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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 2511

On 11 December Governor George Clinton laid before the New York
legislature the proceedings of the New York Convention (including the
circular letter) and the 13 September ordinance of the Confederation
Congress for putting the Constitution into operation. He called "par-
ticular attention to the amendments" that the Convention had pro-
posed, and he noted that the Constitution had been ratified on the
belief that "a General Convention" would revise the Constitution. The
circular letter, declared Clinton, recommended "a speedy revisal" of
the Constitution in order to obtain "the approbation and support of a
numerous body of our Constituents, and to allay the apprehensions
and discontents which the exceptionable articles of it had occasioned."
Clinton then quoted the circular letter "that no Government, however
constructed, can operate well, unless it possesses the confidence and
good will of the great body of the people" (DHFFE, III, 217-18).
The Antifederalist-controlled Assembly immediately appointed a com-
mittee of three to prepare an answer to the governor. On 18 December
Samuel Jones, the committee's chairman, reported a draft that the com-
mittee of the whole considered. On 22 December the unamended draft
was accepted and ordered to be engrossed. Later that day, the com-
mittee of the whole agreed to a resolution that a committee be ap-
pointed to draft an application to Congress, "requesting them as early
as possible, to call a Convention for proposing amendments to the
Constitution of the United States." Thereupon, the Assembly resolved
that a committee of five, consisting of Samuel Jones (chairman), Rich-
ard Harison, Brockholst Livingston, Jonathan N. Havens, and John Bay,
prepare a draft of the application (DHFFE, III, 242). Federalist Harison
and Antifederalists Jones and Havens had voted to ratify the Constitu-
tion, while Antifederalist Bay had voted against. Livingston had not
been a member of the New York Convention.
On 23 December the engrossed address to the governor was read in
the Assembly, and it was ordered that "the whole House" present the
address to the governor, which was done on the 24th. In the address,
the Assembly agreed with the governor and circular letter's sentiment
(which it paraphrased) "that no government can operate well unless it
possesses the confidence and good will of the People," and it was im-
pressed with "the unanimous sense of the Convention, expressed in
their circular letter." Therefore, the Assembly would do what it could
to obtain "a speedy revision" of the Constitution "by a new Conven-
tion. And we are convinced, that such a revision only, can allay the
apprehensions excited by those parts of that system which are consid-
ered as exceptionable" (DHFFE, III, 243).

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