-Friday, June 8, 1787 Yesterday John Dickinson traced a parallel between Britain's House of Lords and the proposed new Senate of the United States.
SMALL States openly revolted today over an issue that had previously produced no disagreement among the delegates, this correspondent was told.
On May 31 the Convention without dissent or debate authorized the proposed national Congress to veto any laws of the 13 States considered in conflict with the Constitution or with national treaties.
Today, the Convention, after a debate that at times became heated, reversed itself and voted 7 to 3 against giving the new national government veto power over State laws. The 11th State, Delaware, was divided.
Gunning Bedford of Delaware, in bold but nervous tones bordering on anger, may have spoken for the small States. He warned that a power to veto all State laws could become a weapon in the hands of the large States to crush the ``small ones whenever they stand in the way of their ambitions or interested views.'' Mr. Bedford complained that large States such as Virginia and Pennsylvania could combine to outvote Delaware in the national Legislature, which would give them, in his words, ``enormous & monstrous influence.''
James Wilson of Pennsylvania insisted the Convention must decide whether the new general government or the State Governments are to be supreme. He went on:
``We must remember the language with wh[ich] we began the Revolution, it was this, Virginia is no more, Massachusetts is no more - we are one in name, let us be one in Truth & Fact - Unless this power is vested in the Genl Govt., the States will be used by foreign powers as Engines agt [against] the Whole.''
Until today the issue of foreign influence had remained unspoken. However, every delegate at this Convention realizes that Great Britain and Spain intend to exploit any disunity. Both powers are convinced the 13 States will never become an effective national union capable of resisting their geographical greed and ambitions.
A source close to Mr. Bedford of Delaware has informed this correspondent that he is willing to use the threat of an alliance with foreign powers if the large States persist in their demands for what he believes is disproportionate power in the national Congress.
James Madison of Virginia asked the delegates to remember that the States had violated national treaties with foreign powers and repeatedly encroached on the power of the current national government under the existing Confederation. The proposed congressional veto of all State laws is necessary, Mr. Madison said, if the experience is not to be repeated. ``Without this the planets [or States] will fly from their orbits,'' he added.
Seven small and medium States combined against the three votes of large States to defeat national veto power over State laws. The stage is now set for what one source told this correspondent is an issue that could split the Convention wide open.
George Read of Delaware warned the delegates on May 30 that unless his State was assured that each State would have an equal vote in the national Congress, it might become the duty of his delegation ``to retire from the Convention.''
These day-by-day reports on the Constitutional Convention will continue on Monday.