Virginia Plan, Original
29 May 1787
Mr RANDOLPH (for himself, Mr BLAIR, Mr MADISON, Mr MASON, Mr MCCLURG, Mr WASHINGTON, and Mr WYTHE) introduced the following resolution; which was read and referred to the Committee of the Whole
ResolutionProposing changes to the existing Articles of Confederation among the 13 United States of America.
WHEREAS a fœderal government ought
- (1) to secure against foreign invasion;
- (2) to secure against dissentions between members of the Union, or seditions in particular states;
- (3) to procure to the several states, various blessings, of which an isolated situation is incapable;
- (4) to be able to defend itself against encroachment; and
- (5) to be paramount to the state constitutions;
WHEREAS then the existing Articles of Confederation were drawn up, the science of constitutions and confederacies was in its infancy, the inefficiency of requisitions was unknown, no commercial discord had arisen among any states, no rebellion had appeared as in Massachusetts, foreign debts had not become urgent, the havoc of paper money had not been foreseen, treaties had not been violated, and perhaps nothing better could be obtained from the jealousy of the states with regard to their sovereignty;
WHEREAS the Confederation produces no security against foreign invasion, Congress not being permitted to prevent war nor to support it by their own authority; Congress can not cause infractions of treaties or of the law of nations to be punished; particular states might by their conduct provoke war without control; neither militia nor draughts are fit for defence on such occasions, enlistments can only be successful, and these can not be executed without money;
WHEREAS the fœderal government can not check the quarrels between the states, nor a rebellion in any, not having the constitutional power, nor means to interpose according to exigency;
WHEREAS there are many advantages which the Unites States might acquire, which are not attainable under the Confederation, such as a productive impost, counteraction of the commercial regulations of other nations, and pushing commerce ad libitum, etc.;
WHEREAS the fœderal government can not defend itself against the encroachments of the states;
WHEREAS the fœderal government is not even paramount to the state constitutions, ratified as it was in many of the states; and
WHEREAS the danger of our situation is such that the prospect of anarchy from the laxity of government is everywhere present; NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT
- Resolved by the unanimous order of the Convention of the 13 United States of America:—
- THAT the Articles of Confederation ought to be so corrected and enlarged as to accomplish the objects proposed by their institution; namely, “common defence, security of liberty and general welfare.”
- THAT the rights of suffrage in the National Legislature ought to be proportioned to the quotas of contribution, or to the number of free inhabitants, as the one or the other rule may seem best in different cases.
- THAT the National Legislature ought to consist of two branches.
- THAT the members of the first branch of the National Legislature ought
- TO be elected by the people of the several States every _____ for the term of _____;
- TO be of the age of _____ years at least,
- TO receive liberal stipends by which they may be compensated for the devotion of their time to public service;
- TO be ineligible to any office established by a particular State, or under the authority of the United States, except those peculiarly belonging to the functions of the first branch, during the term of service, and for the space of _____ after its expiration;
- TO be incapable of reelection for the space of _____ after the expiration of their term of service, and to be subject to recall.
- THAT the members of the second branch of the National Legislature ought
- TO be elected by those of the first, out of a proper number of persons nominated by the individual Legislatures, to be of the age of _____ years at least;
- TO hold their offices for a term sufficient to ensure their independency;
- TO receive liberal stipends, by which they may be compensated for the devotion of their time to public service; and
- TO be ineligible to any office established by a particular State, or under the authority of the United States, except those peculiarly belonging to the functions of the second branch, during the term of service, and for the space of _____ after the expiration thereof.
- THAT each branch ought to possess the right of originating acts;
- THAT the National Legislature ought
- TO be empowered to enjoy the legislative rights vested in Congress by the Confederation and moreover to legislate in all cases to which the separate States are incompetent, or in which the harmony of the United States may be interrupted by the exercise of individual legislation;
- TO negative all laws passed by the several States, contravening in the opinion of the National Legislature the articles of Union; and
- TO call forth the force of the Union against any member of the Union failing to fulfill its duty under the articles thereof.
- THAT a National Executive be instituted;
- TO be chosen by the National Legislature for the term of _____ years,
- TO receive punctually at stated times, a fixed compensation for the services rendered, in which no increase or diminution shall be made so as to affect the Magistracy, existing at the time of increase or diminution, and
- TO be ineligible a second time; and
THAT besides a general authority to execute the national laws, it ought to enjoy the Executive rights vested in Congress by the Confederation.
- THAT the Executive and a convenient number of the National Judiciary, ought to compose a Council of revision with authority to examine every act of the National Legislature before it shall operate, and every act of a particular Legislature before a negative thereon shall be final; and
- THAT the dissent of the said Council shall amount to a rejection, unless the act of the National Legislature be again passed, or that of a particular Legislature be again negatived by _____ of the members of each branch.
- THAT a National Judiciary be established
- TO consist of one or more supreme tribunals, and of inferior tribunals to be chosen by the National Legislature,
- TO hold their offices during good behaviour; and
- TO receive punctually at stated times fixed compensation for their services, in which no increase or diminution shall be made so as to affect the persons actually in office at the time of such increase or diminution.
- THAT the jurisdiction of the inferior tribunals shall be to hear and determine in the first instance, and of the Supreme Tribunal to hear and determine in the dernier resort, all piracies and felonies on the high seas, captures from an enemy; cases in which foreigners or citizens of other states applying to such jurisdictions may be interested, or which respect the collection of the national revenue; impeachments of any National officers, and questions which may involve the national peace and harmony.
- THAT provision ought to be made for the admission of States lawfully arising within the limits of the United States, whether from a voluntary junction of government and territory on otherwise, with the consent of a number of voices in the National Legislature less than the whole.
- THAT a republican government and the territory of each State, except in the instance of a voluntary junction of government and territory, ought to be guarantied by the United States to each State.
- THAT provision ought to be made for the continuance of Congress and their authorities and privileges, until a given day after the reform of the articles of Union shall be adopted, and for the completion of all their engagements.
- THAT provision ought to be made for the amendment of the Articles of Union whensoever it shall seem necessary, and that the assent of the National Legislature ought not to be required thereto.
- THAT the Legislative, Executive and Judiciary powers within the several States ought to be bound by oath to support the articles of Union.
- THAT the amendments which shall be offered to the Confederation, by the Convention ought at a proper time, or times, after the approbation of Congress to be submitted to an assembly or assemblies of Representatives, recommended by the several Legislatures to be expressly chosen by the people, to consider and decide thereon.