Jensen, Merrill (ed.) / Ratification of the Constitution by the states: Delaware, New Jersey, Georgia, Connecticut
VI. The Connecticut Convention, 3-9 January 1788, pp. 535-562
535 VI THE CONNECTICUT CONVENTION 3-9 January 1788 The Connecticut Convention met at Hartford from 3 to 9 January 1788. When the delegates met, they knew that three states-Delaware, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey-had ratified the Constitution, two of them unanimously. Connecticut was the first New England state to meet. It was therefore watched closely by other states, and especially by Massachusetts, whose convention was to meet on 9 January. The delegates convened at the State House, meeting place of the legislature. The roll was called, the election certificates were exam- ined, and Matthew Griswold was elected President and Jedidiah Strong secretary. The delegates then moved to the First Church (North Meeting House), where the public was allowed to sit in the gallery. The pastor of the church, the Reverend Nathan Strong, offered a prayer, and the Constitution and other documents were read to the Convention. The Convention then resolved unanimously to consider the Constitution "by single articles, sections, paragraphs, or detached clauses and sentences as occasion might require" and "that no other vote be taken thereon till the one decisive, general question." According to the New Haven Gazette, 10 January (VI below) and a letter of Enoch Perkins who took notes on the debates (to Simeon Baldwin, 15 January, VII:B below), there were several speakers for and against the Constitution. However, the newspapers reported only two speeches by Oliver Ellsworth, and one each by William Samuel Johnson, Samuel Huntington, Oliver Wolcott, Sr., and Richard Law in support of the Constitution. The only Antifederal speech reported consists of a single-paragraph account of one by James Wadsworth. Apparently the debates were sometimes marked by bitterness and hostility. Antifederalist Hugh Ledlie claimed that opponents of the Constitution "were browbeaten" by the Federalist delegates and the pro-Federalist gallery (to John Lamb, 15 January, VII:B below).
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