This post was written by Marybeth Kavanagh, Reference Archivist
On July 26, 1788 New York, by a vote of 30-27, became the 11th state to ratify the Constitution. The New York Ratifying Convention, having approved the Constitution, also voted unanimously to prepare a circular letter to the other states, asking them to support a second general convention to consider amendments to the Constitution.
The letter was drafted by John Jay, with revisions by Alexander Hamilton and John Lansing, Jr. In addition to being sent to the other states, it was also printed in seven New York newspapers and in more than 30 newspapers in other states. It begins:
“We members of the Convention of this State, have deliberately & maturely considered the Constitution proposed for the united States. Several articles in it appear so exceptionable [to a majority of us], that nothing but the fullest confidence of obtaining a Revision of them by a general convention, and an invincible Reluctance to separating from our Sister States could have prevailed upon [a sufficient number] to ratify it [without stipulating for previous amendments]. We all unite in opinion that such a Revision will be necessary to recommend it to the approbation and Support of a numerous Body of our constituents.…”
Several other states had also voted for ratification only with a promise that amendments to the Constitution, especially a bill of rights, would be proposed in the first Congress. New York’s ratification message was the longest of any of the state conventions, and proposed 25 items in a Bill of Rights and 31 amendments to the Constitution.
Largely through the efforts of James Madison, the first Congress in September 1789 proposed a Bill of Rights, which was adopted with little public debate in December 1791.