New Jersey Calls for State Convention

November 01, 1787

The first session of the 12th legislature met in Trenton on 23 October. The next day the Council received and read a Salem Country petition recommending the calling of a state convention. Several similar petitions were ready to the House on the 25th. On the same day, the Assembly also received Governor William Livingston’s message, transmitting Congress’ four–page official broadside containing the Constitution, the letter and resolution of the Constitutional Convention, and the congressional resolution of 28 September transmitting the Constitution to the states. On the 26th, three of the state’s five delegates to the Constitutional Convention reported in person to both houses of the legislature.

Between 26 and 30 October, the House completed action on calling a state convention. On Friday afternoon, the 26th, the Assembly unanimously adopted resolutions calling a convention, and the Council unanimously concurred on Monday, the 29th. The resolutions provided for the election of delegates on 27 November and the meeting of the Convention on 11 December.

The legislators evidently thought that resolutions were not enough. On Saturday the 27th, the Assembly appointed a committee to draft a bill making it “lawful” for a convention to meet, and the committee immediately drafted a bill which was read the same day. On Monday the 29th, the bill was read a second time, debated, and ordered engrossed without sending it to the Council, and, after reading it three times, the Council passed the act unanimously on Thursday, 1 November.

On 6 November the legislature provided for the payment of delegates to the state Convention. It authorized the state treasurer to pay “each of the Delegates who shall attend on the Part of this State in the State Convention, the Sum of Ten Shillings lawful Money of this State per Day, for each Day he shall have attended…”

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