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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 2504

VII. AFTERMATH OF NEW YoRK RATIFICATION
national government in secret. "A Plebeian" believed that both sides
in a convention called before the implementation of the Constitution
would agree to amendments to "quiet the fears of the opposers, and
effect a great degree of union on the subject" (RCS:N.Y, 950-51).
The New York Convention
On 24 June 1788 the New York Convention received news that New
Hampshire had become the ninth state to ratify the Constitution. The
Constitution could now go into effect in the ratifying states. On 2 July
news arrived that Virginia had ratified unconditionally and had rec-
ommended forty amendments. In time, some Antifederalist leaders be-
came convinced that a conditional ratification-one demanding amend-
ments before ratification and another insisting on the right to withdraw
after a certain number of years-would be rejected by the Confeder-
ation Congress, thereby placing New York outside the Union. Conse-
quently, they agreed to an unconditional ratification, coupled with a
call for a second convention to consider amendments. Despite the risks
that a second convention would entail, Federalists, who were a distinct
minority and had the support of some Antifederalists in order to obtain
ratification, agreed to Antifederalist demands for a recommendation
that a second convention be called to consider amendments after the
Convention ratified the Constitution. The final form of ratification stated
that the Convention was ratifying "In full Confidence nevertheless that
until a Convention shall be called and convened for proposing Amend-
ments to the said Constitution," several powers of Congress related to
the militia, the regulation of elections, and excises and direct taxes
would be restricted. A circular letter, adopted unanimously by the Con-
vention, was even more explicit in recommending to the states the need
to call a general convention to propose amendments.
The Circular Letter
The circular letter presented the case for a second general conven-
tion. Written primarily by John Jay, with the assistance of John Lansing,
Jr., and Alexander Hamilton, the circular letter, addressed to the ex-
ecutives of the states, noted that the New York Convention and those
of some other states had "anxiously desired" that the Constitution be
amended. The government created by the Constitution was "very im-
perfect." Amendments were necessary to allay the fears and discontents
of many Americans. The letter recommended that a general conven-
tion be called to amend the Constitution "to meet at a period not far
remote." State legislatures were exhorted and requested to apply to the
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