페이지 이미지

to take a full and comprehensive view of the relative strength and confidence with which each amendment was adopted, and of analogous plans and propositions, out of which a choice was made.

Should the constitution, which has been recommended for the ratification of the people, be approved, this volume, it is conceived, will be a valuable historical memorial, embracing all the official documents connected with the Convention, and furnishing the best interpretation and exposition of the spirit of the constitution, by explaining the views and intentions of its framers. To those who look upon the Convention and the events connected with it, as ordinary occurrences, and who do not reflect on the nature and extent of this revolution, and its remote bearing on the future character and history of the state, a volume of seven hundred pages may appear disproportionate to the subject to which it relates. But the compilers are among those who believe, that the last year will form a memorable period in the annals of the state; and that events which may now seem unimportant, from our familiarity with them, will hereafter assume a different character, and be sought for with avidity. Circumstantial records which now pass unheeded, may in time become valuable to the jurist, in deciding upon the construction of the constitution; to the historian, in delineating the character of the age; or at least to the antiquary, by enriching his library, without the labour of searching for documents, scattered amidst the rubbish and ruins of years.

These are some of the considerations, by which the reporters have been actuated in incurring the labour and expense of compiling and publishing this volume. No pains have been spared to render it in all respects as complete as possible, and to present it in a dress, and style of execution, which may recommend it to public patronage.

Albany, 15th November, 1821.




State of New-York.

[ocr errors]

In Convention of the Representatives of the State of New-York.

KINGSTON, 20th APRIL, 1777.

THEREAS the many tyrannical and oppressive usurpations of Government by

liberties of the people of the American colonies, had reduced them
to the necessity of introducing a government by congresses and com-
mittees, as temporary expedients, and to exist no longer than the
grievances of the people should remain without redress:

AND WHEREAS the congress of the colony of New-York did, on the

thirty-first day of May, now last past, resolve as follows, viz:


"WHEREAS, the present government of this colony, by congress Its object temand committees, was instituted while the former government, under porary. the crown of Great-Britain, existed in full force ;-and was established for the sole purpose of opposing the usurpation of the British parliament, and was intended to expire on a reconciliation with Great-Britain, which it was then apprehended would soon take place, but is now considered as remote and uncertain.

"AND WHEREAS many and great inconveniences attend the said Its inconvenienmode of government by congress and committees, as of necessity, in ces. many instances, legislative, judicial and executive powers have been vested therein, especially since the dissolution of the former government, by the abdication of the late governor, and the exclusion of this colony from the protection of the king of Great-Britain.

“AND WHEREAS the continental congress did resolve as followeth, to wit:

"WHEREAS his Britannic Majesty, in conjunction with the lords and Recital, and commons of Great-Britain, has by a late act of parliament, excluded the inhabitants of these united colonies, from the protection of his crown: And whereas no answers whatever, to the humble petition of the colonies for redress of grievances and reconciliation with GreatBritain, has been, or is likely to be given, but the whole force of that kingdom, aided by foreign mercenaries, is to be exerted for the destruction of the good people of these colonies: And whereas it appears absolutely irreconcileable to reason and good conscience, for the people of these colonies, now to take the oaths and affirmations necessary for the support of any government under the crown of Great Britain; and it is necessary that the exercise of every kind of authority under the said crown, should be totally suppressed, and all the powers of government exerted under the authority of the peo ple of the colonies, for the preservation of internal peace, virtue, and good order, as well as for the defence of our lives, liberties, and properties against the hostile invasions and cruel depredations of our enemies: Therefore,

Declaration of

its boundaries, so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these colonies:

"For taking away our charters, abolishing our most valuable laws, and altering fundamentally the forms of our governments: "For suspending our own legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power, to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever. "He has abdicated government here, by declaring us out of his protection, and waging war against us.

"He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

"He is at this time transporting large armies of foreign mercenaries, to complete the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun, with circumstances of cruelty and perfidy, scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the head of a civilized nation.

"He has constrained our fellow citizens, taken captive on the high seas, to bear arms against their country, to become the executioners of their friends and brethren, or to fall themselves by their bands.

"He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian savages, whose known rule of warfare is an undistinguished destruction f all ages, sexes, and conditions.

"In every stage of these oppressions, we have petitioned for redress, in the most humble terms: our repeated petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A prince whose character is thus marked, by every act which may define a tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

"Nor have we been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time, of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred, to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connexion, and correspondence. They, too, have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our separation, and hold them as we hold the rest of mankind-enemies in war; in peace, friends.

"We, therefore, the representatives of the United States of Ame. Independence. rica, in general congress assembled, appealing to the supreme judge of the world, for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the name and by the authority of the good people of these colonies, solemnly pub. lish and declare, that these united colonies are, and of right ought to be FREE AND INDEPENDENT STATES; that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British crown, and that all political connexion between them and the state of Great Britain, is, and ought to be, totally dissolved; and that as free and independent states, they have full power to levy war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, and to do all other acts and things which independent states may of right do. And for the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other, our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honour."


Powers of the convention,

AND WHEREAS this convention, having taken this declaration into their most serious consideration, did, on the ninth day of July last past, unanimously resolve that the reasons assigned by the continental congress, for declaring the united colonies free and independent states, are cogent, and conclusive; and that, while we lament the cruel necessity which has rendered that measure unavoidable, we approve the same, and will, at the risk of our lives and fortunes, join with the other colonies in supporting it.

By virtue of which several acts, declarations, and proceedings, mentioned and contained in the afore-recited resolves or resolutions of

the general congress of the United American States, and of the congress or conventions of this state, all power whatever therein hath reverted to the people thereof, and this convention hath, by their suffrages and free choice, been appointed, and among other things, authorized to institute and establish such a government as they shall deem bestcalculated to secure the rights and liberties of the good people of this state, most conducive of the happiness and safety of their constituents in particular, and of America in general.

derived from

I. This convention, therefore, in the name and by the authority All authority of the good people of this state, DOTH ORDAIN, DETERMINE the people. AND DECLARE, That no authority shall, on any pretence whatever, be exercised over the people or members of this state, but such as shall be derived from and granted by them.


II. This convention doth further, in the name and by the authority of the good people of this state, ONDAIN, DETERMINE AND DE- power. CLARE, That the supreme legislative power within this state, shall be vested in two separate and distinct bodies of men; the one to be called the Assembly of the state of New-York; the other to be call. ed the Senate of the state of New-York; who, together, shall form the Legislature, and meet once at least in every year for the despatch of business.


III. AND WHEREAS laws inconsistent with the spirit of this consti. Council of Retution, or with the public good, may be hastily and unadvisedly passed: BE IT ORDAINED, That the governor, for the time being, the chancellor and the judges of the supreme court, or any two of them, together with the governor, shall be, and hereby are, constituted a council to revise all bills about to be passed into laws by the legis. lature. And for that purpose shall assemble themselves, from time to time, when the legislature shall be convened; for which, nevertheless, they shall not receive any salary or consideration under any pretence whatever. And that all bills which have passed the Senate and Assembly, shall, before they become laws, be presented to the said council for their revisal and consideration; and if upon such revision and consideration, it should appear improper to the said council, or a majority of them, that the said bill should become a law of this state, that they return the same, together with their objections thereto in writing, to the senate or house of assembly, in whichsoever the same shall have originated, who shall enter the objections sent down by the council, at large, in their minutes, and proceed to re-consider the said bill. But if after such re-consideration, two thirds of the said senate or house of assembly, shall, notwithstanding the said objections, agree to pass the same, it shall, together with the objections, be sent to the other branch of the legislature, where it shall also be re-considered, and if approved by two thirds of the members present, shall be a law.

And in order to prevent any unnecessary delays,

laws if not re

Be it further ordained, That if any bill shall not be returned by the council, within ten days after it shall have been presented, the Bills to become same shall be a law, unless the legislature shall, by their adjourn- turned in ten ment, render a return of the said bill within ten days impracticable; days. in which case, the bill shall be returned on the first day of the meeting of the legislature, after the expiration of the said ten days. IV. That the assembly shall consist of at least seventy members, The Assembly. to be annually chosen in the several counties, in the proportion fol

lowing, viz:

For the City and County of New-York,

The City and County of Albany,

The County of Dutchess,

The County of Westchester,

The County of Ulster,

The County of Suffolk,
The County of Queens,
The County of Orange,

[blocks in formation]
[blocks in formation]

Census, when and how to be taken.

Ballot, opinion of voting by.

After the war experiment to be made :

The County of Cumberland,
The County of Gloucester,


V. That as soon after the expiration of seven years, subsequent to the termination of the present war, as may be, a census of the electors and inhabitants in this state be taken, under the direction of the legislature. And if on such census it shall appear, that the num ber of representatives in assembly from the said counties is not justly proportioned to the number of electors in the said counties respectively, that the legislature do adjust and apportion the same by that rule. And further, that once in every seven years, after the taking of the said first census, a just account of the electors resident in each county shall be taken; and if it shall thereupon appear that the number of electors in any county, shall have increased or diminished one or more seventieth parts of the whole number of electors, which on the said first census shall be found in this state, the number of representatives for such county shall be increased or diminished accordingly, that is to say, one representative for every seventieth part, as aforesaid.

VI. And whereas an opinion hath long prevailed among divers of the good people of this state, that voting at elections by ballot, would tend more to preserve the liberty and equal freedom of the people, than voting viva voce: To the end, therefore, that a fair experiment be made, which of those two methods of voting is to be preferred:

Be it ordained, That as soon as may be, after the termination of the present war, between the United States of America and GreatBritain, an act or acts be passed by the legislature of this state, for causing all elections thereafter to be held in this state for senators and representatives in assembly, to be by ballot, and directing the manner in which the same shall be conducted. And whereas it is possible, that after all the care of the legislature, in framing the said act or acts, certain inconveniences and mischiefs, unforeseen at this day, may be found to attend the said mode of electing by ballot: It is further ordained, That if after a full and fair experiment shall if found incon- be made of voting by ballot aforesaid, the same shall be found less conducive to the safety or interest of the state, than the method of voting viva voce, it shall be lawful and constitutional for the legisla ture to abolish the same: Provided two thirds of the members present in each house respectively shall concur therein. And further, that during the continuance of the present war, and until the legis lature of this state shall provide for the election of senators, and representatives in assembly, by ballot, the said elections shall be made viva voce.

To be abolished


of electors.

VII. That every male inhabitant of full age, who shall have perQualifications sonally resided within one of the counties of this state, for six months immediately preceding the day of election, shall at such election, be entitled to vote for representatives of the said county in assembly; if during the time aforesaid, he shall have been a freehold. er, possessing a freehold of the value of twenty pounds, within the said county, or have rented a tenement therein of the yearly value of forty shillings, and been rated and actually paid taxes to this state: Provided always, That every person who now is a freeman of the city of Albany, or who was made a freeman of the city of New-York, on or before the fourteenth day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and seventy-five, and shall be actually and usually resident in the said cities respectively, shall be entitled to vote for representatives in assembly within his said place of residence.

* Name afterwards altered to Montgomery.-† Name afterwards altered to Washington. Ceded to Vermont...Editors.

« 이전계속 »