SMITH. The Committee then took up the proposition of Mr. Smith, as the principle on which they would proceed; -after some time had elapsed, in which nothing particular was urged, Mr. Smith got up, and with much candor confessed that the arguments that had been offered against his proposition, were not only weighty, but such as had induced him to relinquish it; and that he wished to withdraw that, in order to make the following. He begged that he might be excused for many incorrections that were in it, as it had been drawn up in great haste, and hoped that he might have an opportunity of amending it. It was such a proposition, he said, as he thought would remove the objections of the Federal party, while at the same time it would afford to the opposition, all that security for the consideration of the amendments which they wished.
JOHN LANSING, JR., said, if Mr. Smith withdrew his other proposition, he should again move it; -and of course both propositions remained before the convention.—
CONVENTION PROCEEDINGS. The [Melancton Smith] motion 22 is as follows:— WE, the Delegates of the people of the State of New-York, duly elected in pursuance of concurrent resolutions of the Senate and Assembly of the said State, passed the — day of —, and now met in Convention, having fully and fairly discussed the Constitution proposed to our consideration, agreed upon by the Federal Convention held in Philadelphia on the — day of - do make known and declare:
That after the most mature deliberation they have been able to give the subject, a majority of them cannot approve the whole of the said Constitution, without amendments or alterations for the following among other reasons:—
1st. Because the most important powers granted by this Constitution, are expressed in terms so general, indefinite and ambiguous, as to leave the rulers in the exercise of them, to act too much at discretion.
2d. The limits of the powers of the General and State Governments are not marked out with sufficient precision; nor those of the former so defined as entirely to prevent a clashing of jurisdiction; and there is reason to fear that the State Government may be impaired by the General Government in the exercise of powers granted in such general words and by implication only;-especially
3d. Because the Constitution gives to the Congress an indefinite and unlimited power over all the sources of revenue in the Union; by which means there is reason to fear that the individual States will be left without adequate means of discharging debts, or maintaining their civil establishments.
4th. Because the number of Representatives are not sufficiently numerous at present to possess a competent knowledge of and attachment to the interests of their constituents, or to afford a reasonable degree of confidence; and no certain ratio of increase is fixed, but left at the discretion of Congress.
5th. Because the power of regulating the times, places and manner of holding elections, tho' in the first instance given to the respective State Legislatures, is yet ultimately placed under the control of Congress, by which means they will have it too much in their power to secure their own continuance.
6th. Because an improper mixture of the Legislative, Executive and Judicial powers are lodged in the Senate. It is a maxim in a free government, that the Legislative, Executive and Judicial departments should be kept separate; tho' this cannot be effected in all its extent, yet it may be much nearer attained than is done in this system, for the Senate not only form a branch of the Legislature, but are also associated with the President in the exercise of the most important Executive powers, and form the highest Judicial Court in the nation for the trial of impeachments.
7th. The judicial powers in this Constitution, are given in too general and indefinite terms; are so various and extensive, that they may easily be made by legal fiction to extend too far and absorb some of the judicial powers of the respective States. No explicit security is given for Trial by jury in common law cases, and the ancient and usual mode of trial in criminal matters is not secured. The appellate jurisdiction both as to law and fact, may deprive the citizen of safety from juries and render the obtaining justice difficult, dilatory and expensive.
For these and various other reasons, this Convention would be induced not to accede to this Constitution, did not other weighty considerations interpose; but the strong attachments they feel to their sister States, and their regard to the common good of the Union, impel them to preserve it.
This Convention have the firmest confidence in the common councils of the people of the United States, and the highest expectations that all the necessary amendments will be produced from their further deliberations; they therefore consent with the utmost chearfulness to abide by the result of such deliberations; but as some time will be necessary to effect this, the Convention will forbear to dissent from their brethren of the other states: they have therefore agreed to assent to and ratify the said Constitution, in the firmest confidence that an opportunity will be speedily given to revise and amend the said Constitution, in the mode pointed out in the fifth article thereof; expressly reserving nevertheless to this state a right to recede and withdraw from the said Constitution, in case such opportunity be not given within years.
And this Convention do recommend to the Congress, that the power to lay and collect taxes and excise, to call out the militia, &c. &c. &c. be not exercised or made to operate on this state in any other manner than is proposed in the amendments recommended by this Convention, until the sense of the people of the United States be taken on the propriety of the amendments to the Constitution, in one or the other of the modes pointed out in it.
Resolved, that it be recommended to the Legislature of this State, to request the Congress to call a Convention to consider of and propose amendments to this Constitution at their first session; and that the amendments agreed to by this Convention be transmitted to such Convention, when met, to be laid before them.
Resolved, that a circular letter be addressed to all the States in the Union, inclosing the foregoing, and earnestly inviting them to join with this Convention in requesting the Congress at their first meeting, to call a Convention of the States, to consider of the amendments proposed by all the States.