Historic Pelham

Presenting the rich history of Pelham, NY in Westchester County: current historical research, descriptions of how to research Pelham history online and genealogy discussions of Pelham families.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

New York Implements the New U.S. Constitution in 1788 by, Among Other Things, Electing a Pelham Manor Resident to the Continental Congress

Philip Pell of the Manor of Pelham was among New York's first set of delegates to the Continental Congress in 1789. In a two-volume work published in 1842 entitled "The History of Political Parties in the State of New-York From the Ratification of the Federal Constitution to December, 1840 in Two Volumes", Jabez D. Hammond described the 1788 election of Philip Pell and a group of others to serve as New York's delegates to the Continental Congress. The pertinent excerpt appears immediately below:

"On the 13th Oct., 1788, the governor issued a proclamation requiring the legislature to meet at Albany on the eighthy day of December, alleging that events had occurred since their last meeting, which rendered it necessary that they should convene at an earlier day than that fixed by law for their annual meeting. On the day appointed, the legislature met, and John Lansing, Jr., was unanimously elected speaker of the assembly.

The governor in his speech, stated to the two houses, that he had convened them at that early day, that he might seasonably lay before them the proceedings of the convention at Poughkeepsie, and the ordinance of congress for putting in operation the constitution for the United States, which had been adopted by that convention. He invited the attention of the legislature to the amendments proposed by the New-York convention, and to the declaration of rights which accompanied the ratification, and he alleged that the act of ratification was assented to 'on the express confidence, that the exercise of different powers, would be suspended until it should undergo a revision by a general convention of the states.' He therefore urged them to use their best endeavors for effecting a measure (a general convention,) so earnestly recommended by the convention, and anxiously desired by their constituents.'

I cannot persuade myself that so sagacious a politician as Gov. Clinton, seriously anticipated that another national convention would or could be called. It seems more probable that this recommendation, and the early call of the legislature, were intended to afford evidence of the sincerity of his past opposition to the federal constitution, and as a maneuver to keep his party together in the state of New-York. Eleven states had adopted the constitution in the form reported by the national convention, and most of them, I believe, without suggesting any material alterations. Was it to be expected that these states would consent to give up all they had done, suffer the great questions which had been settled by a majority of the states to be again agitated, and put every thing afloat by the call of a new convention?

On the 15th of December, the two houses proceeded to elect five delegates to represent the state in the continental congress. In the election of these delegates, the party lines were distinctly developed. The delegates supported by the anti-federal party in the assembly were, Abraham Yates, Jun., David Gelston, Philip Pell, John Hathorn, and Samuel Jones; those supported by the federalists were Ezra L'Hommedieu, Egbert Benson, Leonard Gansevoort, Alexander Hamilton, and John Lawrence. The anti-federal candidates were nominated by the assembly by an average majority of about ten votes, but the senate nominated Mr. L'Hommedieu and the other federal candidates. Upon a joint ballot the anti-federalists were elected. This vote shows that the federalists had gained considerably in the assembly since the session of 1787, and had actually obtained a majority in the senate. . . ."

Source: Hammond, Jabez D., Political Parties in the State of New-York From the Ratification of the Federal Constitution to December, 1840 in Two Volumes, pp. 34-36 (Albany, NY: C. van Benthuysen 1842).

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