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title:“Gilbert Livingston's Notes of the New York Ratification Convention Debates”
authors:Gilbert Livingston
date written:1788-7-15

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last updated:Jan. 22, 2013, 8:10 a.m. UTC
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Livingston, Gilbert. "Gilbert Livingston's Notes of the New York Ratification Convention Debates." The Documentary History of the Ratification of the Constitution. Vol. 22. Ed. John P. Kaminski. Madison: Wisconsin Historical Society Press, 2008. 2177-83. Print.
Gilbert Livingston, Notes, New York Public Library

Gilbert Livingston's Notes of the New York Ratification Convention Debates (July 15, 1788)

In Committee MELANCTON SMITH. the Motion he made was to substitute his for Mr. Jays— now moves to add his as an Amendt—
JOHN BAY. wishes to have the questn. taken on the Motn. without altering JOHN LANSING, JR. would substitute a new one by way of an Amendt. in substance the same as Smith's—
GEORGE CLINTON. wishes to have it done— with the sence of the house— Amendment read ALEXANDER HAMILTON produced the form of a Ratificat—and also a number of Amendments which he read—& Pledged the Gent of New York to endeavor to obtain them—
HAMILTON. they were ready to go as far as they thought safe, in recommendatory & explanitory Amends—& secure the Constitun. & that Many of the Amends. we have proposed—they supposed wrong—yet they will bring forward Amends. & will be pledged for to obtain those which they bring forward—as far as they can—Reads a form of Adoption— Reads a list of Amends—which they think would be of real service— Wish to give the Govt a safe constructn. & that they should have strong power— wishes to move these propositions as an amendt—that in same manner they may be jointly considered with those before the committee for those as mentioned in these propositions the Members of N Y would pledge themselves to endeavor for their adoption—
JOHN LANSING, JR. Let us take the Question whether we will adopt the Constitution Conditionally or absolutely— Many of these Ideas are valuable and ought to be introduced into the Amendments—
LANSING. wishes the gent. who read his propositions [Alexander Hamilton] would make a formal motion to bring them before the house—does not wish to reject them entirely—as there are many good Ideas in them—but wishes the questn to be taken wheather the convention will adopt the constitution without conditional amends.
JOHN JAY. We are endeavoring to agree—Gent See we have brot forth valuable Amendmts. Cannot the Conditional Amendments be paired down so that we may agree We honestly think Congress must reject such an Adoption—Cannot we endeavour to further Accommodate—The Gentlemen have advanced for Accommodation—We have now advanced for Accommodat.
JAY. it must be evident from the props. that they wish to accommodate—& pledge themselves to endeavor an Amendt— does not this weigh—to unite all our force—is it not certain that the conds. will render our admittance into the Union uncertain—all has been said, that can be—that the conds will amount to a rejection—declare that they think it will destroy the constitution—shall we not accommodat[e]—each appear to have a disposition to advance—had we not better wait, and endeavor to meet—
WILLIAM HARPER. We are now where we were 3 or 4 days ago— If the Gent move these as amendmts. we may proceed—If they withdraw their former Motion we may proceed—We delay Time without new Light—
HARPER. we do not advance one step—here are propositions mentioned, but nothing regularly before the committee till there is a Motion on them—we cannot notice them—
JOHN LANSING, JR. wishes to have something decidedly may bring these matters before the house—they now stand on the same ground they did—& have not made any real advances—
WILLIAM HARPER. cannot go on till the questn is taken ALEXANDER HAMILTON. hopes the questn will not be pressed—as the Amends. expres[s]ly contemplate a condition—hopes—time will be taken to consider of the New propositions—and not pass the [revision?] [i.e., Smith's amendment of Jay's motion] by hastily takeing this questn—which Must be binding finally—
WILLIAM HARPER. we cannot advance without taking the questn. unless the propositions are brought in by a Motion—
JAMES DUANE. the Gent. is right as to order GEORGE CLINTON. the propositions are the same—substantially the same—as the first Motion of Mr. Jay—no new motion can bring it regularly before us—
JOHN JAY. When we consider that the Amends. [i.e., Hamilton's] are in conformity to the Motion on the table—they are proper—
GEORGE CLINTON. sorry the Gent. does not understand him A Motion containing these propositions and is
JOHN LANSING, JR. must be reduced to the point we set off from—wishes not to take the questn in the present form—but wants to have the Genl. questn. on conditions taken—
GILBERT LIVINGSTON. I explain my Conduct of yesterday— It was improper to Submit to Congress to do what they had no power to do— It is now amended agreeable to the 5th. Article and my Objection removed—
ALEXANDER HAMILTON. I ask that Gent if his constituents gave him a Right of Judging can he surrender that right of Judging—
GILBERT LIVINGSTON. I do not find that Observance of Contracts that could have been wished—The Confe[de]rat[ion] now laughed out of Doors and was most Solemnly agreed to—It is admitted we have a right to make Conditions I am sure Congress must deem that Gent. are willing to receive the Constitution with all its Imperfections if a Convention will not amend it—Then why risque a doubtful Question whether Congress will receive us or not—
G. LIVINGSTON. old Compact—
ROBERT R. LIVINGSTON. does not think the Old confedn. binding that all the parties to it—have broke it—therefore its force null—Gent. say no compact can be [binding?] —a true rule is—if one party break the compact the other must compell an obedience—compares the compact with great Brittn all have violated—therefore gone—Gent. recurring to the proposition—does not reflect—wheather congress have a right to receive us—says they have no right—we have no right to expect they will receive us—Gent. shakes his head—he will not go with his party if he consents to this—at least doubtful wheather congress will take us in—then wholly a questn. of policy—states the reasons he mentioned the other day.—
MELANCTON SMITH. the gent. is perfectly welcome to use such arguments as he pleases—if he thinks the propositions are nothing—the gent. shows as little sence in so violently opposing nothing as we do in bringing them forward on compacts— congress have no right to [receive?] —combats this— if Congress by adm[ittin]g us do abrogate their power then he admits they cannot do it— but holds they may suspend—which is all we ask— doubtful—if congs. would refuse to accept us when it was doubtful—would suffer any distress, before he would submit to such a govt— Congress setting in this state, ought not to be put in competition with Liberty— Wishes to retain congress here, if we could, but it is a very uncertain event.— came forward manfully—with our propositions—
JOHN LANSING, JR. Calls the attention of the committee to the point—is willing to hear all that can be said—but wants to have the questn.—
ROBERT R. LIVINGSTON. combats the Idea, that he called us childn. he only combats the arguments—not the Gent. of the committee.— men beget children—children do not ALEXANDER HAMILTON. extreemely sorry Lan[sing] cannot see the matter as he does—has this consolation, that they have done all they could to conciliate— heartily wishes the matter may be postponed till tomorrow— Gent have mentd. the breach of the Confedn. considers the clause of amendt. in it only going to the mode of Govt.— people may alter their Govt.— Motn. that the committee rise—
WILLIAM HARPER. we must take the questn before we can go on—yet does not wish to hurry JOHN WILLIAMS. the great point this—will congress admit us in this way—thinks they will A Union is necessy. &congress will be unwillg to reject the state A great division throu[ghou]t the states difficult to say where the ballance lies— Congs. will wish to have our impost & assistant— what do the Gent. ask? one day more—let us give it— Adjournment—does not wish it—
JOHN LANSING, JR. if any Gent. opposed to us—wish a day—he is willing to give it—but if it is requested, for us to consider does not wish it—
STEPHEN CARMAN. wishes time to consider MELANCTON SMITH. if the arguments of the gent. are true we must alter our propositions—his object is to have the constitution again considered by a convention—to secure this is our only object— questn—to adjourn—ad[journe]d—

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