Item of the Day: The Proceedings of a Convention of Delegates Convened At Hartford in the State of Connecticut (1814)

Full Title:  The Proceedings of a Convention of Delegates, From the States of Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode-Island; The Counties of Cheshire and Grafton, in the State of New-Hampshire and the County of Windham, in the State of Vermont;–Convened at Hartford, in the State of Connecticut, December 15th, 1814.  Hartford: Printed by Charles Hosmer, 1815.


The Delegates from the Legislature of the States of Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode-Island, and from the Counties of Grafton and Cheshire in the State of New-Hampshire and the County of Windham in the State of Vermont, assembled in Convention, beg leave to report the following result of their conference.

The convention is deeply impressed with a sense of the arduous nature of the commission which they were appointed to execute, of devising the means of defence against dangers, and of relief from oppressions proceeding from the acts of their own Government, without violating constitutional principles, or disappointing the hopes of a suffering and injured people.  To prescribe patience and firmness to those who are already exhausted by distress, is sometimes to drive them to despair, and the progress towards reform by the regular road, is irksome to those whose imaginations discern, and whose feelings prompt, to a shorter course.–But when abuses, reduced to system and accumulated through a course of years, have pervaded every department of Government, and spread corruption through every region of the State, when these are clothed with the forms of law, and enforced by an Executive whose will is their source, no summary means of relief can be applied without recourse to direct and open resistance.  This experiment, even when justifiable, cannot fail to be painful to the good citizen; and the success of the effort will be no security against the danger of the example.  Precedents of resistance to the worst administration, are eagerly seized by those who are naturally hostile to the best.  Necessity alone can sanction a resort to this measure; and it should never be extended in duration or degree beyond the exigency, until the people, not merely in the fervour of sudden excitement, but after full deliberation, are determined to change the Constitution.

. . .


That it be and hereby is recommended to the Legislatures of the several States represented in this Convention, to adopt all such measures as may be necessary effectually to protect the citizens of said States from the operation and effect of all acts which have been or may be passed by the Congress of the United States, which shall contain provisions, subjecting the militia or other citizens to forcible drafts, conscriptions, or impressments, not authorised by the Constitution of the United States.

Resolved,  That it be and hereby is recommended to the said Legislatures, to authorize and immediate and earnest application to be made to the Government of the United States, requesting their consent to some arrangement, whereby the said States may, separately or in concert, be empowered to assume upon themselves the defence of their territory against the enemy; and a reasonable portion of the taxes, collected within said States, may be paid into the respective treasuries thereof, and appropriated to the payment of the balance due said States, and to the future defence of the same.  The amount so paid into the said treasuries to be credited, and the disbursement made as aforesaid to be charged to the United States.

Resolved, That it be, and it hereby is, recommended to the Legislatures of the aforesaid States, to pass laws (where it has not already been done) authorizing the governours or Commanders in Chief of their militia to make detachments from the same, or to form voluntary corps, as shall be most convenient and conformable to their Constitutions, and to cause the same to be well armed, equipped and disciplined, and held in readiness for service; and upon the request of the Governour of either of the other States to employ the whole of such detachment or corps,  as well as the regular forces of the State, or such part thereof as may be required and can be spared consistently with the safety of the State, in assisting the State, making such request to repel any invasion thereof which shall be made or attempted by the public enemy.

Resolved, That the following amendments of the Constitution of the United States, be recommended to the States represented as aforesaid, to be proposed by them for adoption by the State Legislatures, and, in such cases as may be deemed expedient, by a Convention chosen by the people of each State,

And it is further recommended, that the said States shall persevere in their efforts to obtain such amendments, until the same shall be effected.

First.  Representatives and direct taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this union, according to their respective numbers of free persons, including those bound to serve for a term of years and excluding Indians not taxed, and all other persons.

 Second.  No new State shall be admitted into the union by Congress in virtue of the power granted by the Constitution, without the concurrence of two thirds of both Houses.

Third.  Congress shall not have power to lay any embargo on the ships or vessels of the citizens of the United States, in the ports or harbours thereof, for more than sixty days.

Fourth.  Congress shall not have power, without the concurrence of two thirds of both Houses, to interdict the commercial intercourse between the United States and any foreign nation of the dependencies thereof.

Fifth.  Congress shall not make or declare war, or authorize acts of hostility against any foreign nation without the concurrence of two thirds of both Houses, except such act as hostility be in defence of the territories of the United States when actually invaded.

Sixth.  No person who shall hereafter be naturalized, shall be eligible as a member of the Senate or House of Representatives of the United States, nor capable of holding any civil office under the authority of the United States.

Seventh.  The same person shall not be elected President of the United States a second time; nor shall the President be elected from the same States two terms in succession.

Resolved,  That if the application of these States to the government of the United States, recommended in a foregoing Resolution, should be unsuccessful, and peace should not be concluded, and the defence of these States should be neglected, as it has been since the commencement of the war, it will in the opinion of this Convention be expedient for the Legislatures of the several States to appoint Delegates to another Convention, to meet at Boston, in the State of Massachusetts, on the third Thursday of June next, with such powers and instructions as the exigency of a crisis so momentous may require.

Resolved,  That the Hon. George Cabot, the Hon. Chauncey Goodrich, and the Hon. Daniel Lyman, or any two of them, be authorized to call another meeting of this Convention, to be holden in Boston, at any time before new Delegates shall be chosen, as recommended in the above Resolution, if in their judgment the situation of the country shall urgently require it.

Hartford, January 4th, 1814.

GEORGE CABOT,                             JAMES HILLHOUSE

NATHAN DANE,                               JOHN TREADWELL,

HARRISON G. OTIS,                         NATHANIEL SMITH,

TIMOTHY BIGELOW,                       CALVIN GODDARD,           

JOSHUA THOMAS,                           ROGER M. SHERMAN,

SAMUEL S. WILDE,                          DANIEL LYMAN,

JOSEPH LYMAN,                              SAMUEL WARD,


DANIEL WALDO,                             BENJAMIN HAZARD,

JODIJAH BAYLIES,                           BENJAMIN WEST,

GEORGE BLISS,                                MILES OLCOTT,



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Filed under 1810's, Federalists, Posted by Rebecca Dresser

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