When the seal of secrecy had been broken by the publication of the Journal, there was printed in Albany shortly afterward (1821): Secret Proceedings and Debates of the Convention Assembled at Philadelphia, in the year 1787, for the purpose of forming the Constitution of the United States ofAmerica. From Notes taken by the late Robert Yates, Esq. Chief Justice of New York, and copied by John Lansing, Jun, Esq. etc.10 J. C. Hamilton stated that Edmond C. Genet, former minister from France, was responsible for this publication.11 This is borne out by the fact that in 1808 Genet published A Letter to the Electors of President and Vice-President of the United States,12 which was an attack upon Madison, then a candidate for the presidency. The “Letter” consisted almost entirely of an abstract or extracts from the notes of Yates, mainly direct quotations, but cleverly pieced together in such a way as to represent Madison as the leader of the national party in the Federal Convention and working for the annihilation of the state governments.
As Yates and his colleague Lansing left the Convention early — because they felt that their instructions did not warrant them in countenancing, even by their presence, the action which the Convention was taking — Yates’s notes cease with the fifth of July. For the earlier days of the Convention the notes of proceedings are quite brief; and while the reports are somewhat fuller after the presentation of the New Jersey plan on June 15, it was evident that they did not give at all a complete picture of the proceedings, though they threw a great deal of light upon what had taken place and in particular upon the attitude of individuals in the debates.13[xv] A careful search has failed to reveal the existence of the original manuscript, so that in the present work the editor has been compelled to reprint the Secret Proceedings from the first edition. As they are next in importance they have been placed immediately after Madison’s notes in the records of each day.