By June of 1788, ten States have ratified the proposed Constitution. While the technicalities of Article IX have been met, most people understand that the reality is that for the Union to survive, it must be unanimous. Or at least everybody except Rhode Island, which we will deal with separately.
New York is next up on the clock, and already the sniping between the Federalists, led by Alexander Hamilton, and the longtime Governor of the State, George Clinton (a Revolutionary War General and close friend of Washington’s) has become both intense and deeply personal. Hamilton is deeply connected to the wealthy landowning elites, while Clinton is much more of an introspective “man of the people.” His policies have endeared him to the Middle Class, while the wealthy landowners (Hamilton) have been cut out of New York’s political spoils.
Of all of the States, New York is virtually the only one that – because of Clinton’s economic policies – emerged from the depression of 1780 in good shape. In fact, the State Treasury has over $3 Million (in 1788 dollars) in surplus. Clinton is wisely using this to improve New York’s economy and – of course – keep the votes of the middle and lower classes. Hamilton, who married the daughter of the man Clinton upset in the 1777 Gubernatorial election, opposes the policies that keep New York’s money in New York and not allowing Congress to take over the impost (tax) money that New York is collecting. In fact, at one point New York reluctantly agrees to hand it over to Congress, but petulant Rhode Island torpedoes the deal by refusing to agree. Of course.
More than anyone though, it is these two men, Hamilton and Clinton, who will face off in New York over the Constitution. Clinton will become the very embodiment – in fact, he is the man for whom the term is coined – of the Anti-Federalist. He is not an anti-nationalist. He believes strongly in the Union and in liberty. But he opposes ratification. Hamilton is co-writing the Federalist Papers. it doesn’t take long before the hotter-headed of the two begins to take shots -metaphorically – at the other in the media.
When everything is said and done, One of them will become a two time Vice-President, mostly forgotten despite his accomplishments. The other will become a controversial figure and the centerpiece of rewritten history…
The Convention – Part 5
Two days after the Committee of the Whole accepts the 3/5th’s Compromise and adds another four resolutions to the Virginian’s Plan, it is now clear that the Virginian’s mean to abolish the Articles of Confederation and establish a new government based on the principles of Liberty and freedom. This presents a difficult moral challenge to them as a group and represents the apex of their ideas presented at the Convention.
New Jersey steps up with an alternate plan, which, like the Virginia Plan promises to fix and improve the Articles of Confederation, but unlike the Virginia Plan, actually does. Now comes the moment that the two plans are laid before the Convention, debated and it is decided to pursue one and abandon the other. But which plan will go forward?
As the Convention prepares to call for the vote, one man, New Yorker, Alexander Hamilton, stands to have his say. He will speak for the entire day, and he will come to rue this day…
NOTE: At one point Dave refers to Hamilton being on the $20 Bill. Obviously, he meant the $10 Bill…