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Jensen, Merrill (ed.) / Ratification of the Constitution by the states: Delaware, New Jersey, Georgia, Connecticut
(1978)

II. Georgians debate the Constitution, 2 October-17 December 1787,   pp. 229-264


Page 229

229
II
GEORGIANS DEBATE THE CONSTITUTION
2 October-17 December 1787
The extant record of Georgians' private opinions of the Constitu-
tion before the meeting of the state Convention consists of four let-
ters written by Savannah merchants and by lowcountry planters. On
17 October James Habersham, a Savannah merchant and a planter,
wrote from Augusta where he was waiting for the Assembly to secure
a quorum, that the Constitution probably had faults but that any
government was better than the one they had. On the same day, Joseph
Clay, also a Savannah merchant and a planter, commented that the
powers of the new government were great "but of two evils we must
choose the least." The following day, James Jackson, in a long letter
concerning his problems as a militia commander, mentioned in passing
that he hoped the Assembly would give the Constitution its "immediate
attention." Lachlan McIntosh's letter of 17 December is the only
one that comments on the Constitution in any detail. He had read
something of the debate going on in other states and was impressed
with the Antifederal arguments of Elbridge Gerry (CC:227) and of
"Centinel" (CC: 133). However, he believed that the Constitution
should be ratified, but only for a limited period of time. He predicted
that the North would control Congress and might interfere with the
interests of the Southern States in such matters as slavery.
The only known public statement by a Georgia leader was in
Chief Justice Henry Osborne's charge to the Chatham County grand
jury on 2 October before the results of the Convention were known.
He told of the "awful crisis" of "national affairs" and hoped that
"a stable and efficient frame of government will be the result" of the
Constitutional Convention.
The Savannah Gazette of the State of Georgia published Osborne's
charge on 18 October and, along with it, the first news from other states.
The items reprinted in this issue were the Pennsylvania Assembly's
resolutions of 28-29 September calling the state's convention (RCS:Pa.,
101-2) and a defense of the assemblymen who attempted to prevent
the resolutions from passing (Mfm:Pa. 109); the Rhode Island As-
sembly's resolution of 15 September to write to the President of Con-
gress explaining why Rhode Island did not send delegates to the


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