Alexander Hamilton Papers

New York Ratifying Convention. First Speech of July 17, [17 July 1788]

New York Ratifying Convention. First Speech of July 171

[Poughkeepsie, New York, July 17, 1788]

Ham[ilton] Scarce any new reasons to be offered; they are short—& must have their force it may do good—cannot do evil. While men hope, they never became enraged. Both parties hope to succeed, therefore will not heat.

Things have changed since we came here—therefore decent we should consult our constituents.

Good may come—& no evil can come.

Takes notice of an objectn by gent We are to take no notice of consequences—& compare it to our spirit in 76.

Is this a just comparison or a just state of facts—

Britn 3,000 Miles off. We had no share in the representation. They claimed absolute power over us.

Is this the case now? By no means. A majority of the patriots of America think it sufft. There may be some things in it we would wish Altered—this therefore not paralel. This govt built on all the principles of free govt. Representation etc. Therefore the comparison not just. Difference of Opinion respecting the supposed defect.

Gent look at it only to find out the defects and not to discover its securities—& beauties. Turns on this that gent say the state govts will be destroyed. He says they are necessary, & that they will be preserved.

Supposes that if the adopn takes place as proposed we are out of the Union. Some may think we may then enjoy our impost—&c—but lays it down the Union will not permit us to remain so because their interest & safety will not permit it. It would divide the whole.

We could not subsist without an Alliance with Britain. This not probable. This state of importance. If so Gent will say Congs will do every thing to take us in. Will answer this presently—2

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

1On July 16, 1788, John Sloss Hobart submitted the following motion to the New York Convention:

“Whereas since the time of electing the Delegates, now in Convention assembled, the Constitution submitted to their Consideration, hath been so far ratified, as to have become a System of Government, for Ten of the United States, and the necessary Measures are now pursuing for Organizing, and carrying the same into Operation. And whereas, at the time of the said Election, the Citizens of divers parts of this State, were opposed to certain Articles of the said Constitution. And whereas, from the important Change, which hath since the Meeting of this Convention, taken place, in the situation of Public Affairs, it is desireable, that an Opportunity should be given, to the said Delegates, to know fully, the Sentiments at present entertained by their Constituents, on a Subject so interesting to them, and which may so deeply affect the Public Welfare and Tranquillity—Therefore

Resolved, That this Convention do Adjourn, until the   day of   next, then to Meet at  .” (McKesson, “Journal of the Proceedings,” description begins “Journal of the Proceedings of the Convention of the State of NewYork. Held at the Town of Poughkeepsie County of Dutchess and Commencing on Tuesday the 17th day of June 1788” (MS, New York State Library, Albany). description ends 25–26, New York State Library, Albany.)

On July 17, debate on Hobart’s motion was continued, and it was during this debate that H made his speech.

H made one brief remark before his first speech which reads: “the question will be first taken on the Resolve—thus if the conven[tio]n do not chuze the preamble will be struck out” (Gilbert Livingston MS Notes).

2At the conclusion of H’s speech, John Lansing, Jr., made these remarks: “rises to order—these observations out of order—have been heretofore mentioned the question before the house now is solely on the Mo[tion] for adj[ournmen]t.” H and Robert R. Livingston answered Lansing’s objection by stating: “proper to consider the Merits of the original subject” (Gilbert Livingston MS Notes).

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