Constitution Daily

Smart conversation from the National Constitution Center

Say What?: "Imaginary beings called states"

October 7, 2011 by Holly Munson


Editor's Note: For the past 200-plus years, we the people have had a lot to say about the Constitution. In each installment of “Say What?” we offer a quick quote--be it wise, quirky, or otherwise memorable--from past or present conversation related to our favorite founding document.


“Can we forget for whom we are forming a government?  Is it for men, or for the imaginary beings called States?”

Who said it

James Wilson, a delegate to the Constitutional Convention (as recorded in the notes of James Madison)

The story

Wilson was a strong believer in the idea of popular sovereignty; in particular, he argued that the people, and not an electoral college, should select the president.

Holly Munson works in Public Programs at the National Constitution Center.

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