612. Massachusetts Convention Debates (Material Not Printed in RCS:Mass., Vol. 3)

612-A. Wednesday, 9 January 1788

On motion, Ordered, That the Hon. Nathaniel Gorham, Esq. John Carnes, Esq. Dr. Charles Jarvis, Hon. Tristram Dalton, Esq. Hon. Walter Spooner, Esq. Hon. Caleb Davis, Esq. and Hon. John Taylor, Esq. be a Committee to receive the returns of the several towns.

Ordered, That a Committee of five persons be appointed to collect, count and sort the votes for a Secretary; and the Hon. Caleb Davis, Tristram Dalton, Aaron Wood, Eleazer Brooks and Charles Turner, Esquires, were appointed.

The Convention then proceeded to the choice of a Secretary by ballot and the votes being taken, it appeared that GEORGE RICHARDS MINOT, Esq. was chosen, who accepted of the choice, and was duly sworn to qualify him for exercising the duties of that office.

Voted, That Mr. JACOB KUHN, the Messenger of the General Court, be appointed Messenger to this Convention.

Voted, That five Monitors be chosen, and the following gentlemen were elected, viz. the Hon. Noah Goodman, Esq. Mr. Phanuel Bishop, Mr. Daniel Cooley, Hon. Azor Orne, Esq. and Mr. Thomas Davis.

Voted, That a Committee of seven be appointed to prepare rules and orders for the regulation of the Convention. The Hon. Nathaniel Gorham, Esq. Dr. Charles Jarvis, Hon. John Taylor, Esq. Mr. William Widgery, Hon. Tristram Dalton, Esq. Hon. Theodore Sedgwick, Esq. and James Bowdoin, jun. Esq. were then appointed on the said Committee.


The Convention proceeded to the choice of a President, by ballot, according to assignment, and a Committee of five being appointed to collect, count and sort the votes, it appeared that his Excellency JOHN HANCOCK, Esq. was chosen.

Voted, That the Convention proceed to the choice of a Vice-President.

The Convention then proceeded to the choice of a Vice-President accordingly by ballot, and a Committee being appointed to collect, count and sort the votes, it appeared that the Hon. WILLIAM CUSHING, Esq. was chosen: who by request took the chair.

Voted, That a Committee of five be appointed to wait upon his Excellency John Hancock, Esq. and acquaint him that this Convention have made choice of him for their President, and to request his Excellency’s acceptance of that appointment.

On motion of the Hon. Mr. Adams, Voted, That the Convention will attend morning prayers daily, and that the gentlemen of the clergy of every denomination, be requested to officiate in turn.

The members from Boston, were appointed to wait upon them and acquaint them thereof.

A vote of the Church in Brattle-Street, in Boston, offering the use of their Meeting-House to the Convention, being communicated by the Hon. Mr. Bowdoin, Voted, That a Committee of nine be appointed, to view the accommodations of the said Meeting-House, and report.

Mr. Sedgwick, Mr. Lincoln, Dr. Taylor, Gen. Brooks, of Lincoln, Dr. Jarvis, Dr. Holten, Mr. Strong, Mr. Nason, and Mr. Thatcher, were then appointed on said Committee.

612-B. Thursday, 10 January 1788

The Committee appointed to examine the returns of delegates, desired a rule, whereby they might determine, whether the towns had exceeded their privilege to send members.—After a long debate, a motion was made, that the valuation of the different towns returned in 1784, should be the rule to determine the number.

An offer having been made by the Church in Brattle-Street, of that Meeting-House, for the use of the Convention, and a Committee having viewed the accommodations, it was voted, that when the Convention do adjourn, that it adjourn to meet at 3 o’clock, at the Meeting-House, in Brattle-Street.

612-C. Friday, 11 January 1788

Committees were raised to inquire respecting the contested elections, and enjoined to set immediately.


The House in which the Convention were sitting, on account of the difficulty of hearing, being found inconvenient, a Committee was raised to provide one more suitable—after which it was voted to adjourn to Saturday morning, then to meet in the Representatives chamber.

612-D. Saturday, 12 January 1788

The Hon. Convention met again in the Representatives Chamber, where they decided all the disputed elections in FAVOUR of the Members returned. The sense of the Convention was twice taken AGAINST removing to any other place.

612-E. Monday, 14 January 1788, A.M.

The Constitution for the United States of America, as reported by the Convention of Delegates held at Philadelphia, in May last, together with the resolutions of the General Court of this Commonwealth, for calling a Convention, agreeably to the recommendation of Congress, were ordered to be read.

On motion of Mr. Strong, Voted, That this Convention, sensible how important it is, that the great subject submitted to their determination, should be discussed and considered with moderation, candour, and deliberation—will enter into a free conversation on the several parts thereof, by paragraphs, until every member shall have had opportunity to express his sentiments on the same—After which the Convention will consider and debate at large the question, whether this Convention will adopt and ratify the proposed Constitution, before any vote is taken expressive of the sense of the Convention upon the whole or any part thereof.

The resolve of the General Court of this Commonwealth, of March 1787, appointing Delegates for the Convention of the States, held at Philadelphia, was ordered to be read.

A motion was made and passed, that the Hon. Elbridge Gerry, Esq. be requested to take a seat in the Convention, to answer any questions of fact from time to time, that the Convention may ask, respecting the passing of the Constitution.

621-F. Thursday, 7 February 1788

The Convention met, when Major NASSON, in a short address, intimated his determination to support the Constitution, and to exert himself to influence his constituents to do the same.

Mr. RANDAL said, he had been uniformly opposed to the Constitution—he had, he said, fought like a good soldier, but, as he was beat, he should set down contented, hoping the minority may be disappointed in their fears, and that the majority may reap the full fruition of the blessings they anticipate. In the hope that the amendments recommended by his Excellency the President will take place, I shall, says he, go home and endeavour to satisfy those that have honoured me by their choice—so that we may all live in peace.

Major SAWIN declared, that the Constitution had had a fair trial, and that there had not, to his knowledge, been any undue influence exercised to obtain the vote in its favour—that many doubts which lay in his mind had been removed—and that although he was in the minority he should support the Constitution as cheerfully and as heartily as though he had voted on the other side of the question.

The Convention then passed the pay-roll—amounting to £4499. 2/.—and after unanimously passing votes of thanks to his Excellency the PRESIDENT, the Honourable the VICE-PRESIDENT, and the Rev. Clergymen of the town of Boston, who officiated as Chaplains, for their services; it was Voted, That when the business of the Convention shall be compleated, the members will proceed to the State-house to proclaim the Ratification, and to take an affectionate leave of each other: An invitation from a number of the inhabitants of Boston, requesting the members of the Convention to take refreshment at the Senate Chamber, when the Ratification of the Constitution should be declared, was read, and thereon Voted, That the thanks of the Convention be given to the inhabitants of Boston for their polite invitation, and that the Convention will attend as requested.

The business being finished, the Convention proceeded to the State-House, when the Ratification was proclaimed by Joseph Henderson, Esq. High-Sheriff of the county of Suffolk—after which the Convention was dissolved.