George Washington Papers

The New Jersey Plan, 15 June 1787

The New Jersey Plan

[Philadelphia, 15 June 1787]. GW made and retained a copy of Propositions from the Delegates of New Jersey to the Convention which William Paterson presented on 15 June.

AD, DLC:GW. GW probably made his copy of the New Jersey plan of government on the day that William Paterson presented it to the Convention. On 15 June Madison reports: “Mr. Patterson, laid before the Convention the plan which he said several of the deputations wished to be substituted in place of that proposed by Mr. Randolp[h]. After some little discussion of the most proper mode of giving it a fair deliberation it was agreed that it should be referred to a Committee of the Whole, and that in order to place the two plans in due comparison, the other should be recommitted. At the earnest desire of Mr. [John] Lansing & some other gentlemen, it was also agreed that the Convention should not go into Committee of the whole on the subject till tomorrow, by which delay the friends of the plan proposed by Mr. Patterson wd. be better prepared to explain & support it, and all would have an opportuy of taking copies” (Farrand, Records of the Federal Convention, description begins Max Farrand, ed. The Records of the Federal Convention of 1787. Rev. ed. 4 vols. New Haven, 1966. description ends 1:242).

Paterson’s own final copy of the New Jersey plan has not been found (see Appendix E, ibid., 3:611–16). The copies made by GW and James Madison, printed ibid., 1:242–45, are almost identical. The differences between Madison’s version and GW’s are: in article 2, GW wrote “Goods & Merchandize” instead of “goods or merchandizes,” “Vellum & parchment” instead of “vellum or parchment,” “rules & regulations shall be committed” instead of “rules & regulations shall have been committed,” and “Suits or prosecutions” instead of “suits & prosecutions”; and at the end of the paragraph GW and Madison place “to an appeal” in different places, conveying the same meaning; in article 4, GW has “the Services by them rendered” rather than “their services,” and he inserts “military” before “enterprise” in the last line; finally, in article 5, GW omits “& felonies” after “all cases of piracies.” There are in addition a number of differences in spelling and punctuation.

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