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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.

Description

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.

Content

The Draught of a Foederal Government to be agreed upon between the Free and Independent States of America.

A Confederation between the free and independent States of N. H. &c. is hereby solemnly made uniting them together under one general superintending Government for their common Benefit and for their Defense and Security against all Designs and Leagues that may be injurious to their interests and against all Forc [Foes?] and Attacks offered to or made upon them or any of them.

[I]

The Stile of this government shall be The United States of America, and (the legislative, executive and judiciary powers shall be separate and distinct).

[II]

“The Legislature shall consist of two distinct Branches — a Senate and a House of Delegates, each of which shall have a Negative on the other, and shall be stiled the U. S. in Congress assembled.”

The House of Delegates to be elected by the State Legislatures, and to consist of one Member for every thousand inhabitants ? of Blacks included.

For the forming of the Senate the United States to be divided into four great districts, (so apportioned as to give to each its due weight). The Senate to be elected by the House of Delegates either from among themselves or the people at large. When so formed, the Senate to be divided into four classes, — to serve by Rotation of four years.

The Members of S. & H. D. shall each have one Vote, and shall be paid out of the common Treasury.

The Time of the Election of the Members of the H. D. and of the meeting of the U. S. in C. assembled.

“Each House shall appoint its own Speaker and other Officers, and settle its own Rules of Proceeding; but neither the Senate nor H. D. shall have the power to adjourn for more than Days without the Consent of both.”

[Freedom of speech and protection from arrest as in Article V of the Articles of Confederation.]

(Attendance compulsory provided no punishment shall be further extended than to disqualifications) any longer to be members of Congress or to hold any office of trust or profit under the United States or any individual State.

[III]

The Senate and H. D. shall by joint Ballot annually (septennially) chuse the Presidt. U. S. from among themselves or the People at large. — In the Presidt. “the executive Authority of the U. S. shall be vested.”

“It shall be his Duty to inform the Legislature [at every session] of the condition of the United States, so far as may respect his Department — to recommend Matters to their Consideration [such as shall appear to him to concern their good government, welfare and prosperity] — to correspond with the Executives of the several States — to attend to the Execution of the Laws of the U S” (by the several States) — “to transact Affairs with the Officers of Government, civil and military — to expedite all such Measures as may be resolved on by the Legislature” — (to acquire from time to time, as perfect a knowledge of the situation of the Union, as he possibly can, and to be charged with all the business of the home department. He will be empowered, whenever he conceives it necessary) “to inspect the Departments of foreign Affairs — War — Treasury —” (and when instituted of the) “Admiralty — to reside where the Legislature shall sit — to commission all Officers, and keep the Great Seal of the United States.”

“He shall, by Virtue of his Office, be Commander in chief of the Land Forces of U. S. and Admiral of their Navy.”

“He shall have Power to convene the Legislature on extraordinary occasions — to prorogue them,” (when they cannot agree as to the time of their adjournment,) “provided such Prorogation shall not exceed Days in the space of any — He may suspend Officers, civil and military.”

(He shall be removable by impeachment. The Legislature shall fix his salary on permanent principles.)

He shall have a Right to advise with the Heads of the different Departments as his Council.

Council of Revision, consisting of the Presdt. S. for for. Affairs, S. of War, Heads of the Departments of Treasury and Admiralty or any two of them togr wt the Presidt.

(IV)

(The 4th article . . . is formed exactly upon the principles of the 4th article of the present confederation, except with this difference, that the demand of the Executive of a State for any fugitive criminal offender shall be complied with. It is now confined to treason, felony, or other high misdemeanor.)

Mutual Intercourse — Community of Privileges — Surrender of Criminals — Faith to Proceedings, &c.

(V) (The 5th article, declaring that individual States shall not exercise certain powers, is founded on the same principles as the 6th of the confederation.) No State to make Treaties — lay interfering Duties — keep a naval or land Force Militia excepted to be disciplined &c according to the Regulations of the U. S.

Each State retains its Rights not expressly delegated — But no Bill of the Legislature of any State shall become a law till it shall have been laid before S. & H. D. in C. assembled and received their approbation.

(VI)

The S. & H. D. in C. Assembled “shall have the exclusive Power — of raising a military Land Force” (and of appointing all the officers) — “of equiping a Navy — of rating and causing public Taxes to be levied” (agreeable to the rule now in use, an enumeration of the white inhabitants, and three-fifths of other descriptions.)

(VII)

The S. & H. D. in C. assembled shall have the exclusive power “of regulating the Trade of the several States as well with Foreign Nations as with each other — of levying Duties upon Imports and Exports” — Each State may lay Embargoes in Time of Scarcity.

(VIII)

The S. & H. D. in C. assembled shall have exclusive power “of establishing Post-Offices, and raising a Revenue from them — of regulating Indian Affairs — of coining Money” — regulating its Alloy and Value — “fixing the Standard of Weights and Measures” throughout U. S. — “of determining in what species of Money the public Treasury shall be supplied.”

(IX)

S. & H. D. in C. ass. shall be the last Resort on Appeal in Disputes between two or more States; which Authority shall be exercised in the following Manner &c. (the same with that in the Confederation.)

(X)

S. & H. D. in C. ass. shall institute offices and appoint officers for the Departments of for. Affairs, War, Treasury and Admiralty —
They shall have the exclusive Power of declaring what shall be Treason and Misp. of Treason agt. U. S. — and of instituting a federal judicial Court, which “shall try Officers of the U. S. for all Crimes &c in their Offices — and to this Court an Appeal shall be allowed from the” judicial “Courts of” the several States in all Causes wherein Questions shall arise on the Construction of Treaties made by U. S. — or on the Law of Nations — or on the Regulations of U. S. concerning Trade and Revenue or wherein U. S. shall be a Party — The Court shall consist of Judges to be appointed during good Behaviour.

S. & H. D. in C. ass. “shall have the exclusive Right of instituting in each State a Court of Admiralty,” and appointing the Judges &c of the same, “for hearing and determining” all “maritime Causes” which may arise therein respectively.

[XI]

Points in which the Assent of more than a bare Majority shall be necessary. (The Assent of Two-Thirds of both Houses, where the present Confederation has made the assent of Nine States necessary, and added the Regulation of Trade, and Acts for levying an Impost and raising a Revenue.)

[XII]

“The power of impeaching shall be vested in the H. D. — The Senators and Judges of the foederal Court, be a Court for trying Impeachments.”

[XIII]

S. & H. D. in C. ass. shall regulate “possess the exclusive Right of establishing the Government and Discipline of the Militia” thro the U. S. — “and of ordering the Militia of any State to any Place within U. S.”

[XIV]

Means of enforcing and compelling the Payment of the Quota of each State.

[XV]

Manner and Conditions of admitting new States. Power of dividing annexing and consolidating States, on the Consent and Petition of such States. (Federal Government should also possess the exclusive right of declaring on what terms the privileges of citizenship and naturalization should be extended to foreigners.)

(XVI)

The assent of the Legislature of States shall be sufficient to invest future additional Powers in U. S. in C. ass. and shall bind the whole confederacy.

[XVII]

The said States of N. H. &c guarantee mutually each other and their Rights against all other Powers and against all Rebellion &c.

[XVIII]

(The next article provides for the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus — the trial by jury in all cases, criminal as well as civil — the freedom of the press and the prevention of religious tests as qualifications to offices of trust or emolument. . . .
There is also an authority to the national legislature, permanently to fix the seat of the general government, to secure to authors the exclusive right to their performances and discoveries, and to establish a Federal University.)

[XIX]

The Articles of Confederation shall be inviolably observed unless altered as before directed, and the Union shall be perpetual.

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Appendix D (Max Farrand, 1911)