Election of Senators

Robert Morris
Morris, delegate from Pennsylvania
Charles Willson Peale, 1782

Independence National Historical Park

Election of Senators

"There are gentlemen of great abilities employed in this Convention, many of whom were in the first Congress, and several that were concerned in forming the Articles of Confederation now about to be altered and amended. You, my children, ought to pray for a successful issue to their labours, as the result is to be a form of Government under which you are to live,…"

- Robert Morris to his sons Robert and Thomas in Leipzig

The Convention took up Resolution 4 - members of 2nd Branch of National Legislature (Senate) to be elected by state legislatures, be at least 30, for a 7 year term, to receive a fixed stipend and ineligible to other state or Federal office.

Charles Pinckney (SC) began the day with a speech stressing the unique equality among Americans which precluded a House of Lords. He wished to retain the state governments, and favored election of the second house by the state legislatures.

Mr. Gorham (MA) remarked that he inclined to a compromise on the rule of proportion (the number of Senators to be allowed each State).

George Read (DE) called for old state debts to be paid for in common from the sale of land in the western territories ceded by Britain. Perhaps then the small states would listen to the idea of a proportional second house. As noted by Madison, Read said, "Let justice be done on this head; let the fund be applied fairly and equally to the discharge for the general debt, and the smaller states who had been injured would listen then perhaps to those ideas of just representation which had been held out."

After extensive debate, the convention agreed to have the state legislatures elect Senators, and that they should be at least 30 years old. It defeated proposals that they serve 7, 6 or 5 year terms, leaving that question undecided.

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Tuesday, June 26, 1787
Terms of Service for Senators


HOME The 225th Anniversary of the Constitution Convention

Last updated: February 26, 2015

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