Elliot’s Debates: Volume 2

Convention of Massachusetts, February 2, 1788

Saturday, February 2.—The Hon. Mr. STRONG went into a particular discussion of the several amendments recommended in the proposition submitted by his excellency, each of which he considered with much attention. He anticipated the good effect it must have in conciliating the various sentiments of gentlemen on the subject, and expressed his firm belief that, if it was recommended by the Convention, it would be inserted in the Constitution.

Gen. THOMPSON said, we have no right to make amendments. It was not, he said, the business we were sent for. He was glad, he said, that gentlemen were now convinced it was not a perfect system, and that it wanted amendments. This, he said, was different from the language they had formerly held. However, as to the amendments he could not say amen to them, but they might be voted for by some men—he did not say Judases.

Mr. PARSONS, Col. ORNE, Mr. PHILLIPS, the Rev. Mr. NILES. and several other gentlemen, spoke in favor of the proposition, as a conciliatory measure, and the probability of the amendments being adopted. Mr. NASSON, Dr. TAYLOR, Mr. THOMAS, (of Middleboro’,) and others, though in sentiment with gentlemen on the propriety of their being admitted into the Constitution, did not think it was probable they would be inserted.

Before the Convention adjourned, Gen. Whitney moved that a committee, consisting of two from each county, should be raised, to consider the amendments, or any other that might be proposed, and report thereon. Hon. Mr. Sedgwick seconded the motion.

Hon. Mr. DALTON. Mr. President, I am not opposed to the motion; but, sir, that gentlemen may not again say, as has been the case this day, that the gentlemen who advocate the measure of the proposition were now convinced that amendments to the Constitution are indispensable, I, sir, in my place, say, that I am willing to accept the Constitution as it is; and I am in favor of the motion of proposing amendments, only as it is of a conciliating nature, and not as a concession that amendments are necessary.

The motion was put, and carried unanimously. The following gentlemen were then appointed on the said committee, viz.:—

Hon. Mr. Bowdoin, Mr. Southworth, Mr. Parsons, Hon. Mr. Hutchinson—Hon. Mr. Dana, Mr. Winn—Hon. Mr. Strong, Mr. Bodman—Hon. Mr. Turner, Mr. Thomas, of Plymouth—Dr. Smith, Mr. Bourn—Hon. Mr. Spooner, Mr. Bishop—Rev. Dr. Hemmenway, Mr. Barrell—Mr. Mayhew Hon. Mr. Taylor, Hon. Mr. Sprague—Mr. Fox, Mr. Longfellow—Mr. Sewall, Mr. Sylvester—Mr. Lusk, Hon. Mr. Sedgwick.

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Contents

General Overview

In 1787 and 1788, following the Constitutional Convention, a great debate took place throughout America over the Constitution that had been proposed.

In-Doors Debate

View in-depth studies of the Massachusetts, Virginia, and New York state ratifying conventions.

The Federal Pillars

View drawings of the federal pillars rising published by the Massachusetts Centinel during the ratification debate.

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The Stages of Ratification: An Interactive Timeline

View the six stages of the ratification of the Constitution with links to many other features on this site.

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Interactive Ratification Map

View interactive maps showing the breakdown of Federalist-Antifederalist strength at the state level during the Ratification debate.

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