Front Page Titles (by Subject) Federalist Concerns - Liberty and Order: The First American Party Struggle
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Federalist Concerns - Lance Banning, Liberty and Order: The First American Party Struggle 
Liberty and Order: The First American Party Struggle, ed. and with a Preface by Lance Banning (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2004).
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James Madison to George Washington New York, 11 August 1788
You will have seen the circular letter from the convention of this state. It has a most pestilent tendency. If an early General Convention cannot be parried, it is seriously to be feared that the system which has resisted so many direct attacks may be at last successfully undermined by its enemies. It is now perhaps to be wished that Rhode Island may not accede till this new crisis of danger be over. Some think it would have been better if even N. York had held out till the operation of the government could have dissipated the fears which artifice had created and the attempts resulting from those fears & artifices. We hear nothing yet from N. Carolina more than comes by the way of Petersburg.
Madison to Washington New York, 24 August 1788
… The circular letter from this state is certainly a matter of as much regret as the unanimity with which it passed is matter of surprise. I find it is everywhere, and particularly in Virginia, laid hold of as the signal for united exertions in pursuit of early amendments. In Pennsylva. the antifederal leaders are, I understand, soon to have a meeting at Harrisburg in order to concert proper arrangements on the part of that state. I begin now to accede to the opinion, which has been avowed for some time by many, that the circumstances involved in the ratification of New York will prove more injurious than a rejection would have done. The latter would have rather alarmed the well meaning Antifederalists elsewhere, would have had no ill effect on the other party, and would have been necessarily followed by a speedy reconsideration of the subject. I am not able to account for the concurrence of the federal part of the Convention in the circular address on any other principle than the determination to purchase an immediate ratification in any form and at any price rather than disappoint this City of a chance for the new Congress. This solution is sufficiently justified by the eagerness displayed on this point, and the evident disposition to risk and sacrifice everything to it. Unfortunately, the disagreeable question continues to be undecided, and is now in a state more perplexing than ever. By the last vote taken, the whole arrangement was thrown out, and the departure of Rho. Island & the refusal of N. Carolina to participate further in the business has left eleven states only to take it up anew. In this number there are not seven states for any place, and the disposition to relax, as usually happens, decreases with the progress of the contest. What and when the issue is to be is really more than I can foresee. It is truly mortifying that the outset of the new government should be immediately preceded by such a display of locality as portends the continuance of an evil which has dishonored the old, and gives countenance to some of the most popular arguments which have been inculcated by the Southern Antifederalists.
New York has appeared to me extremely objectionable on the following grounds. It violates too palpably the simple and obvious principle that the seat of public business should be made as equally convenient to every part of the public as the requisite accommodations for executing the business will permit. This consideration has the more weight as well on account of the catholic spirit professed by the Constitution as of the increased resort which it will require from every quarter of the continent. It seems to be particularly essential that an eye should be had in all our public arrangements to the accommodation of the Western Country, which perhaps cannot be sufficiently gratified at any rate, but which might be furnished with new fuel to its jealousy by being summoned to the sea-shore & almost at one end of the continent. There are reasons, but of too confidential a nature for any other than verbal communication, which make it of critical importance that neither cause nor pretext should be given for distrusts in that quarter of the policy towards it in this. I have apprehended also that a preference so favorable to the Eastern States would be represented in the Southern as a decisive proof of the preponderance of that scale, and a justification of all the antifederal arguments drawn from that danger. Adding to all this the recollection that the first year or two will produce all the great arrangements under the new system, and which may fix its tone for a long time to come, it seems of real importance that the temporary residence of the new Congress, apart from its relation to the final residence, should not be thrown too much towards one extremity of the Union. It may perhaps be the more necessary to guard against suspicions of partiality in this case as the early measures of the new government, including a navigation act, will of course be more favorable to this extremity.
James Madison to Thomas Jefferson 21 September 1788
… The Circular Letter from the New York Convention has rekindled an ardor among the opponents of the Federal Constitution for an immediate revision of it by another General Convention. You will find in one of the papers enclosed the result of the consultations in Pennsylvania on that subject. Mr. Henry and his friends in Virginia enter with great zeal into the scheme. Governor Randolph also espouses it; but with a wish to prevent if possible danger to the article which extends the power of the government to internal as well as external taxation. It is observable that the views of the Pennsylva. meeting do not rhyme very well with those of the Southern advocates for a Convention; the objects most eagerly pursued by the latter being unnoticed in the Harrisburg proceedings. The effect of the circular letter on other states is less known. I conclude that it will be the same everywhere among those who opposed the Constitution or contended for a conditional ratification of it. Whether an early Convention will be the result of this united effort is more than can at this moment be foretold. The measure will certainly be industriously opposed in some parts of the Union, not only by those who wish for no alterations, but by others who would prefer the other mode provided in the Constitution as most expedient at present for introducing those supplemental safeguards to liberty against which no objections can be raised, and who would moreover approve of a Convention for amending the frame of the government itself, as soon as time shall have somewhat corrected the feverish state of the public mind and trial have pointed its attention to the true defects of the system.
You will find also by one of the papers enclosed that the arrangements have been completed for bringing the new government into action. The dispute concerning the place of its meeting was the principal cause of delay, the Eastern States with N. Jersey and S. Carolina being attached to N. York, and the others strenuous for a more central position. Philadelphia, Wilmington, Lancaster and Baltimore were successively tendered without effect by the latter before they finally yielded to the superiority of [numbers?] in favor of this City. I am afraid the decision will give a great handle to the Southern Antifederalists who have inculcated a jealousy of this end of the continent. It is to be regretted also as entailing this pernicious question on the new Congress who will have enough to do in adjusting the other delicate matters submitted to them. Another consideration of great weight with me is that the temporary residence here will probably end in a permanent one at Trenton, or at the farthest on the Susquehannah. A removal in the first instance beyond the Delaware would have removed the alternative to the Susquehannah and the Potomac. The best chance of the latter depends on a delay of the permanent establishment for a few years, until the Western and South Western population comes more into view. This delay cannot take place if so eccentric a place as N. York is to be the intermediate seat of business.
Madison to Jefferson 8 December 1788
… Notwithstanding the formidable opposition made to the new federal government, first in order to prevent its adoption, and since in order to place its administration in the hands of disaffected men, there is now both a certainty of its peaceable commencement in March next and a flattering prospect that it will be administered by men who will give it a fair trial. General Washington will certainly be called to the executive department. Mr. Adams who is pledged to support him will probably be the vice president. The enemies to the government, at the head and the most inveterate of whom is Mr. Henry, are laying a train for the election of Governor Clinton, but it cannot succeed unless the federal votes be more dispersed than can well happen. Of the seven states which have appointed their Senators, Virginia alone will have antifederal members in that branch. Those of N. Hampshire are President Langdon and Judge Bartlett, of Massachusetts Mr. Strong and Mr. Dalton, of Connecticut Dr. Johnson and Mr. Ellsworth, of N. Jersey Mr. Patterson and Mr. Elmer, of Penna. Mr. R. Morris and Mr. McClay, of Delaware Mr. Geo. Reed and Mr. Bassett, of Virginia Mr. R. H. Lee and Col. Grayson. Here is already a majority of the ratifying states on the side of the Constitution. And it is not doubted that it will be reinforced by the appointments of Maryland, S. Carolina and Georgia. As one branch of the Legislature of N. York is attached to the Constitution, it is not improbable that one of the Senators from that state also will be added to the majority.
In the House of Representatives the proportion of antifederal members will of course be greater, but cannot if present appearances are to be trusted amount to a majority or even a very formidable minority. The election for this branch has taken place as yet nowhere except in Penna. and here the returns are not yet come in from all the counties. It is certain however that seven out of the eight, and probable that the whole eight representatives will bear the federal stamp. Even in Virginia where the enemies to the government form 2/3 of the legislature it is computed that more than half the number of Representatives, who will be elected by the people, formed into districts for the purpose, will be of the same stamp. By some it is computed that 7 out of the 10 allotted to that state will be opposed to the politics of the present legislature.
The questions which divide the public at present relate 1. to the extent of the amendments that ought to be made to the Constitution, 2. to the mode in which they ought to be made. The friends of the Constitution, some from an approbation of particular amendments, others from a spirit of conciliation, are generally agreed that the system should be revised. But they wish the revisal to be carried no farther than to supply additional guards for liberty, without abridging the sum of power transferred from the states to the general government or altering previous to trial the particular structure of the latter and are fixed in opposition to the risk of another Convention whilst the purpose can be as well answered by the other mode provided for introducing amendments. Those who have opposed the Constitution are, on the other hand, zealous for a second Convention, and for a revisal which may either not be restrained at all or extend at least as far as alterations have been proposed by any state. Some of this class are, no doubt, friends to an effective government, and even to the substance of the particular government in question. It is equally certain that there are others who urge a second Convention with the insidious hope of throwing all things into confusion, and of subverting the fabric just established, if not the Union itself. If the first Congress embrace the policy which circumstances mark out, they will not fail to propose of themselves every desirable safeguard for popular rights; and by thus separating the well meaning from the designing opponents fix on the latter their true character, and give to the government its due popularity and stability.