness, that the conviction of this fact gave birth to this convention; and that the only effectual mode which they can devise, for curing this insufficiency, is the establishment of a supreme legislative executive and judiciary — Let it be next declared, that the following are the constitution and fundamentals of government for the United States — After this introduction, let us proceed to the

2. First resolution — This resolution involves three particulars

1. the style of the United States, which may continue as it now is.

2. a declaration that a supreme legislative executive and judiciary shall be established; and

3. a declaration, that these departments shall be distinct, and independent of each other, except in specified cases.

In the next place, treat of the legislative, judiciary and executive in their order, and afterwards, of the miscellaneous subjects, as they occur, bringing together all the resolutions, belonging to the same point, howsoever they may be scattared about and leaving to the last the steps necessary to introduce the government —The following plan is therefore submitted

I. The Legislative

1. shall consist of two branches: viz:

a) a house of delegates; and

b) a senate;

2. which together shall be called “the legislature of the United States of America”.

3. a) The house of delegates

2. Each state shall send delegates, according to the ratio, recommended by congress

3. to ascertain this point, let a census be taken in due time as the national legislature shall direct; within six years from the first meeting of the legislature; and once in every term of ten years thereafter

4. the census being taken and returned, the legislature shall apportion the representation:

5. The qualifications of delegates shall be the age of twenty five years at least. and citizenship:

6. Their duration in office shall be for two years.

7. The elections shall be biennially held on the same day through the same state: except in case of accidents, and where an adjournment to the succeeding day may be necessary.

8. The place shall be fixed by the legislatures from time to time, or on their default by the national legislature.

9. So shall the presiding officer

11. The qualification of electors shall be the same with that in the particular states unless the legislature shall hereafter direct some uniform qualification to prevail through the states.

12. A majority shall be a quorum for business; but a smaller number may be authorized by the house to call for and punish nonattending members, and to adjourn for any time not exceeding one week

13. The house of delegates shall have power over its own members.

14. The delegates shall be privileged from arrest personal restraint during their attendance,

for so long a time before

and after,

as may be necessary, for travelling to and from the legislature

16. They shall be ineligible to and incapable of holding offices under the authority of the united states, during the term of service of the house of delegates.

17. Vacancies by death disability or resignation shall be supplied by a writ from the governor of the state, wherein they shall happen.

18. The house shall have power to make rules for its own government.

19. The house shall not adjourn without the concurrence of the senate for more than one week, nor without such concurrence to any other place, than the one at which they are sitting.

4. b) The Senate —

2. the legislature of Each state shall appoint two senators using their discretion as to the time and manner of choosing them.

3. the qualification of senators shall be

the age of 25 years at least:

citizenship in the united states:

and property to the amount of ____

4. They shall be elected for six years and immediately after the first election they shall be divided by lot as near as may be into three classes, and numbered 1, 2, 3: and the seats of the members of the first class shall be vacated at the expiration of the second year, of the second class at the expiration of the fourth and of the third class at the end of the sixth year, and so on continually, that a third part of the senate may be biennially chosen.

5. A majority shall be a quorum for business. but a smaller number may be authorized to call for and punish non attending members and to adjourn from day to day.

6. Each senator shall have one vote

7. The senate shall have power over its own members.

8. The senators shall be privileged from arrest personal restraint during their attendance,

and for so long a time before

and so long after,

as may be necessary for travelling to and from the legislature

9. The senators shall be ineligible to and incapable of holding any office under the authority of the united states,

during the term for which they are elected,

and for one year thereafter,

11. The Senate shall have power to make rules for its own government

12. The Senate shall not adjourn without the concurrence of the house of delegates for more than 3 days, nor without such concurrence to any place other than that at which they are sitting.

The following are

1. the legislative powers; with certain exceptions; and under certain restrictions

1. To raise money by taxation, unlimited as to sum, for the past & future debts and necessities of the union and to establish rules for collection


No Taxes on exports. — Restrictions 1. direct taxation proportioned to representation 2. No capitation-tax which does not apply to all inhabitants under the above limitation 3. no indirect tax which is not common to all

2. To regulate commerce both foreign & domestic & no State to lay a duty on imports —


1. no Duty on exports.

2. no prohibition on the Importations of such inhabitants or People as the several States think proper to admit

3. no duties by way of such prohibition.


1. A navigation act shall not be passed, but with the consent of ⅔d. of the Members present of the senate and the like No. of the house of representatives.

5. To make war: raise armies. & equip Fleets.

6. To provide tribunals and punishment for mere offences against the law of nations.

Indian Affairs

7. To declare the law of piracy, felonies and captures on the high seas, and captures on land.

to regulate Weights & Measures

8. To appoint tribunals, inferior to the supreme judiciary.

9. To adjust upon the plan heretofore used all disputes between the States

10. To The exclusive right of coining money

no State to be permitted in future to emit Paper Bills of Credit without the Approval of the National Legislature

nor to make any Thing but Specie a Tender in payment of debts

of declaring the Crime & Punishment of Counterfeiting it

Power to borrow Money —

To appoint a Treasurer by ballot.

11. To regulate naturalization

12. To make Laws for calling forth the Aid of the militia,

to execute the Laws of the Union

to inforce Treaties

to repel Invasion and

suppress internal Commotions

13. To establish post-offices

14. To subdue a rebellion in any particular state, on the application of the legislature thereof.

15. To enact articles of war.

16. To regulate the force permitted to be kept in each state.

18. To declare it to be treason to levy war against or adhere to the enemies of the U. S.


Insert the 11th Article

Trials for Criminal Offences be in the State where the Offence was committed — by Jury — and a right to make all Laws necessary to carry the foregoing Powers into Execution —

2. The powers belonging peculiarly to the representatives are those concerning money-bills

3. The powers destined for the senate peculiarly, are

1. To make treaties of commerce

2. to make Treaties of peace & Alliance

3. to appoint the judiciary

4. to send Embassadors

4. The executive Governor of the united People & States of America.

1. shall consist of a single person.

2. who shall be elected by the Legislature by Ballot, each House have a Negative on the other

3. and shall hold his office for the term of seven years

4. and shall be ineligible thereafter.

5. His powers shall be

1. to carry into execution the national laws.

2. to to be Commander in Chief of the Land & Naval Forces of the Union & of the Militia of the several states

5. to appoint to offices not otherwise provided for.

6. to be removeable on impeachment,

made by the house of representatives and conviction

before the supreme judiciary

of Treason Bribery or Corruption.

7. to receive a fixed compensation for

the devotion of his time to public service

the quantum of which shall be settled

by the national legislature

to be paid out of the national treasury

no Increase or decrease during the Term of Service of the Executive

8. to have a qualified negative on legislative acts so as to require repassing by ⅔

9. and shall swear fidelity to the union, by taking an oath of office

10. receiving embassadors

11. commissioning officers.

12. convene legislature

The President of the Senate to succeed to the Executive in Case of Vacancy untill the Meeting of the Legislature

The power of pardoning vested in the Executive his pardon shall not however, be pleadable to an Impeachment.

5. The Judiciary

1. shall consist of one supreme tribunal

2. the judges whereof shall be appointed by the senate

3. and of such inferior tribunals, as the legislature may establish

5 all the judges shall hold their offices during good behaviour;

6. and shall receive punctually,

at stated times

a compensation for their services, to be settled by the legislature

in which no diminution shall be made, so as to affect the persons actually in office at the time of such diminution.

and shall swear fidelity to the union.

7. The jurisdiction of the supreme tribunal shall extend

1 to all cases, arising under laws passed by the general Legislature

2. to impeachments of officers, and

3. to such other cases, as the national legislature may assign, as involving the national peace and harmony,

in the collection of the revenue

in disputes between citizens of different states

in disputes between a State & a Citizen or Citizens of another State

in disputes between different states; and

in disputes, in which subjects or citizens of other countries are concerned & in Cases of Admiralty Jurisdiction

But this supreme jurisdiction shall be appellate only, except in those instances, in Cases of Impeachment & in those instances, which the legislature shall make it original. and the legislature shall organize it

8. The whole or a part of the jurisdiction aforesaid according to the discretion of the legislature may be assigned to the inferior tribunals, as original tribunals.

Miscellaneous provisions

1. New states soliciting admission into the Union

2. must lawfully arise, that is

States lawfully arising & if within the Limits of any of the present States by Consent of the Legislature of those States.

3. shall be admitted only on the suffrage of ⅔ds in the house of representatives and the like No in the Senate

4. & shall be admitted on the same terms with the original states

5. provided always, that the legislature may use their discretion in admitting or rejecting, and may make any condition concerning the debt of the union at that Time.

2. The guarantee is

1. to prevent the establishment of any government, not republican

3. to protect each state against internal commotion: and

2. against external invasion.

4. But this guarantee shall not operate in the last Case without an application from the legislature of a state.

3. The legislative executive and judiciaries of the states shall swear fidelity to the union, as the national legislature shall direct.

4. The ratification of the reform is — after the approbation of congress — to be made

by a special convention in each State

recommended by the assembly

to be chosen for the express purpose

of considering and approving and rejecting it in toto:

and this recommendation may be used from time to time

5. On application of ⅔ds of the State Legislatures to the National Legislature they call a Convention to revise or alter the Articles of Union


1. The assent of the Conventions of ____ states shall give operation to this constitution

2. Each assenting state shall notify its assent to congress: who shall publish a day for its commencement, not exceeding After such publication, or with the assent of the major part of the assenting states, after the expiration of ____ days from the giving of the assent of the ninth state.

1. each legislature shall direct the choice of representatives, according to the seventh article and provide for their support:

2. each legislature shall also choose senators; and provide for their support

3. they shall meet at the Place & on the day assigned by congress,

4. They shall as soon as may be after meeting elect the executive: and proceed to execute this constitution.

The object of an address is to satisfy the people of the propriety of the proposed reform.

To this end the following plan seems worthy of adoption

1. To state the general objects of a confederation.

2. To shew by general, but pointed observations, in what respects, our confederation has fallen short of those objects.

3. The powers, necessary to be given, will then follow as a consequence of the defects

4. A question next arises, whether these powers can with propriety be vested in congress. The answer is, that they cannot

5. But As some states may possibly meditate partial confederations, it would be fit now to refute this opinion briefly.

6. It follows then, that a government of the whole on national principles, with respect to taxation &c is most eligible.

7. This would lead to a short exposition of the leading particulars in the constitution.

8. This done, conclude in a suitable manner.

This is the shortest scheme, which can be adopted. For it would be strange to ask new powers, without assigning some reason — it matters not how general soever — which may apply to all of them Besides we ought to furnish the advocates of the plan in the country with some general topics. Now I conceive, that these heads do not more, than comprehend the necessary points.

Decisions yet to be taken