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title:“Melancton Smith's Notes of the New York Ratification Convention Debates”
authors:Melancton Smith
date written:1788-7-12

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last updated:Jan. 22, 2013, 7:56 a.m. UTC
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Smith, Melancton. "Melancton Smith's Notes of the New York Ratification Convention Debates." The Documentary History of the Ratification of the Constitution. Vol. 22. Ed. John P. Kaminski. Madison: Wisconsin Historical Society Press, 2008. 2151-52. Print.
Melancton Smith, Notes, New York State Library

Melancton Smith's Notes of the New York Ratification Convention Debates (July 12, 1788)

JOHN JAY. Went to the Committee disposed to accomdn.—props. were received dictated— There not commd. as a Basis of agreemt.
* * * * *
HAMILTON. Rises with reluctance-— 1. because he wishes to conciliate— 2. That he is plausable-— Beleives it will not answer the purpose— though he thinks the Gen[tlema]n means it to be so— The impost acceded to—instanced—shd admonish us 2 questions arise— 1. Our own powers 2d. The powers of Congress to receive and the proby.— No power except to accept or reject— 1st. Acts. The Resolution of the Convent[ion]s to ratify— the power to assent, implies a power to reject—the words imply no more 2d. The Act of Congress, mere instruments—in conformity to the Resolution— 3. Our own Resolution—first recite the Resol.—to meet in convention for the purpose aforesaid—clear we have no other power— Is this such an adoption as congress can accept—or will— 1st. A Condition is annexed—the Congress must assent, before it is valid—therefore you are not a party in the first instance—can Congress make you a party—by an act—no power but what is given—no power to admit upon condition—either upon the theory or principle—delegates can neither abridge or enlarge their power—it is agreed it is an abridgement of the exercise—a difference to forbear—and disable us to exercise—put it out of their power to exercise—The question can the Legislature bind themselves not to exercise power—it is a principle of universal Law, that a Legislature cannot bind themselves not to exercise a power—the instance of Counties—would a Contract with the County of Suffolk not to tax, they cannot—therefore the general goverment cannot abdicate them—A most dangerous principle—Will it follow, because we are compelled to break one Contract, does it follow we should another— Nine States must have application to Call a Convention—may be perpetual Must lay aside their constitutional right of judging of the propriety of amendments—If submitted to Congress to consider, this wd. be proper— Is sure his reasoning is demonstration— Is it probable, that Congress, would overleap the bounds— A desire to unite all, would operate—but it would not induce them to break the Const— The question will come before this Congress Collaterally—the questn. will arise abt. the place of the new govt. meeting—those who wish to have the govt. moved, will urge that it is not adopt.—that will predjudice a future decision. Suppose the majority or considl—should be opposed to the amendments—probable they will—2/3 must agree—have a right to remain out of the union—but the States will think we ought to place confidence this mode like imposing conditions—pride predominates in the human heart—like an attempt to give law, More likely to succeed by Recommendn— Why risk so much— Is it probable, the Congress will not consider—ask them to consider, when we know they will consider—many States of the same mind—Can we stake our opinions on such a shadow—what will they say of the consequences—Gentlemen under the influence of proper motives—unwilling to submit the Character of his understang—our Const[ituents] will condemn us—if the event turns as we are morally certain— admits a majority—but we shd. not be influenced—circumstances are changed

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