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Jensen, Merrill (ed.) / Ratification of the Constitution by the states: Delaware, New Jersey, Georgia, Connecticut
3 (1978)

VI. The Connecticut Convention, 3-9 January 1788,   pp. 535-562


Page 535

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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