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.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Philip Pell of Pelham Elected To Chair Meeting of Supporters of the New York Gubernatorial Candidacy of George Clinton in 1789

George Clinton served as the first Governor of the State of New York. He first was elected in 1777 and continued to serve consecutive three-year terms until 1795. By the 1780s, George Clinton had emerged as one of the most prominent opponents of the proposed Constitution of the United States. He and other Antifederalists feared that it concentrated too much power in a Federal Government. Despite his opposition and that of other Antifederalists, of course, the Constitution was indeed ratified by the States.

In 1788, Clinton lost the election for nation's Vice Presidency. Supporters of the new Constitution feared that Clinton would undermine its ideals. Rallying against him, the Federalists ensured that he received only a handful of electoral votes and lost the election. The following year, 1789, he ran for reelection as Governor of New York.

Philip Pell was also a strident Antifederalist. Following ratification of the constitution, Pell supported Clinton in his 1789 bid for reelection as Governor of New York. On April 19 of that year, Pell was elected to serve as Chairperson of a meeting at which Westchester County voters decided to support Clinton's candidacy. A newspaper item appeared the following day about the development. It is transcribed below, followed by a citation to its source.

"Westchester County.

A Meeting of a number of respectable gentlemen in the county of Westchester, was held at Court-house, in the town of Bedford, on the 19th inst. for the purpose of fixing upon the proper persons as candidates for the offices of Governor, Lt. Governor and Senator, to fill the vacancy in that office, in the Southern district, at the ensuing election. General Morris was called to, and took the chair. Judge Yates was then proposed to be held up and supported as candidate for the office of Governor: and on no opposition thereto, in favor of Governor Clinton, it was moved that the sense of the persons present, as to the porposition [sic], should be signified by holding up of hands: -- By this it evidentily appeared, that there was a majority in favor of Governor Clinton. The supporters of Judge Yates, dissatisfied with this decision, proposed that the parties should divide and be counted. On the division being made, it again appeared that there was a considerable majority for Governor Clinton. -- The minority being disappointed and chagrined, retired to the tavern, where they met in the forepart of the day. Thereupon, the gentlemen who decided for Governor Clinton, repared [sic] to a convenient house, and elected Mr. Pell for their chairman; and it was unanimously resolved, to support his Excellency George Clinton, Esq. as Governor, the Hon. Pierre Van Cortlandt, Esq. as Lieutenant Governor, the Hon. David Gelfton, Esq. as Senator, to fill the vacancy in that office in this district, and Ebeneezer Purdy, Jonathan G. Tompkins, Abija Gilbert and Abel Smith, Esquires, and Samuel Haight, and Benjamin Field, as Representatives in Assembly, from that county for the ensuing year; and that the above proceedings be published.

By order of the meeting,

March 20, 1789

PHILIP PELL, Chairman."

Source: Westchester County, The Albany Journal Or the Montgomery, Washington and Columbia Intelligencer, Vol. II, No. 74, Apr. 20, 1789, p. 4, col. 1.

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