Front Page Titles (by Subject) Opposition Out of Doors - Liberty and Order: The First American Party Struggle
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Opposition Out of Doors - 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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Opposition Out of Doors
As Congress debated Hamilton’s proposals, Madison’s incoming correspondence suggested sharp and mounting opposition to the funding plan—from Virginia especially, but also from friends such as the Philadelphia physician Benjamin Rush. An occasional newspaper squib also publicly condemned the funding plan or the expense of the tedious debates in Congress.
Benjamin Rush to Madison 27 February 1790
… In reviewing the decision upon your motion, I feel disposed to wish that my name was blotted out from having contributed a single mite towards the American Revolution. We have effected a deliverance from the national injustice of Great Britain to be subjugated by a mighty Act of national injustice by the United States.
It is amusing to hear Gentlemen talk of the “public blessing” of a debt contracted to foreigners & a few American speculators of four or five millions of dollars a year. Nothing fundamentally unjust can ever produce happiness in its issue. It will lay the foundation of an aristocracy in our country. It will change the property of nine tenths of the freeholders of the States, and it will be a lasting monument of the efficacy of idleness, speculation, & fraud above industry, economy, & integrity in obtaining wealth & independence. Nor is this all. It will be a beacon to deter other nations & future generations from attempting to better their situations, for it clearly establishes this proposition, that revolutions, like party spirit, are the rage of many for the benefit of a few.
Walter Jones to Madison 25 March 1790
… [The complexion of public affairs] appears not quite satisfactory to the few of us here who think on public affairs; but whether we think justly or not is another question. I freely confess, for myself, no small abatement of ardor in the expectations I had formed of the New Government, because I apprehend that a certain description of men in power have vicious views of government; that they, with strong auxiliary numbers, have views equally vicious in finance; and that both are in combination with a predominating interest in a certain quarter of the union, which is in opposition to the great agricultural interest of the states at large… .
In Great Britain the interest of money is low; the commerce, wealth, & resources of the country astonishingly great—the infinite quantity & variety of art & labour that are hourly & momentarily at market invigorates circulation and probably makes a Guinea perform more uses in a week than it does here in six months. Yet the ruinous tendency of her national debt & its consequences has ever been maintained by the most impartial & enlightened writers & speakers on the subject. In these states every thing is proportionally unfavorable to the sustaining national debt. … With the balance of trade against us on the east, the drain of emigration on the west, the immense load of private and public debt due (and as the Secretary of the Treasury will have it) to be due to foreigners, together with the shock which between £20 and 30,000,000 of property has received by premature & impracticable steps towards the emancipation of slaves, I know not how the landed interest of the states will answer the additional demands of the system-mongers & fund jobbers who have become such fashionable subjects of newspaper panegyric. Indeed, Sir, unless I am deluded in the extreme, there are men & measures blended in the composition of the Government of the union that should put us much on our guard. I earnestly hope that every attempt to undermine the respectability of the State Governments may be defeated; for if experience should evince that the component parts of the union are too heterogeneous to be kept together, but by the artificial force & Influence of Government, those of the States would be potent instruments in effecting such a modification and reunion of parts, as would cure the mischiefs… .
I have ever considered the condition of society in these states to be sui generis. As the characteristic feature of the Scythians is termed pastoral, may we not call ours agricultural? And from the vast extent of territory, this characteristic promises to be of long duration. The general uniformity & simplicity of our interests, makes government, comparatively, an easy art; and the equality of our rights and rank is naturally allied to a republican form; if, therefore, some maritime parts of the union are calculated for the more complicated conditions of society (and to a great degree it is impossible they should be) they merit due attention but should never be held in competition with the great republican, agricultural interest of the continent at large. I should, therefore, ever oppose the introduction of those artificial modes of administration & influence in the executive departments of Government which are engendered in the inveterate corruption and complex interests & relations, internal & external, of the old European governments… .
Henry Lee to Madison 3 April 1790
… Every day adds new testimony of the growing ill will of the people here to the government. … [Patrick] Henry already is considered as a prophet; his predictions are daily verifying. His declaration with respect to the division of interest which would exist under the constitution & predominate in all the doings of the govt. already has been undeniably proved.
But we are committed & we cannot be relieved I fear only by disunion. To disunite is dreadful to my mind, but dreadful as it is, I consider it a lesser evil than union on the present conditions.
I had rather myself submit to all the hazards of war & risk the loss of everything dear to me in life than to live under the rule of a fixed insolent northern majority. At present this is the case, nor do I see any prospect of alteration or alleviation.
Change of the seat of govt. to the territorial center, direct taxation, & the abolition of gambling systems of finance might & would effect a material change. But these suggestions are vain & idle. No policy will be adopted by Congress which does not more or less tend to depress the south & exalt the north. I have heard it asserted that your vice president should say the southern people were formed by nature to subserve the convenience & interests of the north—or in plain words to be slaves to the north. Very soon will his assertion be thoroughly exemplified. How do you feel, what do you think, is your love for the constitution so ardent as to induce you to adhere to it tho it should produce ruin to your native country. I hope not, I believe not. However, I will be done, for it is disagreeable to utter unpleasant opinions. Yours always—
Edward Carrington to Madison 7 April 1790
I have seen the decision of the House of Representatives upon the Quaker Memorial [on the slave trade]. … The very circumstances of such a subject being taken up in Congress has given some alarm, and it might have been better that a debate of such a nature, which could not possibly be productive of any kind of effect, had never been entered into at all. … Notwithstanding the long debates there was little or no difference of opinion as to what must be the issue of the business. Why then were the people of the interested states to be alarmed in consequence of a fruitless discussion? … The Assumption of the State Debts remains now a subject of discontent. Upon two principles it creates serious complaint. It is by all Anti’s and many Fed’s considered as leading to the dreaded consolidation—and by all discriptions of men who think at all it is considered as iniquitous from the unequal situations of the states respecting their debts. Of the latter I am one. Having already written you pretty fully I will not add more here. Whether the constitution is yet so firmly on its legs that it cannot be shocked I will not undertake to decide. I am not apt to croak. Of this, however, I am certain; the adoption of this measure without giving to the states the benefit of their respective redeemed debts will [have] considerable effect in abridging the confidence of the people in it.
George Lee Turberville to Madison 7 April 1790
… I am not unacquainted personally with [the] Gentleman at the head of [the] Department of the Revenue & still less so with the powers of his mind—his acquirements, disposition, & character. I tremble at the thoughts of his being at the head of such an immense sum as 86 millions of dollars—and the annual revenue of the Union. The number of dependents on him necessary to manage the great Department of Revenue, the multitude who will be interested in the funds (in opposition too to the landed interest of the U.S.), all of whom will in some measure be dependent or at any rate attached to the principal officer of the revenue, I profess creates with me apprehensions that from the complicated nature of the subject I am at a loss to determine whether I ought to foster or to discourage.
I am nevertheless persuaded that the funding business founded upon loans will never answer in America. The example set by Great Britain can never be followed here until our country becomes as thickly populated, as commercial and as highly cultivated as G. Britain is… .
The idea of consolidating the debt of the states with that of the union is a very unpopular one & for that reason only ought to be laid aside. But I do not think it even political. The debts of Virga. are sinking fast. Every creditor appears satisfied—and the monied men are very fond of becoming adventurers & purchasing the state paper. Many have made their fortunes by it. Why in heaven then should Congress interfere with us? I hope and trust that part of the plan will at least be negatived.
Benjamin Rush to Madison 10 April 1790
I congratulate you upon the prospect of the funding system being delayed ’till the next session of Congress. I hope an election will intervene before you meet again. Should this be the case, I think it probable that no one of our members who has voted against your motion & in favor of the leading principles of Mr. Hamilton’s report will be reelected.
I have long deplored the temporary residence of Congress in New York. … I question whether more dishonorable influence has ever been used by a British minister (bribery excepted) to carry a measure than has [been] used to carry the report of the Secretary. This influence is not confined to nightly visits, promises, compromises, sacrifices, & threats in New York. It has extended one or two of its polluted streams to this city, the particulars of which you shall hear when I have the pleasure of seeing you on your way to Virginia… .
I have just committed to the press a small pamphlet entitled “Information to Europeans disposed to migrate to the United States” in which I have dwelt with peculiar pleasure upon the safety and agreeable prospects of our country under her present government. The establishment of the Secretary’s report can alone contradict the information I have given upon that subject. It will in seven years introduce among us all the corruptions of the British funding system. The principal part of the information is addressed to cultivators of the earth, mechanics, laborers, servants, & [the?] members of the learned professions. I shall b[eg] your acceptance of a copy of it as soon as it [is] published. It is addressed to a friend in Great Britain.
Boston Independent Chronicle 12 August 1790
A number of Stock-Jobbers, Speculators, and Negotiators for the purpose of aiding and assisting certain members of the Robin-Hood Society in accomplishing their foreign contracts. As this fraternity are about to receive the reward of their seven-months’ services, many of them wish to dispose of their exhorbitant wages in such manner as will augment their property twofold during recess. As they began their speculations during session, they mean to continue them for the short time they adjourn to attend to their reelection; when this is accomplished it is expected they will return to Philadelphia and there spend the remainder of the year in promoting their own interest to the impoverishing of their constituents.