Front Page Titles (by Subject) 1787 - TO EDMUND PENDLETON mad. mss. - The Writings, vol. 5 (1787-1790)
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1787 - TO EDMUND PENDLETON mad. mss. - James Madison, The Writings, vol. 5 (1787-1790) 
The Writings of James Madison, comprising his Public Papers and his Private Correspondence, including his numerous letters and documents now for the first time printed, ed. Gaillard Hunt (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1900). Vol. 5.
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TO EDMUND PENDLETONmad. mss.
Philada, Sepr 20 1787.
The privilege of franking having ceased with the Convention, I have waited for this opportunity of inclosing you a copy of the proposed Constitution for the U. States. I forbear to make any observations on it; either on the side of its merits or its faults. The best Judges of both will be those who can combine with a knowledge of the collective & permanent interest of America, a freedom from the bias resulting from a participation in the work. If the plan proposed be worthy of adoption, the degree of unanimity attained in the Convention is a circumstance as fortunate, as the very respectable dissent on the part of Virginia is a subject of regret. The double object of blending a proper stability & energy in the Government with the essential characters of the republican Form, and of tracing a proper line of demarkation between the national and State authorities, was necessarily found to be as difficult as it was desirable, and to admit of an infinite diversity concerning the means among those who were unanimously agreed concerning the end.
I find by a letter from my father that he & my uncle Erasmus have lately paid their respects to Edmundsbury. I infer from his silence as to your health that no unfavorable change had happened in it. That this may find it perfectly re-established is the sincere and affecte wish of, Dr. Sir,
Yr friend & humble Servt
TO JAMES MADISON.mad. mss.
New York, Septr 30 1787.
Hond Sir By Mr. Blair, who left Philada immediately after the rising of the Convention, I sent to the care of Mr. F. Maury a copy of the new Constitution proposed for the U. S. Mr. Blair set out in such haste that I had no time to write by him, and I thought the omission of the less consequence as your last letter led me to suppose that you must about that time be absent on your trip to Frederick. I arrived here on monday last.1 The Act of the Convention was then before Congress. It has been since taken up, & by a unanimous vote forwarded to the States to be proceeded on as recommended by the Convention. What reception this new system will generally meet with cannot yet be pronounced. For obvious reasons opposition is as likely to arise in Virginia as anywhere. The City of Philada. has warmly espoused it. Both parties there it is said have united on the occasion. It may happen nevertheless that a country party may spring up and give a preponderancy to the opposite scale. In this City the general voice coincides with that of Philada, but there is less apparent unanimity, and it is pretty certain that the party in power will be active in defeating the new System. In Boston the reception given to it is extremely favorable we are told, but more will depend on the Country than the Town. The echo from Connecticut & New Jersey, as far as it has reached us, denotes a favorable disposition in those States.
I inclose a few Plumb-Stones from an excellent Tree. I am aware that this is not the true mode of propagating the fruit, but it sometimes succeeds, and sometimes even improves the fruit. With my affecte. regards to my mother & the family
I remain Yr. dutifl. Son.
TO GEORGE WASHINGTON.wash. mss.
N. York, Sepr. 30 1787.
I found on my arrival here that certain ideas unfavorable to the Act of the Convention which had created difficulties in that body, had made their way into Congress. They were patronised chiefly by Mr. R. H. L[ee,] and Mr. Dane of Massts.. It was first urged that, as the new Constitution was more than an alteration of the Articles of Confederation under which Congress acted, and even subverted those Articles altogether, there was a constitutional impropriety in their taking any positive agency in the work. The answer given was that the Resolution of Congress in Feby had recommended the Convention as the best mean of obtaining a firm national Government; that, as the powers of the Convention were defined by their Commissions in nearly the same terms with the powers of Congress given by the Confederation on the subject of alterations, Congress were not more restrained from acceding to the new plan, than the Convention were from proposing it. If the plan was within the powers of the Convention it was within those of Congress; if beyond those powers, the same necessity which justified the Convention would justify Congress; and a failure of Congress to Concur in what was done would imply either that the Convention had done wrong in exceeding their powers, or that the Government proposed was in itself liable to insuperable objections; that such an inference would be the more natural, as Congress had never scrupled to recommend measures foreign to their constitutional functions, whenever the public good seemed to require it; and had in several instances, particularly in the establishment of the new Western Governments, exercised assumed powers of a very high & delicate nature, under motives infinitely less urgent than the present state of our affairs, if any faith were due to the representations made by Congress themselves, echoed by 12 States in the Union, and confirmed by the general voice of the people. An attempt was made in the next place by R. H. L. to amend the Act of the Convention before it should go forth from Congress.1 He proposed a bill of Rights,—provision for juries in civil cases, & several other things corresponding with the ideas of Colonel M[ason.] He was supported by Mr. M[elancthon] Smith of this state. It was contended that Congress had an undoubted right to insert amendments, and that it was their duty to make use of it in a case where the essential guards of liberty had been omitted. On the other side the right of Congress was not denied, but the inexpediency of exerting it was urged on the following grounds;—1. that every circumstance indicated that the introduction of Congress as a party to the reform was intended by the States merely as a matter of form and respect. 2. that it was evident, from the contradictory objections which had been expressed by the different members who had animadverted on the plan, that a discussion of its merits would consume much time, without producing agreement even among its adversaries. 3. that it was clearly the intention of the States that the plan to be proposed should be the act of the Convention, with the assent of Congress, which could not be the case, if alterations were made, the Convention being no longer in existence to adopt them. 4. that as the Act of the Convention, when altered would instantly become the mere act of Congress, and must be proposed by them as such, and of course be addressed to the Legislatures, not Conventions of the States, and require the ratification of thirteen instead of nine States, and as the unaltered act would go forth to the States directly from the Convention under the auspices of that Body,—Some States might ratify the one & some the other of the plans, and confusion & disappointment be the least evils that would ensue. These difficulties which at one time threatened a serious division in Congs and popular alterations with the yeas and nays on the Journals, were at length fortunately terminated by the following Resolution: “Congress having recd the Report of the Convention lately assembled in Philada., Resold. unanimously that the said Report, with the Resolutions & letter accompanying the same, be transmitted to the several Legislatures, in order to be submitted to a Convention of Delegates chosen in each State by the people thereof, in conformity to the Resolves of the Convention made & provided in that case.” Eleven States were present, the absent ones, R. I. & Maryland. A more direct approbation would have been of advantage in this & some other States, where stress will be laid on the agency of Congress in the matter, and a handle be taken by adversaries of any ambiguity on the subject. With regard to Virginia & some other States, reserve on the part of Congress will do no injury. The circumstance of unanimity must be favorable every where.
The general voice of this City seems to espouse the new Constitution. It is supposed nevertheless that the party in power is strongly opposed to it. The country must finally decide, the sense of which is as yet wholly unknown. As far as Boston & Connecticut have been heard from, the first impression seems to be auspicious. I am waiting with anxiety for the echo from Virginia, but with very faint hopes of its corresponding with my wishes.1
With every sentiment of respect & esteem, & every wish for your health & happiness, I am Dear Sir
Your Obedient, humble Servt
P. S. A small packet of the size 2 Vol 8° addressed to you lately came to my hands with books of my own from France. Genl. Pinkney has been so good as to take charge of them. He set out yesterday for S. Carolina, & means to call at Mount Vernon.
TO EDMUND RANDOLPH.1
New York, October 7, 1787.
. . . . . . . . .
We hear nothing decisive as yet concerning the general reception given to the act of the Convention. The advocates for it come forward more promptly than the adversaries. The sea coast seems every where fond of it. The party in Boston which was thought most likely to make opposition, are warm in espousing it. It is said that Mr. S. Adams objects to one point only, viz. the prohibition of a religious test. Mr. Bowdoin’s objections are said to be against the great number of members composing the Legislature, and the intricate election of the President. You will no doubt have heard of the fermentation in the Assembly of Pennsylvania.1
. . . . . . . . .
TO GEORGE WASHINGTON.wash. mss.
New York, Octr. 14, 1787.
The letter herewith inclosed was put into my hands yesterday by Mr. de Crevecœur who belongs to the Consular establishment of France in this Country. I add to it a pamphlet2 which Mr. Pinkney has submitted to the public, or rather as he professes, to the perusal of his friends, and a printed sheet3 containing his ideas on a very delicate subject, too delicate in my opinion to have been properly confided to the press. He conceives that his precautions against any further circulation of the piece than he himself authorizes, are so effectual as to justify the step. I wish he may not be disappointed. In communicating a copy to you, I fulfil his wishes only.
No decisive indications of the public mind in the Northn & Middle States can yet be collected. The Reports continue to be rather favorable to the Act of the Convention from every quarter; but its adversaries will naturally be latest in shewing themselves. Boston is certainly friendly. An opposition is known to be in petto in Connecticut, but it is said not to be much dreaded by the other side. Rhode Island will be divided on this subject in the same manner that it has been on the question of paper money. The Newspapers here have contained sundry publications animadverting on the proposed Constitution & it is known that the Government party are hostile to it. There are on the other side so many able & weighty advocates, and the conduct of the Eastern States if favorable, will add so much force to their arguments, that there is at least as much ground for hope as for apprehension. I do not learn that any opposition is likely to be made in N. Jersey. The temper of Pennsylvania will be best known to you from the direct information which you cannot fail to receive through the Newspapers & other channels.
Congress have been of late employed chiefly in settling the requisition, and in making some arrangements for the Western Country. The latter consist of the appointment of a Govr & Secretary, and the allotment of a sum of money for Indian Treaties, if they should be found necessary. The Requisition so far as it varies our fiscal system, makes the proportion of indents receivable independently of specie, & those of different years indiscriminately receivable for any year, and does not as heretofore tie down the States to a particular mode of obtaining them. Mr. Adams has been permitted to return home after Feby. next, & Mr. Jefferson’s appointment continued for three years longer.
With the most perfect esteem & most affectionate regard, I remain Dr Sir,
Your Obedt friend & servt.
TO GEORGE WASHINGTON.wash. mss.
New York, Octr 18, 1787.
I have been this day honored with your favor of the 10th instant, under the same cover with which is a copy of Col. Mason’s objections to the Work of the Convention.1 As he persists in the temper which produced his dissent it is no small satisfaction to find him reduced to such distress for a proper gloss on it; for no other consideration surely could have led him to dwell on an objection which he acknowledged to have been in some degree removed by the Convention themselves—on the paltry right of the Senate to propose alterations in money bills—on the appointment of the vice President President of the Senate instead of making the President of the Senate the vice President, which seemed to be the alternative—and on the possibility, that Congress may misconstrue their powers & betray their trust so far as to grant monopolies in trade &c—. If I do not forget too some of his other reasons were either not at all or very faintly urged at the time when alone they ought to have been urged, such as the power of the Senate in the case of treaties & of impeachments; and their duration in office. With respect to the latter point I recollect well that he more than once disclaimed opposition to it. My memory fails me also if he did not acquiesce in if not vote for, the term allowed for the further importation of slaves,1 and the prohibition of duties on exports by the States. What he means by the dangerous tendency of the Judiciary I am at some loss to comprehend. It was never intended, nor can it be supposed that in ordinary cases the inferior tribunals will not have final jurisdiction in order to prevent the evils of which he complains. The great mass of suits in every State lie between Citizen & Citizen, and relate to matters not of federal cognizance. Notwithstanding the stress laid on the necessity of a Council to the President I strongly suspect, tho’ I was a friend to the thing, that if such an one as Col. Mason proposed, had been established, and the power of the Senate in appointments to offices transferred to it, that as great a clamour would have been heard from some quarters which in general echo his objections. What can he mean by saying that the Common law is not secured by the new Constitution, though it has been adopted by the State Constitutions. The common law is nothing more than the unwritten law, and is left by all constitutions equally liable to legislative alterations. I am not sure that any notice is particularly taken of it in the Constitutions of the States. If there is, nothing more is provided than a general declaration that it shall continue along with other branches of law to be in force till legally changed. The Constitution of Virga. drawn up by Col. Mason himself, is absolutely silent on the subject. An ordinance passed during the same Session, declared the common law as heretofore & all Statutes of prior date to the 4 of James I to be still the law of the land, merely to obviate pretexts that the separation from G. Britain threw us into a State of nature, and abolished all civil rights and objections. Since the Revolution every State has made great inroads & with great propriety in many instances on this monarchical code. The “revisal of the laws” by a Com̃ittee of wch Col. Mason was a member, though not an acting one, abounds with such innovations. The abolition of the right of primogeniture, which I am sure Col. Mason does not disapprove, falls under this head. What could the Convention have done? If they had in general terms declared the Common law to be in force, they would have broken in upon the legal Code of every State in the most material points; they wd. have done more, they would have brought over from G. B. a thousand heterogeneous & antirepublican doctrines, and even the ecclesiastical Hierarchy itself, for that is a part of the Common law. If they had undertaken a discrimination, they would have formed a digest of laws, instead of a Constitution. This objection surely was not brought forward in the Convention, or it wd have been placed in such a light that a repetition of it out of doors would scarcely have been hazarded. Were it allowed the weight which Col. M. may suppose it deserves, it would remain to be decided whether it be candid to arraign the Convention for omissions which were never suggested to them—or prudent to vindicate the dissent by reasons which either were not previously thought of, or must have been wilfully concealed. But I am running into a comment as prolix as it is out of place.
I find by a letter from the Chancellor (Mr. Pendleton) that he views the act of the Convention in its true light, and gives it his unequivocal approbation. His support will have great effect. The accounts we have here of some other respectable characters vary considerably. Much will depend on Mr. Henry, and I [am] glad to find by your letter that his favorable decision on the subject may yet be hoped for.1 —The Newspapers here begin to teem with vehement & violent calumniations of the proposed Govt.. As they are chiefly borrowed from the Pensylvania papers, you see them of course. The reports however from different quarters continue to be rather flattering.
With the highest respect & sincerest attachment I remain Dear Sir, Yr Obedt & Affecte Servt
TO EDMUND RANDOLPH.chic. hist. soc. mss.
New York, October 21, 1787.
My dear Friend.
I mentioned in a late letter that I had addressed to your care a small box of books for the University. I now enclose the Bill of lading. I enclosed also a bill of lading for another box destined for Mr. W. Hay. Will you be so good as to have it handed to him? I paid two dollars for its freight from France to this port, which he may repay to you. The money you remitted by me to Col. Carrington having somewhat exceeded the amount of his demand, the two dollars may the more properly pass into your hands.
I have received no letter from you since your halt at the Bolling Green. We hear that opinions are various in Virginia on the plan of the Convention. I have received, within a few days, a letter from the Chancellor, by which I find that he gives it his approbation; and another from the President of William and Mary, which, though it does not absolutely reject the Constitution, criticises it pretty freely. The newspapers in the Northern and Middle States begin to teem with controversial publications. The attacks seem to be principally levelled against the organization of the Government, and the omission of the provisions contended for in favor of the press, and juries, &c. A new combatant, however, with considerable address and plausibility, strikes at the foundation. He represents the situation of the United States to be such as to render any government improper and impracticable which forms the States into one nation, and is to operate directly on the people. Judging from the newspapers, one would suppose that the adversaries were the most numerous and the most earnest. But there is no other evidence that it is the fact. On the contrary, we learn that the Assembly of New Hampshire, which received the Constitution on the point of their adjournment, were extremely pleased with it. All the information from Massachusetts denotes a favorable impression there. The Legislature of Connecticut have unanimously recommended the choice of a Convention in that State, and Mr. Baldwin, who is just from the spot, informs me, that, from present appearances, the opposition will be inconsiderable; that the Assembly, if it depended on them, would adopt the system almost unanimously; and that the clergy and all the literary men are exerting themselves in its favor. Rhode Island is divided; the majority being violently against it. The temper of this State cannot yet be fully discerned. A strong party is in favor of it. But they will probably be outnumbered, if those whose numbers are not yet known should take the opposite side. New Jersey appears to be zealous. Meetings of the people in different counties are declaring their approbation, and instructing their representatives. There will probably be a strong opposition in Pennsylvania. The other side, however, continue to be sanguine. Doctor Carroll, who came hither lately from Maryland, tells me, that the public voice there appears at present to be decidedly in favor of the Constitution. Notwithstanding all these circumstances, I am far from considering the public mind as fully known, or finally settled on the subject. They amount only to a strong presumption that the general sentiment in the Eastern and Middle States is friendly to the proposed system at this time.
Present me respectfully to Mrs. R. and accept the most fervent wishes for your happiness, from your affect. friend.
TO THOMAS JEFFERSON1lib. of. cong. mss.
New York, Octr 24, 1787.
. . . . . . . . .
Your favor of June 20 has been already acknowledged. The last Packet from France brought me that of August 2d. I have recd also by the Mary Capt. Howland the three Boxes for W. H.,1 B.F.2 and myself. The two first have been duly forwarded. The contents of the last are a valuable addition to former literary remittances and lay me under additional obligations, which I shall always feel more strongly than I express. The articles for Congress have been delivered & those for the two Universities3 and for General Washington have been forwarded, as have been the various letters for your friends in Virginia and elsewhere. The parcel of rice referred to in your letter to the Delegates of S. Carolina has met with some accident. No account whatever can be gathered concerning it. It probably was not shipped from France. Ubbo’s book I find was not omitted as you seem to have apprehended. The charge for it however is, which I must beg you to supply. The duplicate vol of the Encyclopedie, I left in Virginia, and it is uncertain when I shall have an opportunity of returning it. Your Spanish duplicates will I fear be hardly vendible. I shall make a trial whenever a chance presents itself. A few days ago I recd your favor of 15 of Augst. via L’Orient & Boston. The letters inclosed along with it were immediately sent to Virga
You will herewith receive the result of the Convention, which continued its session till the 17th of September. I take the liberty of making some observations on the subject, which will help to make up a letter, if they should answer no other purpose.
It appeared to be the sincere and unanimous wish of the Convention to cherish and preserve the Union of the States. No proposition was made, no suggestion was thrown out, in favor of a partition of the Empire into two or more Confederacies.
It was generally agreed that the objects of the Union could not be secured by any system founded on the principle of a confederation of Sovereign States. A voluntary observance of the federal law by all the members could never be hoped for. A compulsive one could evidently never be reduced to practice, and if it could, involved equal calamities to the innocent & the guilty, the necessity of a military force both obnoxious & dangerous, and in general a scene resembling much more a civil war than the administration of a regular Government.
Hence was embraced the alternative of a Government which instead of operating, on the States, should operate without their intervention on the individuals composing them; and hence the change in the principle and proportion of representation.
This ground-work being laid, the great objects which presented themselves were 1. to unite a proper energy in the Executive, and a proper stability in the Legislative departments, with the essential characters of Republican Government. 2. to draw a line of demarkation which would give to the General Government every power requisite for general purposes, and leave to the States every power which might be most beneficially administered by them. 3. to provide for the different interests of different parts of the Union. 4. to adjust the clashing pretensions of the large and small States. Each of these objects was pregnant with difficulties. The whole of them together formed a task more difficult than can be well conceived by those who were not concerned in the execution of it. Adding to these considerations the natural diversity of human opinions on all new and complicated subjects, it is impossible to consider the degree of concord which ultimately prevailed as less than a miracle.
The first of these objects, as respects the Executive, was peculiarly embarrassing. On the question whether it should consist of a single person, or a plurality of co-ordinate members, on the mode of appointment, on the duration in office, on the degree of power, on the re-eligibility, tedious and reiterated discussions took place. The plurality of co-ordinate members had finally but few advocates. Governour Randolph was at the head of them. The modes of appointment proposed were various, as by the people at large—by electors chosen by the people—by the Executives of the States—by the Congress, some preferring a joint ballot of the two Houses—some a separate concurrent ballot, allowing to each a negative on the other house—some, a nomination of several candidates by one House, out of whom a choice should be made by the other. Several other modifications were started. The expedient at length adopted seemed to give pretty general satisfaction to the members. As to the duration in office, a few would have preferred a tenure during good behaviour—a considerable number would have done so in case an easy & effectual removal by impeachment could be settled. It was much agitated whether a long term, seven years for example, with a subsequent & perpetual ineligibility, or a short term with a capacity to be re-elected, should be fixed. In favor of the first opinion were urged the danger of a gradual degeneracy of re-elections from time to time, into first a life and then a hereditary tenure, and the favorable effect of an incapacity to be reappointed on the independent exercise of the Executive authority. On the other side it was contended that the prospect of necessary degradation would discourage the most dignified characters from aspiring to the office, would take away the principal motive to ye faithful discharge of its duties—the hope of being rewarded with a reappointment would stimulate ambition to violent efforts for holding over the Constitutional term—and instead of producing an independent administration, and a firmer defence of the constitutional rights of the department, would render the officer more indifferent to the importance of a place which he would soon be obliged to quit forever, and more ready to yield to the encroachmts of the Legislature of which he might again be a member. The questions concerning the degree of power turned chiefly on the appointment to offices, and the controul on the Legislature. An absolute appointment to all offices—to some offices—to no offices, formed the scale of opinions on the first point. On the second, some contended for an absolute negative, as the only possible mean of reducing to practice the theory of a free Government which forbids a mixture of the Legislative & Executive powers. Others would be content with a revisionary power, to be overruled by three fourths of both Houses. It was warmly urged that the judiciary department should be associated in the revision. The idea of some was that a separate revision should be given to the two departments—that if either objected two thirds, if both, three fourths, should be necessary to overrule.
In forming the Senate, the great anchor of the Government the questions, as they came within the first object, turned mostly on the mode of appointment, and the duration of it. The different modes proposed were 1. by the House of Representatives. 2. by the Executive. 3. by electors chosen by the people for the purpose. 4. by the State Legislatures.—On the point of duration, the propositions descended from good behavior to four years, through the intermediate terms of nine, seven, six, & five years. The election of the other branch was first determined to be triennial, and afterwards reduced to biennial.
The second object, the due partition of power between the General & local Governments, was perhaps of all, the most nice and difficult. A few contended for an entire abolition of the States; Some for indefinite power of Legislation in the Congress, with a negative on the laws of the States; some for such a power without a negative; some for a limited power of legislation, with such a negative; the majority finally for a limited power without the negative. The question with regard to the negative underwent repeated discussions, and was finally rejected by a bare majority. As I formerly intimated to you my opinion in favor of this ingredient, I will take this occasion of explaining myself on the subject. Such a check on the States appears to me necessary 1. to prevent encroachments on the General authority. 2. to prevent instability and injustice in the legislation of the States.
1. Without such a check in the whole over the parts, our system involves the evil of imperia in imperio. If a compleat supremacy somewhere is not necessary in every Society, a controuling power at least is so, by which the general authority may be defended against encroachments of the subordinate authorities, and by which the latter may be restrained from encroachments on each other. If the supremacy of the British Parliament is not necessary as has been contended, for the harmony of that Empire; it is evident I think that without the royal negative or some equivalent controul, the unity of the system would be destroyed. The want of some such provision seems to have been mortal to the antient Confederacies, and to be the disease of the modern. Of the Lycian confederacy little is known. That of the Amphyctions is well known to have been rendered of little use whilst it lasted, and in the end to have been destroyed, by the predominance of the local over the federal authority. The same observation may be made, on the authority of Polybius, with regard to the Achæan League. The Helvetic System scarcely amounts to a confederacy, and is disguished by too many peculiarities, to be a ground of comparison. The case of the United Netherlands is in point. The authority of a Stadtholder, the influence of a Standing Army, the common interest in the conquered possessions, the pressure of surrounding danger, the guarantee of foreign powers, are not sufficient to secure the authority and interest of the generality agst. the anti-federal tendency of the provincial sovereignties. The German Empire is another example. A Hereditary chief with vast independent resources of wealth and power, a federal Diet, with ample parchment authority, a regular Judiciary establishment, the influence of the neighbourhood of great & formidable Nations have been found unable either to maintain the subordination of the members, or to prevent their mutual contests & encroachments. Still more to the purpose is our own experience both during the war and since the peace. Encroachments of the States on the general authority, sacrifices of national to local interests, interferences of the measures of different States, form a great part of the history of our political system. It may be said that the new Constitution is founded on different principles, and will have a different operation. I admit the difference to be material. It presents the aspect rather of a feudal system of republics, if such a phrase may be used, than of a Confederacy of independent States. And what has been the progress and event of the feudal Constitutions? In all of them a continual struggle between the head and the inferior members, until a final victory has been gained in some instances by one, in others, by the other of them. In one respect indeed there is a remarkable variance between the two cases. In the feudal system the sovereign, though limited, was independent; and having no particular sympathy of interests with the Great Barons, his ambition had as full play as theirs in the mutual projects of usurpation. In the American Constitution The general authority will be derived entirely from the subordinate authorities. The Senate will represent the States in their political capacity; the other House will represent the people of the States in their individual cay. The former will be accountable to their constituents at moderate, the latter at short periods. The President also derives his appointment from the States, and is periodically accountable to them. This dependence of the General on the local authorities, seems effectually to guard the latter against any dangerous encroachments of the former; whilst the latter, within their respective limits, will be continually sensible of the abridgement of their power, and be stimulated by ambition to resume the surrendered portion of it. We find the representatives of Counties and Corporations in the Legislatures of the States, much more disposed to sacrifice the aggregate interest, and even authority, to the local views of their constituents, than the latter to the former. I mean not by these remarks to insinuate that an esprit de corps will not exist in the National Government or that opportunities may not occur of extending its jurisdiction in some points. I mean only that the danger of encroachments is much greater from the other side, and that the impossibility of dividing powers of legislation, in such a manner, as to be free from different constructions by different interests, or even from ambiguity in the judgment of the impartial, requires some such expedient as I contend for. Many illustrations might be given of this impossibility. How long has it taken to fix, and how imperfectly is yet fixed the legislative power of corporations, though that power is subordinate in the most compleat manner? The line of distinction between the power of regulating trade and that of drawing revenue from it, which was once considered the barrier of our liberties, was found on fair discussion, to be absolutely undefinable. No distinction seems to be more obvious than that between spiritual and temporal matters. Yet wherever they have been made objects of Legislation, they have clashed and contended with each other, till one or the other has gained the supremacy. Even the boundaries between the Executive, Legislative, & Judiciary powers, though in general so strongly marked in themselves, consist in many instances of mere shades of difference. It may be said that the Judicial authority, under our new system will keep the States within their proper limits, and supply the place of a negative on their laws. The answer is, that it is more convenient to prevent the passage of a law than to declare it void after it is passed; that this will be particularly the case, where the law aggrieves individuals, who may be unable to support an appeal agst a State to the supreme Judiciary; that a State which would violate the Legislative rights of the Union, would not be very ready to obey a Judicial decree in support of them, and that a recurrence to force, which, in the event of disobedience would be necessary, is an evil which the new Constitution meant to exclude as far as possible.
2. A constitutional negative on the laws of the States seems equally necessary to secure individuals agst encroachments on their rights. The mutability of the laws of the States is found to be a serious evil. The injustice of them has been so frequent and so flagrant as to alarm the most stedfast friends of Republicanism. I am persuaded I do not err in saying that the evils issuing from these sources contributed more to that uneasiness which produced the Convention, and prepared the Public mind for a general reform, than those which accrued to our national character and interest from the inadequacy of the Confederation to its immediate objects. A reform therefore which does not make provision for private rights, must be materially defective. The restraints agst. paper emissions, and violations of contracts are not sufficient. Supposing them to be effectual as far as they go, they are short of the mark. Injustice may be effected by such an infinitude of legislative expedients, that where the disposition exists it can only be controuled by some provision which reaches all cases whatsoever. The partial provision made, supposes the disposition which will evade it. It may be asked how private rights will be more secure under the Guardianship of the General Government than under the State Governments, since they are both founded on the republican principle which refers the ultimate decision to the will of the majority, and are distinguished rather by the extent within which they will operate, than by any material difference in their structure. A full discussion of this question would, if I mistake not, unfold the true Principles of Republican Government, and prove in contradiction to the concurrent opinions of the theoretical writers, that this form of Government, in order to effect its purposes, must operate not within a small but an extensive sphere. I will state some of the ideas which have occurred to me on the subject. Those who contend for a simple Democracy, or a pure republic, actuated by the sense of the majority, and operating within narrow limits, assume or suppose a case which is altogether fictitious. They found their reasoning on the idea, that the people composing the Society, enjoy not only an equality of political rights; but that they have all precisely the same interests, and the same feelings in every respect. Were this in reality the case, their reasoning would be conclusive. The interest of the majority would be that of the minority also; the decisions could only turn on mere opinion concerning the good of the whole, of which the major voice would be the safest criterion; and within a small sphere, this voice could be most easily collected, and the public affairs most accurately managed. We know however that no society ever did or can consist of so homogeneous a mass of Citizens. In the savage state indeed, an approach is made towards it; but in that state little or no Government is necessary. In all civilized societies, distinctions are various and unavoidable. A distinction of property results from that very protection which a free Government gives to unequal faculties of acquiring it. There will be rich and poor; creditors and debtors; a landed interest, a monied interest, a mercantile interest, a manufacturing interest. These classes may again be subdivided according to the different productions of different situations & soils, & according to different branches of commerce and of manufactures. In addition to these natural distinctions, artificial ones will be founded, on accidental differences in political, religious, or other opinions, or an attachment to the persons of leading individuals. However erroneous or ridiculous these grounds of dissention and faction may appear to the enlightened Statesman or the benevolent philosopher, the bulk of mankind who are neither Statesmen nor Philosophers, will continue to view them in a different light. It remains then to be enquired whether a majority having any common interest, or feeling any common passion, will find sufficient motives to restrain them from oppressing the minority. An individual is never allowed to be a judge or even a witness, in his own cause. If two individuals are under the bias of interest or enmity agst. a third, the rights of the latter could never be safely referred to the majority of the three. Will two thousand individuals be less apt to oppress one thousand, or two hundred thousand one hundred thousand? Three motives only can restrain in such cases: 1. a prudent regard to private or partial good, as essentially involved in the general and permanent good of the Whole. This ought no doubt to be sufficient of itself. Experience however shews that it has little effect on individuals, and perhaps still less on a collection of individuals, and least of all on a majority with the public authority in their hands. If the former are ready to forget that honesty is the best policy; the last do more. They often proceed on the converse of the maxim, that whatever is politic is honest. 2. respect for character. This motive is not found sufficient to restrain individuals from injustice. And loses its efficacy in proportion to the number which is to divide the pain or the blame. Besides as it has reference to public opinion, which is that of the majority, the standard is fixed by those whose conduct is to be measured by it. 3. Religion. The inefficacy of this restraint on individuals is well known. The conduct of every popular Assembly, acting on oath, the strongest of religious ties, shews that individuals join without remorse in acts agst. which their consciences would revolt, if proposed to them separately in their closets. When Indeed Religion is kindled into enthusiasm, its force like that of other passions is increased by the sympathy of a multitude. But enthusiasm is only a temporary state of Religion, and whilst it lasts will hardly be seen with pleasure at the helm. Even in its coolest state, it has been much oftener a motive to oppression than a restraint from it. If then there must be different interests and parties in society; and a majority when united by a common interest or passion cannot be restrained from oppressing the minority, what remedy can be found in a republican Government, where the majority must ultimately decide, but that of giving such an extent to its sphere, that no common interest or passion will be likely to unite a majority of the whole number in an unjust pursuit. In a large Society, the people are broken into so many interests and parties, that a common sentiment is less likely to be felt, and the requisite concert less likely to be formed, by a majority of the whole. The same security seems requisite for the civil as for the religious rights of individuals. If the same sect form a majority and have the power, other sects will be sure to be depressed. Divide et impera, the reprobated axiom of tyranny, is under certain qualifications, the only policy, by which a republic can be administered on just principles. It must be observed however that this doctrine can only hold within a sphere of a mean extent. As in too small a sphere oppressive combinations may be too easily formed agst. the weaker party; so in too extensive a one, a defensive concert may be rendered too difficult against the oppression of those entrusted with the administration. The great desideratum in Government is, so to modify the sovereignty as that it may be sufficiently neutral between different parts of the Society to controul one part from invading the rights of another, and at the same time sufficiently controuled itself, from setting up an interest adverse to that of the entire Society. In absolute monarchies, the Prince may be tolerably neutral towards different classes of his subjects but may sacrifice the happiness of all to his personal ambition or avarice. In small republics, the sovereign will is controuled from such a sacrifice of the entire Society, but is not sufficiently neutral towards the parts composing it. In the extended Republic of the United States. The General Government would hold a pretty even balance between the parties of particular States, and be at the same time sufficiently restrained by its dependence on the community, from betraying its general interests.
Begging pardon for this immoderate digression I return to the third object above mentioned, the adjustments of the different interests of different parts of the Continent. Some contended for an unlimited power over trade including exports as well as imports, and over slaves as well as other imports; some for such a power, provided the concurrence of two thirds of both Houses were required; Some for such a qualification of the power, with an exemption of exports and slaves, others for an exemption of exports only. The result is seen in the Constitution. S. Carolina & Georgia were inflexible on the point of the slaves.
The remaining object created more embarrassment, and a greater alarm for the issue of the Convention than all the rest put together. The little States insisted on retaining their equality in both branches, unless a compleat abolition of the State Governments should take place; and made an equality in the Senate a sine qua non. The large States on the other hand urged that as the new Government was to be drawn principally from the people immediately and was to operate directly on them, not on the States; and consequently as the States wd lose that importance which is now proportioned to the importance of their voluntary compliances with the requisitions of Congress, it was necessary that the representation in both Houses should be in proportion to their size. It ended in the compromise which you will see, but very much to the dissatisfaction of several members from the large States.
It will not escape you that three names only from Virginia are subscribed to the Act. Mr. Wythe did not return after the death of his lady. Docr M’Clurg left the Convention some time before the adjournment. The Governour and Col. Mason refused to be parties to it. Mr. Gerry was the only other member who refused. The objections of the Govr turn principally on the latitude of the general powers, and on the connection established between the President and the Senate. He wished that the plan should be proposed to the States with liberty to them to suggest alterations which should all be referred to another general Convention, to be incorporated into the plan as far as might be judged expedient. He was not inveterate in his opposition, and grounded his refusal to subscribe pretty much on his unwillingness to commit himself, so as not to be at liberty to be governed by further lights on the subject. Col. Mason left Philada. in an exceeding ill humour indeed. A number of little circumstances arising in part from the impatience which prevailed towards the close of the business, conspired to whet his acrimony. He returned to Virginia with a fixed disposition to prevent the adoption of the plan if possible. He considers the want of a Bill of Rights as a fatal objection. His other objections are to the substitution of the Senate in place of an Executive Council & to the powers vested in that body—to the powers of the Judiciary—to the vice President being made President of the Senate—to the smallness of the number of Representatives—to the restriction on the States with regard to ex post facto laws—and most of all probably to the power of regulating trade, by a majority only of each House. He has some other lesser objections. Being now under the necessity of justifying his refusal to sign, he will of course muster every possible one. His conduct has given great umbrage to the County of Fairfax, and particularly to the Town of Alexandria. He is already instructed to promote in the Assembly the calling of a Convention, and will probably be either not deputed to the Convention, or be tied up by express instructions. He did not object in general to the powers vested in the National Government, so much as to the modification. In some respects he admitted that some further powers would have improved the system. He acknowledged in particular that a negative on the State laws, and the appointment of the State Executive ought to be ingredients; but supposed that the public mind would not now bear them, and that experience would hereafter produce these amendments.
The final reception which will be given by the people at large to the proposed system cannot yet be decided. The Legislature of N. Hampshire was sitting when it reached that State and was well pleased with it. As far as the sense of the people there has been expressed, it is generally favorable. Boston is warm and almost unanimous in embracing it. The impression on the country is not yet known. No symptoms of disapprobation have appeared. The Legislature of that State is now sitting, through which the sense of the people at large will soon be promulged with tolerable certainty. The paper money faction in R. Island is hostile. The other party zealously attached to it. Its passage through Connecticut is likely to be very smooth and easy. There seems to be less agitation in this State N. York than anywhere. The discussion of the subject seems confined to the Newspapers. The principal characters are known to be friendly. The Governour’s party which has hitherto been the popular & most numerous one, is supposed to be on the opposite side; but considerable reserve is practiced, of which he sets the example. N. Jersey takes the affirmative side of course. Meetings of the people are declaring their approbation and instructing their representatives. Penna. will be divided. The City of Philada., the Republican party, the Quakers, and most of the Germans espouse the Constitution. Some of the Constitutional leaders, backed by the Western Country will oppose. An unlucky ferment on the subject in their Assembly just before its late adjournment has irritated both sides, particularly the opposition, and by redoubling the exertions of that party may render the event doubtful. The voice of Maryland I understand from pretty good authority, is, as far as it has been declared, strongly in favor of the Constitution. Mr. Chase is an enemy, but the Town of Baltimore which he now represents, is warmly attached to it, and will shackle him as far as it can. Mr. Paca will probably be, as usual, in the politics of Chase. My information from Virginia is as yet extremely imperfect. I have a letter from Genl Washington which speaks favorably of the impression within a circle of some extent; and another from Chancellor Pendleton which expresses his full acceptance of the plan, and the popularity of it in his district, I am told also that Innes and Marshall are patrons of it. In the opposite scale are Mr. James Mercer, Mr. R. H. Lee, Docr Lee and their connections of course, Mr. M. Page according to Report, and most of the Judges & Bar of the general Court. The part which Mr. Henry will take is unknown here. Much will depend on it. I had taken it for granted from a variety of circumstances that he wd. be in the opposition, and still think that will be the case. There are reports however which favor a contrary supposition. From the States South of Virginia nothing has been heard. As the deputation from S. Carolina consisted of some of its weightiest characters, who have returned unanimously zealous in favor of the Constitution, it is probable that State will readily embrace it. It is not less probable that N. Carolina will follow the example unless that of Virginia should counterbalance it. Upon the whole, although, the public mind will not be fully known, nor finally settled, for a considerable time, appearances at present augur a more prompt, and general adoption of the plan than could have been well expected.
When the plan came before Congress for their sanction, a very serious effort was made by R. H. Lee & Mr. Dane, from Massts. to embarrass it. It was first contended that Congress could not properly give any positive countenance to a measure which had for its object the subversion of the Constitution under which they acted. This ground of attack failing, the former gentleman urged the expediency of sending out the plan with amendments, & proposed a number of them corresponding with the objections of Col. Mason. This experiment had still less effect. In order however to obtain unanimity it was necessary to couch the resolution in very moderate terms.
Mr. Adams has recd permission to return, with thanks for his services. No provision is made for supplying his place, or keeping up any representation there. Your reappointment for three years will be notified from the office of F. Affrs. It was made1without a negative, eight States being present. Connecticut, notwithstanding put in a blank ticket, the sense of that State having been declared against embassies. Massachusts. betrayed some scruple on like ground. Every personal consideration was avowed, & I believe with sincerity, to have militated against these scruples. It seems to be understood that letters to & from the foreign Ministers of the U. S. are not free of Postage; but that the charge is to be allowed in their accounts.
The exchange of our French for Dutch Creditors has not been countenanced either by Congress or the Treasury Board. The paragraph in your last letter to Mr. Jay, on the subject of applying a loan in Holland to the discharge of the pay due to the foreign officers has been referred to the Board since my arrival here. No report has yet been made. But I have little idea that the proposition will be adopted. Such is the state & prospect of our fiscal department, that any new loan however small, that should now be made, would probably subject us to the reproach of premeditated deception. The balance of Mr. Adams’s last loan will be wanted for the interest due in Holland, and with all the income here, will it is feared, not save our credit in Europe from farther wounds. It may well be doubted whether the present Government can be kept alive during the ensuing year, or until the new one may take its place.
Upwards of 100,000 Acres of the lands of the U. S. have been disposed of in open market. Five millions of unsurveyed have been sold by private contract to a N. England company, at ⅔ of a dollar per Acre, payment to be made in the principal of the public securities. A negotiation is nearly closed with a N. Jersey company for two millions more on like terms, and another commenced with a company of this City for four millions. Col. Carrington writes more fully on this subject.
You will receive herewith the desired information from Alderman Broome in the case of Mr. Burke, also the Virga. Bill on Crimes & punishments. Sundry alterations having been made in conformity to the sense of the House in its latter stages, it is less accurate & methodical than it ought to have been. To these papers I add a Speech of Mr. C. P. on the Misspi business. It is printed under precautions of secrecy, but surely could not have been properly exposed to so much risk of publication.1 You will find also among the pamphlets & papers I send by Com̃odore Jones, another printed speech of the same Gentleman. The Museum [?], Magazine, & Philada Gazettes will give you a tolerable idea of the objects of present attention.
The summer crops in the Eastern & Middle States have been extremely plentiful. Southward of Virga.—They differ in different places. On the whole I do not know that they are bad in that region. In Virginia the drought has been unprecedented, particularly between the falls of the Rivers & the Mountains. The crops of Corn are in general alarmingly short. In Orange I find there will be scarcely subsistence for the inhabitants. I have not heard from Albemarle. The crops of Tobo. are every where said to be pretty good in point of quantity, & the quality unusually fine. The crops of wheat were also in general excellent in quality & tolerable in quantity.
Novr. 1. Commodore Paul Jones having preferred another vessel to the packet, has remained here till this time. The interval has produced little necessary to be added to the above. The Legislature of Massts. has it seems taken up the act of the Convention, and has appointed or probably will appoint an early day for its State Convention. There are letters also from Georgia which denote a favorable disposition. I am informed from Richmond that the New Electionlaw from the Revised Code produced a pretty full House of Delegates, as well as a Senate, on the first day. It had previously had equal effect in producing full meetings of the freeholders for the County elections. A very decided majority of the Assembly is said to be zealous in favor of the New Constitution. The same is said of the Country at large. It appears however that individuals of great weight both within & without the Legislature are opposed to it. A letter I just have from Mr. A. Stuart,1 names Mr. Henry, Genl. Nelson, W. Nelson, the family of Cabels, St. George Tucker, John Taylor, and the Judges of the Genl. Court except P. Carrington. The other opponents he describes as of too little note to be mentioned, which gives a negative information of the Characters on the other side. All are agreed that the plan must be submitted to a Convention.
We hear from Georgia that that State is threatened with a dangerous war with the Creek Indians. The alarm is of so serious a nature that law-martial has been proclaimed, and they are proceeding to fortify even the Town of Savannah. The idea there is, that the Indians derive their motives as well as their means from their Spanish neighbours. Individuals complain also that their fugitive slaves are encouraged by East Florida. The policy of this is explained by supposing that it is considered as a discouragement to the Georgians to form settlements near the Spanish boundaries.
There are but few States on the spot here which will survive the expiration of the federal year, and it is extremely uncertain when a Congress will again be formed. We have not yet heard who are to be in the appointment of Virginia for the next year
With the most affectionate attachment I remain Dear Sir
TO GEORGE WASHINGTON.wash. mss.
New York, Octr. 28, 1787.
The mail of yesterday brought me your favor of the 22d. instant. The communications from Richmond give me as much pleasure, as they exceed my expectations.1 As I find by a letter from a member of the Assembly, however, that Col. Mason has not got down, and it appears that Mr. Henry is not at bottom a friend, I am not without fears that the combined influence and management may yet create difficulties. There is one consideration which I think ought to have some weight in the case, over and above the intrinsic inducements to embrace the Constitution, and which I have suggested to some of my correspondents. There is at present a very strong probability that nine States at least will pretty speedily concur in establishing it. What will become of the tardy remainder? They must be either left as outcasts from the society to shift for themselves, or be compelled to come in, or must come in of themselves when they will be allowed no credit for it. Can either of these situations be as eligible as a prompt and manly determination to support the Union, and share its common fortunes?
My last stated pretty fully the information which had arrived here from different quarters, concerning the proposed Constitution. I recollect nothing that is now to be added farther than that the Assembly of Massachusetts now sitting certainly gives it a friendly reception. I inclose a Boston paper by which it appears that Governour Hancock has ushered it to them in as propitious a manner as could have been required.
Mr. C. P.’s1 character is as you observe well marked by the publications which I inclosed. His printing the secret paper at this time could have no motive but the appetite for expected praise; for the subject to which it relates has been dormant a considerable time, and seems likely to remain so.
A foreign gentleman of merit, and who, besides this general title, brings me a letter which gives him a particular claim to my civilities, is very anxious to obtain a sketch of the Potomac and the route from the highest navigable part of it to the western waters which are to be connected with the potomac by the portage, together with a sketch of the works which are going on, and a memorandum of the progress made in them. Knowing of no other channel through which I could enable myself to gratify this gentleman, I am seduced into the liberty of resorting to your kindness; and of requesting that if you have such a draught by you, your amanuensis may be permitted to take a very rough copy of it for me. In making this request I beseech you Sir to understand that I do it with not more confidence in your goodness than with the sincerest desire that it may be disregarded if it cannot be fulfilled with the most perfect convenience.
With sentiments of the most perfect esteem & the most Affecte. regard I remain Dear Sir, your Obedt. friend & hble Servt.
The British Packet has arrived but I do not learn that any news comes by her. Her passage has been a tedious one.
TO EDMUND PENDLETON.mad. mss.
New York, Octr. 28, 1787.
I have recd. and acknowledge with great pleasure your favor of the 8th inst: The remarks which you make on the Act of the Convention appear to me to be in general extremely well founded. Your criticism on the clause exempting vessels bound to or from a State from being obliged to enter &c., in another is particularly so. This provision was dictated by the jealousy of some particular States, and was inserted pretty late in the Session. The object of it was what you conjectured. The expression is certainly not accurate. Is not a religious test as far as it is necessary, or would operate, involved in the oath itself? If the person swearing believes in the Supreme Being who is invoked, and in the Penal consequences of offending him, either in this or a future world or both, he will be under the same restraint from perjury as if he had previously subscribed a test requiring this belief. If the person in question be an unbeliever in these points and would, notwithstanding take the oath, a previous test could have no effect. He would subscribe it as he would take the oath, without any principle that could be affected by either.
I find, by a letter from Mr. Dawson1 that the proposed Constitution is received by the Assembly with a more prompt & general approbation than could well have been expected. The example of Virginia will have great weight, and the more so, as the disagreement of the deputation will give it more the appearance of being the unbiassed expression of the public mind. It would be truly mortifying if anything should occur to prevent or retard the concurrence of a State which has generally taken the lead on great occasions. And it would be the more so in this case as it is generally believed that nine of the States at least will embrace the plan, and consequently that the tardy remainder must be reduced to the dilemma of either shifting for themselves, or coming in without any credit for it. There is reason to believe that the Eastern States, R. Island excepted, will be among the foremost in adopting the System. No particular information is yet received from N. Hampshire. The presumptive evidence of its good disposition however is satisfactory. The Legislature of Massts. is now sitting, and letters from good authority say that everything goes well. Connecticut has unanimously called a Convention, and left no room to doubt her favorable disposition. This State has long had the character of being anti-federal. Whether she will purge herself of it on this occasion, or not, is yet to be ascertained. Most of the respectable characters are zealous on the right side. The party in power is suspected on good grounds to be on the wrong one. N. Jersey adopts eagerly the Constitution. Penna. is considerably divided1 ; but the majority are as yet clearly with the Convention. I have no very late information from Maryland. The reports are that the opposition will make no great figure.2 Not a word has been heard from the States South of Virginia, except from the lower parts of N. Carola, where the Constitution was well received. There can be little doubt I think that the three Southern States will go right unless the conduct of Virginia were to mislead them.
I enclose two of the last Newspapers of this place, to which I add one of Philadelphia, containing a report of a late important decision of the Supreme Court there. If the report be faithful, I suspect it will not give you a high idea of the chancery knowledge of the Chief Justice.
I am Dear Sir, with sincere affection,
|No.||1—||6 New Town Spitzenburg Apples }||50 trees at 2s||£5.||0.||0|
|2—||20 New Town pippins Apples }|
|3—||6 Esopus Spitzenburg Apples }|
|4—||6 Jersey Greening Apples }|
|5—||6 R. Island Greening Apples }|
|6—||6 Everlasting Apples }|
|7—||10. American Plumbs||1s||6||15|
|8—||8. Live Oaks||9d||6|
|9—||20. Sugar Maples||2s||£|
|10—||10. Candle berry Myrtles||9d||7||—6|
|11||6. Standard American Honey Suckles||1s||6||9|
|12||6 Three thorned Accacia||1s||6||9|
|14||6 Dogwood Trees||1s||6||9|
|Box & Matts||5||6|
|Dollar at 8 shillgs.||£10||—||13|
TO GEORGE WASHINGTON.mad. mss.
New York, Decr. 14, 1787.
Along with this are inclosed a few copies of the latest Gazettes containing the additional papers in favor of the federal Constitution.
I find by letters from Richmond that the proceedings of the Assembly, are as usual, rapidly degenerating with the progress of the session1 ; and particularly that the force opposed to the Act of the Convention has gained the ascendance. There is still nevertheless a hope left that different characters and a different spirit may prevail in their successors who are to make the final decision. In one point of view the present Assembly may perhaps be regarded as pleading most powerfully the cause of the new government, for it is impossible for stronger proofs to be found than in their conduct, of the necessity of some such anchor against the fluctuations which threaten to shipwreck our liberty.
I am dear Sir with the most sincere & perfect esteem.
Your affecte & obedt humble servant.
TO GEORGE WASHINGTON.wash. mss.
New York, December 20, 1787.
I was favored on Saturday with your letter of the 7th instant, along with which was covered the printed letter of Colonel R. H. Lee to the Governour.1 It does not appear to me to be a very formidable attack on the new Constitution; unless it should derive an influence from the names of the correspondents, which its intrinsic merits do not entitle it to. He is certainly not perfectly accurate in the statement of all his facts; and I should infer from the tenor of the objections in Virginia that his plan of an Executive would hardly be viewed as an amendment of that of the Convention. It is a little singular that three of the most distinguished advocates for amendments; and who expect to unite the thirteen States in their project, appear to be pointedly at variance with each other on one of the capital articles of the System. Colonel Lee proposes that the President should chuse a Council of Eleven and with their advice have the appointment of all officers. Colonel Mason’s proposition is that a Council of six should be appointed by the Congress. What degree of power he would confide to it I do not know. The idea of the Governour is that there should be a plurality of co-equal heads, distinguished probably by other peculiarities in the organization. It is pretty certain that some others who make a common cause with them in the general attempt to bring about alterations differ still more from them, than they do from each other; and that they themselves differ as much on some other great points as on the Constitution of the Executive.
You did not judge amiss of Mr. Jay. The paragraph affirming a change in this opinion of the plan of the Convention, was an arrant forgery. He has contradicted it in a letter to Mr. J. Vaughan which has been printed in the Philadelphia Gazettes. Tricks of this sort are not uncommon with the Enemies of the new Constitution. Col. Mason’s objections were as I am told published in Boston mutilated of that which pointed at the regulation of Commerce. Docr. Franklin’s concluding speech which you will meet with in one of the papers herewith inclosed, is both mutilated & adulterated so as to change both the form & spirit of it.
I am extremely obliged by the notice you take of my request concerning the Potomack. I must insist that you will not consider it as an object of any further attention.
The Philada. papers will have informed you of the result of the Convention of that State. N. Jersey is now in Convention, & has probably by this time adopted the Constitution. Genl Irvine, of the Pena. Delegation, who is just arrived here, and who conversed with some of the members at Trenton tells me that great unanimity reigns in the Convention.
Connecticut it is pretty certain will decide also in the Affirmative by a large majority. So, it is presumed will N. Hampshire; though her Convention will be a little later than could be wished. There are not enough of the returns in Massts known for a final judgment of the probable event in that State. As far as the returns are known they are extremely favorable: but as they are chiefly from the maritime parts of the State, they are a precarious index of the public sentiment. I have good reason to believe that if you are in correspondence with any Gentleman in that quarter, and a proper occasion should offer for an explicit communication of your good wishes for the plan, so as barely to warrant an explicit assertion of the fact, that it would be attended with valuable effects. I barely drop the idea. The circumstances on which the propriety of it depends, are best known to, as they will be best judged of by yourself. The information from N. Carolina gave me great pleasure. We have nothing from the States South of it.
TO THOMAS JEFFERSON.chic. hist. soc. mss.
New York, December 20, 1787.
The packet has been detained here since the date of the letter which you will receive along with this, by some preparations suggested by an apprehension of war. The delay is very unfavorable to the trees on board for you.
Mr. De la Forest,1 the consul here, called on me a few days ago and told me he had information that the farmers general and Mr. Morris having found their contract mutually advantageous, are evading the resolution of the committee by tacit arrangements for its continuance. He observed that the object of the farmers was singly profit, that of the Government twofold, revenue and commerce. It was consequently the wish of the latter to render the monopoly as little hurtful to the trade with America as possible. He suggested as an expedient that farmers should be required to divide the contracts among six or seven houses, French and American, who should be required to ship annually to America a reasonable proportion of goods. This he supposed would produce competition in the purchases here and would introduce a competition also with British goods here. The latter condition he said could not be well required of, or executed by a single contractor, and the Government could not abolish the farm. These ideas were meant for you.
Since the date of my other letter, the Convention of Delaware have unanimously adopted the new Constitution.1 That of Pennsylvania has adopted it by a majority of 46 against 23. That of New Jersey is sitting and will adopt pretty unanimously. These are all the Conventions that have met. I hear from North Carolina that the Assembly is well disposed. Mr. Henry, Mr. Mason, R. H. Lee, and the Governor continue by their influence to strengthen the opposition in Virginia. The Assembly there is engaged in several mad freaks. Among others a bill has been agreed to in the House of Delegates prohibiting the importation of rum, brandy, and all other spirits not distilled from some American production. All brewed liquors under the same description, with beef, tallow-candles, cheese, &c. are included in the prohibition. In order to enforce this despotic measure the most despotic means are resorted to. If any person be found after the commencement of the act, in the use or possession of any of the prohibited articles, tho’ acquired previous to the law, he is to lose them, and pay a heavy fine. This is the form in which the bill was agreed to by a large majority in the House of Delegates. It is a child of Mr. Henry and said to be his favorite one. They first voted by a majority of 30 that all legal obstruction to the Treaty of Peace should cease in Virginia as soon as laws complying with it should have passed in all the other states. This was the result of four days debate with the most violent opposition from Mr. Henry. A few days afterward he renewed his efforts, and got a vote, by a majority of 50, that Virginia would not comply until G. B. shall have complied.
The States seem to be either wholly omitting to provide for the federal Treasury, or to be withdrawing the scanty appropriations made to it. The latter course has been taken up by Massachusetts, Virginia and Delaware. The Treasury Board seems to be in despair of maintaining the shadow of Government much longer. Without money, the offices must be shut up, and the handful of troops on the frontier disbanded, which will probably bring on an Indian War, and make an impression to our disadvantage on the British Garrisons within our limits.
A letter from Mr. Archd Stuart dated Richd., Dec. 2, has the following paragraph “Yesterday a Boat with sixteen men was brought down the canal from Westham to its termination which is within one mile and a half of Richmond.”
I subjoin an extract from a letter from Genl. Washington dated Dec. 7th which contains the best information I can give as to the progress of the works on the Potomac.
“The survey of the Country between the Eastern & Western waters is not yet reported by the Commissioners, though promised to be made very shortly, the survey being completed—no draught that can convey the adequate idea of the work on this river has been yet taken—much of the labor, except at the great falls, has been bestowed in the bed of the river, in a removal of rocks, and deepening the water. At the great falls the labour has indeed been great. The water there (a sufficiency I mean) is taken into a Canal about two hundred yards above the cateract, & conveyed by a level cut (through a solid rock in some places, and much stone every where) more than a mile to the lock seats,—five in number by means of which when completed, the craft will be let into the River below the falls (wch. together amount to seventy six feet.)—At the Seneca Falls, six miles above the great falls, a channel which has been formed by the river when inundated is under improvement for navigation—The same, in part, at Shanandoah.—At the lower falls, where nothing has yet been done, a level cut and locks are proposed. These constitute the principal difficulties and will be the great expense of this undertaking—The parts of the river between requiring loose stones only to be removed in order to deepen the water where it is too shallow in dry seasons.”
The triennial purge administered to the Council in Virga1 has removed from their seats Samson Matthews—and Mr. Selden. Col. Wm. Heth and Major Jos. Egglestone Supply their places.—I remain Dr. Sir Yrs. affect.
TO GEORGE WASHINGTON.wash. mss.
New York, Decr. 26, 1787.
I am just informed by a Delegate from New Hampshire that he has a letter from President Sullivan which tells him that the Legislature had unanimously agreed to call a convention as recommended, to meet in February. The second wednesday is the day if I have not mistaken it. We have no further information of much importance from Massachusetts. It appears that Cambridge the residence of Mr. Gerry has left him out of the choice for the Convention, and put in Mr. Dana formerly Minister of the U. States in Europe, and another Gentleman, both of them firmly opposed to Mr. Gerry’s Politics. I observe too in a Massts paper that the omission of Col. Mason’s objection with regard to commerce in the first publication of his objections, has been supplied. This will more than undo the effect of the mutilated view of them. New Jersey the Newspapers tell us has adopted the Constitution unanimously. Our European intelligence remains perfectly as it stood at the date of my last.
With the most affectionate esteem & attachment I am, Dear Sir, Your Obedient & very hble servt.
[1 ]Edward Carrington wrote to Madison from New York, where he was a delegate in Congress from Virginia, under date September 23, 1787.—“The Gentlemen who have arrived from the Convention inform us that you are on the way to join us—least, however, you may, under a supposition that the State of the delegation is such as to admit of your absence, indulge yourself in leisurely movements, after the fatiguing time you have had, I take this precaution to apprize you that the same scism which unfortunately happened in our State in Philadelphia, threatens us here also—one of our Colleagues Mr. R. H. Lee is forming propositions for essential alterations in the Constitution, which will, in effect, be to oppose it.—Another, Mr. Grayson, dislikes it, and is, at best for giving it only a Silent passage to the States. Mr. H. Lee joins me in opinion that it ought to be warmly recommended to ensure its adoption—a lukewarmness in Congress will be made a ground of opposition by the unfriendly in the States—those who have hitherto wished to bring the conduct of Congress into contempt, will in this case be ready to declare it truly respectable.
“Next Wednesday is fixed for taking under consideration this business, and I ardently wish you could be with us.
“The New York faction is rather active in spreading the seads of opposition—this, however, has been expected, and will not make an impression so injurious as the same circumstances would in some other States. Colo. Hamilton has boldly taken his ground in the public papers, and, having truth and propriety, on his side, it is to be hoped he will stem the torrent of folly and iniquity.
“I do not implicitly accede, in sentiment, to every article of the scheme proposed by the convention, but I see not how my utmost wishes are to be gratified until I can withdraw from Society—so long as I find it necessary to combine my strength and interests with others, I must be satisfied to make some sacrifices to the general accommodation.”—Mad. MSS.
[1 ]Lee was so far successful in his efforts against the Constitution that he was able to boast that there was “a bare transmission of the Convention plan, without a syllable of approbation, or disapprobation on the part of Congress.”—Hunt’s Life of Madison, 168.
[1 ]September 30, 1787, from Bowling Green, Edmund Randolph wrote that there was much friendship in Baltimore for the Constitution, and that Bladensburg and Alexandria approved it.—Chicago Hist. Soc. MSS.
[1 ]From The Madison Papers (1840).
Edmund Pendleton wrote Madison October 8, 1787, describing Randolph and George Mason as deserters from the Constitution (Chicago Hist. Soc. MSS.); but it was not really known whether Randolph was for or against the Constitution till a later period, when he came out as one of its warmest advocates. Washington wrote Madison October 10: “From circumstances, which have been related, it is conjectured that the Governor [Randolph] wishes he had been among the subscribing members.”—(Ford’s Writings of Washington, xi., 170.)
[1 ]September 28 the Pennsylvania House of Assembly took up the question of calling a convention to consider the Constitution, as recommended by the Constitutional Convention. Considerable opposition developed, and finally, in order to prevent the question being carried, the opponents absented themselves and broke a quorum. On the following day two of the absentees were forcibly brought into the House, thus making a quorum, and the House ordered the calling of the convention. The proceedings and debate are humorous reading. See McMaster and Stone’s Pennsylvania and The Federal Constitution, Chapter ii., p. 27.
[2 ]“Observations on the Plan of Government submitted to the Federal Convention in Philadelphia, on the 28th of May, 1787. By the Hon. Charles Pinckney, Esq., L.L.D. Delegate from the State of South Carolina. Delivered at different Times in the course of their Discussions. New York:—Printed by Francis Child.”—P. L. Ford’s Pamphlets on the Constitution, 419.
[3 ]Pinckney’s speech on the Mississippi question delivered in Congress in secret session. See Madison’s letter to Jefferson, Oct. 24, and to Washington, Oct 28, post. “Mr. C. Pinckney is unwilling, . . . to lose any fame that can be acquired by the publication of his sentiments. If the subject of the navigation of the Mississippi could have remained as silent, and glided as gently down the stream of time for a while, as the waters do that are contained within the banks, it would, I confess, have comported more with my ideas of sound policy, than any decision that can be come to at this day.”—Washington to Madison Oct. 22, 1787, Ford’s Writings of Washington, xi., 175.
[1 ]See Washington’s letter in Ford’s Writings of Washington, xi., 168. Mason sent Washington a copy in his own hand of his “Objections to the Constitution of Government formed by the Convention.” (Wash. MSS.) It was afterward printed in a folio broadside. The draft and printed copy may be seen in Kate Mason Rowland’s George Mason, ii., Appendix. See also P. L. Ford’s Pamphlets on the Constitution, 326, and Elliot’s Debates, i., 494.
[1 ]This is hardly fair to Mason. The strongest speech delivered against slavery and the slave trade in the constitutional convention was his (ante, vol. iv., 266), and he voted with Madison against extending the permissive period for importing slaves. (ante, iv., 303, 305.)
[1 ]Henry wrote Washington, Oct. 19th, that he was not in accord with the constitution, but that “perhaps mature reflection” might produce a change in his sentiments. (Ford’s Writings of Washington, xi., 165, n.) He soon became the leader of the opponents of the constitution.
[1 ]Jefferson’s reply to this letter is dated Dec. 20, 1787, and contains his objections to the Constitution.—P. L. Ford’s Writings of Jefferson, iv., 473.
[1 ]William Hay in Richmond.
[2 ]Benjamin Franklin.
[3 ]“In the box of books are some for the colleges of Philadelphia & Williamsburg & two vols of the Encyclopedie for Congress, presented by the author of that part.”—Jefferson to Madison, Aug. 2, 1787, P. L. Ford’s Writings of Jefferson, iv., 423.
[1 ]Italics for cypher.
[1 ]See ante p. 9.
[1 ]Archibald Stuart’s letter is dated October 21: “From the disposition of some of ye members I fear it will be difficult to execute that Business [calling the convention] without entering into ye merits of ye Constitution itself—
“Mr. Henry has upon all occasions however foreign his subject attempted to give the Constitution a side blow its friends are equally warm in its support & never fail to pursue him through all his windings. From what I can learn ye body of the people approve ye proposed plan of government, it has however no contemptible opposition. Our two dissenting members in ye Convention P. Hy, ye family of Cabells, St. Geo. Tucker, J. Taylor, Mr Nelson, Genl. Nelson, Mr. Ronald. I fear ye Judges I am to except P. Carrington & others to tedious & at the same time too insignificant to mention.”—Mad. MSS.
[1 ]October 23, 1787, Richmond, Edmond Randolph wrote that the first raptures over the constitution were excessive, but that diversity of opinion had appeared after the meeting of the assembly. Henry, William Cabell and Theoderick Bland were opposed. By a unanimous vote a convention to consider the matter had been agreed on, but the final event was uncertain. Henry’s opinions were gaining ground, and the bench and bar were generally in the opposition.—Chicago Hist. Soc. MSS.
[1 ]See ante p. 9.
[1 ]Jonathan Dawson, a member of the Assembly. His letter is dated Oct. 19, and is to the same effect as Stuart’s (ante, p. 40 n.)—Mad. MSS.
[1 ]Tench Coxe wrote from Philadelphia Oct. 21: “The opposition here has become more open. It is by those leaders of the constitutional interest, who have acted in concert with the Western interest. The people of the party in the city are chiefly fœderal, tho not so I fear in the Counties. However there is no doubt but that a majority, and a very respectable one in our Convention will adopt the Constitution in toto. The matter seems likely to be attended with a good deal of warmth in the conversations & publications, perhaps some abuse; but these things will arise on such great occasions.”—Mad. MSS.
[2 ]Daniel Carroll wrote “near Geo Town” Oct 28. “If the information I have received relating to this state [Maryland] can be depended on, every thing I hope will be right—Mr. Carroll [Charles of Carrollton] who waited for me, soon after saw Mr. Johnson, & sends me word that he is a warm friend—that Gentleman Messrs. Lee & Potts were chosen the following week representatives with a view principally of preventing Mischief and forwarding this great object. Mr. Chase has I hear published a pt under the Signature of Caution which indicates an adverse disposn.. He has bound himself to propose a Convention, & if chosen by that Body will be bound to ratifye the proposed fœderal Governt., the impression in Baltimore being strong & general in favor of it.”—Mad. MSS. Samuel Chase’s letter appeared in The Maryland Journal Oct 12, 1787. See P. L. Ford’s Essays on The Constitution, 327.
[1 ]Among the opponents was Joseph Jones. He wrote to Madison from Richmond Oct. 29, 1787, that he saw many objections to the Constitution. The Senate was a legislative, executive and in some respects a judicial body, which was bad. The Senate and President could in some cases even legislate for the Union without the concurrence of the popular branch, and would prove an overmatch for the popular branch. There was strong objection to the appellate jurisdiction over law and fact of the Supreme Court. He should have been pleased to see a bill of rights. The advocates of the new plan were rather diminishing than increasing in number. Nov. 27, Jones wrote that he would receive the Constitution with reluctance.—Chicago Hist. Soc. MSS.
[1 ]James McClurg wrote to Madison from Richmond October 31:
“I am to thank you for the favor you did me in inclosing a copy of the new constitution; which has ever since been the principle topic of political conversation in every company. It was at first reciev’d with a prepossession in it’s favor almost enthusiastic, in our towns especially. The circumstances, however, which in this state particy. tended to excite suspicion & jealousy, have caused this disposition to subside sooner than it might otherwise have done; & every man’s mind is turn’d to a subtle investigation of ye plan. Various indeed are the objections made to it; but those which strike only the most moderate & most federal, are confin’d chiefly to the Senate. Nor do they object to the equal representation of ye States in ye Senate, so much as to ye additional weight thrown into that branch of ye Legislature, by combining it with ye Presidt. in ye high executive offices of Government. It is supposed that ye obligation of a common Interest may connect them in a dangerous Junto; & on this account they imagine the Senate to be ye worst court that could have been contriv’d for the Impeachment of ye President. They conceive too that ye Senators, in their executive business, may become liable to Impeachment, tho’ they cannot see by what court they can be tried.
“I see, in a pamphlet publish’d at Philada in defence of ye Constitution, a serious objection made to ye clause which empowers Congress to regulate the manner, time, & place, of chusing ye representatives of ye people in ye several States. This has been reechoed here; & it has not been easy to find a sufficient [reason] for it’s insertion. Some have objected also to the Influence of the Presidt in the house of representatives as capable of producing his reelection, even when the majority of ye constitutional electors are against him.
“These are objections made by men heartily dispos’d towards an energetic federal government, & conceiving yt defects in its frame must be equally obnoxious to ye people of all ye States, they hope to see them amended. For my part, I am so fearful of it’s Loss, that I should be willing to trust ye remedy of it’s defects to ye reason moderation & experience of ye future Congress. By the by, what is to become of the State debts, when all ye Sources of revenue in ye States are seiz’d by Congress?”—Mad. MSS.
[1 ]See ante, vol. ii., 54, n., for Madison’s objections to the state constitution in his speech in the Assembly June, 1784. The constitution was not amended till 1829.
[1 ]A copy of this letter was printed in the N. Y. Nation, July 19, 1894.
[2 ]Archibald Stuart wrote to Madison, Richmond, Va., November 2. “Inclosed are ye Resolutions of Virginia on the subject of ye federal Government—It is generally considered necessary that you should be of the convention, not only that y Constitution may be adopted but with as much unanimity as possible
“For God’s sake do not disappoint the anxious expectations of yr friends & let me add of yr Country—The Govr. on his return here was coolly received, upon which it is said he discovd much anxiety, since ye opposition to ye Constitution has been heard of from Different parts of ye State he speaks with more confidence against what he calls ye objectionable parts—He is a candidate for ye convention, Wilkinson & Southall having cleared ye coast for him the former of whom is inimical to ye Govt. proposed.” . . .—Mad. MSS. The resolutions were passed October 31. Madison’s copy is not among his papers, but the copy sent by George Mason to Washington is among the Washington MSS. and is as follows:
“In the House of Delegates, Thursday, the 25th of October, 1787.
“Resolved, unanimously, that the proceedings of the Federal Convention transmitted to the General Assembly through the medium of Congress, be submitted to a Convention of the people for their full and free investigation, discussion, and decision
“Resolved, That every citizen being a freeholder in this commonwealth be eligible to a seat in the convention, and that the people therefore be not restrained in their choice of Delegates by any of those legal or constitutional restrictions which confine them in their choice of members of the Legislature
“Resolved, That it be recommended to each county to elect two Delegates, and to each city, town, or corporation entitled or which may be entitled by law to representation in the Legislature, to elect one Delegate to the said Convention
“Resolved, That the qualifications of the Electors be the same with those now established by law, for the choice of representatives to the General Assembly.
“Resolved, That the elections for Delegates as aforesaid be held at the several places appointed by law for holding the elections for Delegates to the General Assembly, and that the same be conducted by the officers who conduct the Elections for Delegates, and conformably to the rules and regulations thereof
“Resolved, That the election for Delegates be held in the month of March next, on the first day of the court to be held for each county, city, or corporation respectively, and that the persons so chosen shall assemble at the state-house in the city of Richmond on the first Monday in June next.
“Resolved, That two thousand copies of these resolutions be forthwith printed, and dispersed by the members of the General Assembly among their constituents, and that the Executive transmit a copy of them to Congress, and to the Legislatures and Executives of the respective states. “Teste, John Beckley, C.H.D. 1787, October 31st, Agreed to by the Senate, “H. Brooke, C.S.”—Wash. MSS.
[1 ]The rest of the letter relates to foreign politics and is unimportant.
[1 ]See Elliot’s Debates, i., 494.
[2 ]“Ye Paper inclosed contained a piece signed Publius with which I am extremely pleased, from his introduction I have the highest expectations from him—If it would not impose too great a task upon you I would request that his subsequent papers may be sent to me, the Nos. written by an American Citizen have had good effects & with some other pieces of merit have been printed in a small pamphlet for the information of the people.”—Archibald Stuart to Madison, Nov. 9, 1787. Mad. MSS. The first papers of the Federalist appeared over the signature “A Citizen of New York,” but afterwards the pseudonym “Publius” was used. “An American Citizen” was the pseudonym of Tench Coxe. Rev. James Madison of William and Mary wrote to Madison that he was afraid the constitution of the Senate and Executive would lead to aristocracy and tyranny; but Feb. 9, 1788,he wrote that the papers of “Publius” had well nigh worked a conversion in him.—Mad. MSS. Of the 85 papers of the Federalist Madison wrote twenty-six, Nos. 10, 14, 18, 19, 20, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49, 50, 51, 52, 53, 54, 56, 62 and 63. It has been disputed, however, that he wrote more than fourteen by himself,—i. e., Nos. 10, 14, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47 and 48, or had more than a joint authorship with Hamilton in Nos. 18, 19 and 20. (See Lodge’s Federalist, introduction, and P. L. Ford in The American Historical Review, ii., 675.) The other numbers given above were, however, stated by Madison to be his (See post) and his right to be considered their author has been conclusively established by Professor Edward Gaylord Bourne in The American Historical Review, ii., 443, 682.
[1 ]Evidently in the letter referred to Randolph elaborated his scheme for holding a second constitutional convention to consider amendments to the proposed constitution.
[1 ]Caleb Wallace, a college-mate of Madison’s, afterwards Judge of the Supreme Court of Kentucky, wrote to him from Fayette County, November 12, relative to the sentiment in that part of Virginia which afterwards became Kentucky:
“I have had an opportunity of conversing only with a few intelligent acquaintances on the merits of the American Constitution recommended by the late Federal Convention who seem to be well pleased therewith, and I wish it may be cordially embraced by every member of the Union.”—Mad MSS.
[1 ]The first two paragraphs of the letter give the news from Europe.
[1 ]Edmund Randolph
[1 ]Tench Coxe wrote from Philadelphia Decr. 28, 1787: “Our advices from Georgia recd on Thursday are very agreeable. From them I should not be surprised at an unanimous adoption there.”—Mad MSS
[1 ]Archibald Stuart wrote from Richmond Dec. 2, 1787: “A Resolution was brought forward the day before yesterday for paying the members to Convention in June their Wages & securing to them Certain privileges &c. seconded by P. H. & Mason which after making Provision for ye purposes aforesaid goes farther & sais that should ye convention think proper to propose Amendments to ye Constitution this state will make provision for carrying the same into effect & that Money shall be advanced for ye support of Deputies to the Neighbouring States &c.—This many of us opposed as improper & proposed that the same provision should be made in General terms which should not discover the sense of the house on ye Subject but after a Long Debate the point was carried against us by a Majority of sixteen—In the Course of ye Debate P. Hy. Observed that if this Idea was not held forth our southern neighbours might be driven to despair seeing no door open to safety should they disapprove the new Constitution—Mason on the subject was less candid than ever I knew him to be—from the above mentioned Vote there appears to be a Majority vs ye [new] Govt. as it now Stands & I fear since they have discovered their Strength they will adopt other measures tending to its prejudice from this circumstance I am happy to find most of ye States will have decided on ye question before Virginia for I now have my doubts whether She would afford them as usual a good Example.”
Henry Lee wrote Dec. 7, 1787, from Stratford: “It is with real grief I inform you that by a late vote of the Assembly of Virga on a collateral question, they have manifested hostility to the new constitution—Henry whose art is equal to his talents for declamation, conducted this business & gained a majority on the vote of sixteen
“We are told by gentlemen from Richmond, that the whole district South of the James river are in the opposition—In this corner the people are warmly attached to the new system, but we are small in size, being only four or five countys
“I saw Genl Washington on my return, he continues firm as a rock, the Pages are all zealous abettors of the constitution so is R. Wormely & F. Lightfoot Lee—Both of these gentlemen are candidates for the convention—the last is an important acquisition & breaks the influence of the Stratford Lees—It becomes you to return in time to secure your election. If possible let me see you—I have offered myself for Westmoreland, but such is the number who contend for this distinction, it is not probable that I may succeed. God bless you.”
From Rose Hill, Dec. 16, Lawrence Taliaferro wrote
“I am sorry to inform you that the Federal system is deeply [?] slandered by some very able men in this State tho we have some very good & able men that are Friends of that & their Country & wish it to be adopted as speedily as Posable . . . It is the sincere Wish & desire of myself & a Great many others that you will also represent the People of this County in the Spring Convention & we Earnestly beg that you will be here some time before the election . . . I dare say you will be greatly suppd to hear that it is report’d that you are oposd. to the Sistem & I was told the other day that you were actually writing a peice against it.”—Mad MSS.
[1 ]See Elliot’s Debates, i., 503.
[1 ]Then Vice-Consul-General of France “with Congress.” He was Consul-General for New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware from October 17, 1792.
[1 ]Delaware was the first State to ratify the Constitution—December 7, 1787. Pennsylvania, the second State, ratified December 12th; New Jersey, the third State, December 18th.
[1 ]The Privy Council or Council of State of Virginia consisted of eight members. Every two years two members were removed by joint ballot of the Assembly and were ineligible for re-election for the next three years, their places being filled by election by the Assembly. See ante, Vol. II., p. 40, for Madison’s opinion of the Council.
[1 ]From Madison’s Works.