the quartet orchestrating the second american revolution 1783 1789.pdf

52 if the verdict in new york turned out to be a

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52 If the verdict in New York turned out to be a political epilogue in the ratification story, the incredulity of the Clintonites at losing a battle in which they possessed a clear majority created an epilogue to the epilogue. New York’s endorsement of ratification included a series of recommended amendments to the Constitution, and a statement that ratification had occurred “in full confidence that the necessary amendments would be adopted.” Madison immediately rejected New York’s terms, arguing that they constituted “conditional ratification, that it does not make N. York a member of the New Union, and consequently she should not be received on that plan.” Madison’s point was that states could make recommended amendments, but they could not make ratification conditional upon acceptance of those amendments. New York was attempting to conflate recommendations with conditions. Madison wrote Hamilton, urging him to apprise all the New York delegates that the Constitution must be adopted “in toto, and for ever…and any condition whatsoever must visciate the ratification.” 53 New York’s somewhat mischievous intentions were fully exposed in a circular letter sent by Governor Clinton to all the states, arguing that there needed to be a second convention if the multiple amendments recommended by six of the states were not acted on promptly by the newly elected government. There was also a veiled threat that New York intended to secede from the union if its recommended amendments were ignored. Ever the aggressor, Hamilton then proceeded to issue his own not-so-veiled threat that if New York seceded from the union, the New York City region would secede from New York. 54 Both Washington and Madison regarded New York’s circular letter as a last-ditch attempt to subvert ratification of the Constitution. Washington thought the letter would have “an insidious tendency…to serve as a standard to which the disaffected might resort.” As he put it to Madison, “to be shipwrecked in sight of the Port would be the severest of all aggravations.” Madison concurred, describing New York’s circular letter as an “act of desperation with a most pestilent tendency.” 55 Somewhat strangely, Jay endorsed the circular letter and even had a major hand in its drafting. He had made a career out of being his own man, and in this instance, much as in his handling of the Mississippi Question, he concluded that a temporary concession would do no harm, especially if you knew that your cause would triumph in the end. “I think we should not have much danger to apprehend of it,” he apprised Washington, “especially if the new Government should in the mean Time recommend itself to the People by the wisdom of its Proceedings, which I flatter myself will be the Case.” 56 Jay apparently believed that New York was engaging in a political tantrum, an exercise in bravado in response to the unacceptable fact of its political irrelevance in the ratification process. Since they had
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