-Monday, June 25, 1787 Last Friday Oliver Ellsworth of Connecticut boldly suggested that members of Congress be paid by their respective States.Skip to next paragraph
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THE large States of Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts were charged today with proposing a single national government, although these largest States have proved ``Worst Governed.''
That indictment was delivered up by Oliver Ellsworth of Connecticut, the small States' point man at today's Convention session, as delegates vainly sought to wrestle with the question of composition of a national Senate.
James Wilson of Pennsylvania had provoked Mr. Ellsworth by opposing election of senators by the State legislatures. Mr. Wilson insisted that individuals in the national government will lay aside their State connections and act for the good of the whole.
``We must forget our local habits and attachments,'' Mr. Wilson added. ``The general government should not depend on the State governments.'' His motion to reverse an earlier vote for election of the Senate by the State legislatures - and have elections by the people of the United States - did not even summon a second.
Judge Ellsworth, in replying to Mr. Wilson, said that every State has its particular views and prejudices. Without their cooperation, he went on, it would be impossible to support a national republican government over so vast a geographical area as America. Virginia has been obliged to concede her inability to extend her government to the Kentucky territory. Massachusetts cannot keep the peace 100 miles from her own capital, Judge Ellsworth added, referring to the violent disorders over the last 10 months that have troubled many delegates. He then went on:
``If the principles & materials of our Govt. are not adequate to the extent of these single States; how can it be imagined that they can support a single Govt. throughout [the] U. States. The only chance of supporting a Genl. Govt. lies in engrafting it on that of the individual States.''
James Madison of Virginia sought to postpone the issue but was defeated. The Convention then went on to reaffirm 9-2 the election of the Senate by the State legislatures. Mr. Madison and Mr. Wilson may now realize that election of the Senate by the States is a stepping-stone toward equal State representation, as demanded by the small States.
Underlying today's debates was the unresolved question of whether the Senate is to be based on proportional or equal representation.
Mr. Wilson appealed to the delegates to realize that their labors were like laying the foundation of a building ``which is to last for ages, and in which millions are interested.'' While the Pennsylvania lawyer has his eye on the future, however, a majority of the delegates are concerned about the past and present political relationships among the separate States. Mr. Wilson's arguing for the surrender of such relationships, in the name of the common good, is viewed as both unrealistic and impractical.
Judge Ellsworth may have dealt the most telling blow to Mr. Wilson's argument today when he implied that election by the people at large is a ``perfect utopian scheme,'' when what is needed is wisdom and firmness.
These day-by-day reports on the Constitutional Convention will continue tomorrow.