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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 2514

of a general convention until late January 1789. It spent much of its
time trying to adopt legislation to elect U.S. senators and presidential
On 29 January 1789 the committee of five-appointed by the Assem-
bly on 22 December 1788 and chaired by Samuel Jones-reported a
resolution providing for an application to Congress requesting the call
of a general convention. The resolution stated that the New York Con-
vention had ratified the Constitution "in the fullest confidence" that
a general convention would be called to propose amendments. The
Convention had been unanimous in its belief that the Constitution
needed revision. A majority of the people wanted revision and their
apprehensions and discontents had to be allayed. The resolution asked
that Congress call a general convention "immediately" to report amend-
ments "as they shall find best suited to promote our common interests,
and secure to ourselves and our latest posterity, the great and unalien-
able rights of mankind" (DHFFE, III, 368).
The Assembly ina committee of the whole considered the resolution
on 2 February, and on 4 February it debated the measure vigorously.
Federalist Brockholst Livingston-the only member of the committee
of five who had not been a New York Convention delegate-opposed
the resolution, stating that Congress itself should have the discretion
of deciding on the best mode for proposing amendments as provided
by the Constitution: either to propose amendments itself or to call a
convention to propose amendments. However, Livingston preferred that
Congress itself propose amendments. He believed that Congress would
be less divided by party spirit than a convention. At this point Living-
ston introduced a substitute resolution which requested that Congress
take the New York amendments and those of the other states into their
"early and mature consideration" and propose them to the state leg-
islatures or call a convention "at a period not far remote" in accor-
dance with Article V of the Constitution "as the one or the other mode
of ratification may to them appear best calculated to promote the peace
and welfare of the Union." Livingston declared that in his resolution
he was following the New York Form of Ratification which he claimed
did not mention a convention and which called for the ratification of
amendments "in the manner prescribed in the constitution." The cir-
cular letter, Livingston admitted, did recommend the calling of a con-
vention but it only represented advice that could be taken or ignored.
Samuel Jones, a former New York Convention delegate, countered
that Congress would also be filled with party men. The circular letter
was the unanimous sentiment of the Convention delegates, and their
wishes should be followed. Ratification of the Constitution would not

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