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Jensen, Merrill; Kaminski, John P.; Saladino, Gaspare J. (ed.) / Ratification of the Constitution by the states: Pennsylvania
(1976)

I. The Pennsylvania Assembly and the Constitution, 17-29 September 1787,   pp. [53]-57


Page 55

However, the Federalists were determined to call a state convention
whether or not Congress acted, and they controlled the Assembly.
They knew that Congress was considering the Constitution and that
a majority of the members supported it (see George Clymer's com-
ments in the Assembly Debates (Lloyd), Friday, A.M., 28 September;
and William Bingham to Thomas FitzSimons, 21 September, CDR:
IX, A).
On Friday morning, 28 September, George Clymer presented resolu-
tions calling a convention to consider the Constitution, establishing
the procedures for electing delegates, and setting the time and place
for its meeting. After several hours of debate, the Assembly passed
only the resolution to call a convention and then adjourned until
4 P.M.
When the members reassembled, they discovered that enough oppo-
nents of the Constitution had stayed away to prevent a quorum. The
members present then adjourned until Saturday morning. This
maneuver was not new in Pennsylvania politics, and it was facilitated
by the Pennsylvania constitution. Most state constitutions provided
that a majority was enough for a quorum, but the Pennsylvania con-
stitution defined a quorum as two-thirds of the elected members.
Early Saturday morning, 29 September, George Clymer received an
unofficial copy of the congressional resolution of the previous day,
which transmitted the Constitution to the states. William Bingham, a
Pennsylvania delegate in Congress, had sent the resolution by an
express rider who arrived in Philadelphia some time between 3 and
7 o'clock Saturday morning (Samuel Hodgdon to Timothy Pickering,
29 September and Pennsylvania Gazette, 3 October, both I:C below;
and Pittsburgh Gazette, 27 October, Mfm:Pa. 167). When the members
convened at 9:30, the Assembly still lacked a quorum. The members
present then ordered the sergeant at arms and the assistant clerk to
bring in the absent members. With the assistance of a mob led by
Captain John Barry, the officials forcibly returned James M'Calmont
and Jacob Miley to the Assembly, and a quorum was then declared
present. Before the Assembly adjourned sine die that afternoon, it
had voted for the election of delegates to be held on 6 November and
for the Convention to meet in Philadelphia on 20 November.
After the adjournment, sixteen of the nineteen seceding assembly-
men signed an address, dated 29 September, giving their version of
the events of 28-29 September and stating their objections to the
Constitution (I:B below). Frederick Antes (who had voted to call
a convention), Joseph Powell, and Thomas Kennedy did not sign.
On 2 October Eleazer Oswald printed the address as a broadside
despite opposition from Philadelphia Federalists (William Bradford
55
INTRODUCTION


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