Constitutional Convention: Day by Day Occurrences


May 29, 1787

After these few short days of the convention here in Philadelphia, I
realized that it would be important to keep personal records of this
convention to assist in future discussion. This will also help me with
remembering details of the events.

Today the "Virginia Plan" was presented by that state\'s delegates.
They proposed a series of many resolutions that seemed well thought out to
me. The plan was written by James Madison but was given to us by Edmund
Randolph who was a very effective speaker and clear orator.

I enjoyed listening to the resolutions and the fresh new ideas I heard
in the Virginia Plan. First, the Virginia Plan recommended a bicameral
legislature with representation to be determined by the size of the
population in each area. The lower body of this legislature would be
elected by voters while the upper house would be elected by the members of
the lower house.

Every night the delegates go down to the taverns at Head House Square
and discuss what they have heard. I will debate with them the notions
which we have been privy to. One of my personal goals of this convention
is to talk freely with Ben Franklin about his ideas about government. Mr.
Franklin has traveled widely and has seen many nations. He is old and wise
and I want to talk to him before he passes away. Right now he is at the
age of 81, I think.

May 31

Recently the convention has become vexatious. The summers in this
towne are very humid. We are forced to keep the window open everywhere.
Flies are about at all times and it is hard to concentrate. Also, some of
the discussions at this convention are sluggish and tiresome.

One good thing about the weather is that it has given me time to
reflect on the Virginia Plan proposed a few day ago.

The one point I disagree with regarding the Virginia Plan is that it
gives more power to all the states with higher population, thus giving the
smaller states no voice.

June 3

It is a shame that Tom Jefferson, Mr. Madison\'s Virginia neighbor, is
not here. He feels that we are trampling upon the poor farmers. It\'s
reported that he feels there should be a new government set up every few
years because any existing government becomes tyrannical. We must take
into regard people who feel this way. I hope we can prove Mr. Jefferson
wrong by showing that a stronger, consistent government can protect all its
citizens.

June 4

Today I stayed home sick. I was well leeched and now feel much
improved.

June 6

I realized today that I should have begun this diary with the points
on the convention that we have all unanimously agreed upon, before it
began.

First, we agreed that these meetings should be closed to the public so
that there could be frank debate and discussion about government, people,
and problems. The next thing agreed was that each state could have one
vote on topics, making all states equal. Finally we all agreed that no
subject could be closed permanently, even if it had been previously voted
on. These points have been ALL very helpful in making things run smoothly.

June 8

Today I took a walk down along the Delaware River with New York\'s
Alexander Hamilton. Despite my personal feelings that Mr. Hamilton is a
autocrat who cares little about most people, I found him enjoyable to talk
to. Mr Hamilton has written much about the need for a federal government.
When I asked him about this, he commented that "Unless we place country
under the foundation of the law, we cannot survive."

June 11

Today several of the delegates and I, including James Madison, went to
visit John Bartram out in the countryside surrounding Philadelphia. His
house was large and his gardens beautiful. Dr. Bartram has researched
vegetation and knows much about what to grow and when. His approach is
scientific and he has found many new types of plants. I admire his
achievements.

June 15

Eighteen days after the Virginia Plan was proposed, the first
alternative plan came up. The very scholarly William Patterson introduced
today the "New Jersey Plan". This plan proposed some interesting ideas of
how the government should be run. It suggests a single house of congress
which would appoint the executive branch and the courts. In this congress,
each state would get one vote (not very different from what we have at this
convention). Also in this congress,