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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 2502

Confederation Congress, proposed amendments during the debate on
how to transmit the Constitution to the states for their ratification.
Congress refused to debate the substance of the amendments and re-
jected Lee's proposal. Lee's amendments were not even entered on the
journal (CC:95). On 16 October Lee wrote Randolph advocating the
calling of another general convention to propose amendments. Lee's
letter was printed in the Petersburg Virginia Gazette on 6 December and
was reprinted widely in newspapers, a pamphlet anthology, and the
Philadelphia American Museum, attracting considerable public and pri-
vate commentary (CC:325). In New York, it appeared in two newspa-
pers-in the New York Journal, 22, 24 December, and in part in the
Albany Gazette, 10 January 1788.
On 10 October 1787 Governor Edmund Randolph wrote a letter to
the Virginia legislature explaining why he had not signed the Consti-
tution and why, in the Constitutional Convention, he had supported
another general convention. He declared in his letter that no alterna-
tive was "less exceptionable" than such a convention as a way to obtain
amendments. Randolph's letter first appeared as a pamphlet late in
December 1787, and on 2 January 1788 it was reprinted in the Virginia
Independent Chronicle. It was widely reprinted in newspapers, a pamphlet
anthology, and the Philadelphia American Museum, and it received both
criticism and praise (CC:385). In New York, it was reprinted in five
newspapers-Daily Advertiser, 8 January; New York Journal, 9, 11 January;
Albany Gazette, 17 January; Hudson Weekly Gazette, 24, 31 January; and
Country Journal, 29 January, 5, 12, 19 February.
In December 1787 the Virginia House of Delegates debated a bill to
pay state Convention delegates, which included a provision to pay del-
egates to a second general convention if the state Convention proposed
amendments and appointed delegates to a second convention to con-
sider the amendments. This explicit provision was stricken before the
bill passed and was replaced by a general provision to pay any expenses
needed to communicate with the other states or their conventions. (See
RCS:Va., 183-93.) On 19 February 1788 Antifederalist Arthur Lee wrote
Richard Henry Lee that George Mason believed that the Virginia Con-
vention, scheduled to meet in June, "will recommend another general
Convention" (RCS:Va., 620).
Little attention was paid in New York to the idea of a second general
convention until the publication of Governor Edmund Randolph's let-
ter to the Virginia legislature. "Americanus" VII (Federalist John Ste-
vens, Jr.) did not think another convention was needed, and, if called,
it would be ineffective. A harmonious convention was thought to be

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