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title:“Melancton Smith's Notes of the New York Ratification Convention Debates”
authors:Melancton Smith
date written:1788-7-14

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last updated:Jan. 22, 2013, 8:01 a.m. UTC
retrieved:May 15, 2021, 11:08 p.m. UTC

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. 2169-74. Print.
Melancton Smith, Notes, New York State Library

Melancton Smith's Notes of the New York Ratification Convention Debates (July 14, 1788)

JOHN JAY. Wishes us to candidly consider— We cannot presume we were sent here to make a Constitution— If we were, every State had the same power, and therefore no Const—could be made—therefore it is presumed, they meant we should determine upon the whole whether best to adopt— have a right to propose amendts to the People of the US. But we cannot propose it to the Agents of the people— we may propose to the people not to their Servants— The Conditions are to be offered to the Servants not to the Masters—Must ask an attorney for his powers— Expect the attorney to do more, than they are authorized to do— They may not [have] a right to agree to forbear with respect to a new State— They might agree to forbear with respect to one of their own members— But cannot admit upon any other terms than signing the Compact— If he saw probability he would agree— Wishes to say neither part is victors— A Man [in] England Two farms, one all wood, one none—he empowers an attorney to sell the wood provides he gives, a right to cut wood—the other proposes,—
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HARISON. Powers lodged by a Constitution a sacred trust No trustee can part with powers lodged, with them, for the public good— The power of taxes and over the militia great powers—said that these powers, may will not be necessary—Suppose a Rebellion and the militia called out—if the chief magistr[at]e would not call out— The principles of the const. should be sacred—the governt. ought not to have a power to abridge—improper to give up— In opinion, that a government cannot, tie its hands—Parliament cannot, abridge its powers, or of its successors— An Act, declaring the County of Suffolk, should not be taxed for ten Years—if a change of circumstances, right they should be taxed— The only evidence we have of the intention is the Act under which they were appointed Some of our Constituents have some way & some another— No weight in the Argument, that it has been adopted on principles of expediency—an evidence, not opposed to fundamental rights— Will not say perfect—but good men will approve—perfection, in some, what not in another— What the use of a Condition—not to say we have adopted it with a Condition—It may be sd. to secure amendts— If the amends. can be as well made without it—unnecessary—If a suff. number of the people, wish them they will be made—If not they cannot be made by the Condition—If no danger that the power will be exercised not important, to make them Conditions—
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HAMILTON. 1st. our powers—agreed that the Constitution, was advisory—suppose the Constitution advice, we must refer to the instrument—it is impossible that the Conven[tio]n or the people shd. have had in view, such alterations—because until they had assented, there was no body to submit amendments to there being no common body to determine— therefore it must of necessity [have] been their view that we shd. alter, as the Legisl. could not [have] known 9 States how to know, whether the Counties would chuse, if we had not expected to agree to reject— It does not follow because a Legisl. may forbear to exercise a power, therefore that they may abdicate— Laws ought to be general, and not to extend to a part— may except against a power, in cases of disstress—but does not apply—a Governmt. The Legislature may to promote the publick good, pledge funds, grant immunities— Congress may submit them to the assent of 2/3—this takes away the right of judging—cannot do this— Or else must wait for 9 States— this a contingency—

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