James Madison Papers

Notes on Proposed Constitutional Amendments, [ca. 3 March] 1793

Notes on Proposed Constitutional Amendments

[ca. 3 March 1793]

The following amendments to the Constitution have it is said been laid before the Senate by the Members from Virginia, and will claim the attention and consideration of the public in the interval between the late and the Ensuing Session.

Here insert the amendts.1

As one of the amendts. has for its object the purification of the Legislature from the pecuniary influence which has been so much complained of, it is apparent that some more efficatious remedy should be applied to so great an evil? It has occurred to several friends of a pure republican administration of our Govt. that it wd. be justifiable and expedient to add to the above amendts. a proposition, to the following effect—to wit “that each member of Congs. at the times of taking his seat & the qualification now required by the Constitution, shall state on oath, the amount of his property in public and Bank Stock of every kind; and shall moreover swear that during the term of his continuing a member, he will not purchase or deal in any such paper, or any public lands, or any other public property whatever.” If such a prohibition be necessary or salutary in the case of the several officers in the Executive line on whom it has been laid, the reasons seem to be far more cogent in relation to the members of the Legislature, who have it so much more in their power to convert public trust to their private emoluments.

Ms (DLC: Monroe Papers). In JM’s hand, with many deletions and interlineations. Docketed by Monroe. Conjectural date assigned on the basis of circumstances described in n. 1. Possibly prepared as an outline for a newspaper essay.

1On 2 Mar. (the last day of the session) the Senate tabled a motion to propose to the state legislatures constitutional amendments that would restrict the general welfare clause to Congress’s enumerated powers, deny to Congress the power to grant charters of incorporation or monopoly, exclude from Congress “any person intrusted with the money of the United States, or concerned in the direction or management of any bank or other moneyed corporation within the United States,” and vest the federal judicial power not only in the federal courts but also “in such of the State courts as the Congress shall deem fit.” On 16 Jan. 1794 the Senate defeated the amendment to exclude bank officers from Congress (Annals of Congress description begins Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States, 1789–1824 (42 vols.; Washington, 1834–56). description ends , 2d Cong., 2d sess., 663; 3d Cong., 1st sess., 32).

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