Alexander Hamilton Papers

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

New York Ratifying Convention. Fifth Speech of July 191

[Poughkeepsie, New York, July 19, 1788]

Ham[ilton]—an explanatory clause ought to explain, not to affix a new Idea—2 the dividing the state into districts is explanatory but the qualifying part is not—3

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

1See “New York Ratifying Convention. First Speech of July 19,” note 1.

At this point in the proceedings the Convention took up the second part of the “Bill of Rights” proposed by John Lansing, Jr. Lansing’s “Bill of Rights” consisted of two parts: 1. conditional amendments which had to be accepted before New York would accept the Constitution, and 2. explanatory amendments which contained the interpretation of certain provisions of the Constitution by the New York Ratifying Convention.

2The first explanatory amendment reads as follows:

“That Nothing in the said Constitu⟨tion⟩ is to be construed to prevent ⟨the⟩ Legislature of any State to pass La⟨ws⟩ at its Discretion from Time to Time to divide such State into convenient Districts and to apportion its Representatives to & among such Districts That the Legislatures of the respective States may make provision that the Electors in each District shall chuse a Citizen of the United States who shall have been an Inhabitant of the District for the Term of one y⟨ear⟩ immediately preceding the Time of Election for one of the Representatives of such States.” (John McKesson Papers, New-York Historical Society, New York City.)

3After some debate, it was agreed that the amendment should be divided: the first part, allowing the legislature to divide a state into as many convenient districts as it might choose, was retained; the second part, providing qualifications for representatives, was deleted from the explanatory amendments and made recommendatory.

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