Front Page Titles (by Subject) TO JAMES MADISON, IN CONGRESS. - The Writings of George Washington, vol. XI (1785-1790)
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TO JAMES MADISON, 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 JAMES MADISON, IN CONGRESS.
Mount Vernon, 10 October, 1787.
My dear Sir,
I thank you for your letter of the 30th ultimo. It came by the last post. I am better pleased, that the proceedings of the convention are submitted from Congress by a unanimous vote, feeble as it is, than if they had appeared under strong marks of approbation without it. This apparent unanimity will have its effect. Not every one has opportunities to peep behind the curtain; and, as the multitude are often deceived by externals, the appearance of unanimity in that body on this occasion will be of great importance. The political tenets of Colo. M[ason] and Colo. R. H. L[ee] are always in unison. It may be asked which of them gives the tone. Without hesitation I answer the latter, because I believe the latter will receive it from no one. He has I am informed rendered himself obnoxious in Philadelphia, by the pains he took to disseminate his objections amongst some of the leaders of the seceding members of the Legislature of that State. His conduct is not less reprobated in this country; how it will be relished generally is yet to be learnt by me.1
As far as accounts have been received from the southern and western counties, the sentiment with respect to the proceedings of the convention is favorable. Whether the knowledge of this, or conviction of the impropriety of withholding the constitution from State conventions, has worked most in the breast of Colonel Mason, I will not decide; but the fact is, he has declared unequivocally, in a letter to me, for its going to the people. Had his sentiments, however, been opposed to the measure, his instructions, which are given by the freeholders of this county to their representatives, would have secured his vote for it. Yet I have no doubt, but that his assent will be accompanied by the most tremendous apprehensions, which the highest coloring can give to his objections. To alarm the people seems to be the groundwork of his plan. The want of a qualified navigation act is already declared to be a mean by which the price of produce in the southern States will be reduced to nothing, and will become monopoly of the eastern and northern States. To enumerate the whole of his objections is unnecessary, because they are detailed in the address of the seceding members of the Assembly of Pennsylvania, (which no doubt you have seen.)1
I scarcely think any powerful opposition will be made to the constitution’s being submitted to a convention of the people of this State. If it is given, it will be there, at which I hope you will make it convenient to be present. Explanations will be wanting, and none can give them with more accuracy and propriety than yourself. The sentiments of Mr. Henry, with respect to the constitution, are not known in these parts. Mr. Joseph Jones, who it seems was in Alexandria before the convention broke up, was of opinion, that they would not be inimical to the proceedings of it. Others think, as the advocate of a paper emission, he cannot be friendly to a constitution which is an effectual bar.
From circumstances, which have been related, it is conjectured that the Governor1 wishes he had been among the subscribing members; but time will disclose more than we know at present, with respect to the whole of the business, and, when I hear more, I will write to you again. In the mean while I pray you to be assured of the sincere regard and affection with which I am, my dear Sir, &c.
P. S. Having received, (in a letter) from Colonel Mason, a detail in writing of his objections to the proposed constitution, I enclose you a copy of them.2
[1 ]On reaching Congress Madison found certain ideas unfavorable to the Constitution were fostered by Richard Henry Lee and Dane, of Massachusetts, on the ground first that the Convention had exceeded its powers in devising a new frame of government, and later, that the plan proposed was seriously defective. An attempt to amend the Constitution in Congress was fortunately defeated, and Congress unanimously resolved to send the report of the Convention to the respective legislatures, to be submitted to a convention of delegates chosen by the people in each.
[1 ]Printed in the Pennsylvania Packet, 4 October, 1787, also in Pennsylvania and the Federal Constitution, 73.
[1 ]Edmund Randolph. His refusal to sign was set down to his chagrin in not being able to carry every thing his own way, and to his desire for popularity.
[2 ]Colonel Mason said, in the letter here referred to: “I take the liberty to enclose to you my objections to the new constitution of government, which a little moderation and temper at the latter end of the convention might have removed. I am, however, most decidedly of opinion, that it ought to be submitted to the people for that special purpose; and, should any attempt be made to prevent the calling of such a convention here, such a measure shall have every opposition in my power to give it. You will readily observe, that my objections are not numerous (the greater part of the enclosed paper containing reasonings upon the probable effects of the exceptionable parts), though in my mind some of them are capital ones.”—October 7th.