Front Page Titles (by Subject) TO HENRY KNOX. - The Writings of George Washington, vol. XI (1785-1790)
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TO HENRY KNOX. - 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 HENRY KNOX.
Mount Vernon, 17 June, 1788.
My dear Sir,
I received your letter of the 25th of May, just when I was on the eve of a departure for Fredericksburg to pay a visit to my mother, from whence I returned only last evening. The information of the accession of South Carolina to the new government since your letter, gives us a new subject of mutual felicitations. It was to be hoped that this auspicious event would have considerable influence upon the proceedings of the convention of Virginia, but I do not find that to have been the case. Affairs in the convention, for some time past, have not worn so good an aspect as we could have wished; and, indeed, the acceptance of the constitution has become more doubtful than it was thought to be at their first meeting.
The purport of the intelligence I received from my private letters by the last night’s mail is, that every species of address and artifice has been put in practice by the antifederalists to create jealousies and excite alarms. Much appears to depend upon the final part which the Kentucky members will take; into whose minds apprehensions of unreal dangers, respecting the navigation of the Mississippi, and their organization into a separate State, have been industriously infused.1 Each side seems to think at present, that it has a small majority. However it shall turn, it will be very inconsiderable. Though for my own part, I cannot but imagine, if any decision is had, it will be in favor of the adoption. My apprehension rather is, that a strenuous and successful effort may be made for an adjournment, under an idea of opening a correspondence with those who are opposed to the constitution in other States. Colonel Oswald has been at Richmond, it is said, with letters from the antifederalists in New York and Pennsylvania to their coadjutors in this State.
The resolution, which came from the antifederalists, much to the astonishment of the other party, that no question should be taken until the whole plan should have been discussed paragraph by paragraph, and the remarkable tardiness in their proceedings (for the convention has been able as yet only to get through the second or third section), are thought by some to have been designed to protract business until the time when the Assembly is to convene, that is the 23d instant, in order to have a more colorable pretext for an adjournment. But, notwithstanding the resolution, there has been much desultory debating, and the opposers of the constitution are reported to have gone generally into the merits of the question. I know not how the matter may be, but a few days will now determine.
I am sorry to find, not only from your intimations, but also from many of the returns in the late papers, that there should be so great a majority against the constitution in the convention of New York; and yet I can hardly conceive, from motives of policy and prudence, they will reject it absolutely, if either this State or New Hampshire should make the ninth in adopting it; as that measure, which gives efficacy to the system, must place any State that shall actually have refused its assent to the new Union in a very awkward and disagreeable predicament.
By a letter I have just received from a young gentleman who lives with me, but who is now at home in New Hampshire,1 I am advised that there is every prospect that the constitution will be adopted in that State almost immediately upon the meeting of the convention. I cannot but hope, then, that the States, which may be disposed to make a secession, will think often and seriously on the consequences. Colo. Humphreys who is still here occupied with literary pursuits, desires to be remembered in terms of the sincerest friendship to you and yours.
Mrs. Washington and the family offer with me their best compliments to Mrs. Knox and the little ones.
I am, &c.
[1 ]Chagrined at the chances that had prevented the erection of Kentucky into a separate State, and influenced, perhaps, by the vote of the Kentucky delegates in the Virginia Convention on the new Constitution, Brown was approached by Gardoqui with a hint that the establishment of a separate district, without maritime designs, would give Spain an excuse for “devising some plan for adjusting the markets so much needed in some of our possessions.”—Gardoqui to Florida Blanca, 25 July, 1788. It is certain that Brown interpreted Gardoqui’s offer as a positive promise. “I have been assured by him in the most explicit terms, that if Kentucky will declare her independence, and empower some proper person to negotiate with him, that he has authority and will engage to open the navigation of the Mississippi for the exportation of their produce on terms of mutual advantage; but that this privilege can never be extended to them while part of the United States, by reason of commercial treaties existing between that Court and other powers of Europe.”—Brown to George Muter, 10 July, 1788. The proposition was submitted only to a few of Brown’s correspondents, and does not appear to have been broached in the Kentucky Convention of July, 1788.
[1 ]Tobias Lear.