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title:“Theodore Foster's Minutes of the Rhode Island Ratification Convention”
authors:Theodore Foster
date written:1790-3-1

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Theodore Foster's Minutes of the Rhode Island Ratification Convention (March 1, 1790)

Monday March 1st. 1790–Page 1.
The Convention met at the State House in the County of Washington at 3 oClock in the Afternoon.
R. I. Hist. Society from Charles F. Tillinghast.
Tuesday Morning–The House assembled and called–
Mr. Marchant from the Committee appointd to (blot) Rules made Report–The Sixth Rule objected to by Job Comstock as not being sufficiently explicit–Supported in the objection by Mr. Jonathan Hazzard.
Mr. Champlin says he does not consider that there is not any material Difference in the Report and the amendment proposed–explains the Nature of the known "Previous Question"–says the Gentleman is alarmed without Cause.
John Sayles will observe our Meeting–
It is considered by both these worthy Members that the Request and the Amendment –– He does not think so.
He thot the Amendment is mot Wise and is for adopting it–
Mr. Bourne Says that the Report is –– because it allows the Whole Business to be taken up at large–That the Amendmt will confine the House to the Two particular Questions mentioned in the Amendt.
J. Hazzard did not intend to say anything in the Matter–that the Gentlemen –– the same thing–That he does not suppose the Gentlemen advocating the Report will depart from what they profess.
B. Bourne calls for Reading the Amendt. proposed by J. Compton–consider what he had said.
And. Waterman There has been too much said about the Previous Question. That if a Motion is made to Postpone or adopt there will be no previous Question.
J. Hazzard explains the Motion of the Previous Question–
And. Waterman mentions the famous –– on the Proceedings at the Last Session.
B. Bourne says we have a Report to adopt the Rules of the House.
J. Comstock: is not down–nor Started–not afraid–We make Rules that no advantages may be taken–Moves for Vote–
Elisha Brown moves that the Amendmt. be added–That the Presit. have a Right to determine.
Mr. Marcht. says Mr. Comstoct has observed that from the Expressive adopting the Rule of the Lower will preclude what was intended to be remeded.
Has known as many as 8 or 10 Previous Questions put in Congress for maturing and Ripening the Business–The Report is agreeable to parliamentary Proceedings.
Andrew Waterman J. Hazzard–He has known that in Congress there was a Question in Congress Act of Congress should be.
Hath. Congdon–What need of all this Contention if talk means the same thing–Let us adopt the Aments.
Report and Amendment both Read–
Geo. Hazzard–We may lead ourselves into an Error–That the Report is more extensive than the Amendt.–That the Ament. is confusing the the Business to Two Motions–Why should we –– ourselves–is sorry to see publick Acts made for particular purposes–are sure the Lord may take the Sun Shine on all–can see no Reason for making an Act Confusing ourselves.
J. Comstock says he made the Draft of this Rule before Mr. Marchant inserted any thing respecting it–moves the Word Especially be inserted for the Room of ––.
Gen. Stanish–we cannot be too explicit–proposed at the End of the Work there should be a Question whether there should be a Question Adopt or adjoin–Can the President then dispense of putting the Question–
President explains how he understands the Report.–
And then on.
Pardon Mouney moves again for an adopting of the Amendt.
Presid. about to put the Vote when Mr. Sheldon moved to know what Rules of the Lower House are on Amendt.
Mr. Marcht.–explains–Votes etc etc To be Sheldon meant that the sense of this Report representing the Rules and orders of the Lower House be stricken out–agreed to by the House–Struck out.
The Rules read again–
J. Comstock still means that his Ament. be added–Says That motives the BLaw his Rule May bend it like a Leaden Foot–That Disputes may be unwise–To avoid them adopt.
Pardon Mawney Seconds him–
Conversation–Elisha Brown etc.
J. Comstock. Is not so apt to see Signts or to Suggest a Lyon in this Way–But there has been so much said he is Still further induced to wish the Amendts. may be adopted–
J. Hazzard Gives the History of the Dispute between Mr. Marcht. and Mr. Comstock–all times of their having been on the Committee–concludes that both mean the same thing–
Mr. Comstock makes an Amendt.
B. Bourne again objects to the Amendt.
Govr. Bradford. Suppose J. Comstock moves immediately on the Rules being adopted, that We adjourn and Gov. Bradford moves that We adopt–even the Question can be put–President says he should not be at Liberty to give the Vote for the Adoption.
J. Comstock. Fair Play is a Jewel–He wants no Advantage Mr. Marcht. Will one man explain the Nature of the Invoice Question. The Gent. understands the Provision Question for the Main Question–Goes on longer into the Nature of it be illustration etc.
J. Comstock, is not fond of being afraid–but they will force him to be afraid–He is more Zealous than ever for adopting the Amendment.
M. Champlin–Enquires whether the Adoption of the Amendment will not preclude those who wish the Main Question to be put–
President says, If there are any Rules & orders Mr. Comstock has said enough.
Comstock however goes on to enlarge. He wants not to trick any body. Wishes to act agreeable to the Wishes of the People. The Voice of the People is the Voice of God–that was the best Constitution–it would be a bad one if disagreeable to the Minds of the People, and he will not agree to it till the Minds of the People are reconciled to it.
Genl. Stanton. Thanks the President for having the Patience to hear Mr. Comstock.
Mr. Bourne Says. That if a Motion is made and Seconded it is inconsistent with Rule that any Previous Question should be made.
Jona. Hazzd. answers Bourne.
Not. Twelve Majority for the Adoption.
Mr. John Williams moves that the Vote be now finished.
John Sayles says he has a Motion in writing.
Col. Barton moves that Monitors be appointed–objected to by Gov. Bradford–Barton say Monitors appointed in Masachussets. Motion agreed to.
Monitors–Mr. Bates, Col. Barton.
Mr. Sayles. Moves That a Committee be appointed to draw up a Bill of Right and Amendts. and that this Convention be adjourned–to a future day.
B. Bourne moves for the Primary Question that the first Constitution be first Read.
Instruction from Portsmouth delivered to the Prest. by Mr. Elam read–by Mr. Channing.
Adjourned till afternoon.
Wednesday Morng. March 3d. In Convention.
Mr. Marchant. Gives a History of the Difficulties attending the Mode of Apperance & once in Congress Has deferred on the Difficulties of an Actual Enconvenience.
Says it would opperate against us to have this mode altered. That he has Fear on the Subject. That he will Submit to the Determination of the Majority. Says that Mr. Hazzard has been so bonded as to acknowledge that as the Numbers increase to the Westward the Taxes will lessen here. That there is no instance of the Word of a Country like this. That the Wealth of a Country will not increase in Proportion to the Numbers.
That therefore as we shall not increase in Numbers Equal with the other States it will be advantageous to us to agree to the proper Mode–We find by Experience that no System of Government can be at once established.
None of the New England States have proposed an Amendment in this Respect.
Jos. Stanton. Says the Reason why no State has objected to this Mode of –– by Numbers was because they were represented in the Convention and made the best Bargain they could. That 20 Planters in the Southern States are worth 30 of them.
Genl. Miller Says that there is no weight in the Gentlemans Motion–That he will grant that 20 Planters have more Property than 300 of our Farmers–This is no Time now to object to the Constitution we are now to take.
Col Barton. We have met on a very interesting Piece of Business as much so as any even we have the Matter–agreed to hear the Constitution Designed of ––. He is open to Conviction if it appears Detrimental he will be against the–the Section before us the Power of Direct Taxes–asks If the State of Rhode Island was ordered to raise 20,000 Dollars?
Mr. Marchant Answers him–Not.
Barton says if there is not.
George Hazzard says enough has been said on this Head–But we have always found it Difficult to make the Estimate and opportion Taxes agreeable thereto in this State. In –– this business the best way–our own Experience has shewn that it is impossible to obtain a Just Estimate–Could not obtain a Just one. It Has been made clearly to appear that on the Promise of Numbers we Shall be advantaged of an Adoption–we shall gain in a future day. Mr. Jon. Hazzard observed that this Clause is the most material part of the Constitution–which it had objection–Shall we Risque putting our Country into Different Situation.
Risque putting our Country into Different Situation.
We know our country is over loaded with Debt–It Draws his Attention–This Debt of 54 Million of Dollars is like a blow cast upon us–it eats like a Canker Worm Night & day–Mr. Wm. Congdon objects to Mr. Hazzard going on–He goes on to observe that the Landed Interest ought to agree to this Measure. The Farmers objected to this 5 per Cent Act.
He heard a Merchant say before he would go through a Revolution before he would agree to the 5 per Cent.
Mr. Congdon says it has been observed that the apportionment of Taxes in the States has been by Estimate–That if Taxes were to be paid on Jamestown & Portsmouth by Number how unequal would it be–
Mr. Marchant answers him that the Quota will be assessed by Numbers but evils will be Distant.
Gen. Miller says we stand with the United States as Jamestown is to this State. The mode of Estimate is therefore most advantageous to us?
Gen. Stanton? Says we ought to be happy that Gen. Miller has given us this Arguet.
Mr. Bourne. Says that the other New England States have not objected to this mode–New Salem on the occasion is a strong Argument in favor of this Mode for us.
Says the Reason assigned in North Carolina against this Clause was because they supposed it was in Favour of the England States.
Elisha Brown–says we have been at great Expense to have an Estimate taken in our State–Why should this Expense Says they en Col. Champlin. Answers that he was a Member on the Committee of apportioning the Taxes–That the Estimates were not original–That no Tax has been assessed by it–no Regard now to the Estimate–There cannot be a Just Estimate Taken.
Mr. Marchant proposes that no vote should be taken.
The President rises and agrees too it mentions Col. Taylor's Motion. But it is given way that Col. Sayler Motion be postponed to give opportunity for Discussion.
Elisha Brown says his Town was Honest. He gave Just account of his Money.
Conversation Disputting. Stanton says the Flying Committee for taking the Estimate was like Jack with a Lanttern.
Jona. Hazzard says the Estimate of 5 was a Just one–it was taken when the Enemy were on Rhode Island–That the Flying committee were appointed to Rectify Mistakes.
President proposes to get rid of this Section–by proceding.
J. Sheldon inquires whether an Amendment is to be proposed on this subject. He has been attentive to the observations. The principal objections he had heard is the difficulty of obtaining a Just Estimate. He does not think this a sufficient object–suppose Taxes were assessed in the State by Number–would it be so good as the Mode now proposed. Says that Mr. Marchant observed that the Inhabitants of the Land of Canaan.
Gen. Miller. Why need we quarrel with our own Bread & Keep.
Sheldon Replies–Is this the way that we are going to establish a Government for the United States by taking an Advantage.
Mr. Bourne says that Mr. Sheldon ought to show that then his Mode is best. Read an objection made in the South.
Gov. Bradford. Is pleased that so much Candour has been shown. That he is brought Up by some observations made by some of the Gentlemen tho we ought not to see the other Parts of the Union–That he is clearly of opinion that the Mode objected to is the best for us. Our Wealth will encrease and be greater in Proportion than their Numbers. We were one great Seaport–our Navigation encreasing–Why should we be concerned respecting the other States if they are contentd–Should be glad that Mr. Sheldon could point out a Mode of obtaining a Just Estimate. Can he find a Committee to go through the Cont. If it is to be done by the States can it be depended on. No plan so well fixed as that for Commerce. We have objections to the Constitution–But it best for us to adopt it.
He does not know whether it will appear perfectly right in the Eyes of him who see things–all things. There are indeed Men in the City of London on which Men runs whole Towns in the Kingdom.
Sheldon answers. That Gov. Brandford has mentioned if we advert to the Kingdom of England–we shall find no Instance there of taxes assessed by Numbers–and no Instances in the United States. There is great difference in the States. The Southern States Gov. Bradford–Says–That he acknowledges that it will not do to tax individuals by Numbers–But in opportioning taxes to Countries it is the best way–it will not do to tax an Inhabitant.
Jona. Hazzard. Proposes that the Mode of opportioning the Taxes should be by their Exports.
Gov. Bradford Answers him that the Imports of Provisions must be also considered.
Jona. Hazzard mentions Virginia
–He is glad no Virginiaman is present.
New Section of the First Article read–no objection.
4th Section read. John Sayles says that this Section is very exceptionable–It has been objected to by the States which have Ratified the Constitution. Congress now ought to have the Power of altering the Mode of Election. It ought to be Reserved to the People.
Mr. Marchant says the Gentleman has mistaken the Point–The Time Place & Manner–not the Qualification–Not a Word said about the Qualifications otherwise than that they shall be the sum as for choosing Representatives in their own State–
Jo. Hazzard–Says That every Part of the Electrat is at the Disposal Mr. Bourne–says this is the most exceptional part of the Constitution. No Amendments have yet been proposed which is likely to take Place–Proposes that the Congress should not interfere unless the Legislature right to make Provision seems to be agreed to by the House.
Col. Barton. Vindicates this Clause of the Constitution–Says the Mercenary Influence is always given–puts the Case of an Election ordered in Newport–The people may now apply to Congress for Redress.
Agreed to go on
5th Section.
J. Sheldon. Says that it ought to be more explicit than the Word from Time to Time–are indefinite–It may be from 50 Years to 50 Years.
Joh. Hazzard. Says there is no Danger–The Congress have published & will be published–Lie in most no objections but since one are necessary. The Congress are responsible to the Tenants and Assemblies.
Agreed to be referred to the Committee.
Section 6th.
Jona. Hazzard object–proposes that a person should be appointed from Each State to determine what shall be allowed–proposed to be reffered to the Committee.
7th Section. Jos. Stanton objects to the Power of the President to reject a Bill–says that he has the Power of one Third of Congress. That it would be Sufficient for the President to refer it back and of both Houses of Congress and if they adhere that the Law should be pass.
Mr. Marchant. says the Gentlemen or Reptvs. will be sent–the Instant Constitution admired by the World–States the Esteem of the –– in Govt. and the –– ringing–The British House of Commons may be connected. States the "Process of an Act through Congress and the Advantages which will arise to the People. This the most beutiful Part of the Constitution–we ought to be careful how we destroy it.
Gen. Miller says it is well as it is–There are Two Interests in the Government–Northern & Southern Interests. The President to head the Baton. Therefore let Two Branches of Congress determine.
Mr. Bourne. When it is Considered (blot) President is elected by the People (blot) Vote has objection in Writing–He is responsible to them. Mention that Massachusetts has a (blot).
Gov. Bradford. Confirms what Genl. Miller had observed–hopes Genl. Stanton will give up his objectn.
Gen. Stanton says there is a Despotist in all the Race of Adam to assume Power. It may be obsd.–is sorry we so often Refer to the British Govent. The present President is a Republican & the Gentleman wh. mentd. it is a Republican.
Mr. Marchant explain–further the Advantages that Negatives may reep from Business when to suddenly passed.
Referred to the Committee to be appointed to draft Amendments.
8th Section of the Constitution read–and now under Consideration–no objection made and Govr. Bowen moving to proceed–the 9th Section is therefore read–
Gen. Stanton. Says that the 9th Section tends to encourage the African Trade. That there is discussion of it–and want.
B. Bowen. Says it is Singular that a Gent. who had advocated that no powers of Congress. Sign to have been given more than ever allowed by the old Con–that the old Congress had no Power to interfer by this Constitution the Congress may abolish the Trade in 20 Years John Comstock–Mr. Bourne has misread the Matter–he does not find that the Congress can in 20 Years–not read in Act to be–The allowing 20 Years Inspection will extend to the End of this Generation. The First Congress would not allow their Vessels to be used in the Trade. The Trade inequities–Rightousness exist–a Nation But Inequities is a Reproval to any People.
Jon. Hazzard. Wishes to propose Amendts. in which we may be extemptd. The Southern States must answer for themselves. They must Conduct their own Legislation as they please–They can negotiate their Trade as they please–We are not interested in Fraud nor answerable in an ––They must answer for our Enemies–The southern States will Seperate from us before they will agree to the Alternatives proposed–They will say that the do not interfer with our internal Legislation why should we with theirs–The Constitution does not prevent any of the States from suppressing the Trade–to move for the Aments. will be to abridge the Sovereignty of the States.
Mr. Comstock–according to Gentlemen.
Barton. He will permit his Neighbor to speak & mind his Neighbor. We give up Measures indifferent–why should we not insist on the Southern States giving up an iniquitous Measure. We are commendable for the Laws we have made. We ought to address Congress on the Subject–to bear Testimony against. Shall the same Community of which are a part Join in Abomints.
Mr. Champlin agrees with J. Hazzard. The Convention of Philadelphia were dismissed to suppress Many. They found great Difficulties. Did what they could–could agree on no other Measure. At the End of 20 Years they can–If we move for an Amendt. in this Head it will lessen our Influence on the Account of other Aments. This Constitution has new Influence on the people of the State. Mentions the Laws we passed. They are sufficient–if any have now tender feelings–
Col. Barton. I think this a Motion of very great Consequence on all on bord of our Ship–The Ship of Liberty–to enjoy it ourselves but that it may spread through the world–he concludes it is the wish of every person composing their bowman & inadequate to the people–Sometimes upon improper Words–Sometimes Mistakes–homes not run–I beg thereby to call the Attention to the Press–of 6–77–They was very surprised of the Situation this Country we was in–What wd. they do they that no Vessel should be used. Sorry I am that any should oppress &countenance this Trade–wishes all men may be free–can any one Justify the slaves to –– no one can–Mr. J. Hazzard says the Seaports must kept with them & Mr. Sheldon says not if we come into the Congress–we let us therefore show our Disapprobation of the Trade.
Jona. Haz. Took Long to rise again. I am Sure it is not for the Interest of this State to ask for Amendts. The Gentlemen who have spoken have acted on ––. I must Rely on it, the Motion is contrary to Advantages we now have. It will be Stabbing to the Interest of the S. States. Do they not mean to pay the Quota of the Debts acquired with them–begs the Gentlemen to tie the South. States at fee–why should we offer what we can never obtain. Impolitic to offer fee too much–we may obtain something but not all.–There is another objection–a number of Gentlemen in the State have attempted to seem influencing the Whites. That is turning the world upside down. Let the southern States alone–He is a Land Holder–We cannot injure one order of Men without injuring all.
Mr. Geo. Hazd. This General Law–why should we bring a particular Motion into Consideration–Laws have been made in this State against the Slave Trade. When the Committee. came to consider the Motion as General Principls they considered that a Part of the Community even Immature. We will give –– to this Part of the Community that they must Submit in Time to ––
cannot an amendt. Law for adoption of all stand–we have in part undertaken it. Was all to be dealt with or they chosen who could be justified? It has been in the Trade nor is no count of it Working. But it has been so much expected he will no further prosper–Man is but Man–His Goodness are offended by his Interest–& over a Man when he will be offended–as the Evil Spirit and of Job–may be aplied to the Possession of Slaves. As Congress has considered it the Light as they have done–as such Reasonable Measures have been proposed let us make the best of it–let us improve–mentions the Meaures we have adopted–Let us go on–If we totally ablish Slavery it will Ruin many persons–we have read of Persons of old who made great earning but were not altogether blameless–Time and Season for all Things–we may go to fast–will not be possible to effect the Motion of Slavery opposites–after all the Restrictions.
Gen. Stanton Concurrd but observed what a Beautiful Introduction the Constitution commences with. Read it. Why should not this Liberty be extended to the Africans. Sorry it has been urged that it greatly affect the Southern States–it has been a capital object with them.
Gen. Miller–Says that he has the Word of God in his House. It does not prohibit Slavery. Why should we make Laws for the Africans for the French for the Dutch–in this. For some it will increase the Number of Inhabitants. If we may never seem Innocuous. This Gentlm. may make a Law that he should look like him which god forbid. Paul was willing to pray for the Satan of his South.
Gen. Stanton said Paul treated him as a Brother–if General Miller will treat his Africans as his Brethren he will be contented.
Mr. Marcht. Another Time mispent–if the Gentleman from Grenwich wd. advert to the Less Clause or the 4th & 9th Clauses. Does the Gentleman suppose that we can obtain an Amendt. which if obtained would dissolve that compact. Stands at all Times an Advocate for Liberty public & Private. Respects the Gentlemen who have advocated the Abolition of Slavery–we have a Right to increase the Abolition if we can do it without infringing the Laws of particular States. The old Congress made an agreement which they personally bound to–but it was only recommendatory–the old Congress had no power to make Law. The Convention giving wise and landed did all that could be done. Wishes to see as much candour in those who have land now to fear determination in this Constitution–mentions the Complying Despotism of Southern Members. The Slaves in South Carolina equal to Half their real Estate. This Property was land when it were not Suppress not lawful ours in his State. They acquired a Right which –– thus supposed to be Equal to that to their Real Estate. President calls to order. That the pt. is only whether the Imports from Africa shall be stopped–begs he will confine himself to the Impartial–not all been done that could be done. We had Right to insist on any such Regutions. Number were discovered when the Constitution first was found–but we now Reconciled to it–why that here is a Different that there shall be gradual Abolition. That in 20 Years it will turn to hate. Nothing further can be gain'd on account of the Provisional Clauses so far mentioned. Why should we propose Amendments which will dissolve the Southern States which cannot accomplish our purpose.
J. Comstock says–He will treat the Subject coolly. Mr. Marcht. were warm–hope to see the Time when will mention his Sentiment. Mr. Marcht. says that the 5th Article is part of the Constitution and unalterable. He does not think so. Every Part of the Constitution may be alter'd as our not going to take Arms or to see the Virginia Slaves free. The object used is only to Show our disappointm. of the Length of Time allowed by Congress for the Importion. It is a Bargain we are about to make. We make –– the Dropped if we see fit. Have we not some show of Character. Are we not interested. The abolition Society imbarked in a Good Cause–will not be lengthy–Submit.
Elisha Brown is sorry to hear Mr. Bourne. It is well known that the Virginia States have made Laws against the Trade. The Southern States have not–by that Means our Citizens got a very fine Vessel–and pay Defy it–at the Register's how can any be made–hopes that this House will not preclude the Committee from Repealing on it. Massachusetts have made Law.
Col. Barton says Mr. Hazzd. were right to have the Motion passed over–has yet heard no Report on the Real Right or Means of it. The Presidt. Against. That it cannot determine it because the southern States are so much Interest–will be thus led of his Ground. We will increase & begin–is very sorry to hear Genl. Miller express himself as he Did–that quoted some Scripture–He did not distinctly hear all–But he seemed to Justify from the Scriptures–He has Read some Scriptures. There was many among the Jews a Year of Justice when Moses who was beneath him to be called on and he found it not. The New Testament directs what we do to all we would have done to us–Will the Gentleman be willing that his tender Gr and Children should be taken and bound even as he suffers. He trusts the Committee will report in favor of it.
Genl. Miller. If the Gentleman will read –– that the Children of the brother and the Stranger in my house than for servants to fear.
Gen. Hazzard says we ought to be modest and cool in offering our Argumt. That the right of the Trade has not been gone into. We should Consider which pay would be willing by the General Governt. we but will mean our being. And shall we propose a Measure to injure the Union. Hopes no Gentlemen will blame them who are against the Amendt. Let us not use untempered Motion. He has an open Heart and Good will to all, if it is the opinion of the Committee he will be Perfectly Resigned–it is Right for all freely to see.
Gen. Bradford says Time enough has been. The Argumt. can be of no benefit–it is not before us whether Slavery were allowed in the Day of The Committee was composed of a Number of Gentlemen who had Slaves. They have expressly found that that plan be no altered Until the year 1788. We cannot offer any alteration. That the Gentlemen may display their Abilities to ingratiate themselves with a particular ––.
Jon. Hazzard. Speakes not to destroy his Treaty–The reason he gave before was: we wish for Amendments necessary to us. I would not move for Amendmt. we are sure we cannot succeed in. The Instant case now as it are –– In Accts. of the southern Members–and should immediately have 29 Members against us.
Elisha Brown moved to adjoin.
10th Section read.
Col. Barker says we are not to investigate a Motion fully that we have passed over. Says he has no objection to the Poll Tax. He always considered it generous. There are People in the seaports who have not a part of Land and will pay more than many large Freemen. That he cannot consent that Congress shall have the Power of Population Tax. The Congress men of Fortune do not feel for the Common People. Genl. Stanton Seconds Col. Barton's. Mr. Marchant says there is no Poll Tax allowed.
Govr. Bradford. Reads the Clause referred to by Col. Barton, says it is only to shew in which Names the Apportionmt. shall be made.
Jona. Hazzard of the same opinion.
Stanton says it implies there may be such a Tax.
Gen. Miller. The Clause was inserted for great Caution no Doubt at the Instigation of some of the New England States–and not improper that a Poll Tax is not to be allowed.
Mr. Marcht. says as Congress do not mean to intermeddle with the Internal Legislation of the State–they have provided that no Exception–it will not appear well to make such an Amendmt.
Gen. Miller says in the first Clause it is said that Taxation and Representation should go together–That when the Commite. come to that Part of the Constitution–they recommended that should a land unless.
Col. Barton–Says the Congress have recommended Right to Carry a Capitation Tax–It is grievous in –– of Grat Briton–every man pays a Tax for every Drink of Grog.
Genl. Stanton. This is one of the objectionable Parts of the Constitution–proposes to have it explained–and is for having the Motion fully explained–and the Congress prohibited from making a Poll Tax.
B. Bourne–The Congress have the Right by Virtue of the preceding Clause to levy this Tax. The Gentleman ought to have inserted it in the proper place.
Monday Morning 4th Mar.–Judge Steene moves that a Committee may be appointed to draft Amendt.
John Wms. It will not be proper to appoint the Commt.–The Commt. will hear what the House moves to say–can gain Informt. by it.
B. Bourne–The Committee will be glad to hear the Debates of the House–it will not be Saving Time. The Comm. will Deem admitting any to hear the Debates.
Stanton desires to support the Motion of Judge Steene–The Comm. can meet at the Intervals of the Meetings–and in the Evening.
B. Bourne–it will not save time.
Elish. Brown–Says if We can get through before noon it will be well to appoint.
Mr. Mathew Jun.–Thinks we had better appoint now–the Committee can hear what is said.
Geo. Hazzard moves that we proceed–says the Gentlemen are Respecte. Men–That we have begun the Business regularly–it will Mr. Congdon–Says if get through the Constitution & the Governor–moves to appoint the C.
Govr. Bradfd. Esq–immaterial whether whether the Committee be appointed now–or before.
Steres–will agree that they be appointed any Time–that Proceed–proper will is wanted.
B. Bourne–says we have Papers transmitted by the Secretary. The Ratification of the States etc. which have not been read.
Sayles gives up the Motion for the Present arguing that they be appointed this Forenoon.
Last Section Read–no objection.
Second Article read–no objection.
Second Section read–no objection.
Third Section read–Section 4th Read.
Article 3d, 1st Section read–Second Section Read and so on to the End of.
Col. Barton–Says we are going altogether going one Side. This Clause Article 5th ought to be rewritten in Letters of Gold. We ought to observe the Excellencies of the Constitution. There are Free Opportunities provided Amendts. provided by the States enlarging.
Gen. Miller calls the Gentn. to order–we are to point out the Bad things–The Matter to be taken up at length.
President says He does not know–
Jona. Hazzard says He is glad that the Gent. has called his Attention to this Article–notwithstanding he praises it–Hazzd. objects. We want a Constitution not to be altered. The Rich and powerful States will be uneasy till they alter it for their Benefit. That so far from thinking the Clause aught to have been rewritten in Letters of Gold–he is sorry it was ever written in Letters with Ink and is sorry that it has appeared in a part of the Constitution.
Genl. Stanton Supported Barton But objects to the Last Clause of the Article.
B. Bourne. Says the Last Clause is the Great Bulwark of the Privileges of this State which cannot be altered without our Consent–enumerates the Advantages we have by Reason of the Senate.–enlarges on the Benefits of Amendts. and agrees with Mr. Barton in Sentiment. Wrongs not greater in order to point out the Beauties that his Genious and Abilities may be excused in Pointing out the earlier when it is taken up as Law.
Genl. Stanton says Mr. Bourne is not conted. He did not object to the Last Article–but only to a Clause towards the Latter part of the Clause.
The Remainder read–
Mr. Marchant moves that the Amends. recommended by Congress be read–They are read accordingly–
Mr. Sheldon. Thinks that every State ought to precluded from making any Law reserving Religion or abridging the Rights of Groups.
Colo. Marcht. Says it will be dangerous to attempt such a Measure–every State will–
Sheldon. If it is right that Congress should not make any Laws respecting it no States ought to have the Right.
B. Bourne. Says there is no danger of an Establishd. of any Mode of Religion whether we would not appoint a Chaplin.
The persecution in the other States of our nation was an Advantage to this State–and should they persecute them it will be a Means of Accession to the State.
M. Marcht. answers all Men would agree now to establish any Religion–enough for us to keep it out of the Gen. Govt.
B. Bourne. Provision made by Congs. That no Establisht. shall not be made to if any of the States determ. Measure unduly. No Danger–from the right Quarter and the present General Sentiment of the World on this Subject–
–all the Amendmts. Read–
B. Bourne. Those Amendt. need not to go to the Committee but only to Shew them what has been done already towards amending the Constitution. Enquiry what states have agreed to these Amendts.
G. Sheldon. It was his Opinion that the Constitution and the Amendt. woud be referrd to the Committee–and that he supposed the Committee would incorporate them with their Report.
Marchant. It will be best that the Committee report in the Manner proposed by Mr. Sheldon as it will be a Constitution Ratification by the People themselves–who are in this Business Superior to the Legislature.
B. Bourne says that it belongs to the Legislature–by Reason of Congress having provided –– to Ratify them–therefore improper for us to refer the Amendments proposed by Congress.
J. Hazzard moves that the Amendment of New York be read Seconded by James Sheldon–They are read–
President observes that all the Papers called for have been Read–Genl. Stanton moves that the Amendt. proposed by North Carolina be read–Enquired for. Mr. Sheldon says he has them in a Newspaper–They are read from the United States Chronicle of Jan. 14.
Mr. Marchant moves that the Amendments proposed by Massachusetts be read for the Information of the Committee–and that as the Congress have already provided for some of the Amendments–They are read from the Pamphlet containing the Proceding–
R. Sayles. Moves that the Amendments proposed by Virginia be read–They are read from the Copy sent to the Secretary.
Gov. Bradford Says the Gentlemen have had an opportunity of Reading the Amendt. in the Papers and others and much Time has been taken–moves that the Committee be appointed–agreed to on all sides that Two from Each County be–
Newport: Ray Sands nominated and Mr. Marchant nominated.
Moved by Mr. Thompkin that the Committee be appointed from those who are opposed to the Constitution.
Mr. Marcht. desires that those may be appointed who are most agreeable to this House–and who will give Satisfaction abroad.
Ray Sands nominated by Mr. Abraham Barker and nominated Mr. Berry Anthony–
Newport–Ray Sands Joshua Barker Bristol–Genl. Miller nominated but declines says he should. Kent Providence–Judge Steen John Sayles Thomas Allen. Genl. Arnold Washington–Jon. Hazzard James Sheldon Saml. Pearce. Pardon Mawry Committee voted in–
Govr. Bradford recommended that the Committee proceed as soon as may be–
Moved That the House adjoin to 3 oClock P. M.–adjoyn.
Friday After noon 3. oClock–March 6th 1790–
This Forenoon the House met at 7 oClock Since the Committee appointed to draft Amendments not having been able to agree upon a Report–the Convention therefore adjoined to this Time–and the House being now formed and having waited Sometime sent to the Committee to know if they shall soon report–They send Word by Mr. Douglass the Warden that they will report in 15 Minutes. They come into the House accordingly.
And the Business now begins–a Time of Expectation and the House very much crowded–Generals Colonels Delegates etc being obliged to Stand–The House now calling–Then Life Passes and carries along the Test of Time to Land us in Eternity if not in sequence will then be all this Parade.
The Secretary reads the Report of the Committee.
The Bill of Rights read.
Mr. Marchant moves that the Bill of Rights be discussed &considered.
The Amendments read.
Mr. Marchant moves that Two Articles excepted against be read–They are read–
Govr. Bourn Called for Information whether it was the Recommendation of the Committee that the Bill of Rights.
Marcht. moves on Alteration of the 11th. Article. That instead of the Words Common Law of England reported–it be altered to read as follows and hath been exercised by us and our generation from the Time whereof the memory of Man not to the Contrary.
Job Comstock says this Business of high Importance has taken this Committee sometime to prepare the Bill of Rights–and moves that before the Bill of Rights be discussed–Moves that the Bill of Rights and Amendment be Referred to the People of Large to have their Opinion and Sentiments thereon.
Mr. Marcht.–Shews that the Gentl. is out of order refers to the Vote of Mr. Sayles–that he is very appn.
Jona. Hazzard says that When the Amendt. are made to the Bill of Rights.
Gov. Bourne Seconds the Motion of Mr. Marcht. that the Bill of Rights be proceeded on and finished before the Consideration of the Amendments.
Voted that the Amendt. proposed by Mr. Marchant be agreed to and the Report altered accordingly.
Mr. Marchant moves that the Bill of Rights be again read Paragraphly.
They are all agreed.
Mr. Marchant observes that the Bill of Rights being agreed to it appears agreeable to our Minds. That it contains our Professed Sentiments and is agreed to the Constitution of the United–that We ought to make the Bill of Right as perfect as possible. No? We now have Vote whether we approve of this Bill of Rights.
Mr. Waterman–Second the Motion of Mr. Comstock–Comstock says that which is his Moving that no–
Elisha–Clear in opinion that mistakable we have gone through the Amendments. That both have the same Fate. That both go to the People together to be considered by this Bill.
Genl. Miller–The Bill of Rights and the Amendt. are distinct But the People have sent us here to do a particular Business. This Outcome of is our Business–for have we such a Right to decide on this Bill–and Seconds the Motion of Mr. Marchant.
Jn. Harris–Well enough to take the opening–the House whether they approve of the Bill of Rights. But thinks it well that the Bill of Rights be referred to the People because they may propose other additional Articles.
Marcht.–It will have an odd appearance to send out this Bill of Rights to the People without it being recommended. He wishes to act with success and to take no Advantage.
Comstock–Common for the Assembly to Refer Acts to the People before they then Pass into Laws for their Consent.
J. Hazzd. Says the Vote of Approbation will not be conclusive–on the Vote upon the Amendts. It is best to Let the People know that it is.
Comstock–We ought to Refer the Bill.
President asks how the Bill of Rights is to be sent to the People.
Tompkin–Begs liberty to have an Opportunity rise in his Seat to express his Sentiment of the Bill. How will Mr. Comstock appear when he goes home and the People ask him how he takes the Bill of Rights and he shall say the move not Considrd.
J. Hazzard–says that there is a difference in sending out the Bill with a vote of Approbation and without one.
Champlin–agrees with Genl. Stanton that the Vote on the Bill be postponed till after the Consideration of the Amendments.
1st Amendt. read & agreed to.
Second Article Read. Mr. Bourne move that the First Article of the Amendt. proposed by the Congress be read. Gov. Bourn calls on the Committee for Information from their Sentiments.
Marcht. says If we reckon 3/5th of all the Blacks in the Southern States in proportioning the Taxes and will not allow a Representative accordingly it will have an unfavourable appearance–wishes the Gentl. to expl.
J. Hazzard. We are not so fond of the Mode of Representation as pointed out by the Constitution. We think that the Taxes ought be proportioned to the States according to the estimated Vote as will appear by a Subsie.
3d. Article read and agreed to.
4th. Article read.
Bourne calls for reading again the 3d. Article which is done.
5th. Article read–
Genl. Miller calls for a Second Reading of it–
J. Hazzard says the Reason why this Amendt. is proposed is because there is a vast Extent of Territory–more than all the Eastern States which when they come to be settled will create a Number of States.
Gen. Miller–Would not ask for a thing which would probably obtain–It will take tax the New England States.
March. has no objection but this–When we propose Amendts. merely local it creates Jealousy–the Amendt, respecting the Blacks of this Kind, The Southern States think it of great Consequence to them that the Innovations be made in the Policy respecting their States–having been primary had to obtain a Representativ. of this. Rather not to hold up any thing which give ground of uneasiness–agrd. recommend we do not pass as an Amendt.
Haz.–It rests on this whether we value the Representation of the Blacks in the Southern States of more Consequence than the Liberty of our white. We had better let the Southern States fade to Africa than to expose our own Liberties. We ought to take Care at home before we look abroad.
Mr. Marcht. gives up the–
Gov. Bradford calls for Reading it. I propose if we ever adopt the Constit. in this Govt. it is to be before these Amendts. Asks if the Gentlemen from South Kingston can shew any Amdts. proposed by any of the States so pointed against the Union as this–Asks if the Southern States had proposed no alterations should be made–with the Executive. It seems that we act too Jealous. We ought to enter into the Govt. on a Broad Basis. Happy if the Southern States do not overrun the Eastern States–it will tend to attract their Attention to the Matter.
E. Bourne proposes that this Article remain for Considerat.
Jo. Hazzard–Doubts not but the Honl. Gentl. from Kingston means the Good of us all. The Gentls. of the Committee liable to Errors –– not to be pointed by any Man–ought not to leave it in his Power obliged to a Worthy Member for a Suggestion That the Constitution when agreed to be not altered without the Consent of Eleven States. Gov. Bradford has the same Ideas and intends to mention the Matter at a proper Time. The Article agreed to be postponed.
Article 6th. Read. Genl. Miller observes That he has no objection only to the Expression of the Prohibition by the Constitution.
Article 7th, 8th & 9th Read–and no objection.
Article 10th. Mr. Marcht.–This subject was fully Discussed before the Committee went out. Says he has observed other Difficulties which occurred in this Matter in the First Congress it took them six Months. The Southern States were opposed to the Blacks be consid. in the Rate of Apportionmt. That many members were willing that the Taxes should thus be approved by Numbers but absolutely refused unless the Blacks were deducted. Will it be worth While now at this Late Day undertake to renew the Proposal which has been found impracticable to be carried into Execution. But now since the Southern States have been to such great Difficulty to consent to this Mode shall we adhere to a Mode. These Two Points Be Impracticably and hard it would operate on us if practicable. The Impracticability and the Inexpdient have largely been gone into. We are Circumscribed–our Numbers will not increase but little. The Invitation abroad will lead our Inhabitants to the Southern States. Our South will increase and our proportion of Taxes will increase in Proportion. Wishes the Gent. would consider the Matter fully–though this may be a Small arithmaticl. Error in the Proportion we had better–
W. E. Brown moves to have this postponed til Morning.
J. Hazzd. Answers the Honbl. Member they neaded not make the objection for the Sake of object–had the Taxes been offrd. in proportion to our Freemen and–
Marcht. not so well acquainted with the Southern States as he is. Now that Difficulties arose on M.
Marcht.–But we had better Support the Expence of making the Estimate. The Produce of Virginia Equal to the 4 New England States New York & New Jersey. That State alone has more Negroes than all the other States–a Planter rides in a Coach with 4 or 5 Attendt. Drinks Wine lives Extravagantly–and therefore in Debt–live on the Principles of the Jamacian–Bounty an Extravagance. Wishes the House could be wiser.
Miller–Sorry he cannot agree with the Gentleman. Confident as he is that it is now in favor of the State–we are a seaport. We Export and trade–calls for Taxes. With the Produce of Connecti. & Mass.–Have Attempted for Years to try the other Measures–a Bad Pilot who will run twice foul of the same Rock. We have found the Rock by Expi. has Candour for the Gentleman.
Gov. Bradford says if we ever come to Union it must be before we have the Amend:–has no Dout of the Gentleman's honesty from his token Experience–No inconvenience to let the Matter Lye–Should the Gentleman herafter go to either of the Houses of Congress–He will be confounded by Reason of the Amendt. now proposed–as Mr. Elisha Bourn proposed to let lie till Morning.–Joins in the Motion.
Art. 11th Read. 12th Do. 13th Do. 14th Do. 15th. Do. 16th Do. 17th All agreed to.
Art. 18th Do.
19th to lie on the Table.
20th Article agreed to–The Convention adjourned.
Saturday Morning–March 6, 1790. Gov. Bowen called for Peace.
The Amendts. Read. Mr. Marcht. and Mr. Bourne object against the Clause in the Amendt. which mentions the States retaining their State.
Mr. Sheldon says that the Cause of the Amendt. was the Clause in the Constitution which empowers Congress to appoint Inferior & Super Courts.
Mr. Marcht. explains the Nature of the Constitution.
Job Comstock says the Constitution wants explanation in various Parts.
Gov. Bowen Moves that we finish the Paragraphs one by one till we get thru.
Mr. Marcht. will give his Sentiments but if it is the Sense of the House he will acquiesce.
Bourne Says the Gentleman moves that the Amendt. be inserted from the Clause which he Read. We are perfectly safe without any such Amendt. so absurd as the one proposed.
Go. Sayles Says that Congress may be General Laws–viz But the Congress may by Law oppose such infr.
Bourne–Certainly this extend to the Appoint't wf. the same Degree.
Geo. Bradford. Says that the worthy Gentlemen who was less Speaking will not be responsible–but he has had heard Persons repeatedly say Congress could.
Bourne–Says we come here to discuss the Constitution–and ought to have it fixed right.
J. Hazzd. Says Mr. Bourne is right but the People at large have an Idea that Congress have this Power. They have Condoned this opinion. The Amendt. will quiet the Minds of the People at large–if there was no other Reason this would be sufficient. A Govt. established with the Consent and Confidence of the People will be more firm.
Gen. Miller–The Minds of the Peoples ought to be quieted But to do that we ought not to insert Nonsense in the Constitution and raise it expenses.
Gen. Stanton–Says now is the Time to quiet the Minds of the People. Much has been said against States that we are a little Refractory State–ought to be divided or annihilated. This will quiet there and agn.
J. Comstock–It is a poor Excuse against the Amendt. that other States have not moved for the same Amendt.–by this Rule we should have no sound Amendt.
B. Bourn–Moves that the Amendt. be included in the Bill of Rights instead of Standing as an Amendt.
Jo. Hazzard–Seconds the Motion. J. Comstock object. Bradford thot we agreed to let it. President calls on the Members That if they have still any objection he would have them decline.
Gov. Bradford asks the Gentleman from E. Greenwich if he should sell him a farm and give him a deed.
President observes That we ought not to suffer any thing improper–because if afterward expressed having been Referred.
Champlin observes that the Presit. has put the Matter in a Just light.
Stanton says the People will strike it out.
Marcht. Says Good God–this is saying I am Beat–objected to Send.
Gen. Miller cannot consent to this.
J. Williams–appears to him this enumeration strict the Amendt. ought to come from the Plan which it is and to be inserted in the Bill of Rights.
J. Haz.–It will stand much better to be inserted in the Bill of Rights.–agreed to be inserted there.
Second Amendt. read–
G. Miller says that it pointing againt at the Slaves.
W. Bourne Reads the Clause of the Bill of Rights and the Alteration is made.
Gov. Bradford moves that the Paragraph of the Constitution respecting the Representation–(which is read). The Amendt. to the Bill of Rights read and agreed to.
Marcht. moves that the Second Amendt. on the Constitution be Read. 3d. 4th. 5th.
Jm. Marcht. says it was agreed last Evening that it never agreed it should be alter to Eleven States.
W. Bourne says That this Motion will embarrass the very object we have in View–is willing the Rule an Amend. should take Effect some proper time–Nay. The object of the Motion is that this should not operate until all the Amendt. proposed have become a Part of the Constitution.
Marcht. observes it will be best to offer a Period.
Hazz. Moves that the Period be fixed to the Year 1793.
The Amendt. altered so as to read thus after the Year 1793 without the assent of 11 of the States heretofore united under one Constitution.
Art. 6th Read.
Bourne Enquires whether any other State has proposed a Similar Amend.
Mr. Sayles replies that North Carolina has made a Law.
Barton–hopes he is in order and will endev. to keep so–He was straight –– was for Legislation I should by no means consent to this Tax–did not mean that Congress should not have the Power because he viewed them with a Jealous Eye but he would alway view them with a Watchful one.
8th. 9th & 10th Read.
Bourn objects to it. It has been demonstrated that this could not be carried into effect. It has been shown that the Congress asked all that could be done to every. It has been shown that it would operate much against–wrong for us to raise an objection to a Measure favourable to us. It appears to Me that unless Gentlemen will suggest a Mode more Just and sure.
Gen. Miller–I can put a Case somewhat similar–suppose this State is in 800000 Acres of Land and Suppose 200 Planters in Virginia and 400 Slaves. The Slaves themselves pay as much as all the Whites.
J. Comstock. It is roundly asserted cover only one side of the Question–against Impartiality of it–says the Southern States rather than have this Slaves Numbered agreed to the Measure they recommend–not from being consid. but from a Conviction that it was most for their Interest as are Evidences–monstrous this Conduct with regard to the old Continent. Moves that it is till the Adjount.
Mr. Marcht. Says the Gentleman is greatly mistaken in Facts of the new States. Those States did not move against the North–with regard to the old Continental Army–it has remained because Congress had not time to carry out Executive any order Respecting this on August for the Adoptn. of a Govt. this makes and Effectual order. It cannot be conceived that we shall increase Wealth more than in Numbers.
Hazzard–says he disputes not the Facts Stated by the Gentlemen with regard to all Matters before hs. of Congress. But those States have neglected redeem their Properties of the Continent. Many Sensible that the Expence of taking an estimate is more than that of the Numeration,–but the Advantages will be grate–being sensible that it will make an Amazing –– to the New England States–will blame men for thinking differ from him not.
Gov. Brad. Move said in this Article before Money sent out that on any other Matter did not expect that it would be reported. Relates what was proper stated by him–suppose that a Sum of 800000 proportionate to this State and goes buy the–also Mentions the Impracticability.
Mr. Geo. Hazzard–Observes that if this Measure is adopted the Committee who shall be appointed by Congress will in Case of an Estimate have Reference to the Estimate heretofore taken in this State notwithstanding it has Sunk 5 per Cent.
Thinks it will operate against us. I see where they are increasing numbers while we do not increase. This Mode propsd. by Congress.
Gov. Bradford. The Members have fired their Minds–has Gentl.
Elishe Brown. Never knew an Estimate which otherwise grew by Value–is surprized that so many worthy Gentlemen will argue against.
Comstock–says the People are uneasy–would have them consider it.l Marcht. It is possible that a Gentleman should suppose it large.
President. If this State suffers by this Mode of Tax 9 others will also.
Past Not.
So it passed in the Negative.
Article 11th of the Amendt.
12th. 13th. 14th 15th. & 16th. 17th.
18th. Bourne moves that this be extended to all other officers appointed by Congress–agreed to–
19th. Article read–
Mr. Marcht. says we can do no good to make such an Amendt.
Mr. Bourne says it cannot operate till after the Year 1808. It will be necessary that every State should.
Gov. Bowen–It is now looked upon by the Body of Minds throughout the States the great Point has been gained that such an Amnt. may be made in the Year 1808. The Friends were opposed to the Constitution at first because they supposed it in some Degree countenanced the Slave Trade. It was a Matter of Difficulty in the Convention–a Delicate Subject.
Stanton. Thinks we ought to bear Testimony against such a Trade. If we do not we shall participate.
We are not a Society of Friends to publish an Testimonial to it. The Southern States exceeded the Regulation.
J. Comstock says that the Amendt. does not ask for extend.
E. Bourne moves to have it Read.
It is read.
Jon. Hazzard–Says he was not present in the Committee when this Amend. was–has been informed that a Gentleman Barton–Sorry to rise with Difference Sentiments from his Hon. Colleague from Rm. He objected before–our Duty at all Times to declare our Sentiments respecting Freedom and Liberty. Thinks the Article allowing the Injection of Slaves rough. That our Citizens carry on that Traffick–calls the Attention of the Convention to the Resolution of Congress. How beautiful was that. We were then afraid of being england oppressed a Vessell soon after arrived in No. Carolina with a–Let us take to our Minds an Anxious Moments. In the Time of Danger we were anxious for a Tender Officer is Sorry to hear his Honbl. Friend Mr. Marcht. assigns such a Course–will not unequity–
Mr. Miller–Does not yet display his oratory but if he had such Sentiments ever since Year 1776 and had Sent his Slaves to Carolina.
Gov. Bradford–Prefers to bring this Matter to a Close if he thought any Person in the Court House he would run out of the Court House. The Lawfulness of the Slave Trade not in Question. Mr. M.–The Worthy Member from Newport as much as Col. Barton. The Gentlemen from the Massachusetts were in the Convention. Would the Members of this Convention have ever agreed to it if this Preamble to this Ament. "That this Trafic is Disgracefull to Human Nature". We have enlarge on the Impiety of a Measure can only serve to affront etc. Hopes that those who vote for Suppressing this Ament.
Barton–says he should not have risen if Genl. Miller had not suggested some Matters against he has brought up a Matter which he had no Business to. Suppose he had been wrong why should it be mentioned here–is willing the Matter should be enquired into–it would be disreputable if we did not agree to this Amendt. as it now stands.
J. Sayles–It is said that Congress cannot take Cognizance of this Matter till the year 1808. He agrees that this Constitution may be quiet on the Measure. But thinks it proper.
Stanton. It is apparent why it is continued by the Southern States to the Year 1808. The Power and Influence of the Southern States. If the Angells should deem such a Trafick in Heaven he should.
Champlin–Says he hopes that those who vote against the Ament. will not be considered as Friends to Slavry. He has done much towrd. the Freedom of the Blacks. He is Friend to Genl. Liberty and the Happiness of all Men will offered.
Mr. Mathewson may be able.
E. Bowen is sorry the Attornies will advocate the cause.
Gov. Bradford respects Gov. Brown the very Fairest of his Bread–This is not the First Second of Third Time. He obtains the Slave Trade–has as much Regard as any Man to the Liberties of the Poor and the Depressed. This Measure promoted only for the Purpose of Party in this State. The southern States so –– of the Trade.
B. Bowen–Says he has been branded as being advocate for Slavery. Highly injured by this Report. He is friend to the Freedom of all Men if he could accomplish the Pen before he Slept.
G. Stanton–This is a Material objection to the Constitution wish the People where he lives an account of the Idea. The Principle will bring enemy.
Mr. Thos. Allen. Was one of the Committee but did not agree to the part of the Report.
Mr. Geo. Hazzard–Speaks largely on the Subject–we will do as little Harm as may be and as much good as may be–convinced that Congress had respect to both Parties. How unhappy should we have been if Congress had been carried away by the cries about Slavery. Should you offend them it will injure us–wishes the House to be guided and thoughtful on this Matter. Never knew it good way to best a Man–Does not then ask a Favor of him.
Mr. James Sheldon. The Arguments have Centered on Two particulars the Impracticability of the Measure and the Fear of offending the southern States. The Congress of 1776 resolved that they would discontinue the Trade.
passed by one Majority.
Second Article read again.
Mr. Hazzard–says the Mode of Representation one year not to be counted on Slaves–is in Favor of the Mode.
Mr. Sheldon says the Negroes are personal Property.
Mr. Marcht. observes on the Impropriety of this Article Standing as it does.
J. Hazzard. This Convention having determined against the mode of apportioning the Taxes reported by the Committee deprives him of Argumt.
Geo. Hazz. Woud act in Public Life as in Private on fair and Just Grounds.
Second Article to be Struck out.
The 20th Amendt. of the Committee read.
Thomas moved that First Article of the Amendt. recommended by Congress.
Gov. Bradford moves to pass the Bill of Rights. Second by Mr. Marcht.
Mr. J. Williams moves that it be sent to the People–conversation on this Matter.
And. Waterman Seconds the Motion of Sending the Bill of Rights.
Mr. Champlin argues in Favor of approbating the Bill of Rights previous to sending the Bill to the People.
Desultory Debates on the Propriety of Sending out the Bill of Rights previous to an Approbation of this House.
Mr. Champlin calls for a Vote after having Made sundry pertinent observations–and that it seemed as if the House were themselves afraid to declare their approbation of them.
Mr. Geo. Hazzard follows with Additional Arguments.
J. Comstock–This Convention undertakes to make a Bill of Rights. It is the Work of the People to make Stone. What is to be done. We can do no more than to refer the Bill to the Bill and to take their opinion on the Matter. The Gentleman has pressed much about the Previous Question conclude by moving as before.
Sheldon. It is curious to observe the Situation on this Matter–one Gentleman says it has been Recd. another that it is not Recd.
Mr. Marchant points out the obsurdity of sending the Bill of Rights to the People before it is approbated by the People–(It is now 1 oClock P. M. Monday March 6).
Marcht. States has the Question.
Mr. Wm. Congdon moves that this Bill of Rights that this Convention.
Elisha Brown moves that we have the Vote whether we adjoin or not before any other Vote is passed.
Desultory while.
Mr. Marcht. orders his Motion to writing.
J. Comstock–We are an Assembly now of 70 Persons shall 70 Persons act on this business to give it full Efficiency–argues that by adopting this Bill some Rights essential may be omitted–we have.
Adjourned to 3 oClock P. M.
Met pursuant to Adjournment.
Elisha Brown makes a Motion in Writing for referring the Bill of Rights to the Town Meeting in the 3d. Wednesday of April next.
Judge Steene moves that the Bill of Rights be receivd.
John Williams Joins in said Motion.
John Sayles convessed as all Stand that the Report of the Committee is Received.
Mr. Marchant moves to have it entered on the Journal that the Report is Recd.
Mr. Bourne objects to Recording that the Report is Recd. by itself–Because it ought also to extend to the Amendts.
Gov. Bradford–We are now bringing up a Matter which ought to have been determined on or before any debates upon–calls for reading the Bill. Says he is in order–has no objection to an Entry being made that the Report of the Committee is Recd.–argues against the Motion on the Ground of Improiety–has no objection to it being entered on the Journal.
Marcht. If we look into the Act by which we met we shall find why & how we met here–we have no Legislative Power. Have no other Powers that as Trustees for the –– we have examined the Constitution paragraph by paragraph–the Com. drew up a Bill of Right–has no objection because we may declare that the People have such and such & Rights that when we adopt the Constitution it may appear that we claim such and such Right Similar to what was done by New York and may go on to give influence and the Wishes of the People–all this are connected Business. But it belongs to the Convention to finish the Busines–objects to Referring the Bill to the People they cannot consult–and are together upon. Wishes as all have gone thru the Bill of Right and the Amendt. he have a Motion to Make. Called to Order by Mr. Comstock determd. by the President that he is in order. Read a Motion Resolved that this Convention having Recd.
Motion Seconded by B. Bourne.
Comstock–they have rambled a great way round the former Moves ought to be first read & Determined says Mr.
Job Comstock moves to adjourn to a future Day Second by Elisha Brown who waves the first Motion he made this Afternoon.
Gen. Miller moves to have Mr. Comstocks view.
Col. Barton has come to this Convention divested of all Prejudices for or against the Cause from some Gentlemen being so anxious that they are influenced by Prejudices. President interrupts Col. Barton and Requests him to Speak to the Point.
Col. Barton says the Adjournmt. will affect his Constitutents Sensibly. The Congress have subjected the Citizen to Strange Duties and Strange Terms–calls for the Reasons why and Adjount. is recomend.
Sayles will give the Reasons. If there is no Adjournmt. the Question will be adopt or Reject–wishes to rise.
Gov. Bradford–Enquires of the Worthy Gentle. how long Time will it Require to take the Sentiment. of his Constiu.
Mr. Sayles says that he does not know how long Time.
President observes that both of the Gentlemen are out of order.
Mr. Marcht.–Wishes for Motion of the Convention that this Business be done regularly and reads a Motion.
Mr. Bowen–Says it is not in the Power of this Convention to adjoin. The Act of Governt. points out the Business. If we have the Power of adjoin. they may adjourn to a Month or Two Months a Year or Ten Years. The opinion ill founded that we may adjn. we are appotd. to consider discuss & Decide–our Constituents to expected that it would be decided on. If Mr. Sayles knows the Sentiments of his Constituents he knows how to Vote. Says if we had Power to adjourn it is enexpedient–knows not what Time or plan is intended. Congress are preparing with other Laws. Tonnage & Duties in laws–no intercourse by Land–all Commerce thereby out. Coasting Business destroyed. Fishermen employd–Especially Herring Fishermen. Go to Virgin. and Eastern they take salt in great Quanties. The United States now having a large Revenue our Proportion 40,000 Dollars–are we in a way to collect our Property. He has enquired whether the Collectors office in Providence finds we shall not raise a Good Part of the Money–undoubtedly unless we Speedily accede to this Constit. this Question will be demanded of the Bill if we now accede it is probable the Deficiency will not be called for. The Governor has written a Letter by order of the Assembly assuring Congress that we should adopt the Constitution. You have by a Bill passed in the upper House pledged yourself for the speedy adoptn. Rules the Bill and that as your Stern supported that Bill it is certain was the Sentiments of. our Fishing Business on Coasting Business our Tonnage Business–has made a Statement of the Tonnage of the Vessels of Sea if Reckoned at 4000 Tonn. Warr 29. and will Amount to 80000 Dollars–or by a Month will amount to 700 Dollars. They will suffer more in the Spring than in any other Season. Tonnage of Providence more than 10000 Dollars. Post office–150 Dollars a Month which we must account for–Estimate 700 Dollars a Month Ton. 1000 Dollars a Year for Salry–other Lessen the Request of Congress & 40000 Dollars a Year all on Duties payable in Paper Money another Weighty consideration. The proper Adjount. of Congress in May–if we accede after the Adjount. there will be not Power to resort to for relief till the next Meeting of this Congress–shall add nothing further now as the Convention has no Power to adjoin.
Jon. Hazz.–says the Gentlem. from Providence has objected to an adjournt. because he says the Convention have not Power to adjourn. Sir if we have no authority to adjoin we have done for we have adjourned–if we can adjoin one Day we can a Week or a Fortnight. May we concur that the Genl. Assembly taking up the Matter without the Consent of the People was a Matter of Complaint. This was the Measure that produced the Bill of the Upper House at the last Session. Had this Bill been passed into a Law and the People had instructed their Deputies to adopt the Constitution it then coud have. No desire or Power from the People. They have a right to be consulted. They expect the Amendts. will be made and sent to them–is extremely sorry for the Sufferings of Mr. Marchant. But he hopes congress wil contain the Exemption if we do not adjoin too long a Time so as to appear as merely be adjn. The most Haste the Worse Sppd is a Maxim. If the Gentlemen had not been In Such Haste it would have been much better for all. The Anxiety Shown has alarmed the Common People. He does not mention this a Matter of piety. He says We have a Right to adjoin and he has Influence.
Saml. T. Potter–The only Question before us whether we adjurn or not–let us keep to the Point.
E. Brown–Several States have adjourned–North Carolina & New Hampshire. If we apply to Congress they will continue the Inability as it will otherwise operate against the Individuals. This will seem Hard. The People are more and more Reassured.
Mr. Davis calls on Mr. E. Brown for his Reasons why he wishes for an Adjourt.
Monday Afternoon on the Adjourt.
Mr. Comstock observes that Mr. Bourne is of quite different Sentiments from the Less Sentimental. Then it woud be perfectly Safe. The Convention could adjoin. Much is said about the Danger will arise. But the People must be satisfied. If it is the best Constitution yet if the People are against it who will be the Congress Suppose. We are at Some expence for Tonnage we had better pay that than refuse the Congress possibly the Report.
Marcht. Had heard that many things had been said against the Constitut. Expected that some was the Plan to Defend. But what has been said against it. To them any thing to look the Constitution in the Face. The Bill of Rights it is said has been agreed to. But there is not a Single Right but what were lost by the Constitution–as Some might possibly doubt whether we.
Argues on the Power of Adjourning and Questions the Power of Adjoining. In New Hampshire there was an Adjournt. but in some Question arose and the Adjourt. took place by Agreement. Says the Common People have been whysperd to–other Persons who had Points to carry have been whysperd to–There has been an adjournt. in the United States. It was said that Two or Seven Days only were necessary. But this Time was not enough. Some States have debated Weeks–and the very State of North Carolina has often Refused to Two Years have elapsed–and 18 Months time elapsed since the Govnt. was organized. We ought to take Time–if we cannot finish it to day we ought to adjourn to Monday. We have had to say the 1000 things the 1000 things said against in our Time. The People in the other States are in Peace & quiet Enjoyment of the Liberties & Promises. The Gentleman has observed that the Air of the Genl. Assembly was not accommodating. States the absurdity and inconsistancy of Referring the Matter to the People again.
Sir, It has been said that congress will continue their Indulgence–and that if they will be so kind so count on to resist the Application it is hope for our men to save time. How remote is this is the treating Men with the Respect they deserve–obscure in the Beginning of Congress and Men Ready and command Attention to the Application of the States. The first Time they give support. Time to consider and adopt. It is done before their Time expird. the Legislature did take it up. Rules what were done and wrote to Congress arranging that the Constitution would be adopted–and will it not be treating them with Indignity to postpone the Adoptn. States his Impartiality of Congress further indulgence. Will congress design all the Measure the most energy Officer & is the Nation to gratify with the Privileges and of the Means by which the people live. The People do see that just the property is depreciating. That they are depressed. What may be the Consequ. we know not. We would not contind. against & shall adjourt. But States Inconvenience to the Freemen in Case the Constitution is not adopted–is not having a Member. He cannot have Conduct–he cannot do his Business. Congress have it in Expectation to rise in May. They have before them the Business of the Biggest Consequence to us. If our Delegates do not arise before the Adjourt. States the Evils we shall be under. There is no other Means than a Land Tax for dissolving the Deficiency we shall have to make up for the Revenue.
Gov. Gradford–Says he hoped to have Land Law–puts him in Mind of a Story he had heard of Lord Coke who had a Bank. The Question is whether we have power to adjourn. There has been no Instance but New Hampshire where the Members were clogged with the Instructions. They themselves moved for Liberty–& adjourned. The Gent. from Smithfield has Said that he wants to impress his Constituents when he has said there is a Majority against them–has no Right to adjourt.
Genl. Miller is against an Adjourt. We have no Right–though we have their almighty Power. Suppose he should go home and his Constituent. Nothing offered as a sufficient Reason for an Adjt. could he believe the Adjmt. were for an Adoption he should not be against. It is intended by some to keep this Link broken that some disturbance may happen–and it may then be said–cannot tell how it is possible that those who have been firm. Points out the Disadvantages to Women–for a Number of years past 5 or 5000 Barrels of Sherry take up the Powder all the Barrels and Salt for the use –– if it will only Benefit Woman he prays it may be endured with the Privilege. Wishes he had the Eloqu. of Demoscles.
Gov. Bradford moves that the Convention adjoin to the Last monday in March.
Seconded by Mr. Marcht.
Elisha Brown moves that the Adjournt. be till the Monday after the Proxing Day.
Gov. Bradford obliged for the Candour of the old Gentleman–says it now is Proper Season to take up the Business. The First Day of April the Indulgence. I now your Kind Attention to whether if nothing is wanted but to consult their Constituents. If they go beyond the Time we may be obliged–we must view this Matter on the Broad Basis of Candour–observes on the Advantages as a Fued between the Mind & Time.
Mr. Marcht. who saw Two Specie of Grass where but one grew before.
Elisha Brown is against the Time sooner than how he has moved because it will cause Meetings.
President says that we had better finish the–
Bradford calls on the Gentle. who has Spent almost a Century on the Earth, which he is not convinced in his own Mind that the Damages and inconvenience will be vastly greater–mentions Woman as Depicted by Genl. Miller.
Brown solemnly Declines solemly thot Matter with a other Consequence.
Geo. Hazzard. Did not the Gentlm. come from North Providence with but one Eye–will it injure the man thru Tax–was he not moved by what Gen. Miller–
Says the Man who cannot look with Two Eyes when he has them ought to have no more than one. Seconds the Move of adjoining to the Last monday of March.
Andrew Waterman moves for the 24th Day of May. Seconded by Mathewson.
Gen. Stanton Joins the Motion–says the People are frightend by the Anxiety which is Shewn for the Adoptn.
Elisha Brown gives up his Motion for 2d Monday in April and joins for the 4th Monday of May.
Marcht. reStates the Inconvenience of meeting in April That the Gentleman is fascinated with the sound of Proxing Day. If the Interests of the Revenue is consulted.
Bourne. Says the only Question is to what Time we shall adjourn. Three Difft. Times have been mentioned. He mentions three. He considers the Reasons which have been given–obvious the objection that it is Hurrying the Motion. The Constitution had been published and every man has made up his Mind in the Subject. There will be Time in the Month of March to consult the Freemen. We shall be obliged to pay 2000 Dollars for the Duties of the Month of April. In Consequence of the Request made in October Last the Indulgence were limitted to the 15th. of July. Congress subjected us to paying Tonnage & Tonnage Duties to permit from awaiting transfers of the Rhode Island flag etc. The Revenue System before Congres in which all of us are Interested.
Geo. Hazzard–Certain that 1/2 or 2/3 of this House consist of Members of the Genl. Assembly. It Was the Meaning of this Assembly that the Convention should finish the Business–cannot therefore consent to the Adjournt. It was moved for that Adjut. if some of the Members were willing to acquiess for the sake of accommodation. Can any Men think it Right that to length out the Determination of this Business after having declared that Time to Consult the People was the only object. It will have the Appearance of Trifling. Did we not Suggest to Congress that there was the Gravest Probability–and to do will it not be despicable for us to depart. This is the Constitution of the Country–and impossible for us to avoid being under it as woud be for East Wind upon the Land with out and again to get to the Sea. We are held to pay our Part of the National Debt–as much as if the Lands were Mortgag. Let me ask the Landholds respecting a Matter in which he is interested. The Farmers defeated the 5 per Cent–has any thing been done Since to lessen the Debt. This Interest has run on–is running on–Eating Day & Night–it must be paid–will not proration be called for. Congres have made Arrangement for destroying it by Revenue–if we adopt the Constitution we shall have the same Means–if we do not adopt the Constitution we shall lose the opportunity–if we suffer another Jug to be drained without the most Consequence follows. Have we not seen the Direct Taxcut will not do. We have been payg. ten per Cent Interest on Securities on Securities when we have sold for 2on the Pound. This Measure has unfair because we must. He asks no Office with of course in the States. He shall Pity those who are now thus blinded. The Time will come when they will be concerned that this Measure is necessary.
G. Miller was against an Adjount. But when out sold he will Submit. But if it is the Intention to adjoin so long he and his Constitutes will petition Congress to be Set to Massachusetts. He thought it proper to mention that this was his Intention.
J. Comstock. We have voted to Adjoin–we have a Right to take our own Time–no wonder that those who were then against the Adjoint. now wish to make the Time as short as possible. We are the Servants of the People–we are for them. The Constitution is the Proper Work of the People. I cannot act against this Constitution. When the People have had Time to think of it it will be proper to meet again–if we adjn to the 24th Day of May we shall have time to consider.
With respect to what Genl. Miller has Said of Revenues we are independt. State–it does anything.
G. Miller–I cannot bear to be imposed Upon by the Gentleman. Instead of consulting the Sentiments of his Constituents–He persuades them to be against the Constitu.
Mathewson–Says That the Matter cannot be had before the People till their Town Meetings because we cannot order Town Meetings to be called.
Marcht.–Says this Shows us that we have reason to adjoin. Seven Men may call Town Meetings. If 7 Men cannot be found willing to call a Meeting we may certainly have ground to adopt the Constitution. The Gen. Assembly gave us one Month.
Champlin–has not said any thing on the subject of the Adjoint. because ably spoken. Was it not for Proxing Time he supposed there would be Time enough before April. Wishes Good Men may be appoint–That the Members would go home with the Dispassion of Members in New Hampshire. Mr. Bourn has Stated he still Consequence–in Some Reports Newport must have the Word from abroad–the Power will be doubted–calls on the Gentlemen from Middletown to witness the Melancholy Situation of Newport. These People have stood up this Convention for Relief–they have been Patient. Prevented from carrying any Rum. Chocolate is manufacted in this state. Have no Stable–could farming with Spanish Candle rum Aples Potatoes Cyder Grapes be obtain.
Send lately to South Carolina to purchase this Produce–could only send 7 Bundles of Hay. Congress will be disappntd. in not funding this.
Uncertain what Measure congress will take. This were only presented last fall from Prohibating the Exportation of the Produce of this State–enlarges here. If the Adjournt. is to the Last of March the Representation to Congress may be chose. Calls for the Vote the Last Monday of March or not.
Mathewson proposes the Vote the Last of March.
Marcht.–Relies on the Candour of the President to March.
And Waterman is for laying the Business.
Desultory Debates on the Mode of putting the Vote.
J. Comstock contends for the Vote being put by the Bonds–Last Monday of March or the 1st Monday in May.
B. Bourne–We have not occasion to ask for favour–we have a Right to the Vote by Yea or Nay. Shall the Adjournt. be on the Last Monday of March or not.
Not Not by Lean Majority.
Mr. Champlin moves that the Adjournment be on the monday following the Proxing Day.
J. Comstock contends for the Last Monday of May.
Col. Barton begs Gentlemen to consider the Importance of this Matter. Congress will not extend further Indulgence. It is for the Poor and the Needy that he is Solicituous. Mr. Marcht. can remain–if it is postponed–he is afraid they will repent of an intricate and Beseaches the Gentlemn. to attend to this Matter.
Govr. Bowen says To postpone the Matter is a Wanton Exercise of Power. He has good –– to suppose no further Indulgence will be given. Saw any Letter of Genl. Washington. Gov. Bradford–Moves That the Vote may be the Last Monday of April or May. Will always be Opposed to Threats–will go with the fellow Citizens. But thinks we do not Stand so secure as some think, we have Enemies from North to South–will ever do all in his Power for the Good of the States–will never consent to an Applicance to Congress–hurtful to the sanguineness of the State. Saw Mr. Sayles Smile when it was observed that he would have Time enough to consult his Constituents. The Revenue not collecting–our Debt going on–Congress Reasoning–our Trade Stopped. Our Citizens Treated with Contempt–our State Dropped–why should it be postponed. Moved that the Vote be.
Gov. Bradford–Points out the Certain Consequences of postponing the Matter till the 4th Monday of May.
Mr. Williams. I did not think of airing any thing in this Matter but we have been so repeatedly called on by Gentle. who have been Candid as we and we are Candid as they. These Gent. have called for our Reasons. But they are hardly to be persuaded that we have any Reason we are Sensible of the Meagre Measures which have been argud.–is Sorry for the Difference of Sentiment–wishes that could be resolved which is Dift.–will candidly give the Reverse with as much Scrutiny as he Spoke. Those who are candidates allow that we are on the Heels of the Sed. of the People. We are to Act for Men. He is on the Side of the People. They have repeatedly called on to give their Sentiments on this. Must. This Convention originates from the choice of the Body of the Body of the People and we know earning from them that is in the Sentiments of the Great Body of the People that this Constitution Should be rejected. It takes sometime to long to have whole People to an Agreement to the Congress. We have had Time to Do the Business but if we had done it we have Reason to Judge of the Consequence. But Time till the 4th Monday of May will be little enough. If the People will consent to the Adoption he will chearfully acquiesce in the Government can it be was of a Dift. opinion. But it is his Duty to be on the Side of the People.
Mr. Bowen has wanted to have the Reason which he expected the Govtment would but he has not heard a Single Reason. He has said that we know the Body of the People are against it that his Constituents are against. Therefore instead of voting for an Adjournmt. he ought to have voted for a Rejection of the Constitution. He had rather have the Constituents rejected than his postponed to the last Monday of May. Congress will probably subject subject not only to the Revenue but to. Hopes that the Reason given will remove the Inhabitants of haste and all the other Favors.
Gov. Bradford says that it is Time for the worthy Member Mr. M to consult with the People of his Town to persuade them of the absolute Necessity of the Constitution. That he will have the same Candour for those who advocate the Constitu. as he asked for those who are against it–as those who advocate it are also on the side of the People.
Not Mr. Champlin
East Greenwich

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