-Wednesday, June 13, 1787 Yesterday it was reported that Governor Randolph of Virginia had sent for his family in expectation of ``a very long'' Convention.
THE Convention reached a crossroads today when the Virginia Plan for a new national government, debated item by item and modified by resolutions over the last two weeks, was read in its entirety to delegates. The original 15 resolutions submitted by Virginia Gov. Edmund Randolph have grown to 19 items, which differ in large degree from the Articles of Confederation now in existence.
A source close to the Convention told this correspondent that the delegates have come a long way in a short time in forging a consensus for a new national government. The Virginia Plan is reported to be a more comprehensive endorsement of the nationalist proposals than either James Madison of Virginia or James Wilson of Pennsylvania had expected two or even three weeks ago when the Convention began.
An informed source cautioned, however, that the Virginia Plan remains only a road map for the delegates; there are political signposts that the Convention may still have a difficult journey ahead. Mr. Madison may have given an indication that the consensus of the delegates is as thin as eggshells that could crack under pressure. The floor leader for the nationalists reported today that, rather than calling for a vote on his 19-point plan, he has postponed it until tomorrow in order to, as Mr. Madison put it, ``give an opportunity for other plans to be proposed.''
What Mr. Madison meant by ``other plans'' was not made clear. But unconfirmed reports circulating around the State House indicate that the small States may be on the verge of putting forth their own set of proposals as a rival to the Virginia Plan. A reliable source says that the small States have secretly met over the last few days and drafted a series of resolutions that they plan to present to the Convention. The leader of this group is believed to be William Paterson of New Jersey, who four days ago shattered the calm of the Convention with a series of verbal broadsides against the Virginia Plan. Here in part is what he told the stunned delegates:
``The basis of our present authority is founded on a revision of the articles of the present confederation, and to alter or amend them in such parts where they may appear defective. Can we on this ground form a national government? I fancy not. ... We are met here as the deputies of 13 independent, sovereign states, for federal purposes. Can we consolidate their sovereignty and form one nation, and annihilate the sovereignties of our states who have sent us here for other purposes? ... I will never consent to the present system, and I shall make all the interest against it in the state which I represent that I can. [I] or my state will never submit to tyranny or despotism.''
The passionate opposition of Mr. Paterson is explained by a source who knows him well. While Mr. Madison and Mr. Wilson have built their political reputations in the Continental Congress, Mr. Paterson's entire career has been in the service of his State. When he was New Jersey attorney general, for example, he was reported to have expended great effort to reinforce the people's faith in local government. Seen from his viewpoint, the Virginia Plan would write New Jersey out of existence and with it his life's work. Mr. Paterson is known to believe that rapid changes in society and government present a threat to stability and order.
These day-by-day reports on the Constitutional Convention will continue tomorrow.