Necessary and Proper Clause

Hugh Williamson, delegate from North Carolina

The New York Public Library.

Necessary and Proper Clause

"… I flatter myself greatly if we have not sustained it [the business of the Convention] with a Principle & firmness that will entitle us to what we will never ask for, the thanks of the public. It will be sufficient for us if we have the satisfaction of believing that we have contributed to the happiness of Millions."

-Hugh Williamson to Governor Caswell of North Carolina

Charles Pinckney (SC) submitted a number of propositions for the Committee of Detail. Gouverneur Morris (PA), seconded by Mr. Pinckney submitted a proposal for a Council of States, composed of the Chief Justice, and the Secretaries of Domestic Affairs, Commerce and Finance, Foreign Affairs, War, Marine [Navy] and a Secretary of the Council of State.

The power to call forth the militia was postponed pending determination of the power to regulate it.

"And to make all laws necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers and all other powers vested, by this constitution, in the government of the United States, or in any department or officer thereof." ..." was taken up.

The very broad grant of power to the Federal Government was approved without opposition.

Article VII, Section 2, dealing with Treason was then taken up. Debate concerned how broad the definition should be and, whether or not treason against the individual states should be included. The debates showed a thorough knowledge of British statute law on the subject. The section was substantially amended and agreed to.

Ellsworth (CT) then moved to require a census within 3 years of adoption instead of six years. It was approved. Gerry (MA) moved that, until the census was taken, direct taxes should be apportioned as was the number of representatives. Langdon (NY) and Carroll (MD) opposed.

At that point, 4:00 p.m., the Convention adjourned for the day.

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Tuesday, August 21, 1787
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