Return to
Selected Works of
R. Carter Pittman

Copyright © 1965 Omohundro Institute of Early American History & Culture.
Originally published in William and Mary Quarterly, 3rd Ser., Vol. 22, No. 2 (Apr., 1965) , pp. 301-318
Permission for use at this site generously granted by the William & Mary Quarterly.
The printed edition remains canonical. For citational use please obtain a back issue from
Periodicals Service Company, 11 Main Street, Germantown, NY 12526, 1-518-537-4700.
For educational use only.

Jasper Yeates's Notes on the
Pennsylvania Ratifying Convention, 1787

By R. Carter Pittman

T HE state of Pennylvania was the first to call a convention to consider the proposed constitution agreed to at Philadelphia on September 17, 1787, by delegates of the twelve states. At the request of the Constitutional Convention, the Continental Congress submitted the Constitution to the states on September 23, and on the next day the Pennsylvania legislature, which was in session, called a convention to ratify or reject the new frame of government. Delegates were elected on November 2, and the ratifying convention held its first sessions at the State House in Philadelphia on November 21. After nearly three weeks of debate, the convention voted on December 13 for ratification, and on December 15 adjourned sine die.

Information about what went on in Pennsylvania's ratifying convention comes from a number of sources. The Journal of the Convention supplies for each session only the bare record of the time of meeting, motions made, votes taken, and the time of adjournment.(1) Much fuller reports on certain parts of the convention were recorded and printed by Alexander J. Dallas, editor of the Pennsylvania Herald and the Columbian Magazine, and by Thomas Lloyd, an unsuccessful applicant for the position of assistant clerk of the convention. When the convention opened, Dallas began to take notes, and he subsequently printed full reports in the Herald. Unfortunately, Dallas's reports break off after the meeting of November 30, apparently "through the efforts of the Federalists."(2) It was Federalist interests that deprived us of the full fruits of Lloyd's labors as well. His record of the debates extends to the end of the convention, but he printed in a single volume only those speeches made by the two Federalist leaders, Thomas McKean and James Wilson, instead of the full record of the convention he had originally planned.(3) Except for these speeches of McKean and Wilson and occasional sketchy accounts in the newspapers, none of the debate after November 30 was communicated to the public.

One hundred years later, in 1888, John B. McMaster and Frederick D. Stone in their monumental volume, Pennsylvania and the Federal Constitution, 1787-1788, reprinted both Dallas's and Lloyd's reports on the Pennsylvania ratifying convention.(4) They also printed as an appendix James Wilson's notes on the convention, which they found in Wilson's papers at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. These notes were Wilson's outline of the points others made in the debate which began on November 24 when McKean made his motion for ratification and which ended on December 12 with the vote for ratification.(5) Recently, the very brief notes on the meetings of December 6-8 made by Anthony Wayne, also a delegate, were printed in an issue of Manuscripts.(6)

The publication below of the notes of still another delegate to the ratifying convention, the Federalist Jasper Yeates,(7) makes available new information about Pennsylvania's fight over ratification of the Federal Constitution. By some happy fortuity, or by design, Yeates began to take his notes of debates on Friday, November 30, the last day on which Dallas reported. As a consequence, Yeates's notes nicely supplement those of Lloyd and Wilson. Lloyd's report of the speeches of McKean and Wilson are of course much more extended than Yeates's; but Yeates often records points made in these speeches which Lloyd does not include, and he provides the only report we have of some of the speeches made by the other delegates.

On May 11, 1874, the manuscript notes of Jasper Yeates were deposited in the old National Museum at Independence Hall in Philadelphia by R. W. Shenk(8) of Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Why the manuscript has remained there since, largely unnoticed, has not been explained.

In Convention 30 Nov. 1787

Mr. Robert Whitehill(9)

   The Seeds of Self Preservation are so well sown in the federal System, that the same will overshadow all the State Governments

Mr. Finley(10)

   The Number of representatives is much too few for so large a Country as America
   Does any State who has a Bill of Rights complain of it

Mr. Smiley(11)

   The State of Virginia has a Bill of Rights
   Reads a Volume of the Remembrancer for this Purpose
   Says he has a french Translation of it(12)

Mr. McKean(13)

   The Gentleman who complains of the Smallness of Representation in the Union, should tell us in what Ratio the People should be represented instead of 30,000 for 1
   Formerly Representation was in this State of 750 to 1--now it is 1000 to 1--and perhaps in a few Years it will be 2000 to 1
   This is all Matter of Opinion

Mr. Smiley

   We shall object to direct Taxation
   to the power of keeping up standing armies

Mr. Wilson(14)

   A large Representation draws after it heavy Expense
   A deliberative Body may be too large
   I won't say it may not exceed I00
   Great Difficulties arose on this Question in Convention
   If we suppose according to the Common Calculation that the Number of People in the US. doubles every 25 years, in the Course of one Century according to the best Accounts we have received of our State of Population, the Number of Representatives in the federal Constitution, will amount to about 600 Persons.
   Carrying our Views therefore to a distant Period it appears that the Ratio of 30000 for 1 will not be improper.

December 1. 1787.

Mr. Pickering(15) moved that the Members opposing the Constitution should keep to some Kind of Order with Respect to their Objections
Mr. Chambers(16) seconded him

Mr. Finley

   The Constitution offered to us is a consolidated Government and not a Confederate Republic
   It will swallow up eventually all the State Governments
   There is no Sovereignty left in the State Legislatures

Mr. Wilson

   All Sovereignty rests in the People
   There is no Sovereign Authority in any State or in Congress
   If the People have parted with their sovereign Authority to the State Legislatures, then this Constitution cannot be defended

Mr. Finley

   It is no argument for the federal Constitution to shew that the Legislature of Pennsylvania have passed Laws which have been improper

Dr. Edwards(17)

   I object to a Bill of Rights being brought in

Mr. Smiley

Congress have a Power to restrain libels

December 3. 1787

   I was absent for an Hour--

   A desultory Conversation took Place

   It was contended that an Act of Parliament is necessary in England to confirm a Treaty! by R Whitehill
   That Migration and Importation of Persons are the same Thing in Sect. [9] of Article [I].(18)

December 4.

Mr. Wilson

   I wish to hear and sub[sequently] answer every Objection against the new Constitution

Mr. Smiley

1st Objection. Want of a Bill of Rights

2. The Government is a consolidated one and will swallow up the State Legislature.
3. The Senate has a dangerous Power of Corrupting by their Offices, the Representatives of the People

[Mr. Wilson](19)

   1st Objection. The Want of a Bill of Rights.
   Resp. Our Governments differ in their Formation from England and therefore tho' necessary there, not so here.
   New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey[,] South Carolina, Georgia and perhaps Virginia have no Bill of Rights
   Are they not free? Do they hold their Liberties as Ten[an]ts at Will?
   But an Enumeration would be dangerous--Part might be omitted and therefore excluded
   Whatever is not expressly ceded to the Federal Government is still reserved
   But it is said we have adopted Part of the Bill of Rights, as in reserving the Trials by Jury in Criminal Cases, and directing that the Priviledge of the Habeas Corpus Act shall not be suspended except in Times of immediate Danger--
   Resp. This is restrictive of the general Legislative Powers of Congress
   They might claim this right if not restrained.
   Their Powers being enumerated, it became necessary to make Exceptions.
   This Clause then does not form a Bill of Rights--but are the express Exceptions from the general delegated Powers of Congress.
2d Objection. The federal Constitution annihilates all State Legislatures and is intended for that Purpose--and vest Congress with too large and dangerous State Powers.
Resp. Candor and the Character of the federal Convention forbid the Idea
   The Work does not justify the remark
   But it has been shewn, if the State Government fail, so must the federal Government.
   The Representatives must be chosen by persons voting for the most numerous Branch of the State Legislature.
   The State Legislature must choose the Senate--and appoint Electors to choose a President.
   The Judicial Power dependsd on the Senate.
   The 4th Sections of the 4th Article guarantees a Republican Form of Government to each State    (Read it)
   As to the large legislative Powers given to Congress they are absolutely necessary to our Existence and can be lodged in no Hands so safely--they are our Choice.--
   Their Existence depends on the Choice of a House of Representatives and should have Power to make Regulations, to prevent Factions.
   It is only intended that this Power should be used when the State would either not use or abuse this Power. Will we presume that Congress will abuse this Power.
   It is not possible to define and lay down Power so exactly, but that it may be abused.
   The Elements of Fire and Water may be abused. But shall we renounce them because they may be abused.
   The Supreme Power must be vested somewhere, but where so naturally as in the Supreme Head chosen by the free Suffrages of the People mediately or immediately.
   The Objects of State Legislation are different from those of the federal Constitution
   They are confined to Matters within ourselves
   The latter embrace the general Interest of the U.S. and conduct them into one common [sic] Channel to inrich and render happy the Citizens of the whole Community
   Could the States individually exercise the Powers given to Congress? Could they carry them into Execution? Could they propose an uniform System of Commerce and Trade? Witness the 5 Per Cent Impost refused by the State of Rhode Island[.] Under the Confederation it [already?] had the power They are now proposed to have.
   This Matter is taken up by the opposition as if Congress were a separate independent Body deliberately determined in destroying the liberties of the People.
   Surely this is not fair. They have no separate Interests from ourselves. They must feel any Tax--every Imposition. We can remove them if we please.
   It is confessed the 10th Section abridges some of the Powers of the State Legislature--as in preventing them from Coining Money[,] emitting Bills of Credit--making legal Tender--impairing the Obligations of Contracts--etc.
   But is not [it] proper that they should be so restricted.
   What have been the Effects of the Tender laws--Emissions of Paper Money--or the Destruction of contracts.
   All Faith has been destroyed amongst us--Speculations of the most dangerous Kind have been unrestrained[?].
   The Principles of Morality have been impaired and if Virtue is the Foundation of a Republic we have been sapping it as fast as we could.
   If State Governments are prevented from Exercising these Powers, it will
produce Respectability and Credit will immediately take place.
   Laws respecting the general Interests of Trade will take place--
   Commerce will flourish--Ship Building will revive again--
   Taxes will be lessened on the Landed Interest.
   The Superfluities of Life will be taxed and the luxuries of the Rich will defray a considerable Part of the National Burthen.
   We shall be respectable in the Eyes of all Europe.
   Our Credit will again extend itself--Foreigners will trust us--
   Congress alone with the Powers given them by this System or similar Powers can effect these Purposes.

In Convention Dec. 5. 1787.

Mr. Finley

   Montesquieu Lib. 2 ch[a] p.2[.]
(20) The People in whom the Supreme Power resides ought to have the Management of every thing within their reach. What exceeds their Abilities must be conducted by their Ministers.
   Vattel Lib. I. fol. 7.(21) The Supreme Power is placed in the People.
   Vattel C.2. pa. 10. 11[.](22) The States forming a federal Republic.
   The federal Head should regulate Commerce--but it's [sic] Powers should go no further.
   The Powers of Legislation will follow Taxation. The Sovereignty of the State Legislature will be intirely destroyed by the federal Constitution
   The general Interest of Pennsylvania were not represented in the late Convention--
   Had I been in the Convention I would have opposed the Shutting of the Doors, and would have collected Intelligence from the Sentiments of my Friends
   Sovereignty essentially resides in the People--but they may vest what portion of it they please in the State Legislatures
   I agree that States were made for the People and not the People for the States.
   If the Constitution of Pennsylvania is wrong, we ought not to adopt for that reason, a wrong federal System
   Our Constitution points out a constitutional Mode of altering our Systems if found improper
   The State Constitution of Virginia expressly directs that the Legislative, Executive, and Judicial Departments should be kept separate. So says Montesquieu and Reason.
   There is no Rotation of Offices under the present Federal System as proposed.
   Means are not left in each State to support a civil List
   The smaller States have an equal Vote in the Senate with the larger States--but this is rather to be lamented than avoided.
   There sill be no Saving of public expence in the different States by adopting the new Constitution
   The People are not sufficiently represented in the Ho[use] of Representatives. The number is too small for an extended Empire

December 6. 1787

Mr. Smiley

   I mean to consider the Consequences of the Power of Congress over the Militia and their keeping up a standing army.

December 7. 1787

Mr R Whitehill

   Vice President will be a dangerous Officer.
   He has the Casting Vote in the Senate
   It blends the legislative and executive departments.

Mr. Smiley

   It was said by Mr Wilson that this government could not be executed.

Mr Finley

   President in appointing Officers will generally nominate such Persons as will be agreeable to the Senate
   The legislative and executive Departments are mixed in this Constitution.

Mr R Whitehill

   The judicial Powers will swallow up all the State Court's Jurisdictions.
   The People will be dragged a great Distance to attend the inferior Foederal Courts.
   There must be a federal Court in every County which with the Expence of Officers attending it will be a great Burthen.
   The Appeals will be very dangerous to the People--The Wealthy must also succeed.
   Bonds will be sued for--Titles to Lands will be tried in the federal Courts
   The Direction of Trials of Crimes by a Jury excludes Trials in civil Cases by a Jury. The Enumeration of the former excludes the latter
   The Liberties of the People may be absorbed by a Treaty

Mr Wilson

   Care has been taken to prevent the Government from doing Acts of Oppression in Governmental Matters--Trials by Jury are secured in Criminal Cases.
   It is not to be supposed that Individuals or a Government will do oppressive Things, unless from Principles of Interest, Ambition, or Emolument.
   There have been more Violations of the Rights of Trial by Jury in Pennsylvania since the Revolution than in England in the Course of a Century notwithstanding a boasted Bill of Rights.
   There are no Instances of exclusive Jurisdiction in the federal Courts--there are but few Cases of their having original Jurisdiction.

Mr. Smiley

   In the case of the Sloop Action, the Law passed in Pennsylvania was founded on the immediate Recommendation of Congress, to try Prize Cases by Jury.--
   Jury Trials may be superseded in Civil Cases
   Appellate Jurisdiction is a Civil Law Term
   There can be no Appeal after Jury Trials.
   I fear there is an Intention to substitute the Civil Law in the Room of the Common Law
   Think of the Expence of the different Courts and of the federal System at large.

Mr. Finley

   The Powers vested by the new Constitution are not accurately and precisely defined
   The Liberties of the People are always safest when Juries (who never go wrong by System) are called in and control the Conduct of the Judges
   Tho' the individual States are restricted from making ex post facto Laws yet the general legislative Authority is not prevented by the Constitution from making such Laws

In Convention December 8. 1787

Mr Smiley

   The Appellate Jurisdiction is borrowed from the Civil Law and will exclude Trials by Jury
   Writ of Attaint lies against a Jury for giving a false Verdict.
   Case of Forcy v. Cunningham at New York in 1764.
(23)--Appeal from the general Verdict of a Jury assessing Damages in the Case of a Trespass and Assault to the Governor and Council refused in the Supreme Court by the Judges
   England corrupt as she is would not fix an Innovation like our Appellate Jurisdiction
   Tho Trials in Criminal Cases by Jury is secured--but not being mentioned in Civil Cases itis clearly excepted in such latter Cases.

Mr R Whitehill

   The federal Convention found the Task too great for them to ascertain the Mode of Trial in Civil Cases
   We are solemnly bound to our God not to give away the Rights and Liberties of the People
   The rich will swallow up the Poor--we shall have no Security for our Property.--Why need we obtain Property if it is insecure?
   There is no Security for People's Houses or Papers by the Constitution--All depends on the good Will of Congress and the Judges
   It is a solemn Mockery of Heaven to say that our Rights are secured by the Constitution.
   Cites 9th Letter of the Farmer's Letters published in Pennsylvania

Mr McKean

   Too much Time has been spent in this Business. The whole Matter might have been dispatched in a few Days.

Mr Finley

   Future Ages will be surprized at America's adopting this Constitution. Englishmen would not do it and would wonder at freemen's adopting it--
   If there is no Bill of Rights, there should be ample Security that our Rulers should be honest and virtuous--and that if they themselves were virtuous they should not be imposed on by the Vicious.--
   If otherwise, our Liberties are held in the most precarious Tenure.--
   An Altercation between the Chief Justice and Mr Smiley
   Mr Chambers defended the Chief Justice and berated the opposition

Mr Smiley

   3 Blackst[one] 380.
(25) Eulogy on Juries.    Aristocracy is the most oppressive of all tyrannical Governments.--
   The Convention deliberately planned the System of taking away the Trials by Jury

In Convention December 10. 1787.

Mr Findley

   33d. Vol Universal History fol. 21.
(26) Trials by Jury are in Disuse in Sweden except in the lower Courts.
   3 Blackst[one] Com[mentaries] 349. 380. 381. Every new Tribunal without a Jury is an Introduction of Aristocracy the worst of all Tyrannies.
   Trials by Jury in Sweden have been in Disuse for near a Century past.

Mr. McKean

   The following are Objections to the System.
   Objection 1. The Election of Representatives and Senators is not frequent enough to secure their Responsibility
   Respo. 1. People greatly differ on these Points--Annual Elections may be proper in a single Branch but not so of the present System where their Objects are to Matters which particular States are not competent to.
   [Objection] 2. 30,000 People represented by one Delegate is too small a representation--
   Resp. 2. In England Parliament exercise general legislative Power in all Cases--here the Powers of the legislative Body are restricted to more general Matters reaching over the whole Union--
   [Objection] 3. Senators have a Share in the appointment of certain officers, and yet must try them on impachment [sic] which blends the Executive and Judicial Offices.
   Resp. 3. This resembles the Constitution of Gr[eat] Brit[ain] which is deemed the best ballanced in the World--It holds in the strongest light in the Constitut[ion] of Penns[ylvania] where the Executive Council alone appoint and try Impeachments.
   [Objection] 4. Congr[ess] may affix improper Modes of Election in their Control of the Legislatures of the States.
   Resp. 4. The U. S. at large have a greater Interest in the due Election of Repr[esentatives] than any one State has.--and this Power is absolutely necessary to their Preservation.
   [Objection] 5. Powers of Congr[ess] too large in laying internal direct Taxations--their Power over Militia too great--the Appropriation of Money for too long a Time--The People have no Control over them.
   Resp. 5. Congr[ess] owe large Debts and ought to have the Powers of compelling the Payment of money.--The Power of raising Armies and paying them must be lodged somewhere and where so properly as in Congress? It is absolutely necessary for the Salvation of the U.S.
   [Objection] 6. The whole Executive Power not lodged in the President--his Power of Pardoning treasons is enormous--Vice President is an useless Office--
   Resp. 6. It is an Objection that the President is bound to consult the Senate? This is Contending for his monarcy--but he clearly is responsible to the People--The Objection of his solely having the Power of granting Pardons is inconsistent with the first Objection--This Power should be lodged in one person--The Vice President's Office is grounded on the Practice in England.--
   [Objection] 7. Objection against the Judiciary Department--The Salary of the Judges may be increased and they may hold lucrative offices--the Presid[ent's] Salary may not be increased or diminished.--
   Resp. 7. The Judges hold their Offices during Life and great changes may happen in the Value of money--not so of the President who can only continue for 4 years--You cannot avoid their getting Offices--for they may elude these Provisions by getting the Office conferred on a Son etc.
   [Objection] 8. No Bill of Rights to secure the Liberties of the People--
   Resp. 8. It is not necessary, where there is no King or Prerogative--All that is not granted is reserved--Cites Locke on Government part 2. sect[ion] 141, 152.
   [Objection] 9. A Consolidation of the several States
   Resp. 9. This is a mere Criticism in Terms--It will by United the States secure us against exterior force.
   [Objection] 10. An Aristocracy and so intended by the federal Convention
   Resp. 10. The frequent Changes in the Senate, every 2 years some going out, will prevent all Danger of caballing which is the greatest Danger of an Aristocracy.
   [Objection] 11. The Trial by Jury not secured under the Appellate Jurisdiction--
   Resp. 11. The verdicts of Juries should in some Instances be revised--The House of Lords have an Appellate Jurisdiction bouth as to Law and in Fact--so have the Supreme Courts in Matters in the Orphans Courts. So of the Court of Errors and Appeals in Disputes about Wills--So of Chancery who determines it Jus Testes--In Massachusetts and New Hampshire, cases are removed into the Supreme Court by Appeal instead of Writs of Error.
   1. By acceding to the Constitution you have the Wisdom and Experience of the US. br[ought] to your aid.
   2. You will thereby perpetuate our Independency by destroying the Hopes of foreign and domestic Enemies.
   3. You will encourage your Allies and other Powers will make Treaties with us.
   4. It will break our Parties and Divisions in every State and particularly in this.
   5. It will invigorate your Commerce--your Ship Building will flourish under it--
   If you not accede to it, there is no Prospect of getting another Constitution--
   It has the Seeds of Amendments in it.
   Upon the most mature Deliberation, I pronounce the Constitution to be the best on the Face of the Earth--

Mr Findley

   The Principle on which the Chief Justice is that the Government should be consolidated.

Mr Smiley

   I never found we had the worst of the Argument until to night--we have no People to laugh for us--We are not to be intimidated tho' the Gallery were armed with bayonets.

In Convention Dec: 11. 1787

22 Minutes past 10 O'Clock AM. Began and Ended at 1 O'Clock p.m.

Mr Wilson

   That Government is founded on Contract does not appear to be founded on Expereience or supported upon the Principles of Freedom and Reason.
   The Doctrine is politically true in Gr[eat] Brit[ain] because it was recognized at the Revolution.
   It destroys the Rights of Amendment--because the Contract if made ought to be persued and kept up.
   In America the Supreme Power resides [in] the People who have it in their Power to ordain such Systems as may be most suitable to their Interests. In this Instance they differ from Gr[eat] Brit[ain].
   Why then talk of a Violation of the Confederation? Cannot the People change their Constitution if they find thereby their common Safety endangered?
   Mr. Wilson began to speak 10 Minutes after 4 PM. and spoke again 2 Hours.

We the Delegates of the People of the State of Pennsylvania met in general Convention do in their name and by their Authority and for ourselves assent to ratify the foregoing Constitution for the United States of America
   Done in Convention at Philadelphia the 13th day of December in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred eighty seven and of the Independence of the United States the twelfth.
   In witness hereunto subscribed our names--

[Mr Wilson]

I congratulate you this Business drawing to a Conclusion.
   It is of great Consequence to us and our Posterity whether we shall continue under a Confederation without efficient Powers to carry it's Purposes into Execution, despised abroad and without Credit at home. Or whether we shall adopt a System of Union, with energetic Powers, which can effectually carry into Execution, such Measures as may be calculated and devised for the Common Safety
   The Gentlemen in Opposition cannot complain of Precipitancy or Hurry--I beg to ask whether we have not on the Hand, delayed and procrastinated the main Question perhaps unnecessarily and improvidently.
   The objections to the new federal Constitution have been urged repeatedly in different Lights--and the same Arguments have been brought before the Convention in a Variety of Shapes--
   Objection 1. They have urged the Want of a Bill of Rights, that the right of Conscience and Liberty of the Press are not thereby secured to us
1 Resp[onse]. We answer such an Enumeration is unnecessary and at best dangerous. In the Instances where Power is not delegated to our Rulers, the Rights still remain in the People. Whatever is not given is reserved. Many of the States have no Bills of Rights in the Formation of their Constitutions.
Objections 2. It is said to be a consolidated Government, annihilating and absorbing all the State Legislatures which must necessarily fall of themselves
2 Resp[onse]. The Government is consolidated to certain Purposes and Vigor given to the general Union--The Sovereignty rests with the People--In them consists the Supreme Power--We are a confederate Republic with proper balancing Powers vested in certain Bodies for the Benefit of the Whole--The Existence of the federal Constitution must depend on the Continuance of the State Legislatures in the Case of the Election of the House of Representatives, the Senate, the President and the judges. A Republican form of Government is guaranteed to each State--and are to be guarded from foreign as well as domestic Violence.--The Powers given to the new Congress reach to Objects beyond the Compass of the State Legislatures--They only are competent to it.

The document printed below was written in Yeates's hand and included with his Notes on the ratifying convention deposited at Independence Hall by Mr. Shenk. It is apparently a draft of the beginning of a speech which Yeates must have prepared for delivery on November 24, the Saturday preceding the Friday he began to take his notes on the debates. On Saturday the twenty-fourth Thomas McKean moved the adoption of the Constitution. In the ensuing debate leading Antifederalists in the convention insisted that there be full and prolonged discussion of every part of the Constitution and made it clear that it was their intention to propose that the convention resolve itself into a committee of the whole in order to assure this.(29) Most of Yeates's remarks are directed against the expected proposal of the Antifederalist delegates that the convention consider the federal Constitution as a committee of the whole.(30)

The reports of the meeting of November 24 do not mention Yeates's having made a speech; but whether Yeates actually spoke or not, this is a draft of the first part of a speech to the convention which would have been pertinent to the proceedings of the convention only on September 24, and the use of the personal pronouns and the way in which Yeates struck out and added words make it clear that this was hardly a report of a speech delivered by another but rather a draft of a speech to be delivered by Yeates himself.(31)

Mr. President(32)

   I rise in support of the Motion made by the hon. Members that this Convention do assent to and ratify the Constitution of the united States as lately agreed to on the 17 September last by the Convention of the United States.
   The Intentions of the Members have been fully and clearly stated. No Precipitation of Hurry is affected. A fair dispassionate deliberate Discussion of the Principles of the System proposed to us is desired by all; and that the most ample Time should be given for the Bringing forward and Investigating every Objection that can be made to the new Constitution. Precipitation and Hurry on the one Hand and affected Delay and unnecessary Procrastination on the other should equally be avoided.
   The primary Question when will be in what Form or Shape our Deliberations shall be conducted. Whether we shall proceed to the Discussion in full Convention as a Body delegated for this express Purpose,--or whether preserving the general System of the House of Assembly on Bills before them, we shall resolve ourselves into a Committee of the whole, choose a Chairman, take it up Paragraph by Paragraph, collect the Votes on each Paragraph and make Report to the Convention of our Proceedings and Resolutions.
   I am strongly inclinced to pursue the first mode on Principles of Propriety, law and public Utility.
   We are not met here to amend or alter the Constitution--We have no such Powers delegated to us. We do not resemble the Legislature in this Particular, nor are their Precedents binding on us. The Powers which carried into Exercise necessarily produce this Effect with them of resolving themselves into a Committee of the whole to alter amend and improve any particular Bill, do not exist with us. The Cause ceasing with us the Effect must cease also. We are brought here for the Discussion of a simple Point and in the Event to determine whether we will ratify or reject the Constitution offered to us. This is the grand Questions which we are to solve.
   If we go into a Committee of the whole we shall after spending considerable Time on the System, have to travel the same Ground over again in Convention, and thereby incur unnecessary Expence as well as a considerable Loss of Time.
   But why debate it Paragraph by Paragraph? Surely there are at least some Things in it unexceptionable and [sic]



1. See John Bach McMaster and Frederick D. Stone, eds., Pennsylvania and the Federal Constitution, 1787-1788 (Philadelphia, 1888), vi.

2. See ibid., 14-15. The Pennsyvlania Herald (Philadelphia) printed Dallas's report on the meeting of Nov. 30 on Jan. 6, 1788.

3. McMaster and Stone, eds., Pa. and the Federal Constitution, 14-15, 212n. The judgment of McMaster and Stone to the effect that Thomas Lloyd "was bought up by the Federalists" is corroborated by a story in the Maryland Gazette (Annapolis), May 22, 1788, about the Maryland ratifying convention, where Thomas Lloyd appeared as the shorthand reporter: "Mr. Lloyd, a warm and decided friend to the new constitution, frequently expressed his concern at the silence of the majority, and declared that it would never do to publish the objections and arguments against the constitution without any answer.--After the convention was dissolved, the majority made a collection for Mr. Lloyd, to defray his expences, and he declared his intention not to publish what he had taken down--It is observable that Mr. Lloyd has hitherto only published the speeches of two gentlemen of the Pennsylvania convention in favour of the government. If Mr. Lloyd should publish the arguments of the opposition in that convention, it will probabaly be after the decision by all of the conventions."
 A resolution was called up for debate in the First Congress on Sept. 26, 1789, which charged Thomas Lloyd with "the most glaring deviations from truth; often distorting the arguments of the members from the true meaning; . . . and, in a great many instances, mutilating, and, not unfrequently, surpressing whole arguments upon subjects of the greatest moment; thus throwing over the whole proceedings a thick veil of misrepresentation and error." Joseph Gales, comp., The Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States . . . (Washington, 1834-56), I, 952.

4. See McMaster and Stone, eds., Pa. and the Federal Convention, 204-413. Elliot's Debates carries only that portion of the Pennsylvania debates published by Thomas Lloyd. Jonathan Elliot, The Debates in the Several State Conventions on the Adoption of the Federal Constitution . . . 2d ed., II (Philadelphia, 1863), 415-546.

5. "Notes of the Debate in the Pennsylvania Convention Taken by James Wilson. From the Original Manuscript in the Historical Society of Pennsylvania," in McMaster and Stone, eds., Pa. and the Federal Constitution, 765-785.

6. H. Bartholomew Cox, ed., "The Convention Notes of Anthony Wayne," Manuscripts, XVI (Winter 1964), 18-21.

7. Jasper Yeates (1745-1817), a successful Lancaster attorney, became a justice of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania a few years after his fight for ratification in the convention and died while in office after serving more than 20 years. He is well known as the author of four volumes of Reports of Cases Adjudged in the Supreme Court of Pennsyvlania . . . [1791-1808], published after his death in Philadelphia, 1817-19.

8. Rudolph W. Shenk (1834-80) was a Lancaster attorney. How the Notes of Jasper Yeates came into his custody is not known. The manuscript is in the Independence Hall Collection, Specimen Number 2050, and is published here with the kind permission of the Superintendent, Independence National Historical Park.

9. Robert Whitehill (1738-1813), a delegate from Cumberland County, was one of the leading opponents of ratification in the convention.

10. William Findley (1741-1821), a delegate from Westmoreland County, was one of the most determined opponents of the Constitution in the convention. According to both Dallas and James Wilson, Thomas Hartley, Dr. Benjamin Rush, and Yeates spoke in answer to Whitehill's opening speech on the thirtieth before Findley spoke. McMaster and Stone, eds., Pa. and the Federal Constitution, 289-299, 768-770.

11. John Smilie (1742-1812), a delegate from Fayette County, was a leading Antifederalist in the convention.

12. On Wednesday, Nov. 28, James Wilson had asserted on the floor of the convention that "Virginia has no Bill of Rights." The statement by John Smilie answered Wilson. Smilie's first sentence was true, but no copy of that officially adopted in Williamsburg on June 12, 1776, was in the city of Philadelphia. What he read from the Remembrancer was George Mason's original draft of the Virginia Declaration of Rights, reported with amendments by the committee on May 27, 1776, first printed for the perusal of the members in a handbill by Mr. Purdie and published in Dixon and Hunter's Virginia Gazette (Williamsburg) of June 1, 1776, in the Pennsylvania Evening Post (Philadelphia) on June 6, the Pennsylvania Ledger (Philadelphia), June 8, the Pennsylvania Gazette, June 12, Maryland Gazette, June 13, and other newspapers throughout America. It was published in John Almon's The Remembrancer . . . (London, 1775-84) within the year and from thence it spread throughout Europe.
 That read by Mr. Smilie was the same George Mason's draft from which Whitehill and Franklin had copied for the Pennsylvania Declaration of Rights of Sept. 28, 1776. Diary entry of June 23, 1779, in Charles Francis Adams, ed., The Works of John Adams . . . , III (Boston, 1851), 220; a Declaration of the Rights of the Inhabitants of the Commonwealth, or State of Pennsylvania, in Francis Newton Thorpe, The Federal and State Constitutions, Colonial Charters, and Other Organic Laws . . . (Washington, 1909), V, 3082. The "French translation," spoken of by Mr. Smilie, was that translated with the assistance of Benjamin Franklin in 1783 for French editions of American Constitutions published at Paris that year, and which powerfully contributed to the French Revolution. See Durand Echeverria, French Publications of the Declaration of Indpendence and the American Constitutions, 1776, 1783, in Bibliographical Society of America, Papers, XLVII (New York, 1953), 313. The same draft of May 27, 1776, in 18 paragraphs became the basis for the first proposal of a federal bill of rights by the Pennsylvania minority on Dec. 12, 1787. It was prepared by Whitehill, Findley, and Smilie. Many parts of their proposal were almost exact copies of that which Smilie read on Nov. 30.

13. Thomas McKean (1734-1817), a delegate from Philadelphia City, was with James Wilson the most influential champion of ratification in the Pennsylvania convention.

14. James Wilson (1742-98), a delegate from Northumberland County, had been along with James Madison the leading nationalist at the Constitutional Convention.

15. Timothy Pickering (1745-1829), the delegate from Luzerne County, was later Secretary of State and a leader of the New England Federalists.

16. Stephen Chambers (1750-89) was a delegate from Lancaster County.

17. Enoch Edwards (1751-1802) was a delegate from Philadelphia County.

18. This point was made by Findley. See Wilson's "Note on the Debate," in McMaster and Stone, eds., Pa and the Federal Constitution, 773.

19. Wilson in his notes on the convention indicates that Smilie spoke on Dec. 4 and no one else, but Wilson never included notes on his own speeches. Clearly what follows in the text above are notes on a speech vigorously defending the proposed constitution, which could hardly have been delivered by Smilie who along with Whitehill and Findley was a member of the convention triumvirate which most bitterly opposed the Constitution. Furthermore, Wilson's speech of Dec. 4 as reported by Lloyd follows the general outline of the speech reported here by Yeates. The conclusion in inescapable that Yeates was reporting on Wilson's speech and that it was an oversight on his part when he failed to insert Wilson's name and thereby attributed it to Smilie. McMaster and Stone, eds., Pa. and the Federal Cosntitution, 313-349, 773-774.

20. See Baron de Montesquieu, The Spirit of Laws, trans. Thomas Nugent, rev. ed., I (New York, 1900), 9.

21. See M. de Vattel, The Law of Nations; or, Principles of the Law of Nature . . . (Dublin, 1787), 15-16.

22. Ibid., 18.

23. Thos. Forsey v. Waddel Cunningham (N. Y.) (1764) reported in William H. W. Sabine, ed., Historical Memoires from 16 March 1763 to 9 July 1776 of William Smith . . . (New York, 1956), 24-32; and in Colden to Lords of Trade, Nov. 7, 1764, Colden to Earl of Halifax, Dec. 13, 1764, Representation of the Lords of Trade on Appeals from the New-York Courts, Sept. 24, 1765, and Colden's Account of the State of the Province of New-York, Dec. 6, 1765, all in E. B. O'Callaghan, ed., Documents Relative to the Colonial History of the State of New-York, VII (Albany, 1856), 676-678, 681-685, 762-765, 797.

24. See John Dickenson, Letters from a Farmer in Pennsylvania, To the Inhabitants of the British Colonies (Philadelphia, 1774), 83-96.

25. See William Blackstone, Commentaries on the Laws of England III (Philadelphia, 1772), 380.

26. See An Universal History, from the Earliest Account of Time. Compiled from Original Authors; and Illustrated with Maps, Cuts, Notes, Etc., XXXIII (London, 1759).

27. See John Locke, Two Treatises of Government . . . ed. Peter Laslett (Cambridge, Eng., 1960), 380-381, 386-387.

28. On Dec. 12 the convention voted 46 to 23 to "assent to and ratify the plan of federal government, agreed to and recommended by the late federal convention." On the next day, Thursday the twelfth, a committee composed of McKean, Wilson, and Yeates presented the "form" in which the ratification should be read publicly later that day at the courthouse. McMaster and Stone, eds., Pa. and the Federal Constitution, 424-428. The draft of the "form" printed here was written in the manuscript of Yeates's notes in what may not be Yeates's hand and appears after Yeates's notes on Wilson's speech of the morning of Dec. 11 and before his notes on Wilson's speech of the morning of Dec. 11 and before his notes on Wilson's speech of that afternoon. Wilson was the only speaker of the day. Ibid., 370-418.

29. Ibid., 217-234.

30. In a trial of strength between the two factions on the following Monday, the Federalists defeated by a vote of 44 to 24 Antifederalist Robert Whitehill's motions which would have opened the way to the convention's resolving itself into a committee of the whole. Ibid., 234-237.

31. In the printed text, Yeates's corrections and insertions are not indicated. Instead they have been incorporated.

32. Frederick Augustus Muhlenberg (1750-1801), a delegate from Montgomery County, was elected president of the convention on Nov. 21 by a vote of 30 votes to McKean's 29. Ibid., 213.