Alexander Hamilton Papers

New York Ratifying Convention. First Speech of July 15, [15 July 1788]

New York Ratifying Convention. First Speech of July 15

[Poughkeepsie, New York, July 15, 1788]

Ham[ilton]—They were ready to go as far as they thought safe, in recommendatory & explanatory Amend[ment]s1—& secure the Constitu[tio]n—& that Many of the Amend[ment]s we have proposed—they suppose wrong—yet they will bring forward Amend[ment]s & will be pledged for to obtain those which they bring forward—as far as they can—Reads a form of adoption2 —Reads a list of amend[ment]s which they think would be of real service—Wish to give the govt a safe constitut[io]n & that they should have a strong power—

wishes to move these propositions as an amend[men]t that in same manner they may be jointly considered with those before the committee for those as mentioned in these propositions the Members of N Y would pledge themselves to endeavour for their adoption—3

Gilbert Livingston MS Notes, MS Division, New York Public Library.

1The Convention was considering an amendment offered by Melancton Smith which proposed that New York ratify the Constitution on the condition that a convention be called to propose amendments. See “New York Ratifying Convention. Remarks,” July 14, 1788, Gilbert Livingston’s Version.

2The form of adoption was presumably that proposed by James Duane. See “New York Ratifying Convention. Amendments to the Constitution,” July 15, 1788, note 1.

3McKesson’s record of H’s participation in the day’s debates reads as follows:

“Mr. Hamilton produced the form of a Ratificatn—and also a number of Amendments which he read—& Pledged the Gent of New York to endeavour to obtain them.

“Mr. Lansing   Let us take the Question whether we will adopt the Constitution Conditionally or absolutely.

“Many of these Ideas are valuable and ought to be introduced into the Amendments.

“Mr. Jay   We are endeavouring to agree. Gent See we have brot forth valuable Amendmts. Cannot the Conditional Amendments be paired down so that we may agree? We honestly think Congress must reject such an adoption. Cannot we endeavour further to Accommodate? The Gentlemen have advanced for Accommodation. We have now advanced for Accommodation.

“Mr. Harper   We are now where we were 3 or 4 days ago. If the Gent move these as amendmts. we may proceed. If they withdraw their former motion we may proceed. We delay Time without new Light.

“Mr. G. Livingston   I explain my conduct of yesterday. It was improper to Submit to Congress to do what they had no power to do. It is now amended agreeable to the 5th. article and my objection removed.

“Mr. Hamilton.   I ask that Gent if his constituents gave him a Right of Judging can he surrender that right of Judging.” (John McKesson MS Notes, NewYork Historical Society, New York City.)

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