-Monday, June 11, 1787 In last Friday's session the small and medium-size States joined to defeat a proposed national veto power over all State laws.
CALLS for coolness, conciliation, and compromise did little today to move Convention delegates away from a dangerous deadlock over the number of votes each State should have in the proposed national Congress.
Roger Sherman of Connecticut, at 66 tall and lean with craggy facial features, offered a compromise in his flat New England voice. He proposed that votes in the lower house be apportioned on the basis of the number of free inhabitants in the States, while in the Senate each State would have one vote. The proposal, Mr. Sherman added, was similar to the English House of Commons and House of Lords. ``The States would remain possessed of certain individual rights ... otherwise a few large States will rule the rest,'' he said of his compromise proposal.
Delegates from the large States, however, were in no mood for the proposal, which, incidentally, was first offered by Mr. Sherman ten years ago when the Articles of Confederation were proposed in 1777. Four delegates spoke after Mr. Sherman, ignoring his proposal, each in favor of his own. It was then that James Wilson of Pennsylvania read to the Convention a lengthy speech written by Dr. Benjamin Franklin, who told the Convention:
``We are sent here to consult not to contend with each other; and Declarations of a fixed opinion, and determined resolutions, never to change it, neither enlighten nor convince us.... Harmony & Union are extremely necessary to give weight to our councils....''
Despite his plea, however, by a narrow 6-5 vote the large States defeated Mr. Sherman's proposal for the States each to have one vote in the Senate. Then by a similar one-vote margin, delegates approved proportional representation in both the House and the Senate. The narrow votes seem to illustrate a deadlock between the small and the large States. Also, States with vast western lands on their borders have decided to cast their votes with the large States.
James Wilson of Pennsylvania, in an apparent move to keep the smaller Southern States on the side of the large States, offered and had approved a proposal that allows States to include their slaves in computing population as a basis for representation. In April 1783 the Congress of the Confederation had adopted this measure of computation: The whole of the white population and other free citizens would be counted, with each slave measured as only three-fifths of a person.
Two days ago delegates realized a dangerous crisis had developed. William Paterson of New Jersey during the June 9 session denounced proportional representation, vowing never to confederate on such a principle.
``[I would] rather submit to a monarch, to a despot, than to such a fate,'' Mr. Paterson defiantly added.
However, Mr. Wilson of Pennsylvania was equally defiant. He asked whether New Jersey had the same right or influence in the councils as Pennsylvania.
``I say no. It is unjust,'' he thundered.
``I never will confederate on this plan [of State equality].... If no State will part with any of its sovereignty, it is in vain to talk of a national government....''
These day-by-day reports on the Constitutional Convention will continue tomorrow.