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Draft of a Resolution for the Legislature of New York for the Amendment of the Constitution of the United States, [29 January 1802]

Draft of a Resolution for the
Legislature of New York for the Amendment
of the Constitution of the United States1

[Albany, January 29, 1802]2

Resolved, as the sense of the Legislature, that the following amendments ought to be incorporated into the Constitution of the United States as a necessary safeguard in the choice of a President and Vice President against pernicious dissensions as the most eligible mode of obtaining a full and fair expression of the public will in such election.

1st. That Congress3 shall from time to time divide each State into Districts equal to the whole number of Senators and Representatives from such state in the Congress of the United States, and shall direct the mode of choosing an Elector of President and Vice President in each of the said Districts, who shall be chosen by Citizens who have the qualifications requisite for Electors of the most numerous branch of the State Legislature, and that the districts shall be formed, as nearly as may be, with an equal proportion of population in each, and of Counties and, if necessary, parts of Counties contiguous to each other, except when there may be any detached portion of territory not sufficient of itself to form a District which then shall be annexed to some other part nearest thereto.4

2nd. That in all future elections of President and Vice President the persons voted for shall be particularly designated by declaring which is voted for as President and which as Vice President.

Resolved that the President of the Senate and Speaker of the Assembly transmit a copy of the preceding Resolutions to the Senators and Representatives in Congress from this State with an earnest request that they would use their best exertions for obtaining the adoption of the above amendments or other amendments in substance equivalent so as that the President and Vice President may be separately designated in voting for them and that the electors for both may be chosen in distinct Districts.

JCH Transcripts description begins John C. Hamilton Transcripts, Columbia University Libraries. description ends .

1On January 26, 1802, DeWitt Clinton introduced this resolution with some minor changes in the New York Senate. On January 30 the Senate approved the resolution and sent it to the Assembly, which passed it on February 1, 1802 (Journal of the Senate of the State of New-York: At Their Twenty-Fifth Session, Began and Held at the City of Albany, the Twenty-Sixth Day of January, 1802 [Albany: Printed by John Barber, Printer to the State, n.d.], 4, 11–13; Journal of the Assembly of the State of New-York: At Their Twenty-Fifth Session, Began and Held at the City of Albany, the Twenty-Sixth Day of January, 1802 [Albany: Printed by John Barber, Printer to the State, n.d.], 43).

On February 15, 1802, Benjamin Walker, a member of the House of Representatives from New York, introduced the resolution from the New York legislature into the House in the form of a concurrent resolution to amend the Constitution so as to provide a different method for electing the President and Vice President (Annals of Congress description begins The Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States; with an Appendix, Containing Important State Papers and Public Documents, and all the Laws of a Public Nature (Washington, 1834–1849). description ends , XI, 509). On May 1, 1802, the House passed the resolution, but the Senate rejected it on May 3 (Annal of Congress, XI, 259, 263–64, 293, 303–04). The final version of the resolution was adopted by the Senate on December 2, 1803, was agreed to by the House on December 8, 1803 (Annals of Congress description begins The Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States; with an Appendix, Containing Important State Papers and Public Documents, and all the Laws of a Public Nature (Washington, 1834–1849). description ends , XIII, 209–10, 775–76), and was ratified as the Twelfth Amendment to the Constitution on September 25, 1804.

According to John Church Hamilton, part of the original resolution was in H’s handwriting (Hamilton, History description begins John C. Hamilton, Life of Alexander Hamilton, a History of the Republic of the United States of America (Boston, 1879). description ends , VII, 566–67).

2John Church Hamilton dates this document “1802” (JCHW description begins John C. Hamilton, ed., The Works of Alexander Hamilton (New York, 1851–1856). description ends , VII, 836–37).

3In the version of the resolution which Clinton introduced in the New York Senate, the word “Congress” is replaced by “State Legislatures” (New York Senate Journal, Twenty-Fifty Session, 4).

4In the version of the resolution which Clinton introduced in the New York Senate, an additional phrase was added at this point, which reads: “which districts, when so divided, shall remain unalterable until a new census of the United States shall be taken” (New York Senate Journal, Twenty-Fifth Session, 4).

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