Article V is considered again. Mr Sherman is concerned the larger states can pass amendments giving them power over the smaller states. Col Mason is concerned that Congress is given too much power by being allowed to propose and some possible power over calling the convention. Mid-debate, Mr. Sherman becomes frustrated and proposes striking Article V altogether, which is defeated. But at the end, Madison's wording gives Sherman what he asks for. And with that, the wording of Article V is complete.
- Col Mason fears Congress is given too much power
- Language requiring Congress to call a Convention is added, enhancing States rights
- A move by Mr. Sherman, caused by frustration on equal suffrage, to drop Article V completely is voted down.
- Language giving the States equal suffrage, IE one State, one vote, giving each State equal power in the Conventions, satisfying Mr. Sherman. This passes uncontested, ensuring equal power among the states
Art. V. "The Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem necessary, or on the application of two thirds of the Legislatures of the several States shall propose amendments to this Constitution, which shall be valid to all intents and purposes as part thereof, when the same shall have been ratified by three fourths at least of the Legislatures of the several States, or by Conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other mode of ratification may be proposed by the Congress: Provided that no amendment which may be made prior to the year 1808 shall in any manner affect the 1 & 4 clauses in the 9. section of article 1"
Mr. SHERMAN expressed his fears that three fourths of the States might be brought to do things fatal to particular States, as abolishing them altogether or depriving them of their equality in the Senate. He thought it reasonable that the proviso in favor of the States importing slaves should be extended so as to provide that no State should be affected in its internal police, or deprived of its equality in the Senate.
Col: MASON thought the plan of amending the Constitution exceptionable & dangerous. As the proposing of amendments is in both the modes to depend, in the first immediately, in the second, ultimately, on Congress, no amendments of the proper kind would ever be obtained by the people, if the Government should become oppressive, as he verily believed would be the case.
Mr. Govr. MORRIS & Mr. GERRY moved to amend the article so as to require a Convention on application of 2/3 of the Sts.
Mr. MADISON did not see why Congress would not be as much bound to propose amendments applied for by two thirds of the States as to call a call a Convention on the like application. He saw no objection however against providing for a Convention for the purpose of amendments, except only that difficulties might arise as to the form, the quorum &c. which in Constitutional regulations ought to be as much as possible avoided.
The motion of Mr. Govr. MORRIS & Mr. GERRY was agreed to nem: con: [see the first part of the article as finally past]
Mr. SHERMAN moved to strike out of art. V. after "legislatures" the words "of three fourths" and so after the word "Conventions" leaving future Conventions to act in this matter, like the present Conventions [FN21] according to circumstances.
On this motion
N. H. divd. Mas. ay. Ct. ay. N. J. ay. Pa. no. Del. no. Md. no. Va. no. N. C. no. S. C. no. Geo. no. [FN22]
Mr. GERRY moved to strike out the words "or by Conventions in three fourths thereof"
On this motion
N. H. no. Mas. no. Ct. ay. N. J. no. Pa. no. Del. no. Md. no. Va. no. N. C. no. S. C. no. Geo. no. [FN24]
Mr. SHERMAN moved according to his idea above expressed to annex to the end of the article a further proviso "that no State shall without its consent be affected in its internal police, or deprived of its equal suffrage in the Senate."
Mr. MADISON. Begin with these special provisos, and every State will insist on them, for their boundaries, exports &c.
On the motion of Mr. Sherman
N. H. no. Mas. no. Ct. ay. N. J. ay. Pa. no. Del. ay. Md. no. Va. no. N. C. no. S. C. no. Geo. no. [FN25]
Mr. SHERMAN then moved to strike out art V altogether.
Mr. BREARLEY 2ded. the motion, on which
N. H. no. Mas. no. Ct. ay. N. J. ay. Pa. no. Del divd. Md. no. Va. no. N. C. no. S. C. no. Geo. no. [FN26]
Mr. Govr. MORRIS moved to annex a further proviso-"that no State, without its consent shall be deprived of its equal suffrage in the Senate"
This motion being dictated by the circulating murmurs of the small States was agreed to without debate, no one opposing it, or on the question, saying no.
Article V, the 1787 Formation Process
Index to all the Notes on the Debates in the Federal Convention, Federalist 43 and 85, and Jefferson's letter to Samuel Kercheval