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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-D. New York recommends the calling of a second constitutional convention,   pp. 2501-2530


Page 2505

VII-D. N.Y. CALLS FOR A SECOND CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION  2505
new Congress under the Constitution to call such a convention to con-
sider the amendments proposed by the various state ratifying conven-
tions (RCS:N.Y., 2335-37).
The Convention asked its president (George Clinton) to sign the
circular letter and send it to the executives of all the states. Clinton was
also asked to transmit the Convention's proceedings to the New York
legislature at its next session and to request the legislature "to co-
operate with our sister States in measures for obtaining a general Con-
vention to consider the amendments and alterations proposed by them
and us, as proper to be made in the Constitution of the United States"
(RCS:N.Y., 2324-25).
Commentaries on the Circular Letter
New York Antifederalists were divided on the circular letter. Zepha-
niah Platt, who had voted to ratify the Constitution, hoped that a gen-
eral convention would be called as soon as possible, while "the Spirit
of Liberty is yet alive," to consider New York's amendments and those
of the other states (to William Smith, 28 July [VII-B, above]). Abraham
B. Bancker, one of the New York Convention's secretaries, expected the
new government would find it necessary "to Submit the several Amend-
ments to the Consideration of another General Convention." The New
York Convention, he noted, had "called upon the Sister States" for
that purpose, and he hoped its request would "meet with the wished
for Success" (to Evert Bancker, 9 August [VII-B, above]).
Melancton Smith, who had a large part in fashioning the compro-
mise on ratification, wrote on 1 January 1789 that Federalists' "fair
promises and pretensions ... are mere illusions-They intend to urge
the execution of the plan in its present form" (to Gilbert Livingston
[VII-B, above]). Congressman Abraham Yates, Jr., a fierce opponent
of the Constitution and a supporter of conditional ratification, was also
dubious about getting amendments from a general convention. It will
be "an uphill Affair" (to William Smith, 22 September [VII-B, above]).
Yates elaborated upon his ideas in an article he published under the
pseudonym "Sidney" in the New York Journal, 4 December (VII-B,
above).
James Madison and George Washington were much disturbed by the
appearance of the circular letter. Madison wrote to Washington that
the letter "has a most pestilent tendency." An early convention had to
"be parried," or the new system of government "may be at last suc-
cessfully undermined by its enemies" (11 August [VII-B, above]). Wash-
ington also believed that the circular letter would "be attended with
pernicious consequences" (to Madison, 17-18 August [VII-B, above].


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