October 17, 1787
THE CONSTITUTION TO THE CALLING OF THE STATE CONVENTION
The Connecticut response to the Constitution was immediate and overwhelmingly favorable. By 5 October, the Constitution had been printed in seven state newspapers and as a broadside by Thomas Collier. By 15 October, six newspapers also reprinted or reported news of the congressional resolution of 28 September transmitting the Constitution to the states.
The newspapers gave no hint of opposition within the state, although the private letters of Federalists reveal that there was opposition and that it worried them. On 28 September, two days after the first publication of the Constitution in Connecticut, David Humphreys wrote George Washington that the ” well affected” had been preparing the ” minds of the citizens” for ” whatever might be the result of your proceedings,” and that he had ” no inconsiderable agency in the superintendence of two presses.”
The preparation of the ” minds of the citizens” was essentially a continuation of the campaign for a stronger central government which had begun long before the meeting of the Constitutional Convention, and which had reached a peak during the winter of 1786—87.
Before the calling of the state Convention on 17 October, Connecticut newspapers published few original articles on the Constitution. The New Haven Gazette published three lengthy essays supporting ratification, while the American Mercury printed one short Federalist essay.
More significant were the items reprinted from out—of—state newspapers—particularly from Pennsylvania—all of which supported the Constitution. Three of Connecticut’s newspapers reprinted the proceedings of the Pennsylvania Assembly of 28 September and five reprinted the Assembly resolutions calling the state Convention. Other out—of—state articles reprinted included a satire signed ” Daniel Shays” from the Philadelphia Independent Gazetteer, 25 September; ” A True American” from the Massachusetts Centinel, 29 September; ” Curtius” I from the New York Daily Advertiser, 29 September; and an unsigned essay from the Poughkeepsie Country Journal, 3 October. An ” Extract of a Letter from a Member of Congress, New York, 23 September,” from the Philadelphia Independent Gazetteer, 26 September was reprinted in Hartford, New Haven, New London, and Litchfield.
In addition to these items, the newspapers were filled with ” squibs,” mostly reprinted from Philadelphia. Some squibs asserted that the Constitution would create a balanced government, protect the liberties of the people, and restore national honor and prestige. Others praised prominent supporters of the Constitution such as George Washington and Benjamin Franklin, while still others claimed that opponents of the Constitution sought to destroy the Union. And a number of them asserted that ratification was a certainty in Delaware, New Jersey, and New York.
Except where another location is indicated, the documents referred to in this introduction are printed in this section.
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