Alexander Hamilton Papers

New York Ratifying Convention. First Speech of July 19, [19 July 1788]

New York Ratifying Convention. First Speech of July 191

[Poughkeepsie, New York, July 19, 1788]

Ham[ilton]—the spirit of the 2d clause he agrees with2—& will agree in—the jury of the vicinage in some cases cannot be good—however will not insist on it—a jury—is security sufficient—without saying of the County—moves to strike out “of the county.”

Govr [George Clinton]—wishes it should stand.

[Samuel] Jones—do—who shall designate whence the jury should be called—the prosecutor may lay his venue where he pleases—

Ham[ilton]—this could be done by the Legislature—in Eng[lan]d this has been done—as in the rebellion in scotland.3

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

1On July 19, John Lansing, Jr., made a motion “that the several other propositions before the Committee be postponed to take into Consideration the Draft of a Ratification and Amendments…” (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 36, New York State Library, Albany). Lansing’s motion was approved by a vote of 41 to 18.

Lansing’s “Draft of a Ratification and Amendments” was that which he had introduced to the Convention on July 10. On that date he explained that he was submitting “a plan of amendments, on a new arrangement, and with material alterations … divided into three—1st, explanatory; 2d., conditional; 3d., recommendatory” (Elliot, Debates description begins Jonathan Elliot, The Debates in the Several State Conventions on the Adoption of the Federal Constitution (Philadelphia, 1836). description ends , II, 410). On July 19, in introducing a motion that the Convention take up his “Draft of a Ratification and Amendments,” he described his plan more exactly as a “draft of a conditional ratification, with a bill of rights prefixed, and amendments subjoined” (Childs, Debates and Proceedings of the Convention of the State of New-York description begins The Debates and Proceedings of the State of New-York, Assembled at Poughkeepsie, on the 17th June, 1788. To deliberate and decide on the Form of Federal Government recommended by the General Convention at Philadelphia, on the 17th September, 1787. Taken in Short Hand (New York: Printed and Sold by Francis Childs, 1788). description ends , 142). The “Bill of Rights” which the Convention debated on July 19 consisted of conditional and explanatory amendments; the first were those which had to be included in the Constitution before New York would accept that document, and the second contained an interpretation of the Constitution by the majority of the New York Convention.

Because Livingston did not always identify the proposal being discussed, it is necessary to consult the draft of Lansing’s proposals in the Convention papers kept by James McKesson. The propositions are arranged in the draft as they were debated by the Convention. The wording of the draft occasionally differs from the version in the “Journal of the Proceedings.”

2The Convention was debating the third article of the “Bill of Rights” proposed by Lansing. It reads as follows:

“That in all Cases in ⟨which a⟩ Man may be subjected to a capital or infamous punishment no one ought to be put to his Trial unless on an Indictment by a grand Jury & that in all capital or criminal prosecutions the accused hath a Righ⟨t⟩ to demand the Cause & Nature of his Accusation: to be confronted with his Accusers and Witnesses to produce Testimony and have Council in his Defence and to a fair public & speedy Trial by an impartial Jury of the County in which the Crime was committed without whose unanimous Consent he ought not to be found guilty (except in the Government of the Land & Naval Forces) nor ought he to be compelled to give Evidence against himself.” (John McKesson Papers, New-York Historical Society, New York City.)

3After this statement by H, this article was accepted by the Convention.

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