The Georgia Ratifying Convention Meets
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Only eight of the thirty-three delegates elected to the Georgia Convention assembled in Augusta on Tuesday, 25 December, the day appointed for convening. A quorum was not obtained until Friday the 28th, when the Convention examined the delegates’ credentials and then elected John Wereat, President; Isaac Briggs, secretary; and Peter Farr, doorkeeper. The delegates appointed committees to prepare rules and to request the Governor to send to the Convention: (1) the report of the Constitutional Convention; (2) the congressional resolution of 28 September; and (3) the Assembly resolutions of 26 October. On Saturday, 29 December, the rules were reported, amended, and adopted, and the documents requested from the Governor were received and read. The Convention then, according to Joseph Habersham, considered the Constitution “paragraph by paragraph with a great deal of temper.”
On Monday, 31 December, the Convention adopted the Constitution unanimously. A Deed of Ratification was drafted, reported, adopted, and ordered engrossed. The next day, the engrossed Deed was recommitted. A second and longer Deed was then prepared. On 2 January both deeds of ratification was approved. The Convention directed that the short Deed (which has not been located) and the Constitution be deposited in the office of the secretary of the state, and that the long Deed, which included the Constitution, the congressional resolution of 28 September, and a portion of the Assembly resolutions of 26 October, should be sent to the Confederation Congress.
The Convention met again on 5 January. It approved a letter addressed to the President of Congress, ordered that the Journal and papers of the Convention be deposited with the Executive, resolved that a report of the Convention’s expenses be submitted to the Assembly, ordered that 200 copies of its Journal be printed, and thanked President Wereat for his service. The Convention then dissolved.
The Convention Journal consists of little more than the bare proceedings for each day and a list of the delegates in attendance each day. To eliminate the duplication of names, the attendance records have been deleted from each day’s proceedings. The Convention Roster and Attendance Record that immediately follows has been compiled from the Convention Journal, newspaper reports of election returns and manuscript election certificates.
Convention Proceedings, Tuesday, 25 December.
Whereas the General Assembly of the said state did, on the 26th day of October, 1787, in pursuance of the recommendation of Congress, come to the following resolutions, viz.
[The Assembly resolutions of 26 October appear in the Journal at this point. See The Georgia Assembly, 25-26 October, I above. Eight members present. No quorum.]
The members present requested Mr. Isaac Briggs to act as secretary, pro tempore.
Adjourned till tomorrow morning, 11 o’clock.
Convention Proceedings, Wednesday, 26 December
[Twelve members present. No quorum.]
Adjourned till tomorrow morning, 10 o’clock.
Convention Proceedings, Thursday, 27 December
[Four members present. No quorum.]
Adjourned till tomorrow morning 11 o’clock.
Convention Proceedings, Friday, 28 December
[Twenty-four members present.]
The gentlemen present, having appointed John Wereat, Esquire, Chairman, produced their several credentials, which were received, read, and ordered to be filed.
The Convention proceeded to the appointment of its officers.
Whereupon the Honorable JOHN WEREAT, Esquire was elected President; Mr. Isaac Briggs was unanimously appointed secretary; and Peter Farr, doorkeeper.
On motion of Henry Osborne, seconded by Nathan Brownson,
Ordered, That Mr. Telfaire, Mr. Osborne, and Mr. Stephens be a committee to prepare and report rules for the government of this Convention.
On motion of Henry Osborne, seconded by John Milton,
Ordered, That Mr. Milton, Mr. Powell, and Mr. Weed be a committee to wait on His Honor the Governor and request that he will be pleased to direct the proper officers to lay before this Convention the proposed Federal Constitution, together with the annexed letter and resolutions; the resolutions of Congress, and of the late General Assembly respecting the same.
Adjourned till tomorrow morning 10 o’clock.
Convention Proceedings, Saturday, 29 December
[Twenty-four members present.]
The committee appointed to prepare and report rules for the government of this Convention reported the same; which, after some amendment, were agreed to and ordered to be engrossed.
The committee appointed to wait on His Honor the Governor, for the purpose of obtaining the papers necessary to be laid before this Convention, produced the proposed Federal Constitution, together with the annexed letter and resolutions; the resolution of Congress, and those of the legislature of this state, respecting the same; which were received and read.
On motion of Florence Sullivan, seconded by John King,
The Convention proceeded to consider by paragraphs the proposed Federal Constitution, and having gone through the same;
Adjourned till Monday morning 10 o’clock.
Joseph Habersham to John Habersham Augusta, 29 December
I am anxiously waiting for the arrival of some person who will bring letters from you; no one has come up since the Chief Justice [Henry Osborne], who left Savannah the day after I did. Not hearing from you by him, I conclude that Mrs. Habersham was then well.
The Convention met yesterday and, after choosing a President (Mr. Whereat) and concluding on some other preparatory business, adjourned till this day, when the Federal Constitution was brought forward and read over paragraph by paragraph with a great deal of temper; and, if it had not been thought rather to precipitate, I believe would have been assented to as it stands by a very great majority. On the whole you may conclude that it will be adopted in the course of a few days.
This opportunity is just setting off, therefore must [conclude?] my dear brother.
Joseph Habersham to Mrs. Joseph Habersham Augusta, 30 December
I arrived here on Wednesday evening [26 December] after rather a disagreeable ride, having no companion better than one-third of the time. I have been anxiously wating the arrival of Mr. [James] Seagrove who brought me a letter from my brother dated last Wednesday. He mentions that you were well on Xmas day; I hope that we are before this blessed with an increase in our family and that all is well with you. Mrs. Rae and your brother are well; Betsy continues sickly; Mr. Rae will shortly go down the country with her.
The new Constitution [probably will be sp?] eedily adopted be this state as it seems to have a good many friends in the Convention. After this business is over, I am in hopes that the session of Assembly will not take up as much of our time as it has usually done.
All here is quiet. The Indians have, it is said, lately killed three people in South Carolina. Whether it is done by the Creeks or other Indians is not certain, but it will probably involve South Carolina in the war with this state.
You may be assured that I never left home at a time so truly disagreeable to me and that I shall be as early in returning as possible.
Convention Proceedings, Monday, 31 December
[Twenty-six members present.]
On motion of Christopher Hillary, seconded by Jacob Weed, Resolved, unanimously, That the proposed Federal Constitution be now adopted; and that Mr. stephens, Mr. Osborne, and Mr. Sullivan be a committee to prepare and report the form of a deed of ratification.
The committee appointed to prepare and report the form of a deed of ratification reported the same; which was agreed to, and ordered to be engrossed.
Adjourned till tomorrow morning, 10 o’clock.