-Friday, June 15, 1787 Yesterday John Dickinson of Delaware castigated James Madison of Virginia for pushing the idea of strong national government too far.
NEW JERSEY delegate William Paterson placed before the Convention today a nine-point proposal that would revise the existing Articles of Confederation. The proposal serves as an alternative to the Virginia Plan, which would sweep the Articles into the ashbin of history. ``No government could be energetic on paper only, which was no more than straw,'' Mr. Paterson said of both plans.
Viewed side by side, the plans are in sharp if not stark contrast. John Lansing of New York told the delegates today that Mr. Paterson's plan preserves the existing federal government of the States, while the plan presented by Gov. Edmund Randolph of Virginia is a national government that would destroy the States. He later went on to draw a comparison between the two plans in terms of political power:
``The plan of Mr. Randolph in short absorbs all power except what may be exercised in the little local matters of the States. ... New York would never have concurred in sending deputies to the convention, if she had supposed the deliberations were to turn on a consolidation of the States, and a National Government.''
Col. Alexander Hamilton of New York, who has been at odds with fellow New York delegates Mr. Lansing and Robert Yates ever since the Convention got under way, said he does not favor either the New Jersey Plan, as it is now being termed, or the Virginia Plan. In taking such a position, Colonel Hamilton, who helped engineer this Convention into existence, has placed himself in the position of a political orphan; he is now an outsider who had hoped to influence the Convention at large.
The nine-point proposal presented today by Mr. Paterson is reported by a source to be not of his own creation. Rather, the New Jersey Plan is believed to be the creation of a committee of delegates from several States. Observers believe the plan suffers from several critical flaws: too little, too late, too feeble, and too contradicting.
Supporters of the New Jersey Plan are united only by their opposition to the Virginia Plan put forth by the large States. Advocates of the Virginia Plan have also had the strategic advantage of time for preparation and plotting for strategy before introducing it. A source close to the Convention told this correspondent that, had the New Jersey and the Virginia Plans been introduced together, the sharp contrasts might have forced the delegates to choose the New Jersey proposal. The large States have dominated the debates during the last three weeks, during which time the delegates have become accustomed to the revolutionary proposals for a new national government.
It is reliably reported that Mr. Paterson is privately convinced that his plan has little chance of being adopted. It is understood that his strategy is to use the proposal as leverage to force the large States to give ground and concede equality of representation for the States.
William Pierce of Georgia has said that, while Mr. Paterson's 5-foot-2 frame does not physically convey any great talents, he chooses the ``time and manner of engaging in a debate, and never speaks but when he understands his subject well.''
These day-by-day reports on the Constitutional Convention will continue on Monday.