619. Newspaper Reports of Convention Proceedings and Debates

619-A. Massachusetts Centinel, 12 January 17881

State Convention.

WEDNESDAY, January 9, 1788. A. M.

This day the Convention met at the State-House in this town—for the purpose of assenting to and ratifying the Constitution proposed by the Federal Convention, on the 17th day of September last.

A sufficient number being assembled, on motion, it was ordered, that Mr. Gorham, Mr. Carnes, Dr. Jarvis, Mr. Dalton, Mr. Spooner, Mr. Davis, (of Boston) and Dr. Taylor, be a committee to receive, examine and report on the returns of the several towns.

The Convention proceeded to the choice of a Secretary, and Mr. Davis, (of Boston) Mr. Dalton, Mr. Wood, Mr. E. Brooks, and Mr. Turner, being appointed a Committee to collect and count the votes therefor, reported that


was chosen, who, having accepted, was sworn accordingly.

Mr. Goodman, Mr. Bishop, Mr. Cooley, Mr. Orne, and Mr. T. Davis, (of Plymouth) were elected Monitors.

A committee consisting of Mr. Gorham, Dr. Jarvis, Mr. Taylor, Mr. Wedgery, Mr. Dalton, Mr. Sedgwick, and Mr. Bowdoin (of Dorchester) was appointed to prepare rules for the regulation of the Convention.

P. M.

A desultory debate, on the propriety of coming to a vote, to choose a Vice-President, immediately after a President was chosen, took place—but it being voted first to choose a President, the committee appointed for that purpose, collected and counted the votes therefor, and reported that

His Excellency JOHN HANCOCK, Esq.

was elected.

The Convention then raised a Committee to collect and count the votes for a Vice-President, who reported, that the


was elected—who, the President elect being absent, took the chair.

On motion of the Hon. Mr. Adams, it was voted, that the Convention will attend morning prayers, daily; that the ministers in the town of Boston, of every denomination, be requested to officiate in turn—and that the Boston Delegates make the request known.

619-B. Massachusetts Centinel, 12 January 17881

FRIDAY, 11th.

In the forenoon committees were raised to inquire respecting the contested elections, and enjoined to set immediately.

P. M.

The Committee on the remonstrance of several inhabitants of Sheffield, against the election of Col. Ashley, reported, that it was not supported by any evidence: on which a motion was made that it be dismissed, which passed in the negative—it was ordered to lie on the table.

The committee appointed to examine returns reported—and on motion of Mr. Dalton it was voted, that the returns of delegates, already made, be considered as valid, excepting those of Sheffield, Great-Barrington, Williamstown, and the last return from Taunten, which last was committed to a separate committee.

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.

619-D. Boston Gazette, 14 January 1788


THURSDAY 10th, A. M.

The Committee appointed to examine the returns of delegates, desired a rule, whereby they might determine, whether the towns had exceeded the priviledge 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.

The report of the Committee appointed to prepare rules and orders for the regulation of the Convention, was read, and, with amendments, accepted. After which Mr. Bishop moved an additional rule; which was to the effect: That on every question, when    members were in favour of the measure, the yeas and nays should be taken thereon.

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.

P. M.

Several numbers were moved, with which to fill up the blank in Mr. Bishop’s motion, made in the ’forenoon. After considerable debate, 100 was put, and negatived, when another motion was made, that the matter do subside, which produced a division, the numbers of which were, yeas 181, nays, 122—so it subsided.

619-E. Massachusetts Gazette, 15 January 17881

MONDAY, Jan. 14.

The reverend mr. Parker officiated this day as chaplin.

In the forenoon, a vote passed the honourable convention, on motion of mr. Wedgery, for introducing the honourable Elbridge Gerry, esquire, to a seat in the Convention, for the purpose of answering any question which may be asked him respecting certain parts of the new constitution, which, during the course of the debates, may require to have some new lights thrown thereon.

This question produced strenuous debates, and was not carried without considerable opposition. A majority, however, were in favour of it, and a committee appointed to wait upon the honourable gentleman to request his attendance.

The constitution being read, the question arose in what manner it should be taken up, when it was determined, that it should be debated by sections, and no question be had thereon, till the final one of adoption or rejection.

619-F. Massachusetts Centinel, 16 January 17881

State Convention.

SATURDAY, January 12, 1788. A. M.

The Convention this day finished the investigation of the contested elections—the result was in favour of the setting members.

619-G. Independent Chronicle, 17 January 17881

Proceedings of Convention.

(Continued from our last.)

THURSDAY, January 10, 1788.

The committee appointed to examine the accommodations of the Meeting-House in Brattle-Street, reported that it would be convenient for the Convention to sit in, which report was accepted.

The committee appointed to examine the returns of the members, requested the sense of the Convention, as to the rule of examining the said returns, whereupon it was made a question, Whether the Convention would give a rule to the said committee? and the same being put, it passed in the affirmative; and it was

Ordered, That if the committee find that any town hath deputed more delegates than by the last valuation such town was entitled to send Representatives to the General Court according to the returns of the said valuation, they report a state of facts relative to such town, to the Convention.

The committee appointed to prepare rules and orders for the regulation of the Convention, made report, and after debate thereon, the consideration thereof was postponed to the afternoon.

Adjourned to 3 o’clock, P.M.—to the Meeting-House in Brattle-Street.


The Convention resumed the consideration of the report of the committee appointed to prepare rules and orders, which being amended, was accepted. After which Mr. Bishop moved an additional rule, to this effect, That on every question when members were in favour of the measure, the yeas and nays should be taken thereon; and after some debate, it passed in the negative.

Adjourned to Friday morning, 10 o’clock.

619-H. New York Journal, 24 January 17881

On the 14th inst. the constitution, and the resolves of the state, authorising their delegates to sit in federal convention, were ordered to be read, when,

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 of 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.

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

Several other motions were made, of a like nature, which caused much debate, but finally the above was adopted.

A vote passed, and a committee was chosen, who waited on Mr. Gerry with this resolve, which produced a letter from the hon. Elbridge Gerry, Esq. informing that he would attend the convention, agreeable to their vote of yesterday.

We find by the papers received last evening, that the debates were tedious but interesting, though few of them were inserted, all upon the subject of the first section, viz. of biennial ELECTIONS. No judgment can yet be formed with respect to the fate of the constitution, that there is a great division in the convention is evident.

619-I. Massachusetts Centinel, 2 February 17881

On Thursday last [31 January] A. M. the Hon. Convention finished the discussion of the Federal Constitution by paragraphs—on which Mr. Parsons moved, “That this Convention do assent to, and ratify, the Constitution of the United States of America, proposed by the Federal Convention:” And the consideration of the motion immediately commenced—In the afternoon His Excellency the President communicated the above propositions—which were under consideration yesterday.

619-K. Massachusetts Gazette, 5 February 1788

Yesterday P. M. the committee of Convention, consisting of two gentlemen from each county, which was appointed on Saturday to take up the subject of the proposed amendments, made their report, a copy of which could not be obtained for this paper.—The report was under consideration till the adjournment last evening, and will be resumed again this day. We are informed, that it is substantially the same as the original propositions.

619-L. Independent Chronicle, 7 February 1788

619-M. Massachusetts Gazette, 8 February 17881

Tuesday last [5 February], in Convention, a motion was made by mr. Dench, of Hopkinton, for adjourning that hon. body to a future day. The question being put, there appeared in favour of the motion 115—against it, 214—majority, against adjourning, 99.

619-N. Charles Turner’s Speech, Massachusetts Gazette, 12 February 1788

619-O. American Herald, 18 February 17881

Index Finger In order that the People of the Commonwealth might be informed of the Reasons which induced the Convention to ratify the Federal Constitution, previous to their Dissolution, they appointed a Committee, consisting of the Hon. George Cabot, Esq., Theophilus Parsons, Esq; Ebenezer Peirce, Esq; and the Hon. Caleb Strong, Esq.; together with the Secretary of the Convention, to prepare an Address to the People, stating the Principles of the said Constitution, the various Objections which were made against it, and the Answers they received; and explaining the absolute Necessity of adopting some energetic System of Federal Government for the Preservation of the Union.

619-P. Providence United States Chronicle, 21 February 1788