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title:“Melancton Smith's Notes of the New York Ratification Convention Debates”
authors:Melancton Smith
date written:1788-6-26

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https://consource.org/document/melancton-smiths-notes-of-the-new-york-ratification-convention-debates-1788-6-26/20130122081639/
last updated:Jan. 22, 2013, 8:16 a.m. UTC
retrieved:Aug. 23, 2019, 7:47 p.m. UTC

transcription
citation:
Smith, Melancton. "Melancton Smith'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. 1909. Print.
manuscript
source:
Melancton Smith, Notes, New York State Library

Melancton Smith's Notes of the New York Ratification Convention Debates (June 26, 1788)

HARISON. The constitut—has fixed the qualifications—It could not fix the time place & manner—places could not be fixed, as a place conv [i.e., convenient?] the time and manner could not be fixed—as they might be all necessary to be altered— The next question, how shall be regulated—might be submitted to the genl. govt or to the state govermts— only refrain f[ro]m electing Senators—a wide difference—a majority of States [necy?] how respectg. Presidt— The genl govt. depart fm strict principle in this The spirit of the rule conforms to the explan[a]t[ion]s— The amendt. admits the propriety of the general govt. in case of neglect— The genl. govt. should prescribe the time—if the States may chuse at difft. times—in cases of invasion, it necessary—
* * * * *
SMITH. If any thing fundamental, in a Republican goverment— this is to fix the Legislature so that they cannot change themselves— It is a principle of the celebrated Montesquieu, that the forms of elections are fundaml It is evident, if the right of election and the exercise of that right be not established by the Const—it will be held always at the will of the Leg—this is the same thing as holding your form of govt. at the will of others— This govt. may be exercised entirely to take away the right—by fixing inconvt. places—this not probl. but it is almost certain Elections will be so fixed, as that the people cannot chuse by majorities— Votes may be taken in Districts and the highest number of Votes elects—By that means a very small minority will choose—all from one part of the State — combinations to effect this may be easily formed— the experience of this State teaches this—The Constit—will not authorize confining the election to Dist—If it did the remedy wd be inadeqt 1st. Obj—Every govt. ought to contain the means of its own pres[ervatio]n—This not true as applied—The form of govt. shd. provide for its continuance—But this power need not be lodge [d] in the hands of those who exercise the power—it is not so in any of the States— 2d. As an Election Law could not be inserted in the Const. this power must be in the general or State govt—though an Electi [on] Law could not be inserted principle might be— 3. Improper in the States, because they might destroy the govt— This Idea extravagant— The States could not effect it without a majority concur— This improbable to happen If it does it will prove a majority dissaff[ecte] d to the govt. and it ought to be changed— 4 years necessary to effect such [affairs?] they may do it by neglecting to chuse Senators or president— the Legislature bound by Oath 4. This power not safe because the State Legislatures may be interested to weaken the power of the Assembly the Repr. of the people to increase their w[eigh]t ans This supposes, the people and the Legisls. have cliff. Interest— cannot happen If this right abused, the people wd. revolt under the conduct of the State govts— Ans. They will do it by degrees— The time will be uniform if fixed by the genl Govt— The Article might provide for this—But not important—as all enter upon office together— The principle of ineligibility was established in the Convention and afterwards The number of Sens. and represents—chosen ann[uall]y at an average 37—if not ineligible will be the fairest candidates—will generally ap [poin]t themselves give the president & Senate influence over the Representatives— A great proportion of Congress appointed to office though few in number— inconsistent with reason, that men should have a hand in appointing himself— No provision in the State governmts., no argument—because they are numerous, and few offices of much [substn.?]

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