Gouverneur Morris of Pennsylvania
July 2 1787

Mr Governour Morris thought a Committee advisable as the Convention had been equally divided. He had a stronger reason also. The mode of appointing the 2nd branch tended he was sure to defeat the object of it. What is this object? to check the precipitation, changeableness, and excesses of the first branch. Every man of observation had seen in the democratic branches of the State Legislatures, precipitation - in Congress changeableness, in every department excesses against personal liberty private property & personal safety. What qualities are necessary to constitute a check in this case? Abilities and virtue, are equally necessary in both branches. Something more then is now wanted. 1. The checking branch must have a personal interest in checking the other branch, one interest must be opposed to another interest. Vices as they exist, must be turned against each other. 2. It must have great personal property, it must have the aristocratic spirit; it must love to lord it thro' pride, pride is indeed the great principle that actuates both the poor & the rich. It is this principle which in the former resists, in the latter abuses authority. 3. It should be independent. In Religion the Creature is apt to forget its Creator. That it is otherwise in political affairs, the late debates here are an unhappy proof. The aristocratic body, should be as independent & as firm as the democratic. If the members of it are to revert to a dependence on the democratic choice, the democratic scale will preponderate. All the guards contrived by America have not restrained the Senatorial branches of the Legislatures from a servile complaisance to the democratic. If the 2nd branch is to be dependent we are better without it. To make it independent, it should be for life. It will then do wrong, it will be said. He believed so: He hoped so. The Rich will strive to establish their dominion & enslave the rest. They always did. They always will. The proper security against them is to form them into a separate interest. The two forces will then controul each other. Let the rich mix with the poor and in a Commercial Country, they will establish an oligarchy. Take away commerce, and the democracy will triumph. Thus it has been all the world over. So it will be among us. Reason tells us we are but men: and we are not to expect any particular interference of Heaven in our favor. By thus combining & setting apart, the aristocratic interest, the popular interest will be combined against it. There will be a mutual check and mututal security. 4. An independence for life, involoves the necessary permanency. If we change our measures no body will trust us: and how avoid a change of measures, but by avoiding a change of men. Ask any man if he confides in Congress if he confides in the State of Pennsylvania if he will lend his money or enter into contract? He will tell you no. He sees no stability. He can repose no confidence. If Great Britain were to explain her refusal to treat with us, the same reasoning would be employed. - He disliked the exclusion of the 2nd branch from holding offices. It is dangerous. It is like the imprudent exclusion of the military officers during the war, from civil appointments. It deprives the Executive of the principal source of influence. If danger be apprehended from the Executive what a lift-handed way is this of obviating it? If the son, the brother or the friend can be appointed, the danger may be even increased, as the disqualified father etc. can then boast of a disinterestedness which he does not possess. Besides shall the best, the most able, the most virtuous citizens not be permitted to hold offices? Who then are to hold them? He was also against paying the Senators. They will pay themselves if they can. If they can not they will be rich and can do without it. Of such the 2nd branch ought to consist; and none but such can compose it if they are not to be paid - He contended that the Executive should appoint the Senate & fill up vacancies. This gets rid of the difficulty in the present question. You may begin with any ratio you please; it will come to the same thing. The members being independent & for life may be taken as well from one place as from another. - It should be considered too how the scheme could be carried through the States. He hoped there was strength of mind eno' in this House to look truth in the face. He did not hesitate therefore to say that loaves & fishes must bribe the Demagogues. They must be made to expect higher offices under the general than the State Governments. A Senate for life will be a noble bait. Without such captivating prospects, the popular leaders will oppose & defeat the plan. He perceived that the 1st branch was to be chosen by the people of the States: the 2nd by those chosen by the people. Is not here a Government by the States. A Government by Compact between Virginia in the 1st & 2nd branch; Massachusetts in the 1st & 2nd branch etc. This is going back to mere treaty. It is no Government at all. It is all together dependent on the States, and will act over again the part which Congress has acted. A firm government alone can protect our liberties. He fears the influence of the rich. They will have the same effect here as elsewhere if we do not by such a Government keep them within their proper sphere. We should remember that the people never act from reason alone. The Rich will take advantage of their passions & make these the instruments for oppressing them. The Result of the Contest will be a violent aristocracy, or a more violent despotism. The schemes of the Rich will be favored by the extent of the Country. The people in such distant parts can not communicate & act in concert. They will be the dupes of those who have more knowledge & intercourse. The only security against encroachments will be a select & sagacious body of men, instituted to watch against them on all sides. He meant only to hint these observations, without grounding any motion on them.


Debates in the Federal Convention of 1787 as reported by James Madison
Documents Illustrative of the Formation of the Union of the American States, pages 319-321
Government Printing Office, Washington, 1927