Front Page Titles (by Subject) TO WILLIAM GRAYSON, IN CONGRESS. - The Writings of George Washington, vol. XI (1785-1790)
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TO WILLIAM GRAYSON, IN CONGRESS. - George Washington, The Writings of George Washington, vol. XI (1785-1790) 
The Writings of George Washington, collected and edited by Worthington Chauncey Ford (New York and London: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1890). Vol. XI (1785-1790).
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TO WILLIAM GRAYSON, IN CONGRESS.
Mount Vernon, 26 July, 1786.
Is it not among the most unaccountable things in nature, that the representation of a great country should generally be so thin as not to be able to execute the functions of government?1 To what is this to be ascribed? Is it the result of political manœuvre in some States, or is it owing to supineness or want of means? Be the causes what they may, it is shameful and disgusting. In a word, it hurts us. Our character as a nation is dwindling; and what it must come to, if a change should not soon take place, our enemies have foretold; for in truth we seem either not capable, or not willing, to take care of ourselves.
For want, I suppose, of competent knowledge of the Connecticut claim to western territory, the compromise which is made with her appears to me to be a disadvantageous one for the Union, and, if her right is not one of the motives (according to your account) for yielding to it, in my humble opinion, is exceedingly dangerous and bad; for upon such principles might, not right, must ever prevail, and there will be no surety for any thing.1
I wish very sincerely, that the land ordinance may answer the expectations of Congress. I had, and still have, my doubts of the utility of the plan, but pray devoutly, that they may never be realized, as I am desirous of seeing it a productive branch of the revenue. That part, which makes the waters and carrying-places common highways, and free for all the States, is certainly valuable.
I thank you for the other articles of information. Such as you have disclosed confidentially, you may rest assured will proceed no further, till it becomes public through other channels; and this shall always be the case with paragraphs, which are so marked. The answer to the memorial of Mr. Adams by Lord Carmarthen I have seen at large. It was impolitic and unfortunate if it was not unjust in these States to pass laws, which by fair construction might be considered as infractions of the treaty of peace. It is good policy at all times to place one’s adversary in the wrong. Had we observed good faith, and the western posts had then been withheld from us by Great Britain, we might have appealed to God and man for justice; and, if there are any guarantees to the treaty, we might have called upon them to see it fulfilled.1 But now we cannot do this; though clear I am, that the reasons assigned by the British ministry are only ostensible, and that the posts, under one pretence or another, were intended to have been detained, though no such acts had ever passed. But how different would our situation have been under such circumstances. With very sincere regard and affection, I am, dear Sir, &c.
[1 ]Mr. Grayson had written: “Till within a short time the representation has been so thin, as to render it impracticable for Congress to undertake any matter of importance, although there are many which require their serious attention.”—May 27th.
[1 ]Alluding to the tract of country usually called the Connecticut Reserve, making a part of the State of Ohio, and situate on the south side of Lake Erie. Speaking of the measure, as acceded to by Congress, Mr. Grayson said: “The consequence I apprehend is a clear loss of about six millions of acres to the United States, which had already been ceded by Virginia and New York; for the Assembly of Connecticut now sitting will unquestionably open a land-office, and the federal constitution has not given a court in this instance. The advocates for this measure urged in favor of its adoption, that the claim of a powerful State, although unsupported by right, was, under present circumstances, a disagreeable thing; that sacrifices must be made for the public tranquillity, as well as to acquire an indisputable title to the residue; that Connecticut would settle it immediately with emigrants well-disposed to the Union, who would form a barrier, not only against the British, but the Indian tribes; and that the thick settlement they would immediately form would enhance the value of the adjacent country and facilitate emigrations thereto.”—Upon these grounds the cession on the part of Connecticut was accepted by Congress, the reservation above mentioned being conceded at the same time. All the delegates, except those from Virginia and Maryland, voted in favor of the proposition.—Journals, May 26th.
[1 ]By the seventh article of the treaty of peace, the posts held by the British within the United States were to be evacuated. By the fourth article, every facility was to be allowed to British subjects to collect the debts due to them in the several States. Lord Carmarthen had shown, by quoting the recent laws of some of the States, that obstacles had been thrown in the way of collecting such debts, and that the fourth article of the treaty was thus violated, which was the reason why the posts were not given up.