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title:“Debate in the New York Convention”
date written:1788-6-23

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last updated:Jan. 22, 2013, 8:11 a.m. UTC
retrieved:May 16, 2022, 11:39 a.m. UTC

"Debate in the New York Convention." The Records of the Federal Convention of 1787. Vol. 3. Ed. Max Farrand. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1911. Print.

Debate in the New York Convention (June 23, 1788)

June 23, 1788.
The Hon. Mr. Lansing. I do not rise, Mr. Chairman, to answer any of the arguments of the gentlemen, but to mention a few facts. In this debate, much reliance has been placed on an accommodation which took place in the general Convention. I will state the progress of that business. When the subject of the apportionment of representatives came forward, the large states insisted that the equality of suffrage should be abolished. This the small states opposed contending that it would reduce them to a state of subordination There was such a division that a dissolution of the Convention appeared unavoidable, unless some conciliatory measure was adopted. A committee of the states was then appointed, to agree upon some plan for removing the embarrassment. They recommended, in their report, the inequality of representation, which is the groundwork of the section under debate. With respect to the ratio of representation, it was at first determined that it should be one for forty thousand. In this situation the subject stood when I left the Convention. The objection to a numerous representation, on account of the expense, was not considered as a matter of importance: other objections to it, however, were fully discussed; but no question was taken. . . .
Hon. Mr. Hamilton. It is not my design, Mr. Chairman, to extend this debate by any new arguments on the general subject. . . . I only rise to state a fact with respect to the motives which operated in the general Convention. I had the honor to state to the committee the diversity of interests which prevailed between the navigating and non-navigating, the large and the small states, and the influence which those states had upon the conduct of each. It is true, a difference did take place between the large and the small states, the latter insisting on equal advantages in the House of Representatives. Some private business calling me to New York, I left the Convention for a few days: on my return, I found a plan, reported by the committee of details; and soon after, a motion was made to increase the number of representatives. On this occasion, the members rose from one side and the other, and declared that the plan reported was entirely a work of accommodation, and that to make any alterations in it would destroy the Constitution. I discovered that several of the states, particularly New Hampshire, Connecticut, and New Jersey, thought it would be difficult to send a great number of delegates from the extremes of the continent to the national government; they apprehended their constituents would be displeased with a very expensive government; and they considered it as a formidable objection. After some debate on this motion, it was withdrawn. Many of the facts stated by the gentleman and myself are not substantially different. The truth is, the plan, in all its parts, was a plan of accommodation.
Mr. Lansing. I will enter no further into a discussion of the motives of the Convention; but there is one point in which the gentleman and myself do not agree. The committee of details recommend an equality in the Senate. In addition to this, it was proposed that every forty thousand should send one representative to the general legislature. Sir, if it was a system of accommodation, and to remain untouched, how came that number afterwards to be reduced to thirty thousand?1
Mr. Hamilton. I recollect well the alteration which the gentleman alludes to; but it by no means militates against my idea of the principles on which the Convention acted, at the time the report of the committee was under deliberation. This alteration did not take place till the Convention was near rising, and the business completed; when his excellency, the president, expressing a wish that the number should be reduced to thirty thousand, it was agreed to without opposition.

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