June 6, 1787
Today the delegates decided against having state legislatures elect the first federal legislative house. Some delegates distrusted the people to directly elect their federal representatives, preferring instead to have the people elect members of state legislatures who in turn would elect federal legislators. After debate, the delegates decided to allow people to vote on what became the House of Representatives.
James Madison gave a speech which I first reported on June 4. Since other delegates included the speech in their June 4 notes, many historians believe the speech came on that day.
In this debate, the delegates continued to refer to England and the states for guidance. For instance, Elbridge Gerry said:
In England the people will probably lose their liberty from the smallness of the proportion having a right of suffrage. Our danger arises from the opposite extreme. Hence in Massachusetts the worst men get into the Legislature. Several members of that body had lately been convicted of infamous crimes.
Gerry did not favor a direct vote to the federal legislature.
John Dickinson of Delaware said:
In the formation of the Senate, we ought to carry it through such a refining process as will assimilate it, as nearly as may be, to the House of Lords in England. He repeated his warm eulogiums on the British Constitution.
On the matter of the relationship between the first magistrate and the judiciary, Madison said:
The maxim on which the objection was founded, required a separation of the Executive, as well as the Judiciary, from the Legislature and from each other. There would, in truth, however, be no improper mixture of these distinct powers in the present case. In England, whence the maxim itself had been drawn, the Executive had an absolute negative on the laws; and the supreme tribunal of justice (the House of Lords), formed one of the other branches of the Legislature. In short, whether the object of the revisionary power was to restrain the Legislature from encroaching on the other co-ordinate departments, or on the rights of the people at large; or from passing laws unwise in their principle or incorrect in their form; the utility of annexing the wisdom and weight of the Judiciary to the Executive seemed incontestable.
Thus far, the Bible’s influence has been nil.