Elliot’s Debates: Volume 2

Convention of New York

Monday, June 30, 1788.—

The personal dispute between Mr. Hamilton and Mr. Lansing was again brought forward, and occupied the attention of the committee for a considerable part of this day; on the termination of which, the debate upon Mr. Williams’s motion was resumed, and continued by Mr. Williams, Mr. Smith, Mr. Jay, Mr. Jones, &c.

In the course of this debate, Mr. SMITH made the following remarks, in answer to Mr. Hamilton; that, though the gentleman’s maxim was true, that the means should be adequate to the end, yet it did not, by any means, apply to a complex system like ours, in which all the objects of government were not to be answered by the national head, and which, therefore, ought not to possess all the means. In another view, he said, the rule would not apply. It was not true that the power which was charged with the common defence should have all the revenues. In the government of Great Britain, the power to whom the common defence was committed did not possess the means of providing for it. The king had the whole power of war; but the Parliament only could furnish the money for conducting it. Still the government, taken all together, possessed all the powers and all the means. He thought it ought to be on such a footing here. The general government was one part of the system, the state governments another. Now, it was true, he said, that the system, taking all its parts together, ought to have unlimited powers. It was not the design of the amendment to prevent this: it was only to divide the powers between the parts, in proportion to their several objects.

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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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