New Jersey Plan

Delivered to the Federal Convention by William Patterson (NJ); Friday, 15 June 1787


15 June 1787

Mr PATTERSON (for himself, Mr SHERMAN of Connecticut, and other delegates of Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, and New York) introduced the following resolution; which was read and referred to the Committee of the Whole



Proposing changes to the existing Articles of Confederation among the 13 United States of America.

WHEREAS this plan is accorded with (1) the powers of the Conventions, and (2) the sentiments of the people;

WHEREAS if the Confederacy is radically wrong, we should return to our States and obtain larger powers, not assume them for ourselves;

WHEREAS our object is not such a government as may be best in itself, but such a one as our constituents have authorizes us to prepare, and as they will approve;

WHEREAS if no confederacy at present exists, all the States stand on the footing of equal sovereignty;

WHEREAS if a federal compact actually exists in the form of the existing Articles of Confederation, equal sovereignty is the basis of it;

WHEREAS the FOURTH CLAUSE of the FIFTH ARTICLE reads: “In determining questions in the United States in Congress assembled, each State shall have one vote.”


“Every State shall abide by the determination of the United States in Congress assembled, on all questions which by this Confederation are submitted to them. And the Articles of this Confederation shall be in-violably observed by every State, and the Union shall be perpetual; nor shall any alteration at any time hereafter be made in any of them; unless such alteration be agreed to in a Congress of the United States, and be afterwards confirmed by the legislatures of every State.”

WHEREAS the nature of all treaties is such that what is unanimously done, must be unanimously undone;

WHEREAS [a change to the earlier concession by the larger states] may be convenient, but it is a doctrine that will sacrifice the lesser states;

WHEREAS the large states acceded readily to the Confederacy;

WHEREAS the small ones came in reluctantly and slowly;

WHEREAS New Jersey and Maryland were the two last, the former objecting to the want of power in Congress over trade, both of them to the want of power to appropriate the vacant territory to the benefit of the whole;

WHEREAS if the sovereignty of the States is to be maintained, the representatives must be drawn immediately from the States, not from the people;

WHEREAS the Convention has no power to vary the idea of equal sovereignty;

WHEREAS the only expedient that will cure the difficulty is that of throwing the states into hotchpot; whereas the plan’s efficacy will depend on the quantum of power col-lected, not on its being drawn from the States, or from the individuals, and according to this plan it may be exerted on individuals as well as according to that of Mr. RANDOLPH;

WHEREAS in Congress distinct executive and judiciary powers and two branches of the legislature as a check is less necessary that in the states, and besides, the delegations of the different States are checks on each other;

WHEREAS the people at large do not complain of Congress; what they wish is that Congress may have more power;

WHEREAS if the power now proposes be not enough, the people hereafter will make additions to it;

WHEREAS with proper powers, being fewer in number, and more secreted and refined by the mode of election, Congress will act with more energy and wisdom than the proposed (by Mr RANDOLPH) National Legislature;

WHEREAS the plan of Mr RANDOLPH will also be enormously expensive;

WHEREAS allowing Georgia and Delaware two representatives each in the popular branch, the aggregate number of that branch will be 180; add to if half as many for the other branch, and you have 270 members coming once at least a year form the most distant as well as the most central parts of the Republic;

WHEREAS in the present deranged state of our finances, so expensive a system can not be seriously thought of; and

WHEREAS by the enlarging the powers of Congress, the greatest part of this expense will be saved, and all purposes will be answered; NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT

Resolved by the unanimous order of the Convention of the 13 United States of America:—


THAT the Articles of Confederation ought to be so revised, corrected and enlarged, as to render the federal Constitution adequate to the exigencies of Government, and the preservation of the Union.


THAT in addition to the powers vested in the United States in Congress, by the present existing Articles of Confederation, they be authorized
TO pass acts for raising a revenue, by levying a duty or duties on all goods or merchandises of foreign growth or manufacture, imported into any part of the United States, by stamps on paper, vellum or parchment, and by a postage on all letters or packages passing through the general post-office, to be applied to such federal purposes as they shall deem proper and expedient;
TO make rules and regulations for the collection thereof; and
The same from time to time, TO alter and amend in such manner as they shall think proper;
TO pass acts for the regulation of trade and commerce as well with foreign nations as with each other;
Provided, THAT all punishments, fines, forfeitures and penalties to be incurred for contravening such acts rules and regulations shall be adjudged by the common law judiciaries of the state in which any offense contrary to the true intent and meaning of such acts, rules and regulations shall have been committed or perpetrated, with liberty of commencing in the first instance all suits and prosecutions for that purpose in the superior common law judiciary in such state, subject nevertheless, for the correction of all errors, both in law and fact in rendering judgment, to an appeal to the judiciary of the United States.


THAT whenever requisitions shall be necessary, instead of the rule for making requisitions mentioned in the Articles of Confederation, the United States in Congress be authorized to make such requisitions in proportion to the whole number of white and other free citizens and inhabitants of every age, sex and condition including those bound to servitude for a term of years and three-fifths of all other persons not comprehended in the foregoing description, except Indians not paying taxes;
THAT if such requisitions be not complied with, in the time specified therein, to direct the collection thereof in the non-complying states and for that purpose to devise and pass acts directing and authorizing the same;
Provided, THAT none of the powers hereby vested in the United States in Congress shall be exercised without the consent of at least ____ states, and in that proportion if the number of confederated states should hereafter be increased or diminished.


THAT the United States in Congress be authorized
TO elect a federal Executive to consist of ____ persons, to continue in office for the term of ____ years, to receive punctually at stated times a fixed compensation for their services, in which no increase or diminution shall be made so as to affect the persons composing the Executive at the time of such increase or diminution, to be paid out of the federal treasury;
TO be incapable of holding any other office or appointment during their time of service and for ____ years thereafter;
TO be ineligible a second time, and removable by Congress on application by a majority of the Executives of the several states;
THAT the Executives besides their general authority to execute the federal acts ought to appoint all federal officers not otherwise provided for, and to direct all military operations;
Provided, THAT none of the persons composing the federal Executive shall on any occasion take command of any troops, so as personally to conduct any enterprise as General or in other capacity.


THAT a federal Judiciary be established to consist of a Supreme Tribunal the Judges of which to be appointed by the Executive, and to hold their offices during good behaviour, to receive punctually at stated times a fixed compensation for their services in which no increase or diminution shall be made, so as to affect the persons actually in office at the time of such increase or diminution;
THAT the Judiciary so established shall have authority to hear and determine in the first instance on all impeachments of federal officers, and by way of appeal in the dernier resort in all cases touching the rights of ambassadors, in all cases of captures from an enemy, in all cases of piracies and felonies on the high Seas, in all cases in which foreigners may be interested, in the construction of any treaty or treaties, or which may arise on any of the acts for regulation of trade, or the collection of the federal revenue;
THAT none of the Judiciary shall during the time they remain in office be capable of receiving or holding any other office or appointment during their time of service, or for thereafter.


THAT all acts of the United States in Congress made by virtue and in pursuance of the powers hereby and by the Articles of Confederation vested in them, and all treaties made and ratified under the authority of the United States shall be the supreme law of the respective states so far forth as those acts or treaties shall relate to the said states or their citizens, and that the Judiciary of the several states shall be bound thereby in their decisions, any thing in the respective laws of the individual states to the contrary notwithstanding; and
THAT if any state, or any body of men in any state shall oppose or prevent ye carrying into execution such acts or treaties, the federal Executive shall be authorized to call forth ye power of the confederated states, or so much thereof as may be necessary to enforce and compel an obedience to such acts, or an observance of such treaties.


THAT provision be made for the admission of new States into the Union.


THAT the rule for naturalization ought to be the same in every state.


THAT a citizen of one state committing an offense in an-other state of the Union, shall be deemed guilty of the same offense as if it had been committed by a citizen of the state in which the offense was committed.