Nation at the Crossroads: The Great New York Debate over the Constitution, 1787–1788

November 14, 2008
January 29, 2009

The exhibition, to be presented online as well as in the Low Light Gallery, will illustrate and illuminate the intense process of argument and debate that preceded the vote of the 1787 New York State Convention to ratify the Constitution.

It will tell "a great story," in the words of one guest curator of the project, historian Richard Leffler, "of political skill, hard-fought advocacy, and the political courage to compromise," through documents, contemporary newspapers and broadsides, portraits and objects from the collections. Included will be such treasures as John Jay's draft of Federalist #64 and the copy of the Constitution he annotated during the Poughkeepsie debate, John McKesson's diary recording the debates on the floor, William Livingston's marked up draft of the Constitution with his notes from the Philadelphia convention, Rufus King's on-the-spot reports of that event, Ceracchi's bust of John Jay (1792), watercolor depictions of the site of the meetings and of New York's Federal Hall, and George Washington's inaugural chair. An online version of the exhibition will include video interviews with historians, a timeline, and maps illustrating the home counties of the delegates and their political affiliations.

Visit the exhibit's companion website here.

Creative: Tronvig Group