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these considerations it must be evident, that in this volume will be found a great body of historical facts, and much political information, which it is important to preserve.
Of the character of the Convention ; of the wisdom or indiscretion of its proceedings ; and of the expediency or inexpediency of the proposed amendments, this is neither the time nor the place for discussion. The Reporters commenced their labours with a full determination, that whatever might be their own political sentiments and feelings, they should not be permitted to mingle in their duties, or give the slightest tinge of partiality to their rcports; por will any opinion on the result of the Convention be now expressed.
Whatever may be the event of the conflicting sentiments of the community, with regard to the amended constitution, it cannot materially affect the value of this volume. The act of calling a Convention, of electing delegates with unlimited powers, and the proceedings of that body, constitute a great POLITICAL REVOLUTION, in which the people of this state, in a silent and peaceable manner, resumed for a time their delegated power, and original sovereignty; and claimed the privilege of revising and amending: by their representatives, the constitution, which forms the basis of their government, and the guarantee of their rights and liberties. Whether the amended constitution shall be adopted or not, an authentic record of the erents, connected with this revolution, will be valuable, both as preparatory to the ultimate decision of the people, and as matter of history.
It is important that the people, previous to the adoption or rejection of the constitution, which will in a few weeks be submitted for their consideration, should have a full view of the whole ground, and be made acquainted with the arguments, which have been advanced by their representatives, for and against the several amendments. The question which is about to be taken will be final; and the constitution which shall be adopted, on the last Tuesday of January next, will probably endure for ages. Before a decision of such magnitude, and so momentous in its consequences, shall be made, it is important that authentic and correct information should be extensively diffused through the community.
It is believed this volume contains a more full and accurate exposition of the views of the Convention, on the great variety of subjects, which were discussed and acted on by that body, than can be obtained from any other source. The official journal kept by the secretaries, however accurate, will contain little more than the outlines of the proceedings, and will furDish none of the reasons, or principles, on which the amendments are grounded. Five thousand copies of the amended constitution, are the only official documents, which will go forth to the people, to guide and direct them in the decision they are about to make. These naked copies, blended as the amendments are with the provisions of the existing constitution, will afford to opportunity of contrasting the alterations with other propositions, on the same subjects, or of the arguments, which were urged in favour and against their adoption.
In the volume now presented to the public, the reader will find a copy of the old constitution; the amendments recommended, in a distinct form ; and the amended constitution, as proposed to the people. He will also be able 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 olume, 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.
Convention of the Representatives of the State of New-York.
KINGSTON, 20th APRIL, 1777.
the king and parliament of Great-Britain, on the rights and Committees. liberties of the people of the American colonies, had reduced them to the necessity of introducing a government by congresses and com. mit:ees, as temporary experients, 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:
“ WUEREAS, the present goverument of this colony, by congress Its object temand committees, was instituied while the former government, under porary. the crown of Great Britain, existed in full force :--and was esiab. lished 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 apprehend would soon take place, but is now considered as remote and unceriain.
“AND WHEREAS many and great inconveniences attend the said Its inconvenien: mode of government by congress and commit:ees, as of necessity, in ced. many instances, legislative, judicial and executive powers have been vested therein, especially since the dissolution of the former govern. ment, by the abdication of the la:e 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 bis 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, 10 'he hubie petition of the colonies for redress of grievances and reconciliation with Great. Britain, 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 de. struction 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 ile 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 people 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 enemics : Therefore,
Resolation of “RESOLVED, That it be recommended to the respective assemblies the General Congress, re
and conventions of the united colonies, where no government suffi, commending cient to the exigencies of their affairs has been hitherto estabiished, the institution to adopt such government as shall, in the opinion of the represen. of new govern
tatives of the people, best conduce 10 the happiness and safety of
their constituents in particular, and America in general.” Powers of the Provincial Con
" AND WHEREAS doubls have arisen, whether this congress are gress inade invested with sufficient power and authority to deliberate and deter
mine on so important a subject as the necessity of ereciing and constituting a new form of government and internal police, to the exclusion of all foreign jurisdiction, dominion, and control whatever. And whereas it appertains of right solely to the people of this co
lony to determine the said doubts: Therefore, Recommenda- " RESOLVED, That it be recommended io the electors in the sev. tion to elect de- eral counties in this colony, by election in the manner and form pusies with ade prescribed for the election of the present congress, either 10 authorquate
ize (in addition to the power vested in this congress) their pre. sent deputies, or others in the stead of their present deputies, or either of them, to take into consideration the necessity and propriety of in. stituring such new government as in and by the said resolution of the continental congress is described and recommended : And, if the majority of the counties, by their deputies in provincial congress, shall be of opinion that such new government ought to be insiituied and established, then 10 institute and establish such a government as they shall deem best calculated to secure the rights, liberties, and liappiness of the good people of this colony ; and to continue in force until a future peace with Great Britain shall render the same
unnecessary. And Time and place of meeting.
“ Resolven, That the said election in the several counties ought to be had on such day, and ai such place or places, as, by the committee of each county respectively shall be determined. And it is recommended 10 the said committees, to fix such early days for the said eleclions, as that all the deputies to be elected bave suffi. cient time to repair to the city of New York by the second Monday ili July next; on wlrich day all the said depuiies ought punctually to gi e ibeir attendance.
" AND WILEREAS the object of the aforegoing resolution is of the utmost importance to llie gooil people of this colony :
“RESOLVE!, That it be, and it is bereby earnestly recommended to the cominirices, freeholders, and other electors, in the different
counties in this colony, diligently 10 carry the same into execution." Appointment of
AND WHENEAS the good people of the said colony, in pursuance this Convention, of the said resolution, and reposing special trust and confidence in
the members of tliis convention, have appointed, auti:orized, and empowered them, for the purposes, and in the manner, and with the powers in and by the said resolve, specified, declared, and mentioned.
AND WEneas the delegates of the United American Siates, in general congress convenei, did, on the fourth day of July now last
past, solemnly publish and declare in the words following, viz: Proceedings of "When, in the course of liuman events, it becomes necessary for
one people 10 dissolve the political bands which have connected inem Congress.
with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature's Gud entitle them, a šlecent respect to the opinions of mankind re. quires that they should declure the causes which impel them to the separation.
“ We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are cre. ated equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain un. alienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That 10 secure these rights, governments are institutec! among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the go. verned; that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of those ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute a new governmeni, laying its foundation on such princi
ples, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness. Prudence, indeed, will diciate, that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience haih shown, that mankind are more disposed io suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the fornis to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usur. pations, pursuing invariably the same object, evinces a design to reduce they under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such governmeni, and to provide new guards for their future securi:y. Such has been the patient sufferance of these colo. nies; and such now is the necessitywhich constrains them 10 alter their former sysiem of government. The history of the present king of Great-Britain, is a history of repe.:ted injuries and usurpa ions, all ha. ving in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over these states. To prove this let facts be submitted to a candid world,
“He bas refused his assent to laws the most who lesome and ne. Grievances. cessary for the public guod.
"He has forbidden his governors to pass laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation, till his as. sent should be obtained; and, when so suspended, he has utterly neglecied to attend to them.
“He has refused to pass other laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of representation in the legislature ; a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
"He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, un. comfortable, and distant from the depository of their public records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
“ He has dissolved representative houses repeatedly, for opposing, with manly firmness, his invasions on the rights of the people.
“ He has refused for a long time after such dissolutions to cause others to be elected ; whereby the legislative powers incapable of annihilation, have returned to the people at large, for their exercise ; the state remaining in the mean time, exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
“ He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these states ; for that purpose obstructing ihe laws for naturalization of foreigners ; refusing to pass others, to encourage their migra ions hither, and raising the conditions of new appropriations of lands.
“He bas obstructed the administration of justice. by refusing his assent to laws for establishing judiciary powers.
" He has made judges dependent on his will alone, for the tenure of their cffices, and ihe amount and payment of their salaries.
“He has erected a multitude of new offices, and sent hither swarms of officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance.
“ He has kep among us, in umes of peace, standing armies, with. out the consent of our legislatures.
“ He has affected to render the military independent of, and supe. rior to the civil power.
* He has combined with others, to subject us to a jurisdiction, foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his assent to their acts of pretended legislation.
* For quartering large bodies of trvops among us :
“For protecting them by a mockiriai, from purushment for any murders they should commi on the inhabitanis of thes states :
" For cutting ff au ade with all paris of the worid:
" For transporting is beyond seas, to be tried for pretended offen. ces :
“Por abolishing he free system of English laws in a neighbouring province, establishing therein an arbitrary government, and enlarging