-Wednesday, June 6, 1787 Yesterday the delegates wrestled with how to set up a national Judiciary without destroying State courts.Skip to next paragraph
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IN today's issue of the Pennsylvania Packet, delegates read a polite but pointed protest against the absolute secrecy of the Convention. The newspaper asked if ``it would not be dangerous'' to keep closed the channel of information to the people when the Convention was meeting to decide the future ``political existence and welfare of the United States.''
With heavy rain outside, the delegates debated the part the people should play in electing members to the proposed lower house in the new national Legislature. South Carolina's Charles Cotesworth Pinckney requested that delegates reconsider an earlier proposal that the States, not the people, elect the lower house. ``If the people choose, it will have a tendency to destroy the foundation of the State Governments,'' he said.
James Wilson of Pennsylvania argued that for the government to be legitimate, it must flow from the people at large:``The Legislature ought to be the most exact transcript of the whole Society.''
Roger Sherman of Connecticut lived up to his reputation of cunning when he formulated an argument that could expose any plans of nationalists like Mr. Wilson and Mr. Madison to weaken the power of the States. If the State Governments are to be abolished, Mr. Sherman said, then election to the national Legislature should be by the people. However, if the State Governments are to be continued, then to preserve harmony with the national government the States should elect members to the lower house of the national Legislature.
James Madison of Virginia quickly assured the delegates that the States were ``important and necessary objects.'' At the same time, he added, this Convention was called because States had failed to secure private rights and justice. Then looking at Mr. Sherman, Mr. Madison asked whether republican liberty can long exist under the abuses practiced by some of the States. The remedy is the election of representatives to the lower house by the people, he said. Mr. Madison closed his lengthy speech with these words:
``It [is] incumbent on us then to try this remedy, and with that view to frame a republican system on such a scale & in such a form as will controul the evils wch [which] have been experienced.''
Mr. Madison was apparently pleased when the delegates voted 8 to 3 to reject election to the lower house by the State legislatures.
Mr. Sherman, although defeated, may have forced Mr. Madison to pay a price. Sources tell this correspondent that Mr. Madison came to the Convention committed to radical reduction of the States' powers, believing the States to be the source of many of the country's political ills. Mr. Sherman brought the issue into the open and forced Mr. Madison to deny in public that he was privately intent on stripping the States of their power. Mr. Sherman was unintentionally aided in his efforts when George Read of Delaware bluntly said the States were useless:``A national Govt. must soon of necessity swallow all of them up.''
Mr. Wilson, an ally of Mr. Madison, was quick to smother this incendiary statement by insisting no incompatibility existed between the national government and the State Governments, provided the latter ``were restrained to certain local purposes.''
However, as one who knows Mr. Sherman said of him: ``He is not easily managed, but if he suspects you are trying to take him in, you may as well catch an Eel by the tail.''
These day-by-day reports on the Constitutional Convention will continue tomorrow.