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title:“Gilbert Livingston's Notes of the New York Ratification Convention Debates”
authors:Gilbert Livingston
date written:1788-7-17

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last updated:Jan. 22, 2013, 7:58 a.m. UTC
retrieved:July 3, 2022, 8:24 a.m. UTC

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. 2192-96. Print.
Gilbert Livingston, Notes, New York Public Library

Gilbert Livingston's Notes of the New York Ratification Convention Debates (July 17, 1788)

Convention met.— took up the order of the day— Motion for adjournment THOMAS TREDWELL. Movd. to have the preamble or argumentative part of the Motion struck out—
WILLIAM HARPER. second[e] d—it would be improper to have the preamble on the minutes—
JAMES DUANE. wishes it to stand—
JOHN LANSING, JR. content it should stand— but it will be supposed that the whole reasons for an Adjournment are expressed in the preamble ALEXANDER HAMILTON. the question will be first taken on the Resolve—then if the conven[tio]n do not chuse the preamble will be struck out—
SAMUEL JONES. wishes the preamble withdrawn—
JOHN JAY. no difficulty—first take a vote &ct as Ham[ilton]—
SAMUEL JONES. will not the preamble come on the Minutes—
JOHN JAY. cannot be before us till after the questn.
THOMAS TREDWELL. Movd. to have the preamble struck out JOHN JAY. out of order—questn. must be first taken on the Resolution—
THOMAS TREDWELL. withdraws his Motion— Motion for Adjt. read Questn. on the Adjt. called for—
ALEXANDER HAMILTON. scarce any new reasons to be offered they are short—& must have their force it may do good—cannot do evil— while men hope, they never become enraged—both parties hope to succeed, therefore will not heat— things have changed—since we came here—therefore decent we should consult our constituents— good may come—& no evil can come— takes notice of an Objectn. by Gent—we are to take no notice of consequences—&compare it to our spirit in 76— is this a just comparison—or a just state of facts— Brittn. 3,000 Miles off—we had no share in the representation— they claimd absolute powr over us—is this the case here—? by no means— A Majority of the patriots of America think it sufft. there may be some things in it we would wish Altered— this therefore not paralel—this Govt. built—on all the principles of free Govt—representation—&ct—therefore the camparison not just—Difference of Opinion respecting the supposed defects Gent look at it only to find out the defects and not to discover its securities—& beauties—turns—on this that Gent. say the state Govts. will be destroyed he says they are necessary, & that they will be preserved— supposes that if the adopn. takes place as proposed we are out of the Union—some may think we may then enjoy our impost—&ct. but lays it down the Union will not permit us to remain so because their interest & safety will not permit it—it would divide the Whole we could not subsist without an Alliance with Brittain—this not probable—this state of importance if so Gent will say—Congs. will do every thing to take us in will answer this presently—
JOHN LANSING, JR. rises to order—these observations out of order have been heretofore mentioned the question before the house now is solely on the Mo. for adjt.
ALEXANDER HAMILTON AND ROBERT R. LIVINGSTON. proper to consider the Merits of the original subject—
WILLIAM HARPER. certainly out of order—
JOHN LANSING, JR. wishes the questn. on order—
JOHN JAY. thinks the Gent. is in order—he thinks we should adjn. & wants to give his reasons—the state is this—A mode of adoption is on the table we think it would be injurious & therefore wish an adjt. he lays down reasons which become premisses from which we draw conclusions— Admits we all wish to be in the Union—
MELANCTON SMITH AND SAMUEL JONES. go on ALEXANDER HAMILTON. gave reasons why we would be out of the Union— Amends. have been proposed with a desire to consiliate and appease not adoptd. on expedience but the amends. proposed for expedience— in Massachusets—now a fedl. representation Connecticut—an election—Antis. left out— N. Ham. adopted after an adt— Pensylvania-2/3ds. adopted—parties are now united— Virginia —a considerable—opposition—reads a letter from a gent. there, that an address from the Anti's, was rejected— Now What have we to hope for from other states assistance against what? Will they assist us to oppose themselves can we com— pare our strength against the whole they will have the power of Govt. & the wealth of the whole country against us—the sea ports all for them—is there hope of prevailg in so unequal a contest—whence are we to derive means of assistance foreign powers—Whom—France or great Brittn—France is the Ally of United states Great Brittain? what object could she have has totally given up her claim to this country—will she take the weaker by the hand, to oppose the stronger—Who would wish again to come under her dominion but she never will because no interest by it—this not all we are divided among our selves the southern district warmly attachd to this Govt—this a fact—and a sentimt. which will increase the Census will give the Northern, a superiority—deeply impressed with the bad consequences—is it in the power of the Northern to compel the southern—impracticable—they will be aided & protected by the Union hopes—the election of seperation will never be made it will take place if we reject the Constn— What will be the situatn. of the rest of the state even if they can exist—they must support their whole govt pay taxes—& must defend themselves &ct—it is said this will not happen if they are brought to the alternative to reject the Constitution or seperate from the rest of the state they undoubtedly will sepe [rate] will congress—over— come the obsticles to receive us they will not—they are jealous of us—and view us as a selfish sister—our neighbours nearest especially the constitutn. the oath—in it—are against us their interest in having us with them will be diminished by cons [iderin] g that they can have our port—the chief source of wealth this our disunion weakensthe force of the state— pause, & suppose the Minorities in the other states would go with us—to resist—is this desireable—to have the country divided into two Marshal bands who will com[man] d in this case at any rate, adieu to liberty a despotism will follow— can any man wish to run this risk the cause of Republicanism should induce us to avoid this in our late revolution we endeavd. to revive this kind of Govt. & trust to Joint councils distinguished patriots on both sides? tho Most—for the Govt. Hancock—acquiesces tho in a situation that might tempt him to oppose it Adams he first conceived the bold Idea of independence he is for it Govr Livingston, born a republican he for it Dickinson—Franklin—this old grey headed patriot looking into the Grave approves it Genl Washington came forward disinterested hazarded all without reward all parties Whigs & Tories—Admired—& put confidence in him—at the close of the Warr at the head of a discontented Army—did he take advantage of the situation of the army or country No—he provd. himself a patriot—this man came forward—again— and hazarded his harvest of Glory—in this case he saw the work he had been engaged in was but half finished—he came forward and, approved this Consn. is it in human Nature to suppose that these good men should loose their virtue and acquiess in a Govt. that is substancially defective to the liberties of their country—departed heroes— Our sister states, invite us they have been as Jealous of their Liberty as we More safety in joining with us, than to neglect our invitation all mankind Heaven patronised us—it now invites us—is it not wonderful, that 10 states should adopt it— let us take care not to oppose the whole country—if on the verge of eternity would exhort us to union— (a) [Marginal note:] this is not fav[orabl]e to amends
* * * * *
JOHN LANSING, JR. shall call the attention of the house to the point a part of the house wish the adoptn. of a Mode in Which the adopn. of constn. will be risked
* * * * *
JOHN WILLIAMS. the questn. is wheather we shall adjourn or not wished a middle line cannot vote for a rejection &cannot vote for an unconditional adopn. wishes some mode May be tho [ugh] t of.
* * * * *
MELANCTON SMITH. was not present & heard the whole of what has been said the questn. at present is for an adjournt. still wishes something may be brought forward to conciliate JOHN SLOSS HOBART. Made this Motion purely to put off the questn. before the house but wishes some thing may be proposed to conciliate CONVENTION PROCEEDINGS. Question put— for an adjournment 22 against it 40
* * * * *
CONVENTION PROCEEDINGS. Motn. to go into the committee of the whole In Committee Jay's Motn read Smiths Motn. read
* * * * *
SAMUEL JONES. Wishes both may be taken back, as it is not proper to ingraft one on the other—especially as the questn. on one Would forestall himself JOHN LANSING, JR. 1st a proposition was submitted to adopt conditionally—tho 1st. A Motion was made for an absolute rejection or adoption the other Movd. as an amendt. the questn. for a Condl. amendt. must be taken before we can proceed JAMES DUANE. states the situation of the business before the Comee—
JOHN LANSING, JR. this questn. must be taken, to determine on Conds. first or last—but first SAMUEL JONES. improper to take a questn. which will give a complectn. to the whole business—before we have gone thro' the Matters which we do not agree in—
JOHN LANSING, JR. no moment in what manner it is brought on—but the questn. that will give a complectn. must be taken—
JOHN JAY. taking this single questn—will involve 30 propositions in it—
JOHN LANSING, JR. shows how this questn. will give a complectn. to the business—reads the different propositions we ought not to be actuated by improper motives SAMUEL JONES. hopes we are all thus actuated— Never saw any good from inverting the order of things—why should we take a questn on the conditional amendts. which may foreclose us—
MELANCTON SMITH. disputing about nothing—first a motion from the Gent from N. Y. himself. moved an amendt. the Gent. from N. Y have brought another—we must go properly thro' them—wishes to submit something—but does not [know] how to bring them in—thinks it best to withdraw the whole—
JOHN LANSING, JR. will consent that a questn. should be taken—which proposition should be the basis CONVENTION PROCEEDINGS. [James] Duane. Moves that Smiths propn. be postponed and his taken up.—
* * * * *
JOHN JAY. explains—
MELANCTON SMITH. now a questn. before the house wheather—we set aside his Motion—
JAMES DUANE. explains—
WILLIAM HARPER. D[itt]o D[itt]o—
SAMUEL JONES. believes that we yet do not understand explains—
GEORGE CLINTON. all out of order—wishes to [presume?] it explains—
* * * * *
JAMES DUANE. the Chair—wil correct the matter, and state the facts—
ALEXANDER HAMILTON. Gent. forgets facts—explains
* * * * *
WILLIAM HARPER. again explains—(itterum que)—second Motion can not be taken till the first is withdrawn—
MELANCTON SMITH. business simple—the questn. which shall be the basis—of consideration—
SAMUEL JONES. really does not understand it so—explains CONVENTION PROCEEDINGS. both propositions read— Questn. for the postponing Smiths Motion division taken for the question—20— against it— 41—
* * * * *
MELANCTON SMITH. when he laid the proposition before the committee he really did believe— congress would receive us on the adoption proposd yet at present considers it very doubtful Our Objects were— to propose a mode which would bring us into the Union— next to have our objections considered by a convention he did suppose then, that congress had power to call a convention— now finds he was mistaken— next object— to secure the Amends.— keeping this object in view— if we can be admitted—& yet have a reconsideration— Objecn. that congress cannot relinquish any part of their power—then it would be wise to relinquish our plan— and adopt one I shall have the honor to propose— which think will avoid the objections on both sides— May be left alone— yet duty oblidges him to bring them—& risk them— brings forward his propositions—reads it—perhaps other reasons may be added—&ct— When ever the amendments are considered—the Govt is to take effect—in this case we withdraw—if in a certain time they are not submitted— Moves to postpone the motion before the house & take up the proposition—
* * * * *
CONVENTION PROCEEDINGS. committee rose & reported Adjournd—

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