-Tuesday, June 12, 1787 Yesterday the Convention approved a proposal allowing States to include slaves in computing population for national representation.
TODAY'S Convention session resembled a ship caught in the eye of a storm: becalmed at the center, while in every direction one could see the approach of angry clouds as the delegates chose to keep their own counsel.
The 11 States present were called on today to cast their votes on 15 different propositions, the largest number of ballots cast since the Convention opened. Among other proposals, delegates approved a method of ratification of the proposed national government by State conventions, and they approved the term, qualifications, and eligibility to office of members of the proposed national Congress. All 15 items were disposed of with such speed and general agreement as to give the appearance that the momentum of the large States had not been slowed by the small States' opposition.
A clash between two delegates today, however, suggested that this Convention may sit much longer than anyone expects it to. James Madison of Virginia warned the delegates that unless a republican government is held out to the people they might, in despair, incline toward a monarchy. Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts stiffly replied that he could not be governed by the prejudices of the people. ``Perhaps a limited monarchy would be the best government, if we could organize it by creating a house of peers [Lords]; but that cannot be done,'' he added with an air of disappointment.
At least one delegation realizes that the Convention is likely to extend into July and perhaps August. North Carolina delegate R.D. Spaight today requested from the Governor of his State an advance on his salary by two months. Also, the entire North Carolina delegation has drafted a letter to their Governor, stating in part:
``It is not possible for us to determine when the business before us can be finished, a very large Field presents to our view without a single Straight or eligible Road that has been trodden by the feet of nations. ... Several Members of the Convention have their Wives here and other Gentlemen have sent for theirs. This Seems to promise a Summer's Campaign.''
One delegate who recently sent for his wife is Virginia's Gov. Edmund Randolph. Six days ago he wrote home saying he expected ``a very long'' convention and asked his family to make the difficult and expensive journey to Philadelphia.
Delegates these last two weeks have been debating the 15 Randolph Resolutions the Governor introduced on May 29 for a new and strong central government. As the debate has progressed, however, Governor Randolph seems to have come to disagree with critical parts of the plan he initially approved - but that was reportedly written by James Madison.
Mr. Madison appeared stunned when Mr. Randolph suggested that preservation of the States was more important than the Union. In today's debate, Governor Randolph must have given Mr. Madison even greater worry when he attacked the whole idea of participation in the new government by the people, warning about ``Democratic licentiousness'' and ``demagogues of the popular branch.''
Chosen as captain to launch proposals for the new national ship of state, Mr. Randolph is indicating a tendency to want to abandon ship. He may also be proving correct one observer who has said in private that Mr. Randolph suffers from only one flaw: ``an instability of conduct and opinion resulting not from moral but [from] intellectual causes.''
These day-by-day reports on the Constitutional Convention will continue tomorrow.