Front Page Titles (by Subject) TO WILLIAM CARMICHAEL 1 - The Works, vol. 5 (Correspondence 1786-1789)
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TO WILLIAM CARMICHAEL 1 - Thomas Jefferson, The Works, vol. 5 (Correspondence 1786-1789) 
The Works of Thomas Jefferson, Federal Edition (New York and London, G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1904-5). Vol. 5.
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TO WILLIAM CARMICHAEL1
Paris, June 3, 1788.
— * * * With respect to the isthmus of Panama I am assured by Burgoyne (who would not chuse to be named however) that a survey was made, that a canal appeared very practicable, and that the idea was suppressed for political reasons altogether. He has seen & minutely examined the report. This report is to me a vast desideratum for reasons political & philosophical. I cannot help suspecting the Spanish squadron to be gone to S. America, and that some disturbances have been excited there by the British. The court of Madrid may suppose we would not see this with an unwilling eye. This may be true as to the uninformed part of our people: but those who look into futurity farther than the present moment or age, and who combine well what is, with what is to be, must see that our interests, well understood, & our wishes are that Spain shall (not forever, but) very long retain her possessions in that quarter. And that her views & ours must, in a good degree, & for a long time, concur. It is said in our gazettes that the Spaniards have sunk one of our boats on the Mississippi, and that our people retaliated on one of theirs. But my letters not mentioning this fact have made me hope it is not true, in which hope your letter confirms me. There are now 100,000 inhabitants at Kentucky. They have accepted the offer of independence on the terms proposed by Virginia and they have decided that their independent government shall begin on the 1st. day of the next year. In the meantime they claim admittance into Congress. Georgia has ceded her western territory to the U. S. to take place with the commencement of the new federal government. I do not know the boundaries. There has been some dispute of etiquette with the new French Minister which has disgusted him. The following is a state of the progress and prospect of the new plan of government. The Conventions of 6. states have accepted it, to wit,
The other Conventions were to meet as follows.
13. Rhode island referred the question to their people. About one third of these gave their votes, & of these there were about nine tenths against accepting the Constitution.
In Maryland there was respectable opposition: yet it is thought they will accept. In S. Carolina there is scarcely any opposition. In Virginia the opposition is very formidable. Yet on the whole it is thought to have lessened and that that State will accede. New York is perhaps more doubtful: but if the 9. preceding states should have adopted it, this will surely induce her to do it. The New Hampshire convention met. Many of the Delegates came instructed & determined to vote against it. The discussions brought them over to the side of the Constitution. But they could not vote against their instructions. They therefore asked an adjournment that they might go back to their constituents and ask a repeal of their instructions. Little doubt is entertained that they will accede. The conduct of Massachusetts has been noble. She accepted the constitution, but voted that it should stand as a perpetual instruction to their delegates to endeavor to obtain such & such reformations; and the minority, tho’ very strong both in numbers & abilities, declared viritim & seriatim, that acknowleging the principle that the majority must give the law, they would now support the new constitution with their tongues & with their blood if necessary. I was much pleased with many & essential parts of this instrument from the beginning. But I thought I saw in it many faults, great & small. What I have read & reflected has brought me over from several of my objections of the first moment, and to acquiesce under some others. Two only remain, of essential consideration, to wit, the want of a bill of rights, & the expunging the principle of necessary rotation in the offices of President & Senate. At first I wished that when 9. states should have accepted the constitution, so as to ensure us what is good in it, the other 4. might hold off till the want of the bill of rights at least might be supplied. But I am now convinced that the plan of Massachusetts is the best. That is, to accept, and to amend afterwards. If the states which were to decide after her should all do the same, it is impossible but they must obtain the essential amendments. It will be more difficult if we lose this instrument, to recover what is good in it, than to correct what is bad after we shall have adopted it. It has therefore my hearty prayers, and I wait with anxiety for news of the votes of Maryland, S. Carolina, & Virginia. There is no doubt that Genl. Washington will accept the presidentship, tho’ he is silent on the subject. He will not be chosen to the Virginia convention. A riot has taken place in New York which I will state to you from an eye witness. It has long been a practice with the Surgeons of that city to steal from the grave, bodies recently buried. A citizen had lost his wife. He went the 1st or 2d evening after her burial, to pay a visit to her grave. He found that it had been disturbed and suspected from what quarter. He found means to be admitted to the anatomical lecture of that day, and on his entering the room saw the body of his wife, naked & under dissection. He raised the people immediately. The body in the mean time was secreted. They entered into & searched the houses of the physicians whom they most suspected, but found nothing. One of them however, more guilty or more timid than the rest, took asylum in the Prison. The mob considered this as an acknolegement of guilt. They attacked the prison. The governor ordered militia to protect the culprit & suppress the Mob. The Militia, thinking the mob had just provocation, refused to turn out. Hereupon the people of more reflection, thinking it more dangerous that even a guilty person should be punished without the forms of law, than that he should escape, armed themselves and went to protect the physician. They were received by the mob with a volley of stones, which wounded several of them. They thereupon fired on the mob & killed four. By this time they received reinforcement of other citizens, & of the militia horse, the appearance of which in the critical moment dispersed the mob. So ended this chapter of history, which I have detailed to you because it may be represented as a political riot, when politics had nothing to do with it. Mr. Jay & Baron Steuben were both grievously wounded in the head by stones. The former still kept his bed, & the latter his room when the packet sailed which was the 24th of April. * * *
[1 ]Italics are cipher in original.