University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
The History Collection

Page View

Kaminski, John P.; Saladino, Gaspare J.; Leffler, Richard; Schoenleber, Charles H.; Carlson, Marybeth (ed.) / Ratification of the Constitution by the states: Virginia (1)
8 (1988)

Introduction,   pp. xxiii-xxxix

Page xxxvii

first from a list of persons nominated by the state legislatures. The
national legislature would have all the power of Congress under the
Articles of Confederation, plus the power "to legislate in all cases to
which the separate States are incompetent, or in which the harmony
of the United States may be interrupted by the exercise of individual
Legislation." It could also veto state laws violating "the articles of
Union" and use force to compel states to fulfill their duties.
The Resolutions proposed an executive to enforce the laws and "to
enjoy the Executive rights vested in Congress by the Confederation."
A judiciary was proposed that would have jurisdiction over cases in-
volving foreigners or citizens of different states, the national revenue,
"and questions which may involve the national peace and harmony."
All state officers were "to be bound by oath to support the articles of
Union." The new form of government was to be approved by Congress
and submitted for ratification to state conventions elected by the peo-
ple. (The text of these resolutions is printed in CDR, 243-45.)
The Convention, sitting in the Committee of the Whole, debated
the Virginia Resolutions until 13 June, when the Committee reported
the amended Virginia Resolutions to the Convention (CDR, 247-50).
Between 15 and 19 June, the Committee of the Whole compared the
merits of the amended Virginia Resolutions with the New Jersey
Amendments to the Articles of Confederation (CDR, 250-53). On the
19th the Committee rejected the New Jersey Amendments, when it
again reported the amended Virginia Resolutions to the Convention.
These resolutions were debated and revised and were turned over to
the Committee of Detail on 24 July. The Committee reported the first
draft of the Constitution on 6 August.
In the Convention debates, only about a dozen delegates made sub-
stantial contributions, three of them Virginians-James Madison, Ed-
mund Randolph, and George Mason. These three men were among
the most frequent speakers: Madison (161), Mason (136), and Ran-
dolph (78) (The Historical Magazine, 1st ser., V [1861], 18). Randolph
was a member of the five-member Committee of Detail, while Madison
sat on the five-member Committee of Style that prepared the final
draft. Madison, who also kept copious notes of the Convention debates,
was the most influential Virginian, but the Constitution finally trans-
mitted to Congress on 17 September was something of a disappoint-
ment to him. He believed that the new government was not sufficiently
national. In particular, Madison was unhappy that the Constitution did
not give Congress the power to veto state laws. (See Madison to Thomas
Jefferson, 24 October, I below.) Nevertheless, Madison supported the
Constitution vigorously and brilliantly in public and in private in the
months after the Convention adjourned. Nowhere was this more ev-

Go up to Top of Page