Article 1, Section 6, Clause 1

Document 7

Records of the Federal Convention

[1:20; Madison, 29 May]

4. Resd. that the members of the first branch of the National Legislature ought . . . to receive liberal stipends by which they may be compensated for the devotion of their time to public service. . . .

5. Resold. that the members of the second branch of the National Legislature ought . . . to receive liberal stipends, by which they may be compensated for the devotion of their time to public service. . . .

[1:215; Madison, 12 June]

The words "liberal compensation for members" being considd. Mr. Madison moves to inset the words "& fixt." He observed that it would be improper to leave the members of the Natl. legislature to be provided for by the State Legisls: because it would create an improper dependence; and to leave them to regulate their own wages, was an indecent thing, and might in time prove a dangerous one. He thought wheat or some other article of which the average price throughout a reasonable period precedn'g might be settled in some convenient mode, would form a proper standard.

Col. Mason seconded the motion; adding that it would be improper for other reasons to leave the wages to be regulated by the States. 1. the different States would make different provision for their representatives, and an inequality would be felt among them, whereas he thought they ought to be in all respects equal. 2. the parsimony of the States might reduce the provision so low that as had already happened in choosing delegates to Congress, the question would be not who were most fit to be chosen, but who were most willing to serve.

On the question for inserting the words "and fixt."

Massts. no Cont. no. N. Y. ay. N. J. ay. Pa. ay. Del. ay. Md. ay. Va. ay. N. C. ay. S. C. no. Geo. ay. [Ayes--8; noes--3.]

Doctr. Franklyn said he approved of the amendment just made for rendering the salaries as fixed as possible; but disliked the word "liberal". He would prefer the word moderate if it was necessary to substitute any other. He remarked the tendency of abuses in every case, to grow of themselves when once begun. and related very pleasantly the progression in ecclesiastical benefices, from the first departure from the gratuitous provision for the Apostles, to the establishment of the papal system. The word "liberal" was struck out nem. con.

On the motion of Mr. Pierce, that the wages should be paid out of the National Treasury, Massts. ay. Ct. no. N. Y. no. N. J. ay. Pa. ay. Del. ay Md. ay. Va. ay. N. C. ay. S. C. no. G. ay. [Ayes--8; noes--3.]

Question on the clause relating to term of service & compensation of 1st. branch

Massts. ay. Ct. no. N. Y. no. N. J. ay. Pa. ay. Del. ay. Md. ay. Va. ay. N. C. ay. S. C. no. Geo. ay. [Ayes--8; noes--3.]

. . . . .

Mr. Butler & Mr. Rutlidge proposed that the members of the 2d. branch should be entitled to no salary or compensation for their services. on the question

Masts. divd. Cont. ay. N. Y. no. N. J. no. P. no. Del. ay. Md. no Va. no. N. C. no. S. C. ay. Geo. no. [Ayes--3; noes--7; divided--1.]

It was then moved & agreed that the clauses respecting the stipends & ineligibility of the 2d. branch be the same as, of the 1st. branch: Con: disagreeing to the ineligibility.

[1:371; Madison, 22 June]

The clause in Resol. 3 "to receive fixed stipends to be paid out of the Nationl. Treasury" considered.

Mr. Elseworth, moved to substitute payment by the States out of their own Treasurys: observing that the manners of different States were very different in the Stile of living and in the profits accruing from the exercise of like talents. What would be deemed therefore a reasonable compensation in some States, in others would be very unpopular, and might impede the system of which it made a part.

Mr. Williamson favored the idea. He reminded the House of the prospect of new States to the Westward. They would be poor--would pay little into the common Treasury--and would have a different interest from the old States. He did not think therefore that the latter ought to pay the expences of men who would be employed in thwarting their measures & interests.

Mr. Ghorum, wished not to refer the matter to the State Legislatures who were always paring down salaries in such a manner as to keep out of offices men most capable of executing the functions of them. He thought also it would be wrong to fix the compensations by the constitution, because we could not venture to make it as liberal as it ought to be without exciting an enmity agst. the whole plan. Let the Natl. Legisl: provide for their own wages from time to time; as the State Legislatures do. He had not seen this part of their power abused, nor did he apprehend an abuse of it.

Mr. Randolph feared we were going too far, in consulting popular prejudices. Whatever respect might be due to them, in lesser matters, or in cases where they formed the permanent character of the people, he thought it neither incumbent on nor honorable for the Convention, to sacrifice right & justice to that consideration. If the States were to pay the members of the Natl. Legislature, a dependence would be created that would vitiate the whole System. The whole nation has an interest in the attendance & services of the members. The Nationl. Treasury therefore is the proper fund for supporting them.

Mr. King, urged the danger of creating a dependence on the States by leavg. to them the payment of the members of the Natl. Legislature. He supposed it wd. be best to be explicit as to the compensation to be allowed. A reserve on that point, or a reference to the Natl. Legislature of the quantum, would excite greater opposition than any sum that would be actually necessary or proper.

Mr. Sherman contended for referring both the quantum and the payment of it to the State Legislatures.

Mr. Wilson was agst. fixing the compensation as circumstances would change and call for a change of the amount. He thought it of great moment that the members of the Natl. Govt. should be left as independent as possible of the State Govts. in all respects.

Mr. Madison concurred in the necessity of preserving the compensations for the Natl. Govt. independent on the State Govts. but at the same time approved of fixing them by the constitution, which might be done by taking a standard which wd. not vary with circumstances. He disliked particularly the policy suggested by Mr. Williamson of leaving the members from the poor States beyond the Mountains, to the precarious & parsimonious support of their constituents. If the Western States hereafter arising should be admitted into the Union, they ought to be considered as equals & as brethren. If their representatives were to be associated in the Common Councils, it was of common concern that such provisions should be made as would invite the most capable and respectable characters into the service.

Mr. Hamilton apprehended inconveniency from fixing the wages. He was strenuous agst. making the National Council dependent on the Legislative rewards of the States. Those who pay are the masters of those who are paid. Payment by the States would be unequal as the distant States would have to pay for the same term of attendance and more days in travelling to & from the seat of the Govt. He expatiated emphatically on the difference between the feelings & views of the people--& the Governments of the States arising from the personal interest & official inducements which must render the latter unfriendly to the Genl. Govt.

Mr. Wilson moved that the salaries of the 1st. branch "be ascertained by the National Legislature," and be paid out of the Natl. Treasury.

Mr. Madison, thought the members of the Legisl. too much interested to ascertain their own compensation. It wd. be indecent to put their hands into the public purse for the sake of their own pockets.

On this question Mas. no. Con. no. N. Y. divd. N. J. ay. Pa. ay. Del. no. Md. no. Va. no. N. C. no S. C. no Geo. divd. [Ayes--2; noes--7; divided--2.]

On the question for striking out "Natl. Treasury" as moved by Mr. Elseworth

Mr. Hamilton renewed his opposition to it. He pressed the distinction between State Govts. & the people. The former wd. be the rivals of the Gen'l Govt. The State legislatures ought not therefore to be the pay masters of the latter.

Mr. Elesworth. If we are jealous of the State Govts. they will be so of us. If on going home I tell them we gave the Gen: Govt. such powers because we cd. not trust you.--will they adopt it. & witht. yr. approbation it is a nullity.

Masts. ay. Cont. ay. N. Y. divd. N. J. no. Pena. no. Del. no. Md. no. Va. no, N. C. ay. S. C. ay. Geo. divd. [Ayes--4; noes--5; divided--2.]

On a question for substituting "adequate compensation" in place of "fixt Stipends" it was agreed to nem. con. the friends of the latter being willing that the practicability of fixing the compensation should be considered hereafter in forming the details.

It was then moved by Mr. Butler that a question be taken on both points jointly; to wit "adequate compensation to be paid out of the Natl. Treasury." It was objected to as out of order, the parts having been separately decided on. The Presidt. referd. the question of order to the House, and it was determined to be in order. Con. N. J. Del. Md. N. C. S. C.--ay--N. Y. Pa. Va. Geo. no--Mass: divided. The question on the sentence was then postponed by S. Carolina in right of the State.

[1:426; Madison, 26 June]

"To receive fixt stipends by which they may be compensated for their services". considered

General Pinkney proposed "that no Salary should be allowed". As this (the Senatorial) branch was meant to represent the wealth of the Country, it ought to be composed of persons of wealth; and if no allowance was to be made the wealthy alone would undertake the service. He moved to strike out the Clause.

Doctr: Franklin seconded the motion. He wished the Convention to stand fair with the people. There were in it a number of young men who would probably be of the Senate. If lucrative appointments should be recommended we might be chargeable with having carved out places for ourselves.

On the question.--

Masts. Connecticut Pa. Md. S. Carolina Ay. N. Y. N. J. Del. Virga. N. C. Geo. no.

Mr. Williamson moved to change the expression into these words towit. "to receive a compensation for the devotion of their time to the public Service". The motion was seconded by Mr. Elseworth. And was agreed to by all the States except S. Carola. It seemed to be meant only to get rid of the word "fixt" and leave greater room for modifying the provision on this point.

Mr. Elseworth moved to strike out "to be paid out of the natil. Treasury" and insert "to be paid by their respective States". If the Senate was meant to strengthen the Govt. it ought to have the confidence of the States. The States will have an interest in keeping up a representation and will make such provision for supporting the members as will ensure their attendance.

Mr. Madison, considered this a departure from a fundamental principle, and subverting the end intended by allowing the Senate a duration of 6 years. They would if this motion should be agreed to, hold their places during pleasure; during the pleasure of the State Legislatures. One great end of the institution was, that being a firm, wise and impartial body, it might not only give stability to the Genl. Govt. in its operations on individuals, but hold an even balance among different States. The motion would make the Senate like Congress, the mere Agents & Advocates of State interests & views, instead of being the impartial umpires & Guardians of justice and general Good. Congs. had lately by the establishment of a board with full powers to decide on the mutual claims between the U. States & the individual States, fairly acknowledged themselves to be unfit for discharging this part of the business referred to them by the Confederation.

Mr. Dayton considered the payment of the Senate by the States as fatal to their independence. he was decided for paying them out of the Natl Treasury.

On the question for payment of the Senate to be left to the States as moved by Mr. Elseworth

Massts. no. Cont. ay. N. Y. ay. N. J. ay. Pa. no. Del. no. Md. no. Va. no. N. C. no. S. C. ay. Geo. ay. [Ayes--5; noes--6.]

Col. Mason. He did not rise to make any motion, but to hint an idea which seemed to be proper for consideration. One important object in constituting the Senate was to secure the rights of property. To give them weight & firmness for this purpose, a considerable duration in office was thought necessary. But a longer term than 6 years, would be of no avail in this respect, if needy persons should be appointed. He suggested therefore the propriety of annexing to the office a qualification of property. He thought this would be very practicable; as the rules of taxation would supply a scale for measuring the degree of wealth possessed by every man.

A question was then taken whether the words "to be paid out of the public treasury." should stand"

Masts. ay. Cont no. N. Y. no. N. J. no. Pa. ay. Del. ay. Md. ay. Va. ay. N. C. no. S. C. no. Geo. no. [Ayes--5; noes--6.]

[2:290; Madison, 14 Aug.]

Mr. Elseworth said that in reflecting on this subject he had been satisfied that too much dependence on the States would be produced by this mode of payment. He moved to strike out and insert "that they should" be paid out of the Treasury of the U.S. an allowance not exceeding (blank) dollars per day or the present value thereof,

Mr. Govr Morris, remarked that if the members were to be paid by the States it would throw an unequal burden on the distant States, which would be unjust as the Legislature was to be a national Assembly. He moved that the payment be out of the Natl. Treasury; leaving the quantum to the discretion of the Natl. Legislature. There could be no reason to fear that they would overpay themselves.

Mr. Butler contended for payment by the States; particularly in the case of the Senate, who will be so long out of their respective States, that they will lose sight of their Constituents unless dependent on them for their support.

Mr Langdon was agst. payment by the States. There would be some difficulty in fixing the sum; but it would be unjust to oblige the distant States to bear the expence of their members in travelling to and from the Seat of Govt.

Mr Madison. If the H. of Reps. is to be chosen biennially--and the Senate to be constantly dependent on the Legislatures which are chosen annually, he could not see any chance for that stability in the Genl Govt. the want of which was a principal evil in the State Govts. His fear was that the organization of the Govt supposing the Senate to be really independt. for six years, would not effect our purpose. It was nothing more than a combination of the peculiarities of two of the State Govts. which separately had been found insufficient. The Senate was formed on the model of that of Maryld. The Revisionary check, on that of N. York. What the effect of A union of these provisions might be, could not be foreseen. The enlargement of the sphere of the Government was indeed a circumstance which he thought would be favorable as he had on several occasions undertaken to show. He was however for fixing at least two extremes not to be exceeded by the Natl. Legislre. in the payment of themselves.

Mr. Gerry. There are difficulties on both sides. The observation of Mr. Butler has weight in it. On the other side, the State Legislatures may turn out the Senators by reducing their salaries. Such things have been practised.

Col. Mason. It has not yet been noticed that the clause as it now stands makes the House of Represents. also dependent on the State Legislatures; so that both Houses will be made the instruments of the politics of the States whatever they may be.

Mr. Broom could see no danger in trusting the Genl. Legislature with the payment of themselves. The State Legislatures had this power, and no complaint had been made of it--

Mr. Sherman was not afraid that the Legislature would make their own wages too high; but too low, so that men ever so fit could not serve unless they were at the same time rich. He thought the best plan would be to fix a moderate allowance to be paid out of the Natl. Treasy. and let the States make such additions as they might judge fit. He moved that 5 dollars per day be the sum, any further emoluments to be added by the States.

Mr. Carrol had been much surprised at seeing this clause in the Report. The dependence of both houses on the State Legislatures is compleat; especially as the members of the former are eligible to State offices. The States can now say: if you do not comply with our wishes, we will starve you: if you do we will reward you. The new Govt. in this form was nothing more than a second edition of Congress in two volumes, instead of one, and perhaps with very few amendments--

Mr Dickenson took it for granted that all were convinced of the necessity of making the Genl. Govt. independent of the prejudices, passions, and improper views of the State Legislatures. The contrary of This was effected by the section as it stands. On the other hand, there were objections agst taking a permanent standard as Wheat which had been suggested on a former occasion, as well as against leaving the matter to the pleasure of the Natl. Legislature. He proposed that an Act should be passed every 12 years by the Natl. Legislre settling the quantum of their wages. If the Genl. Govt. should be left dependent on the State Legislatures, it would be happy for us if we had never met in this Room.

Mr. Elseworth was not unwilling himself to trust the Legislature with authority to regulate their own wages, but well knew that an unlimited discretion for that purpose would produce strong, tho' perhaps not insuperable objections. He thought changes in the value of money, provided for by his motion in the words, "or the present value thereof."

Mr. L. Martin. As the Senate is to represent the States, the members of it ought to be paid by the States--

Mr. Carrol. The Senate was to represent & manage the affairs of the whole, and not to be the advocates of State interests. They ought then not to be dependent on nor paid by the States.

On the question for paying the Members of the Legislature out of the Natl Treasury, ÷

N. H. ay. Mas. no. Ct. ay. N. J. ay. Pa. ay. Del. ay. Md. ay. Va. ay. N. C. ay. S. C. no. Geo. ay. [Ayes--9; noes--2.]

Mr. Elsworth moved that the pay be fixed at 5 dollrs. or the present value thereof per day during their attendance & for every thirty miles in travelling to & from Congress.

Mr. Strong preferred 4 dollars, leaving the Sts at liberty to make additions

On question for fixing the pay at 5 dollars.

N. H. no. Mas. no. Ct. ay. N. J. no. Pa. no. Del. no. Md. no. Va. ay. N. C. no. S. C. no. Geo. no. [Ayes--2; noes--9.]

Mr. Dickenson proposed that the wages of the members of both houses sd. be required to be the same.

Mr. Broome seconded him.

Mr Ghorum. this would be unreasonable. The Senate will be detained longer from home, will be obliged to remove their families, and in time of war perhaps to sit constantly. Their allowance should certainly be higher. The members of the Senates in the States are allowed more, than those of the other house.

Mr Dickenson withdrew his motion

It was moved & agreed to amend the Section by adding--"to be ascertained by law"

The Section (Art VI. sec. 10) as amended-- agreed to nem. con.

[2:502; Madison, 4 Sept.]

Mr. Pinkney moved a clause declaring "that each House should be judge of the privilege of its own members." Mr Govr. Morris 2ded. the motion

Mr. Randolph & Mr. Madison expressed doubts as to the propriety of giving such a power, & wished for a postponement.

Mr Govr. Morris thought it so plain a case that postponement could be necessary.

Mr. Wilson thought the power involved, and the express insertion of it needless. It might beget doubts as to the power of other public bodies, as Courts &c. Every Court is the judge of its own privileges.

Mr Madison distinguished between the power of Judging of privileges previously & duly established, and the effect of the motion which would give a discretion to each House as to the extent of its own privileges. He suggested that it would be better to make provision for ascertaining by law, the privileges of each House, than to allow each House to decide for itself. He suggested also the necessity of considering what privileges ought to be allowed to the Executive.

The Founders' Constitution
Volume 2, Article 1, Section 6, Clause 1, Document 7
The University of Chicago Press

Farrand, Max, ed. The Records of the Federal Convention of 1787. Rev. ed. 4 vols. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1937.

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