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, 5 February, 1788.
My dear Sir,
I am indebted to you for several of your favors, and thank you for their enclosure. The rumor of war between France and England has subsided, and the poor patriots of Holland, it seems, are left to fight their own battles or negotiate, in either case with no great prospect of advantage. They must have been much deceived, or their conduct has been weak, and precipitate, and absurd. The former, however, I believe is the truth.
I am sorry to find by yours and other accounts from Massachusetts, that the decision of its convention, (at the time of their respective dates,) remained problematical.1 A rejection of the new form by that State would invigorate the opposition, not only in New York, but in all those which are to follow; at the same time this would afford materials for the minority, in such as have actually agreed to it, to blow the trumpet of discord more loudly. The acceptance by a bare majority, though preferable to a rejection, is also to be deprecated. It is scarcely possible to form any decided opinion of the general sentiment of the people of this State on this point. Many have asked me with anxious solicitude if you did not mean to get into the convention, conceiving it of indispensable necessity. Colonel Mason, who returned but yesterday, I am told has offered himself for Stafford county, and his friends say he can be elected not only in that, but in the counties of Prince William and Fauquier also. The truth of this I know not. I rarely go from home, and my visitors, who, for the most part are travellers and strangers, have not the best means of information.
At the time you suggested for my consideration the expediency of a communication of my sentiments to any correspondent I might have in Massachusetts on the proposed constitution, I did not recollect that General Lincoln and myself frequently interchanged letters; much less did I expect, that a hasty and indigested extract [from a letter] of which I had written, intermingled with a variety of other matters, to Colonel Charles Carter in answer to a letter I had received from him, on the subject of some experiments we had made in farming, wolves, wolf-dogs, sheep, and the Lord knows what else, was then in the press, and would bring them to public view by means of the general circulation I find that extract has had. Although I never have concealed, and am perfectly regardless who becomes acquainted with my sentiments with respect to the proposed constitution, yet nevertheless, as no pains have been taken to dress the ideas, nor any reasons assigned in support of opinion, I feel myself hurt by the publication, and informed my friend the Colo. thereof. In answer, he has fully acquitted himself of the intention; but his zeal in the cause prompted him to distribute copies, (under a prohibition, which was disregarded,) that it should not go to the press. As you have seen the crude, or rude extract, as you may please to term it, I will add no more on the subject.
Perceiving that the Federalist, under the signature of Publius, is about to be republished, I would thank you for forwarding to me three or four copies, one of which to be bound, and inform me of the cost. Although we have not had many or deep snows, yet we have since the commencement of it, had a very severe winter, and if this day with you is as much keener than we now feel it, as the difference of latitude ought to make it, you will feel a comfortable fire no bad antidote against cold fingers and toes. I am, &c.
[1 ]“The intelligence from Massachusetts begins to be very ominous to the constitution. The antifederal party is reinforced by the insurgents, and by the Province of Maine, which apprehends greater obstacles to her scheme of a separate government from the new system, than may be otherwise experienced. And according to the prospect at the date of the latest letters, there was very great reason to fear, that the voice of that State would be in the negative. The operation of such an event on this State may easily be foreseen. Its legislature is now sitting, and is much divided. A majority of the Assembly are said to be friendly to the merits of the constitution. A majority of the senators actually convened are opposed to a submission of it to the convention. The arrival of the absent members will render the voice of that branch uncertain on the point of a convention. The decision of Massachusetts either way will involve the result in this State. The minority in Pennsylvania is very restless under their defeat. If they can get an Assembly to their wish, they will endeavour to undermine what has been done there. If backed by Massachusetts, they will probably be emboldened to make some more rash experiment. The information from Georgia continues to be favorable. The little we get from South Carolina is of the same complexion.”—Madison to Washington, 20 January, 1788.