Front Page Titles (by Subject) TO JOHN JAY. - The Writings of George Washington, vol. XI (1785-1790)
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TO JOHN JAY. - 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 JOHN JAY.
Mount Vernon, 8 June, 1788.
By the last mail I had the pleasure to receive your letter of the 29th of May, and have now the satisfaction to congratulate you on the adoption of the constitution by the convention of South Carolina. I am sorry to learn, there is a probability that the majority of members in the New York convention will be anti-federalists. Still I hope, that some event may turn up before they assemble, which may give a new complexion to the business. If this State should, in the intermediate time, make the ninth that shall have ratified the proposed government, it will, I flatter myself have its due weight. To show that this event is now more to be expected than heretofore, I will give you a few particulars, which I have from good authority, and which you might not perhaps immediately obtain through any public channel of conveyance.1
On the day appointed for the meeting of the convention, a large proportion of the members assembled, and unanimously placed Mr. Pendleton in the chair. Having on that and the subsequent day chosen the rest of their officers, and fixed upon the mode of conducting the business, it was moved by some one of those opposed to the constitution to debate the whole by paragraphs, without taking any question until the investigation should be completed. This was as unexpected as acceptable to the federalists, and their ready acquiescence seems to have somewhat startled the opposite party, for fear they had committed themselves.
Mr. Nicholas opened the business by very ably advocating the system of representation. Mr. Henry in answer went more vaguely into the discussion of the constitution, intimating that the federal convention had exceeded their powers, and that we had been and might be happy under the old confederation, with a few alterations. This called up Governor Randolph, who is reported to have spoken with great pathos in reply, and who declared, that, since so many of the States had adopted the proposed constitution, he considered the sense of America to be already taken, and that he should give his vote in favor of it without insisting previously upon amendments. Mr. Mason rose in opposition, and Mr. Madison reserved himself to obviate the objections of Mr. Henry and Colonel Mason the next day. Thus the matter rested when the last accounts came away.
Upon the whole, the following inferences seem to have been drawn; that Mr. Randolph’s declaration will have considerable effect with those, who had hitherto been wavering; that Mr. Henry and Colonel Mason took different and awkward ground, and by no means equalled the public expectation in their speeches; that the former has probably receded somewhat from his violent measures to coalesce with the latter, and that the leaders of the opposition appear rather chagrined, and hardly to be decided as to their mode of opposition.
The sanguine friends of the constitution counted upon a majority of twenty at their first meeting, which number they imagine will be greatly increased; while those equally strong in their wishes, but more temperate in their habits of thinking, speak less confidently of the greatness of the majority, and express apprehensions of the arts, that may yet be practised to excite alarms with the members from the western district (Kentucky). All, however, agree, that the beginning has been auspicious as could possibly have been expected. A few days will now ascertain us of the result. With sentiments of the highest esteem and regard, I am, &c.
[1 ]From Mr. Jay’s Letter.—“It gives me pleasure to find, that the probability of Virginia’s adopting the proposed constitution rather increases. Such an event would undoubtedly disarm the opposition. It appears by recent advices from Charleston, that we count on South Carolina; and the New Hampshire delegates assure me, that their State will come into the measure. There is much reason to believe, that the majority of the convention of this State will be composed of antifederal character; but it is doubtful whether the leaders will be able to govern the party. Many in the opposition are friends to Union, and mean well, but their principal leaders are very far from being solicitous about the fate of the Union. They wish and mean, if possible, to reject the constitution, with as little debate and as much speed as may be. It is not, however, certain, that the greater part of their party will be equally decided, or rather equally desperate. An idea has taken air, that the southern part of the State will at all events adhere to the Union, and, if necessary to that end, seek a separation from the northern. This idea has influence on the fears of the party. I cannot find, that they have as yet so looked forward to contingent events, or even to those the most probable, as to have united in, or formed, any system adapted to them.”—New York, May 29th.