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title:“John McKesson's Notes of the New York Ratification Convention Debates”
authors:John McKesson
date written:1788-7-12

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last updated:Jan. 22, 2013, 8:44 a.m. UTC
retrieved:Sept. 27, 2023, 8:38 p.m. UTC

McKesson, John. "John McKesson'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. 2152-54. Print.
McKesson's Notes, New-York Historical Society

John McKesson's Notes of the New York Ratification Convention Debates (July 12, 1788)

MELANCTON SMITH. Moved that Mr. Jays mo[tion] be postponed to take up the followg— I hoped that the Proposition I d[elivere]d yesterday would have been agreeable They are not acceded to— They will accept no Medium— They speak their own Sentiments and those of their Constituents We do the like— We propose
1 Declaration of Rights
2 Explanatory Amendmts.
3 Conditional three Amendts until &C
4 Recommendatory Amendmts.
Necessary to explain the Condition— Perhaps not clear that the Congress have power to call the Convention If they have not, we will agree to amend so as that a Convention be called in such way as the Constitution will permit— The Quest. is—Have congress a right to lay down rules to govern their own Conduct in matters left to them generally to do what they think best— Ex gr. [i.e., e.g.] The Legislature have the Genl Power of Taxing Cannot they lay down a Rule for their mode of Taxing—as by Poll Tax—Specific Tax— Admitted they may not abrogate a Genl. Power given by a Constitution—but they may limit the Mode for a given Time— The force of (Mr. Jays Argumt.) That no Legislature can alter the Constitution by which exist— Admitted—Our Amendment does not annull the Constitution— Every Legislature has the Power we contend for— The Gent asked can the Legislature of N York declare that suffolk County shall not be bound by the Constitution—No— but may say Suffolk County shall pay no Tax for 2 years— They may prescribe that taxes be differently laid in Different Counties.
The Legislature may alter the mode of Elections They may alter the mode of marching the Militia from a particular County The Genl. Legislature would not thereby assume Power—They would be restricted, and only It also depends on an Event the Genl. Legislature may hasten as soon as possible—Their first Act may be to obtain a Convention of the People What difference between Conditional Amendmts and Explanatory— As to compacts and Contracts much has been said— Why so rigid— See the Solemn Compact of the Confederation—and yet here is a Compact insisted if because agreed to by nine States, directely in Breach of the other— If they should refuse to receive Us The Gent. says the Business of Congress only Ministerial— What Power has Congress to determine whether a Ratification is full or legal or not— Nay Where did they get their Ministerial Power in this Business—Could the Convention at Philadelphia give it— When the Genl. Congress meet under the New Constitution—they must of Necessity be the Judges of their own Members— They will and every good Man wish to receive This left on so liberal and generous a plan It is said it will irritate the States and will be dictating to them By no Means— Do we ask indecent, irritable or unreasonable Things—No— We ask you to take up these things yourselves—Consider them and whatever is the Result we will be with you— If this is insult—The Liberty of America is fled.
Sir I said yesterday the Adoption of this Constitution in every State had been matter of Conveniency— And notwithstanding the greatest Exertions It has been saved so as by Fire
Many of us represent Counties who desire these Amendmts.
We as faithful Representat[ives]
It is said We as a Minority should submit to a majority of the People of the united States— This will destroy every Compact and this very Constitution Did not we exist under a Compact It is said this will be dangerous—Rhode Island may propose to make her Paper Money Good A State may come Do we ask— A Gent from N York [Robert R. Livingston] says Congress will reject us because it will [be?] the Interest of Pensylvania The Smaller States will be against it The encrease of States lessens the Power of the Smaller States That such a proposition Could not be bro't forward by an Honest Man
The Gent. Instance Taxing— The Instance Taxing perfectly agrees with An Election cannot be necessary before— If the militia are necessary for two years they must apply to the Legislature— Excise not necessary on home Manufactures and a Convention As to proportions The Proportions are expressly the Same— As to the predictions of drea[d]ful Evil I shall return and Cultivate Peace Will it create Peace to pursue the opinion of the Minority Have not every Measure been taken for Peace If my Sentiments are altered it is to think it worse— Yet to manifest a perfect wish and Affection to our Sister States We have gone as far as duty to ourselves and our Constituents and Conscience will permit— We have manifested a disposition to recede—the Gent opposed in Sentiment have not mani
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JOHN LANSING, JR. I proposed a Com[mitt]ee A Gent offered a proposition—I alledged we were not authorized— I mention this in Answer to the observat we should reason first and determine afterwards— It has been asserted this mode will be a Rejection of the Constitution— The Election was for Previous Amendmts. or for Recommendatory amendts. The Gent (who first Spoke) Asked If a County was refractory what was to be done The Cases not alike Neither the Convention Nor Congress had power nor did they The Gent. said 10 States had Adopted It is said We are presuming to dictate to the Union— Do we presume— We Submit to the Governmt. with all its imperfections Only submit the Imperfections to the wisdom of the People A Gent. from New York said we were guilty of Injustice— Do we say we will Coerce— Have not taken such a measure as to convince our Sister States that we—lt is said we must pay respect to the opinion of our Neighbours Yet must determine If we have reason to fear the Vengeance of the Almighty then What can we think of ourselves It was Said the Sword was committed to this Govt. and nothing but the Hand of Perfidy Septenial Parliamts It is said A Majority should Govern & 10 States have adopted it— Consider the Situation of the States Our being here is a Convincing proof that each State yet retains Sovereign Powers— 1 Militia—They may be called Six weeks— And longer if necessary by application to the Legislature— 2 No Excise— There are other Funds—Excise not soon to be raised 3 Regulation of Elections— It is said an Explanatory Amendt. will answer—if so—why not a Conditional one— Many Argumts. from Expediency have been offered They have been fully Considered—We know the Dangers & the risque we run—We know the Sentiments of our Constituents and can go no farther— As to the Question which proposition should be first put—
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ALEXANDER HAMILTON. I rise with Reluctance It has been industriously circulated that I am a Man of such Talents as to espouse carry any Cause— Insinuations agt. me out of this Hous[e] to shut the Hearts of The House agt. me—

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