Document, 1787 May n.d.

Title:
Document, 1787 May n.d.
Library Location:
Library of Congress
(Non-Columbia Location)
Name:
Washington, George, 1732-1799; Jay, John, 1745-1829; Knox, Henry, 1750-1806; Madison, James, 1751-1836
Format:
correspondence
Digital Project:
Papers of John Jay
Date:
1787 May n.d.
Note:
The entire content of the original has been digitized.
Physical Description:
3
Subjects:
United States--History--Revolution, 1775-1783; Jay, John, 1745-1829
Summary:
Jay doesn't think the giving of any further powers to Congress will answer the purpose. Some of his reasons are: that some of the members of Congress have partial and personal purposes in view. Their prejudices will embarrass those who are well disposed; that "secresy & despatch will be too uncommon" and foreign and local interest will prevail; that "large assemblies often misunderstand or neglect the obligation of character, honor & dignity; and will collectively do, or omit things which an Individual Gentleman in his private capacity would not approve." The power of the chief executive would depend on "so many Wills" and these wills would depend on "such a variety of contradictory motives & inducements" so that anything "can be but feebly done." Such a chief executive, however theoretically responsible, cannot be effectually so. Therefore, John Jay doesn't see anything desirable in a change which does not divide government into its proper departments. "Let Congress Legislate - let others execute - Let others Judge." Jay proposes a chief executive limited in his prerogatives and stay in office. He suggests a Congress divided into an upper and lower house; the members of the former to be appointed for life, the members of the latter, annually. To preserve the balance of power, the chief executive should, with the advice of a council which exists for the purpose of advice only, have a veto in the acts of congress. Great thought is necessary to determine the extent of powers to be granted to the government. The states should retain only so much as is necessary "for domestique [pur]poses- and all their principal officers Civil and Military being commissioned and remo[v]ed by the National Government." Jay questions the authority of the Convention because it ought to have "originated with & [thru?] proceedings & confirmed by the People - ... sources of just authority." Also includes Knox's and Madison's views on the subject. MS In Washington's hand.
Identifier:
columbia.jay.12496

Document, 1787 May n.d.