Hamilton: Draft of Proposed Ratification of the Constitution

Alexander Hamilton was a Founding Father, soldier, economist, political philosopher, one of America’s first constitutional lawyers and the first United States Secretary of the Treasury.

The Moral Liberal, Classics Library

Alexander Hamilton: The Works of Alexander Hamilton, Volume 1, 1774

Convention of New York 1788: Draft of Proposed Ratification of the Constitution of the United States, with Specified Amendments 

We, the delegates of the people of the State of New York in Convention assembled, having maturely considered the Constitution for the United States, agreed to on the 17th day of September, in the year 1787, at Philadelphia, in the commonwealth of Pennsylvania, by the Convention then and there convened, and having also seriously and deliberately considered the present situation of the United States, and being convinced that it is advisable to adopt the said Constitution, do declare and make known, in the name and behalf of the people aforesaid, that the powers granted in and by the said Constitution, being derived from the people of the United States, may be resumed by them whenever they shall judge it necessary to their happiness; that every power not granted thereby remains either to them or their respective State governments, to whom they may have delegated the same; that therefore no right of any kind, either of the people of the respective States or of the said governments, can be cancelled, abridged, restrained, or modified by Congress, or by any officer or department of the United States, except in conformity to the powers given by the said Constitution, that among other essential rights, the liberty of conscience and of the press cannot be cancelled or abridged by any authority of the United States.

With these impressions, with a firm reliance on the blessing of Providence upon a government framed under circumstances which afford a new and instructive example of wisdom and moderation to mankind; with an entire conviction that it will be more prudent to rely, for whatever amendments may be desirable in the said Constitution, on the mode therein prescribed, than either to embarrass the Union or hazard dissensions in any part of the community by pursuing a different course, and with a full confidence that the amendments which shall have been proposed will receive an early and mature consideration, and that such of them as may in any degree tend to the real security and permanent advantage of the people, will be adopted: We, the said delegates, in the name and behalf of the People of this State, Do, by these presents, assent to and Ratify the Constitution aforesaid, hereby announcing to all those whom it may concern, that the said Constitution is binding upon the said people according to an authentic copy hereunto annexed.

And to the end that the sense of the people of this State may be manifested touching certain parts of the said Constitution, concerning which doubts have been raised, we, the delegates aforesaid, in the name and behalf of the people aforesaid, do, by these presents, further declare and make known that, according to the true intent and meaning of the said Constitution, Congress ought not to interpose in the regulation of the times, places, and manner of holding elections for Senators and Representatives, except only in such cases in which the Legislatures of the respective States, or any of them, may neglect, refuse, or be unable to make provision, or for the purpose of appointing a uniform time for the election of Representatives; and that the Legislature of any State may, at its discretion, lay out such State into convenient districts for the election of Representatives, and may apportion its Representatives to and among such districts. And also that, except as to duties on imports and exports—in the Post-office, and duties of tonnage, the United States and the States respectively have concurrent and co-equal authority to lay and collect all taxes whatever; and therefore that neither of them can, in any wise, contravene, control, or annul the operation or execution of any law of the other for the imposition or collection of any tax, except as aforesaid. And also that there must be once in every four years an election of the President and Vice-President, so that no other officer who may be appointed by Congress to act as President in case of the removal, death, resignation, or inability of the President and Vice-President, can in any case continue to act beyond the termination of the period for which the last President and Vice-President were elected; and also that the judicial power of the United States, in cases in which a State may be a party, does not extend to criminal prosecutions, or to any suit by private persons against a State; and that the appellate jurisdiction of the Supreme Court cannot authorize a second trial of any suit in any criminal case whatever, or a second trial of any suit determinable in the course of the common law by a jury, and which shall have been so determined in the original cause. And lastly, that the process of presentment and indictment by a grand jury ought to be observed in every prosecution for any crime, as a necessary preliminary to the trial thereof.

And in order that the foregoing declarations and Constitution may be recognized and inviolably observed in the administration of the government of the United States, this Convention, in the name and behalf of the people aforesaid, do hereby enjoin upon the Senators and Representatives of this State in the Congress to procure, as soon as may be after the meeting of Congress, a declaratory act in conformity to these presents.

We would also agree to recommend the following amendments to the Constitution:

I. That there shall be one Representative for every 30,000, according to the enumeration or census mentioned in the Constitution, until the whole number of Representatives amounts to two hundred; after which that number shall be continued or increased, but not diminished, as Congress shall direct, and according to such ratio as Congress shall fix in conformity to the rule prescribed for the apportionment of Representatives and direct taxes.

II. That the court for the trial of impeachments shall consist of the Senate, the judges of the Supreme Court of the United States, and the first or senior judge for the time being, of the highest court of general and ordinary common-law jurisdiction in each State. That Congress shall, by standing laws, designate the courts in the respective States answering this description, and in States having no courts exactly answering this description, shall designate some other court, preferring such, if any there be, whose judge or judges may hold their places during good behavior,—provided that not more than one judge shall come from one State. That Congress be authorized to pass laws for compensating the said judges, and for compelling their attendance, and that a majority at least of the said judges shall be requisite to constituting said court. That no person impeached shall sit as a member thereof. That each member shall, previous to the entering upon any trial, take an oath or affirmation honestly and impartially to hear and determine the cause; and that ——— of the members present shall be necessary for a conviction.

III. That the authority given to the Executives of the States to fill the vacancies of Senators be abolished; and that such vacancies be filled by the respective Legislatures.

IV. That the compensation for the Senators and Representatives be ascertained by standing laws; and that no alteration of the existing rate of compensation shall operate for the benefit of the Representatives until after a subsequent election shall have been had.

V. That no appropriation of money in time of peace for the support of an army shall be by less than two-thirds of the Representatives and Senators present.

VI. That the Executive shall not take the actual command in the field of an army without the previous direction of Congress.

VII. That each State shall have power to provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining its militia, when no provision for that purpose shall have been made by Congress, and until such provision shall have been made that the militia shall never be subjected to martial law, but in time of war, rebellion, or insurrection.

VIII. That the Journals of Congress shall be published at least once a year, with exception of such parts relating to treaties or military operations as in the judgment of either House shall require secrecy.

IX. That the judicial power of the United States shall extend to no controversy respecting land, unless it relate to claims of territory or jurisdiction between States, or to claims of land between individuals, or between States and individuals, under grants of different States.

X. That no judge of the Supreme Court shall hold any other office under the United States or any of them.

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The Works of Alexander Hamilton, ed. Henry Cabot Lodge (Federal Edition) (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1904). In 12 vols. The copyright for the original of this document is held in the Public Domain. Font, formatting, spelling modernizations, typo/transcription corrections, and explanatory footnotes for this version of  ”The Works of Alexander Hamilton” Copyright © 2011 Steve Farrell and The Moral Liberal.