Article 1, Section 8, Clause 17

Document 4

Debate in Massachusetts Ratifying Convention

24 Jan. 1788Elliot 2:99

Hon. Mr. Strong said, every gentleman must think that the erection of a federal town was necessary, wherein Congress might remain protected from insult. A few years ago, said the honorable gentleman, Congress had to remove, because they were not protected by the authority of the state in which they were then sitting. He asked whether this Convention, though convened for but a short period, did not think it was necessary that they should have power to protect themselves from insult; much more so must they think it necessary to provide for Congress, considering they are to be a permanent body.

Hon. Mr. Davis (of Boston) said it was necessary that Congress should have a permanent residence; and that it was the intention of Congress, under the Confederation, to erect a federal town. He asked, Would Massachusetts, or any other state, wish to give to New York, or the state in which Congress shall sit, the power to influence the proceedings of that body, which was to act for the benefit of the whole, by leaving them liable to the outrage of the citizens of such states?

Dr. Taylor asked, why it need be ten miles square, and whether one mile square would not be sufficient.

Hon. Mr. Strong said, Congress was not to exercise jurisdiction over a district of ten miles, but one not exceeding ten miles square.

Rev. Mr. Stillman said, that, whatever were the limits of the district, it would depend on the cession of the legislature of one of the states.

The Founders' Constitution
Volume 3, Article 1, Section 8, Clause 17, Document 4
The University of Chicago Press

Elliot, Jonathan, ed. The Debates in the Several State Conventions on the Adoption of the Federal Constitution as Recommended by the General Convention at Philadelphia in 1787. . . . 5 vols. 2d ed. 1888. Reprint. New York: Burt Franklin, n.d.

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