University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
The History Collection

Page View

Kaminski, John P.; Saladino, Gaspare J.; Leffler, Richard; Schoenleber, Charles H.; Hogan, Margaret A.; Reid, Jonathan M. (ed.) / Ratification of the Constitution by the states: New York (5)

VII-D. New York recommends the calling of a second constitutional convention,   pp. 2501-2530

Page 2507

Constitution had been found out (to Henry Lee, 22 September [DHFFE,
IV, 66-67]. For a less sanguine view, see Henry Lee to Washington, 13
September [ibid., 64-65].). Nor was Alexander Hamilton concerned
about the calling of a general convention. On 9 November Hamilton
answered a letter he had received from Theodore Sedgwick in which
Sedgwick reported that some Federalists in the Massachusetts General
Court supported the circular letter. Hamilton stated that "The rage for
amendments is in my opinion rather to be parried by address than en-
countered with open force.... The mode in which amendments may
best be made and twenty other matters may serve as pretexts for avoid-
ing the evil and securing the good" (Syrett, V, 230-31). And in late
November, the once fearful James Madison noted that it was "already
decided" that the attempt to have another general convention was "a
hopeless pursuit" (to Henry Lee, 30 November [Rutland, Madison, XI,
The Response to the Circular Letter by the States
Federalists' initial fears were understandable. Even though eleven
states had ratified the Constitution, the opposition to it in some states
had been formidable and tenacious. Antifederalists managed, despite
Federalist dominance of the newspapers, to disseminate their arguments
in favor of amending the Constitution, especially on the need for a bill
of rights. The writings of such Antifederalists as "Centinel," "Cato,"
"Brutus," and "Federal Farmer" were widely circulated in newspapers,
broadsides, and pamphlets. Antifederalists also expressed their views in
town and county meetings, in legislatures, and in petitions. Occasion-
ally feelings ran so high that violence broke out, especially during cele-
brations and the elections of Convention delegates. There were signifi-
cant instances of violence in Delaware, New York, North Carolina, and
particularly Pennsylvania. After Pennsylvania ratified the Constitution,
Antifederalists in the western part of the state even launched a petition
campaign in an effort to overturn the state's ratification. More than
6,000 western Pennsylvanians signed these petitions.
Strong opposition to the Constitution also manifested itself in the
conventions of seven of the eleven ratifying states. As part of their
ratifications, Massachusetts, South Carolina, New Hampshire, Virginia,
and New York recommended amendments. The Pennsylvania and Mary-
land conventions refused to recommend amendments, but the minor-
ities of both conventions published their amendments. In August 1788
the North Carolina Convention (Hillsborough) refused to ratify the
Constitution until amendments were submitted to Congress and to a
general convention. The Convention itself recommended over forty

Go up to Top of Page