To James Madison1
[Poughkeepsie, New York, July 19, 1788]2
I thank you My Dear Sir for yours3 by the post. Yesterday I communicated to Duer4 our situation which I presume he will have communicated to you. It remains exactly the same, no further question having been taken. I fear the footing mentioned in my letter to Duer is the best upon which it can be placed; but every thing possible will yet be attempted to bring the party from that stand to an unqualified ratification. Let me know your idea of the possibility of our being received on that plan. You will understand that the only qualification will be the reservation of a right to recede in case our amendments have not been decided upon in one of the modes pointed out in the Constitution within a certain number of years, perhaps five or seven.
If this can in the first instance be admitted as a ratification I do not fear any further consequences. Congress will I presume recommend certain amendments to render the structure of the government more secure. This will satisfy the more considerate and honest opposers of the constitution, and with the aid of time will break up the party.
ALS, James Madison Papers, Library of Congress.
1. In JCHW description begins John C. Hamilton, ed., The Works of Alexander Hamilton (New York, 1851). description ends , I, 464, and HCLW description begins Henry Cabot Lodge, ed., The Works of Alexander Hamilton (New York, 1904). description ends , IX, 437, this letter is dated Saturday, July, 1788.
2. As H’s letter is dated “Saturday,” it could have been written either on July 19 or on the following Saturday, July 26, the day on which the Constitution was adopted by the New York Ratifying Convention. It is possible that H could have written on July 19 that the Antifederalists planned to ratify the Constitution but reserve the right to withdraw from the Union if proposed amendments were not adopted within a specified time, for it was not until July 24 that John Lansing, Jr., introduced the motion to that effect. Since this motion was defeated on July 25, H must have written before that date; therefore, the letter has been dated July 19.
3. Letter not found.
4. William Duer. Letter not found.