This narrative describing the ratification of the United States Constitution in New York State and the subsequent Albany scenario has appeared in print (and now online) in a number of places. It may have been first printed (as we are told below) in the Albany Gazette perhaps on August 26. Its creator (maybe only the publisher or an unnamed reporter) is not known. The provenance of the narrative also is considered below.
    However, this piece of community iconography provides a number of windows on the city's socio economic fabric during the early days of the Industrial Revolution. By listing and grouping the Albany participants according to their political, social, and/or economic identities we might consider and/or appreciate a number of community-based dynamics. The entire document has been transformed and is presented here for convenience and accessibility.
    Then finally appears a detailed account of the actual processional illustrated by the historical art of David C. Lithgow.

The delegates nominated by the two parties for the convention to decide on the adoption of the federal constitution, were the following:

Abraham Ten Broeck,
Jacob Cuyler, [probably 539 or 540]
Francis Nicoll
Jeronemus Hoogland
Peter Gansevoort Jr.
James Gordon
John W. Schermerhorn

Robert Yates
John Lansing jr.
Henry Oothoudt
Peter Vrooman
Israel Thompson
Anthony Ten Eyck
Dirk Swart

By the returns from the counties of Albany, Montgomery, Washington, Columbia, Dutchess, Ulster, and Orange, 37 anti-Federal candidates were elected to the convention for considering the United States Constitution. The counties of New York, Westchester, Kings, and Richmond gave 19 federal. The counties of Queens sending 9, was divided. The whole number of delegates sent was 67. In New York the vote was decidedly federal; some of the opposite candidates receiving only 30 votes and the highest, which was given for Gov. Clinton, being but 134. The following is the canvass of the votes for the federal delegates, and will show the strength of the electors in that city, at that period.

Gov. Clinton, 134
Col. Willett, 108
William Dunning, 102
The remainder each about 30

John Jay, 2735
Richard Morris, 2716
John Sloss Hobart, 2713
Alex. Hamilton, 2713
Robt. R. Livingston, 2712
Isaac Rosevelt, 2701
James Duane, 2680
Richard Harrison, 2677
Nicholas Low. 2651

The Convention came to a decision on the 26th July 1788, yeas 30, nays 17; by which New York adopted the Constitution, being the 11th on the catalogue.

When the vote was taken in congress 11 states were represented; the two members from Rhode Island were excused from voting, and of the 22 members remaining there was but one dissenting voice, which was that of Mr. Yates, member from New York — the other New York member, Mr. L'Hommedieu, voting in the affirmative.

The city of Albany, not to be behind her sister cities in patriotic display, set apart the 8th of August as a day of public rejoicings, to Celebrate the ratification of the constitution of the United States by the Convention of the state of New York. Almost every trade and profession seems to have united in the jubilee, with appropriate emblems, and formed a truly imposing procession, notwithstanding the preponderance of the anti-federal party at the polls. A page of the Gazette of August 28, is occupied with the proceedings, as follows:

Account of the rejoicings in the city of Albany, on Friday, August 8, 1788, on celebrating the Ratification of the Constitution for the Government of the United States, by the Convention of the State of New York.

At sunrise, a gun was fired to Announce the day.

At 10 o'clock, A. M., 11 guns were fired for the citizens to assemble in the fields near Watervliet.

At 10[:30] o'clock, one gun for forming the procession.

At 11, the procession was formed, when the whole line on the march saluted the Constitution.

Immediately after the salute, the procession moved, in the following order:

The Albany troop of Light Horse, in full uniform, commanded by Captain Gansevoort. Music.

The Constitution, neatly engrossed on parchment, suspended on a decorated stall, and borne by Major-General Schuyler, on horseback.

Standard of the United States, carried by Colonel John A. Wendell.

Eleven ancient citizens, each representing a state that had ratified the Constitution, bearing a scroll of parchment, with the name of the state endorsed in capitals.

Axemen: ornamented with garlands of laurels.

An elegant plough, guided by Stephen Van Rensselaer, Esq.

Sowers: John Cuyler, Esq., and Capt. Jacob Lansing.

A neat harrow, guided by Francis Nicoll, Esq.

Farmers: neatly dressed, with various implements of husbandry. Farmers' Flag: Green silk a sheaf of wheat. Motto God speed the plough. Baeweas [batteau]: preceded by a dray carrying a butt [?].

Carpenters: preceded by a carriage drawn by two horses, on which was erected a workshop 14 feet by 7; highly decorated. The flag of crimson silk, with a coat of arms. Motto We unite.

Gold And Silversmiths: preceded by a carriage bearing a Gold and Silversmith's shop, 12 feet by 7 covered with a canopy supported by pillars 7 feet high. All the implements of art in the shop, and three artists and an apprentice industriously employed. Flag, blue silk with a coat of arms.

Boat Builders: with their tools decorated.

Tinmen And Pewterers: with implements of their craft ornamented.

Block And Pumpmakers: with their tools ornamented.

Blacksmiths: A carriage, drawn by six horses, supporting a blacksmith's shop 14 feet by 8, containing a forge, bellows, and all the apparatus of the trade, one sledge man, two vice men, one clink, all at work; who made and completed during the procession, a set of ploughirons, a set of scythe mountings, two axes, and shoes for three horses, and followed by master workmen. The flag, black silk with coat of arms. Motto With hammer in hand, All arts do stand.

Clock And Watchmakers: An apprentice bearing an embellished eight-day time piece.

Sail Makers.

Banners: handsomely dressed, bearing implements of their craft, decorated. Flag, white silk and coat of arms. Motto Honor and Honesty.

Bakers: properly dressed, bearing implements of their art, decorated — an escutcheon, a lonf ornamented.

Nailers: each wearing a clean white apron, preceded by a carriage drawn by four horses, supporting a nailer's shop, 11 by 9—nailers at work. Flag blue silk, coat of arms. Motto With hammer and heart, We'll support our part.


Tobacconists: dressed in white frocks, each carrying a hand of tobacco decorated with ribands.

Carmen: In proper dress, preceded by a horse and cart carrying a hogshead marked No. 11. Flag white silk, and coat of arms. Motto: We hope to rest in God.

Ship Joiners And Shipwrights: With implements of their art ornamented.


Hatters: With decorated tools, preceded by a flag, carried by Mr. Solomon Allen. Coat of arms. Motto "Success to American Manufactures"

Inspectors of Flour.

Millers, in proper dress.

Weavers: Bearing shuttles decorated. Flag, purple silk, with coat of arms. Motto Weave truth with trust.

Printers: Preceded by apprentices, decorated with blue sashes, carrying volumes of newspapers. A white silk flag carried by Charles R. Webster - in an escutcheon the Bible, the Constitution, Sept. 1787, Ratification of the State of New York, July 26, 1788. On a wreath a hand holding a composing stick, proper. Motto Our freedom is secured.

Mr. Webster, and Stoddard* and Babcock, apprentices, decorated with blue sashes, carrying quires of paper

Painters And Glaziers.

Tailors; Ornamented with yellow sashes and cockades, wearing green aprons, preceded by Messrs. Henry [several possibilities) and Gibson. A flag of green silk, with a coat of arms. Motto "Concordia parva res crescunt."

Coach Makers: Preceded by a flag of blue silk and coat of arms. Motto Post nubila Phebeus; followed by a carriage drawn by four horses, on which was erected a large workshop, handsomely decorated, with several men at work, who framed a coach and put several wheels together.

Turners: properly dressed, preceded by a flag of pink colored silk, with a coat of arms. Motto — We turn to serve the common weal, And drive the trade with skill and zeal.

Masons and Baicklayers: In their proper dress, carrying the implements of their trade ornamented. Flas—bine silk with coat of arms.

Saddlers and Harness Makers: With implements of their craft, A flag of blue silk with coat of arms. Motto—Our trust is in God.

Tanners and Curriers: Carrying the implements of their branches, decorated. A flag of pink silk, with coat of arms.

Brass Founders: Neatly dressed in green aprons and white cockades, carrying implements of the profession, preceded by an air furnace neatly constructed.

Coopers: Preceded by Benjamin Winne, aged 84 years; on a carriage drawn by 4 horses, a cooper shop, well constructed, ornamented with 11 pillars, each crowned with a cask: several men at work. Flag, carried by Mr. Robert Hewson, of red silk, with coat of arms.

Butchers: In uniform of white frocks and blue sashes, driving 2 beautiful oxen, ornamented with ribbands, preceded by music. Flag — blue silk, with coat of arms. Motto—May we never want fat cattle.

Cordwainers: A carriage drawn by 2 horses, on which a handsome shop, 12 feet long and 6 wide was erected. In the shop, Mr. Fredenrich and several journeymen and apprentices at work, dressed in white, with aprons, yellow sashes and cockades The carriage was preceded by Mr. David Groesbeck and Mr. Anthony Hallenbake, and followed by masters, journeymen and apprentices — Mr. Matthew Fryer carrying a yellow silk flag with a coat of arms.

State Standard, carried by Major John D. P. Ten Eyck.

Glass Makers: Dressed in green, carrying various tools and implements of their profession—globes, bottles and other specimens of their manufactory.

A Batteau: Elegantly painted and decorated; on a carriage drawn by two grey horses, neatly caparisoned, loaded with goods proper for the Indian trade, navigated by a proper number of batteaumen furnished with, setting-poles, paddles, [&such], which were used with great skill during the procession. Mr. Gerardus Lansingh, in the character of a trader, and an Indian, properly dressed and ornamented, sitting in the stern. During the repast, the batteau made a voyage towards the Mohawk country, and returned with a full cargo of peltry.

Captains Of Vessels: Preceded by Capt. Philip Lansing, carrying a flag of blue silk, on which was a sloop without sails. Motto "God sends sails."

Merchants and Traders, with their clerks, preceded by Mr. Jacob Cuyler (several possabilities), carrying a white flag, in an escutcheon, one ship inward and another outward bound—supported by two sheaves of wheat. Motto May our exports exceed our imports.

The Corporations of the Dutch, Episcopal and Presbyterian Churches, preceded by the Clergy.

Sheriff and his deputies, with white wands.
constables with their staves.
Judges and Justices of Common Pleas.
The Chancellor.
Gentlemen of the Bar. In gowns, followed by their students.
School masters, followed by their scholars.
Surveyor General (Simeon De Witt)
Adjutant General, and officers of Militia, in complete uniform.
Physicians and students.
Detachment of Artillery, commanded by Capt. Lieut. Hale. Standard blue silk, on which was a field piece, mortar, and burning shell. [Graphic]

The procession moved with the greatest regularity through Watervliet, Market, (now Broadway) and State street, to the Federal "Bower" [as printed] which the van reached at half past twelve o'clock, announced by the firing of a gun.

This edifice (probably on the site of the new State Capitol) made an highly elegant appearance. It was erected on a most advantageous part of the heights west of Fort Frederick; commanding the most extended prospect of any situation near the city; and when the flags of the respective divisions were displayed on its battlements, that of the United States in the centre, that of the State on the right, and the farmers on the left, the coup d'oeil [eye] was extremely pleasing. The edifice was 154 feet in length and 44 in breadth, and was raised on 4 rows of pillars, 15 feet in height, which were close wreathed with foliage and composed of 11 arches in front From the architrave, which was clothed with verdant branches, festoons of foliage were suspended, which crossed the arches; above the centre of which, were white oval medallions, with the name of a ratifying state on each.

When the procession had drawn up in a line, at the rear of the bower, the company marched off, in regular divisions, to the tables, which were plentifully covered with substantial American cheer; handsomely arranged under the direction of Mr. Wm. Van Ingen. And the tables, which were eleven in number, placed across the collonade, in a line with the arches, were by no means sufficient for the company. After dinner, the following toasts were drank, each honored with the discharge of eleven guns:

Lithgow 1788


It may he mentioned, by way of episode, that when the procession reached Green street, a party of anti federalists, as they were then called, who had collected there, made an assault upon it, and a skirmish ensued. One of the principal actors in the scene was the late Mr. Jonathan Kidney. A cannon had been procured, and heavily charged; and the excitement was so great, that it would undoubtedly have been discharged upon the line of procession, had not Mr. Kidney prevented it by driving the end of a file into the fuse, and breaking it off. The lighthorse made a charge upon the assailants, who scampered out of the way. The projecting oven of the old Stone House was torn down to furnish missiles. Among the wounded on the occasion was Mr. James Caldwell, who received a brick upon his forehead.,


Source: This descriptive offering has been transformed from an online printing that may have appeared first in a published city directory for 1849-50. Since Joel Munsell printed it in volume 1 of his Annals of Albany (first published in 1850), I suspect that he may have been the original transformer if not actually the author. Some spellings and punctuations have been modified for clarity.

This painting entitled "The Anti Ratification Riot 1788" is part of what is today a collection set of historical illustrations on the history of Albany produced by David C. Lithgow between 1933 and 1946. Known today as The Lithgow Murals, they adorn the Milne Library at the Downtown Campus of the University at Albany. As with many of Lithgow's works, the image shown here may be the only graphical depection of the event. Adapted from an online posting in 2014.

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