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 January, 1788.
My dear Sir,
I stand indebted to you for your favors of the 20th and 26th ultimo, and I believe for that of the 14th also, and their enclosures. It does not appear to me, that there is any certain criterion in this State by which a decided judgment can be formed, as to the opinion entertained by its citizens with respect to the new constitution. My belief on this occasion is that whenever the matter is brought to a final decision, not only a majority, but a large one, will be found in its favor. That the opposition should have gained strength at Richmond, among the members of Assembly, is not, if true, to be wondered at, when we consider that the great adversaries to the constitution are all assembled at that place, acting conjointly, with the promulgated sentiments of Colonel Richard Henry Lee as auxiliary. It is said, however, and I believe it may be depended upon, that the latter, (though he may retain his sentiments,) has withdrawn, or means to withdraw, his opposition; because, as he has expressed himself, or as others have done it for him, he finds himself in bad company such as with M[erce]r, Sm[i]th, &c, &c. His brother, Francis L. Lee, on whose judgment the family place much reliance, is decidedly in favor of the new form, under a conviction, that it is the best that can be obtained, and because it promises energy, stability, and that security, which is, or ought to be, the wish of every good citizen of the Union.
How far the determination of the question before the debating club, (mentioned to you in a former letter,) may be considered as auspicious of the final decision of the convention in this State, I will not prognosticate; but in this club the question, it seems, was determined by a very large majority in favor of the constitution. But of all arguments, that may be used at the convention, which is to be held for it, the most prevailing one I expect will be, that nine States at least will have acceded to it. And if the unanimity or majorities in those which follow, are equal to those which are passed, the force of them will prove irresistible. The governor has given his reasons to the public for withholding his signature; a copy of them I send you.
Our Assembly has been long in session, employed chiefly, as far as I can understand, in rectifying some of the mistakes of the last, and committing new ones for emendations at the next; yet, “Who so wise as we are?” We are held in painful suspense in regard to European matters. War, or peace, seems yet undecided, although the first is loudly talked of. I have no regular correspondent in Massachusetts; otherwise, as an occasional matter, I should have had no objection to the communication of my sentiments to him, as they are unequivocal and decided. I am, &c.
P. S. I have this moment been informed, that the Assembly of North Carolina have postponed the meeting of the convention of that State until July. This seems to be calculated evidently for the purpose of taking the tone from Virginia.1
[1 ]“From the States to the south of it [North Carolina], I have no information that can be relied on, except that Georgia in appointing a convention have accompanied the act with powers to alter or amend the Federal Constitution. But if a weak State, with the Indians on its back and the Spaniards on its flank, do not see the necessity of a General Government, there must, I think, be wickedness or insanity in the way. The unanimity and generosity with which the County of Philadelphia has been offered for the seat of the Fæderal government by the land holders thereof, gives much weight and merit to the invitation, and will probably be an inducement to others to follow the example.”—Washington to Samuel Powel, 18 January, 1788. The Georgia convention assembled at Augusta on Christmas day, and on the 2d of January fully adopted the new constitution.