Copy of a Letter from Poughkeepsie, dated Friday, July 25, 1788.
"On Wednesday the Convention finished the consideration of the amendments, and took up the proposition of adopting the Constitution with three conditions annexed. Mr. Jones moved to insert the words `in full confidence,' instead of the words 'upon condition.' Then Melancton Smith arose, and declared his determination to vote against a condition. He urged that however it might otherwise be presumed, he was consistent in his principles and conduct. He was as thoroughly convinced then as he ever had been, that the Constitution was radically defective, amendments to it had always been the object of his pursuit, and until Virginia came in, he had reason to believe they might have been obtained previous to the operation of the Government. He was now satisfied they could not, and it was equally the dictate of reason and of duty to quit his first ground, and advance so far as that they might be received into the Union. He should hereafter pursue his important and favourite object of amendments with equal zeal as before, but in a practicable way which was only in the mode prescribed by the Constitution. On the first suggestion of the plan then under consideration, he thought it might have answered the purpose; but from the reasonings of gentlemen in opposition to it, and whose opinions alone would deservedly have vast weight in the national councils as well as from the sentiments of persons abroad, he was now persuaded the proposition would not be received, however doubtful it might appear, considered merely as an abstract and speculative question. The thing must now be abandoned as fallacious, for if persisted in, it would certainly prove in the event, only a dreadful deception to those who were serious for joining the Union. He then placed in a striking and affecting light, the situation of this State in case we should not be received by Congress, convulsions in the northern part, factions and discord in the rest. The strength of his own party who were seriously anxious for amending the Government would be dissipated, their Union lost, their object probably defeated, and they would, to use the simple figurative language of Scripture, be dispersed like sheep on a mountain. He therefore concluded that it was no more than a proper discharge of his public duty as well as the most advisable way of obtaining the great end of his opposition to vote against any proposition which would not be received as a ratification of the Constitution.
"He was followed by G. Livingston, who spoke something to the same effect. Judge Platt rose, and only observed, that what he should do would be the dictate of his conscience, and that he should always obey firmly the determination of his judgment.
For Jones's amendment, for striking out the condition to the adoption. 9 Members from New-York. 2 Kings-County. 2 Richmond 6 West-Chester 4 Queens Havens J. Smith 4 Suffolk Scudder Platt M. Smith G. Livingston 4 Dutchess De Witt Williams Washington. ________ Total 31. Against Mr. Jones's Amendment, &c. 6 Members from Ulster-County. 4 Orange 3 Cumberland 6 Montgomery Swartwout Akin 3 Dutchess R. Yates J. Lansing, jun. Ten Eyck 3 Albany Thompson Hopkins Parker 3 West-Chester Baker [i.e., Washington] Tredwell Suffolk ________ Total 29.
"I have been rather particular in stating the business of Wednesday to you, because I think it is of a decisive nature; and I was so well pleased with Smith's speech, that I have given you the substance of it with fidelity, and nearly as I could in his own language. . . ."