New York Ratification
  • Colony Founded: 1664
  • Ratified Constitution: July 26, 1788
  • Total Population: 335,466 (1790 est.)
    • Free: 314,142
    • Slave: 21,324
  • Major Economic Institutions: Agriculture, Iron Ore Manufacturing, Overseas Trading
  • State Government: New York's state government was designed in favor of the elite, with a weak bicameral legislature and a strong governor able to set the state agenda. Voting was also limited to white males with significant property holdings (at least 20 pounds in value). Thus, most residents in the state had little influence in the state government.
  • Ratification Debate: New York was a deeply divided state with regards to the Constitution, going back to the Constitutional Convention when nearly the entire state delegation walked out in frustration with where the debates were heading. Alexander Hamilton, the only delegate to stay, afterward became the de facto leader of the Federalist cause in the state in favor of a stronger national government. Opposing him were the Anti-Federalist delegates who left the Convention as well as New York's influential governor George Clinton, who vigorously fought the new document in the hopes of adding a Bill of Rights and protecting state power. Both sides heavily campaigned for their candidates to be delegates to the ratification convention, and both distributed many editorials and pamphlets for their cause (including the Federalist Papers). In the end, though, the fact that the property requirement was removed from voting in these elections allowed many poor rural farmers and low-income citizens to vote, resulting in a lopsided Anti-Federalist delegation to the ratification convention. Soon after the convention began, New Hampshire became the ninth state to ratify the Constitution, which put the document into effect. Still, despite Federalist hopes that momentum was now in their favor, the debate still continued in New York's convention over whether to stay a part of the new union or reject the Constitution and leave it. In the heavily politicized argument, little progress on ratification was made in weeks, as amendment after amendment was instead added to the document. Finally, on July 26th, New York's convention narrowly ratified the Constitution 30-27, with thirty-three explanatory and recommended amendments along with it. Even so, it was still a bitter decision, as most Anti-Federalists were upset at it's ratification, while some Federalists celebrated their victory by forming mobs and attacking Anti-Federalist households. In all, the ratification debate in New York proved to be one of the toughest fights faced by the Constitution.1
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