The Congressional Pay

birch-print-view-in-third-street
Birch View of Third Street



Independence National Historical Park

Congressional Pay

"Upon Complaint to this Board of the very great difficulty arising from the Carriages passing in front of the State House, so that the Honorable Convention now sitting there, are much interrupted by the noise of the same - Resolved that a Quantity of Gravel now hauling out of the Sewer in Fourth Street, be laid on Chestnut Street, in front of the State House."

- Philadelphia Street Commissioners


The Convention resumed discussion on the first branch of the National Legislature (the House).

The clause providing "fixed stipends to be paid out of the National Treasury" was taken up. Ellsworth (CT) wanted members of Congress to be paid by the states. Williamson (NC) agreed - the new Western states (Kentucky, Tennessee, Ohio, etc.) would pay little in taxes and their representatives would oppose the original thirteen states' interests, and why should we pay them for opposing us? Gorham (MA), Randolph (VA) and King (MA) opposed state payment because it meant state control. Sherman (MA) wanted the states to determine the salary and pay it. Wilson (PA) and Hamilton (NY) opposed fixing the salary in the Constitution; Madison favored it. Wilson moved that salaries be determined by the National Legislature and paid from the National Treasury - defeated, New Jersey and Pennsylvania aye, 7 no, New York and Georgia divided. Ellsworth's motion also lost. It was then agreed to change "fixed stipends" to "adequate compensation."

Next the Convention agreed that members of the lower house should be at least 25 years old. Gorham then moved to strike out a provision making members of the first branch ineligible to office during their term and one year after it. Butler (SC) thought the provision necessary to prevent intrigue and collusions with the Executive. The motion failed, 4 aye (Massachusetts, New Jersey, North Carolina, Georgia), 4 no (Connecticut, Maryland, Virginia, South Carolina), 3 divided (New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware).

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Saturday, June 23, 1787
Eligibility for Other Federal Offices Debated
HOME The 225th Anniversary of the Constitution Convention

Last updated: February 26, 2015

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