George Washington Papers

From George Washington to the United States Senate and House of Representatives, 30 June 1790

To the United States Senate and House of Representatives

United States [New York] June 30th 1790.

Gentlemen of the Senate and House of Representatives.

An Act of the Legislature of the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations for ratifying certain articles as amendments to the Constitution of the United States, was yesterday put into my hands; and I have directed my Secretary to lay a copy of the same before you.1

Go: Washington

LS, DNA: RG 46, First Congress, 1789–91, Records of Legislative Proceedings, President’s Messages; LB, DLC:GW; copy, DNA: RG 233, First Congress, 1789–91, Records of Legislative Proceedings, Journals.

1The enclosures were Arthur Fenner’s Certificate, 15 June 1790, and a copy of the ratification of amendments to the federal constitution by Rhode Island. GW had submitted the amendments to the Constitution proposed by Congress to the governors of the states on 2 Oct. 1789. Although Rhode Island had not ratified the Constitution, Congress directed GW to send a copy to Rhode Island governor John Collins (see GW’s Circular to the Governors of the States, 2 Oct. 1789; the copy sent to Collins is GW to John Collins, 2 Oct. 1789, R-Ar). The Rhode Island general assembly ratified eleven of these amendments, including the ten amendments that constituted the Bill of Rights during a special session that met in Newport on 7–12 June (Bartlett, R.I. Records, description begins John Russell Bartlett, ed. Records of the Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, in New England. 10 vols. Providence, 1856–65. description ends 10:380–82). The Rhode Island legislature also ratified the first of the proposed amendments, never ratified by a sufficient number of states, regulating the proportion of representatives in the United States House of Representatives to population in the states. For the text of the amendments, see GW’s Circular to the Governors of the States, 2 Oct. 1789, n.1. For Rhode Island’s instrument of ratification, see Rhode Island Ratifying Convention to GW, 9 June 1790, n.1. GW’s transmittal of the act of the ratification, along with Gov. Arthur Fenner’s certification of Henry Ward, the secretary of the Rhode Island general assembly, was delivered to both houses of Congress by Lear on 30 June (DHFC, description begins Linda Grant De Pauw et al., eds. Documentary History of the First Federal Congress of the United States of America, March 4, 1789-March 3, 1791. 20 vols. to date. Baltimore, 1972—. description ends 1:388–89, 3:483).

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