-Tuesday, Sept. 11, 1787
Last Friday came the delegates' first discussion of any need or even desire for having a Vice-President, an office given as consolation prize to the runner-up in the Electoral College vote.
FOR the first time since this Convention began meeting in May, delegates formally convened today and then promptly recessed - ``there being no business before the Convention.''
James Madison of Virginia revealed that the five-man Committee of Style and Arrangement, of which he is a member, has not finished refining the language of the draft Constitution. Thus, the reason for today's recess. Mr. Madison has said, according to sources, that the entire Committee agreed that the task of adding the ``finish'' to the style and arrangement of the document be given to Gouverneur Morris of Pennsylvania. ``A better choice could not have been made,'' Mr. Madison insists.
But Abraham Baldwin of Georgia says that James Wilson of Pennsylvania, although not a member of the Committee, is playing the role of chief penman, along with Mr. Morris, in preparing the final composition, which is expected to be presented to the full Convention tomorrow.
Mr. Morris, who has given the most speeches at this Convention, privately insists he has rejected redundant and equivocal language in order to make the document ``as clear as our language would permit.''
It is reliably reported, however, that one radical revision made by Mr. Morris, with the approval of the Committee of Style, was to change the clause relating to laws passed by Congress. The original draft declared that laws passed by the Congress would be ``the supreme law of the several States.'' The change by the Committee of Style is said to read that all such laws shall be ``the supreme law of the land.'' One observer has pointed out that this wording implies judges may have the power to pass on the constitutionality of both national and State laws.
The Committee of Style was handed a draft document consisting of 23 articles divided into 41 sections. In the last few days of rephrasing and organizing sections, the Constitution has been compressed and clarified into seven articles and 21 sections. An entirely new preamble has been written, omitting the names of the separate States. In its place is:
``We, the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, to establish justice, insure domestic tranquillity, provide for the common defence, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.''
One source says that the omission of the individual names of the States was for a specific reason bearing on ratification of the document. Nine States are required to give legal force to the Constitution, and at this moment it is uncertain which nine of the 13 will ratify it. The preamble of the Constitution is different from the Articles of Confederation in that nowhere does the older document refer to ``We, the People.'' Instead, the preamble to the Articles refers to the ``United States in Congress.''
The preamble of the proposed Constitution has more in common with the Declaration of Independence, which had spoken of ``one people'' and ``our people,'' and had been enacted ``by the authority of the good people of these colonies.''
These day-by-day reports on the Constitutional Convention will continue tomorrow.