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Kaminski, John P.; Schoenleber, Charles H.; Saladino, Gaspare J.; Leffler, Richard; Reid, Jonathan M.; Flamingo, Margaret R.; Lannér-Cusin, Johanna E.; Fields, David P.; Conley, Patrick T.; Moore, Timothy D. (ed.) / Ratification of the Constitution by the states: Rhode Island (3)

VII. The Rhode Island Convention first session, 1-6 March 1790,   pp. 898-983

Page 975

Ratification of the Constitution. This Motion was seconded by Mr. B.
Bourn.4 Mr. Comstock immediately rose, and moved, as a previous Ques-
tion, for an Adjournment. A very lengthy Debate then ensued on the
Motion of Mr. Comstock. The Power of the Convention to adjourn was
questioned. It was observed, that the Delegates were chosen expressly
to meet at a certain Time and Place, then and there to investigate and
decide on the Constitution: That these were the very Words of the Act
of Government for calling a Convention; and the same Language was
used by the several Towns in the Appointment of their Delegates: That
a Power to investigate and decide at a certain Time, did not imply a
Power to adjourn: That the Delegates being thus elected for the express
Purpose of deciding on the Constitution, it was the Expectation of the
People that the Question for its Ratification or Rejection should then
be taken. However, upon the Motion for an Adjournment, it was car-
ried in the Affirmative by a Majority of Thirteen. Governor Bradford
then proposed that the Adjournment should be to the last Monday of
March inst. In Favour of this Motion it was observed, that the Adjourn-
ment proposed would afford sufficient Time to lay the Bill of Rights
and Amendments before the People for their Consideration, and that
as this had been the ostensible Object with the Gentlemen who had
voted for an Adjournment, it was hoped the Motion would be agreed
to. Against an Adjournment beyond the present Month, many Reasons
were urged: That Congress having been assured by the Legislature, that
there was every Reason to hope that this State would speedily accede to
the Union, they had granted us a further Exemption from the foreign
Impost and Tonnage Duties: That this Indulgence would expire on the
first of April, and there was not the least Probability of obtaining any
further Exemption:5 That the Citizens of this State employed and sub-
sisted entirely in the fishing and coasting Business were numerous, and
that the Navigation Laws of the Union must operate with such Severity
on these Classes of Citizens, as would reduce them to the Alternative
of starving at Home, or moving into the other States. Many other Ar-
guments were added, shewing the numerous Disadvantages which would
result from an Adjournment beyond the Time proposed; but on the
Question being taken for an Adjournment to the last Monday of March,
it was negatived by a Majority of seven. Mr. Andrew Waterman then
moved for an Adjournment to the fourth Monday of May. Others pro-
posed an intermediate Time, and the fourth Monday of April was men-
tioned; but the Motion of Mr. Waterman obtained by a Majority of five.
On the first Question for an Adjournment, the Yeas and Nays were
as follow:

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