A Biography of Alexander Hamilton (1755-1804)

The fight for ratification (September 1787-July 1788)

Hamilton returned to the convention twice--in August after Lansing and Yates left in disgust, and again in September as the proceedings were winding down to a vote. Many delegates, like Lansing and Yates, had abandoned the project. Hamilton was skeptical about the results himself, preferring a much stronger executive and less in terms of state sovereignty, but he felt that the benefits outweighed the alternative. In his last remarks to the convention, Hamilton urged everyone assembled to sign it. "No man's ideas were more remote from the plan than his were known to be; but is it possible to deliberate between anarchy and Convulsion on one side, and the chance of good to be expected from the plan on the other." For Hamilton, it was better than nothing.

In written musings to himself, Hamilton remarked positively that the constitution had potential because of its backing by Washington and by "men of property." If the constitution were not adopted, Hamilton saw civil war in the future; if it were, he presaged that Washington would be president.

Hamilton signed the constitution of the United States on September 17, 1787. His solitary signature after the entry "New York," is a visual statement of the struggle that would follow. Hamilton returned alone to his state to build a coalition for the fight for ratification.