In May of 1787, 55 delegates from the 13 states (12 actually, Rhode Island never showed up) met in Philadelphia to revise the Articles of Confederation.  It soon became apparent to the delegates, that rather than amend the Articles, they would write a new Constitution for the U.S. government.  Throughout the hot Philadelphia summer, the delegates pursued their task, one which required tremendous deliberation and compromise.  Article VII of this new Constitution required that 9 of the 13 states ratify the document for it to go into effect.  On September 28, Congress directed the state legislatures to call ratification conventions in each state.  Because the Constitutional Convention had been conducted in secret, the ratifying conventions served to inform the public of the provisions of the proposed new government.  More importantly, the ratifying conventions insured that the Constitution’s authority came from the people, through representatives specifically elected for the purpose of approving or disapproving the proposed charter.  

          Ratification was not a foregone conclusion.  Many were skeptical of the structures and powers proposed in this new government and feared a new tyranny taking over the republic.  These skeptics came to be known as the Anti-Federalists, opposing the Constitution for a variety of reasons.   Those who favored ratification, the Federalists, fought back, convinced that rejection of the Constitution would result in anarchy and civil strife.  Throughout the country, a vigorous debate ensued in newspapers, pamphlets, and public meetings.   

          In New York State, the debate was most contentious, pitting rural and urban interests.  The New York ratification convention met in mid-June 1788 in Poughkeepsie.  At this point there was tremendous pressure on New York.  Eight states had already ratified the document:  Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Georgia, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maryland, and South Carolina.  Under the leadership of Alexander Hamilton and John Jay, Federalists worked to convince
Anti-Federalists led by Melancton Smith and Governor George Clinton.  The nation watched to see which direction New York, and hence the Constitution, would go.