Constitutional Convention. Remarks on
Wages to Be Paid Members of the National Legislature1
[Philadelphia, June 22, 1787]
Mr. Hamilton apprehended inconveniency from fixing the wages.2 He was strenuous agst. making the National Council dependent on the Legislative rewards of the States. Those who pay are the masters of those who are paid. Payment by the States would be unequal as the distant States would have to pay for the same term of attendance and more days in travelling to & from the seat of the Govt. He expatiated emphatically on the difference between the feelings & views of the people—& the Governments of the States arising from the personal interest & official inducements which must render the latter unfriendly to the Genl. Govt.
Hunt and Scott, Debates description begins Gaillard Hunt and James Brown Scott, eds., The Debates in the Federal Convention of 1787 Which Framed the Constitution of the United States of America. Reported by James Madison (New York, 1920). description ends , 147–48.
1. Robert Yates’s version of H’s speech reads:
“I do not think the states ought to pay the members, nor am I for a fixed sum. It is a general remark, that he who pays is the master. If each state pays its own members, the burthen would be disproportionate, according to the distance of the states from the seat of government. If a national government can exist, members will make it a desirable object to attend, without accepting any stipend—and it ought to be so organized as to be efficient.” (Yates, Secret Proceedings and Debates description begins Robert Yates, Secret Proceedings and Debates of the Convention Assembled at Philadelphia, in the Year 1787, For the Purpose of Forming the Constitution of The United States of America (Albany, 1821). description ends , 152.)
2. The Constitutional Convention debated the section of the third resolution of the Virginia Plan which provided that members of the national legislature should “receive fixed stipends to be paid out of the Nationl. Treasury” (Hunt and Scott, Debates description begins Gaillard Hunt and James Brown Scott, eds., The Debates in the Federal Convention of 1787 Which Framed the Constitution of the United States of America. Reported by James Madison (New York, 1920). description ends , 146). Oliver Ellsworth of Connecticut objected to the resolution and argued that the state legislatures should pay the salaries of congressmen. In the debate which ensued, Nathaniel Gorham and Roger Sherman supported Ellsworth’s motion, while Edmund Randolph, James Wilson, and James Madison opposed it. H’s remarks followed those of Madison.