Log In Register

Source & Citation Info

title:“Richard Harison's Notes of the New York Ratification Debates”
authors:Richard Harison
date written:1788-6-20

permanent link
to this version:
last updated:Jan. 22, 2013, 7:56 a.m. UTC
retrieved:Feb. 20, 2024, 10:27 p.m. UTC

Harison, Richard. "Richard Harison's Notes of the New York Ratification Debates." The Documentary History of the Ratification of the Constitution. Vol. 22. Ed. John P. Kaminski. Madison: Wisconsin Historical Society Press, 2008. 1710. Print.
Richard Harison, Notes, Library of Congress.

Richard Harison's Notes of the New York Ratification Debates (June 20, 1788)

LANSING. Wish of his Constituents to have Amendments shall advocate them—upon general Principles—not upon other Principles Observations as to Office are illiberal and improper—sanctioned by what was asserted by the Ch[ancello]r.—Officers of the State not superior in Discernment, nor inferior in Honesty to those of the neighbouring States—who were in genl. in other States for the Constitution, in this divided—but personal Considerations improper, should only think of the Happiness & Liberty of the People—
* * * * *
SMITH. Chancellor's Observations did not apply—thinks the Union of the utmost Importance—not to sacrifice the Liberties of the People—Should avoid Declamation— why told of the defenceless State of our Country—not going to make War— the present Confederation he admits to be defective—but not obliged to adopt the Constitution Anarchy better than Tyranny— As to federal Govts. the Conclusion defective Holland has in some Measure succeeded tho' its Govt. more defective than the present Confederation the Germanic Govt. not conclusive—despotic Power their Ruin— We should change Names Opinion of Montesquieu as to confederate Republics Perfection not to be found—but this an Argument that we should not change our present Govt.
fickleness of the People not so dangerous as the Tyranny of one Person— Sacred Example— Description of the proposed King— Objections
To Apportionment of Representation & direct Taxes &ca.
1. Apportionment unequal & unjust
2. No precise Number pointed out
3. Inadequate—
1. Slaves ought not to be included—have no Will of their own— Have no Agency in any State Govt.— Matter of Accomodation—& not a turning Poin1
2. Number discretionary for 3 Years 65 the Number—after that may lessen as well as encrease—no Security but in the Integrity of the Representatives
3. People make the Laws in a free State—Spontaniety the Test of Freedom— People cannot exercise their Power in Person—must have Representatives— Representation in Gt. Britain very defective Here it may be fairly tried— Must encrease the Representation & diminish the Powers The Convention had Difficulties—supposed the Govt. extended only to national Powers Objects—but the Case is different—the Sword & Purse extend to every Thing— true Representation must express the Sense and Will of the People— Should be chosen by small Districts— More likely to be corrupt—A different Temper may take Place from what prevailed formerly Spirit of Patriotism already ridiculed— Govt. must rest upon the Confidence of the People— sacred Example in Point—if this Confidence fails Recourse must be had to the Point of the Bayonet— present Constitution would have answered if possessed of public Confidence—Same Observations will extend to the proposed Constitution— present Confederation has been declaimed against— Executions for Debt and Embarassments all charged to the old Govt.— New Govt. cannot have the Confidence of the Govt. [i.e., governed] on Accot. of the Feebleness of the Representation by System— To be guarded against by a firm & numerous Representation—

Resource Metadata