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New York Calls for a Ratification Convention

State Assembly

January 31, 1788

Assembly Proceedings, Thursday, 31 January 1788 (excerpt)

The House resolved itself into a committee of the whole House, on his Excellency the Governor’s speech, and the papers which accompanied the same; and after some time spent thereon, Mr. Speaker re-assumed the chair, and Mr. James Livingston from the said committee, reported, that when the committee came to the proceedings of the General Convention lately held in the city of Philadelphia, and the act of the United States in Congress, for their transmission to the Legislatures of the different States, Mr. Benson made a motion, in the words following, viz.

“Whereas the United States in Congress assembled did, on the twenty-eighth day of September last, unanimously resolve, ‘That the report of the Convention of the States lately assembled in Philadelphia, with the resolutions and letter accompanying the same, be transmitted to the several Legislatures, in order to be submitted to a Convention of Delegates chosen in each State by the people thereof, in conformity to the resolves of the Convention, made and provided in that case.’ Therefore

Resolved, as the sense of this committee, that the said report, with the said resolutions and letter accompanying the same, be submitted to a Convention of Delegates to be chosen by the people of this State.”

That Mr. Schoonmaker then made a motion, as an amendment, that the recital to the resolution contained in the motion of Mr. Benson, be struck out, and the following recital substituted in the stead thereof, viz.

“Whereas the Senate and Assembly of this State, at their last session, appointed Delegates to meet such Delegates as might be appointed on the part of the other States respectively, on the second Monday of May then next, and now last, at Philadelphia, for the sole and express purpose of revising the articles of confederation, and reporting to Congress and to the several Legislatures, such alterations and provisions therein, as should, when agreed to in Congress, and confirmed by the several Legislatures, render the Fœderal Constitution adequate to the exigencies of government and preservation of the Union. And whereas Delegates from several of the States in the Union, met in the month of May last, at Philadelphia, for the purpose aforesaid, and have reported their proceedings to the United States in Congress assembled. Whereupon Congress on the 28th day of September last, did unanimously resolve, ‘that the report of the Convention of the States lately assembled in Philadelphia, with the resolutions and letter accompanying the same, be transmitted to the several Legislatures, in order to be submitted to a Convention of Delegates, chosen in each State by the people thereof, in conformity to the resolves of the Convention, made [704]and provided in that case.[’] And whereas the said Convention of the States, instead of revising and reporting alterations and provisions in the Articles of Confederation, have reported a new Constitution for the United States, which if adopted, will materially alter the Constitution and Government of this State, and greatly affect the rights and privileges of the people thereof.”

That debates arose thereon, and the question being put on the motion of Mr. Schoonmaker, it passed in the negative, in the manner following, viz.

For the NEGATIVE [27],

Mr. Winant, Mr. Van Ingen, Mr. Hedges, Mr. Brooks,
Mr. Niven, Mr. Arndt, Mr. Osborn, Mr. John Livingston,
Mr. Silvester, Mr. Gordon, Mr. Sands, Mr. Lewis,
Mr. Gansevoort, Mr. Tillotson, Mr. Low, Mr. Harison,
Mr. Paterson, Mr. Powers, Mr. Verplanck, Mr. Havens,
Mr. Speaker, Mr. P. Cantine, Mr. Sickels, Mr. Winn.
Mr. Van Orden, Mr. Benson, Mr. Younglove,

For the AFFIRMATIVE [25].

Mr. Jones, Mr. Tearse, Mr. Webster, Mr. Graham,
Mr. Carman, Mr. Baker, Mr. Savage, Mr. Wisner,
Mr. Taulman, Mr. D’Witt, Mr. Schoonmaker, Mr. Clinton,
Mr. J. Smith, Mr. Gilbert, Mr. Cantine, Mr. Tompkins,
Mr. Doughty, Mr. Strang, Mr. Bruyn, Mr. N. Smith,
Mr. Wyckoff, Mr. Frey, Mr. Bloom, Mr. Drake,
Mr. Clark.

That Mr. Jones then made a motion, as a farther amendment to the motion of Mr. Benson, that to the resolution contained in the motion of Mr. Benson, the following words be added, viz. “for their free investigation, discussion and decision;” that debates arose thereon, and that the question being put on the motion of Mr. Jones, it passed in the negative, in the manner following, viz.

For the NEGATIVE [28].

Mr. Winant, Mr. Van Orden, Mr. P. Cantine, Mr. Sickels,
Mr. Niven, Mr. Van Ingen, Mr. Benson, Mr. Younglove,
Mr. J. Smith, Mr. Arndt, Mr. Hedges, Mr. Brooks,
Mr. Silvester, Mr. Graham, Mr. Osborn, Mr. John Livingston,
Mr. Gansevoort, Mr. Tillotson, Mr. Sands, Mr. Lewis,
Mr. Tearse, Mr. Powers, Mr. Low, Mr. Harison,
Mr. Speaker, Mr. Savage, Mr. Verplanck, Mr. Winn.

[705]

For the AFFIRMATIVE [23].

Mr. Jones, Mr. Paterson, Mr. Schoonmaker, Mr. Clinton,
Mr. Carman, Mr. D’Witt, Mr. Cantine, Mr. Havens,
Mr. Taulman, Mr. Gilbert, Mr. Bruyn, Mr. N. Smith,
Mr. Doughty, Mr. Strang, Mr. Bloom, Mr. Drake,
Mr. Wyckoff, Mr. Frey, Mr. Wisner, Mr. Clark,
Mr. Baker, Mr. Webster, Mr. Tompkins,

That the question being then put, on the motion of Mr. Benson, it was agreed to by the committee; that the committee had agreed to other resolutions on the subject, which they had directed him to report to the House, and that they had made further progress in his Excellency the Governor’s speech, and the papers accompanying the same, and had directed him to move for leave to sit again.

Ordered, That the said committee have leave to sit again.

The said resolutions of the said committee being read, were agreed to by the House; and thereupon the House entered into the following resolution, viz.

Whereas the United States in Congress assembled, did on the 28th day of September last, unanimously resolve, “That the report of the Convention of the States lately assembled in Philadelphia, with the resolutions and letter accompanying the same, be transmitted to the several Legislatures, in order to be submitted to a Convention of Delegates chosen in each State by the people thereof, in conformity to the resolves of the Convention, made and provided in that case.” Therefore

Resolved, as the sense of the Legislature, that the said report, with the said resolutions, and letter accompanying the same, be submitted to a Convention of Delegates to be chosen by the people of this State—that it be recommended to the people of this State, to choose by ballot, Delegates to meet in Convention for the purpose aforesaid—that the number of Delegates to be elected, be the same as the number of members of Assembly from the respective cities and counties—that all free male citizens of the age of twenty-one years, and upwards, be admitted to vote, and that any person of that description be eligible—that the election be held on the last Tuesday in April next, at the same respective places where the elections for members of Assembly shall be held, and be continued by adjournment from day to day until the same shall be completed, not exceeding five days—that the inspectors who shall inspect the election for members of Assembly, be also inspectors of the election for Delegates—that the inspectors do also appoint two clerks, each of whom shall keep a poll-list of the electors for Delegates—that the inspectors do provide a box to receive the ballots for Delegates—that the poll books or lists shall after due examination and [706]correction, be signed by the inspectors attending at the closing of the poll, and the clerks who shall have kept the same poll-books respectively, and then the box containing the ballots for Delegates, shall be opened, and the ballots therein contained, taken out, and without being inspected shall, together with the poll-books or lists for Delegates, be immediately put up under cover and enclosed, and the enclosure bound with tape, and sealed in such manner as to prevent its being opened without discovery; and the inspectors present at the closing of the poll, shall then put their seals, and write their names upon the same enclosure, and one of the inspectors then present, to be appointed by a majority of them, shall deliver the same enclosure, so sealed up as aforesaid, to the clerk of County, without delay, who shall carefully preserve and keep the same unbroken and unopened, until the meeting of the persons who are to canvass and estimate the ballots therein contained, when he shall deliver the same enclosure unbroken and unopened to them—that the persons authorised by law to canvass and estimate the votes for members of Assembly, do also immediately after they shall have canvassed and estimated the votes to be taken at the elections to be held on the last Tuesday in April next, for members of Assembly, proceed to open the said enclosures containing the ballots for Delegates, and canvass and estimate the votes taken for Delegates, and when and as soon as they shall be able to determine upon such canvass or estimate, who by the greatest number of votes shall have been chosen for Delegates for the city or county, they shall determine the same, and thereupon without delay, make and subscribe with their own proper names and hand-writing, the requisite number of certificates of such determination, and cause one to be delivered to each of the persons so elected a Delegate, and that the said election and canvass, shall in every other respect not herein provided for, be conducted in like manner as is provided for by law, for holding elections for members of Assembly—that the Delegates so to be chosen, do meet in Convention at the Court-house in Poughkeepsie in the county of Dutchess, on the third Tuesday of June next—that the clerks of the Senate and Assembly, do forthwith after the Convention shall have assembled, deliver to them copies of the said report, and of the letter and resolutions which accompanied the same, to Congress, and of the said resolution of Congress—that the Delegates be allowed the same wages as the members of Assembly, and that it will be proper for the Legislature, at their next meeting, to provide for the payment thereof.

Ordered, That Mr. Gordon deliver a copy of the preceding resolution to the Honorable the Senate, and request their concurrence to the same.…

[707]

Assembly Journal, 47–49. The resolution calling the state convention was printed independently with minor differences in three New York newspapers—Daily Advertiser, 4 February; Albany Journal, 4 February; and Country Journal, 5 February. The version in the Daily Advertiser, 4 February, was reprinted in the New York Morning Post, New York Journal, and New York Packet all on 5 February. On the eve of the elections, the New York Journal, 30 April, reprinted the resolution again with this prefatory note: “The following Resolve of the Legislature, respecting ELECTIONS, is republished, by desire, that every one interested might have an Opportunity to refresh his Memory by a second Perusal of its most important Parts.” Outside New York, the Daily Advertiser version was reprinted thirteen times by 5 March: Conn. (2), N.J. (2), Pa. (5), Md. (2), Va. (1), S.C. (1). The Country Journal, 5 February, version was reprinted in theHudson Weekly Gazette, 7 February. The Albany Journal, 4 February, version omitted a section of the resolution and substituted a bracketed statement in italic: “Here follows the directions contained in the election law, relative to the manner of conducting the election.” This version ended with the transmittal of the resolution from the Assembly to the Senate, the Senate’s concurrence, and the Senate’s order to return the concurrent resolution to the Assembly. The resolution was also printed as a broadside along with the Assembly’s minutes of 4 February indicating the Senate’s concurrence and a statement that the text was “An Extract from the Minutes,” attested by Assembly clerk, John McKesson (Evans 45311).

According to Egbert Benson, Schoonmaker introduced his amendment with a new recital “supported by Mr. [Samuel] Jones.” See From Egbert Benson, 1 February 1788 (below).

According to the Assembly debates reported in the Daily Advertiser, 12 February (immediately below) the negative vote on Jones’s amendment totalled twenty-nine votes. James Gordon was reported voting negative in the Advertiserbut is not recorded as voting in the Assembly proceedings.

The proceedings to this point, with minor variations, were printed in the Country Journal, 19 February, and the New York Journal, 21 February. A concluding paragraph in the New York Journal states: “(The purport of this resolve was, that the constitution be submitted to a convention of delegates, to be chosen by ballot; the same number of members, in the same manner, at the same time chosen, and to be allowed the same wages as the members for the house of assembly this year, viz. on the 3d Tuesday of April next; the convention to set at Poughkeepsie, on Monday the 17th June.)” The Boston American Herald, 6 March, reprinted the New York Journal’s account ending with the roll calls.

Source: The Documentary History of the Ratification of the Constitution Digital Edition, ed. John P. Kaminski, Gaspare J. Saladino, Richard Leffler, Charles H. Schoenleber and Margaret A. Hogan. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2009.

 

 

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