The 1787 Constitutional Convention – Time to Vote on the Virginia Plan

June 13, 1787


After some debate on the Judiciary and Senate, the delegates agreed to vote on the Virginia plan the next day. As we will see, any hopes for a quick plan were dashed the next day.


Again, Britain and the experience of the states formed the influences on decisions made in this session.

Mr. BUTLER saw no reason for such a discrimination. We were always following the British Constitution, when the reason of it did not apply. There was no analogy between the House of Lords and the body proposed to be established. If the Senate should be degraded by any such discriminations, the best men would be apt to decline serving in it, in favor of the other branch. And it will lead the latter into the practice of tacking other clauses to money bills.

Mr. MADISON observed, that the commentators on the British Constitution had not yet agreed on the reason of the restriction on the House of Lords, in money bills. Certain it was, there could be no similar reason in the case before us. The Senate would be the representatives of the people, as well as the first branch. If they should have any dangerous influence over it, they would easily prevail on some member of the latter to originate the bill they wished to be passed. As the Senate would be generally a more capable set of men, it would be wrong to disable them from any preparation of the business, especially of that which was most important, and, in our republics, worse prepared than any other. The gentleman, in pursuance of his principle, ought to carry the restraint to the amendment, as well as the originating of money bills; since an addition of a given sum would be equivalent to a distinct proposition of it.

Mr. SHERMAN. As both branches must concur, there can be no danger, whichever way the Senate may be formed. We establish two branches in order to get more wisdom, which is particularly needed in the finance business. The Senate bear their share of the taxes, and are also the representatives of the people. ‘What a man does by another, he does by himself,’ is a maxim. In Connecticut both branches can originate, in all cases, and it has been found safe and convenient. Whatever might have been the reason of the rule as to the House of Lords, it is clear that no good arises from it now even there.

General PINCKNEY. This distinction prevails in South Carolina, and has been a source of pernicious disputes between the two branches. The Constitution is now evaded by informal schedules of amendments, handed from the Senate to the other House.

About three weeks had passed and no prayers were offered, nor did the delegates debate biblical principles.