University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
The History Collection

Page View

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)
23 (2009)

VII-B. Public and private commentaries on the Constitution, 25 July 1788-23 February 1789,   pp. 2426-2498

Page 2489

that he was preparing the Debates for publication and apparently did not obtain
subscribers to help defray the cost of publication. The volume cost three shillings
for subscribers to the Advertiser and five shillings for non-subscribers. On 17
December Isaac Beers, a prominent New Haven bookseller, announced in the
Connecticut Journal that "the masterly speeches of a Jay-a Livingston-a Ham-
ilton" and others were available for three shillings and six pence at his book-
store. On 23 December Nicholas Power, the printer of the Country Journal,
informed his readers that he had the Debates for sale at five shillings a copy
(Mfm:N.Y.). The sale of the Debates in New York City appears to have gone well
because on 19 March 1789 Childs noted in the Advertiser that he had "A few
copies" left (Mfm:N.Y). (Childs had advertised the Debates daily in the Advertiser
through 2 March 1789.)
In a prefatory "Advertisement" in the Debates (below), Childs wrote that he
undertook the project with the hope "that the different Speakers could be
prevailed upon to revise their several Speeches, as taken down by him." How-
ever, after he did not receive all of the revisions, Childs finally went to press
because he could "defer no longer the gratification of the Public curiosity."
The large amount of time that it was taking to prepare the debates for publi-
cation and "The approach of the Session of the Legislature [11 December]
also reminded him of the duty he owed the Public, and which could not be
dispensed with." He offered these reasons as an explanation of why the debates
after 2 July were only "a short sketch of the Proceedings." (Fortunately, other
sources have allowed the editors to fill in much of what Childs omitted in his
"sketch" of the final, crucial days of the Convention.)
Antifederalist John Lansing, Jr., was among the New York Convention del-
egates who revised their speeches for publication by Childs. In a letter to Abra-
ham Yates, Jr., and Melancton Smith on 3 October (below), Lansing voiced his
displeasure with Childs's rendition of Alexander Hamilton's remarks during
their altercation on 28 and 30 June. Lansing claimed that he had asked Childs
if he would subject "the Revisions of both parties to the perusal of the other,"
but Childs never answered, and Lansing did not repeat his request.
Lansing did not label Childs as a Federalist partisan but De Witt Clinton,
who was observing the Convention debates, charged that although Childs "pro-
fesses impartiality ... he is too great a partyman." Clinton also described the
Federalists as Childs's party (Clinton Journal, 19 July, RCS:N.Y., 2253). After
Childs's Debates appeared, "A Real Federalist" complained to the printers of
the recently established Antifederalist Albany Register in a supplement of 5 Jan-
uary 1789 about Childs's reporting of the Convention debates, especially when
it came to doing "common justice" to "the advocates for Amendments." Con-
sequently, "A Real Federalist" requested that the printers publish "a Speech,
which was actually prepared and intended to have been made by an Honorable
Member in the Convention." (For "A Real Federalist" and the accompanying
speech, see Appendix III, below.)
During the legislative session, debate arose over who would be named to
the lucrative position of state printer-Antifederalist Thomas Greenleaf of the
New York Journal or Francis Childs. Federalists reiterated charges that Greenleaf
had printed false information in order to deceive his readers, while Antifed-
eralists criticized Childs as biased in publishing the debates of the New York

Go up to Top of Page