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James Madison, The Writings, vol. 2 (1783-1787) 
The Writings of James Madison, comprising his Public Papers and his Private Correspondence, including his numerous letters and documents now for the first time printed, ed. Gaillard Hunt (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1900). Vol. 2.
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Table of Contents
The Knickerbocker Press, New York[Back to Table of Contents]
CHRONOLOGY OF JAMES MADISON.
[Back to Table of Contents]
THE WRITINGS OF JAMES MADISON.[Back to Table of Contents]
TO EDMUND RANDOLPH.mad. mss.
Philada., July 8, 1783.
My dear friend,—
Yours of the 28 of June like the preceding one found me at this place, where my preparations for leaving Congs. will keep me much of the remainder of my time. The footing on which the Impost is placed by the Assembly is not an eligible one, but preferable to a total rejection. It is to be regretted that immediate use was not made of the impression of the letter from Genl. W. The interval preceding the next Session will give full scope to malignant insinuations. The reversal of the award in the case of Nathan may possibly be just in itself; but it will require all your eloquence I fear to shield the honor of the State from its effects. The Agency which the Delegation had in the affair will impart no small share of the mortification to them. I suppose the feelings of Mr. Jefferson & Mr. Harrison also will not be much delighted by it.
Genl. How is here with a corps of N. England troops detached by Gl. W. for the purpose of quelling the Mutiny. His only employment will now be to detect & punish the promoters of it. Congs. remain at Princeton. Their removal from that place will soon become an interesting question. Not a few maintain strenuously the policy of returning to this City in order to obviate suspicions abroad of any disaffection in the mass of so important a State to the federal Govt. and to restore mutual confidence with a State which has of late been so firm in adhering to federal measures. It is supposed too that a freer choice might have been made amg. the permanent seats offered by the States, than at a place where the necessity of a speedy removal wd. give undue advantage to an offer which happened to be in greatest readiness for immediate use. The Citizens here in general regret the departure of Congs., disavow the idea that they were unwilling to take arms in defence of Congs., and will probably enter into some declaration tending to invite their return.
We hear nothing from our Ministers in Europe. The evacuation of N. York, as to the time seems as problematical as ever. The sending off the negroes continues to take place under the eyes & remonstrances of the Inspectors of Embarkations.[Back to Table of Contents]
TO EDMUND RANDOLPH.mad. mss.
Philadr., July 15, 1783.
My Dear Sir,—
Yesterday’s post brought me no letter from you. The contents of the inclosed paper make up every thing of consequence which I have for a subject at present. The enquiry into the Mutiny has not advanced far enough to bring forth any discoveries. An address is circulating & will be generally signed by the Citizens here reciting to Congress the proofs they have heretofore given of attachmt. to the fœderal Govt. professing a continuance of that attachmt. and declaring their readiness to support the dignity & privileges of Congs., in case the conveniency of this place for transacting the public affairs sd. give it a preference to others untill a final residence shall be fixed.
Mr. Lee arrived here the day before yesterday and goes to Princeton to-day. Mr. Mercer’s indisposition carries him to the Sea board of N. Jersey. My absence not producing any chasm in the representation and some private business requiring my stay here, I shall not return to Princeton for 7 or 8 days.[Back to Table of Contents]
TO EDMUND RANDOLPH.mad. mss.
[July 28, 1783.]
My Dear Sir,—
Yesterday’s mail brought me no letter from you. The Address from the Citizens of Pa. came before Congs. on thursday and was referred to a comme. of 5 members. The answer will probably be a very civil one, but will leave open the question touching the return of Congs. This question if decided at all in the affirmative, must be preceded by despair of some of the competitors for the permanent residence, almost all of whom now make a common cause agst. Philada. It is not improbable that when the urgency of the scanty accommodations at Princeton comes to be more fully felt, with the difficulty of selecting a final seat among the numerous offers, N. Y. in case of its evacuation may be brought into rivalship with Philada. for the temporary residence of Congress. My own opinion is that it would be less eligible as removing every thing connected with Congs., not only farther from the South but farther from the Center, and making a removal to a Southern position finally more difficult than it would be from Philada.. Williamsbg. seems to have a very slender chance as far as I can discover. Annapolis I apprehend wd. have a greater number of advocates. But the best chance both for Maryland & Virga, will be to unite in offering a double jurisdiction on the Potowmack. The only dangerous rival in that case will be a like offer from N. J. & Pa. on the Delaware; unless indeed Congs. sd. be carried to N. York before a final choice be made in which case it would be difficult to get them out of the State.
In order to prepare the way to their permanent residence Congs. have appd. a Come. to define the jurisdiction proper for them to be invested with. Williamsbg. has asked an explanation on this point. The nearer the subject is viewed the less easy it is found to mark the just boundary between the authority of Congs. & that of the State on one side & on the other between the former & the privileges of the inhabitants. May it not also be made a question whether in constitutional strictness the gift of any State, without the Concurrence of all the rest, can authorize Congs. to exercise any power not delegated by the Confederation? As Congs. it would seem are incompetent to every act not warranted by that instrument or some other flowing from the same source. I wish you could spare a little attention to this subject & transmit your ideas on it. Contrary to my intention I shall be detained here several weeks yet, by a disappointmt. in some circumstances which must precede my setting out for Virga..
There is considerable ground to believe that Carleton is possessed of the definitive Treaty. He has lately sent Congs. several depositions relative to forgeries of Mr. Morris’ Notes, the authors of which he has confined in N. York, & has requested that persons may be sent in to attend the examination.
The Court Martial is still proceeding in the investigation of the Mutiny, but have disclosed no result.[Back to Table of Contents]
TO THOMAS JEFFERSON.
Philada., Aug. 11th. 1783.
My Dear Sir,—
At the date of my letter in April I expected to have had the pleasure by this time of being with you in Virginia. My disappointment has proceeded from several dilatory circumstances on which I had not calculated. My journey to Virga. tho’ still somewhat contingent in point of time cannot now be very long postponed. I need not I trust renew my assurance that it will not finally stop on this side of Monticello.
The reserve of our foreign Ministers still leaves us the sport of misinformations concerning the def: Treaty. We all thought a little time ago that it had certainly arrived at N. York. This opinion however has become extinct, and we are thrown back on the newspaper evidence which as usual is full of contradictions. The probability seems to be that the delay arises from discussions with the Dutch. Mr. Dana has been sorely disappointed in the event of his announcing himself to the Court of Russia. His written communications obtain verbal answers only & these hold up the Mediation to which the Empress, with the Emperor of G[erman]y have been invited as a bar to any overt transaction with the U. S. and even suggest the necessity of new powers from the latter of a date subsequent to the acknowledgment of their Sovereignty by G. B. Having not seen the letters from Mr. Dana myself, I give this idea of them at second hand, remarking at the same time that it has been taken from such passages only as were not in Cypher; the latter being not yet translated. Congs. remain at Princeton utterly undecided both as to their ultimate seat and their intermediate residence. Very little business of moment has been yet done at the new Metropolis, except a ratification of the Treaty with Sweden. In particular nothing has been done as to a foreign establishment. With regard to an internal peace establishment, though it has been treated with less inattention, it has undergone little discussion. The Commander-in-Chief has been invited to Princeton with a view to obtain his advice and sanction to the military branches of it, and is every day expected there. The Budget of Congs. is likely to have the fate of many of their other propositions to the States. Delaware is the only one among those which have bestowed a consideration on it that has acceded in toto. Several Legislatures have adjourned without giving even that mark of their condescension. In the Southern States a jealousy of Congressional usurpations is likely to be the bane of the system: in the Eastern an aversion to the half-pay provided for by it. New Jersey & Maryland have adopted the impost, the other funds recommended being passed for one year only by one of these States, and postponed by the other. Pa. has hitherto been friendly to liberal and fœderal ideas and will continue so, unless the late jar with Congs. sd give a wrong bias of which there is some danger. Massts. has in the election of Delegates for the ensuing year stigmatized the concurrence of those now in place, in the provision for half-pay, by substituting a new representation; and has sent a Memorial to Congs. which I am told is pregnant with the most penurious ideas not only on that subject but on several others which concern the national honor & dignity. This picture of our affairs is not a flattering one; but we have been witnesses of so many cases in which evils & errors have been the parents of their own remedy, that we cannot but view it with consolations of hope. Remind Miss Patsy of my affection for her & be assured that I am Dr. Sir
Yr. Sincere friend[Back to Table of Contents]
TO EDMUND RANDOLPH.
Philada., Aug: 12, 1783.
The arrival of yesterday’s mail has not enabled me to acknowledge the rect. of a favor. Perhaps the post office may be again in fault.
Our late belief of the arrival of the Defin: Treaty at N. York has become utterly extinct. From the tenor of the Newspapers the delay seems to be the effect of discussions with the Dutch. The inclosed letter from our friend Hawkins provides for the article of Russian intelligence. I understand from Mr. Mercer who is here on business as well as myself that Mr. Dana’s despatches were in part undecyphered when Mr. Hawkins’ transcript was made. The Legislature of Mats have sent a memorial to Congress wearing a very unpropitious aspect on the grant of ½ to the army and in other respects breathing a penurious spirit which if indulged will be fatal to every establishment that requires expence. They profess great poverty, and have declined any decision on the Revenue propositions of Congs. Rhode Island did not even bestow a consideration on them. Mr. H[owel]l from the latter State after being informed of the course taken by Va. said that her backwardness very much emboldened the States that were disinclined to a Genl. Revenue. Congs. have voted Genl W. an elegant Bronze Statue. He has been invited to Princeton as well to relieve him from the tedium which he suffers on the North River as to make use of his Counsel in digesting a peace Establishmt. We shall probably be reinforced by Mr. Jones in a few days. I shall give you notice when my departure will make it proper for your correspondence to be discontinued.[Back to Table of Contents]
TO EDMUND RANDOLPH.mad. mss.
Philada. Aug 18, 1783.
I have not this week any more than the last the pleasure of acknowledging a favor from you. Perhaps I may find one at Princeton when I get there. On thursday a question for returning to Philada was put and decided in the Negative by a large majority. The friends of the measure foreseeing its fate, and supposing that a negative declaration cd. answer no good purpose and might an ill one, withdrew it. The more moderate opponents concurred in the inexpediency of proclaiming unnecessarily an aversion in Congs to Philada. But some of this class were so keen in their hostility, that a motion was made by two of them to return, who on the question voted agst their own motion. The public will not I believe fix on this proceeding as one of the brightest pages of the Journals? The abuses to which such an artifice may be extended are palpable. The merit of it in this application belongs to Mr. Howel of R. I. and Mr. B[lan]d of V. The motion was first made by Mr. L[ee] but in the course of the transaction devolved on Mr. Howel. I know of none that will read with pleasure this affair unless it be the Executive of Pa and those who wish to refer the removal of Congs to other motives than the national dignity & welfare.
Congs have letters from Mr. Laurens of the 17th June but they decide nothing as to the definitive Treaty. We have no reason, how, to impute the delay to any cause which renders the event suspicious. It is said that the British Councils grow more & more wary on the subject of a Coerl Treaty with the U. S. and that the spirit of the Navigation act is likely to prevail over a more liberal system.
S. Carolina we learn has agreed to the Impost on condition only that the revenue be collected by her own officers, & be credited to her own quota. It is supposed that she will agree to exchange the valuation of land for the proposed rule of numbers. But on this point R. I. was more inflexible than on that of the Impost. I pity from my heart the officers of the Eastern line who are threatened by these prospects with disappointments which the Southern officers have no Idea of. From much conversation which I have lately had with some of the former, and from other information, there appears great reason to believe that if no continental provision be made for them they will not only be docked of their half-pay, but will run great hazard of being put off with regard to a great share of their other pay on the pretence of their States that they have already advanced beyond their proportion.
I expect Mr. Jones every moment.[Back to Table of Contents]
TO EDMUND RANDOLPH.mad. mss.
Philada. Aug 24, 1783.
My dear Sir,—
Mr. Jones who arrived the beginning of the week acquainted me with your abortive mission to Maryland which I had not before heard of. To this absence from Richmond I impute your silence by the late mails. I hope for the pleasure of a line by the mail now on its way, which will not however be acknowledged till the ensuing week as I am about returning to Princeton when it will find me too late for the post of this week. All that I have now to tell you is that Sr G. Carleton has notified to Congs his having received orders for the evacuation of N. York but he specifies no time fixed either by the orders or by his own plans. He repeats his lamentations touching the Loyalists and insinuates that the proceedings of the people agst them are a proof that little or no govt exists in the U. States.
With great affection I am yr frd & Svt[Back to Table of Contents]
TO EDMUND RANDOLPH.mad. mss.
Princeton, Aug 30, 1783.
My dear Sir,—
We hear nothing from Europe that can be depended on relative to the definitive Treaty, nor any thing from N. York as to the time it will be evacuated. A Pamphlet has lately come over from G. Britain which appears to be well adapted to retard if not prevent a commercial Treaty, & which is said to be much attended to. It urges an adherence to the principle of the Navigation Act by which American Vessels will be excluded from the trade between the separate parts of the Empire, and from all intercourse with the dependent territories. It undertakes to shew from an enumeration of the produce of the U. S. & the manufactures consumed by them, that those of G. B. recommended by the superior credit which her Merchants can give, will be sufficiently sure of a preference in the American Market. And lastly it maintains that the interests of the States are so opposite in matters of Commerce, & the authority of Congs so feeble that no defensive precautions need be feared on the part of the U.S. and threatens that in case they should refuse to let British Vessels exclusively carry on a Commerce between the U. S. and the W. Indies as far as the interest of the Islands may require, the vessels of one State shall not be permitted to carry the product of another to any British Port. The Whole tenor of the reasoning supposes that France will not permit Vessels of the U. S. to trade with their Islands in which there is good reason to believe they are not mistaken. The object of the French Administration is said to be to allow a direct trade between the U. S. & their W. India possessions, but to confine it to French Bottoms.
The Legislature of Penna have unanimously adopted the Recoendations of Congs both as to Revenue & a change of the fœderal rule for apportioning the common burdens. They will also present an invitation to Congs. we understand, to resume their Sessions at Philada, if that place be judged most fit for the despatch of public business, untill a permanent seat be chosen & prepared; giving at the same time explicit assurances of support in case it should on any occasion be needed. What effect this conciliatory proposition may have on the temper of Congs is precarious. With some the complaisance shewn to the late recommendations of Congs. will be far from softening the dislike. With others Philada will ever be obnoxious while it contains and respects an obnoxious Character. Annapolis has seized the present occasion to forward her views with respect to Congs., and has courted their presence in the most flattering terms. During this contest among the rival seats, we are kept in the most awkward situation that can be imagined; and it is the more so as we every moment expect the Dutch Ambassador. We are crowded too much either to be comfortable ourselves or to be able to carry on the business with advantage. Mr. Jones & myself on our arrival were extremely put to it to get any quarters at all, and are at length put into one bed in a room not more than 10 feet square.[Back to Table of Contents]
TO JAMES MADISON.mad. mss.
Princeton Aug: 30, 1783.
I recd. great pleasure from your’s recd. by the last post which removed the apprehensions excited by your preceding one regarding the state of my mother’s health. I hope this will find her still further recovered. The time of my setting out for Virga. is still somewhat precarious: several matters being before Congs. which I wish to see first decided. An answer to this if not delayed will probably find me here.
The definitive Treaty is not yet come over. Sr. G. Carlton has notified to Congs. his receipt of final orders for the evacuation of N. York, but fixes no time at which they are to be carried into execution. Genl. Washington has been here some days at the invitation of Congs. & will be consulted on the provision necessary in time of peace for the security of this country. I inclose you one of the latest papers containing the address of the Presidt. to the assembly of Pena. The latter have unanimously acceded to the late recoendations of Congs. with respect to revenue, and a change of the rule for apportioning the common burdens. It is said they are also about to address Congs. on the event which occasioned their removal, & to provide expressly for the protection of Congs. in case they sd. deem Philada. the fittest place for the transaction of business untill a final residence shall be chosen. What effect this may have is uncertain. We are exceedingly crowded in this place; too much so both for our own comfort & for the despatch of business. Mr. Jones & myself are in one room scarcely ten feet square & in one bed. With the best regards for all the family
I am yr. dutiful son[Back to Table of Contents]
TO JAMES MADISON.mad. mss.
Philada. Sepr. 8. 1783.
Mr Jones & myself being here transacting some private business which brought us from Princeton the end of last week, I here receive your letter of the 22d. ult. The favorable turn of my mother’s state of health is a source of great satisfaction to me, and will render any delay in my setting out for Virga. the less irksome to me. I shall return to Princeton tomorrow; my final leaving of which will depend on events, but can not now be at any very great distance. On a view of all circumstances I have judged it most prudent not to force Billey back to Va. even if [it] could be done; and have accordingly taken measures for his final separation from me. I am persuaded his mind is too thoroughly tainted to be a fit companion for fellow slaves in Virga. The laws here do not admit of his being sold for more than 7 years. I do not expect to get near the worth of him; but cannot think of punishing him by transportation merely for coveting that liberty for which we have paid the price of so much blood, and have proclaimed so often to be the right, & worthy the pursuit, of every human being.
We have no later advices from Europe than when I wrote by Merry Walker.[Back to Table of Contents]
TO EDMUND RANDOLPH.mad. mss.
Philada. Sept. 8 1783.
My dear Sir,—
Mr. Jones & myself having come down to this city the end of the past week for the purpose of negociating some pecuniary matters I am here to date my acknowledgment of your favor of the 30th. ulto. We return again tomorrow.
The delay of the definitive Treaty although not fully explained to Congress, excites less disquietude here than I find it does in Virginia. Our latest official advices were from Mr. Laurens, of the [seventeenth] of June. The Conduct of the British administration was far from explicit, according to his state of it, but probably proceeded more from the discordant materials of which it is composed & doubts as to the commercial footing on which America ought to be placed, than from any insidious views. Why indeed a Commercial Treaty should be made to clog the Treaty of peace is left to conjecture. Perhaps the fact may not be true & the delay of the latter may be owing still to the old cause, to wit, a discussion of the intricate points with the Dutch. The situation of G. B. is such that nothing but some signal change in the aspect of things in this hemisphere can inspire a fresh disposition for war; notwithstanding the menacing tone of Sr. G. Carleton.
The Legislature of Pa. have taken every possible step to expiate the default of the Executive short of an impeachment of its members, which the rigor of some members of Congs. included among the terms of reconciliation with the State. They have expressly invited Congs. back, assured them of honorable protection, and given up the State-House with the appendages for their temporary use. They have also made German Town a competitor for the permanent abode of Congress.
The opposition in the N. England States to the grant of half-pay instead of subsiding has increased to such a degree as to produce almost a general anarchy. In what shape it will issue is altogether uncertain. Those who are interested in the event look forward with very poignant apprehensions. Nothing but some continental provision can obtain for them this part of their reward. * * *
Why did not the Assembly stop the sale of land warrants? They bring no profit to the public Treasury, are a source of constant speculation on the ignorant, and will finally arm numbers of Citizens of other States & even foreigners with claims & clamors against the faith of Virginia. Immense quantities have from time to time been vended in this place at immense profit, and in no small proportion to the subjects of our Ally. The credulity here being exhausted I am told the land Jobbers are going on with their commodity to Boston & other places.[Back to Table of Contents]
TO EDMUND RANDOLPH.mad. mss.
Princeton, Sepr. 13, 1783.
My dear Sir,—
Our Ministers in Europe have made some amends for ye long silence by voluminous despatches brought down to 27th. July. They were recd. yesterday by Congress. No definitive treaty had then been signed by any of the parties, though all had been ready except Holland & America. The former is said to have settled her difficulties. The American Ministers have been endeavouring to incorporate some important commercial stipulations, but in vain; and in case of emergency must come forward with the provisional articles to be signed as ye. definitive Treaty. The conduct of G. B. in the negociation with America has shewn great unsteadiness if not insidiousness on the subject of commerce; and the inclosed proclamation of the 2d. of July is a proof that some experiment is intended on the wisdom firmness & union of the States before they will enter into a Treaty in derogation of her Navigation Act. Congress will probably recoend some defensive plan to the States. If it sd. meet with the fate of former recommendations, it will not probably be owing to Rhode Island whose staple interest more than that of any others lies in carrying between the U. S. & the West Indies. If it fails at all it will prove such an inefficacy in the Union as will extinguish all respect for it & reliance on it. My situation here for writing is so incommodious that you must excuse my brevity.[Back to Table of Contents]
TO EDMUND RANDOLPH.mad. mss.
Princeton, Sepr 20, 1783.
I have nothing to add to my last on the subject of foreign affairs, further than that the Court of France has fixed on L’Orient as a free port for the U. S. The Virga Cession underwent a decision of Congs a day or two after my last. The form which they have given it may be seen in the hands of the Executive. I sincerely hope it may meet the ultimatum of Virga. The circumstances which produced brevity in my last as strongly recommended it at present. Adieu.[Back to Table of Contents]
TO THOMAS JEFFERSON.mad. mss.
Princeton, Sepr. 20, 1783.
Your favor of the 31 ult: came to hand yesterday. As the reason which chiefly urged my departure for Virga has ceased I have been led to protract my attendance on Congress by the interest I felt in some measures on foot, and the particular interest which my Constituents have in them. Two of these were the territorial Cession and the permanent seat of Congress. The former was a few days ago put into a form which I hope will meet the ultimatum of Virginia. The first monday in next month is fixed for a decision of the latter; after which it may still be necessary to choose a temporary residence until the permanent one can be made ready. I am utterly unable to foretell how either of these points will be determined. It is not impossible that an effective vote may be found attainable on neither; in which case the Winter must be spent in this village where the public business can neither be conveniently done, the members of Congress be decently provided for, nor those connected with Congress provided for at all. I shall lose no time in looking out for quarters for you & entering into provisional engagements in your favor. Your other request relative to Miss Patsy shall be equally attended to as soon as I go to Philada, which will probably be towards the end of the present week.
It will give me real concern if we should miss one another altogether in the journies before us; and yet I foresee the danger of it. Mr. Jones & myself will probably be on the road by the middle of next month or a few days later. This is the time about which you expect to commence your journey. Unless therefore we travel the same road a disappointment of more [than] an interview will be unavoidable. At present our plan is to proceed thro’ Baltimore & Alexandria & Fredericksbg and we may possibly be at the races of the second place. I am at a loss by what regulation I can obey your wishes with regard to the notes I have on hand; having not yet made any copy of them, having no time now for that purpose, and being unwilling for several reasons to leave them all behind me. A disappointment however will be of the less consequence as they have been much briefer & more interrupted since the period at which you run them over, and have been altogether discontinued since the arrival of Congs here.
My plan of spending this winter in Philada. in close reading was not entirely abandoned untill Congress left that City and shewed an utter disinclination to return to it. The prospect of agreeable and even instructive society was an original consideration with me; and the subsequent one having yours added to it would have confirmed my intention after the abortive issue of another plan,1 had not the solicitude of a tender & infirm parent exacted a visit to Virga and an uncertainty of returning been thereby incurred. Even at present if Congs. sd. make Philaa their seat this winter & I can decline a visit to Virga. or speedily get away from it, my anxiety on the subject will be renewed.
Our last information from Europe is dated the 27th July. France & Spain were then ready for the definitive signing of the Peace. Holland was on the point of being so. The American Plenipos. had done nothing on the subject and in case of emergency could only sign the provisional Treaty as final. Their negotiations had been spent chiefly on commercial stipulations from which G. B. after very different professions & appearances, altogether drew back. The ready admission she found into our commerce without paying any price for it has suggested the policy of aiming at the entire benefit of it, and at the same time saving the carriage of the W. India trade the price she at first bid for it. The supposed contrariety of interests among the States and the impotence of the fœderal Govt, are urged by the ministerial pamphleteers as a safeguard agst. retaliation. The other nations of Europe seem to have more honorable views towards our commerce, sundry advances having been made to our Ministers on that subject.
Congress have come to no decision even as yet on any of the great branches of the peace establishment. The military branch is supported and quickened by the presence of the Commander in Chief, but without any prospect of a hasty issue. The department of foreign Affairs both internal & external remains as it has long done. The election of a Secy. has been an order of the day for many months without a vote being taken. The importance of the marine department has been diminished by the sale of almost all the Vessels belonging to the U. S. The department of Finance is an object of almost daily attack and will be reduced to its crisis on the final resignation of Mr. M., which will take place in a few months. The War Office is connected with the Military establishment & will be regulated I suppose in conformity to what that may be. Among other subjects which divide Congress, their Constitutional authority touching such an establishment in time of peace is one. Another still more puzzling is the precise jurisdiction proper for Congress within the limits of their permanent seat. As these points may possibly remain undecided till Novr, I mention them particularly that your aid may be prepared. The investigation of the Mutiny ended in the condemnation of several Sergeants who were stimulated to the measure without being apprized of the object by the two officers who escaped. They have all recd. a pardon from Congress. The real plan & object of the mutiny lies in profound darkness. I have written this in hopes that it may get to Monticello before you leave it. It might have been made more interesting if I had brought the Cypher from Philada., tho’ my present situation required a great effort to accomplish as much as I have. I am obliged to write in a position that scarcely admits the use of any of my limbs, Mr. Jones & myself being lodged in a room not 10 feet square and without a single accommodation for writing.
I am Dear Sir your sincere friend & Obt Servt.[Back to Table of Contents]
TO EDMUND RANDOLPH.mad. mss.
Philada Septr 30, 1783.
My dear Sir,—
Your favor introducing Mr. Corbin and that by the last week’s post have both been receivd. The former did not get to Princeton before Mr. C. had left it, nor did I get to this place before he was so near leaving it that I had no opportunity of manifesting my respect for your recommendations otherwise than by verbal civilities to him. Yesterday’s post brought me no letter from you. In answer to your comment in the preceding one on the reception of a Minister from the Œconomical Republic to which we are allied, it will suffice to inform you, that in pursuance of a commission from him six elegant horses are provided for his coach, as was to have been one of the best houses in the most fashionable part of the City. Wherever Commerce prevails there will be an inequality of wealth, and wherever the latter does a simplicity of manners must decline.
Our foreign intelligence remains as at the date of my last. I forget whether I mentioned to you that our Ministers unanimously express surprise at the doubt started in America as to the epoch which terminated hostilities on our Coast. They affirm that one month from the date of the instrument was meant & suppose that that exposition will not be contested. Pray can your researches inform me 1st., Whether prizes made by & from parties not subject to the power before whose maritime courts they are carried, are provisionally or finally tried?—2d. How far the rules established by the Sovereign of the Captor & those by the Sovereign of the Courts prevail in such trials? 3dly, What difference is made in cases where both the parties concerned in the capture are subject to the same power and where they are subject to different powers?[Back to Table of Contents]
TO EDMUND RANDOLPH.mad. mss.
Philada Octr 13th, 1783.
My dear Sir,—
I returned yesterday in order to be with Mr Jones before his departure and make some little arrangement with him of a private nature. The past week has been spent by Congress in deliberating on 1. their permanent seat; 2. their temporary one. The competition for the former lay between the falls of the Potowmack and those of the Delaware. We hoped at first from the apparent views of the Eastern Delegates that they would have given a preference to Potowmack. In the event they joined with Pena & the intermediate States in favor of the Delaware the consequence of which is that the vicinity of its Falls is to become the future seat of the fœderal Govt. unless a conversion of some of the Eastern States can be effected. The next point was the abode of Congs untill their permanent seat could receive them. The expediency of removing from Princeton in order to the more convenient transaction of the affairs of the U. S. and accommodation of Congs, was first determined on, Massts, Cont, & R. I. alone being opposed to it. Trenton was next proposed, on which Question the votes were divided by the River Delaware. Philada came next in order. Besides its convenient position in relation to the Permanent seat & superior temporary accommodations for the public business and for Congs, arguments in its favor were drawn from the tendency of passing by these accommodations to others inferior in themselves & more distant from the permant seat, to denote a resentment unworthy of a Sovereign authority agst a part of its Constituents which had fully expiated any offence which they might have committed; and at the same time to convert their penitential and affectionate temper into the bitterest hatred. To enforce this idea some of the proceedings of Congs expressive of resentment agst Philada were made use of. Great stress was also laid on the tendency of removing to any small or distant place, to prevent or delay business which the honor & interest of the U. S. require sd be despatched as soon as possible. On the other side objections were drawn from those sources which have produced dislikes to Philada, and wch will be easily conjectured by you. On the question N. Y, Pa, Delaware, Virga, & N. Carolina were ay; Massts, Cont, R. I., N. Jersey, no; and Maryland & S. Carolina, divided. If either of the divided States had been in the affirmative it was the purpose of N. Jersey to add a seventh vote in favor of Philada. The division of S. Carolina was owing to the absence of Mr. Rutledge & Mr. Izard both of whom would have voted for Phila. The State was represented by two members only. The division of Maryland represented by Mr Carroll & Mr McHenry was occasioned by the negative of the latter, whose zeal for Annapolis determined him to sacrifice every consideration to an experiment in its favor, before he would accede to the vote for Philada. The aversion of the Eastern States was the ground of his coalition with them. The arguments in favor of Annapolis consisted of objections agst Philada. Those agst it were chiefly the same which had been urged in favor of Philada. On the question the States were Massts, Cont, R. I., Delaware, Maryland & N. C., ay, N. Y., N. J. Pa Virga, no. S. C. divided. Virga was represented by Mr. Lee Mr. Mercer & Mr. M. The first was in the affirmative. Mr. Jones & Mr. Bland were in Philada. The vote of the latter wd have been in favor of Annapolis of the former in favor of Philada. The opinion of Mr. L & Mr. B in favr of Annapolis resulted from a dislike to Philada, & the idea that the views of Va would be promoted by it. That of their colleagues from a belief that the reasons drawn in favr of Philada, from National considerations reqd. a concession of local views, and even that a recision of the permanent vote for Trenton in favor of George Town, the object of Va, would be promoted by placing the Eastern States in Philada. They also supposed that the concurrence of the Eastern States in a temporary vote for Annapolis to take effect some weeks hence, was little to be confided in, since the arrival of a colleague to the Delegate from N. Hampshire would with the accession of Pena, who wd prefer Trenton to Annapolis & be moreover stimulated by resentment, would make up seven States to reverse the removal to Annapolis. Add to the whole that experience has verified the opinion that in any small place Congs are too dependent on courtesy & favor to be exempt either in their purses or their sensibility from degrading impositions. Upon the whole it is most probable that Philada will be [the] abode of Congs during the Winter. I must refer to Mr Jones for explanations on all these points, he will be in Richmond early in the Session. For myself I have engaged to return to Princeton to attend some interesting points before Congs. Having not yet settled my arrangements for the Winter I must for the present be silent as to my [torn out] situation. Mr. Van Berkel arrived a few days [torn out]. Congs are in a charming situation to receive him, being in an obscure village undetermined where they will spend the Winter, and without a Minister of F. A. After the rect of this you will stop your correspondence, and probably not hear further from me. I set off tomorrow morning at 3 oClock in the Flying Machine for Princeton, and it is now advancing towards the hour of sleep. In haste adieu My dear friend and be assured that I am Yrs Sincerely.[Back to Table of Contents]
TO THOMAS JEFFERSON.mad. mss.
Orange Decemr 10th. 1783.
My journey from Annapolis was so retarded by rains and their effect on the water courses that I did not complete it till the ninth day after I left you. I took1Col. Mason in my way & had an evening’s conversation with him. I found him much less opposed to the general impost than I expected. Indeed he disclaimed all opposition to the measure itself but had taken up a vague apprehension that if adopted at this crisis it might embarrass the defence of our trade agst British machinations, he seemed upon the whole to acquiesce in the territorial cession, but dwelt much on the expediency of the guaranty. On the article of a convention for revising our form of Government he was sound and ripe and I think would not decline a participation in the work. His heterodoxy lay chiefly in being too little impressed with either the necessity or the proper means of preserving the confederacy.
The situation of the commerce of this country as far as I can learn is even more deplorable than I had conceived. It cannot pay less to Philada. & Baltimore if one may judge from a comparison of prices here & in Europe, than 30 or 40 Per Ct. on all the exports & imports, a tribute which if paid into the treasury of the State would yield a surplus above all its wants. If the Assembly should take any steps towards its emancipation you will no doubt be apprized of them as well as their other proceedings from Richmond.
I am not yet settled in the course of law reading with which I have tasked myself and find it will be impossible to guard it against frequent interruptions. I deputed one of my brothers to Monticello with the draught on your library, but Capt. Key was down at Richmond. As soon as he returns I propose to send again. My Trunk with Buffon &c. has come safe to Fredg. so that I shall be well furnished with materials for collateral reading. In conversing on this author’s Theory of central heat I recollect that we touched upon as the best means for trying its validity,1 the comparative distances from the earths center of the summits of the highest mountains and their bases or the level of the sea. Does not the oblate figure of the earth present a much more extensive and perhaps adequate field for experiments? According to the calculations of Martin grounded on the data of Manpertius &c.
The difference then of the semidiameters is 44.9, E. miles, that is of the mean semidiameter calling this difference in round numbers 45 miles, and disregarding the small variations produced by the elliptical form of the Earth, the radii will be shortened ½ of a mile by each degree from the equator to the poles. It would seem therefore that the difference of distance from the center at the Equator & at the highest latitude that may [be] visited must be sufficient to produce a discoverable difference in the degrees of any heat emitted equally in every direction from the center: and the experiment might be sufficiently diversified to guard against illusion from any difference which might be supposed in the intermediate density of different parts of the Earth. The distance even between the Equator & the polar circle produces a difference of no less than 33⅙ miles i.e. of the mean distance from the center; so that if the curiosity of two setts of French Philosophers employed in ascertaining the figure of the earth, had been directed to this question, a very little additional trouble & expence might perhaps have finally solved it. Nay the extent of the U.S. computing from the 31° of lat: to the 45° only makes a difference of 7 miles in the distance from the center of the Earth; a greater difference I suppose than is afforded by the highest mountains or the deepest mines or both put together.
On my delivering you the draught on Mr. Ambler I remember you put into my hands a note which I never looked into supposing it to relate to that circumstance. In examining my papers I perceive that I have lost it and mention it to put you on your guard in case the note sd. fall into bad hands & be capable of being abused. Present my respects to Mr. Mercer & the other gentlemen of the Delegation & be assured that I am yrs sincerely
You will be so good as to give the inclosed a safe conveyance to Mrs. House.[Back to Table of Contents]
TO EDMUND RANDOLPH.mad. mss.
Orange, March 10th., 1784.
My dear friend,—
Your favor of the 27th. Jany. was safely delivered to me about a fortnight ago, and was recd. with the greater pleasure, as it promises a continuance of your friendly attention. I am sorry that my situation enables me to stipulate no other return than sincere & thankful acknowledgments.—On my arrival here which happened early in Decr. I entered as soon as the necessary attentions to my friends admitted, on the course of reading which I have long meditated. Co: Litt: in consequence & a few others from the same shelf have been my chief society during the Winter. My progress, which in so short a period could not have been great under the most favorable circumstances, has been much retarded by the want of some important books, and still more by that of some living oracle for occasional consultation. But what will be most noxious to my project, I am to incur the interruptions wch. will result from attendance in the Legislature, if the suffrage of my County should destine me for that service, which I am made to expect will be the case. Among the circumstances which reconcile me to this destination, you need not be assured that the opportunity of being in your neighborhood has its full influence.
I have perused with both pleasure and edification your observations on the demand made by the Executive of S. C. of a citizen of this State.1 If I were to hazard an opinion after yours, it would be that the respect due to the chief magistracy of a confederate State, enforced as it is by the articles of Union, requires an admission of the fact as it has been represented. If the representation be judged incomplete or ambiguous, explanations may certainly be called for, and if on a final view of the charge, Virginia should hold it to be not a casus fœderis, she will be at liberty to withhold her citizen, (at least upon that ground,) as S. C. will be to appeal to the Tribunal provided for all controversies among the States. Should the Law of S. C. happen to vary from the British Law, the most difficult point of discussion I apprehend will be, whether the terms “Treason &c.” are to be referred to those determinate offences so denominated in the latter code, or to all those to which the policy of the several States may annex the same titles and penalties. Much may be urged I think both in favor of and agst. each of these expositions. The two first of those terms coupled with “breach of the peace” are used in the 5 Art: of the Confederation, but in a way that does not clear the ambiguity. The truth perhaps in this as in many other instances, is, that if the compilers of the text had severally declared their meanings, these would have been as diverse as the comments which will be made upon it.
Waving the doctrine of the confederation, my present view of the subject would admit few exceptions to the propriety of surrendering fugitive offenders. My reasons are these. 1. By the express terms of the Union the citizens of every State are naturalized within all the others, and being entitled to the same privileges, may with the more justice be subjected to the same penalties. This circumstance materially distinguishes the citizens of the U. S. from the subjects of other nations not so incorporated. 2. The analogy of the laws throughout the States, and particularly the uniformity of trial by Juries of the vicinage, seem to obviate the capital objections agst. removal to the State where the offence is charged. In the instance of contiguous States a removal of the party accused from one to the other must often be a less grievance, than what happens within the same State when the place of residence & the place where the offence is laid are at distant extremities. The transportation to G. B. seems to have been reprobated on very different grounds: it would have deprived the accused of the privilege of trial by jury of the vicinage as well as of the use of his witnesses, and have exposed him to trial in a place where he was not even alledged to have ever made himself obnoxious to it; not to mention the danger of unfairness arising from the circumstances which produced the regulation. 3. Unless citizens of one State transgressing within the pale of another be given up to be punished by the latter, they cannot be punished at all; and it seems to be a common interest of the States that a few hours or at most a few days should not be sufficient to gain a sanctuary for the authors of the numerous offences below “high misdemesnors.” In a word, experience will shew if I mistake not that the relative situation of the U. S. calls for a “Droit Public” much more minute than that comprized in the fœderal articles, and which presupposes much greater mutual confidence and amity among the societies which are to obey it, than the law which has grown out of the transactions & intercourse of jealous & hostile nations.
Present my respectful compliments to your amiable lady & accept the sincerest wishes for your joint happiness of
Your affc. friend & obt. servt..
P. S. By my brother who is charged with this I send Chastellaux’s work, de la Felicité public which you may perhaps find leisure to run through before May—also a notable work of one of the Representatives of the U. S. in Europe.[Back to Table of Contents]
TO THOMAS JEFFERSON.mad. mss.
Orange, March 16, 1784.
Your favour of the 20. ult. came duly to hand a few days ago. I cannot apprehend that any difficulties can ensue in Europe from the involuntary & immaterial delay of the ratification of the peace, or if there should that any imputations can be devised which will not be repelled by the collective force of the reasons in the intended protest; some of which singly taken are unanswerable. As you no doubt had recourse to authorities which I have no opportunity of consulting, I probably err in supposing the right of the Sovereign to reject the act of his plenipotentiary to be more circumscribed than you lay it down. I recollect well that an implied condition is annexed by the usage of nations to a Plenipotentiary Coission, but should not have extended the implication beyond cases where some palpable & material default in the Minister could be alledged by the Sovereign. Waving some such plea, the language both of the Coission and of reason seems to fix on the latter as clear an engagement to fulfil his promise to ratify a treaty, as to fulfil the promises of a treaty which he has ratified. In both cases one would pronounce the obligation equally personal to the Sovereign, and a failure on his part without some absolving circumstance equally a breach of faith. The project of affixing the Seal of the U. S. by 7 States to an act which had been just admitted to require nine, must have stood self-condemned; and tho’ it might have produced a temporary deception abroad, must have been immediately detected at home, and have finally dishonored the fœderal counsels everywhere. The competency of 7 States to a Treaty of Peace has often been a subject of debate in Congress and has sometimes been admitted into their practice, at least so far as to issue fresh instructions. The reasoning employed in defence of the doctrine has been “that the cases which require 9 States, being exceptions to the general authority of 7 States ought to be taken strictly; that in the enumeration of the powers of Congress in the first clause of art: 9 of the Confederation, the power of entering into treaties and alliances is contradistinguished from that of determining on peace & war & even separated by the intervening power of sending & receiving ambassadors; that the excepting clause therefore in which ‘Treaties & alliances’ ought to be taken in the same confined sense, and in which the power of detering on peace is omitted, cannot be extended by construction to the latter power; that under such a construction 5 States might continue a war which it required nine to commence, though where the object of the war has been obtained, a continuance must in every view be equipollent to a commencement of it; and that the very means provided for preserving a state of peace might thus become the means of preventing its restoration.” The answer to these arguments has been that the construction of the fœderal articles which they maintain is a nicety which reason disclaims, and that if it be dangerous on one side to leave it in the breast of 5 States to protract a war, it is equally necessary on the other to restrain 7 States from saddling the Union with any stipulations which they may please to interweave with a Treaty of peace. I was once led by this question to search the files of Congs. for such lights as the history of the Confederation might furnish, and on a review now of my papers I find the evidence from that source to consist of the following circumstances: In Doctr. Franklin’s “Sketch of Articles of Confederation” laid before Congs. on 21 day of July 1775, no number beyond a majority is required in any cases. In the plan reported to Congress by the Committee appointed 11. June 1776, the general enumeration of the powers of Congs. in art. 18. is expressed in a similar manner with the first clause in the present 9th. art., as are the exceptions in a subsequent clause of the 18 art. of the report, with the excepting clause as it now stands: and yet in the margin of the Report and I believe in the same hand writing, there is a “Qu.: If so large a majority is necessary in concluding a Treaty of peace.” There are sundry other marginal queries in the report from the same pen. Hence it would seem that notwithstanding the preceding discrimination between the powers of “determining on peace” and “entering into Treaties,” the latter was meant by the Come. to comprise the former. The next form in which the articles appear, is a printed copy of the Report as it had been previously amended, with sundry amendments, erasures, & notes on the printed copy itself in the hand of Mr. Thomson. In the printed text of this paper art: 14 the phraseology which defines the general powers of Congress is the same with that in art: 18 of the manuscript report. In the subsequent clause requiring nine States, the text as printed ran thus: “The United States in Congs. assembled shall never engage in a war nor grant letters of marque & reprisal in time of peace, nor enter into any Treaties or alliances except for peace,” the words except for peace being erased, but sufficiently legible through the erasure. The fair inference from this passage seems to be 1. that without those words 9 States were held to be required for concluding peace. 2. that an attempt had been made to render 7 States competent to such an act, which attempt must have succeeded either on a preceding discussion in Congress or in a Come. of the whole, or a special come.. 3. that on fuller deliberation the power of making Treaties of peace was meant to be left on the same footing with that of making all other Treaties. The remaining papers on the files have no reference to this question. Another question which several times during my service in Congs. exercised their deliberations was whether 7 States could revoke a Commission for a Treaty issued by nine States, at any time before the faith of the Confederacy should be pledged under it. In the instance of a proposition in 1781 to revoke a Commission which had been granted under peculiar circumstances in 1779 to Adams1 to form a treaty of commerce with G. B., the competency of 7 States was resolved on (by 7 States indeed) and a revocation took place accordingly. It was however effected with much difficulty, and some members of the minority even contested the validity of the proceeding. My own opinion then was and still is that the proceeding was equally valid & expedient. The circumstances which had given birth to the coission had given place to others totally different; not a single step had been taken under the commission which could affect the honour or faith of the U. S. and it surely can never be said that either the letter or spirit of the Confederation, requires the same majority to decline as to engage in foreign treaties. The safest method of guarding agst. the execution of those great powers after the circumstances which dictated them have changed, is to limit their duration, trusting to renewals as they expire, if the original reasons continue. My experience of the uncertainty of getting an affirmative vote even of 7 States had determined me before I left Congress, always to contend for such limitations.
I thought the sense of the term “appropriation” had been settled by the latter practice of Congs. to be the same as you take it to be. I always understood that to be the true, the parliamentary and the only rational sense. If no distinction be admitted between the “appropriation of money to general uses” and “expenditures in detail” the Secretary of Congs. could not buy quills or wafers without a vote of nine States entered on record, and the Secretary to the Co of the States could not do it at all. In short unless one vote of appropriation can extend to a class of objects, there must be a physical impossibility of providing for them; & the extent & generality of such classes can only be determined by discretion & conveniency. It is observable that in the specification of the powers which require 9 States, the single technical word “appropriate” is retained. In the general recital which precedes, the word “apply” as well as “appropriate” is used.—You were not mistaken in supposing I had in conversation restrained the authority of the fœderal Court to territorial disputes, but I was egregiously so in the opinion I had formed. Whence I got it I am utterly at a loss to account. It could not be from the Confederation itself, for words could not be more explicit. I detected the error a few days ago in consulting the articles on another subject, & had noted it for my next letter to you.—I am not sure that I comprehend your idea of a cession of the territory beyond the Kenhaway and on this side of the Ohio. As all the soil of value has been granted out to individuals a cession in that view would be improper, and a cession of the jurisdiction to Congs. can be proper only where the Country is vacant of settlers. I presume your meaning therefore to be no more than a separation of that country from this and an incorporation of it into ye. Union; a work to which all three must be parties. I have no reason to believe there will be any repugnance on the part of Virga.—The effort of Pena. for the Western commerce does credit to her public councils. The commercial genius of this State is too much in its infancy I fear to rival the example. Were this less the case, the confusion of its affairs must stifle all enterprize. I shall be better able however to judge of the practicability of your hint when I know more of them.—The declension of George Town does not surprise me tho’ it gives me regret. If the competition should lie between Trenton & Philada. & depend on the vote of New York1 it is not difficult to foresee into which scale it will be thrown, nor the probable effect of such decision on our Southern hopes.—I have long regarded the council as a grave of useful talents, as well as objectionable in point of expence, yet I see not how such a reform as you suggest can be brought about. The Constitution, tho’ readily overleaped by the Legislature on the spur of an occasion, would probably be made a bar to such an innovation. It directs that 8 members be kept up, and requires the sanction of 4 to almost every act of the Governor. Is it not to be feared too, that these little meliorations of the Government may turn the edge of some of the arguments which ought to be laid to its root? I grow every day more & more solicitous to see this essential work begun. Every days delay settles the Govt. deeper into the habits of the people, and strengthens the prop which their acquiescence gives it. My field of observation is too small to warrant any conjecture of the public disposition towards the measure; but all with whom I converse lend a ready ear to it. Much will depend on the politics of Mr. Henry, wch. are wholly unknown to me. Should they be adverse, and G. Mason not in the Assembly hazardous as delay is, the experiment must be put off to a more auspicious conjuncture.
The charter granted in 1732 to Lord Baltimore makes, if I mistake not, the Southern shore of the Potowmac, the boundary of Maryland on that side. The constitution of Virginia cedes to that State “all the territories contained within its charter with all the rights of property, jurisdiction and Government and all other rights whatsoever, which might at any time have been claimed by Virginia, excepting only the free navigation & use of the Rivers Potowmac and Pohomoque, &c.”1 Is it not to be apprehended that this language will be construed into an entire relinquishment of the Jurisdiction of these rivers, and will not such a construction be fatal to our port regulations on that side, & otherwise highly inconvenient? I was told on my journey along the Potowmac of several flagrant evasions which had been practiced with impunity & success, by foreign vessels which had loaded at Alexandria. The jurisdiction of half the rivers ought to have been expressly reserved. The terms of the surrender are the more extraordinary, as the patents of the N. neck place the whole river potowmac within the Government of Virginia; so that we were armed with a title both of prior & posterior date, to that of Maryland. What will be the best course to repair the error?—to extend our laws upon the River, making Maryland the plaintiff if she chooses to contest their authority—to state the case to her at once and propose a settlement by negociation—or to propose a mutual appointment of Coissioners for the general purpose of preserving a harmony and efficacy in the regulations on both sides? The last mode squares best with my present ideas. It can give no irritation to Maryld.; it can weaken no plea of Virga.; it will give Maryland an opportunity of stirring the question if she chooses, and will not be fruitless if Maryland should admit our jurisdiction. If I see the subject in its true light no time should be lost in fixing the interest of Virginia. The good humour into which the cession of the back lands must have put Maryland, forms an apt crisis for any negociations which may be necessary. You will be able probably to look into her charter & her laws, and to collect the leading sentiments relative to the matter.
The winter has been so severe that I have never renewed my call on the library of Monticello, and the time is now drawing so near when I may pass for a while into a different scene, that I shall await at least the return to my studies. Mr. L. Grymes told me a few days ago that a few of your Books which had been borrowed by Mr. W. Maury, and ordered by him to be sent to his brother’s, the clergyman, on their way to Monticello, were still at the place which Mr. M. removed from. I desired Mr. Grymes to send them to me instead of the Parson, supposing, as the distance is less, the books will probably be sooner out of danger from accidents, and that a conveyance from hence will not be less convenient. I calculated also on the use of such of them as may fall within my plan. I lately got home the Trunk which contained my Buffon, but have barely entered upon him. My time begins already to be much less my own than during the winter blockade. I must leave to your discretion the occasional purchase of rare and valuable books, disregarding the risk of duplicates, you know tolerably well the objects of my curiosity. I will only particularize my wish of whatever may throw light on the general constitution & droit public of the several confederacies which have existed. I observe in Boinaud’s catalogue several pieces on the Duch, the German, & the Helvetic. The operations of our own must render all such lights of consequence. Books on the Law of N. & N. fall within a similar remark. The tracts of Bynkershoek, which you mention I must trouble you to get for me & in french if to be had rather than in latin. Should the body of his works come nearly as cheap as these select publications, perhaps it may [be] worth considering whether the whole would not be preferable. Is not Wolfius also worth having? I recollect to have seen at Pritchard’s a copy of Hawkin’s abridget. of Co: Litt: I would willingly take it if it be still there & you have an opportunity. A copy of Deane’s letters which were printed in New York & which I failed to get before I left Phila. I should also be glad of. I use this freedom in confidence that you will be equally free in consulting your own conveniency whenever I encroach upon it. I hope you will do so particularly in the request I have to add. One of my parents would be considerably gratified with a pair of good Spectacles which are not to be got here. The particular readiness of Dudley to serve you inclines me to think that an order from you would be well executed. Will you therefore be so good as to get from him one of his best pebble & double jointed pair, for the age of fifty-five or thereabouts, with a good case; and forward them by the first safe conveyance to me in Orange or at Richmond as the case may be. If I had thought of this matter before Mr. Maury set out, I might have lessened your trouble. It is not material whether I be repayed at the bank of Philada. or the Treasy. of Virginia, but I beg it may be at neither till you are made secure by public remittances. It will be necessary at any rate for £20 or 30 to be left in your hands or in the bank for little expenditures which your kindness is likely to bring upon you.
The Executive of S. Carolina, as I am informed by the Attorney have demanded of Virginia the surrender of a citizen of Virga charged on the affidavit of Jonas Beard Esqr. whom the Executive of S. C. represent to be a “Justice of the peace, a member of the Legislature, and a valuable, good man,” as follows: that “three days before the 25th. day of Octr. 1783 he (Mr. Beard) was violently assaulted by G. H. during the sitting of the Court of General Sessions, without any provocation thereto given, who beat him (Mr. B.) with his fist & switch over the face head and mouth, from which beating he was obliged to keep his room until the said 25th. day of Octr. 1783, and call in the assistance of a physician.” Such is the case as collected by Mr. Randolph from the letter of the Executive of S. C. The questions which arise upon it are 1. whether it be a charge of high misdemesnor within the meaning of the 4 art: of Confederation. 2. whether in expounding the terms high misdemesnor, the law of S. Carolina, or the British law as in force in the U. S. before the Revolution ought to be the standard. 3. if it be not a casus fœderis what the law of nations exacts of Virginia? 4. if the law of nations contains no adequate provision for such occurrences, whether the intimacy of the Union among the States, the relative position of some, and the common interest of all of them in guarding against impunity for offences which can be punished only by the jurisdiction within which they are committed, do not call for some supplemental regulations on this subject? Mr. R. thinks Virginia not bound to surrender the fugitive untill she be convinced of the facts, by more substantial information, & of its amounting to a high misdemesnor, by inspection of the law of S. C. which & not the British law ought to be the criterion. His reasons are too long to be rehearsed.
I know not my dear sir what to reply to the affectionate invitation which closes your letter.1 I subscribe to the justness of your general reflections I feel the attractions of the particular situation you point out to me. I cannot altogether renounce the prospect: still less can I as yet embrace it. It is very far from being improbable that a few years more may prepare me for giving such a destiny to my future life; in which case the same or some equally convenient spot may be commanded by a little augmentation of price. But wherever my final lot may fix me be assured that I shall ever remain, with the sincerest affection & esteem,
Yr. friend and servant.[Back to Table of Contents]
TO THOMAS JEFFERSON.mad. mss.
Orange April 25th 1784.
Your favor of the 16th. of March came to hand a few days2before Mazzei called on me. His plan was to have proceeded hence directly to Annapolis. My conversation led him to premise a visit to Mr. Henry, from whence he proposed to repair to Richmond,and close his affairs with the Executive. Contrary to my expectation he returned hither on thursday last, proposing to continue his circuit through Gloucester, York, and Williamsburg, recommended by Mr. Henry, for obtaining from the former members of the Council certain facts relating to his appointment, of which the vouchers have been lost. This delay, with the expectation of your adjournment, will probably prevent his visit to Congress. Your letter gave me the first information both of his views towards a Consulate and of his enmity towards Franklin. The first was not betrayed to me by any conversation either before or after I made known to him the determination of Congress to confine such appointments to natives of America. As to the second he was unreserved alledging at the same time that the exquisite cunning of the old fox has so enveloped his iniquity, that its reality cannot be proved by those who are thoroughly satisfied of it. It is evident, from several circumstances stated by himself that his enmity has been embittered if not wholly occasioned by incidents of a personal nature. Mr. Adams is the only public man whom he thinks favourably of, or seems to have associated with, a circumstance which their mutual characters may perhaps account for. Notwithstanding these sentiments towards Franklin & Adams his hatred of England remains unabated, & does not exceed his partiality to France, which with many other considerations which need not be pointed out, persuade me that however dreadful an actual visit from him might be to you in a personalview, it would not produce the public mischiefs you apprehend from it. By his interview with Mr. Henry, I learn that the present politics of the latter comprehend very friendly views towards the confederacy, a wish tempered with much caution for an amendment of our constitution, a patronage of the payment of British debts, and of a scheme of general assessment.
The want of both a Thermometer & Baror. had determined me to defer a meteorological diary till I could procure these instruments. Since the rect. of your letter I have attended to the other columns.
I hope the letter which had not reached you at the date of your last, did not altogether miscarry. On the 16 of March I wrote you fully on sundry points. Among others I suggested to your attention the case of the Potowmac, having in my eye the river below the head of navigation. It will be well I think to sound the ideas of Maryland also, as to the upper parts of the N. branch of it. The policy of Baltimore will probably thwart as far as possible, the opening of it; & without a very favorable construction of the right of Virginia, and even the privilege of using the Maryland Bank, it would seem that the necessary works could not be accomplished.
Will it not be good policy to suspend further Treaties of Commerce, till measures shall have taken place in America which may correct the idea in Europe of impotency in the fœderal Govt. in matters of Commerce? Has Virginia been seconded by any other State in her proposition for arming Congress with power to frustrate the unfriendly regulations of G. B. with regard to her W. India islands? It is reported here that the late change of her ministers has revived the former liberality which seemed to prevail on that subject. Is the Impost gaining or losing ground among the States? Do any considerable payments come into the Continl. Treasury? Does the settlement of the public accts. make any comfortable progress? Has any resolution been taken by Congress touching the old Contl. currency? Has Maryland foreborne to take any steps in favour of George Town? Can you tell me whether any question in the Court of Appeals, has yet determined whether the war ceased on our coast on the 3d of March or the 3d of April? The books which I was told were still at the place left by Mr. W. Maury, had been sent away at [the] time Mr. L. Grymes informed of them.
Mr. Mazzei tells me that a subterraneous city has been discovered in Siberia, which appears to have been once populous & magnificent. Among other curiosities it contains an equestrian Statue around the neck of which was a golden chain 200 feet in length, so exquisitely wrought that Buffon inferred from a specimen of 6 feet sent him by the Empress of Russia, that no artist in Paris could equal the workmanship. Mr. Mazzei saw the specimen in the hands of Buffon & heard him give this opinion of it. He heard read at the same time a letter from the Empress to Buffon in which she desired the present to be considered as a tribute to the man to whom Nat: Hist: was so much indebted. Monsr. Faujas de St. Fond thought the city was between 72 & 74° N. L. the son of Buffon between 62 & 64° Mr. M. being on the point of departure had no opportunity of ascertaining the fact. If you should have had no better account of the discovery this will not be unacceptable to you & will lead you to obtain one.
I propose to set off for Richmond towards the end of this week. The election in this County was on Thursday last. My colleague is Mr. Charles Porter
I am, &c.[Back to Table of Contents]
TO JAMES MADISON.mad. mss.
Richmond May 13, 1784.
The Spectacles herewith inclosed came to my hands yesterday with information that the pr. first sent were forwarded by mistake. It will however give my mother a double chance of suiting herself. I wish the pr. which may not be preferred to be sent down to me by the earliest opportunity unless they should suit yourself & you choose to keep them, as I am desired by the maker to return them in case they shd. not be wanted. We did not make a House till Wednesday & of course are but just beginning the business of the Session. Mr. Jefferson has been appd. an associate with Dr. F. & Mr. Adams in forming coercial Treaties and will proceed immediately to Europe. He takes the place of Mr. Jay who is returning to America & who is to be the Secretary of F. affairs if he will accept the office. I do not find that S. Jones is as yet here, & I suspend the sale of the Tobo. with a hope of its further rise. 38/. I believe may now be got, but 40/. is generally expected. I am your
dutiful son[Back to Table of Contents]
TO THOMAS JEFFERSON.mad. mss.
Richmond, May 15, 1784.
Your favor of the 7th. inst. with another pr. of spectacles inclosed came safe to hand on thursday last. I shall have the person for whose use they were intended take choice of the most suitable & will return the other pr. to Mr. Dudley by the first conveyance, unless I meet with a purchaser which I do not expect. The arrangement which is to carry you to Europe has been made known to me by Mr. Short who tells me he means to accompany or follow you. With the many reasons which make this event agreeable, I cannot but mix some regret that your aid towards a revisal of our State Constitution will be removed. I hope however for your licence to make use of the ideas you were so good as to confide to me, so far as they may be necessary to forward the object. Whether any experiment will be made this session is uncertain. Several members with whom I have casually conversed give me more encouragemt. than I had indulged. As Col: Mason remains in private life, the expediency of starting the idea will depend much on the part to be expected from R. H. L. & P. H. The former is not yet come to this place, nor can I determine any thing as to his politics on this point. The latter arrived yesterday, & from a short conversation I find him strenuous for invigorating the federal Govt though without any precise plan, but have got no explanations from him as to our internal Govt. The general train of his thoughts seemed to suggest favorable expectations. We did not make a house till Wednesday last, & have done nothing yet but arrange ye committees & receive petitions. The former Speaker was re-elected without opposition. If you will either before or after your leaving America point out the channel of communication with you in Europe, I will take the pleasure of supplying you from time [to time] with our internal transactions, as far as they may deserve your attention, & expect that you will command every other service during yr absence which it may be in my power to render. Wishing you every success & happiness, I am, Dr sir,
Your affecte. friend[Back to Table of Contents]
TO JAMES MADISON.mad. mss.
Richmond June 5th. 1784.
I have disposed of the tobacco entrusted to me for 40/ per ct. but receive in hand no more than will be delivered by Mr. Craig. The residue will be paid before I leave this place. I inclose a draught on S. J. from Col. Harvey, for £200 for which I have credited Mr. Anderson on his bond. Mr. Anderson could not pay the balance now, but expects to do it shortly. The draught & the remittance, will I hope with such addition as you will be able to make, redeem your bond out of the hands of Mr. Jones. I have applied to Genl. Wood for Majr. Hite’s warrant. He promises to get it if possible, before Mr. Craig sets out. If he does it will be forwarded. I have laid Majr. Lee’s case before the House, and it has been referred to the committee of propositions. The mass of business before this Committee & my avocations from it to other Committees have delayed it hitherto. Having but a moment to write this I must refer to Mr. Craig for the news of the session. The House of Delegates have agreed to postpone the June tax till Jany.. It is not improbable that the Senate may require ½ to be collected at an earlier period. Mr. Winslow will probably be glad to be apprized of these circumstances. Remember me affecty. to the family & accept of the dutiful respects of your son.[Back to Table of Contents]
TO JAMES MADISON.mad. mss.
Richmond June 24, 84.
Your letter by Capt: Cowherd with that of my brother’s have been just put into my hand. I shall leave to him the sale of the Tobo belonging to Capt. Conway & Ambrose; not being at leisure myself to do it before he proposes to set out. I think it will be well to accept of Mr. Lawson’s offer of the Madeira. I shall do the best I can towards satisfying the Treasury on acct. of Mr. Winslow. Majr. Lee’s warrant has been ordered by the assembly, but Mr. Harvey being a little puzzled by the peculiarity of the case, could not make it out immediately on my first application, & I have not time now to repeat it. I hope the delay will not be inconvenient to Majr Lee. Much time has been lately spent by the assembly in abortive efforts for amendment of the constitution,1 and fulfilling the Treaty of peace in the article of British debts.1 The residue of the business will not be completed till next week. If my brother W. is at leisure as before, I beg him to bring down the chair for me to be here by Wednesday next.
I am your dutiful son.[Back to Table of Contents]
TO THOMAS JEFFERSON.mad. mss.
Richmond, July 3d, 1784.
The Assembly adjourned the day before yesterday. I have been obliged to remain here since on private business for my Countrymen with the Auditor’s and other departments. I had allotted towards the close of the Session to undertake a narration for you of the proceedings, but the hurry on which I did not sufficiently calculate, rendered it impossible, and I now find myself so abridged in time that I cannot fulfil my intentions. It will however be the less material, as Mr. Short by whom this goes, will be possessed of almost every thing I could say. I inclose you a list of the acts passed excepting a few which had not received the last Solemnity when the list went to press. Among the latter is an Act under which 1 per Ct. of the land tax will be collected this fall and will be for Congress. This with the 1½ per Ct. added to the impost on trade, will be all that Congress will obtain on their last requisition for this year. It will be much short of what they need, & of what might be expected from the declarations with which we introduced the business of the Session. These declarations will be seen in the Journal, copy of which I take for granted will be carried by Mr. Short. Another act not on the list lays duties on law proceedings, on alienations of land, on probats of Wills, administration & some other transactions which pass through official hands. This tax may be considered as the basis of a stamp-tax; it will probably yield £15 or 20,000 at present, which is set apart for the foreign Creditors of this State.
We made a warm struggle for the establishmt. of Norfolk & Alexandria as our only ports; but were obliged to add York, Tappahannock & Bermuda hundred, in order to gain any thing & to restrain to these ports foreigners only. The footing on which British debts are put will appear from the Journal noting only that a law is now in force which forbids suits for them. The minority in the Senate have protested on the subject. Having not seen the protest I must refer to Mr. Short who will no doubt charge himself with it.
A trial was made for a Convention, but in a form not the most lucky. The adverse temper of the House & particularly of Mr. Henry had determined me to be silent on the subject. But a Petition from Augusta having among other things touched on a Reform of the Govt. and R. H. L. arriving with favorable sentiments, we thought it might not be amiss to stir the matter. Mr. Stuart from Augusta accordingly proposed to the Coittee of propositions the Resolutions reported to the House as per Journal. Unluckily R. H. L. was obliged by sickness to leave us the day before the question came on in Coittee of the whole, and Mr. Henry shewed a more violent opposition than we expected. The consequence was that after two days Debate the Report was negatived, and the majority not content with stopping the measure for the present availed themselves of their strength to put a supposed bar on the Journal against a future possibility of carrying it. The members for a Convention with full powers, was not considerable for number, but included most of the young men of education & talents. A great many would have concurred in a Convention for specified amendments, but they were not disposed to be active even for such a qualified plan.
Several Petitions came forward in behalf of a genl Assessmt which was reported by the Come of Religion to be reasonable.1 The friends of the measure did not chuse to try their strength in the House. The Episcopal Clergy introduced a notable project for reestablishing their independence of the laity. The foundation of it was that the whole body should be legally incorporated, invested with the present property of the Church, made capable of acquiring indefinitely—empowered to make canons & bye-laws not contrary to the laws of the land, and incumbents when once chosen by vestries, to be immovable otherwise than by sentence of the Convocation. Extraordinary as such a project was, it was preserved from a dishonorable death by the talents of Mr. Henry. It lies over for another Session.
The public lands at Richmond not wanted for public use are ordered to be sold & the money, aided by subscriptions, to be applied to the erection of buildings on the Hill as formerly planned. This fixes the Govt, which was near being made as vagrant as that of the U. S., by a coalition between the friends of Williamsbg & Stanton. The point was carried by a small majority only.
The lands about Williamsbg are given to the University, and are worth, Mr. Tazewell thinks £10,000 to it. For the encouragement of Mr. Maury’s School, licence is granted for a lottery to raise not more than £2000.
The revisal is ordered to be printed. A frivolous œconomy restrained the no. of copies to 500. I shall secure the no you want & forward them by the first opportunity. The three Revisors’ labour was recollected on this occasion, and £500 voted for each. I have taken out your warrant in five parts, that it may be the more easily converted to use. It is to be paid out of the first unappropriated money in the Treasury, which renders its value very precarious unless the Treasurer sd be willing to endorse it “receivable-in-taxes,” which he is not obliged to do. I shall await your orders as to the disposition of it.
An effort was made for Paine & the prospect once flattering. But a sudden opposition was brewed up which put a negative on every form which could be given to the proposed remuneration. Mr. Short will give you particulars.
Col: Mason the Attorney Mr. Henderson & myself are to negociate with Maryland if she will appt Comissrs to establish regulations for the Potowmac.1
Since the receipt of yours of May 8, I have made diligent enquiry concerning the several schools most likely to answer for the education of your Nephews.1 My information has determined me finally to prefer that of Mr. W. Maury as least exceptionable. I have accordingly recommended it to Mrs. Carr, & on receiving her answer shall write to Mr. Maury pointing out your wishes as to the course of study proper for Master Carr. I have not yet made up any opinion as to the disposition of your younger nephew but shall continue my enquiries till I can do so. I find a greater deficiency of proper schools than I could have supposed, low as my expectations were on the subject. All that I can assure [you] of is that I shall pursue your wishes with equal pleasure & faithfulness.
Your hint for appropriating the slave tax to Congress fell in precisely with the opinion I had formed and suggested to those who are most attentive to our finances. The existing appropriation of half of it however to the Military debt was deemed a bar to such a measure. I wished for it because the slave holders are Tobo makers, and will generally have hard money wch alone will serve for Congress. Nothing can exceed the confusion which reigns throughout our Revenue department. We attempted but in vain to ascertain the amount of our debts, and of our resources, as a basis for something like a system. Perhaps by the next Session the information may be prepared. This confusion indeed runs through all our public affairs, and must continue as long as the present mode of legislating continues. If we cannot amend the constitution, we must at least call in the aid of accurate penmen for extending Resolutions into bills, which at present are drawn in [a] manner that must soon bring our laws and our Legislature into contempt among all orders of Citizens.
I have communicated your request from Philada. May 25, to Mr. Lane. He writes by Mr. Short & tells me he is possessed of the observations which he promised you. I found no opportunity of broaching a scheme for opening the navigation of the Potowmac under the auspices of Genl Washington, or of providing for such occurrences as the case of Marbois. With the aid of ye Attorney perhaps something may be done on the latter point next Session.
Adieu My dear friend.[Back to Table of Contents]
TO GENERAL WASHINGTON.wash. mss.
Orange Augst 12, 1784.
I had the honor of receiving your favor of the 12th. of June during my attendance on the Legislature, and of answering it a few days, before I left Richmond. Since my return home I have been informed that the gentleman into whose hands the answer was put has mislaid or lost it, and that I cannot rely on its ever finding its way to you. I have therefore to repeat, Sir, that the sanction which your judgment gave to the propriety of rewarding the literary services of Mr. Payne,1 led to an attempt in the House of Delegates for that purpose. The proposition first made was, that he should be invested with a moity of a tract of public land known by the name of the Secretary’s lying on the Eastern Shore. The kind reception given to this proposition induced some gentlemen to urge that the whole tract containing about 500 acres might be included in the donation, as more becoming the dignity of the State, and not exceeding the merits of the object. The proposition thus enlarged passed through two readings without apprehension on the part of its friends.—On the third, a sudden attack grounded on considerations of economy and suggestions unfavourable to Mr. Payne threw the Bill out of the house. The next idea proposed was that the land in question should be sold and £2000 of the proceeds allotted to Mr. Payne to be laid out in the purchase of a farm if he should think fit. This was lost by a single vote. Whether a succeeding Session may resume the matter, and view it in a different light, is not for me to say. Should exertions of genius which have been everywhere admired, and in America unanimously acknowledged, not save the author from indigence & distress, the loss of national character will hardly be balanced by the savings at the Treasury.
With the highest respect &c.[Back to Table of Contents]
TO THOMAS JEFFERSON.mad. mss.
Orange Aug 20, 1784.
Your favor of the 1st. July written on the eve of your embarcation from Boston was safely delivered by your servant Bob about the 20th. of the same month. Along with it I recd. the pamphlet on the W. India trade, and a copy of Deane’s letters. My last was written from Richmond on the adjournment of the Genl. Assembly & put into the hands of Mr. Short. It contained a cursory view of legislative proceedings, referring to the bearer for a more circumstancial one. Since the adjournment I have been so little abroad that I am unable to say with certainty how far those proceedings harmonize with the vox populi. The opinion of some who have better means of information is that a large majority of the people either from a sense of private justice or of national faith, dislike the footing on which British debts are placed. The proceedings relative to an amendment of the State Constitution seem to interest the public much less than a friend to the scheme would wish. The act which produces most agitation and discussion is that which restrains foreign trade to enumerated ports. Those who meditate a renewal of the old plan of British Monopoly & diffusive credit, or whose mercantile arrangements might be disturbed by the innovation, with those whose local situations give them, or are thought to give them an advantage in large vessels coming up the rivers to their usual stations, are busy in decoying the people into a belief that trade ought in all cases to be left to regulate itself, that to confine it to particular ports is to renounce the boon with which Nature has favored our country, and if one sett of men are to be importers & exporters, another set to be carryers between the mouths & heads of the rivers & a third retailers, trade, as it must pass through so many hands all taking a profit, must in the end come dearer to the people than if the simple plan should be continued which unites these several branches in the same heads. These & other objections, tho’ unsound, are not altogether unplausible, and being propagated with more zeal and pains by those who have a particular interest to serve than proper answers are by those who regard the general interest only, make it very probable that the measure may be rescinded before it is to take effect. Should it escape such a fate, it will be owing to a few striking and undeniable facts, namely, that goods are much dearer in Virginia, than in the States where trade is drawn to a general mart, that even goods brought from Philada. and Baltimore to Winchester & other W. & S. W. parts of Virginia are retailed cheaper than those imported directly from Europe are sold on tide water; that generous as the present price of our Tobo. appears, the same article has currently sold 15 or 20 per Ct. at least higher in Philada. where being as far from the ultimate market it cannot be intrinsically worth more; that scarce a single vessel from any part of Europe, other than the British Dominions, comes into our ports, whilst vessels from so many other parts of Europe, resort to other ports of America, almost all of them too in pursuit of the Staple of Virginia. The exemption of our own citizens from the restriction is another circumstance that helps to parry attacks on the policy of it. The warmest friends to the law were averse to this discrimination which not only departs from its principle, but gives it an illiberal aspect to foreigners, but it was a necessary concession to prevailing sentiments. The like discrimination between our own citizens & those of other States contrary to the fœderal articles is an erratum which was omitted to be rectified, but will no doubt be so. Notwithstanding the languor of our direct trade with Europe, this Country has indirectly tasted some of the fruits of Independence. The price of our last crop of Tobo. has been on James River from 36/ to 42/6 per Ct. & has brought more specie into the Country than it ever before contained at one time. The price of hemp however has been reduced as much by the peace as that of Tobo. has been raised, being sold I am told as low as 20/ per Ct. beyond the mountains. Our crops of wheat have been rather scanty, owing partly to the rigors of the winter, partly to an insect,1 which in many places has destroyed whole fields of that grain. The same insect has since the harvest fallen upon the Corn with considerable damage; but without some very unusual disaster to that article the crop will be exuberant, & will afford plentiful supplies for the W. India Islands if their European Masters will no longer deny themselves the benefit of such a trade with us. The crop of the Tobacco now on the ground will if the weather continues favorable be tolerably good, though much shortened on the whole by the want of early seasons for transplanting & an uncommon number of the insects which prey upon it in its different stages. It will be politic I think for the people here to push the culture of this article whilst the price keeps up, it becoming more apparent every day that the richness of soil & fitness of climate on the Western waters will in a few years, both reduce the price & engross the culture of it. This event begins to be generally foreseen & increases the demand greatly for land on the Ohio. What think you of a guinea an acre being already the price for choice tracts with sure titles?
Nothing can delay such a revolution with regard to our staple, but an impolitic & perverse attempt in Spain to shut the mouth of the Mississippi against the inhabitants above. I say delay, because she can no more finally stop the current of trade down the river than she can that of the river itself. The importance of this matter is in almost every mouth. I am frequently asked what progress has been made towards a treaty with Spain & what may be expected from her liberality on this point, the querists all counting on an early ability in the western settlements to apply to other motives if necessary.1 My answers have both from ignorance & prudence been evasive. I have not thought fit however to cherish unfavorable impressions, being more & more led by revolving the subject, to conclude that Spain will never be so mad as to persist in her present ideas. For want of better matter for correspondence, I will state the grounds on which I build my expectations.
First. 1Apt as the policy of nations is to disregard justice and the general rights of mankind I deem it no small advantage that these considerations are in our favour. They must be felt in some degree by the most corrupt councils on a question whether the interest of millions shall be sacrificed to views concerning a distant and paltry settlement; they are every day acquiring weight from the progress of philosophy and civilization and they must operate on those nations of Europe who have given us a title to their friendly offices or who may wish to gain a title to ours.
Secondly. May not something be hoped from the respect which Spain may feel for consistency of character on an appeal to the doctrine maintained by herself in the year 1609, touching the scheld, or at least from the use which may be made of that fact by the powers disposed to favor our views.
Thirdly. The interest of Spain at least ought to claim her attention. (1) A free trade down the Mississippi would make new Orleans one of the most flourishing emporiums in the world and deriving its happiness from the benevolence of Spain would feel a firm loyalty to her government. At present it is an expensive establishment settled chiefly by French, who hate the government which oppresses them, who already covet a trade with the upper country, will become every day more sensible of the rigor which denies it to them and will join in any attempt which may be made against their master. (2) A generous policy on the part of Spain towards the U. S. will be the cement of friendship & lasting peace with them. A contrary one will produce immediate heart burnings and sow the seeds of inevitable hostility. The U. S. are already a power not to be despised by Spain the time cannot be distant when, in spite of al precautions the safety of her possessions in this quarter of the globe must depend more on our peaceableness than her own power. (3) In another view it is against the interest of Spain to throw obstacles in the way of our Western settlements. The part she took during the late war shews that she apprehended less from the power growing up in her neighborhood in a state of independence than as an instrument in the hands of Great Britain. If in this shecalculated on the impotence of the U. S. when dismembered from the British empire she saw but little way into futurity; if on the pacific temper of republics unjust irritations on her part will soon prove to her that these have like passions with other governments.—her permanent security seems to lie in the complexity of our federal government and the diversity of interests among the members of it which render offensive measures improbable in council and difficult in execution. If such be the case when thirteen States compose the system ought she not to wish to see the number enlarged to three and twenty? A source of temporary security to her is our want of naval strength; ought she not, then, to favor those emigrations to the Western land which, as long as they continue will leave no supernumerary hands for the sea.
Fourthly. Should none of these circumstances affect her councils she cannot surely so far disregard the usage of nations as to contend that her possessions at the mouth of the Mississippi justify a total denial of the use of it to the inhabitants above when possessions much less disproportionate at the mouth of other rivers have been admitted only as a title to a moderate toll. The case of the Rhine the Maese & the Scheld, as of Elbe and Oder are if I mistake not in point here. How far other rivers may afford parallel cases I cannot say. That of the Mississippi is probably the strongest in the world.
Fifthly. Must not the general interest of Europe in all cases influence the determinations of any particular nation in Europe and does not that interest in the present case clearly lie on our side. (1) All the principal powers have, in a general view more to gain than to lose by denying a right of those who hold the mouths of rivers to intercept a communication with those above. France Gr Brit and Sweden have no opportunity of exerting such a right, and must wish a free passage for their merchandize in every country Spain herself has no such opportunity and has besides three of her principal rivers one of them the seat of her metropolis running thro’ Portugal. Russia can have nothing to lose by denying this pretension and is bound to do so in favor of her great rivers the Neiper, the Niester and the Don which mouth in the black sea, and of the passage thro’ the Dardanelles which she extorted from the Turks. The Emperor in common with the inland States of Germany and moreover by his possessions on the Maese and the Scheld, has a similar interest. The possessions of the King of Prussia on the Rhine, the Elbe, and the Oder, are pledges for his orthodoxy. The U. Ps. hold it is true, the mouths of the Maese the Rhine and the Scheld but a general freedom of trade is so much their policy and they now carry on so much of it through the channel of rivers flowing thro’ different dominions that their weight can hardly be thrown into the wrong scale. The only powers that can have an interest in opposing the American doctrine are the Ottoman which has already given up the point to Russia, Denmark which is suffered to retain the entrance of the Baltic Portugal whose principal rivers head in Spain, Venice which holds the mouth of the Po; and Dantzick which commands that of the Vistula if it is yet to be considered as a sovereign City. The prevailing disposition of Europe on this point once frustrated an attempt of Denmark to exact a toll at the mouth of the Elbe by means of a fort on the holstein side, which commands it. The fact is mentioned in Salmon’s gazetteer, under the head of Cluestadt. I have no opportunity of ascertaining the circumstances of the case, or of discovering like cases. (2) In a more important view, the settlement of the Western country which will much depend on the free use of the Mississippi, will be beneficial to all nations who either directly or indirectly trade with the U. S. By a free expansion of our people the establishment of internal manufactures will not only be long delayed but the consumption of foreign manufactures long continue increasing; and at the same time, all the productions of the American soil required by Europe in return for her manufactures, will proportionably increase. The vacant land of the United States lying on the waters of the Mississippi is perhaps equal in extent to the land actually settled. If no check be given to emigrations from the latter to the former, they will probably keep pace at least with the increase of our people, till the population of both becomes nearly equal. For twenty or twenty-five years we shall consequently have as few internal manufactures in proportion to our numbers as at present and at the end of that period our imported manufactures will be doubled. It may be observed too, that as the market for these manufactures will first increase, and the provision for supplying it will follow the price of supplies will naturally rise in favor of those who manufacture them. On the other hand as the demand for the tobacco indigo rice corn &c produced by America for exportation will neither precede nor keep pace with their increase the price must naturally sink in favor also of those who consume them. Reverse the case by supposing the use of the Mississippi denied to us and the consequence is that many of our supernumerary hands who in the former case would be husbandmen on the waters of the Mississippi, will on the latter supposition be manufacturers on those of the Atlantic and even those who may not be discouraged from seating the vacant lands will be obliged by the want of vent for the produce of the soil and of the means of purchasing foreign manufactures to manufacture in a great measure for themselves. Should Spain yield the point of the navigation of the Mississippi, but at the same time refuse us the use of her shores, the benefit will be ideal only. I have conversed with several persons who have a practical knowledge of the subject, all of whom assure me that not only the right of fastening to the Spanish shore, but that of holding an entrepot in our own, or of using New Orleans as a free port, is essential to a trade thro’ that channel. It has been said that sea vessels can get up as high as latitude thirty-two to meet the river craft, but it will be with so much difficulty and disadvantage as to amount to a prohibition. The idea has also been suggested of large magazines constructed for floating; but if this expedient were otherwise admissible the hurricanes which in that quarter frequently demolish edifices on land forbid the least confidence in those which would have no foundation but water. Some territorial privileges therefore seem to be as indispensable to the use of the river as this is to the prosperity of the western country. A place called “The Englishman’s turn,” on the island of about six leagues below the town of New O., is I am told the fittest for our purpose, & that the lower side of the peninsula is the best. Batonrouge is also mentioned as a convenient station and point coupé as the highest to which vessels can ascend with tolerable ease. Information however of this from men who judge from a general and superficial view only can never be received as accurate. If Spain be sincerely disposed to gratify us, I hope she will be sensible it cannot be done effectually without allowing a previous survey and deliberate choice. Should it be impossible to obtain from her a portion of ground by other means, would it be unadvisable to attempt it by purchase. The price demanded could not well exceed the benefit to be obtained, and a reimbursement of the public advance might easily be provided for by the sale to individuals, and the conditions which might be annexed to their tenures. Such a spot could not fail in a little time to equal in value the same extent in London or Amsterdam. The most intelligent of those with whom I have conversed think that on whatever footing our trade may be allowed very judicious provision will be necessary for a fair adjustment of disputes between the Spaniards and the Americans disputes which must be not only noxious to trade but tend to embroil the two nations. Perhaps a joint tribunal, under some modification or other might answer the purpose. There is a precedent I see for such anestablishment in the twenty-first article of the treaty of Munster in 1648, between Spain and the U. N. I am informed that, sometime after New O. passed into the hands of Spain her Governor forbid all British vessels navigating under the treaty of Paris to fasten to the shore and caused such as did so to be cut loose. In consequence of this practice a British frigate went up near the town fastened to the shore and set out guards to fire on any who might attempt to cut her loose. The Governor after trying in vain to remove the frigate by menaces acquiesced after which British vessels indiscriminately used the shore and even the residence of British Merchants in the town of New O., trading clandestinely with the Spaniards as well as openly with their own people, [was] winked at. The treaty of 1763 stipulated to British subjects as well as I recollect no more than the right of navigating the river and if that of using was admitted under that stipulation, the latter right must have been admitted to be included in the former.
When you were about leaving America as a Coissr for peace you intimated to me that a report was in circulation of your being a party to jobs for Kentucky lands and authorized me to contradict the report. I have some reason to believe that the credit of your name has been made use of by some who are making purchases or locations in that quarter. If they have done it without sanction it may not be amiss to renew my authority.1
In consequence of my letter to Mrs. Carr I have been called on by your elder Nephew, who is well satisfied with the choice made of Williamsbg for his future studies. I have furnished him with letters to my acquaintance there & with a draught on your Steward for £12. He will be down by the opening of Mr. Maury’s school at the close of the vacation, which lasts from the beginning of Augst to the end of Septr. I have the greater hopes that the preference of this School will turn out a proper one, as it has recd. the approbation of the literary gentlemen of Williamsbg & will be periodically examined by Mr. Wythe & others. Your younger Nephew is with Majr Callis, who will keep [school?] some time longer, I am at a loss as yet where to fix him, but will guard as much as possible agst any idle interval. I am, very affectly, dear Sir, y friend and servt,[Back to Table of Contents]
TO JAMES MADISON.mad. mss.
Philada. Sepr 6, 1784.
I arrived at this place the night before last only, having declined starting from Fredg. at the time I proposed when I parted with you, & having staid at Baltimore one day, at the latter place I fell in with the Marquis & had his company thus far. He is proceeding Northwd. as far as Boston from whence he goes to the Moran Treaty at Fort Stanwix and from thence returns to Virga. about the same time that I must be there. He presses me much to fall into his plan, and I am not sure that I shall decline it. It will carry me farther than I had proposed, but I shall be rewarded by the pleasure of his company and the further opportunity of gratifying my curiosity. I have nothing to add at present but that I am your affec son[Back to Table of Contents]
TO THOMAS JEFFERSON.mad. mss.
Philada. Sepr 7th, 1784.
Some business, the need of exercise after a very sedentary period, and the view of extending my ramble into the Eastern States which I have long had a curiosity to see have brought me to this place. The letter herewith enclosed was written before I left Virginia, & brought with me for the sake of a conveyance hence. Since the date of it I have learned that Mr Short who was to be the bearer of the letter to which it refers has not yet left Richmond. The causes of his delay are unknown to me. At Baltimore I fell in with the Marquis de la Fayette returning from a visit to Mount Vernon. Wherever he passes he receives the most flattering tokens of sincere affection from all ranks. He did not propose to have left Virginia so soon but Genl Washington was about setting out on a trip to the Ohio, and cod not then accompany him on some visits as he wished to do. The present plan of the Marquis is to proceed immediately to New York, thence by Rhode Island to Boston, thence thro’ Albany to Fort Stanwix, where a treaty with the Indians is to be held the latter end of this month, thence to Virginia so as to meet the Legislature at Richmond. I have some thoughts of making this tour with him, but suspend my final resolution till I get to N. Y. whither I shall follow him in a day or two.
The relation in1 which the Marquis stands to France and America has induced me to enter into a free conversañ with him on the subject of the Mississippi. I have endeavored emphatically to impress on him that the ideas of America and of Spain irreconcileably clash that unless the mediation of France be effectually exerted, an actual rupture is near at hand that in such an event the connection between France and Spain will give the enemies of the former in America the fairest opportunity of involving her in our resentmtsagainst the latter, and of introducing Great Brit. as a party with us as against both that America cannot possibly be diverted from her object, and therefore France is bound to set every engine at work to divert Spain from hers; and that France has besides a great interest in a trade with the western country thro’ the Mississippi. I thought it not amiss also to suggest to him some of the considerations which seem to appeal to the produce of Spain. He admitted the force of everything I said told me he would write in the most [favorable] terms to the Count de Vergennes by the packet which will probably carry this and let me see his letter at N. York before he sends it. He thinks that Spain is bent on excluding us from the Mississippi and mentioned several anecdotes which happened while he was at Madrid in proof of it.
The Committee of the States have dispersed. Several of the Eastern members havg by quitting it reduced the number below a quorum, the impotent remnant thought it needless to keep together. It is not probable they will be reassembled before Novr, so that there will be an entire interregnum of the fœderal Government for some time, against the intention of Congs I apprehend, as well as against every rule of decorum.
The Marquis this moment stepped into my room & seeing my cyphers before me dropped some questions which obliged me in order to avoid reserve to let him know that I was writing to you. I said nothing on the subject but he will probably infer from our conversatn that the Mississippi is most in my thoughts.
Mrs. House charges me with a thousand compliments & kind wishes for you and Miss Patsy. We hear nothing of Mrs. Trist since her arrival at the Falls of the Ohio, on her way to N. Orleans. There is no doubt that she proceeded down the river thence, unapprized of her loss. When & how she will be able to get back since the Spaniards have shut all their ports agst the U. S., is uncertain & gives much anxiety to her friends. Browze has a windfall from his grand mother of £1000 sterling. Present my regards to Miss Patsy and to Mr. Short if he should be with you, and accept yourself Dear Sir, the sincerest affection of your friend & servant.[Back to Table of Contents]
TO THOMAS JEFFERSON.
N. York, Octr 11, 1784.
My last dated from this place on the 14 ult: informed you of my projected trip to Fort Schuyler. I am this moment arrived so far on my return to Virginia. My past delay requires so much hurry now that I can only drop a few lines for the packet which is to sail on the 15th inst. The Marquis & myself were overtaken at Albany by Mr. de Marbois, on the same errand with ourselves. We reached Fort S. on the 29, & on the next day paid a visit to the Oneida Nation 18 miles distant. The Coissrs did not get up till the saturday following. We found a small portion only of the six nations assembled; nor was the number much increased when we quitted the scene of business. Accts however had come of deputies from more distant tribes being on the way. The Marquis was recd by the Indians with equal proofs of attachment as have been shewn him elsewhere in America. This personal attachment with their supposed predilection for his nation, and the reports propagated among them that the Alliance between F. & U. S. was transient only, led him with the sanction of the Comissrs to deliver a Speech to the Indian Chiefs coinciding with the object of the Treaty. The answers were very favorable in their general tenor. Copies of both will be sent to Mons. de Vergennes & the [n] M. de Castries by Mr. Marbois & be within the reach of your curiosity. The originals were so much appropriated to this use during my stay with the Marquis that I had no opportunity of providing copies for you. What the upshot of the Treaty will be is uncertain. The possession of the posts of Niagara &c by the British is a very inauspicious circumstance. Another is that we are not likely to make a figure otherwise that will impress a high idea of our power or opulence. These obstacles will be rendered much more embarrassing by the instructions to the Coissrs which I am told leave no space for negociation or concession, & will consequently oblige them in case of refusal in the Indians to yield the ultimate hopes of Congress to break up the Treaty. But what will be the consequence of such an emergency? Can they grant a peace without cessions of territory—or if they do must not some other price hereafter purchase them. A Truce has never I believe been introduced with the Savages nor do I suppose that any provision has been made by Congress for such a contingency. The perseverance of the British in retaining the posts1 produces various conjectures. Some suppose it is meant to enforce a fulfilment of the Treaty of peace on our part. This interpretation is said to have been thrown out on the other side. Others that it is a salve for the wound given the Savages who are made to believe the posts will not be given up till good terms shall be granted them by Congress. Others that it is the effect merely of omission by the B. Govt to send orders. Others that it is meant to fix the fur trade in the B. channel & it is even said that the Govt of Canada has a personal interest in securing a monopoly of at least the crop of this Season. I am informed by a person just from Michilimackinac that this will be greater than it has been for several seasons past, or perhaps any preceding season, & that no part of it is allowed by the British Commanders to be brought thro’ the U. S. From the same quarter I learn that the posts have been lately well provisioned for the winter, & that reliefs if not reinforcements of the garrisons will take place. Col: Monroe had passed Oswego when last heard of & was likely to execute his plan. If I have time & opportunity I will write again from Philada. for which I set out immediately; if not from Richmond. The Marqs proceeded from Albany to Boston from whence he will go via R. Island, to Virga., and be at the Assembly. Thence he returns into the N. States to embark for Europe.
I am Yrs affecly.[Back to Table of Contents]
TO THOMAS JEFFERSON.mad. mss.
Philada. Octr. 17 1784.
On my arrival here I found that Mr. Short had passed through on his way to N. York & was there at the date of my last. I regret much that I missed the pleasure of seeing him. The inclosed was put into my hands by Mrs. House, who recdd. it after he left Philada. My two last, neither of which were in cypher, were written as will be all future ones in the same situation,1in expectation of their being read by postmasters. I am well assured that this is the fate of all letters at least to and from public persons not only in France but all the other Countries of Europe. Having now the use of my cypher I can write without restraint. In my last I gave you a sketch of what passed at Fort Schuyler during my stay there, mentioning in particular that the Marquis had made a speech to the Indians with the sanction of the Commissrs. Wolcott, Lee, Butler.1 The question will probably occur how a foreigner and a private one, could appear on the theatre of a public treaty between the U. S. & the Indian nations and how the Commissioners could lend a sanction to it. Instead of offering an opinion of the measure I will state the manner in which it was brought about. It seems that most of the Indian tribes particularly those of the Iroquois retain a strong predilection for the French and most of the latter an enthusiastic idea of the Marquis. This idea has resulted from his being a Frenchman the figure he has made during the war and the arrival of several important events which he foretold to them soon after he came to this country. Before he went to fort Schuyler it had been suggested, either in compliment or sincerity that his presence & influence might be of material service to the treaty. At albany the same thing had been said to him by general Wolcot. On his arrival at Fort S. Mr. Kirkland recommended an exertion of his influence as of essential conseqce. to the treaty, painting in the strongest colours the attachment of the Indians to his person, which seemed indeed to be verified by their caresses and the artifices employed by the British partizans to frustrate the objects of the treaty among which was a pretext that the alliance between the U. S. and France was insincere and transitory and consequently the respect of the Indians for the latter ought to be no motive for their respecting the former. Upon these circumstances the M. grounded a written message to the Commissrs. before they got up intimating his disposition to render the U. S. any service his small influence over the Indians might put in his power and desiring to know what the Commissioners would chuse him to say. The answer in Mr. Lee’s hand consisted of polite acknowledgments and information that the Commissrs. would be happy in affording him an opportunity of saying whatever he might wish forbearing to advise or suggest wt. it would be best for him to say. the M. perceived the caution but imputed it to Lee alone. As his stay was to be very short it was necessary for him to take provisional measures before the arrival of the Commissrs and particularly for calling in the Oneida Chiefs who were at their town. It fell to my lot to be consulted in his dilemma. My advice was that he should invite the chief in such a way as would give him an opportunity of addressing them publicly, if on a personal interview with the Commissioners it should be judged expedient; or of satisfying their expectations with a friendly entertainment in return for the civilities his visit to their town had met with. This advice was approved; but the Indians brought with them such ideas of his importance as no private reception would probably have been equal to. When the Commissioners arrived theM. consulted them in person. They were reserved, he was embarrassed. Finally they changed their plan and concurred explicitly in his making a Speech in form. He accordingly prepared one communicated it to the Commrs. and publicly pronounced it the Commrs. premising such an one as was thought proper to introduce his. The answer of the sachems, as well as the circumstances of the audience denoted the highest reverence for the orator. The chief of the Oneidas said that the word which he had spoken to them early in the war had prevented them from being misled to the wrong side of it. During this scene and even during the whole stay of the M. he was the only conspicuous figure. The Commissioners were eclipsed. All of them probably felt it. Lee complained to me of the immoderate stress laid on the influence of the M., and evidently promoted his departure. The M. was not insensible of it, but consoled himself with the service which he thought the Indian Speech would witness that he had rendered to the U. S. I am persuaded that the transaction is also pleasing to him in another view as it will form a bright column in the Gazettes of Europe. As it is blended with the proceedgs. of the Commrs., it will probably not be published in America very soon. The time I have lately passed with the M. has given me a pretty thorough insight into his character. With great natural frankness of temper he unites much address and very considerable talents. In his politics he says his three hobby-horses are the alliance between France and the U. S., the union of the latter and the manumission of the slaves. The two former are the dearer to him, as they are connected with his personal glory. The last does him real honor, as it is a proof of his humanity. In a word, I take him to be as amiable a man as can be imagined and as sincere an American as any Frenchman can be; one whose past services gratitude obliges us to acknowledge and whose future friendship prudence requires us to cultivate.
The Committee of the States have never reassembled. The case of Longchamps has been left both by the Legislature & Executive of this State to its Judiciary course. He is sentenced to a fine of 100 Crowns, to 2 years’ imprisonment, and Security for good behaviour for 7 years. On teusday morning I set off for Richmond, where I ought to be tomorrow, but some delays have put it out of my power. The ramble I have taken has rather inflamed than extinguished my curiosity to see the Northern and N. W. Country. If circumstances be favorable I may probably resume it next Summer. Present my compliments to Miss Patsy, for whom as well as yourself Mrs. House charges me with hers. She has lately recd. a letter from poor Mrs. Trist, every syllable of which is the language of affection itself. She had arrived safe at the habitation of her decd. Husband, but will not be able to leave that Country till the Spring at the nearest. The only happiness she says she is capable of there, is to receive proofs that her friends have not forgotten her. I do not learn what is likely to be the amount of the effects left by Mr. T. former accounts varied from 6 to 10,000 dollars.
I am my Dear Sir, Yrs very affect.[Back to Table of Contents]
TO JAMES MONROE.mad. mss.
Richmond, Nov.—, 1784.
Your favor without date was brought by thursday’s post. It inclosed a Cypher for which I thank you & which I shall make use of as occasion may require, though from the nature of our respective situations, its chief value will be derived from your use of it. Gel Washington arrived here on sunday last, and the Marquis on thursday. The latter came from Boston in a French frigate. They have both been addressed & entertained in the best manner that circumstances would admit. These attentions and the balloting for public offices have consumed the greatest part of the past week. Mr. Jones is put into the place of Mr. Short, Mr. Roane and Mr. M. Selden are to go into those of Mr. M. Smith & Col. Christian who are the victims to that part of the Constitution which directs a triennial purgation of the Council. The vote is not to take effect till the Spring, but was made now in consequence of the discontinuance of the Spring Session. The rejected Candidates were Col. Bland, Cys Griffin, G. Webb, W. C. Nicholas, Mr. Breckenridge, Col. Carrington. The latter was within one vote of Mr. Selden, Col. B. Mr. N., & Mr. B., had as nearly as I recollect between 20 & 30 votes, Mr. G. & Mr. W. very few. Mr. H. Innes late Judge of the Kentucky Court is to succeed W[alker] D[aniel], late Attorney General in that District. His competitor was Mr. Stewart who was about 15 votes behind.
I am Dr Sir Yrs sincerely.[Back to Table of Contents]
NOTES OF SPEECH AGAINST ASSESSMENTS FOR SUPPORT OF RELIGION. NOVEMBER — 1784.mad. mss.
I. Rel. not within purview of civil authority.1
Tendency of estabg Xnty—1. to project of Uniformity. 2. to penal laws for supportg it.
Progress of Gen. Assest proves this tendency.
Difference between estabg. and tolerating errour.
“True question—not Is Rel. necessy,—but
II. are Religs. Estabts necesy. for Religion? No.
1. propensity of man to Religion.
2. Experience shews Relig. corrupted by Estabts.
3. Downfall of States mentioned by Mr. H.—happened where there was estabt
4. Experience gives no model of Genl Asst
5. Case of Pa. explained—not solitary. N. J. See const. of it. R. I. N. Y. D. factions greater in S. C.
6. Case of primitive Xnty.
of Dissenters formerly.
7. Progress of Religious liberty.
1. promote emigrations from State.
2. prevent immig. into it, as asylum.
IV. Necessity of Estabt inferred from state of coy.
True causes of disease.
1. war } common to other States & produce same complts in N. E.
2. bad laws }
3. pretext from taxes.
4. state of administration of Justice.
5. transition from old to new plan.
6. policy and hopes of friends to G. Asst.
True remedies not Estabt.—but, being out of war,
1. laws to cherish virtue.
2. administration of justice.
3. personal example—associations for R.
4. By present vote, cut off hope of G. asst.
5. Education of youth.
V. Probable defects of Bill,
2. in particular.
3. What is Xnty? Courts of law to Judge.
4. What edition: Hebrew, Septuagint, or Vulgate? What copy what translation?
5. What books canonical, what apocryphal? the papists holding to be the former what protestants the latter, the Lutherans the latter what the protestants & papists ye former.
6. In what light are they to be viewed, as dictated every letter by inspiration, or the essential parts only? Or the matter in general not the words?
7. What sense the true one for if some doctrines be essential to Xnty those who reject these, whatever name they take are no Xn Society?
8. Is it Trinitarianism, Arianism, Socinianism? Is it salvation by faith or works also, by free grace or by will, &c., &c.
9. What clue is to guide [a] Judge thro’ this labyrinth when ye question comes before them whether any particular society is a Xn society?
10. Ends in what is orthodoxy, what heresy.
panegyric on it, on our side.
Decl. Rights.”[Back to Table of Contents]
TO JAMES MONROE.mad. mss.
Richmond, Novr 14th, 1784.
Dear Sir,1 —
* * * The Indians begin to be unquiet we hear both on the N. W. & S. E. sides of the Ohio. The Spaniards are charged with spurring on the latter. As means of obviating the dangers, the H. of D. have resolved to authorize the Executive to Suspend the surveying of land within the unpurchased limits, & to instruct the Delegation to urge in Congs. Treaties with the Southern Indians and negociations with Spain touching the Mississipi. They also propose to set on foot surveys of Potowmac & James Rivers from their falls to their sources. But their principal attention has been & is still occupied with a scheme proposed for a Genl Asset; 47 have carried it agst 32.1 In its present form it excludes all but Xn Sects. The Presbyterian Clergy have remonstrated agst any narrow principles, but indirectly favor a more comprehensive establisht. I think the bottom will be enlarged & that a trial will be made of the practicability of the project. The Successor to Mr. H[arrison] is not yet appointed or nominated. It is in the option of Mr. H[enry], and I fancy he will not decline the service. There will be three vacancies in the Council, for which no nominations have been made. Mr. C. Griffith will probably be named, & Mr. W. Nicholas. Mr. Roane is also spoken of.
I am, Dr Sir, Yrs sincerely.[Back to Table of Contents]
TO JAMES MONROE.mad. mss.
Richmond, Novr 27, 1784.
Your favor of the 15th inst: came to hand by thursday’s post. Mine by the last post acknowledged your preceding one. The umbrage given to the Comsrs. of the U. S. by the negociations of N. Y. with the Indians was not altogether unknown to me, though I am less acquainted with the circumstances of it than your letter supposes. The Idea which I at present have of the affair leads me to say that as far as N. Y. may claim a right of treating with Indians for the purchase of lands within her limits, she has the confederation on her side; as far as she may have exerted that right in contravention of the Genl Treaty, or even unconfidentially with the Comsrs of Congs, she has violated both duty & decorum. The fœderal articles give Congs the exclusive right of managing all affairs with the Indians not members of any State, under a proviso, that the Legislative authority of the State within its own limits be not violated. By Indians not members of a State, must be meant those, I conceive who do not live within the body of the Society, or whose Persons or property form no objects of its laws. In the case of Indians of this description the only restraint on Congress is imposed by the Legislative authority of the State.
If this proviso be taken in its full latitude, it must destroy the authority of Congress altogether, since no act of Congs. within the limits of a State can be conceived which will not in some way or other encroach upon the authority [of the] State. In order then to give some meaning to both parts of the sentence as a known rule of interpretation requires, we must restrain this proviso to some particular view of the parties. What was this view? My answer is that it was to save to the States their right of preemption of lands from the Indians. My reasons are. 1. That this was the principal right formerly exerted by the Colonies with regard to the Indians. 2. that it was a right asserted by the laws as well as the proceedings of all of them, and therefore being most familiar, wd be most likely to be in contemplation of the parties. 3. that being of most consequence to the States individually, and least inconsistent with the general powers of Congress, it was most likely to be made a ground of Compromise. 4. it has been always said that the proviso came from the Virga Delegates, who wd naturally be most vigilant over the territorial rights of their Constituents. But whatever may be the true boundary between the authority of Congs & that of N. Y., or however indiscreet the latter may have been I join entirely with you in thinking that temperance on the part of the former will be the wisest policy. I concur with you equally with regard to the ignominious secession at Annapolis. As Congs are too impotent to punish such offences, the task must finally be left to the States and experience has shewn in the case of Howel that the interposition of Congs. agst an offender instead of promoting his chastisement, may give him a significancy wch. he otherwise wd never arrive at and may induce a State to patronize an act which of their own accord they would have punished. I am sorry to find the affair of Mr. de Marb—s. taking so serious a face. As the insult was committed within the jurisdiction of Pena, I think you are right in supposing the offender could not be transferred to another jurisdiction for punishment. The proper questions therefore are 1. whether the existing law was fully put in force agst him by Pa? 2. whether due provision has been made by that State agst like contingencies? Nothing seems to be more difficult under our new Governments than to impress on the attention of our Legislatures a due sense of those duties which spring from our relations to foreign nations. Several of us have been labouring much of late in the G. Assembly here to provide for a case with which we are every day threaten’d by the eagerness of our disorderly Citizens for Spanish plunder & Spanish blood. It has been proposed to authorize Congs Whenever satisfactory proof shall be given to them by a foreign power of such a crime being committed by our Citizens within its jurisdiction as by the law of Nations call for a surrender of the Offender, & the foreign power shall actually make the demand, that the Executive may at the instance of Congs apprehend & deliver up the offender. That there are offences of that class is clearly stated by Vattel in particular, & that the business ought to pass through Congs. is equally clear. The proposition was a few days ago rejected in Coittee of the whole. To-day on the report of the Come it has been agreed to by a small majority. This is the most material question that has agitated us during the week past. The Bill for a Religious Assest has not been yet brought in. Mr. Henry the father of the scheme is gone up to his Seat for his family & will no more sit in the H. of Delegates a circumstance very inauspicious to his offspring. An attempt will be made for circuit Courts, & Mr. Jones has it in contemplation to try whether any change has taken place in the sentiments of the H. of D. on the subject of the Treaty. He will write to you by this post & I refer to him for what I may have omitted.
With sincere regard & esteem I am Dr Sir
Yr friend & servt.[Back to Table of Contents]
TO JAMES MADISON.mad. mss.
Richd, Novr 27, 1784.
Having a moment’s time to drop you a line I inform you that the Bill for confirming surveys agst subsequent entries has been negatived by a large majority, rather on the principle that it was unnecessary & retrospective, than that it was unjust in itself. On the contrary all the principal gentlemen were of opinion that it was just, but already provided for by the law. Mr. Innes the late Judge of the Kentucky Court, in particular told me he thought such surveys could not be overset. You will have heard of the vote in favor of the Genl. Assesst. The bill is not yet brought in & I question whether it will, or if so whether it will pass. This day a vote passed without a dissent for Circuit Courts. What opposition may be made to its passage I know not. I have not yet found time to do your business at the Land Office. I expected before this to have seen my brother A. & Majr. Moore. I have been a little indisposed for a few days with a bad cold which still continues, otherwise I am well. Mr. Joseph will tell you the price of Tobo. I think it will rise.
With regards to the family
I am Dr Sir Your Affecte son.[Back to Table of Contents]
TO JAMES MADISON.mad. mss.
Richmond, Decr. 3, 1784.
My last informed you that a vote had passed in favor of Circuit Courts. A bill has since been brought in and will shortly be considered. The difficulty of suiting it to every palate, & the many latent objections of a selfish & private nature which will shelter themselves under some plausible objections of a public nature to which every innovation is liable render the event extremely uncertain. In the Course of this week The H. of D. have agreed to pay the British debts by annual portions for 7 years disallowing interest between the 19th. of Apl. 1775 & 3d. of March 1783, the period of hostilities. It is not unlikely that the same observations above made on the Circuit Court bill may be applicable to this case. The bill for Genl.. Asst. was brought in yesterday. Its fate is equally uncertain. I inclose a copy of Treaty at Fort Stanwix which I recd. by yesterdays post. The Comissrs. were proceeding to Fort Pitt to hold another Treaty: No Congs. had been formed on the 20th. of Novr. nor much prospect of a speedy one. The British hold the N. Western Post yet & assign in justification the breach of Peace in Virga. & N. York. I am much better than at ye date of my last & with affece. respect to family remain
Yr Dutiful Son.[Back to Table of Contents]
TO JAMES MONROE.mad. mss.
Richmond, Decr. 4. 1784.
On Saturday last a proposition was agreed to for establishing Circuit Courts throughout this Commonwealth, and yesterday a bill for that purpose was reported. On wednesday next it will undergo a discussion of the Come of the Whole. The circumstances under which it has passed thus far seem to promise a favorable issue, but the dangers which it is yet to go thro’ are formidable. They proceed from latent & interested objections which have on several former occasions proved fatal to similar attempts. The plan is pretty analogous to the Nisi prius establishmt. in England. On Tuesday sundry propositions were made by Mr. Jones in favor of the 4 art: of the Treaty of peace. They passed by a large majority with blanks as to the length of time to be given for the payment of the principal and for disallowing the interest. The former was filled up with seven years, in preference to 10, 8, 6, & 5 which were contended for on different sides. The latter with the period between Apl 19, 1775, & March 3, 1783, in preference to the period between the first date & May 1784, the date of the exchange of Ratifications. The bill will probably pass but not I fear without some improper ingredients, & particularly some conditions relative to the N. W. Posts, or the Negroes which lye without our province. The bill for the Religious Asst. was reported yesterday and will be taken up in a Come. of the whole next week. Its friends are much disheartened at the loss of Mr. Henry. Its fate is I think very uncertain. Another Act of the H. of D. during the prest. week is a direction to the Executive to carry into effect the vote of a Bust to the Marquis de la fayette, to be presented to the City of Paris, & to cause another to be procured to be set up in this Country. These resolutions are so contrived as to hide as much as possible the circumstance in the original vote of the bust being to be presented to the Marquis himself. I find by a Letter from Gl Washington that he was on the 28th Ult: just setting out to accompany the Marquis to Annapolis & thence to Baltimore. The latter may therefore soon be expected at Trenton. He has been much caressed here as well as everywhere else in his Tour, and I make no doubt he will leave Congs. with equal reason to be pleased with his visit. I meant to have sent you a copy of the Resolutions touching the Busts, but have been disappointed in getting one. They were offered by Mr. Jones & agreed to unanimously, as they no doubt will also be in the Senate. Wishing you all happiness, I am
[Back to Table of Contents]
|* £25 I discover exceeds the sum extended a few livres which may be carried into the next Acct. if it be thought worth while.|
|Dr to T. J.||livs||sols||Credt|
|1785 Sepr 1 To amt of books, &c 1164—3||drs||livs||sols|
|By balance Stated by T. J. 77⅔||407||—15|
|By advance to lemaire 10 Guns||234|
|By do for 6 Copies Revisal at 2½||81|
|* By £25 Va Cy remitted to Mrs C.||441||—8|
TO JAMES MONROE.mad. mss.
Orange 19th March 1786.
I am just favored with yours of the 11 & 16 of Feby. A newspaper since the date of the latter has verified to me your inauguration into the mysteries of Wedlock, of which you dropped a previous hint in the former.1 You will accept my sincerest congratulations on this event, with every wish for the happiness it promises. I join you cheerfully in the purchase from Taylor, as preferably to taking it wholly to myself. The only circumstance I regret is that the first payment will rest with you alone, if the conveyance should be accelerated. A few months will elapse inevitably before I shall be able to place on the spot my half of the sum but the day shall be shortened as much as possible. I accede also fully to your idea of extending the purchase in that quarter. Perhaps we may be able to go beyond the thousand acres you have taken into view. But ought we not to explore the ground before we venture too far?2 proximity of situation is but presumptive evidence of the quality of soil. The value of land depends on a variety of little circumstances which can only be judged of from inspection, and a knowledge of which gives a seller an undue advantage over an uninformed buyer. Can we not about the last of May or June take a turn into that district, I am in a manner determined on it myself. It will separate you but for a moment from New York, and may give us lights of great consequence. I have a project in my head which if it hits your idea and can be effected may render such an excursion of decisive value to us. I reserve it for oral communication.
“The Question of policy,” you say, “is whether it will be better to correct the vices of the Confederation by recommendation gradually as it moves along, or by a Convention. If the latter should be determined on, the powers of the Virga Com are inadequate.” If all on whom the correction of these vices depends were well informed and well disposed, the mode would be of little moment. But as we have both ignorance and iniquity to combat, we must defeat the designs of the latter by humouring the prejudices of the former. The efforts for bringing about a correction thro’ the medium of Congress have miscarried. Let a Convention then, be tried. If it succeeds in the first instance, it can be repeated as other defects force themselves on the public attention, and as the public mind becomes prepared for further remedies. The Assembly here would refer nothing to Congress. They would have revolted equally against a plenipotentiary commission to their deputies for the Convention. The option therefore lay between doing what was done and doing nothing. Whether a right choice was made time only can prove. I am not in general an advocate for temporizing or partial remedies. But a rigor in this respect, if pushed too far may hazard everything. If the present paroxysm of our affairs be totally neglected our case may become desperate. If anything comes of the Convention it will probably be of a permanent not a temporary nature, which I think will be a great point. The mind feels a peculiar complacency in seeing a good thing done when it is not subject to the trouble & uncertainty of doing it over again. The commission is to be sure not filled to every man’s mind. The History of it may be a subject of some future tête a tête. You will be kind enough to forward the letter to Mr Jefferson and to be assured that I am with the sincerest affection
yr. friend & servt.[Back to Table of Contents]
TO JAMES MONORE.mad. mss.
Orange April 9th, 1786.
I am favoured with yours of the 18th of March. My last answered your preceding one relating to your territorial speculation. I hope it has been recd. I forgot to intimate to you, though I presume it would have been superfluous, that it will be well in every purchase to ascertain by information as far as possible, the proportion of land which lies on the river and comes within the description of low grounds. The value of every tract depends much on this proportion. The contiguous upland is I believe generally of good soil, but there must be both degrees & exceptions to its quality. The low grounds are in a manner uniformly & universally good. The step taken by N. Jersey was certainly a rash one, and will furnish fresh pretexts to unwilling States for withholdg their contributions.1 In one point of view however it furnishes a salutary lesson. Is it possible with such an example before our eyes of impotency in the federal system, to remain sceptical with regard to the necessity of infusing more energy into it? A Government cannot long stand which is obliged in the ordinary course of its administration to court a compliance with its constitutional acts, from a member not of the most powerful order, situated within the immediate verge of authority, and apprised of every circumstance which should remonstrate against disobedience. The question whether it be possible and worth while to preserve the Union of the States must be speedily decided some way or other. Those who are indifferent to its preservation would do well to look forward to the consequences of its extinction. The prospect to my eye is a gloomy one indeed. I am glad to hear that the opposition to the impost is likely to be overcome. It is an encouragement to persevere in good measures. I am afraid at the same time that like other auxiliary resources it will be overrated by the States, and slacken the regular efforts of taxation. It is also materially short of the power which Congress ought to have with regard to Trade. It leaves the door unshut agst a comercial warfare among the States, our trade exposed to foreign machinations, and the distresses of an unfavorable balance very little checked. The experience of European Merchts who have speculated in our trade will probably check in a great measure, our opportunities of consuming beyond our resources; but they will continue to credit us as far as our coin in addition to our productions will extend, and our experience here teaches us that our people will extend their consumption as far as credit can be obtained.[Back to Table of Contents]
TO THOMAS JEFFERSON.mad. mss.
Orange May 12th, 1786.
My last was of March 18, since which I have been favored with yours of the 8 and 9th of Feby. Bancroft’s application in favour of Paridise inclosed in the latter shall be attended to as far as the case will admit; though I see not how any relief can be obtained. If Mr. P stands on the list of foreign creditors his agent here may probably convert his Securities into money without any very great loss, as they rest on good funds, and the principal is in a course of payment. If he stands on the domestic list as I presume he does, the interest only is provided for, and since the postponement of the taxes even that cannot be negociated without a discount of 10 per Ct, at least. The principal cannot be turned into cash without sinking ¾ of its amount.
Your notes1 having got into print in France will inevitably be translated back & published in that form, not only in England but in America, unless you give out the original. I think therefore you owe it not only to yourself, but to the place you occupy & the subjects you have handled, to take this precaution. To say nothing of the injury which will certainly result to the diction from a translation first into French & then back into English, the ideas themselves may possibly be so perverted as to lose their propriety. The books which you have been so good as to ford to me are so well assorted to my wishes that no suggestions are necessary as to your future purchases. A copy of the old edition of the Encyclopedia is desirable for ye reasons you mention, but as I should gratify my desire in this particular at the expense of something else which I can less dispense with, I must content myself with the new Edition for the present. The watch I bought in Philada, though a pretty good one, is probably so far inferior to those of which you have a sample, that I cannot refuse your kind offer to procure me one of the same sort; and I am fancying to myself so many little gratifications from the pedometer that I cannot forego that addition. The inscription for the Statue is liable to Houdon’s criticism, and is in every respect inferior to the substitute which you have copied into your letter.1 I am apprehensive notwithstanding that no change can be effected. The Assembly will want some proper ground for resuming the matter. The devices for the other side of the pedestal are well chosen, and might I should suppose be applied without scruple as decorations of the artist. I counted myself on the addition of proper ornaments, and am persuaded that such a liberty could give offence nowhere. The execution of your hints with regard to the2Marquis & Rochambeau would be no less pleasing to me than to you. I think with you also that the setting up the busts of our own worthies would not be doing more honour to them than to ourselves. I foresee however the difficulty of overcoming the popular objection against every measure which involves expence, particularly where the importance of the measure will be felt by a few only; and an unsuccessful attempt would be worse than no attempt. I have heard nothing as to the Capitol. I mentioned to you in my last that I had written to the Attorney on the subject. I shall have an opportunity shortly of touching on it again to him.
A great many changes have taken place in the late elections. The principal acquisitions are Col. G. Mason who I am told was pressed into the service at the instigation of Genl Washington, Genl Nelson, Mann Page. In Albemarle both the old ones declined the task. Their successors are George & Jno Nicholas. Col. Carter was again an unsuccessful candidate. I have not heard how Mr. Harrison has shaped his course. It was expected that he would stand in a very awkward relation both to Charles City & to Surrey, and would probably succeed in neither. Monroe lost his election in King George by 6 votes. Mercer did his by the same number in Stafford. Neither of them were present, or they would no doubt have both been elected. Col. Bland is also to be among us. Among the many good things which may be expected from Col. Mason we may reckon perhaps an effort to review our Constitution. The loss of the Port bill will certainly be one condition on which we are to receive his valuable assistance. I am not without fears also concerning his federal ideas. The last time I saw him he seemed to have come about a good deal towards the policy of giving Congs the management of Trade. But he has been led so far out of the right way, that a thorough return can scarcely be hoped for. On all the other great points, the Revised Code, the Assize bill, taxation, paper money, &c., his abilities will be inestimable. Most if not all the States except Maryld, have appointed deputies for the proposed Convention at Annapolis. The refusal of Maryland to appoint proceeded as I am informed by Mr. Dan Carroll, from a mistaken notion, that the measure would derogate from the authority of Congress, and interfere with the Revenue system of April 1783, which they have lately recoended anew to the States. There is certainly no such interference, and instead of lessening the authority of Congress, the object of the Convention is to extend it over commerce. I have no doubt that on a reconsideration of the matter it will be viewed in a different light. The internal situation of this State is growing worse & worse. Our specie has vanished. The people are again plunged in debt to the Merchants, and these circumstances added to the fall of Tobo in Europe & a probable combination among its chief purchasers here, have reduced that article to 20s. The price of Corn is in many parts of the Country, at 20s. and upwards per barrl. In this part it is not more that 15s. Our Spring has been a cool & latterly a dry one, of course it is a backward one. The first day of april was the most remarkable ever experienced in this climate. It snowed & hailed the whole day in a storm from N. E., and the Thermr stood at 4 o’C. P. M. at 26o. If the snow had fallen in the usual way it would have been 8 or 10 inches deep at least, but consisting of small hard globules mixed with small hail, & lying on the ground so compact & firm as to bear a man, it was less than half of that depth. We hear from Kentucky that the inhabitants are still at variance with their savage neighbours. In a late skirmish several were lost on both sides. On that of the whites Col. W. Christian is mentioned. It is said the scheme of independence is growing unpopular since the Act of our Assembly has brought the question fully before them. Your Nephew, D Carr, has been some time at the Academy in Prince Edward. The President, Mr. Smith, speaks favorably of him.
With the sincerest affection, I remain, Dr Sir your friend & servant.
P. S. I have taken measures for securing the Paccan nuts & the seed of the Sugar Tree. Are there no other things here which would be acceptable on a like account? You will withhold from me a real pleasure if you do not favor me with your commands freely. Perhaps some of our animal curiosities would enable you to gratify particular characters of merit. I can without difficulty get the skins of all our coon and of some of our rarer quadrupeds, and can have them stuffed if desired. It is possible, also, that I may be able to send some of them alive. I lately had on hand a female opossum with 7 young ones, which I intended to have reared for the purpose partly of experiments myself and partly of being able to forward some of them to you in case of an opporty, and your desiring it. Unfortunately they have all died. But I find they can be got at any time almost in the Spring of the year, and if the season be too far advanced now, they may certainly be had earlier in the next Spring. I observe that in your notes you number the fallow & Roe-deer among the native quadrupeds of America. As Buffon had admitted the fact, it was whether true or erroneous, a good argument no doubt against him. But I am persuaded they are not natives of the new continent. Buffon mentions the Chevruil in particular as abounding in Louisiana. I have enquired of several credible persons who have traversed the Western woods extensively and quite down to New Orleans, all of whom affirm that no other than our common deer are any where seen. Nor can I find any written evidence to the contrary that deserves notice. You have I believe justly considered our Monax as the Marmotte of Europe. I have lately had an opportunity of examining a female one with some attention. Its weight, after it had lost a good deal of blood, was 5½ lbs. Its dimensions, shape, teeth, and structure within as far as I could judge corresponded in substance with the description given by D’Aubenton. In sundry minute circumstances a precise correspondence was also observable. The principal variations were 1, in the face, which was shorter in the Monax than in the proportions of the Marmotte, and was less arched about the root of the nose. 2, in the feet, each of the forefeet having a fifth nail, about ⅓ of an inch long growing out of the inward side of the heel, without any visible toe. From this particular it would seem to be the Marmotte of Poland, called the Bobac, rather than the Alpine Marmotte. 3, in the teats, which were 8 only. The marmotte in Buffon had 10. 4th, in several circumstances of its robe; particularly of that of the belly, which consisted of a short coarse thin hair, whereas this part of Buffon’s marmotte was covered with a thicker fur than the back, &c. A very material circumstance in the comparison remains to be ascertained. The European Marmotte is in the class of those which are dormant during the winter. No person here of whom I have enquired can decide whether this be a quality of the Monax. I infer that it is of the dormant class not only from its similitude to the Marmotte in other respects, but from the sensible coldness of the Monax I examined, compared with the human body, altho the vital heat of quadrupeds is said in general to be greater than that of man. This inferiority of heat being a characteristic of animals which become torpid from cold, I should consider it as deciding the quality of ye. Monax in this respect, were it not that the subject of my examination, tho it remained alive several days in my hands was so crippled and apparently dying the whole time that its actual heat could not fairly be taken for the degree of its natural heat. If it had recovered I had intended to have made a trial with the Thermometer. I now propose to have if I can one of their habitations discovered during the summer, and to open it on some cold day next winter. This will fix the matter. There is another circumstance which belongs to a full comparison of the two animals. The Marmotte of Europe is said to be an inhabitant of the upper region of mountains only. Whether our Monax be confined to mountainous situations or not I have not yet learnt. If it be not found as a permanent inhabitant of the level Country, it certainly descends occasionally into the plains which are in the neighborhood of mountains. I also compared a few days ago one of our moles (male) with the male one described in Buffon. It weighed 2oz 11 pents. Its length the end of its snout to the root of the tail was 5 inch 3 lines, English measure. That described in Buffon was not weighed I believe. Its length was 5 inch french measure. The external and internal correspondence seemed to be too exact for distinct species. There was a difference nevertheless in two circumstances, one of which is not unworthy of notice, and the other of material consequence in the comparison. The first difference was in the tail, that of the mole here being 10½ English lines only in the length, and naked, whereas that of Buffon’s mole was 14 French lines in length and covered with hair. If the hair was included in the latter measure, the difference in the length ought scarcely to be noted. The second difference lay in the teeth. The mole in Buffon had 44. That which I examined had but 33. One of those on the left side of the upper Jaw, and next to the principal cutters, was so small as to be scarcely visible to the natural eye, and had no corresponding tooth on the opposite side. Supposing this defect of a corresponding tooth to be accidental, a difference of ten teeth still remains. If these circumstances should not be thought to invalidate the identity of species, the mole will stand as an exception to the Theory which supposes no animal to be common to the two Continents, which cannot bear the cold of the region where they join; since according to Buffon this species of mole is not found “dans les climats froids ou la terre est gelée pendant la plus grande partie de l’annèe,” and it cannot be suspected of such a Journey during a short summer as would head the sea which separates the two Continents. I suspect that several of our quadrupeds which are not peculiar to the new Continent will be found to be exceptions to this Theory, if the mole should not. The Marmotte itself, is not an animal taken notice of very far to the North, and as it moves slowly, and is deprived of its locomotive powers altogether by cold cannot be supposed to have travelled the road which leads from the old to the New World. It is perhaps questionable whether any of the dormant animals, if any such be really coon to Europe & America, can have emigrated from one to the other. I have thought that the cuts of the Quadrupeds in Buffon, if arranged in frames, would make both an agreeable and instructive piece of wall furniture. What would be about the cost of them in such a form? I suppose they are not to be had coloured to the life, and would besides be too costly. What is the price of Buffon’s birds, colored?
Your letter of 28 October has never come to hand.[Back to Table of Contents]
TO JAMES MONROE.mad. mss.
Orange May 13th, 1786.
I was favored a few days ago with yours of the 28th ult. I am under great obligations for your kindness in the affair with Taylor. My late letters will have informed you of my wishes that you may fully partake of the bargain entered into already, as well as every future adventure in that quarter. The encouragement you give me to expect your company has in a manner determined me to encounter a journey as soon as I can conveniently make preparation for it. I am the rather induced to do it as I shall be the more able by that means to accelerate a repayment of your kind advances, having some little resources in Philada. of wch. I must avail myself for that purpose. My next will probably tell you when I shall be able to set out.
I think, with you, that it would have an odd appearance for two Conventions to be sitting at the same time, with powers in part concurrent. The reasons you give seem also to be valid against augmenting the powers of that which is to meet at Annapolis. I am not surprized therefore at the embarrassment of Congress in the present conjuncture. Will it not be best on the whole to suspend measures for a more thorough cure of our federal system, till the partial experiment shall have been made. If the spirit of the Conventioners should be friendly to the Union, and their proceedings well conducted, their return into the Councils of their respective States will greatly facilitate any subsequent measures which may be set on foot by Congress, or by any of the States.
Great changes have taken place in the late elections. I regret much that we are not to have your aid. It will be greatly needed I am sure. Mercer it seems lost his election by the same number of votes as left you out. He was absent at the time or he would no doubt have been elected. Have you seen his pamphlet? You will have heard of the election of Col. Mason, Genl Nelson, Mann Page, G. Nicholas, Jno Nicholas, & Col. Bland. Col. Mason will be an inestimable acquisition on most of the great points. On the port bill he is to be equally dreaded. In fact I consider that measure as lost almost at any rate. There was a majority agst. it last session if it had been skilfully made use of. To force the trade to Norfolk & Alexandria, without preparations for it at those places, will be considered as injurious. And so little ground is there for confidence in the stability of the Legislature that no preparations will ever be made in consequence of a preceding law. The transition must of necessity therefore be at any time abrupt and inconvenient. I am somewhat apprehensive, likewise, that Col. Mason may not be fully cured of his anti-federal prejudices.
We hear from Kentucky that the Savages continue to disquiet them. Col. W. Christian it is said lately lost his life in pursuing a few who had made an inroad on the settlement. We are told too that the proposed separation is growing very unpopular among them.
I am Dr. Sir with great affection
Yr friend & Servt
Pray forward the herewith inclosed to Mr. J. I sent one for him about the last of March which I hope you recd & put into the proper channel.[Back to Table of Contents]
TO JAMES MONROE.mad. mss.
Orange June 4th, 1786.
At the date of my last I expected I should by this time have been on the journey which promises the pleasure of taking you by the hand in New York. Several circumstances have produced a delay in my setting out which I did not calculate upon, and which are like to continue it for eight or ten days to come. My journey will also be rendered tedious by the route which I shall pursue. I have some business which makes it expedient for me to take Winchester & Lancaster in my way, and some duties of consanguinity which will detain me some days in the neighborhood of the former. If I have an opportunity I will write you again before I set out and if I should not I will do it: immediately on my reaching Philada. You will not write after the receipt of this.
I imagine you get from Mr. Jones better information as to the back country as well as concerning our more immediate affairs than I can give you. The death of Christian seems to be confirmed. The disinclination of Kentucky to a separation is also repeated with strong circumstances of probability. Our staple continues low. The people have got in debt to the merchts, who set their own price of course. There are perhaps other causes also besides the fall of the market in Europe which of itself does not explain the matter. One of them may be the scarcity of money which is really great. The advocates for paper money are making the most of this handle. I begin to fear exceedingly that no efforts will be sufficient to parry this evil. The election of Col. Mason is the main counterpoise for my hopes against the popular cry. Mann Page & Genl Nelson will also I flatter myself be valuable fellow labourers. Our situation is truly embarrassing. It cannot perhaps be affirmed that there is gold & silver eno’ in the Country to pay the next tax. What then is to be done? Is there any other alternative but to emit paper or to postpone the collection? These are ye questions which will be rung in our ears by the very men whose past measures have plunged us into our difficulties. But I will not plague you with our difficulties here. You have enough of them, I am sure where you are. Present my best respects to Col. Grayson & your other colleagues & believe me to be, your’s affectionately.[Back to Table of Contents]
TO THOMAS JEFFERSON.mad. mss.
Orange June 19th 1786.
Since my last which was of the 18th. of May I have recd your very agreeable favor of the 28th of Octobr I began to fear it had miscarried. Your reflections on the idle poor of Europe,1 form a valuable lesson to the Legislators of every Country, and particularly of a new one. I hope you will enable yourself before you return to America to compare with this description of people in France the condition of the indigent part of other communities in Europe where the like causes of wretchedness exist in a less degree. I have no doubt but that the misery of the lower classes will be found to abate wherever the Government assumes a freer aspect, & the laws favor a subdivision of property, yet I suspect that the difference will not fully account for the comparative comfort of the mass of people in the United States. Our limited population has probably as large a share in producing this effect as the political advantages which distinguish us. A certain degree of misery seems inseparable from a high degree of populousness. If the lands in Europe which are now dedicated to the amusement of the idle rich, were parcelled out among the idle poor, I readily conceive the happy revolution which would be experienced by a certain proportion of the latter. But still would there not remain a great proportion unrelieved? No problem in political œconomy has appeared to me more puzzling than that which relates to the most proper distribution of the inhabitants of a country fully peopled.1 Let the lands be shared among them ever so wisely, & let them be supplied with labourers ever so plentifully; as there must be a great surplus of subsistence, there will also remain a great surplus of inhabitants, a greater by far than will be employed in cloathing both themselves & those who feed them, and in administering to both, every other necessary & even comfort of life. What is to be done with this surplus? Hitherto we have seen them distributed into manufactures of superfluities, idle proprietors of productive lands, domestics, soldiers, merchants, mariners, and a few other less numerous classes. All these classes notwithstanding have been found insufficient to absorb the redundant members of a populous society; and yet a reduction of most of those classes enters into the very reform which appears so necessary & desirable. From a more equal partition of property, must result a greater simplicity of manners, consequently a less consumption of manufactured superfluities, and a less proportion of idle proprietors & domestics. From a juster Government must result less need of soldiers either for defence agst dangers from without, or disturbances from within. The number of merchants must be inconsiderable under any modification of Society; and that of mariners will depend more on geographical position, than on the plan of legislation. But I forget that I am writing a letter not a dissertation.
Things have undergone little change here since my last. The scarcity of money the low price of Tobo. & the high price of bread continue to be the topics of complaint. The last evil is likely to be much increased by a sudden vicissitude in the prospects of wheat. At the date of my last we were praying for rain. Shortly after we had a deluge of it. From the 19th of May to the 4th. of June, we scarcely saw the sun, had almost incessant rains, and sometimes showers, or rather torrents that threatened to sweep away every thing. The planters pretty generally availed themselves of the Season for getting their Tobacco into the hills. But the farmers have nearly lost their crops of wheat. A great proportion of the heads in this part of the country are blasted, and in many parts it is said the fields will not be worth cutting. Our crops of apples also which in common with all other fruits seemed to be abundant appear to have suffered much from the wet. We are now again suffering from the opposite extreme. We have had no rain since the cessation of the long spell, that is since the 3d instant, and the earth is as dry and as hard as a brick.
In an answer from the attorney to a late letter, he says “that after great anxiety we have recd the plan of a capitol from Mr J. and with some difficulty the directors have assented to conform the bricks already laid to that model.”
I have a little itch to gain a smattering in chymistry. Will you be kind eno’ to pick up some good elementary treatise for me, with a good dictionary of moderate size, unless the chymical volume in the encyclopedie should be judged a competent provision. Morveau’s Elements I observe are quoted with great respect by Buffon. I wish also to get his two Boxes, called Le necessaire chemique. They are described in the Bibliotheque physico-economique for 1784. p. 134. where the maker in Paris is also referred to. I project this last indulgence on the supposition that the whole apparatus, including the contents of the Bottles will not cost more than a couple of Louis.
I observe that in your analysis of the Revisal p. 251 of your notes, a Bill is mentioned for consigning our roads to undertakers instead of the present vicious plan of repairing them. No such provision is comprized in the Road bill reported & printed. If it by any where in existence, I wish you could put me on the means of getting a sight of it. I conceive such a reform to be essential & that the Legislature would adopt it, if presented in a well digested form.
I lately sent you some particulars relating to our mole.1 For want of something better to fill the remainder of my paper, I will now add the result of my examination two days ago of another of our minor quadrupeds, I mean, a Weasel. It was a female & came to my hands dead. Its colour corresponded with the description given by D’Aubenton of the Belette & Roselet or Hermine in its summer dress, excepting only that the belly &c. which in the European animal was white, was in ours of a lightish yellow, save only the part under the lower jaws which was white for about ½ an inch back from the under lip. The little brown spots near the corners of the mouth mentioned by D’Aubenton were peninsular. The tail was of the color of the back &c. all but the end which was black. The ears were extremely thin, had a fold or duplication on the lower part of the conque about 2 lines deep, and at the margin all around were covered with a very fine short hair or fur of the colour nearly of the back. The rest of the ear was in a manner naked, and of a lightish color. The forefeet were tipped & spotted with white. The hind feet were also tipped with white, and one of them a little spotted. It had five toes on each foot, the fifth on each being very short and at some distance from the end of the foot. Its smell was a sort of rankish musk, but not so strong as to be very offensive. It had no visible teats. Its weight dimensions &c. compared with those of Buffon’s Belette & Hermine were as follows.
|* The belette of this weight was but 6 in. 5 lines in length.|
The weight & measure of the Weasel are English those of the Belette & Roselet—french.
|Length from muzzle to root of tail||7||9||6||6||9||6|
|of the Trunk of the Tail||3||6||1||3||3||10|
|distance from muzzle to lower corner of the eye||5||5||7|
|from upper corner of eye to the ear||4½||5||7|
|from one corner to the other of the eye||3||2¼||3½|
|length of the ear perpendicularly||4½||3||4|
|width of ear horizontally||4|
|distance between the ears at bottom||10½||9||1|
|Length of the neck||1||1½||11||1||4|
|circumference of neck||2||5||2||2||6|
|of body behind forelegs||2||10||2||3||3||4|
|of head between eyes & ears||2||9||2||6||3||3|
|Length of foreleg from knee to heel||10½||9||1||2|
|from heel to the nails||9||7||1||1|
|of hindleg from knee to heel||1||4||11||1||10|
|Width of forefoot||3½||3||3½|
|Length of nails of forefoot||2||2||3|
|of hair on the body||3½||3||6|
|at end of tail||6½||short 1||3|
|distance between anus and vulva||3|
|Spleen, length of||1||3||11|
|width of in middle||3½||4|
|Tongue, long from end to the filêt||3½||2½|
|Vertebræ of tail||14||14||or 15||19|
|Palate furrows of||6||6||6|
The gall bladder was empty, the membrane of the Bladder very thin, and the two last furrows of the palate broken in the middle, in the Weasel as noted in the Belette, and the contrary not noted in the Hermine.
The spleen was of the same color on both sides in the Weasel. In the Hermine it was of a reddish brown as in the weasel, on one side, and of a very pale hue on the other. Nothing is said as to this circumstance in the description of the Belette.
The right kidney in the Weasel was advanced a little only before the left, as in the Belette, and not its whole length as in the Hermine.
The attempt to examine whether the number of false ribbs in the Weasel was 4 as in the Belette or 3 as in the Hermine, was frustrated.
On a review of the differential characters of the Belette and the Hermine, and a comparison of the weasel with both, it appears. 1. that the weasel stands between the two in point of size, but much less removed from the former than the latter, unless the individual here examined was much under the ordinary size. Its having no visible teats seems to be an indication that it was young. Another probable indication was the smallness of the hindmost teeth both in the upper & lower Jaws, those in the lower being not bigger than the head of a small pin; & those in the upper disproportionate to the contiguous tooth. 2. that it resembles the Hermine in the length of the trunk of the tail, and in the blackness of its end, — but the Belette in the number of vertebræ in the Trunk, and in the shortness of the hair at the end of the tail. 3. That it resembles the Hermine in the colour of its feet, and the Belette in that of the margin of the ears. 4. that it resembles the Belette & not the Hermine in the Relative position of the Kidneys. 5. that it differs from the Hermine in being an inhabitant of warm climates. Wheather it resembles the Belette in not being an inhabitant of cold climates remains for enquiry. 6. that it differs from both in never becoming white during the winter, if this change be well founded with regard to the Belette. Buffon asserts that there are instances of it, but it may be questioned whether they were not mere albinos of the species.
The figure of the head of the Weasel when reduced to the naked bone resembled rather that of the Belette than that of the Hermine in the skeletons represented in Buffon. In its entire state it resembled most the head in the cut of the Hermine given by Buffon. Indeed the entire cut of the Hermine was a much stronger likeness of the weasel, than the cut of the Belette.
The result of the comparison seems to be that notwithstanding the blackness of the end of the tail & whiteness of the feet, which are regarded as characteristics of the Hermine contradistinguishing it from the belette, our weasel cannot be of the former species, and is nothing more than a variety of the latter. This conclusion is the stronger, as the manners of our weasel correspond more nearly with those of the Belette, than with those of the Hermine. And if it be a just conclusion, it may possibly make one exception to Buffon’s position that no animal is common to the two continents that cannot bear the climate where they join; as it certainly contradicts his assertion that of the animals common to the two continents, those of the new are in every instance smaller than those of the old.—But he seems to have given up this point himself. Supplemt. tom. 8, p. 329. “L’imperfection de nature qu’el [M. P. l’auteur des recherches sur les Americains] reproche gratuitement a l’Amerique en general, ne doit porter que sur les animaux de la partie meridionale de ce continent, lesquels &c.”—
My next will probably be dated in Philada or rather in N. York to which I am called by some business of a private nature in which I am concerned jointly with Col. Monroe. In the meantime I remain Yrs very affectionately[Back to Table of Contents]
TO JAMES MONROE.mad. mss.
Orange June 21st, 1786.
Your favor of the 31st ult. did not come to hand till two days ago. As I expect to see you in a short time, I will suspend the full communication of my ideas on the subject of it till I have that pleasure. I cannot however forbear in the mean time expressing my amazement that a thought should be entertained of1surrendering the Mississippi, and of guaranteing the possessions of Spain in America. In the first place has not Virga., have not Congs themselves, and the Ministers of Congs., by their orders asserted the right of those who live on the waters of the Mississippi touse it as the high road given by nature to the sea? This being the case, have Congs any more authority to say that the Western citizens of Virga. shall not pass through the capes of Mississippi than to say that her Eastern citizens shall not pass through the capes Henry & Charles. It should be remembered that the United States are not now extricating themselves from war, a crisis which often knows no law but that of necessity. The measure in question would be a voluntary barter in time of profound peace of the rights of one part of the empire to the interests of another part. What would Massachusetts say to a proposition for ceding to Britain her right of fishery as the price of some stipulations in favor of Tobacco.
Again can there be a more short-sighted or dishonorable policy than to concur with Spn in frustrating the benevolent views of nature to sell the affections of our ultra-montane brethren to depreciate the richest fund we possess to distrust an ally whom we know to be able to befriend us and to have an interest in doing it against the only nation whose enmity we can dread, and at the same time to court by the most precious sacrifices the alliance of a nation whose impotency is notorious, who has given no proof of regard for us and the genius of whose Government religion & manners unfit them of all the nations in christendom for a coalition with this country. Can anything too, as you well observe, be more unequal than a stipulation which is to open all our ports to her and some only and those the least valuable of hers to us; and which places the commercial freedom of our ports agst the fettered regulations of those in Spain. I always thought the stipulation with france & Holld of the privileges of the most favoured nation as unequal, and only to be justified by the influence which the treaties could not fail to have on the event of the war. A stipulation putting Spanish subjects on the same footing with our own citizens is carrying the evil still farther without the same pretext for it; and is the more to be dreaded, as by making her the most favored nation it would let in the other nations with whom we are now connected to the same privileges, whenever they may find it their interest to make the same compensation for them whilst we have not a reciprocal right to force them into such an arrangement in case our interest should dictate it. A guaranty is if possible still more objectionable. If it be insidious we plunge ourselves into infamy. If sincere, into obligations the extent of which cannot easily be determined. In either case we get farther into the labyrinth of european politics from which we ought religiously to keep ourselves as free as possible. And what is to be gained by ruch a rash step? Will any man in his senses pretend that our territory needs such a safeguard, or that if it were in danger, it is the arm of Spain that is to save it. Viewing the matter in this light I cannot but flatter myself, that if the attempt you apprehend should be made it will be rejected with becoming indignation. I am less sanguine as to the issue of the other matter contained in your letter.1 I know the mutual prejudices which impede every overture towards a just & final settlement of claims & accts. I persist in the opinion that a proper & speedy adjustment is unattainable from any assembly constituted as Congs is, and acting under the impulse which they must. I need not repeat to you the plan which has always appeared to me most likely to answer the purpose. In the mean time, it is mortifying to see the other States, or rather their Representatives, pursuing a course which will make the case more & more difficult, & putting arms into the hands of the Enemies to every Amendment of our federal system. God knows that they are formidable enough in this State without such an advantage. With it, their triumph will be certain & easy. But I have been led much farther already than I proposed, and will only that.
I am with the sincerest affection, your friend & servt.
The inclosed Tickets belong to a very worthy friend who knows not how to obtain a small prize which they have drawn without giving you the trouble of applying for it. He is apprehensive that the door may be already shut agst the demand. If it should not you will kind eno’ to call on the proper office and get the proper certificate. There are but 2 of the Tickets I believe which are entitled to prizes, but as they cannot be distinguished here, it must be done by the Register in the office.[Back to Table of Contents]
TO THOMAS JEFFERSON.
Philada, Aug: 12th, 1786.
My last of the 19th of June intimated that my next would be from N. York or this place. I expected it would rather have been from the former which I left a few days ago, but my time was so taken up there with my friends and some business that I thought it best to postpone it till my return here. My ride through Virga, Maryd, and Pena, was in the midst of harvest. I found the crops of wheat in the upper parts of the two former considerably injured by the wet weather which my last described as so destructive in the lower parts of those States. The computed loss where I passed was about one third. The loss in the Rye was much greater. It was admitted however that the crops of both would have been unusually large but for this casualty. Throughout Pena the wheat was unhurt, and the Rye very little affected. As I came by the way of Winchester & crossed the Potowmac at Harper’s I had an opportunity of viewing the magnificent scene which nature here presents. I viewed it however under great disadvantages. The air was so thick that distant objects were not visible at all, and near ones not distinctly so. We ascended the mountain also at a wrong place, fatigued ourselves much in traversing it before we gained the right position, were threatened during the whole time with a thunder storm, and finally overtaken by it. Had the weather been favorable the prospect would have appeared to peculiar advantage, being enriched with the harvest in its full maturity, which filled every vale as far as the eye could reach. I had the additional pleasure here of seeing the progress of the works on the Potowmac. About 50 hands were employed at these falls or rather rapids, who seemed to have overcome the greatest difficulties. Their plan is to slope the fall by opening the bed of the river, in such a manner as to render a lock unnecessary, and, by means of ropes fastened to the rocks, to pull up & ease down the boats where the current is most rapid. At the principal falls 150 hands I was told were at work, and that the length of the canal will be reduced to less than a mile, and carried through a vale which does not require it to be deep. Locks will here be unavoidable. The undertakers are very sanguine. Some of them who are most so talk of having the entire work finished in three years.1 I can give no particular account of the progress on James River, but am told it is very flattering. I am still less informed of what is doing in North Carolina towards a Canal between her & our waters. The undertaking on the Susquehannah is said to be in such forwardness as to leave no doubt of its success. A negociation is set on foot between Pena., Maryd, & Delaware, for a canal from the head of Chesapeak to the Delaware. Maryd as I understand heretofore opposed the undertaking, and Pena means now to make her consent to it a condition on which the opening of the Susquehannah within the limits of Pena will depend. Unless this is permitted the opening undertaken within the limits of Maryland will be of little account. It is lucky that both parties are so dependent on each other as to be thus mutually forced into measures of general utility. I am told that Pena. has complied with the joint request of Virga and Maryland for a Road between the head of Potowmac and the waters of the Ohio and the secure & free use of the latter through her jurisdiction. These fruits of the Revolution do great honour to it. I wish all our proceedings merited the same character. Unhappily there are but too many belonging to the opposite side of the acct. At the head of these is to be put the general rage for paper money. Pena. & N. Carolina took the lead in this folly. In the former the sum emitted was not considerable, the funds for sinking it were good, and it was not made a legal tender. It issued into circulation partly by way of loan to individuals on landed security, partly by way of payment to the public creditors. Its present depreciation is about 10 or 12 per ct. In N. Carolina the sums issued at different times has been of greater amount, and it has constantly been a tender. It issued partly in payments to military creditors and latterly, in purchases of Tobo. on public account. The Agent I am informed was authorised to give nearly the double of the current price, and as the paper was a tender, debtors ran to him with their Tobo., and the creditors paid the expence of the farce. The depreciation is said to be 25 or 30 per Ct. in that State. S. Carolina was the next in order. Her emission was in the way of loans to individuals, and is not a legal tender. But land is there made a tender in case of suits which shuts the Courts of Justice, and is perhaps as great an evil. The friends of the emission say that it has not yet depreciated, but they admit that the price of commodities has risen, which is evidently the form in which depreciation will first shew itself. New Jersey has just issued £30,000 (dollars at 7s 6) in loans to her citizens. It is a legal tender. An addition of £100,000 is shortly to follow on the same principles. The terror of popular associations stifles as yet an overt discrimination between it & specie; but as this does not operate in Philada & N. York where all the trade of N. J. is carried on, its depreciation has already commenced in those places & must soon communicate itself to N. J. New York is striking £200,000 (dollr at 8s.) on the plan of loans to her citizens. It is made a legal tender in case of suits only. As it is but just issuing from the press, its depreciation exists only in the foresight of those who reason without prejudice on the subject. In Rhode Island £100,000 (dolr at 6s.) has lately been issued in loans to individuals. It is not only made a tender, but severe penalties annexed to the least attempt direct or indirect to give a preference to specie. Precautions dictated by distrust in the rulers soon produced it in the people. Supplies were withheld from the Market, the Shops were shut, popular meetings ensued, and the State remains in a sort of convulsion.
The Legislature of Massts. at their last Session rejected a paper emission by a large majority. Connecticut & N. Hampshire also have as yet forborne, but symptoms of danger it is said begin to appear in the latter. The Senate of Maryd has hitherto been a bar to paper in that State. The clamor for it is now universal, and as the periodical election of the Senate happens at this crisis, and the whole body is unluckily by their Constitution to be chosen at once, it is probable that a paper emission will be the result. If, in spite of the zeal exerted agst the old Senate a majority of them should be re-elected, it will require all their firmness to withstand the popular torrent. Of the affairs of Georga I know as little as of those of Kamskatska. Whether Virga is to remain exempt from the epidemic malady will depend on the ensuing Assembly. My hopes rest chiefly on the exertions of Col. Mason and the failure of the experiments elsewhere. That these must fail is morally certain; for besides the proofs of it already visible in some States, and the intrinsic defect of the paper in all, this fictitious money will rather feed than cure the spirit of extravagance which sends away the coin to pay the unfavorable balance, and will therefore soon be carried to market to buy up coin for that purpose. From that moment depreciation is inevitable. The value of money consists in the uses it will serve. Specie will serve all the uses of paper, paper will not serve one of the essential uses of specie. The paper therefore will be less valuable than specie. Among the numerous ills with which this practice is pregnant, one I find is that it is producing the same warfare & retaliation among the States as were produced by the State regulations of commerce. Massts & Connecticut have passed laws enabling their Citizens who are debtors to Citizens of States having paper money, to pay their debts in the same manner as their Citizens who are creditors to Citizens of the latter States are liable to be paid their debts. The States which have appointed deputies to Annapolis are N. Hampshire, Massts, R. Island, N. Y., N. J., Pena., Delaware, & Virga. Connecticut declined not from a dislike to the object, but to the idea of a Convention, which it seems has been rendered obnoxious by some internal Conventions, which embarrassed the Legislative Authority. Maryd., or rather her Senate negatived an appointment because they supposed the measure might interfere with the plans or prerogatives of Congs. N. Carolina has had no Legislative meeting since the proposition was communicated. S. Carolina supposed she had sufficiently signified her concurrence in a general regulation of trade by vesting the power in Congress for 15 years. Georgia — —. Many Gentlemen both within & without Congs, wish to make this Meeting subservient to a plenipotentiary Convention for amending the Confederation. Tho’ my wishes are in favor of such an event, yet I despair so much of its accomplishment at the present crisis that I do not extend my views beyond a commercial Reform. To speak the truth I almost despair even of this.1 You will find the cause in a measure now before Congress of which you will receive the detail from Col. Monroe. I content myself with hinting that it is a proposed treaty with Spain one article of which shuts up the Mississippi twenty-five or thirty years, passing by the other Southern States, figure to yourself the effect of such a stipulation on the Assembly of Virginia, already jealous of Northern politics and which will be composed of about thirty members from the Western waters, of a majority of others attached to the Western Country from interests of their own, of their friend or their constituent, and of many others who though indifferent to Mississippi, will zealously play off the disgust of its friends against federal measures. Figure to yourself its effect on the people at large on the western waters, who are impatiently waiting for a favorable result to the negociation with Gardoqui, & who will consider themselves as sold by their Atlantic brethren. Will it be an unnatural consequence if they consider themselves absolved from every federal tie and court some protection for their betrayed rights. This protection will appear more attainable from the maritime power of Britain than from any other quarter; and Britain will be more ready than any other nation to seize an opportunity of embroiling our affairs. What may be the motive with Spain to satisfy herself with a temporary occlusion of the Mississippi at the same time that she holds forth our claim to it as absolutely inadmissible is matter for conjecture only. The patrons of the measure in Congress contend that the Minister, who at present governs the Spanish councils means only to disembarrass himself at the expence of the successors. I should rather suppose he means to worka total separation of interest and affection between western & eastern settlements and to foment the jealousy between the Eastern & Southern States. By the former the population of the Western Country it may be expected, will be checked and the Mississippi so far secured; and by both the general security of Spanish America be promoted. As far as I can learn the assent of nine States in Congress will not at this time be got to the projected treaty but an unsuccessful attempt by six or seven will favor the views of Spain and be fatal I fear to an augmentation of the federal authority if not to the little now existing. My personal situation is rendered by this business particularly mortifying. Ever since I have been out of Congress I have been inculcating on our Assembly a confidence in the equal attention of Congress to the rights and interests of every part of the republic and on the Western members in particular, the necessity of making the Union respectable by new powers to Congress if they wished Congress to negociate with effect for the Mississippi. I leave to Col. Monroe the giving you a particular account of the Impost. The Acts of Penna, Delaware & N. York must be revised & amended in material points before it can be put in force, and even then the fetters put on the collection by some other States will make it a very awkward business. Your favor of 25th. of April from London found me here. My letter from Richmd at the close of the Assembly will have informed you of the situation in which British debts stand in Virga. Unless Cons say something on the subject I do not think anything will be done by the next Session. The expectations of the British Merchants coincide with the information I had recd, as your opinion of the steps proper to be taken by the Assembly do with those for which I have ineffectually contended. The merits of Mr. P[aradise] will ensure every attention from me to his claim as far as general principles will admit. I am afraid that these will insuperably bar his wishes. The Catalogues sent by Mr. Skipwith I do not expect to receive till I get back to Virga. If you meet with “Grœcorum Respublicæ ab Ubbone Emmio descriptæ,” Sugd. Batavorum, 1632, pray get it for me.
My trip to N. Y. was occasioned chiefly by a plan concerted between Col. Monroe1 & myself for a purchase of land on the Mohawk. Both of us have visited that district and were equally charmed with it. The soil is perhaps scarcely inferior to that of Kentucky, it lies within the body of the Atlantic States & at a safe distance from every frontier, it it contiguous to a branch of Hudson’s River which is navigable with trifling portages which will be temporary, to tide-water, and is not more than ten 15 or 20 miles from populous settlements, where land sells at £8 to £10 per acre. In talking of this Country some time ago with General Washington he considered it in the same light with Monroe and myself, intimating that if he had money to spare and was disposed to deal in land, this is the very Spot which his fancy had selected of all the U. S. We have made a small purchase, and nothing but the difficulty of raising a sufficient sum restrained us from making a large one. In searching for the means of overcoming this difficulty one has occurred which we have agreed that I should mention to you, and which if you should think as we do is recommended by the prospect of advantage to yourself as well as to us. We mention it freely because we trust that if it does not meet with your sanction — you will as freely tell us so.1 It is that the aid of your credit in your private capacity be used for borrowing say four or five thousand louis more or less, on the obligation of Monroe and myself with your suretyship to be laid out by Monroe and myself for our triple emolument on interest not exceeding six p. cent to be paid annually and the principle within a term not less than eight or ten years. To guard agst. accidents a private instrument might be executed among ourselves such writing specifying all necessary covenants. We have not taken the resolution of this plan without well examining the expediency of your becoming a party to it as well as the prospect of its succeeding. There can certainly be no impropriety in your taking just means of bettering your fortune, nor can we discover in your doing this on the Mokawk more than on james River. For the prospect of gain by rise of the land beyond the interest of the money we calculate on the present difference of pri[ce] between the settled & vacant land far beyond any possible difference in the real value. The former as has been noted sells for eight or ten pounds per acre. The latter distinguished only by its being a little higher up the River & its being uninhabited was bought by us for one dollar & a half and there is little doubt that by taking up a large quantity, still better bargains may be got. This comparative cheapness proceeds from causes which are accidental & temporary. The lands in question are chiefly in the hands of men who hold large quantities and who are either in debt or live in the city at an expence for which they have no other resource or are engaged in transactions that require money. The scarcity of specie which enters much into the cheapness is probably but temporary also. As it is the child of extravagance it will become the parent of economy, which will regain us our due share of the universal medium. The same vicissitude which can only be retarded by our short-lived substitutes of paper will be attended also by such a fall in the rate of exchange that money drawn by bills from Europe now and repaid a few years hence will probably save one years interest at least. I will only add that scarce an instance has happened in which purchases of new lands of good quality and in good situations have not well rewarded the adventurers. With these remarks which determine our judgments we submit to your better one the project to which they relate. Wishing you every possible happiness I remain Dr Sir your affectionate friend & Servt.
Mrs. House and Mrs. Trist desire to be particularly remembered to yourself and Miss Patsy. I left with Col Monroe letters for you both from Mrs. T. which will probably go by the same packet with this.[Back to Table of Contents]
TO JAMES MONROE.1
Philadelphia, August 17th, 1786.
I have your favor of the 14th inst. The expedient of which you ask my opinion has received, as it deserved, all the consideration which the time and other circumstances would allow me to give. I think that, in the present state of things, such an arrangement would be beneficial, and even pleasing to those most concerned in it; and yet I doubt extremely the policy of your proposing it to Congress.2 The objections which occur to me are: 1. That if the temper and views of Congress be such as you apprehend, it is morally certain they would not enter into the accommodation. Nothing, therefore, would be gained, and you would have to combat under the disadvantage of having forsaken your first ground. 2. If Congress should adopt your expedient as a ground of negociation with Guardoqui, and the views of Spain be such as they must be apprehended to be, it is still more certain that it would be rejected on that side, especially under the flattering hopes which the spirit of concession in Congress must have raised. In this event, the patrons of the measure now before Congress would return to it with a greater eagerness and with fresh arguments, drawn from the impossibility of making better terms, and from the relaxation into which their opponents will have been betrayed. It is even possible that a foresight of this event might induce a politic concurrence in the experiment.
Your knowledge of all circumstances will make you a better judge of the solidity or fallacy of these reflections than I can be. I do not extend them because it would be superfluous, as well as because it might lead to details which could not prudently be committed to the mail without the guard of a cypher. Not foreseeing that any confidential communication on paper would happen between us during my absence from Virginia, I did not bring mine with me.[Back to Table of Contents]
TO AMBROSE MADISON.1
Añapolis, Sept. 8th, 1786.
I came to this place a day or two ago, where I found two cosrs only. A few more have since come in, but the prospect of a sufficient no. to make the meeting respectable is not flattering. I was sorry to find in Philada. that the unpunctuality of some of the purchasers of the Tobo. had put it out of the power of Mr. H. to supply me with all the money become due under the contracts. This unpunctuality owing partly to causes which are felt everywhere, partly to the abolition of the bank, has extended itself to men who have scarcely before afforded room for complaint. The disappointment reduced me to the dilemma of either not executing the commissions for the family & failing in some of my engagements particularly in N. Y. or of leaving you still longer to parry your creditors. Disagreeable as the latter option was I could not but consider it as the lesser inconvenience. Mr. H. has promised to spare no efforts to get in the remaining payments as fast as possible, & to send or even bring them to Annapolis in case the session here should be prolonged till a sum worth while shall be collected. If the Session here should be so far shortened as to leave me time I propose to ride back to Philada. & be the bearer of it from thence myself. I shall probably write again to you from this place. I do not write now to my father because I have nothing worth the postage. You will let him know that most of the Articles on his list will probably soon be at Fredgb. perhaps sooner than this reaches you. The West Inda. articles were dear & for that reason some of them are abridged in quantity. The other articles were cheap in general, which led me to add several beyond my commission, being well assured that if not wanted they may be either disposed of or exchanged with advantage. . . .[Back to Table of Contents]
TO JAMES MONROE.mad. mss.
Annapolis, Sepr 11, 1786.
I have two letters from you not yet acknowledged, one of the 1st. the other of the 3d. inst: nothing could be more distressing than the issue of the business stated in the latter.1 If the affirmative vote of 7 States sd. be pursued it will add the insult of trick to the injury of the thing itself. Our prospect here makes no amends for what is done with you. Delaware N. J. & Va. alone are on the ground, two Commissrs attend from N. Y. & one from Pa. Unless the sudden attendance of a much more respectable number takes place it is proposed to break up the Meeting, with a recoendation of another time & place, & an intimation of the expediency of extending the plan to other defects of the Confederation. In case of a speedy dispersion I shall find it requisite to ride back as far as Philada. before I proceed to Virga. from which place, if not from this, I will let you know the upshot here. I have heard that Col. Grayson was stopped at Trenton by indisposition on his way to the Assembly of Pena. I hope he is well again, & wd write to him but know not whither to address a letter to him.2
Adieu. Yrs affy.[Back to Table of Contents]
TO JAMES MONROE.mad. mss.
Philada., Octr. 5th., 1786.
I recd. yesterday your favor of the 2d. inst: which makes the third for which my acknowledgments are due. The progression which a certain measure1 seems to be making is an alarming proof of the predominance of temporary and partial interests over those just & extended maxims of policy, which have been so much boasted of among us and which alone can effectuate the durable prosperity of the Union. Should the measure triumph under the patronage of 9 States or even of the whole thirteen, I shall never be convinced that it is expedient, because I cannot conceive it to be just. There is no maxim in my opinion which is more liable to be misapplied, and which therefore more needs elucidation than the current one that the interest of the majority is the political standard of right and wrong. Taking the word “interest” as synonymous with “ultimate happiness,” in which sense it is qualified with every necessary moral ingredient, the proposition is no doubt true. But taking it in the popular sense, as referring to immediate augmentation of property and wealth, nothing can be more false. In the latter sense it would be the interest of the majority in every community to despoil & enslave the minority of individuals; and in a federal community to make a similar sacrifice of the minority of the component States. In fact it is only re-establishing under another name and a more specious form, force as the measure of right; and in this light the Western settlements will infallibly view it.
I have considered with attention the paragraph in your last which relates to the further offer of Taylor. It seems to be an inviting one & probably would turn out a good one, yet there are strong objections agst. purchasing in the dark or on a vague knowledge of the situation. There would be hazard in the experiment if both parties were on a level, but there would perhaps be rashness in it where one of them proceeds on full information. Circumspection seems also more necessary in proportion to the indulgences proposed in the payments, as they suggest other motives for selling than mere pecuniary difficulties. These objections may indeed be lessened by taking information at second hand and by supposing the partial payment in hand as the ruling motive of the seller. But still they have considerable weight; and when added to two others are decisive with me agst. an immediate contract. I draw the first of these from the numerous disappointments to which I find pecuniary matters in the present state of things are liable, and the mortifications which they involve. The second I draw from a reflection that if we should at the date of future payments have in our hands the means of discharging them, they will as ready money then command as good bargains as can now be made on credit. These remarks you will observe lye agst further speculations at present. The expediency of them under favorable circumstances I view in as strong a light as ever I did, and am happy to find your attention kept up to the subject, and you are gathering information relative to it.
I fear I shall be obliged to accept of your very friendly procrastination of the repayment which ought long ago to have been made. The disappointments which have prevented it, contribute to my delay here at this time, and will together with a vicarious business which I have undertaken for a particular friend, probably spin it out a few days longer. If anything occurs before I set out or on the road I shall not fail to write. Col. Grayson is still here. For a week he has been nearly well. his symptoms of yesterday prove that he has remains of his disorder which require his attention.
Martin did not make his report from Milligan as to the lottery tickets. pray send me the information in your next. Complts to yr family Adieu
Seal & present the inclosed if you please.[Back to Table of Contents]
TO JAMES MONROE.mad. mss.
Richmd., Octr. 30, 1786.
I drop you a few lines rather as a fulfilment of my promise than for the purpose of information, since they go by Mr. Jones who is much better acquainted with the politics here than myself. I find with pleasure that the navigation of the Misspi. will be defended by the Legislature with as much zeal as could be wished.1 Indeed the only danger is that too much resentment may be indulged by many agst. the federal councils. Paper money has not yet been tried even in any indirect mode that could bring forth the mind of the Legislature. Appearances on the subject however are rather flattering. Mr. H [enry] has declined a reappointt. to the office he holds, and Mr. Randolph1 is in nomination for his successor, and will pretty certainly be elected. R. H. L [ee] has been talked of, but is not yet proposed. The appts. to Congs. are a subject of conversation & will be made as soon as a Senate is made. Mr. Jones will be included in the New Delegation. Your presence & communications on the point of the Miss are exceedingly wished for and would in several respects be extremely useful. If Mr. Jones does not return in a day or two come without him I beseech you. I am consulted frequently on matters concerning which I cannot or ought not to speak, and refer to you as the proper source of information as far as you may be at liberty. Hasten your trip I again beseech you. I hope Mrs. Monroe continues well. My sincerest respects wait on her. In haste
Adieu. Yrs.[Back to Table of Contents]
TO JAMES MADISON.mad. mss.
Richmond Novr. 1. 1786.
Jno. Tucker & Joe got down this forenoon, with articles sent. I shall execute your instructions as to the advertizements, and the Revised laws, if I can get at the latter time eno’ in the morning. I will do the same as to the French Dicty for Mr Taylor if I can effect it in time; if not I will make use of the first succeeding opportunity. I can give you no account of the Key of the Trunk. I suppose it must have been dropped or taken off & not replaced, for keys in such cases are usually fastened to the Trunks. I omitted in my letter from Fredg. to mention that I had directed 2 bolts of Oznabergs to be sent along with the other articles from Philada. but as I did it on the like condition of price & quality being approved by Mr H. it is uncertain whether any of the articles will come. I intended it merely as an experiment.
Paper money was the subject of discussion this day, and was voted by a majority of 84 vs 17, to be “unjust, impolitic, destructive of public & private confidence, and1 of that virtue which is the basis of Republican Government.” Our Revenue matters have also been on the anvil, several changes in our taxes are proposed, and it is not unlikely that some will take place. Duties on imports will be urged as far as they can be guarded agst smuggling by land, as well as by water. Govr Henry declines a reappointt, but does not come into the Assembly. The Attorney or R. H. Lee, probably the former, will supply his place. We learn that great commotions are prevailing in Massts. An appeal to the Sword is exceedingly dreaded. The discontented it is said are as numerous as the friends of Govt. and more decided in their measures. Should they get uppermost, it is uncertain what may be the effect. They profess to aim only at a reform of their Constitution and of certain abuses in the public administration, but an abolition of debts public & private, and a new division of property are strongly suspected to be in contemplation. We also learn that a general combination of the Indians threatens the frontier of the U. S. Congs are planning measures for warding off the blow, one of which is an augmentation of the federal troops to upwards of 2000 men. In addition to these ills, it is pretty certain that a formidable party in Congs are bent on surrendering the Missispi. to Spain for the sake of some commercial stipulations. The project has already excited much heat within that Assembly & if pursued will not fail to alienate the Western Country & confirm the animosity & jealousy already subsisting between the Atlantic States. I fear that, altho’ it should be frustrated, the effects already produced will be a great bar to our amendment of the Confederacy which I consider as essential to its continuance. I have letters from Kentucky which inform me that the expedition agst. the Indians has prevented the meeting which was to decide the question of their Independence. It is probable the news relative to the surrender of the Misspi. will lessen the disposition to separate. If the bacon left behind by Jno. should not have been sent it need not be sent at all. Fresh butter will from time to time, continue to be very acceptable. My best regards to my mother and the family.
Your affect. & dutiful son.[Back to Table of Contents]
SPEECH IN THE VIRGINIA HOUSE OF DELEGATES, NOVEMBER, 1786, AGAINST PAPER MONEY.1mad. mss.
Unequal to Specie. 1. being redeble at future day and not bearing interest. 2. illustrated by [obliterated] of Bank notes—Stock in funds—paper of Spain issued during late war [see Neckar on finance]. Navy bills—tallies. 3. being of less use than specie which answers externally as well as internally—must be of value which depends on the use.
Unjust. 1. to creditors if a legal tender. 2 to debtors if not legal tender, by increasing difficulty of getting specie. This it does by increasing extravagance & unfavourable balance of trade—& by destroying that confidence between man & man, by which resources of one may be coanded by another. Illustrated 1 by raising denomination of coin 2. increasing alloy of do. brass made as silver by the Romans according to Sallust.1 3 by changing weights & measures. 4. by case of creditors within who are debtors without the State.
Unconstitutional 1. Affects rights of property as much as taking away equal value in land; illustrd. by case of land pd. for down & to be conveyd. in future, & of a law permitting conveyance to be satisfied by conveying a part only—or other land of inferior quality—2. affects property without trial by Jury.
Antifederal. Right of regulating coin given to Congs. for two reasons. 1. for sake of uniformity. 2. to prevent fraud in States towards each other or foreigners. Both these reasons hold equally as to paper money.
Uñecessary. 1. produce of country will bring in specie, if not laid out in superfluities. 2. Of paper, if necessary, eno’ already in Tobo. notes, & public securities—3. the true mode of giving value to these, and bringing in specie is to enforce Justice & taxes.
Pernicious. 1. by fostering luxury, extends instead of curing scarcity of specie—2. by disabling compliance with requisition of Congs. 3. serving dissentions between States. 4. destroyg. confidence between individuals. 5. discouraging coerce—6 enrichg. collectors & sharpers—7. vitiating morals. 8. reversing end of Govt. which is to reward best & punish worst. 9. conspiring with other States to disgrace Republican Govts. in the eyes of mankind.
Objection. paper money good before the War.
Answr. 1. not true in N. Engd. nor in Va. where exchange rose to 60 per ct. nor in Maryd. see Franklyn on paper money 2. confidence then not now. 3. principles of paper credit not then understood. Such wd. not then nor now succeed in Great Britain &c.[Back to Table of Contents]
TO GEORGE WASHINGTON.wash. mss.
Richmond, Novr. 1, 1786.
I have been here too short a time as yet to have collected fully the politics of the Session. In general appearances are favorable. On the question of a paper emission the measure was this day rejected in emphatic terms by a majority of 84 vs. 17. The Affair of the Mississippi is but imperfectly known. I find that its influence on the federal spirit will not be less than was apprehended. The Western members will not be long silent on the subject. I inculcate a hope that the views of Congress may yet be changed and that it would be rash to suffer the alarm to interfere with the policy of amending the Confederacy. The sense of the House has not yet been tried on the latter point. The Report from the Deputies to Annapolis lies on the Table, and I hope will be called for before the business of the Mississippi begins to ferment. Mr. Henry has signified his wish not to be reelected, but will not be in the Assembly. The Attorney & R. H. Lee are in nomination for his successor. The former will probably be appointed, in which case the contest for that vacancy will lie between Col. Innes & Mr. Marshal. The nominations for Congs. are as usual numerous. There being no Senate yet it is uncertain when any of these appointments will take place.
With the sincerest affection & the highest esteem
I am Dear Sir
[Back to Table of Contents]
Yr. Obedt. & humble Servt.
TO GEORGE WASHINGTON.wash. mss.
Richmd., Novr 8th., 1786.
I am just honoured with your favor of the 5th. inst: The intelligence from Genl. Knox1 is gloomy indeed, but is less so than the colours in which I had it thro’ another channel. If the lessons which it inculcates should not work the proper impressions on the American public, it will be a proof that our case is desperate. Judging from the present temper and apparent views of our Assembly, I have some ground for leaning to the side of Hope. The vote against paper money has been followed by two others of great importance. By one of them petitions for applying a scale of depreciation to the Military certificates was unanimously rejected. By the other the expediency of complying with the Recommendation from Annapolis in favour of a general revision of the federal system was unanimously agreed to. A bill for the purpose is now depending and in a form which attests the most federal spirit. As no opposition has been yet made and it is ready for the third reading, I expect it will soon be before the public. It has been thought advisable to give this subject a very solemn dress, and all the weight that could be derived from a single State. This idea will be pursued in the selection of characters to represent Virga. in the federal convention. You will infer our earnestness on this point from the liberty which will be used of placing your name at the head of them. How far this liberty may correspond with the ideas by which you ought to be governed will be best decided when it must ultimately be decided. In every event it will assist powerfully in marking the zeal of our Legislature, and its opinion of the magnitude of the occasion. Mr. Randolph has been elected successor to Mr. Henry. He had 73 votes, Col. Bland 28, & R. H. Lee 22. The delegation to Congress drops Col. H. Lee, a circumstance which gives much pain to those who attend to the mortification in which it involves a man of sensibility. I am yet to learn the ground of the extensive disapprobation which has shewn itself.
I am Dear Sir most respectfully & affectly
Yr Obedt. & hble Servt.[Back to Table of Contents]
TO HENRY LEE.1mad. mss.
Richmond Nov. 9th 1786.
The last mail went out at a time when I was so engaged that I could not drop a line to you—the task of first conveying to you the result of the elections for Congress here has therefore probably been performed by some of your other friends—The superiority which your reflection and firmness will maintain over the vicissitudes incident to public life, forbids any suggestions which may be calculated to abate a sensibility with regard to them—I will only assure you that the indelicacy of the situation in which your country has placed you is severely felt by those whose esteem you would most value.
The enclosed paper contains all the Legislative information worth giving you—Present my respectful compliments to Mrs. Lee, and assure yourself of my sincerest wishes for your happiness—
Js. Madison Jr.
Honble. Henry Lee
- New York
TO JAMES MADISON.mad. mss.
Richmd., Novr 16, 1786.
Mr. Anderson in answer to your enquiries tells me that you shall have goods at 87½ per Ct. and that he will take Tobo. for his brother if it be ready by the 10th. of next month.
The H. of Delegates have done little since my last, and what was then done is still ineffectual for want of a Senate. A proposition for stopping the receipt of indents was made, and met with so little countenance that it was withdrawn. They will continue to be receivable as far as the law now permits, and those who have them not would do well to provide them. A bill is depending which makes Tobo. receivable in lieu of the specie part of the current tax, according to its value at the different Warehouses. Whether it will pass or not is uncertain. I think it most probable that it will pass. Nothing has yet been done as to the certificate tax. I have sent Mr. R. Taylor his French Dicty. by Mr Pannel, its price was 4s. With best regards to the family I remain
Yr. dutiful Son
I have a letter from Mr. J. Smith giving me the first information that J. W. & J. M. are not to return to the Academy, and asking for the balance. I hope my brother F. has taken steps for remitting his.[Back to Table of Contents]
TO HENRY LEE.mad. mss.
Richmond, Nov. 23d 1786.
I have received your favor of the 11th Instant.—Having never felt an intermission of my regard for you I cannot be insensible either to the friendship which it speaks on your part or the failure of it, which it supposes on mine—That the latter sentiment should have resulted from a communication which could have no motive but one that ought to have prevented such a consequence, may well fill me with surprise—To the former, as well as to my own feelings, I owe an explanation which might perhaps be put into a more striking dress, if I were less unused to that mode of justifying my friendships—I observe in the first place, that I was not fully aware of the extent to which the event shewed that prejudices had been diffused against you—and that my intimations on that head were meant only to break the force of a disappointment which might fall upon you—This miscalculation of danger was also more natural as I had taken it for granted that one of the gentlemen elected would have been withheld or withdrawn from the nomination—2d. that my own nomination was not suffered to be a bar to any steps in your behalf, which the occasion seemed to call for, and propriety seemed to admit—That it was properly a bar to some steps which in other circumstances might have been taken will be felt by every man who shuns the imputation of arrogantly presuming on his own appointment—and still more arrogantly seeking to annex to it, that of others with whom he chuses to be associated—Whenever indeed an assent to my own nomination to office, shall proceed from no other motive but that of “supporting the temporary wishes of myself,” a possibility only of its interference with the consideration of private friendship, shall not fail to recall it—As long as I continue to be carried into public service by motives more consonant to my professions, a presumption at least of such an interference will be held a necessary apology to myself for yielding to that consideration—What share the affair of the Mississippi had in the prejudices raised against you I am not able to say exactly—As far as I could learn the subject was little talked of previous to the election, and I believe your opinions known to but few—As I perceive your suspicions strongly connect this cause with the injury you have sustained, I feel a satisfaction in declaring that in the instances which came within my knowledge, I made it a point to urge the fact that you had invariably obeyed your instructions—that any further instructions therefore might be safely confided to you, and that it would be cruel to sacrifice to possible dangers the feelings of a public servant, who was charged with no breach of duty whatever, and who in other respects had gained distinguished honor to himself and to his country—
In stating these facts I discharge a debt due to truth, to candour, and to the friendship which has subsisted between us—The full approbation which my own mind gives to the part taken by me, leaves nothing to be added, but a return of my wishes for your health and happiness—
Adieu, sincerely yrs
Js Madison Jr
Henry Lee Jun. Esq.
TO JAMES MADISON.mad. mss.
Novr. 24. 1786.
The H. of D. have just past a bill making Tobo. receivable in the tax at the market price at the several Warehouses to be fixt by the Executive. There is a proviso that the highest price shall not exceed 28s. An equality of price throughout was contended for which I disapproved. 1. because I think it would have been unjust. 2. because the bill could not have been carried in that form. I was not anxious for its success in any form, but acquiesced in it as it stands as the people may consider it in the light of an easement, and as it may prevent some worse project in the Assembly. I have in my hands about 300 dollrs. in indents the property of a friend in Philada. which may be applied to your taxes at the market value if you chuse to take them. A call of the House stops me.[Back to Table of Contents]
TO THOMAS JEFFERSON.mad. mss.
Richmd Decr 4, 1786.
Your last favor which was of the 25th. of April, has already been acknowledged. My last inclosing a letter from Mrs Carr, was dated a few days ago only. It was put into the hands of Mosr. Chevalier who has gone to N. York, whither I shall forward this to his care. He is to embark in the packet which will sail on the 15th. inst: The recommendation from the meeting at Annapolis of a plenipotentiary Convention in Philada. in May next has been well reced. by the Assembly here. Indeed the evidence of dangerous defects in the confederation has at length proselyted the most obstinate adversaries to a reform. The unanimous sanction given by the Assembly to the inclosed compliance1 with the Recommendation marks sufficiently the revolution of sentiment which the experience of one year has effected in this Country. The deputies are not yet appointed. It is expected that Genl Washington, the present Govr. E. Randolph, Esqr. & the late one Mr. Henry, will be of the number.2
The project for bartering the Missipi to Spain was brought before the Assembly after the preceding measure had been adopted. The report of it having reached the ears of the Western Representatives, as many of them as were on the spot, backed by a number of the late officers, presented a memorial, full of consternation & complaint; in consequence of which some very pointed resolutions by way of instruction to the Delegates in Congs. were unanimously entered into by the House of Delegates. They are now before the Senate who will no doubt be also unanimous in their Concurrence.
The question of paper money was among the first with which the Session opened. It was introduced by petitions from two Counties. The discussion was faintly supported by a few obscure patrons of the measure, and on the vote it was thrown out by 85 vs 17. A petition for paying off the public securities according to a scale of their current prices, was unanimously rejected.
The consideration of the Revised Code has been resumed & prosecuted pretty far towards its conclusion. I find however that it will be impossible as well as unsafe to give an ultimate fiat to the System at this session. The expedient I have in view is to provide for a supplemental revision by a comtee who shall accommodate the bills skipped over, and the subsequent laws, to such part of the code as has been adopted, suspending the operation of the latter for one year longer. Such a work is rendered indispensable by the alterations made in some of the bills in their passage, by the change of circumstances which call for corresponding changes in sundry bills which have been laid by, and by the incoherence between the whole code & the laws in force of posterior date to the code. This business has consumed a great deal of the time of two Sessions, and has given infinite trouble to some of us. We have never been without opponents who contest at least every innovation inch by inch. The bill proportioning crimes & punishments on which we were wrecked last year, has after undergoing a number of alterations, got thro’ a Committee of the whole; but it has not yet been reported to the House, where it will meet with the most vigorous attack. I think the chance is rather against its final passage in that branch of the Assembly, and if it should not miscarry there, it will have another gauntlet to run through the Senate.
The bill on the subject of Education which could not safely be brought into discussion at all last year, has undergone a pretty indulgent consideration this. In order to obviate the objection from the inability of the Country to bear the expence, it was proposed that it should be passed into a law, but its operation suspended for three or four years. Even in this form however there would be hazard in pushing it to a final question, and I begin to think it will be best to let it lie over for the supplemental Revisors, who may perhaps be able to put it into some shape that will lessen the objection of expence. I should have no hesitation at this policy if I saw a chance of getting a Committee equal to the work of compleating the Revision. Mr. Pendleton is too far gone to take any part in it. Mr. Wythe I suppose will not decline any duty which may be imposed on him, but it seems almost cruel to tax his patriotic zeal any farther. Mr. Blair is the only remaining character in which full confidence could be placed.
The delay in the administration of Justice from the accumulation of business in the Genl Court, and despair of obtaining a reform according to the Assize plan, have led me to give up this plan in favor of district Courts; which differ from the former in being clothed with all the powers of the Genl. Court within their respective districts. The bill on the latter plan will be reported in a few days and will probably tho’ not certainly be adopted.
The fruits of the impolitic measures taken at the last Session with regard to taxes are bitterly tasted now. Our Treasury is empty, no supplies have gone to the federal treasury, and our internal embarrassments torment us exceedingly. The present Assembly have good dispositions on the subject, but some time will elapse before any of their arrangements can be productive. In one instance only the general principles of finance have been departed from. The specie part of the tax under collection is made payable in Tobo. This indulgence to the people as it is called & considered was so warmly wished for out of doors, and so strenuously pressed within that it could not be rejected without danger of exciting some worse project of a popular cast. As Tobo. alone is made commutable, there is reason to hope the public treasury will suffer little if at all. It may possibly gain.
The Repeal of the port bill has not yet been attempted. Col. Mason has been waited for as the hero of the attack. As it is become uncertain whether he will be down at all, the question will probably be brought forward in a few days. The repeal were he present would be morally certain. Under the disadvantage of his absence it is more than probable. The question of British debts has also awaited his patronage. I am unable to say what the present temper is on that subject, nothing having passed that could make trial of it. The repeated disappointments I have sustained in efforts in favor of the Treaty make me extremely averse to take the lead in the business again.
The public appointmts. have been disposed of as follows: The contest for the chair lay between Col. Bland & Mr. Prentis. The latter prevailed by a majority of near 20 votes. Mr. Harrison the late Speaker lost his election in Surry which he represented last year; and since has been equally unsuccessful in his pristine County Charles City where he made a second experiment. In the choice of a Governor Mr. E. Randolph had a considerable majority of the whole on the first ballot. His competitors were Col. Bland & R. H. Lee, each of whom had between 20 & 30 votes. The delegation to Congs. contained under the first choice Grayson, Carrington, R. H. Lee, Mr. Jones & myself. Col. H. Lee of the last delegation was dropt. The causes were different I believe & not very accurately known to me. One of them is said to have been his supposed heterodoxy touching the Missippi. Mr. Jones has since declined his appointmt., & Col. Lee has been reinstated by an almost unanimous vote. A vacancy in the Council produced by the Resignation of Mr. Roane is filled by Mr. Bolling Starke. Cyrus Griffin was a candidate but was left considerably in the rear. The Attorney Generalship has been conferred on Col. Innes. Mr Marshall had a handsome vote.
Our summer & fall have been wet beyond all imagination in some places, and much so everywhere. The crops of corn are in general plentiful. The price up the country will not exceed 8s or 10s. In this district it is scarcest & dearest, being already as high as 12s or 15s. The crop of Tobo. will fall short considerably it is calculated of the last year’s. The highest & lowest prices in the Country of the new crop are 25s & 20s. A rise is confidently expected.
My next will be from N. Y. whither I shall set out as soon as the principal business of the Session is over. Till my arrival there I postpone communications relative to our national affairs, which I shall then be able to make on better grounds, as well as some circumstances relative to the affairs of this State, which the hurry of the present opportunity restrains me from entering into.
Adieu.[Back to Table of Contents]
TO GENERAL WASHINGTON.mad. mss.
Richmond, Decr 7, 1786.
Notwithstanding the communications in your favor of the 18th Ulto, which has remained till now unacknowledged, it was the opinion of every judicious friend whom I consulted, that your name could not be spared from the Deputation to the Meeting in May at Philadelphia. It was supposed in the first place, that the peculiarity of the Mission, and its acknowledged pre-eminence over every other public object, may possibly reconcile your undertaking it, with the respect which is justly due, & which you wish to pay, to the late officers of the Army; and in the second place, that although you should find that or any other consideration an obstacle to your attendance on the service, the advantage of having your name in the front of the appointment, as a mark of the earnestness of Virga, and an invitation to the most select characters from every part of the Confederacy, ought at all events to be made use of. In these sentiments I own I fully concurred, and flatter myself that they will at least apologize for my departure from those held out in your letter. I even flatter myself that they will merit a serious consideration with yourself, whether the difficulties which you enumerate ought not to give way to them.
The affair of the Mississippi which was brought before the Assembly in a long Memorial from the Western members and some of the Officers, has undergone a full consideration of both Houses. The Resolutions printed in the papers were agreed to unanimously in the House of Delegates. In the Senate, I am told, the language was objected to by some members, as too pointed. They certainly express in substance the decided sense of the country at this time on the subject, and were offered in the place of some which went much farther, and which were in other respects exceptionable. I am entirely convinced, from what I observe here, that unless the project of Congress (for ceding to Spain the Mississippi for 25 years) can be reversed, the hopes of carrying this State into a proper federal system will be demolished. Many of our most federal leading men are extremely soured with what has already passed. Mr. Henry, who has been hitherto the Champion of the federal cause has become a cold advocate, and in the event of an actual sacrifice of the Mississippi by Congress, will unquestionably go over to the opposite side. I have a letter from Col. Grayson of late date which tells me that nothing further has been done in Congress, and one from Mr A. Clarke of New Jersey, which informs me that he expected every day, instructions from his Legislature for reversing the vote given by the Delegates of that State in favor of the project.
The temper of the Assembly at the beginning of the Session augured an escape from every measure this year not consonant to the proper principles of Legislation. I fear now that the conclusion will contradict the promising outset. In admitting Tobacco for a commutable, we perhaps swerved a little from the line in which we set out. I acquiesced in the measure myself as a prudential compliance with the clamours within doors & without, and as a probable means of obviating more hurtful experiments. I find however now, that it either had no such tendency, or that schemes were in embryo which I was not aware of. A bill for establishing District Courts, has been clogged with a plan for installing all debts now due, so as to make them payable in three annual portions. What the fate of the experiment will be I know not. It seems pretty certain, that if it fails, the bill will fail with it. It is urged in support of the measure that it will be favorable to debtors and creditors both, and that, without it the bill for accelerating justice would ruin the former, and endanger the public repose. The objections are so numerous, and of such a nature, that I shall myself give up the bill rather than pay such a price for it.
With unfeigned affection, &c.[Back to Table of Contents]
TO JAMES MADISON.mad. mss.
Richmd Decr 17th 1786.
Yours by Mr. Porter has been handed to me. I have not had an oppy of enquirg of Mr. Anderson concerning the person who is to receive Tobo. for his brother. I mentioned before that the rate of indents here was about a dollar in the pound. Whether I can get the certificates for your taxes I cannot say, nor do I know the rate at which they pass. Mr Jones has returned hither & declines his appt. to Congs. Fresh butter will be very acceptable, the supply sent being already out. No other article of provisions is wanted, as we dine at a Tavern. I propose to go from Fredg. to N. York in the Stage, & shall consequently take no horses with me. When I shall set out I can not decide, but expect to leave this before Xmas sometime. The representation of the State in Congs. during the winter will be so precarious that I shall be able to stay a day or two only in Orange.1 I have other reasons also of a public nature for wishing to hasten my journey, and a private one arising from the probable increase of the cold in case of delay. Tell my brother Ambrose, I wish him to sound Mr. Cowherd as to the possibility of his making a payment before the first of Jany instead of the time fixed. I will abate a reasonable interest, and be obliged to him into the bargain. My affections to the family. Yr. dutiful son
Js. Madison Jr.
I wish my cloathes so far as they may require little amendmts to be put in order before I get to Orange, that I may not be detained on that score.[Back to Table of Contents]
TO JAMES MONROE.mad. mss.
Richmd, Decr 21st, 1786.
Your favor of the 16th. inst: came to hand too late the evening before last to be then answered. The payment of the 100 drs. here was perfectly convenient, and I have put that sum into the hands of Mr. Jones to be applied to the use which you have directed. This payment added to the 100 drs paid in Philada. leaves still a balance of 137½ according to my memorandm. which is subject to your further orders. We hear nothing from any of the other States on the subject of the federal Convention. The ice seems to have intercepted totally the Northern communication for a considerable time past. The Assembly have been much occupied of late with the bill for district Courts. On the final question there was a majority of one agst. it in fact, though on the count a mistake made the division equal & it fell to the Chair to decide who passed the bill. The real majority however were sensible of the mistake & refused to agree to the title, threatening a secession at the same time. The result was a compromise that the question sd. be decided anew the next morning, when the bill was lost in a full house by a single voice. It is now proposed to extend the Session of the Genl. Court so as to accelerate the business depending there. We hear that Maryland is much agitated on the score of paper money the H. of Delegates having decided in favour of an emission. Adieu. Yrs. Affy.[Back to Table of Contents]
TO GEORGE WASHINGTON.mad. mss.
Richmond, Decr 24, 1786.
Your favor of the 16th instant came to hand too late on thursday evening to be answered by the last mail. I have considered well the circumstances which it confidentially discloses, as well as those contained in your preceding favor.1 The difficulties which they oppose to an acceptance of the appointment in which you are included can as little be denied, as they can fail to be regretted. But I still am inclined to think that the posture of our affairs, if it should continue, would prevent every criticism on the situation which the contemporary meetings would place you in; and that at least a door could be kept open for your acceptance hereafter, in case the gathering clouds became so dark & menacing as to supersede every consideration but that of our national existence & safety. A suspence of your ultimate determination would be nowise inconvenient in a public view, as the Executive are authorised to fill vacancies; and can fill them at any time; and, in any event, three out of seven deputies are authorized to represent the State. How far it may be admissible in another view, will depend perhaps in some measure on the chance of your finally undertaking the service; but principally on the correspondence which is now passing on the subject between yourself and the Governor.
Your observations on Tobacco as a commutable in the taxes are certainly just & unanswerable. My acquiescence in the measure was against every general principle which I have embraced, and was extorted by a fear that some greater evil under the name of relief to the people would be substituted. I am far from being sure however that I did right. The other evils contended for have indeed been as yet parried, but it is very questionable whether the concession in the affair of the Tobo. had much hand in it. The original object was paper money. Petitions for graduating certificates succeeded. Next came instalments. And lastly a project for making property a tender for debts at ⅘ of its value. All these have been happily got rid of by very large majorities. But the positive efforts in favor of Justice have been less successful. A plan for reforming the administration in this branch accommodated more to the general opinion than the Assize plan got as far as the third reading, and was then lost by a single vote. The Senate would have passed it readily, and would have even added amendments of the right complexion. I fear it will be some time before this necessary reform will again have a fair chance. Besides some other grounds of apprehension, it may well be supposed that the Bill which is to be printed for consideration of the public, will, instead of calling forth the sanction of the wise & virtuous, be a signal to interested men to redouble their efforts to get into the Legislature. The Revenue business is still unfinished. The present rage seems to be to draw all our income from trade. From the sample given of the temper of the House of Delegates on this subject, it is much to be feared that the duties will be augmented with so daring a hand, that we shall drive away our trade instead of making it tributary to our treasury. The only hope that can be indulged is that of moderating the fury. The Port bill was defended against a repeal by about 70 votes against about 40. The revised code is not quite finished and must receive the last hand from a succeeding assembly. Several bills of consequence being rendered unfit to be passed in their present form by a change of circumstances since they were prepared, necessarily require revision. Others as the Education bill &c are thought to be adapted only to a further degree of wealth and population. Others, as the Execution bill which subjects lands to debts, do not find yet an adequate patronage. Several bills also, and particularly the bill relating to crimes & punishments, have been rejected, and require reconsideration from another assembly. This last bill after being purged of its objectionable peculiarities, was thrown out on the third reading by a single vote. It will little elevate your idea of our Senate to be told that they negatived the bill defining the privileges of ambassadors, on the principle, as I am told, that an alien ought not to be put on better ground than a citizen. British debts have not yet been mentioned, and probably will not, unless Congress say something on the matter before the adjournment.
With every sentiment of esteem &c &c.[Back to Table of Contents]
TO EDMUND PENDLETON.Mad. Mss.
Richmond, Jany 9th, 1787.
My dear Sir,—
Your favor of the 9th. ult, has been so long on hand unanswered that I can not now acknowledge it without observing in the apology for the delay that I waited for some measures of which I wished to communicate the event. The district bill of which I formerly made mention, was finally thrown into a very curious situation, and lost by a single voice. I refer you for its history to Col. Pendleton, who was here at the time and is now with you. An attempt has been since made to render the General Court more efficient by lengthening its terms, and transferring the criminal business to the Judges of the Admiralty. As most of the little motives which co-operated with a dislike to Justice, in defeating the District Bill happened to be in favour of the subsequent attempt, it went through the House of Delegates by a large Majority. The Senate have disappointed the majority infinitely in putting a negative on it, as we just learn that they have done, by a single voice. An amendment of the County Courts has also been lost, through a disagreement of the two Houses on the subject. Our merit on the score of Justice has been entirely of the negative kind. It has been sufficient to reject violations of this cardinal virtue, but not to make any positive provisions in its behalf.
The revised code has not been so thoroughly passed as I hoped at the date of my last. The advance of the Session, the coldness of a great many, and the dislike of some to the subject, required that it should be pressed more gently than could be reconciled with a prosecution of the work to the end. I had long foreseen that a supplemental revision as well of some of the articles of the Code, as of the laws passed since it was digested, would become necessary, and had settled a plan for the purpose with myself. This plan was to suspend the laws adopted from the code, until the supplement could be prepared, and then to put the whole in force at once. Several circumstances satisfied me of late that if the work was put within the reach of the next assembly, there would be danger not only of its being left in a mutilated state, but of its being lost altogether. The observations in your favor above acknowledged, encouraged me to propose that the parts of the code adopted should take effect without waiting for the last hand to it. This idea has been pursued, and the bills passed at the last Session are to coence as then determined, those passed at the present being suspended until July next. I would myself have preferred a suspension of the former also till July, for the sake of a more thorough promulgation, and of a contemporary introduction of the laws many of which are connected together; but the Senate thought otherwise, and in a ticklish stage of the Session, the friends of the code in the H. of D. joined me in opinion that it would be well to create no unnecessary delays or disagreements. I have strong apprehensions that the work may never be systematically perfected for the reasons which you deduce from our form of Government. Should a disposition however continue in the Legislature as favorable as it has been in some stages of the business, I think a succession of revisions, each growing shorter than the preceding, might ultimately bring a completion within the compass of a single Session. At all events, the invaluable acquisition of important bills prepared at leisure by skilful hands, is so sensibly impressed on thinking people by the crudeness and tedious discussion of such as are generally introduced, that the expence of a continued revision will be thought by all such to be judiciously laid out for this purpose alone. The great objection which I personally feel arises from the necessity we are under of imposing the weight of these projects on those whose past services have so justly purchased an exemption from future labours. In your case the additional consideration of ill health, became almost an affair of Conscience, and I have been no otherwise able to stifle the remorse of having nominated you along with Mr Wythe and Mr. Blair for reviewing the subject left unfinished, than by reflecting that your colleagues will feel every disposition to abridge your share of the burden, and in case of such an increase of your infirmity as to oblige you to renounce all share, that they are authorised to appoint to, I will not say to fill, the vacancy. I flatter myself that you will be at least able to assist in general consultations on the subject, and to adjust the bills unpassed to the changes which have taken place since they were prepared. On the most unfortunate suppositions my intentions will be sure to find in your benevolence a pardon for my error.
The Senate have saved our commerce from a dreadful blow which it would have sustained from a bill passed in the H. of D. imposing enormous duties, without waiting for the concurrence of the other States or even of Maryland. There is a rage at present for high duties, partly for the purpose of revenue, partly of forcing manufactures, which it is difficult to resist. It seems to be forgotten in the first case that in the arithmetic of the customs as Dean Swift observes 2 & 2 do not make four; and in the second that manufactures will come of themselves when we are ripe for them. A prevailing argument among others on the subject is that we ought not to be dependent on foreign nations for useful articles, as the event of a war may cut off all external supplies. This argument certainly loses its force when it is considered that in case of a war hereafter, we should stand on a very different ground from what we lately did. Neutral Nations, whose rights are becoming every day more & more extensive, would not now suffer themselves to be shut out from our ports, nor would the hostile Nation presume to attempt it. As far as relates to implements of war which are contraband, the argument for our fabrication of them is certainly good.
Our latest information from the Eastwd. has not removed our apprehensions of ominous events in that quarter. It is pretty certain that the seditious party has become formidable in the Govt. and that they have opened a counication with the viceroy of Canada. I am not enough acquainted with the proceedings of Congress to judge of some of the points, which you advert to. The regulations of their land office have appeared to me nearly in the light in which they do to you. I expect to set out in a few days for N. York, when I shall revive my claim to a correspondence which formerly gave me so much pleasure and which will enable me perhaps to answer your queries. The end of my paper will excuse an abrupt but affecte Adieu.[Back to Table of Contents]
TO THOMAS JEFFERSON.mad. mss.
New York, Feby 15th, 1787.
My last was from Richmond, of the 4th. of December, and contained a sketch of our legislative proceedings prior to that date. The principal proceedings of subsequent date relate as nearly as I can recollect 1st, to a rejection of the Bill on crimes & punishments, which after being altered so as to remove most of the objections as was thought, was lost by a single vote. The rage agst Horse stealers had a great influence on the fate of the bill. Our old bloody code is by this event fully restored, the prerogative of conditional pardon having been taken from the Executive by a judgmt., of the Court of Appeals, and the temporary law granting it to them having expired and been left unrevived. I am not without hope that the rejected bill will find a more favorable disposition in the next Assembly. 2dly. To the bill for diffusing knowledge, it went through two readings by a small majority and was not pushed to a third one. The necessity of a systematic provision on the subject was admitted on all hands. The objections agst that particular provision were 1. the expence, wch was alledged to exceed the ability of the people 2. the difficulty of executing it in the present sparse settlement of the Country. 3. the inequality of the districts as contended by the Western members. The last objection is of little weight and might have been easily removed if it had been urged in an early stage of the discussion. The bill now rests on the same footing with the other unpassed bills in the Revisal. 3dly. To the Revisal at large. It was found impossible to get thro’ the system of the late Session, for several reasons. 1. the changes which have taken place since its compilement, in our affairs and our laws; particularly those relating to our Courts, called for changes in some of the bills which could not be made with safety by the Legislature. 2. The pressure of other business which tho’ of less importance in itself, yet was more interesting for the moment. 3. the alarm excited by an approach toward the Execution Bill, which subjects land to the payment of debts. This bill could not have been carried, was too important to be lost, and even too difficult to be amended without destroying its texture. 4. the danger of passing the Repealing Bill at the end of the Code, before the operation of the various amendments, &c., made by the Assembly could be leisurely examined by competent Judges. Under these circumstances it was thought best to hand over the residue of the work to our successors, and in order to have it made compleat, Mr. Pendleton, Mr. Wythe, & Blair, were appd. a Committee to amend the unpassed bills & also to prepare a supplemental revision of the laws which have been passed since the original work was executed. It became a critical question with the friends of the Revisal whether the parts of the Revisal actually passed shd be suspended in the mean time, or left to take their operation. The first plan was strongly recommended by the advantage of giving effect to the system at once, and by the inconveniency arising from the latter of leaving the old laws to a constructive repeal only. The latter notwithstanding was preferred as putting the adopted bills out of the reach of a succeeding Assembly, which might possibly be unfriendly to the system altogether. There was good reason to suspect Mr. Henry who will certainly be then a member. By suffering the bills which have passed to take effect in the mean time it will be extremely difficult to get rid of them. 4thly. Religion. The Act incorporating the protestant Episcopal Church excited the most pointed opposition from the other Sects. They even pushed their attacks agst. the reservation of the Glebes &c., to the church exclusively. The latter circumstance involved the Legislature in some embarrassment. The result was a repeal of the Act, with a saving of the property. 5th. The district Courts. After a great struggle they were lost in the House of Delegates by a single voice. 6thly. taxes; the attempts to reduce former taxes were baffled, and sundry new taxes added, on lawyers, of their fees, on Clks of Courts, ¼ of do., on doctrs. a small tax, a tax on houses in towns so as to level their burden with that of real estate in the country, very heavy taxes on riding carriages, &c. Besides these an additional duty of 2 per Ct. ad valorem on all merchandizes imported in vessels of nations not in treaty with the U. S. an addl. duty of 4d. on every gallon of wine except French wines and of 2d. on every gallon of distilled Spirits except French brandies which are made duty free. The exceptions in favor of France were the effect of the sentiments & regulations communicated to you by Mr. Calonne. A printed copy of the communication was recd. the last day of the session in a newspaper from N. York, and made a warm impression on the Assembly. Some of the taxes are liable to objections, and were much complained of. With the additional duties on trade they will considerably enhance our revenue. I should have mentioned a duty of 6s. per Hhd. on Tobo. for complying with a special requisition of Congs. for supporting the corps of men raised for the public security. 7th. the Mississippi. At the date of my last the House of Delegates only had entered into Resolutions agst. a surrender of the right of navigating it. The Senate shortly after concurred. The States South of Virga. still adhere as far as I can learn to the same ideas as have governed Virginia. N. Jersey one of the States in Congress which was on the opposite side has now instructed her Delegates agst. surrendering to Spain the navigation of the River even for a limited time. And Pena it is expected will do the same. I am told that Mr. Jay has not ventured to proceed in his project1 and I suppose will not now do it1 . 8th. the Convention for amending the federal Constitution. At the date of my last Virga. had passed an Act for appointing deputies. The deputation consists of Genl. Washington Mr. Henry, late Govr, Mr. Randolph present Govr. Mr. Blair Mr. Wythe Col. Mason & Js. M. N. Carola has also made an appt., including her present & late Govr. S. C. it is expected by her delegates in Congs., will not fail to follow these examples. Maryland has determined I just hear to appt. but has not yet agreed on her deputies. Delaware, Penna., & N. Jy., have made respectable appointmts. N. York has not yet decided on the point. Her Assembly has just rejected the impost which has an unpropitious aspect. It is not clear however that she may not yet accede to the other measure. Connecticut has a great aversion to Conventions, and is otherwise habitually disinclined to abridge her State prerogatives. Her concurrence nevertheless is not despaired of. Massts. it is said will concur, though hitherto not well inclined. N. Hampshire will probably do as she does. Rhode Island can be relied on for nothing that is good. On all great points she must sooner or later bend to Massts. and Connecticut.
Having but just come to this place I do not undertake to give you any general view of American affairs, or of the particular State of things in Massts. The omission is probably of little consequence as information of this sort must fall within your correspondence with the office of foreign affairs. I shall not however plead this consideration in a future letter, when I hope to be more able to write fully.
Mr. Fitzhugh has paid into my hands for your use £58-6-8 Virga. Currency in discharge of 1000 livres advanced to him in France. He was anxious to have settled it according to the actual exchange instead of the legal one of 33⅓ on the British standard, and even proposed the addition of Interest. I did not hesitate to conclude that I should fulfill your intentions by rejecting both. I have sent to Mrs Carr £25 for the use of your nephews as you directed. The balance is in my hands subject to your orders tho’ I shall venture to apply it in the same way if I shd. be apprised of its being necessary to prevent interruption to the studies of the Young gentlemen. My last informed you of the progress &c. of Master Peter. I have since recd from the presdt. of Hampden Sydny a letter containing the following paragraph “Dabney Carr is a boy of very promising genius & very diligent application. He conducts himself with a good deal of prudence, & I hope will answer the expectations of his friends. I was afraid at first that he was dull or indolent from his appearance, but I find myself agreeably disappointed. His principal study at present is the Latin language, but he is also obliged to pay some attention to his native tongue.
I remain Dr. Sir Yr Affecte. friend[Back to Table of Contents]
TO GEORGE WASHINGTON.wash. mss.
New York Feby 21, 1787.
Some little time before my arrival here a quorum of the States was made up and Genl Sinclair put in the Chair. We have at present nine States on the ground, but shall lose South Carolina to-day. Other States are daily expected. What business of moment may be done by the present or a fuller meeting is uncertain.1 The objects now depending and most immediately in prospect are 1. The Treaty of peace. The Secretary of foreign Affairs has very ably reported a view of the infractions on both sides, his exposition of the contested articles, and the steps proper to be taken by Congress. I find what I was not before apprized of that more than one infraction on our part, preceded even the violation on the other side in the instance of the Negroes. Some of the reasoning on the subject of the debts would be rather grating to Virginia. A full compliance with the Treaty according to judicial constructions, and as a ground for insisting on a reciprocal compliance, is the proposition in which the Report terminates. 2. a Recommendation of the proposed Convention in May. Congs. have been much divided and embarrassed on the question whether their taking an interest in the measure would impede or promote it. On one side it has been urged that some of the backward States have scruples agst. acceding to it without some constitutional sanction; on the other that other States will consider any interference of Congs. as proceeding from the same views which have hitherto excited their jealousies. A vote of the Legislature here entered into yesterday will give some relief in the case. They have instructed their delegates in Congs. to move for the recoendation in question. The vote was carried by a majority of one only in the Senate, and there is room to suspect that the minority were actuated by a dislike to the substance rather than by any objections agst. the form of the business. A large Majority in the other branch a few days ago put a definitive veto on the Impost. It would seem as if the politics of this State are directed by individual interests and plans, which might be incommoded by the controul of an efficient federal Government. The four States North of it are still to make their decision on the subject of the Convention. I am told by one of the Massst. delegates that the Legislature of that State which is now sitting, will certainly accede and appoint deputies if Congs. declare their approbation of the measure. I have similar information that Connecticut will probably come in, though it is said that the interference of Congress will rather have a contrary tendency there. It is expected that S. Carolina will not fail to adopt the plan, and that Georgia is equally well disposed. All the intermediate States between the former and N. York have already appointed deputies, except Maryland which it is said means to do it, and has entered into some vote which declares as much. Nothing has yet been done by the New Congs. with regard to the Mississippi. Our latest information from Massts. gives hopes that the meeting or as the Legislature there now style it, the Rebellion is nearly extinct. If the measures however on foot for disarming and disfranchising those concerned in it should be carried into effect, a new crisis may be brought on. I have not been here long enough to gather the general sentiments of leading characters touching our affairs & prospects. I am inclined to hope that they will gradually be concentered in the plan of a thorough reform of the existing system. Those who may lean towards a Monarchial Govt, and who I suspect are swayed by very indigested ideas, will of course abandon an unattainable object whenever a prospect opens of rendering the Republican form competent to its purposes. Those who remain attached to the latter form must soon perceive that it cannot be preserved at all under any modification which does not redress the ills experienced from our present establishments. Virginia is the only State which has made any provision for the late moderate but essential requisition of Congs., and her provision is a partial one only.
This would have been of earlier date, but I have waited for more interesting subjects for it. I shall do myself the pleasure of repeating the liberty of dropping you a few lines as often as proper occasions arise, on no other condition however than your waiving the trouble of regular answers or acknowledgements on your part.
With the greatest respect and Affection I am Dr. Sir
Yr. Obedt. friend & Servt.[Back to Table of Contents]
TO EDMUND PENDLETON.mad. mss.
New York, Feby 24, 1787.
If the contents of the Newspapers of this place find their way into the gazettes of Richmond you will have learnt that the expedition of Genl. Lincoln against the insurgents has effectually dispersed the main body of them. It appears however that there are still some detachments which remain to be subdued, & that the Government of Massts. consider very strong precautions as necessary agst. farther eruptions. The principal incendiaries have unluckily made off. By some it is said that they are gone to Canada; by others that they have taken shelter in Vermont, and by some that they are opening a communication with the upper parts of this State. The latter suggestion has probably some color, as the Governor here has thought proper to offer rewards for them after the example of Govr Bowdoin. We have no interesting information from Europe.
The only step of moment taken by Congs., since my arrival has been a recommendation of the proposed meeting in May for revising the federal articles. Some of the States, considering this measure as an extra-constitutional one, had scruples agst. concurring in it without some regular sanction. By others it was thought best that Congs. should remain neutral in the business, as the best antidote for the jealousy of an ambitious desire in them to get more power into their hands. This suspense was at length removed by an instruction from this State to its delegates to urge a Recommendatory Resolution in Congress which accordingly passed a few days ago.1 Notwithstanding this instruction from N. York, there is room to suspect her disposition not to be very federal, a large majority of her House of delegates having very lately entered into a definite refusal of the impost, and the instruction itself having passed in the Senate by a casting vote only. In consequence of the sanction given by Congs., Massts. it is said will send deputies to the Convention, and her example will have great weight with the other N. England States. The States from N. Ca. to N. Jersey inclusive have made their appointments, except Maryd., who has as yet only determined that she will make them. The gentlemen here from S. Ca. & Georgia, expect that those States will follow the general example. Upon the whole therefore it seems probable that a meeting will take place, and that it will be a pretty full one. What the issue of it will be is among the other arcana of futurity and nearly as inscrutable as any of them. In general I find men of reflection much less sanguine as to the new than despondent as to the present System. Indeed the Present System neither has nor deserves advocates; and if some very strong props are not applied, will quickly tumble to the ground. No money is paid into the public Treasury; no respect is paid to the federal authority. Not a single State complies with the requisitions; several pass them over in silence, and some positively reject them. The payments ever since the peace have been decreasing, and of late fall short even of the pittance necessary for the Civil list of the Confederacy. It is not possible that a government can last long under these circumstances. If the approaching convention should not agree on some remedy, I am persuaded that some very different arrangement will ensue. The late turbulent scenes in Massts. & infamous ones in Rhode Island, have done inexpressible injury to the republican character in that part of the U. States; and a propensity towards Monarchy is said to have been produced by it in some leading minds.1 The bulk of the people will probably prefer the lesser evil of a partition of the Union into three more practicable and energetic Governments. The latter idea I find after long confinement to individual speculations & private circles, is beginning to shew itself in the Newspapers. But tho’ it is a lesser evil, it is so great a one that I hope the danger of it will rouse all the real friends of the Revolution to exert themselves in favor of such an organization of the confederacy as will perpetuate the Union, and redeem the honor of the Republican name.
I shall follow this introductory letter with a few lines from time to time as a proper subject for them occurs. The only stipulation I expect on your part is that you will not consider them as claiming either answers or acknowledgements; and that you will believe me to be, with sincerest wishes for your health and every other happiness,
Yr. affecte. friend & servt.[Back to Table of Contents]
TO GEORGE WASHINGTON.wash. mss.
New York March 18th. 1787.
Recollecting to have heard you mention a plan formed by the Empress of Russia for a comparative view of the aborigines of the New Continent, and of the N. E. parts of the old, through the medium of their respective tongues, and that her wishes had been conveyed to you for your aid in obtaining the American vocabularies, I have availed myself of an opportunity offered by the kindness of Mr. Hawkins, of taking a copy of such a sample of the Cherokee & Choctaw dialects as his late commission to treat with them enabled him to obtain, and do myself the honor now of inclosing it. I do not know how far the list of words made use of by Mr Hawkins may correspond with the standard of the Empress, nor how far nations so remote as the Cherokees & Choctaws from the N. W. shores of America, may fall within the scheme of comparison. I presume however that a great proportion at least of the words will answer, and that the laudable curiosity which suggests investigations of this sort will be pleased with every enlargement of the field for indulging it. Not finding it convenient to retain a copy of the inclosed as I wished to do for myself, I must ask the favor of your amanuensis to perform that task for me.
The appointments for the Convention go on very successfully. Since the date of my last, Georgia, S. Carolina, N. York, Massts, & N. Hampshire have come into the measure. Georgia & N. Hampshire have constituted their Delegates in Congs. their representatives in Convention. S. Carolina has appointed Mr. J. Rutledge, Genl. Pinkney, Mr. Laurens, Major Butler and Mr. Chas. Pinkney, late member of Congs., The deputies of Massts. are Mr. Dana, Mr. King, Mr. Ghoram, Mr. Gerry, Mr. Strong. I am told that a Resolution of the Legislature of this State which originated with their Senate lays its deputies under the fetter of not departing from the 5th. of the present articles of Confederation. As this Resolution passed before the Recommendatory act of Congress was known, it is conjectured that it may be rescinded; but its having passed at all denotes a much great[er] prevalence of political jealousy in that quarter than had been imagined. The deputation of N. York consists of Col. Hamilton, Judge Yates, and a Mr. Lansing. The two last are said to be pretty much linked to the anti federal party here, and are likely of course to be a clog on their colleague. It is not doubted now that Connecticut & R. Island will avoid the singularity of being unrepresented in the Convention.
The thinness of Congs has been an obstacle to all the important business before them. At present there are nine States on the ground but this number, though adequate to every object when unanimous, makes a slow progress in business that requires seven States only. And I see little prospect of the number being increased.
By our latest and most authentic information from Massts., it would seem that a calm has been restored by the expedition of Genl. Lincoln. The precautions taking by the State however betray a great distrust of its continuance. Besides their act disqualifying the malcontents from voting in the election of members for the Legislature &c. another has been passed for raising a corps of 1000 or 1500 men, and appropriating the choicest revenues of the Country to its support. It is said that at least half of the insurgents decline accepting the terms annexed to the amnesty, and that this defiance of the law agst Treason, is countenanced not only by the impunity with which they shew themselves on public occasions, even with insolent badges of their character, but by marks of popular favor conferred on them in various instances in the election to locl offices.
A proposition has been introduced & discussed in the Legislature of this State for relinquishing its claim to Vermont, and urging the admission of it into the Confederacy. As far as I can learn difficulties will arise only in settling the form, the substance of the measures being not disliked by any of the parties. It is wished by those who are not interested in claims to lands within that district to guard agst. any responsibility in the State for compensation. On the other side it will at least be insisted that they shall not be barred of the privilege of carrying their claims before a federal Court, in case Vermont shall become a party to the Union. I think it probable if she should not decline becoming such altogether, that she will make two conditions if not more: 1. that neither her boundaries nor the rights of her citizens shall be impeachable under the 9th art: of Confederation. 2. that no share of the public debt already contracted shall be allotted to her.
I have a letter from Col. Jno. Campbel,1 dated at Pittsburg, from wch. I gather that the people of that quarter are thrown into great agitation by the reported intention of Congs. concerning the Mississippi, and that measures are on foot, for uniting the minds of all the different settlements which have a common interest at stake. Should this policy take effect I think there is much ground to apprehend that the ambition of individuals will quickly mix itself with the first impulses of resentment and interest, that by degrees the people may be led to set up for themselves, that they will slide like Vermont insensibly into a communication and latent connection with their British Neighbours, and, in pursuance of the same example, make such a disposition of the Western territory as will entice into it most effectually emigrants from all parts of the Union. If these apprehensions be not imaginary they suggest many observations extremely interesting to Spain as well as to the United States.
I hear from Richmond with much concern that Mr. Henry has positively declined his mission to Philada. Besides the loss of his services on that theatre, there is danger I fear that this step has proceeded from a wish to leave his conduct unfettered on another theatre where the result of the Convention will receive its destiny from his omnipotence.
With every sentiment of esteem & affection I remain
Dear Sir, your Obedt. and very hble Servt.[Back to Table of Contents]
TO THOMAS JEFFERSON.1
New York, March 19th [18th], 1787.
My last was of the 11th of February, and went by the packet. This will go to England in the care of a French gentleman, who will consign it to the care of Mr. Adams.
The appointments for the Convention go on auspiciously. Since my last, Georgia, South Carolina, New York, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire, have come into the measure. The first and the last of these States have commissioned their delegates to Congress as their representatives in Convention. The deputation of Massachusetts consists of Messrs. Gorham, Dana, King, Gerry, and Strong. That of New York, Messrs. Hamilton, Yates, and Lansing. That of South Carolina, Messrs. J. Rutledge, Laurens, Pinckney, (General,) Butler, and Charles Pinckney, lately member of Congress. The States which have not yet appointed are Rhode Island, Connecticut, and Maryland. The last has taken measures which prove her intention to appoint, and the two former it is not doubted will follow the example of their neighbours. I just learn from the Governor of Virginia that Mr. Henry has resigned his place in the deputation from that State, and that General Nelson is put into it by the Executive, who were authorised to fill vacancies. The Governor, Mr. Wythe, and Mr. Blair, will attend, and some hopes are entertained of Col. Mason’s attendance. General Washington has prudently authorised no expectations of his attendance, but has not either precluded himself absolutely from stepping into the field if the crisis should demand it.
What may be the result of this political experiment cannot be foreseen. The difficulties which present themselves are, on one side, almost sufficient to dismay the most sanguine, whilst on the other side the most timid are compelled to encounter them by the mortal diseases of the existing Constitution. These diseases need not be pointed out to you, who so well understand them. Suffice it to say, that they are at present marked by symptoms which are truly alarming, which have tainted the faith of the most orthodox republicans, and which challenge from the votaries of liberty every concession in favor of stable Government not infringing fundamental principles, as the only security against an opposite extreme of our present situation.
I think myself that it will be expedient, in the first place, to lay the foundation of the new system in such a ratification by the people themselves of the several States as will render it clearly paramount to their Legislative authorities. 2dly. Over and above the positive power of regulating trade and sundry other matters in which uniformity is proper, to arm the federal head with a negative in all cases whatsoever on the local Legislatures. Without this defensive power, experience and reflection have satisfied me that, however ample the federal powers may be made, or however clearly their boundaries may be delineated on paper, they will be easily and continually baffled by the Legislative sovereignties of the States. The effects of this provision would be not only to guard the national rights and interests against invasion, but also to restrain the States from thwarting and molesting each other; and even from oppressing the minority within themselves by paper money and other unrighteous measures which favor the interest of the majority. In order to render the exercise of such a negative prerogative convenient, an emanation of it must be vested in some set of men within the several States, so far as to enable them to give a temporary sanction to laws of immediate necessity. 3dly. To change the principle of Representation in the federal system. Whilst the execution of the acts of Congress depends on the several Legislatures, the equality of votes does not destroy the inequality of importance and influence in the States. But in case of such an augmentation of the federal power as will render it efficient without the intervention of the Legislatures, a vote in the general Councils from Delaware would be of equal value with one from Massachusetts or Virginia. This change, therefore, is just. I think, also, it will be practicable. A majority of the States conceive that they will be gainers by it. It is recommended to the Eastern States by the actual superiority of their populousness, and to the Southern by their expected superiority; and if a majority of the larger States concur, the fewer and smaller States must finally bend to them. This point being gained, many of the objections now urged in the leading States against renunciations of power will vanish. 4thly. To organize the federal powers in such a manner as not to blend together those which ought to be exercised by separate departments. The limited powers now vested in Congress are frequently mismanaged from the want of such a distribution of them. What would be the case under an enlargement not only of the powers, but the number of the federal Representatives? These are some of the leading ideas which have occurred to me, but which may appear to others as improper as they appear to me necessary.[Back to Table of Contents]
TO THOMAS JEFFERSON.1
New York, March 19, 1787.
Congress have continued so thin as to be incompetent to the dispatch of the more important business before them. We have at present nine States, and it is not improbable that something may now be done. The report of Mr. Jay on the mutual violations of the treaty of peace will be among the first subjects of deliberation. He favors the British claim of interest, but refers the question to the court. The amount of the report, which is an able one, is, that the treaty should be put in force as a law, and the exposition of it left, like that of other laws, to the ordinary tribunals.
The Spanish project sleeps. A perusal of the attempt of seven States to make a new treaty, by repealing an essential condition of the old, satisfied me that Mr. Jay’s caution would revolt at so irregular a sanction. A late accidental conversation with Guardoqui proved to me that the negotiation is arrested. It may appear strange that a member of Congress should be indebted to a foreign Minister for such information, yet such is the footing on which the intemperance of party has put the matter, that it rests wholly with Mr. Jay how far he will communicate with Congress, as well as how far he will negotiate with Guardoqui. But although it appears that the intended sacrifice of the Mississippi will not be made, the consequences of the intention and the attempt are likely to be very serious. I have already made known to you the light in which the subject was taken up by Virginia. Mr. Henry’s disgust exceeds all measure, and I am not singular in ascribing his refusal to attend the Convention to the policy of keeping himself free to combat or espouse the result of it according to the result of the Mississippi business, among other circumstances. North Carolina also has given pointed instructions to her Delegates; so has New Jersey. A proposition for the like purpose was a few days ago made in the Legislature of Pennsylvania, but went off without a decision on its merits. Her Delegates in Congress are equally divided on the subject. The tendency of this project to foment distrust among the Atlantic States, at a crisis when harmony and confidence ought to have been studiously cherished, has not been more verified than its predicted effect on the ultramontane settlements. I have credible information that the people living on the Western waters are already in great agitation, and are taking measures for uniting their consultations. The ambition of individuals will quickly mix itself with the original motives of resentment and interest. Communication will gradually take place with their British neighbours. They will be led to set up for themselves, to seize on the vacant lands, to entice emigrants by bounties and an exemption from Federal burthens, and in all respects play the part of Vermont on a large theatre. It is hinted to me that British partizans are already feeling the pulse of some of the Western settlements. Should these apprehensions not be imaginary, Spain may have equal reason with the United States to rue the unnatural attempt to shut the Mississippi. Guardoqui has been admonished of the danger, and, I believe, is not insensible to it, though he affects to be otherwise, and talks as if the dependence of Britain on the commercial favors of his Court would induce her to play into the hands of Spain. The eye of France also cannot fail to watch over the western prospects. I learn from those who confer here with Otto and De la Forest, that they favor the opening of the Mississippi, disclaiming at the same time any authority to speak the sentiments of their Court. I find that the Virginia Delegates, during the Mississippi discussions last fall, entered into very confidential interviews with these gentlemen. In one of them the idea was communicated to Otto of opening the Mississippi for exports but not for imports, and of giving to France and Spain some exclusive privileges in the trade. He promised to transmit it to Vergennes, to obtain his sentiments on the whole matter, and to communicate them to the Delegates. Not long since Grayson called on him, and revived the subject. He assured Grayson that he had received no answer from France, and signified his wish that you might pump the Count de Vergennes, observing that he would deny to you his having received any information from America. I discover, through several channels, that it would be very grateful to the French politicians here to see our negotiations with Spain shifted into your hands, and carried on under the mediating auspices of their Court.
Van Berkel has remonstrated against the late acts of Virginia, giving privileges to French wines and brandies in French bottoms, contending that the Dutch are entitled by their treaty to equal exemptions with the most favored nation, without being subject to a compensation for them. Mr. Jay has reported against this construction, but considers the act of Virginia as violating the treaty;—first, as it appears to be gratuitous, not compensatory, on the face of it; secondly, because the States have no right to form tacit compacts with foreign nations. No decision of Congress has yet taken place on the subject.
The expedition of General Lincoln against the insurgents has effectually succeeded in dispersing them. Whether the calm which he has restored will be durable or not, is uncertain. From the precautions taking by the Government of Massachusetts, it would seem as if their apprehensions were not extinguished. Besides disarming and disfranchising, for a limited time, those who have been in arms, as a condition of their pardon, a military corps is to be raised to the amount of one thousand or fifteen hundred men, and to be stationed in the most suspected districts. It is said that, notwithstanding these specimens of the temper of the Government, a great proportion of the offenders choose rather to risk the consequences of their treason, than submit to the conditions annexed to the amnesty; that they not only appear openly on public occasions, but distinguish themselves by badges of their character; and that this insolence is in many instances countenanced by no less decisive marks of popular favor than elections to local offices of trust and authority.
A proposition is before the Legislature of this State, now sitting, for renouncing its pretensions to Vermont, and urging the admission of it into the Confederacy. The different parties are not agreed as to the form in which the renunciation should be made, but are likely to agree as to the substance. Should the offer be made, and should Vermont not reject it altogether, I think they will insist on two stipulations at least;—first, that their becoming parties to the Confederation shall not subject their boundaries, or the rights of their citizens, to be questioned under the ninth Article; secondly, that they shall not be subject to any part of the public debts already contracted.
The Geographer and his assistants have returned surveys on the Federal lands to the amount of about eight hundred thousand acres, which it is supposed would sell pretty readily for public securities, and some of it, lying on the Ohio, even for specie. It will be difficult, however, to get proper steps taken by Congress, so many of the States having lands of their own at market. It is supposed that this consideration had some share in the zeal for shutting the Mississippi. New Jersey, and some others having no Western lands, which favored this measure, begin now to penetrate the secret.
A letter from the Governor of Virginia informs me, that the project of paper-money is beginning to recover from the blow given it at the last session of the Legislature. If Mr. Henry espouses it, of which there is little doubt, I think an emission will take place.[Back to Table of Contents]
TO EDMUND RANDOLPH.1
New York, March 25, 1787.
I have had the pleasure of your two favors of the first and seventh instant. The refusal of Mr. Henry to join in the task of revising the Confederation is ominous; and the more so, I fear, if he means to be governed by the event which you conjecture. There seems to be little hope, at present, of being able to quash the proceedings relative to the affair which is so obnoxious to him,2 though on the other hand, there is reason to believe that they will never reach the object at which they aimed.
Congress have not changed the day for meeting at Philadelphia as you imagine. The act of Virginia, I find, has done so in substituting second day for the second Monday in May, the time recommended from Annapolis.
I cannot suppose that Mr. Otto has equivocated in his explanation to the public touching the Floridas. Nothing of that subject has been mentioned here, as far as I know. Supposing the exchange in question to have really been intended, I do not see the inference to be unfavorable to France. Her views, as they occur to me, would most probably be to conciliate the Western people, in common with the Atlantic States, and to extend her commerce, by reversing the Spanish policy. I have always wished to see the Mississippi in the hands of France, or of any nation which would be more liberally disposed than the present holders of it.
Mr. Jay’s report on the treaty of peace has at length been decided on. It resolves and declares, that the treaty, having been constitutionally formed, is the law of the land, and urges a repeal of all laws contravening it, as well to stop the complaints of their existing as legal impediments, as to avoid needless questions touching their validity. Mr. Jay is preparing a circular address to accompany the Resolutions, and the latter will not be forwarded till the former is ready.[Back to Table of Contents]
TO JAMES MADISON.mad. mss.
N. York April 1, 1787.
I have received your favor of the 17th. Feby. and have made enquiry as to the Andover Works, not indeed thro’ the channel you suggested, but through one still more direct & authentic. I find that the works are not pursued with such alacrity at present as to promise the supply you wish, that it is uncertain whether it would be delivered at Philada at all, and that the price is at present unfixed. I shall have an opportunity of seeing in Trenton on my way to the Convention, the man who is connected with these works and will collect any further information he may be able to give.
Congress has remained very thin ever since my arrival, and have done but little business of importance. The general attention is now directed towards the approaching Convention. All the States have appointed deputies to it except Connecticut, Maryland, and Rho. Island. The first, it is not doubted will appoint, and the second has already resolved on the expediency of the measure. Rho. Island alone has refused her concurrence. A majority of more than twenty in the Legislature of that State has refused to follow the general example. Being conscious of the wickedness of the measures they are pursuing they are afraid of everything that may become a controul on them. Notwithstanding this prospect of a very full and respectable meeting, no very sanguine expectations can well be indulged. The probable diversity of opinions and prejudices, and of supposed or real interests among the States, renders the issue totally uncertain. The existing embarrassments and mortal diseases of the Confederacy form the only ground of hope, that a spirit of concession on all sides may be produced by the general chaos, or at least partitions of the Union, which offers itself as the alternative.
N. Carolina and N Jersey have followed the example of Virginia in giving instructions in favor of the Missi. Penna. has not done so as was expected, but she has appointed a Delegation which thinks differently from her last on the subject.
I am anxious to hear from my brother A. on the subject of the Tobacco. It will at furthest I hope arrive within the current month in Philada. With affecte regards to my mother & the family
I remain yr dutiful son[Back to Table of Contents]
TO EDMUND RANDOLPH.1
New York, April 8, 1787.
Your two favors of the twenty-second and twenty-seventh of March, have been received since my last. In a preceding one you ask, what tribunal is to take cognizance of Clark’s offence? If our own laws will not reach it, I see no possibility of punishing it. But will it not come within the act of the last session concerning treasons and other offences committed without the commonwealth? I have had no opportunity yet of consulting Mr. Otto on the allegation of Oster touching the marriage of French subjects in America. What is the conspicuous prosecution which you suspect will shortly display a notable instance of perjury?
I am glad to find that you are turning your thoughts towards the business of May next. My despair of your finding the necessary leisure, as signified in one of your letters, with the probability that some leading propositions at least would be expected from Virginia, had engaged me in a closer attention to the subject than I should otherwise have given. I will just hint the ideas that have occurred, leaving explanations for our interview.
I think with you, that it will be well to retain as much as possible of the old Confederation, though I doubt whether it may not be best to work the valuable articles into the new system, instead of engrafting the latter on the former. I am also perfectly of your opinion, that, in framing a system, no material sacrifices ought to be made to local or temporary prejudices. An explanatory address must of necessity accompany the result of the Convention on the main object. I am not sure that it will be practicable to present the several parts of the reform in so detached a manner to the States, as that a partial adoption will be binding. Particular States may view different articles as conditions of each other, and would only ratify them as such. Others might ratify them as independent propositions. The consequence would be that the ratifications of both would go for nothing. I have not, however, examined this point thoroughly. In truth, my ideas of a reform strike so deeply at the old Confederation, and lead to such a systematic change, that they scarcely admit of the expedient.
I hold it for a fundamental point, that an individual independence of the States is utterly irreconcilable with the idea of an aggregate sovereignty. I think, at the same time, that a consolidation of the States into one simple republic is not less unattainable than it would be inexpedient. Let it be tried, then, whether any middle ground can be taken, which will at once support a due supremacy of the national authority, and leave in force the local authorities so far as they can be subordinately useful.
The first step to be taken is, I think, a change in the principle of representation. According to the present form of the Union, an equality of suffrage, if not just towards the larger members of it, is at least safe to them, as the liberty they exercise of rejecting or executing the acts of Congress, is uncontrollable by the nominal sovereignty of Congress. Under a system which would operate without the intervention of the States, the case would be materially altered. A vote from Delaware would have the same effect as one from Massachusetts or Virginia.
Let the national Government be armed with a positive and complete authority in all cases where uniform measures are necessary, as in trade, &c., &c. Let it also retain the powers which it now possesses.
Let it have a negative, in all cases whatsoever, on the Legislative acts of the States, as the King of Great Britain heretofore had. This I conceive to be essential and the least possible abridgement of the State sovereignties. Without such a defensive power, every positive power that can be given on paper will be unavailing. It will also give internal stability to the States. There has been no moment since the peace at which the Federal assent would have been given to paper-money, &c., &c.
Let this national supremacy be extended also to the Judiciary department. If the Judges in the last resort depend on the States, and are bound by their oaths to them and not to the Union, the intention of the law and the interests of the nation may be defeated by the obsequiousness of the tribunals to the policy or prejudices of the States. It seems at least essential that an appeal should lie to some national tribunals in all cases which concern foreigners, or inhabitants of other States. The admiralty jurisdiction may be fully submitted to the National Government.
A Government formed of such extensive powers ought to be well organized. The Legislative department may be divided into two branches. One of them to be chosen every — years by the Legislatures or the people at large; the other to consist of a more select number, holding their appointments for a longer term, and going out in rotation. Perhaps the negative on the State laws may be most conveniently lodged in this branch. A Council of Revision may be superadded, including the great ministerial officers.
A national Executive will also be necessary. I have scarcely ventured to form my own opinion yet, either of the manner in which it ought to be constituted, or of the authorities with which it ought to be clothed.
An article ought to be inserted expressly guaranteeing the tranquillity of the States against internal as well as external dangers.
To give the new system its proper energy, it will be desirable to have it ratified by the authority of the people, and not merely by that of the Legislatures.
I am afraid you will think this project, if not extravagant, absolutely unattainable and unworthy of being attempted. Conceiving it myself to go no further than is essential, the objections drawn from this source are to be laid aside. I flatter myself, however, that they may be less formidable on trial than in contemplation. The change in the principle of representation will be relished by a majority of the States, and those too of most influence. The northern States will be reconciled to it by the actual superiority of their populousness; the Southern by their expected superiority on this point. This principle established, the repugnance of the large States to part with power will in a great degree subside, and the smaller States must ultimately yield to the predominant will. It is also already seen by many, and must by degrees be seen by all, that, unless the Union be organized efficiently on republican principles, innovations of a much more objectionable form may be obtruded, or, in the most favorable event, the partition of the Empire, into rival and hostile confederacies will ensue.[Back to Table of Contents]
TO EDMUND RANDOLPH.1
New York, April 15, 1787.
Your favor of the fourth of April has been received since my last. The probability of General Washington’s coming to Philadelphia is, in one point of view, flattering. Would it not, however, be well for him to postpone his actual attendance, until some judgment can be formed of the result of the meeting? It ought not to be wished by any of his friends that he should participate in any abortive undertaking. It may occur, perhaps, that the delay would deprive the Convention of his presiding auspices, and subject him, on his arrival, to a less conspicuous point of view than he ought on all occasions to stand in. Against this difficulty must be weighed the consideration above mentioned, to which may be added the opportunity which Pennsylvania, by the appointment of Doctor Franklin, has afforded of putting sufficient dignity into the Chair.
The effect of the interposition of Congress in favor of the treaty at this crisis, was foreseen by us.2 I would myself have preferred a little procrastination on the subject. But the manifest and undeniable propriety of the thing itself, with the chance that the Legislature here, which will adjourn in a little time until next winter, and which is one of the principal transgressors, may set an immediate example of reformation, overruled the argument for delay. The difficulties which, as you suggest, may be left behind by a mere repeal of all existing impediments, will be probably found of a very serious nature to British creditors. If no other advantage should be taken of them by the State, than the making the assent of the creditors to the plan of instalments, a condition of such further provisions as may not come within the treaty, I do not know that the existence of these difficulties ought to be matter of regret. In every view Congress seem to have taken the most proper course for maintaining the national character; and if any deviations in particular States should be required by peculiar circumstances, it will be better that they should be chargeable on such States than on the United States.
The Maryland Assembly met on the second instant, being convened by proclamation. The expected delay, therefore, in her appointments for the Convention, cannot be admitted among the considerations which are to decide the time of your setting out. I am sorry that punctuality on your part will oblige you to travel without the company of Mrs. Randolph. But the sacrifice seems to be the more necessary, as Virginia ought not only to be on the ground in due time, but to be prepared with some materials for the work of the Convention. In this view, I could wish that you might be able to reach Philadelphia some days before the second Monday in May.
This city has been thrown into no small agitation by a motion, made a few days ago, for a short adjournment of Congress, and the appointment of Philadelphia as the place of its reassembling. No final question was taken, but some preliminary questions shewed that six States were in favor of it; Rhode Island, the seventh State, was at first in the affirmative, but one of its Delegates was overcome by the exertions made to convert him. As neither Maryland nor South Carolina was present, the vote is strong evidence of the precarious tenure by which New York enjoys her metropolitan advantages. The motives which led to this attempt were probably with some of a local nature. With others they certainly were of a general nature.
Mr. Jay was a few days ago instructed to communicate to Congress the State of the Spanish negotiation. An unwilling but silent assent was given by Massachusetts and Connecticut. The Report shews that Jay viewed the act of seven States as valid, and has even adjusted with Guardoqui an article for suspending our use of the Mississippi during the term of the treaty. A subsequent report, on a reference of Western information from Virginia and North Carolina denotes little confidence in the event of the negotiation, and considerable perplexity as to the steps proper to be taken by Congress. Wednesday is fixed for the consideration of these reports. We mean to propose that Jefferson be sent, under a special commission, to plead the cause of the Mississippi at Madrid.[Back to Table of Contents]
TO GEORGE WASHINGTON.wash. mss.
New York April 16 1787.
I have been honored with your letter of the 31 March, and find with much pleasure that your views of the reform which ought to be pursued by the Convention, give a sanction to those which I have entertained. Temporising applications will dishonor the Councils which propose them, and may foment the internal malignity of the disease, at the same time that they produce an ostensible palliation of it. Radical attempts although unsuccessful will at least justify the authors of them.
Having been lately led to revolve the subject which is to undergo the discussion of the Convention, and formed some outlines of a new system, I take the liberty of submitting them without apology to your eye.
Conceiving that an individual independence of the States is utterly irreconcileable with their aggregate sovereignty, and that a consolidation of the whole into one simple republic would be as inexpedient as it is unattainable, I have sought for middle ground, which may at once support a due supremacy of the national authority, and not exclude the local authorities wherever they can be subordinately useful.
I would propose as the ground-work that a change be made in the principle of representation. According to the present form of the Union in which the intervention of the States is in all great cases necessary to effectuate the measures of Congress, an equality of suffrage, does not destroy the inequality of importance in the several members. No one will deny that Virginia and Massts. have more weight and influence both within & without Congress than Delaware or Rho. Island. Under a system which would operate in many essential points without the intervention of the State Legislatures, the case would be materially altered. A vote in the national Councils from Delaware, would then have the same effect and value as one from the largest State in the Union. I am ready to believe that such a change would not be attended with much difficulty. A majority of the States, and those of greatest influence, will regard it as favorable to them. To the Northern States it will be recommended by their present populousness; to the Southern by their expected advantage in this respect. The lesser States must in every event yield to the predominant will. But the consideration which particularly urges a change in the representation is that it will obviate the principal objections of the larger States to the necessary concessions of power.
I would propose next that in addition to the present federal powers, the national Government should be armed with positive and compleat authority in all cases which require uniformity; such as the regulation of trade, including the right of taxing both exports & imports, the fixing the terms and forms of naturalization, &c &c.
Over and above this positive power, a negative in all cases whatsoever on the legislative acts of the States, as heretofore exercised by the Kingly prerogative, appears to me to be absolutely necessary, and to be the least possible encroachment on the State jurisdictions. Without this defensive power, every positive power that can be given on paper will be evaded & defeated. The States will continue to invade the National jurisdiction, to violate treaties and the law of nations & to harass each other with rival and spiteful measures dictated by mistaken views of interest. Another happy effect of this prerogative would be its controul on the internal vicissitudes of State policy, and the aggressions of interested majorities on the rights of minorities and of individuals. The great desideratum which has not yet been found for Republican Governments seems to be some disinterested & dispassionate umpire in disputes between different passions & interests in the State. The majority who alone have the right of decision, have frequently an interest, real or supposed in abusing it. In Monarchies the sovereign is more neutral to the interests and views of different parties; but, unfortunely he too often forms interests of his own repugnant to those of the whole. Might not the national prerogative here suggested be found sufficiently disinterested for the decision of local questions of policy, whilst it would itself be sufficiently restrained from the pursuit of interests adverse to those of the whole Society. There has not been any moment since the peace at which the representatives of the Union would have given an assent to paper money or any other measure of a kindred nature.
The national supremacy ought also to be extended as I conceive to the Judiciary departments. If those who are to expound & apply the laws, are connected by their interests & their oaths with the particular States wholly, and not with the Union, the participation of the Union in the making of the laws may be possibly rendered unavailing. It seems at least necessary that the oaths of the Judges should include a fidelity to the general as well as local constitution, and that an appeal should lie to some National tribunals in all cases to which foreigners or inhabitants of other States may be parties. The admiralty jurisdiction seems to fall entirely within the purview of the national Government.
The National supremacy in the Executive departments is liable to some difficulty, unless the officers administering them could be made appointable by the supreme Government. The Militia ought certainly to be placed in some form or other under the authority which is entrusted with the general protection and defence.
A Government composed of such extensive powers should be well organized and balanced. The legislative department might be divided into two branches; one of them chosen every NA years by the people at large, or by the Legislatures; the other to consist of fewer members, to hold their places for a longer term, and to go out in such a rotation as always to leave in office a large majority of old members. Perhaps the negative on the laws might be most conveniently exercised by this branch. As a further check, a council of revision including the great ministerial officers might be superadded.
A National Executive must also be provided. I have scarcely ventured as yet to form my own opinion either of the manner in which it ought to be constituted or of the authorities with which it ought to be cloathed.
An article should be inserted expressly guarantying the tranquillity of the States against internal as well as external dangers.
In like manner the right of coercion should be expressly declared. With the resources of Commerce in hand, the National administration might always find means of exerting it either by sea or land; But the difficulty & awkwardness of operating by force on the collective will of a State, render it particularly desirable that the necessity of it might be precluded. Perhaps the negative on the laws might create such a mutuality of dependence between the General and particular authorities, as to answer this purpose or perhaps some defined objects of taxation might be submitted along with commerce, to the general authority.
To give a new System its proper validity and energy, a ratification must be obtained from the people, and not merely from the ordinary authority of the Legislatures. This will be the more essential as inroads on the existing Constitutions of the States will be unavoidable.
The inclosed address to the States on the subject of the Treaty of peace has been agreed to by Congress, & forwarded to the several Executives. We foresee the irritation which it will excite in many of our Countrymen; but could not withhold our approbation of the measure. Both the resolutions and the address, passed without a dissenting voice.
Congress continue to be thin, and of course do little business of importance. The settlement of the public accounts,—the disposition of the public lands, and arrangements with Spain, are subjects which claim their particular attention. As a step towards the first, the treasury board are charged with the task of reporting a plan by which the final decision on the claims of the States will be handed over from Congress to a select sett of men bound by the oaths, and cloathed with the powers of Chancellors. As to the Second article, Congress have it themselves under consideration. Between 6 & 700 thousand acres have been surveyed and are ready for sale. The mode of sale however will probably be a source of different opinions; as will the mode of disposing of the unsurveyed residue. The Eastern gentlemen remain attached to the scheme of townships. Many others are equally strenuous for indiscriminate locations. The States which have lands of their own for sale are suspected of not being hearty in bringing the federal lands to market. The business with Spain is becoming extremely delicate, and the information from the Western settlements truly alarming.
A motion was made some days ago for an adjournment of Congress for a short period, and an appointment of Philada. for their reassembling. The eccentricity of this place as well with regard to E. and West as to N. & South has I find been for a considerable time a thorn in the minds of many of the Southern members. Suspicion too has charged some important votes on the weight thrown by the present position of Congress into the Eastern Scale, and predicts that the Eastern members will never concur in any substantial provision or movement for a proper permanent seat for the National Government whilst they remain so much gratified in its temporary residence. These seem to have been the operative motives with those on one side who were not locally interested in the removal. On the other side the motives are obvious. Those of real weight were drawn from the apparent caprice with which Congress might be reproached, and particularly from the peculiarity of the existing moment. I own that I think so much regard due to these considerations, that notwithstanding the powerful ones on the other side, I should have assented with great repugnance to the motion, and would even have voted against it if any probability had existed that by waiting for a proper time, a proper measure might not be lost for a very long time. The plan which I shd. have judged most eligible would have been to fix on the removal whenever a vote could be obtained but so as that it should not take effect until the commencement of the ensuing federal year. And if an immediate removal had been resolved on, I had intended to propose such a change in the plan. No final question was taken in the case. Some preliminary questions shewed that six States were in favor of the motion. Rho. Island the 7th. was at first on the same side, and Mr. Varnum, one of the delegates continues so. His colleague was overcome by the solicitations of his Eastern brethren. As neither Maryland nor South Carolina were on the floor, it seems pretty evident that N. York has a very precarious tenure of the advantages derived from the abode of Congress.
We understand that the discontents in Massts, which lately produced an appeal to the sword, are now producing a trial of strength in the field of electioneering. The Governor will be displaced. The Senate is said to be already of a popular complexion, and it is expected that the other branch will be still more so. Paper money it is surmised will be the engine to be played off agts. creditors both public and private. As the event of the elections however is not yet decided, this information must be too much blended with conjecture to be regarded as a matter of certainty.
I do not learn that the proposed Act relating to Vermont has yet gone through all the stages of legislation here; nor can I say whether it will finally pass or not. In truth, it having not been a subject of conversation for some time, I am unable to say what has been done or is likely to be done with it. With the sincerest affection & the highest esteem I have the honor to be, Dear Sir your devoted Servt.[Back to Table of Contents]
TO JAMES MONROE.mad. mss.
New York, April 19, 1787.
No definite steps are yet taken for the transportation of your furniture. I fear we shall be obliged to make use of a conveyance to Norfolk as soon as one shall offer. I have examined the workmanship of the man in Chappel street. The face of it is certainly superior to that of your workman. Whether it may prove much so for substantial purposes, I do not undertake to say. Should Mrs. Monroe not be pleased with the articles, I wd. recommend that you dispose of them, which may be done probably without loss, and send us a commission to replace them. I think we could please you both; and on terms not dearer than that of your purchase. We learn nothing yet of a remittance from S. Carolina.
The business of the Mississippi will I think come to a point in a few days. You shall know the result in due time.
A motion was lately made to remove shortly to Philada. six States would have been for it. Rh. Island was so at first and would have been a seventh. One of the delegation was overpowered by exertions of his Eastern brethren. I need not rehearse to you the considerations which operated on both sides. Your conjectures will not mistake them. My own opinion is that there are strong objections agst. the movement, objections which nothing would supersede but the difficulty of bringing the sense of the Union to an efficient vote in Congress, and the danger of losing altogether a proper measure by waiting for a proper time. A middle way would have been my choice; that is, to fix Philada. for the meeting of the ensuing Congs., & to remain here in the mean time. This would have given time for all preliminary arrangements, would have steered clear of the Convention, and, by selecting a natural period for the event, and transferring the operation of it to our successors in office, all insinuations of suddenness, and of personal views, would have been repelled.
I hear with great pleasure that you are to aid the deliberations of the next Assembly, and with much concern that paper money will probably be among the bad measures which you will have to battle. Wishing you success in this and all your other labours for the public and for yourself, I remain, with best
respects to Mrs. Monroe, yours affely.[Back to Table of Contents]
TO EDMUND PENDLETON.mad. mss.
New York April 22 1787.
My dear Sir,—
The period since my last has afforded such scanty materials for a letter that I have postponed it, till I have now to thank you for yours of the 7th. inst: which came to hand two days ago. I always feel pleasure in hearing from you, but particularly when my concern for your doubtful health is relieved by such an evidence in its favor. At the same time I must repeat my wishes to forego this pleasure whenever it may interfere with the attention which you owe to your ease, your business, or your other friends.
I do not learn that any symptoms yet appear of a return of the insurgent spirit in Massts. On the contrary it is said that the malcontents are trying their strength in a more regular form. This is the crisis of their elections, and if they can muster sufficient numbers, their wicked measures are to be sheltered under the forms of the Constitution. How far their influence may predominate in the current appointments is uncertain, but it is pretty certain that a great change in the rulers of that State is taking place, and that a paper emission, if nothing worse, is strongly apprehended. Governor Bowdoin is already displaced in favor of Mr. Hancock, whose acknowledged merits are not a little tainted by a dishonorable obsequiousness to popular follies. A great change has also taken place in the Senate, and a still greater is prognosticated in the other branch of the Legislature.
We are flattered with the prospect of a pretty full and very respectable meeting in next month. All the States have made appointments except Connecticut Maryland, & Rh. Island. The last has refused. Maryland will certainly concur. The temper of Connecticut is equivocal. The turn of her elections which are now going on, is said to be rather unpropitious. The absence of one or two States however will not materially affect the deliberations of the Convention. Disagreement in opinion among those present is much more likely to embarrass us. The nearer the crisis approaches, the more I tremble for the issue. The necessity of gaining the concurrence of the Convention in some system that will answer the purpose, the subsequent approbation of Congress, and the final sanction of the States, presents a series of chances, which would inspire despair in any case where the alternative was less formidable. The difficulty too is not a little increased by the necessity which will be produced by encroachments on the State Constitutions, of obtaining not merely the assent of the Legislatures, but the ratification of the people themselves. Indeed if such encroachments could be avoided, a higher sanction than the Legislative authority would be necessary to render the laws of the Confederacy paramount to the acts of its members.
I enclose a late Act of Congress, which will shew you the light in which they view and inculcate a compliance with the Treaty of peace. We were not unaware of the bitterness of the pill to many of our countrymen, but national considerations overruled that objection. An investigation of the subject had proved that the violations on our part were not only most numerous and important, but were of earliest date. And the assurances on the other part are explicit that a reparation of our wrongful measures shall be followed by an immediate and faithful execution of the Treaty by Great Britain.
Congress are at present deliberating on the most proper plan for disposing of ye Western lands, and providing a criminal and civil administration for the Western settlements beyond the Ohio. The latter subject involves great difficulties. On the former also opinions are various. Between 6 & 7,00,000 Acres have been surveyed in Townships & are to be sold as soon as they shall be duly advertised. The sale was at first to have been distributed throughout the States. This plan is now exchanged for the opposite extreme. The sale is to be made where Congs sits. Unquestionably reference ought to have been had in fixing on the place, either to the Center of the Union or to the proximity of the premises. In providing for the unsurveyed lands, the difficulty arises from the Eastern attachmt. to townships & the Southern to indiscriminate locations. A Copper coinage was agreed on yesterday to the amount of upwards of two hundred thousand dollars, 15 per Ct. is to be drawn into the federal Treasury from this operation.
Our affair with Spain is on a very delicate footing. It is not easy to say what precise steps would be most proper to be taken on our side, and extremely difficult to say what will be actually taken. Many circumstances threaten an Indian war, but the certainty of it is not established. A British officer was lately here from Canada, as has been propagated, but not on a mission to Congress. His business was unknown, if he had any that was important.
I am extremely concerned, though not much surprised at the danger of a paper emission in Virginia. If Mr. H. shd. erect the standard he will certainly be joined by sufficient force to accomplish it. Remorse and shame are but too feeble restraints on interested individuals agst unjust measures, and are rarely felt at all by interested multitudes.
Wishing you all happiness I remain Dear Sir
[Back to Table of Contents]
Your affecte humble servant
TO THOMAS JEFFERSON.1
New York, April 23, 1787.
Congress have agreed to Mr. Jay’s report on the treaty of peace, and to an address which accompanies it. Copies of both will no doubt be sent you from his Department. The Legislature of this State, which was sitting at the time, and on whose account the acts of Congress were hurried through, has adjourned till January next, without deciding on them. This is an ominous example to the other States, and must weaken much the claim on Great Britain of an execution of the treaty on her part, as promised in case of proper steps being taken on ours. Virginia, we foresee, will be among the foremost in seizing pretexts for evading the injunctions of Congress. South Carolina is not less infected with the same spirit. The present deliberations of Congress turn on, first, the sale of the Western lands; secondly, the government of the Western settlements within the Federal domain; thirdly, the final settlement of the accounts between the Union and its members; fourthly, the treaty with Spain.
1. Between six and seven hundred thousand acres have been surveyed in townships, under the land ordinance, and are to be sold forthwith. The place where Congress sit is fixed for the sale. Its eccentricity, and remoteness from the premises, will, I apprehend, give disgust. On the most eligible plan of selling the unsurveyed residue, Congress are much divided; the Eastern States being strongly attached to that of townships, notwithstanding the expense incident to it; the Southern being equally biassed in favor of indiscriminate locations, notwithstanding the many objections against that mode. The dispute will probably terminate in some kind of compromise, if one can be hit upon.
2. The government of the settlements on the Illinois and Wabash is a subject very perplexing in itself, and rendered more so by our ignorance of many circumstances on which a right judgment depends. The inhabitants at those places claim protection against the savages, and some provision for both criminal and civil justice. It appears also that land-jobbers are among them, who are likely to multiply litigations among individuals, and, by collusive purchases of spurious titles, to defraud the United States.
3. The settlement of the public accounts has long been pursued in varied shapes, and with little prospect of success. The idea which has long been urged by some of us, seems now to be seriously embraced, of establishing a plenipotentiary tribunal for the final adjustment of the mutual claims, on the great and simple principle of equity. An ordinance for this purpose has been reported by the Treasury Board, and has made some progress through Congress. It is likely to be much retarded by the thinness of Congress, as indeed is almost every other matter of importance.
4. The Spanish negotiation is in a very ticklish situation. You have been already apprized of the vote of seven States last fall for ceding the Mississippi for a term of years. From sundry circumstances it was inferred that Jay was proceeding under this usurped authority. A late instruction to him to lay the state of the negotiation before Congress has discovered that he has adjusted with Guardoqui an article for suspending the use of the Mississippi by the citizens of the United States. The report, however, leaves it somewhat doubtful how far the United States are committed by this step, and a subsequent report of the Secretary on the seizure of Spanish property in the Western country, and on information of discontents touching the occlusion of the Mississippi, shews that the probable consequences of the measure perplex him extremely. It was nevertheless conceived by the instructed delegations to be their duty to press a revocation of the step taken, in some form which would least offend Spain, and least irritate the patrons of the vote of seven States. Accordingly a motion was made to the following effect—that the present state of the negotiation with Spain, and of the affairs of the United States, rendered it expedient that you should proceed, under a special commission, to Madrid, for the purpose of making such representations as might at once impress on that Court our friendly disposition and induce it to relax on the contested points; and that the proper communications and explanations should be made to Guardoqui relative to this change in the mode of conducting the negotiation. This motion was referred to Mr. Jay, whose report disapproves of it. In this state the matter lies. Eight States only being present, no effective vote is to be expected. It may, notwithstanding, be incumbent on us to try some question which will at least mark the paucity of States who abet the obnoxious project. Massachusetts and New York alone, of the present States, are under that description; and Connecticut and New Hampshire alone of the absent. Maryland and South Carolina have hitherto been on the right side. Their future conduct is somewhat problematical. The opinion of New Hampshire is only conjectured. The conversion of Rhode Island countenances a hope that she too may, in this instance, desert the New England standard.
The prospect of a full and respectable Convention grows stronger every day. Rhode Island alone has refused to send Deputies. Maryland has probably appointed by this time. Of Connecticut alone doubts are entertained. The anti-federal party in that State is numerous and persevering. It is said that the elections which are now going on are rather discouraging to the advocates of the Convention. Pennsylvania has added Dr. Franklin to her deputation. There is some ground to calculate on the attendance of General Washington. Our Governor, Mr. Wythe, Mr. Blair, and Col. Mason will pretty certainly attend. The last, I am informed, is renouncing his errors on the subject of the Confederation, and means to take an active part in the amendment of it. Mr. Henry pretty soon resigned the undertaking. General Nelson was put into his place, who has also declined. He was succeeded by Mr. R. H. Lee, who followed his example. Doctor M’Clurg has been since appointed, and as he was on the spot must have been previously consulted.
April, 1787.mad. mss.
Observations by J. M. (A copy taken by permission by Danl.Vices of the Political system of the U. States. Carroll & sent to Chs Carroll of Carrollton.)
1. This evil has been so fully experienced both during the war and since the peace, results so naturally from the number and independent authority of the States and has been so uniformly exemplified in every similar Confederacy,1. Failure of the States to comply with the Constitutional requisitions. that it may be considered as not less radically and permanently inherent in than it is fatal to the object of the present system.
2. Encroachments by the States on the federal authority.2. Examples of this are numerous and repetitions may be foreseen in almost every case where any favorite object of a State shall present a temptation. Among these examples are the wars and treaties of Georgia with the Indians. The unlicensed compacts between Virginia and Maryland, and between Pena. & N. Jersey—the troops raised and to be kept up by Massts.
3. Violations of the law of nations and of treaties.3. From the number of Legislatures, the sphere of life from which most of their members are taken, and the circumstances under which their legislative business is carried on, irregularities of this kind must frequently happen. Accordingly not a year has passed without instances of them in some one or other of the States. The Treaty of Peace—the treaty with France—the treaty with Holland have each been violated. [See the complaints to Congress on these subjects.] The causes of these irregularities must necessarily produce frequent violations of the law of nations in other respects.
As yet foreign powers have not been rigorous in animadverting on us. This moderation, however cannot be mistaken for a permanent partiality to our faults, or a permanent security agst those disputes with other nations, which being among the greatest of public calamities, it ought to be least in the power of any part of the community to bring on the whole.
4. Trespasses of the States on the rights of each other.4. These are alarming symptoms, and may be daily apprehended as we are admonished by daily experience. See the law of Virginia restricting foreign vessels to certain ports—of Maryland in favor of vessels belonging to her own citizens—of N. York in favor of the same—
Paper money, instalments of debts, occlusion of Courts, making property a legal tender, may likewise be deemed aggressions on the rights of other States. As the Citizens of every State aggregately taken stand more or less in the relation of Creditors or debtors, to the Citizens of every other State, Acts of the debtor State in favor of debtors, affect the Creditor State, in the same manner as they do its own citizens who are relatively creditors towards other citizens. This remark may be extended to foreign nations. If the exclusive regulation of the value and alloy of coin was properly delegated to the federal authority, the policy of it equally requires a controul on the States in the cases above mentioned. It must have been meant 1. to preserve uniformity in the circulating medium throughout the nation. 2. to prevent those frauds on the citizens of other States, and the subjects of foreign powers, which might disturb the tranquillity at home, or involve the Union in foreign contests.
The practice of many States in restricting the commercial intercourse with other States, and putting their productions and manufactures on the same footing with those of foreign nations, though not contrary to the federal articles, is certainly adverse to the spirit of the Union, and tends to beget retaliating regulations, not less expensive and vexatious in themselves than they are destructive of the general harmony.
5. Want of concert in matters where common interest requires it.5. This defect is strongly illustrated in the state of our commercial affairs. How much has the national dignity, interest, and revenue, suffered from this cause? Instances of inferior moment are the want of uniformity in the laws concerning naturalization & literary property; of provision for national seminaries, for grants of incorporation for national purposes, for canals and other works of general utility, wch may at present be defeated by the perverseness of particular States whose concurrence is necessary.
6. Want of Guaranty to the States of their Constitutions & laws against internal violence.6. The confederation is silent on this point and therefore by the second article the hands of the federal authority are tied. According to Republican Theory, Right and power being both vested in the majority, are held to be synonimous. According to fact and experience a minority may in an appeal to force, be an overmatch for the majority. 1. if the minority happen to include all such as possess the skill and habits of military life, & such as possess the great pecuniary resources, one-third only may conquer the remaining two-thirds. 2. one-third of those who participate in the choice of the rulers, may be rendered a majority by the accession of those whose poverty excludes them from a right of suffrage, and who for obvious reasons will be more likely to join the standard of sedition than that of the established Government. 3. where slavery exists the republican Theory becomes still more fallacious.
7. Want of sanction to the laws, and of coercion in the Government of the Confederacy.7. A sanction is essential to the idea of law, as coercion is to that of Government. The federal system being destitute of both, wants the great vital principles of a Political Conution. Under the form of such a constitution, it is in fact nothing more than a treaty of amity of commerce and of alliance, between independent and Sovereign States. From what cause could so fatal an omission have happened in the articles of Confederation? from a mistaken confidence that the justice, the good faith, the honor, the sound policy, of the several legislative assemblies would render superfluous any appeal to the ordinary motives by which the laws secure the obedience of individuals: a confidence which does honor to the enthusiastic virtue of the compilers, as much as the inexperience of the crisis apologizes for their errors. The time which has since elapsed has had the double effect, of increasing the light and tempering the warmth, with which the arduous work may be revised. It is no longer doubted that a unanimous and punctual obedience of 13 independent bodies, to the acts of the federal Government ought not to be calculated on. Even during the war, when external danger supplied in some degree the defect of legal & coercive sanctions, how imperfectly did the States fulfil their obligations to the Union? In time of peace, we see already what is to be expected. How indeed could it be otherwise? In the first place, Every general act of the Union must necessarily bear unequally hard on some particular member or members of it, secondly the partiality of the members to their own interests and rights, a partiality which will be fostered by the courtiers of popularity, will naturally exaggerate the inequality where it exists, and even suspect it where it has no existence, thirdly a distrust of the voluntary compliance of each other may prevent the compliance of any, although it should be the latent disposition of all. Here are causes & pretexts which will never fail to render federal measures abortive. If the laws of the States were merely recommendatory to their citizens, or if they were to be rejudged by County authorities, what security, what probability would exist, that they would be carried into execution? Is the security or probability greater in favor of the acts of Congs. which depending for their execution on the will of the State legislatures, wch are tho’ nominally authoritative, in fact recommendatory only?
8. Want of ratification by the people of the articles of Confederation.8. In some of the States the Confederation is recognized by, and forms a part of the Constitution. In others however it has received no other sanction than that of the legislative authority. From this defect two evils result: 1. Whenever a law of a State happens to be repugnant to an act of Congress, particularly when the latter [former] is of posterior date to the former, [latter] it will be at least questionable whether the latter [former] must not prevail; and as the question must be decided by the Tribunals of the State, they will be most likely to lean on the side of the State.
2. As far as the union of the States is to be regarded as a league of sovereign powers, and not as a political Constitution by virtue of which they are become one sovereign power, so far it seems to follow from the doctrine of compacts, that a breach of any of the articles of the Confederation by any of the parties to it, absolves the other parties from their respective Obligations, and gives them a right if they chuse to exert it, of dissolving the Union altogether.
9. Multiplicity of laws in the several States.9. In developing the evils which viciate the political system of the U S., it is proper to include those which are found within the States individually, as well as those which directly affect the States collectively, since the former class have an indirect influence on the general malady and must not be overlooked in forming a compleat remedy. Among the evils then of our situation may well be ranked the multiplicity of laws from which no State is exempt. As far as laws are necessary to mark with precision the duties of those who are to obey them, and to take from those who are to administer them a discretion which might be abused, their number is the price of liberty. As far as laws exceed this limit, they are a nuisance; a nuisance of the most pestilent kind. Try the Codes of the several States by this test, and what a luxuriancy of legislation do they present. The short period of independency has filled as many pages as the century which preceded it. Every year, almost every session, adds a new volume. This may be the effect in part, but it can only be in part, of the situation in which the revolution has placed us. A review of the several Codes will shew that every necessary and useful part of the least voluminous of them might be compressed into one tenth of the compass, and at the same time be rendered ten fold as perspicuous.
10. mutability of the laws of the States.10. This evil is intimately connected with the former yet deserves a distinct notice, as it emphatically denotes a vicious legislation. We daily see laws repealed or superseded, before any trial can have been made of their merits, and even before a knowledge of them can have reached the remoter districts within which they were to operate. In the regulations of trade this instability becomes a snare not only to our citizens, but to foreigners also.
11. Injustice of the laws of the States.11. If the multiplicity and mutability of laws prove a want of wisdom, their injustice betrays a defect still more alarming: more alarming not merely because it is a greater evil in itself; but because it brings more into question the fundamental principle of republican Government, that the majority who rule in such governments are the safest Guardians both of public Good and private rights. To what causes is this evil to be ascribed?
These causes lie 1. in the Representative bodies. 2. in the people themselves.
1. Representative appointments are sought from 3 motives. 1. ambition. 2. personal interest. 3. public good. Unhappily the two first are proved by experience to be most prevalent. Hence the candidates who feel them, particularly, the second, are most industrious, and most successful in pursuing their object: and forming often a majority in the legislative Councils, with interested views, contrary to the interest and views of their constituents, join in a perfidious sacrifice of the latter to the former. A succeeding election it might be supposed, would displace the offenders, and repair the mischief. But how easily are base and selfish measures, masked by pretexts of public good and apparent expediency? How frequently will a repetition of the same arts and industry which succeeded in the first instance, again prevail on the unway to misplace their confidence?
How frequently too will the honest but unenlightened representative be the dupe of a favorite leader, veiling his selfish views under the professions of public good, and varnishing his sophistical arguments with the glowing colours of popular eloquence?
2. A still more fatal if not more frequent cause, lies among the people themselves. All civilized societies are divided into different interests and factions, as they happen to be creditors or debtors—rich or poor—husbandmen, merchants or manufacturers—members of different religious sects—followers of different political leaders—inhabitants of different districts—owners of different kinds of property &c &c. In republican Government the majority however composed, ultimately give the law. Whenever therefore an apparent interest or common passion unites a majority what is to restrain them from unjust violations of the rights and interests of the minority, or of individuals? Three motives only 1. a prudent regard to their own good as involved in the general and permanent good of the community. This consideration although of decisive weight in itself, is found by experience to be too often unheeded. It is too often forgotten, by nations as well as by individuals, that honesty is the best policy. 2dly. respect for character. However strong this motive may be in individuals, it is considered as very insufficient to restrain them from injustice. In a multitude its efficacy is diminished in proportion to the number which is to share the praise or the blame. Besides, as it has reference to public opinion, which within a particular Society, is the opinion of the majority, the standard is fixed by those whose conduct is to be measured by it. The public opinion without the Society will be little respected by the people at large of any Country. Individuals of extended views, and of national pride, may bring the public proceedings to this standard, but the example will never be followed by the multitude. Is it to be imagined that an ordinary citizen or even Assemblyman of R. Island in estimating the policy of paper money, ever considered or cared, in what light the measure would be viewed in France or Holland; or even in Massts or Connect? It was a sufficient temptation to both that it was for their interest; it was a sufficient sanction to the latter that it was popular in the State; to the former, that it was so in the neighbourhood. 3dly. will Religion the only remaining motive be a sufficient restraint? It is not pretended to be such on men individually considered. Will its effect be greater on them considered in an aggregate view? quite the reverse. The conduct of every popular assembly acting on oath, the strongest of religious ties, proves that individuals join without remorse in acts, against which their consciences would revolt if proposed to them under the like sanction, separately in their closets. When indeed Religion is kindled into enthusiasm, its force like that of other passions, is increased by the sympathy of a multitude. But enthusiasm is only a temporary state of religion, and while it lasts will hardly be seen with pleasure at the helm of Government. Besides as religion in its coolest state is not infallible, it may become a motive to oppression as well as a restraint from injustice. Place three individuals in a situation wherein the interest of each depends on the voice of the others; and give to two of them an interest opposed to the rights of the third? Will the latter be secure? The prudence of every man would shun the danger. The rules & forms of justice suppose & guard against it. Will two thousand in a like situation be less likely to encroach on the rights of one thousand? The contrary is witnessed by the notorious factions & oppressions which take place in corporate towns limited as the opportunities are, and in little republics when uncontrouled by apprehensions of external danger. If an enlargement of the sphere is found to lessen the insecurity of private rights, it is not because the impulse of a common interest or passion is less predominant in this case with the majority; but because a common interest or passion is less apt to be felt and the requisite combinations less easy to be formed by a great than by a small number. The Society becomes broken into a greater variety of interests, of pursuits of passions, which check each other, whilst those who may feel a common sentiment have less opportunity of communication and concert. It may be inferred that the inconveniences of popular States contrary to the prevailing Theory, are in proportion not to the extent, but to the narrowness of their limits.
The great desideratum in Government is such a modification of the sovereignty as will render it sufficiently neutral between the different interests and factions, to controul one part of the society from invading the rights of another, and at the same time sufficiently controuled itself, from setting up an interest adverse to that of the whole Society. In absolute Monarchies the prince is sufficiently, neutral towards his subjects, but frequently sacrifices their happiness to his ambition or his avarice. In small Republics, the sovereign will is sufficiently controuled from such a sacrifice of the entire Society, but is not sufficiently neutral towards the parts composing it. As a limited monarchy tempers the evils of an absolute one; so an extensive Republic meliorates the administration of a small Republic.
An auxiliary desideratum for the melioration of the Republican form is such a process of elections as will most certainly extract from the mass of the society the purest and noblest characters which it contains; such as will at once feel most strongly the proper motives to pursue the end of their appointment, and be most capable to devise the proper means of attaining it.[Back to Table of Contents]
OF ANCIENT & MODERN CONFEDERACIES.1mad. mss.
In this confederacy the number of votes allotted to each member was proportioned to its pecuniary contributions. The Judges and Town magistrates were elected by the general authority in like proportion.
See Montesquieu2 who prefers this mode.
The name of a federal republic may be refused to Lycia which Montesquieu cites as an example in which the importance of the members determined the proportion of their votes in the general Councils. The Gryson3 League is a juster example. Code de l’Hum4 Confederation.
Lyciorum quoque ανομιαν celebrat Strabo: de quâ pauca libet heic subjungere. Fuêre eorum urbes XXIII, distinctæ in classes tres pro modo virium. In primâ classe censebantur maximæ sex, in alterâ mediæ, numero nobis incerto, in tertiâ reliquæ omnes, quarum fortuna minima. Et singulæ quidem urbes hæ domi res suas curabant, magistratus suos, ordinemque civilem suum habebant: universæ tamen in unum coëuntes unam communem rempublicam constituebant, concilioque utebantur uno, velut, senatu majore. In eo de bello, de pace, de fœderibus, denique de rerum Lyciacarum summâ deliberabant et statuebant. Coibant vero in concilium hoc ex singulis urbibus missi cum potestate ferendi suffragii: utebanturque eâ in re jure æquissimo. Nam quælibet urbs primæ classis habebat jus suffragiorum trium, secundæ duorum, tertiæ unius. Eademque proportione tributa quoque conferebant, et munia alia obibant. Quemadmodum enim ratio ipsa dictat, et poscit æquitas, ut plura qui possident, et cæteris ditiores sunt, plura etiam in usus communes, et reipublicæ subsidia conferant, sic quoque eadem æquitatits regula postulat, ut in statuendo de re communi iidem illi plus aliis possint: præsertim cum eorundem magis intersit rempublicam esse salvam quam tenuiorum. Locum concilii hujus non habebant fixum & certum, sed, ex omnibus urbem deligebant, quæ videbatur pro tempore commodissima. Concilio coacto primum designabant Lyciarcham principem totius Reipublicæ, dein magistratus alios creabant partes reipublicæ administraturos demum judicia publica constituebant. Atque hæc omnia faciebant servatâ proportione eâdem, ut nulla omnino urbs præteriretur munerumve aut honorum horum non fieret particeps. Et hoc jus illibatum mansit Lyciis ad id usque tempus, quo Romani assumpto Asiæ imperio magnâ ex parte sui arbitrii id fecerunt.—Ubbo Emmius de Republica Lyciorum in Asia. [Apud Grovonii Thes., iv, 597.]1
Instituted by Amphyction son of Deucalion King of Athens 1522 years Ant.: Christ.: Code De l’Humanité.
Seated first at Thermopylæ, then at Delphos, afterwards at these places alternately. It met half yearly to wit in the Spring & Fall, besides extraordinary occasions. Id. In the latter meetings, all such of the Greeks as happened to be at Delphos on a religious errand were admitted to deliberate, but not to vote. Encyclopedie.1
The number and names of the confederated Cities differently reported. The Union seems to have consisted originally of the Delphians and their neighbors only, and by degrees to have comprehended all Greece. 10, 11, 12, are the different numbers of original members mentioned by different Authors. Code de l’Humanité.
Each city sent two deputies one to attend particularly to Religious matters—the other to civil and criminal matters affecting individuals—both to decide on matters of a general nature. Id. Sometimes more than two were sent, but they had two votes only. Encyclop.
The Amphyctions took an oath mutually to defend and protect the united Cities—to inflict vengeance on those who should sacrilegiously despoil the temple of Delphos—to punish the violators of this oath—and never to divert the water courses of any of the Amphyctionic Cities either in peace or in war. Code de l’Hum. Æschines orat: vs. Ctesip.
The Amphyctionic Council was instituted by way of defence and terror agst the Barbarians. Dictre de Treviux.
The Amphyctions had full power to propose and resolve whatever they judged useful to Greece. Encycop Pol. Œcon.
1. They judged in the last resort all differences between the Amphyctionic cities. Code de l’Hum.
2. mulcted the aggressors. Id.
3. employed whole force of Greece agst such as refused to execute its decrees. Id. & Plutarch, Cimon.
4. guarded the immense Riches of the Temple of Delphos, and decided controversies between the inhabitants and those who came to consult the Oracle. Encyclop.
5. superintended the Pythian games. Code de l’Hum.
6. exercised right of admitting new members. See decree admitting Philip, in Demosthenes on Crown.
7. Appointed General of the federal troops with full powers to carry their decrees into execution. Ibid.
8. Declared & carried on war. Code de l’Human.
Strabo says that the Council of the Amphyctions was dissolved in the time of Augustus; but Pausanias, who lived in the time of Antoninus Pius says it remained entire then, and that the number of Amphyctions was thirty. Potter’s Gre. Ant: Vol. 1, p. 90.1
The institution declined on the admission of Phil and in the time of the Roman Emperors, the functions of the Council were reduced to the administration & police of the Temple. This limited authority expired only with the Pagan Religion. Code de l’Human.
Vices of the Constitution.
It happened but too often that the Deputies of the strongest Cities awed and corrupted those of the weaker, and that Judgment went in favor of the most powerful party. Id. see also Plutarch’s Themistocles.
Greece was the victim of Philip. If her Confederation had been stricter, & been persevered in, she would never have yielded to Macedon, and might have proved a Barrier to the vast projects of Rome. Code de l’Hum.
Philip had two votes in the Council. Rawleigh Hist: World, lib. 4, c. 1, Sec. 7.
The execution of the Amphyctionic powers was very different from the Theory. Id.—It did not restrain the parties from warring agst each other. Athens & Sparta were members during their conflicts. Quer. whether Thucidides or Xenophon in their Histories ever allude to the Amphyctionic authority which ought to have kept the peace?
See Gillies’ Hist. Greece, particularly Vol. II. p. 345.
In 124 olympd. the Patrians & Dymæans joined first in this league. Polyb. lib. 2, c. 3.1
This League consisted at first of three small Cities. Aratus added Sicyon, and drew in many other Cities of Achaia & Peloponnesus. Of these he formed a Republic of a peculiar sort. Code de l’Human.
It consisted of twelve cities, and was produced by the necessity of such a defence agst the Etolians. Encyclo. Pol. Œ. & Polyb. lib. 2.
The members enjoyed a perfect equality, each of them sending the number of deputies to the Senate. Id.
The Senate assembled in the Spring & Fall, and was also convened on extraordinary occasions by two Pretors charged with the administration during the recess, but who could execute nothing witht the consent of the Inspectors. Id.
1. The Senate composed of the deputies made war & peace. D’Albon I page 270
2. Appointed a Captain General annually. Co. d’Hum.
3. Transferred the power of deciding to ten Citizens taken from the deputies, the rest retaining a right of consultation only. Id.
4. Sent and received Ambassadors. D’Albon. Ibid.
5. appointed a prime Minister. D’Albon. Ibid.
6. Contracted foreign Alliances. Code de l’Hum.
7. Confederated Cities in a manner forced to receive the same laws & customs weights & measures: Id. & Polyb. lib. 2 cap. 3, yet considered as having each their independent police & Magistrates. Encyclop. Pol. Œcon.
8. Penes hoc concilium erat summum rerum arbitrium, ex cujus decreto bella suscipiebantur, & finiebantur, pax conveniebat, fœdera feriebantur & solvebantur, leges fiebant ratæ aut irritæ. Hujus etiam erat Magistratus toti Societati communes eligere, legationes decernere &c. Regebant concilium prætor præcipue, si præsens esset, et magistratus alii, quos Achæi δημιουργοὺς nuncupabant. Ubbo Emmius.
Hi numero X erant suffragiis legitimi concilii, quod verno tempore habebatur, electi ex universa societate prudentia præcipui, quorum concilio potissimum prætor ex lege utebatur. Horum potestas & dignitas maxima erat post ipsum Prætorem, quos idcirco Livius, Polybium sequens, summum Achæorum magistratum appellabat. Cum his igitur de negociis gravioribus in concilio agitandis Prætor præconsultabat, nec de iis, nisi in id pars major consentiret, licebat ad consilium referre. Id.
Ista vero imprimis memorabilis lex est, vinculum societatis Achaicæ maximé stringens, et concordiam muniens, quâ interdictum fuit, ne cui civitati Societatis hujus participi fas esset, seorsim ad exteros ullos mittere legatos, non ad Romanos, non ad alios. Et hoc expressim inserta fuit pactis conventis Achæorum cum populo Romano. . . . Omnium autem laudatissima lex apud eos viguit &c., quâ vetitum, ne quis omnino, sive privatæ conditionis, seu magistratum gerens, ullam ob causam, quæcunque etiam sit, dona a Rege aliquo caperet.1 Id.
Vices of the Constitution.
The defect of subjection in the members to the general authority ruined the whole Body. The Romans seduced the members from the League by representing that it violated their sovereignty. Code de l’Human.
After the death of Alexander, this Union was dissolved by various dissentions, raised chiefly thro’ the acts of the Kings of Macedon. Every City was now engaged in a separate interest & no longer acted in concert. Polyb. lib 2, cap. 3. After in 142 Olympd, they saw their error & began to think of returning to their former State. This was the time when Pyrhus invaded Italy. Ibid.
Commenced in 1308 by the temporary, and in 1315 by the perpetual Union of Uri, Switz & Underwald, for the defence of their liberties agst. the invasions of the House of Austria. In 1315 the Confederacy included 8 Cantons, and 1513 the number of 13 was compleated by the accession of Appenzel. Code de l’Hum.
The General Diet representing the United Cantons is composed of two deputies from each. Some of their allies as the Abbi St. Gall &c., are allowed by long usage to attend by their deputies. Id.
All general Diets are held at such time & place as Zurich, which is first in rank & the depository of the common archives, shall name in a circular summons. But the occasion of annual conferences for the administration of their dependent bailages has fixed the same time, to wit the feast of St. John, for the General Diet. And the city of Frauenfeld in Turgovia is now the place of Meeting. Formerly it was the City of Baden. Id.
The Diet is opened by a Complimentary Address of the first Deputy of each Canton by turns, called the Helvetic salutation. It consists in a congratulatory review of circumstances & events favorable to their common interest—and exhortations to Union and patriotism.
The deputies of the first canton Zurich propose the matters to be discussed. Questions are decided by plurality of voices. In case of division, the Bailiff of Turgovia has the casting one. The Session of the Diet continues about a month. Id.
After the objects of universal concern are despatched, such of the deputies whose Constituents have no share in the dependent bailages, withdraw, and the Diet then becomes a representation of the Cantons to whom these bailages belong, and proceeds to the consideration of the business relating thereto. Id.
Extraordinary Diets for incidental business or giving audience to foreign ministers may be called at any time by any one of the Cantons or by any foreign minister who will defray the expense of meeting. Seldom a year without an extraordinary Diet. Stanyan’s Switzerland.
There is an annual Diet of 12 Cantons by one deputy from each for the affairs of the Ultramontane bailages. Code de l’Human.
Particular Cantons also have their diets for their particular affairs, the time & place for whose meeting are settled by their particular Treaties.
All public affairs are now treated not in Genl Diet, but in the particular Assemblies of Protestant & Catholic Cantons. D’Albon.
The title of Republic and Sovereign State improperly given to this Confederacy, which has no concentered authority the Diets being only a Congress of Delegates from some or all of the Cantons, and having no fixt objects that are national. Dictionaire de Suisse.
The 13 Cantons do not make one Commonwealth like the United Provinces, but are so many independent Coonwealths in strict alliance. There is not so much as any common instrument by which they are all reciprocally bound together; The 3 primitive Cantons alone being each directly allied to the other twelve. The others in many instances are connected1indirectly only, as allies of allies. In this mode any one Canton may draw in all the others to make a common cause in its defence. Stanyan.
The confederacy has no common Treasury—no common troops—no common Coin—no common Judicatory—nor any other common mark of sovereignty. Id.
The General Diet cannot terminate any interesting affair without special instructions, & powers, & the deputies accordingly take most matters proposed ad referendum. Code de l’Hum.
The Cantons individually exercise the right of sending & receiving ambassadors—making Treaties—coining money—proscribing the money of one another—prohibiting the importation and exportation of merchandise—furnishing troops to foreign States, and doing everything else which does not wound the liberty of any other Canton. Excepting a few cases specified in the Alliances and which directly concern the object of the league, no Canton is subject to the Resolutions of the plurality. Id.
The only establishment truly national is that of a federal army, as regulated in 1668, and which is no more than an eventual plan of defence adopted among so many allied States. Id.
1. The League consists in a perpetual defensive engagement agst external attacks and internal troubles. It may be regarded as an axiom in the public Law of the confederacy, that the federal engagements are precedent to all other political engagements of the Cantons. Id.
2. Another axiom is that there are no particular or common possessions of the Cantons for the defence of which the others are not bound as Guarantees or auxiliaries of Guarantees. Id.
3. All disputes are to be submitted to Neutral Cantons, who may employ force if necessary in execution of their decrees. Id. Each party to choose 4 Judges who may in case of disagreement chuse umpire, and these under oath of impartiality to pronounce definitive sentence, which all Cantons to enforce.—D’Albon. & Stan.
4. No Canton ought to form new alliances without the consent of the others [this was stipulated in consequence of an improper alliance in 1442 by Zurich with the House of Austria.] Id.
5. It is an essential Object of the league to preserve interior tranquillity by the reciprocal protection of the form of Governmt established in each Canton, so that each is armed with the force of the whole Corps for the suppression of rebellions & Revolts, and the History of Switzerland affords frequent instances of mutual succors for these purposes. Dictre. de Suisse.
6. The Cantons are bound not to give shelter to fugitives from Justice, in consequence of which each Canton can at this day banish malefactors from all the territories of the League. Id.
7. Tho’ each Canton may prohibit the exportation & importation of merchandize, it must allow it to pass thro’ from one neighboring Canton to another without any augmentation of the tolls. Code de l’Hum.
8. In claiming succors agst foreign powers, the 8 Elder Cantons have a more extensive right than the 5 Junior ones. The former may demand them of one another without explaining the motives of the quarrel. The latter cannot intermeddle but as mediators or auxiliaries; nor can they commence hostilities without the sanction of the Confederates; and if cited by their adversaries, cannot refuse to accept the other Cantons for arbiters or Judges. Dictre. de Suisse.
9. In general each Canton is to pay its own forces without compensation from the whole or the succoured party. But in case a siege is to be formed for the benefit of a particular Canton, this is to defray the expence of it, and if for the common benefit, each is to pay its just proportion. D’Albon. On no pretext is a Canton to be forced to march its troops out of the limits of Switzerland. Stanyan.
10. Foreign Ministers from different Nations reside in different Cantons. Such of them as have letters of credence for the whole Confederacy address them to Zurich the chief Canton. The Ambassador of France, who has most to do with the Confederacy is complimented at his Quarters by deputies from the whole body.
Vices of the Constitution
1. disparity in size of Cantons
2. different principles of Governmt. in difft. Cantons
3. intolerance in Religion
4. weakness of the Union. The coon bailages wch. served as a cement, sometimes become occasions of quarrels. Dictre. de Suisse.
In a treaty in 1683 with Victor Amadœus of Savoy, it is stipulated that he shall interpose as Mediator in disputes between the Cantons, and if necessary use force agst the party refusing to submit to the sentence. Dictre. de Suisse.—a striking proof of the want of authority in the whole over its parts.
established in 1679 by the Treaty called the Union of Utrecht. Code de l’Humanité.
The provinces came into this Union slowly. Guelderland the smallest of them made many difficulties. Even some of the Cities & towns pretended to annex conditions to their acceding. Id.
When the Union was originally established a committee composed of deputies from each province was appointed to regulate affairs, and to convoke the provinces according to art. XIX of the Treaty. Out of this Committee grew the States General Id.—who strictly speaking are only the Representatives of the States General who amount to 800 members. Temple, p. 112.1
The number of Deputies to the States General from each province not limited, but have only a single voice. They amount commonly, all together to 40 or 50. They hold their seats, some for life, some for 6 3 & 1 years, & those of Groninguen & Overyssel during pleasure. They are paid, but very moderately, by their respective constituents, and are amenable to their Tribunals only. Code de l’Hum. No military man is deputable to the States Genl Id.
Ambassrs. of Republic have session & deliberation but no suffrage in States Genl. Id. The grand pensioner of Holland as ordinary deputy from Holland, attends always in the States Genl, & makes the propositions of that Province to States Gl. Id.
They sit constantly at the Hague since 1593, and every day in the week except Saturday & Sunday. The States of Holland in granting this residence, reserve by way of protestation, the rights, the honors & prerogatives belonging to them as sovereigns of the Province; yielding the States Genl. only a rank in certain public ceremonies. Id.
The eldest deputy from each province presides for a week by turns. The president receives letters &c. from the Ministers of the Republic at foreign Courts, and of foreign Ministers residing at the Hague, as well as of all petitions presented to the Assembly; all which he causes to be read by the Secretary. Id.
The Secretary besides correcting & recording the Resolutions prepares & despatches instructions to Ministers abroad—& letters to foreign powers. He assists also at conferences held with foreign Ministers & there gives his voice. He has a deputy when there is not a second Secretary. The Agent of the States Genl is charged with the Archives and is also employed on occasions of receiving foreign Ministers or sending Messages to them. Id.
The avowed objects of the Treaty of Union. 1. to fortify the Union—2. to repel the common enemy. Id.
The Union is to be perpetual in the same manner as if the Confederates formed one province only, without prejudice however to the privileges & rights of each province & City. Id.
Differences between provinces & between Cities are to be settled by the ordinary Judges—by arbitration—by amicable agreement, without the interference of other provinces otherwise than by way of accommodation. The Stadtholder is to decide such differences in the last resort. Id.
No change to be made in the articles of Union, without unanimous consent of the parties & everything done contrary to them to be null & void. Id.
States General. 1. execute, without consulting their constituents, treaties & alliances already formed. Id.
2. take oaths from Generals & Governrs, and appoint Field Deputies.
3. The collection of duties on imports & exports and the expedition of Safe Conducts are in their name & by their officers. Id.
4. they superintend & examine accounts of the E. India Company. Id.
5. inspect the Mint—appoint les Maitres de la Monnoye—fix la taille & la valeur of the Coin, having always regard to the regular rights of the provinces within their own Territories. Id.
6. Appoint a Treasurer General & Receiver General of the Quotas furnished by the Provinces. Id.
7. elect out of a double nomination, the fiscal & other officers within the departments of the admiralties, except that the High officers of the fleet are appointed by the Admiral General, to whom the maritime provinces have ceded this right. Id.—The Navy supported by duties on foreign trade, appropriated thereto by the maritime provinces, for the benefit of the whole Republic. Id.
8. They govern as sovereigns, the dependent territories, according to the several capitulations. Id.
9. they form Committees of their own body of a member from each deputation, for foreign affairs—finances marine—& other matters. At all these conferences the Grand Pensioner of Holland & the Secretary of the States Genl attend and have a deciding voice. Id.
10. Appt & receive Ambassrs—negociate wth foreign powers—deliberate on war—peace—alliances—the raising forces—care of fortifications—military affairs to a certain degree—the equipment of fleets—building of ships—directions concerning money. Id. But they can neither make peace—nor war—nor truces—nor treaties—nor raise troops—nor impose taxes, nor do other acts requiring unanimity without consulting & obtaining the sanction of the Provinces. Id. Coining money also requires unanimity & express sanction of provinces Temple. repealing an old law on same footing. Burrish. Batav illustrata. In points not enumerated in this article plurality of voices decides. Code de l’Hum.
11. composition & publication of edicts & proclamations relative both to the objects expressed in the articles of Union and to the measures taken for the coon good, are in the name of the States, and altho’ they are addressed to the States of the Provinces who announce them with their sanction, still it is in the name of the States Genl that obedience is required of all the inhabitants of the provinces. Code de l’Hum.
The Provinces have reserved to themselves.
1. their sovereignty within their own limits in general. Code de l’Hum.
2. the right of coining money, as essential to Sovereignty, but agreed at the same time that the money which sd be current throughout the Republic sd. have the same intrinsic value: To give effect to which regulation a mint is established at the Hague under a chamber which has the inspection of all money struck either in name of States Genl or particular provinces, as also of foreign coin. Id.—Coining money not in provinces or Cities, but in the generality of Union by coon agreement. Temple.
3. Every province raises what money & by what means it pleases, and sends its quota to Receiver General Temple.
The quotas were not settled without great difficulty. Id.
4. the naming to Goverts of Towns within themselves—keeping keys & giving word to Magistrates—a power over troops in all things not military—conferring Cols Coissions & inferior posts in such Regiments as are paid by the provinces respectively—taking oath of fidelity—concerning a revocation of all which the States Genl are not permitted to deliberate. Id.
The Provinces are restricted.
1. from entering into any foreign Treaties without consent of the rest. Code de Hum.
2. from establishing imposts prejudicial to others without general consent. Id.
3. from charging their neighbours with higher duties than their own subjects. Id.
Council of State.—composed of deputies from the provinces in different proportions. 3 of them are for life, the rest generally for 3 years: they vote per capita. Temple.
They are subordinate to the States General, who frequently however consult with them. In matters of war which require secrecy they act of themselves. Military & fiscal matters are the objects of their administration. They vote.
They execute the resolutions of the States Genl., propose requisitions of men & money & superintend the fortifications &c., & the affairs of revenues & Govts., of the conquered possessions. Temple.
Chamber of Accounts, was erected for the ease of the Council of State. It is subordinate to the States Genl, is composed of two deputies from each province, who are changed triennially. They examine and state all accts of the several Receivers—controul and register orders of Council of State disposing of the finances. Id.
College of Admiralty established by the States Genl 1597 is subdivided into five of wch. three are in Holland—one in Zealand—one in Friezland, each composed of 7 deputies, 4 appd. by the province where the admiralty resides & 3 by the other provinces. The vice-Admiral presides in all of them when he is present. Temple.
They take final cognizance of all crimes & prizes at sea; — — — —— of all frauds in customs provide quota of fleets resolved on by States Genl appt. Capts & superior officers of each squadron take final cognizance also of Civil matters within 600 florins—an appeal lying to States Genl for matters beyond that sum. Code de l’Hum. & Temple.
The authority of States Genl. in Admiralty Depmartt is much limited by the influence & privileges of maritime provinces, & the jurisdiction herein is full of confusion & contradiction. Code de l’humanité.
Stadtholder who is now hereditary in his political capacity is authorized 1. to settle differences between provinces, provisionally till other methods can be agreed on, which having never been this prerogative may be deemed a permanent one. Code de l’Hum.
2. Assists at deliberations of States Genl & their particular conferences, recommends & influences appointmt of Ambassadors. Id.
3. has seat & suffrage in Council of State. Id.
4. presiding in the provincial Courts of Justice where his name is prefixed to all public acts. Id.
5. supreme Curator of most of the Universities. Id.
6. As Stadtholder of the provinces has considerable rights partaking of the sovereignty, as appointing town magistrates on presentation made to him of a certain number. Executing provincial decrees &c. Id. & Mably, Etud. de l’hist.
7. gives audiences to Ambassadors & may have Agents with their Sovereigns for his private affairs. Mab. Ibid1
8. exercises power of pardon. Temple.
In his Military capacity as Capt. Genl.
1. commands forces—directs marches—provides for garrisons—& in general regulates military affairs. Code de l’Hum.
2. disposes of all appointmts, from Ensigns to Cols. The Council of State havg. surrendered to him the appointmts within their disposal Id. & the States Genl appt the higher grades on his recoendation. Id.
3. disposes of the Govts &c. of the fortified towns tho’ the coissions issue from the States Genl. Id.
In his Marine capacity as Admiral General. 1. superintends & directs everything relative to naval forces & other affairs within Admiralty. Id.
2. presides in the Admiralties in person or by proxy. Id.
3. Appoints Lieuts. Admirals & officers under them. Id.
4. establishes Councils of war, whose sentences are in the name of the States Genl & his Highness and are not executed till he approves. Id.
The Stadtholder has a general & secret influence on the great machine which cannot be defined. Id.
His Revenue from appointmts. amount to 300,000 florins, to which is to be added his extensive patrimonies. Id.
The standing army of the Republic, 40,000 men.
Vices of the Constitution.
The Union of Utrecht imports an authority in the States Genl seemingly sufficient to secure harmony; but the Jealousy in each province of its sovereignty renders the practice very different from the Theory. Code de l’Hum.
It is clear that the delay occasioned by recurring to seven independent provinces including about 52 voting Cities &c. is a vice in the Belgic Republic which exposes it to the most fatal inconveniences. Accordingly the fathers of their country have endeavored to remedy it in the extraordinary Assemblies of the States Genl. in (1584) in 1651, 1716, 1717, but unhappily without effect. This vice is notwithstanding deplorable. Id.—Among other evils it gives foreign ministers the means of arresting the most important deliberations by gaining a single province or city. This was done by France in 1726, when the Treaty of Hanover was delayed a whole year. In 1688 the States concluded a Treaty of themselves but at the risk of their heads. Id. It is the practice also in matters of contribution or subsidy to pass over this article of the Union, for where delay wd. be dangerous the consenting provinces furnish their quotas without waiting for the others, but by such means the Union is weakened and if often repeated must be dissolved—Id.
Foreign Ministers elude matters taken ad referendum by tampering with the provinces & Cities. Temple p. 116.
Treaty of Union obliges each Province to levy certain contributions. But this article never could probably never will be executed because the inland provinces who have little commerce cannot pay an equal Quota. Burrish, Bat. illustrat:
Deputations from agreeing to disagreeing provinces frequent. Temple.
It is certain that so many independent Corps & interests could not be kept together without such a center of Union as the Stadtholdership, as has been allowed & repeated in so many solemn Acts. Code de Hum.
In the intermission of the Stadtholdership Holland by her Riches & Authority which drew the others into a sort of dependence, supplied the place. Temple.
With such a Governmt. the Union never cd have subsisted, if in effect the provinces had not within themselves a spring capable of quick—ing their tardiness, and impelling them to the same way of thinking. This Spring is the Stadtholder. His prerogatives are immense—1, &c. &c.—A strange effect of human contradictions. Men too jealous to confide their liberty to their representatives who are their equals, abandoned it to a prince who might the more easily abuse it as the affairs of the Republic were important & had not them fixed themselves. Mably Etude d’Hist., 205. 6.
Grotius has sd. that the hatred of his countrymen agst the H of Austria kept them from being destroyed by the vices of their Constitution. Ibid.
The difficulty of procuring unanimity has produced a breach of fundamentals in several instances—Treaty of Westphalia was concluded without consent of Zealand &c D’Albon & Temple—These tend to alter the constitution. D’Albon.
It appears by several articles of the Union that the confederates had formed the design of establishing a Genl tax, [Impôt,] to be administered by the States Genl.. But this design so proper for bracing this happy Union has not been executed. Code de l’Hum.
Germanic Confederacy—took its present form in the year —.—Code de l’Hum.
The Diet is to be convoked by the Emperor, or on his failure, by the Archbishop of Mentz, with consent of Electors once in ten years at least from the last adjournment, and six months before the time of meeting. Ratisbon is the seat of the Diet since 1663.
The members amount to 285, and compose three Colleges, to wit, that of the Electors—of Princes—of Imperial Cities. The voices amount to 159, of which 153 are individual & 6 collective. The latter are particular to the College of princes and are formed out of 39 prelates &c. and 93 Counts &c. The individual voices are common to the three Colleges, and are given by 9 Electors—94 princes, 33 of the ecclesiastical & 61 of the secular Bench—& 50 Imperial Cities, 13 of the Rhenish, & 37 of the Suabian Bench. The K. of Prussia has nine voices in as many different capacities. Id.
The three Colleges assemble in the same House but in different apartments. Id.
The Emperor as head of the Germanic body is presidt. of the Diet. He & others are represented by proxies at present. Id.
The deliberations are groundd. on propositions from Emperor & commerce in the College of Electors, from whence they pass to that of the princes, & thence to that of the Imperial Cities. They are not resolutions till they have been passed in each. When the Electors & Princes cannot agree, they confer; but do not confer with the Imperial Cities. plurality of voices decide in each College, except in matters of Religion & a few reserved cases, in which according to the Treaty of Westphalia, and the Imperial Capitulations the Empire is divided into the Catholic & Evangelic Corps. Id.
After the Resolutions have passed the three Colleges, they are presented to the Representative of the Emperor, without whose ratification they are null. Id. they are called placita after passing the three Colleges—conclusa after ratification by Emperor. Id.
The Collection of Acts of one Diet is called the Recess, which cannot be made up & have the force of law, till the Close of the Diet. the subsisting diet has not been closed for more than a hundred years, of course it has furnished no effective Resolution, though a great number of Interesting ones have passed. This delay proceeds from the Imperial Court who refuse to grant a Recess, notwithstanding the frequent and pressing applications made for one. Id.
The powers as well as the organization of the Diet have varied at different times. Antiently it elected as a corps the Emperors and judged of their Conduct. The Golden Bull gives this right to the Electors alone. Antiently it regulated tolls—at present the Electors alone do this. Id.
The Treaty of Westphalia & the capitulations of the Emperors from Charles V downwards, define the present powers of the Diet. These concern—1. Legislation of the Empire—2. War & peace & alliances—3. raising troops—4. contributions—5 construction of fortresses—6 Money—7 Ban of the Empire. 8 Admission of new princes—9. the Supreme tribunals—10. disposition of Grand fiefs & grand Charges—In all these points the Emperor & Diet must concur. Id.
The Ban of the Empire is a sort of proscription by which the disturbers of the public peace are punished. The offenders life & goods are at the mercy of every one, formerly the Emperors themselves pronounced the ban agst. those who offended them. It has been since regulated that no one shall be exposed to the Ban without the examination & consent of the Diet. Encyclop.
By the Ban the party is outlawed, degraded from all his federal rights—his subjects absolved from their allegiance—and his possessions forfeited. Code de l’Hum.
The Ban is incurred when the Emperor or one of the supreme Tribunals address an order to any one, on pain in case of disobedience, of being proscribed ipso facto. Id.
The Circles formerly were in number 6 only. There are now ten. They were instituted for the more effectual preservation of the public peace, and the execution of decrees of Diet & supreme Tribunals against contumacious members, for which purposes they have their particular diets, with the chief prince of the Circle at their head, have particular officers for commanding the forces of the Circle, levy contributions, see that Justice is duly administered—that the coin is not debased—that the customs are not unduly raised.—Savage vol. 2 p. 35.
If a Circle fail to send its due succours, it is to pay damages suffered therefrom to its neighbours. If a member of the circle refuse, the Col. of the Circle is to admonish, & if this be insufficient, the delinquent party is to be compelled under a sentence from the Imperial Chamber. Id.
Aulic Council [established by Diet in 1512. Encyclop.,] composed of members appointed by the Emperor. Code de l’Hum.
Its cognizance is restrained to matters above 2,000 Crowns; is concurrent with the jurisdiction of the Imperial Chamber in controversies between the States—also in those of subjects of the Empire by way of appeal from subaltern Tribunals of the Empire, and from sovereign tribunals of princes. Id.—Arms are to be used for carrying its decrees into execution, as was done in 1718 by the troops of the Circle of upper Rhine in a controversy between Landgrave of Hesse Cassel & Prince of Hesse of Rhinfitz. Id.
Imperial Chamber, established in 1495 by the Diet as a means of public peace, by deciding controversies between members of the Empire. Code de l’Hum.
This is the first Tribunal of the Empire. It has an appellate jurisdiction in all Civil, and fiscal causes or where the public peace may be concerned. It has a concurrent jurisdiction with the Aulic Council; and causes cannot be removed from one to the other. Id.
The Judges of this Tribunal are appointed partly by the Emperor—partly by Electors—partly by circles—are supported by all the States of the Empire, excepting the Emperor. They are badly paid, though great salaries are annexed to their offices. Id.
In every action, real or personal—The Diet—Imperial Chamber and Aulic Council are so many supreme Courts to which none of the States can demur. The jurisprudence, by which they govern themselves, are according to the subject matter—1. the provincial laws of Germany 2. the Scripture—3 the law of nature—4 law of Nations—5 the Roman law—6 the canon law—7 the fœdal law of the Lombards. Id.
Members of Diet as such are subject in all public affairs to be judged by Emperor & Diet,—as individuals in private capacity are subject to Aulic Council & Imperial Chamber. Id.
The members have reserved to themselves the right 1. to enter into war & peace with foreign powers 2 to enter into alliances with foreign powers and with one another, not prejudicial to their engagements to the Empire. Code de ’Hum.—3 to make laws, levy taxes, raise troops, to determine on life & death. Savage. 4 Coin money. Id. 5. exert territorial sovereignty within their limits in their own name. Code de l’Hum. 6. to grant pardons. Savage, p. 44. 7. to furnish their quotas of troops, equipped mounted & armed & to provide for sustenance of them, as if they served at home. Code de l’Hum.
Members of Empire restricted.
1. from entering into Confederacies prejudicial to the Empire.
2. from laying tolls or customs upon bridges, rivers, or passages to which strangers are subject, without consent of the Emperor in full Diet.
3. cannot give any other value to money, nor make any other kind of money, than what is allowed by the Empire. Savage vol. 2, p. 45.
4. (by edict of 1548, particularly) from taking arms one agst another, from doing themselves justice—from affording retreat, much more, assistance to infractors of the public peace; the ban of the Empire being denounced agst. the transgressors of these prohibitions, besides a fine of 2000 marks of gold and loss of regalities.—Code d’Hum.
Emperor.—has the prerogative 1. of exclusively making propositions to the Diet—2 presiding in all Assemblies & Tribunals of the Empire when he chuses—3 of giving suffrage in all affairs treated in the diet—4 of negativing their resolutions—5 of issuing them in his own name—6 of watching over the safety of the Empire—7 of naming Ambassadors to negociate within the Empire as well as at foreign Courts—affairs concerning the Germanic Corps. 8. of re-establishing in good fame persons dishonored by Council of war & civil Tribunals. Code d’Hum.—9 of giving investiture of the principal immediate fiefs of the Empire, wch is not indeed of much consequence—10 of conferring vacant electorates—11 of preventing subjects from being withdrawn from the jurisdiction of their proper Judge—12. Of conferring charges of the Empire. 13 of conferring dignities & titles as of Kings &c.—14 of instituting military orders—15 of granting the dernier resort—16. of judging differences & controversies touching tolls—17. of deciding contests between Catholic & Protestant States touching precedence &c.—Id.—18. of founding Universities within the lands of the States, so far as to make the person endowed with Academic honors therein be regarded as such throughout Germany.—19 of granting all sorts of privileges not injurious to the States of the Empire—20 of establishing great fairs—21 of receiving the droit des Postes generales—22 of striking money, but without augumenting or diminishing its value. 23 of permitting strangers to enlist soldiers, conformably to Recess of 1654. Id. 24. Of receiving and applying Revenues of Empire.—Savage, p. NA. He cannot make war or peace, nor laws, nor levy taxes nor alter the denomination of money nor weights or measures.—Savage, v. 2, p. 35. The Emperor as such does not properly possess any territory within the Empire, nor derive any revenue for his support. Code de ’Hum.
Vices of the Constitution.
1. The Quotas are complained of & supplied very irregularly & defectively. Code de ’Hum. provision is made by decree of diet for enforcing them, but it is a delicate matter to execute it agst. the powerful members. Id.
2. The establishmt. of Imperial Chamber has not been found an efficacious remedy agst. civil wars. It has committed faults. The Ressortissans have not always been docile. Id.
3. Altho’ the establishmt. of Imperial Chambers &c give a more regular form to the police of the fiefs, it is not to be supposed they are capable of giving a certain force to the laws and maintaining the peace of the Empire if the House of Austria had not acquired power eno’ to maintain itself on the imperial Throne, to make itself respected, to give orders which it might be imprudent to despise, as the laws were therefore despised. Mabley Etude d’ hist., p. 180.
[Jealousy of the Imperial authority seems to have been a great cement of the Confederacy.]
ORIGIN OF THE CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION.mad. mss.
A SKETCH NEVER FINISHED NOR APPLIED.1
As the weakness and wants of man naturally lead to an association of individuals under a Common Authority, whereby each may have the protection of the whole against danger from without, and enjoy in safety within, the advantages of social intercourse, and an exchange of the necessaries & comforts of life; in like manner feeble communities, independent of each other, have resorted to a Union, less intimate, but with common Councils, for the common safety agst. powerful neighbors, and for the preservation of justice and peace among themselves. Ancient history furnishes examples of these confederal2 associations, tho’ with a very imperfect account, of their structure, and of the attributes and functions of the presiding Authority. There are examples of modern date also, some of them still existing, the modifications and transactions3 of which are sufficiently known.
It remained for the British Colonies, now United States, of North America, to add to those examples, one of a more interesting character than any of them4 which led to a system without an example5 ancient or modern, a system founded on popular rights, and so combining a federal form with the forms of individual Republics, as may enable each to supply the defects of the other and obtain that advantage of both.
Whilst the Colonies enjoyed the protection of the parent Country as it was called, against foreign danger; and were secured by its superintending controul, against conflicts among themselves, they continued independent of each other, under a common, tho’ limited dependence, on the Parental Authority. When however the growth of the offspring in strength and in wealth, awakened the jealousy and tempted the avidity of the parent, into schemes of usurpation & exaction,1 the obligation was felt by the former of uniting their Counsels and efforts, to avert the impending calamity.
As early as the year 1754, indications having been given of a design2 in the British government to levy contributions on the Colonies, without their consent; a meeting of Colonial deputies took place at Albany, which attempted to introduce a compromising substitute, that might at once satisfy the British requisitions, and save their own rights from violation. The attempt had no other effect, than by bringing these rights into a more conspicuous view, to invigorate the attachment to them, on the one side; and to nourish the haughty & encroaching spirit on the other.
In 1774. The progress made by G. B. in the open assertion of her pretensions, and the apprehended purpose of otherwise maintaining them by Legislative enactments and declarations, had been such that the Colonies did not hesitate to assemble, by their deputies, in a formal Congress, authorized to oppose to the British innovations whatever measures might be found best adapted to the occasion; without however losing sight of an eventual reconciliation.
The dissuasive3 measures of that Congress, being without effect, another Congress was held4 in 1775, whose pacific efforts to bring about a change in the views of the other party, being equally unavailing, and the commencement of actual hostilities having at length put an end to all hope of reconciliation; the Congress finding moreover that the popular voice began to call for an entire & perpetual dissolution of the political ties which had connected them with G. B., proceeded on the memorable 4th of July, 1776 to declare the 13 Colonies Independent States.
During the discussions of this solemn Act, a Committee consisting of member from each colony had been appointed, to prepare & digest a form of Confederation, for the future management of the Common interests, which had hitherto been left to the discretion of Congress, guided by the exigencies of the contest, and by the known intentions or occasional instructions of the Colonial Legislatures.
It appears that as early as the 21st of July 1775, A plan entitled “Articles of Confederation & perpetual Union of the Colonies,” had been sketched by Docr. Franklin, The plan being on that day submitted by him to Congress; and tho’ not copied into their Journals remaining on their files in his handwriting. But notwithstanding the term “perpetual” observed in the title, the articles provided expressly for the event of a return of the Colonies to a connection with G. Britain.
This sketch became a basis for the plan reported by the Come on the 12th of July, now also remaining on the files of Congress, in the handwriting of Mr. Dickinson. The plan, tho’ dated after the Declaration of Independence, was probably drawn up before that event; since the name of Colonies, not States is used throughout the draught. The plan reported, was debated and amended from time to time, till the 17th. of November 1777, when it was agreed to by Congress, and proposed to the Legislatures of the States, with an explanatory and recommendatory letter. The ratifications of these by their Delegates in Congs duly authorized took place at successive dates, but were not compleated till March 1, 1781, when Maryland who had made it a prerequisite1 that the vacant lands acquired from the British Crown should be a common fund, yielded to the persuasion that a final & formal establishment of the federal Union & Govt would make a favorable impression not only on other foreign Nations, but on G. B. herself.
The great difficulty experienced in so framing the fedl. system as to obtain the unanimity required for its due sanction, may be inferred from the long interval, and recurring discussions, between the commencement and completion of the work; from the changes made during its progress; from the language of Congs. when proposing it to the States, wch dwelt on the impracticability of devising a system acceptable to all of them; from the reluctant assent given by some; and the various alterations proposed by others; and by tardiness in others again which produced a special address to them from Congs, enforcing the duty of sacrificing local considerations and favorite opinions to the public safety, and the necessary harmony: Nor was the assent of some of the States finally yielded without strong protests against particular articles, and a reliance on future amendments removing their objections.
It is to be recollected, no doubt, that these delays might be occasioned in some degree, by an occupation of the Public Councils both general & local, with the deliberations and measures, essential to a Revolutionary struggle; But there must have been a balance for these causes, in the obvious motives to hasten the establishment of a regular and efficient Govt; and in the tendency of the crisis to repress opinions and pretensions,1 which might be inflexible in another state of things.
The principal difficulties which embarrassed the progress, and retarded the completion of the plan of Confederation, may be traced to 1. the natural repugnance2 of the parties to a relinquishment of Power; 2 a natural jealousy of its abuse in other hands than their own; 3 the rule of suffrage among parties unequal in size, but equal in sovereignty; 4 the ratio of Contributions in money and in troops, among parties, whose inequality in size did not correspond with that of their wealth, or of their military or free population; 5, the selection and definition of the powers, at once necessary to the federal head, and safe to the several members.
To these sources of difficulty, incident to the formation of all such Confederacies, were added two others one of a temporary, the other of a permanent nature. The first was the case of the Crown lands, so called because they had been held by the British Crown, and being ungranted to individuals when its authority ceased, were considered by the States within whose charters or asserted limits they lay, as devolving on them; whilst it was contended by the others, that being wrested from the dethroned Authority, by the equal exertions of all, they resulted of right and in equity to the benefit of all. The lands being of vast extent and of growing value, were1 the occasion of much discussion & heart-burning; & proved the most obstinate of the impediments to an earlier consummation of the plan of federal Govt. The State of Maryland the last that acceded to it held out as already noticed, till the 1. March 1781 and then yielded only to the hope that by giving a stable & authoritative character to the Confederation, a successful termination of the Contest might be accelerated. The dispute was happily compromised by successive surrenders of portions of the territory by the States having exclusive claims to it, and acceptances of them by Congress.
The other source of dissatisfaction was the peculiar situation of some of the States, which having no convenient ports for foreign commerce, were subject to be taxed by their neighbors, thro’ whose ports, their commerce was carried on. New Jersey placed between Phila & N. York, was likened to a cask tapped at both ends; And N. Carolina, between Virga & S. Carolina to a patient bleeding at both Arms. The Articles of Confederation provided no remedy2 for the complaint; which produced a strong protest on the part of N. Jersey; and never ceased to be a source of dissatisfaction & discord, until the new Constitution superseded the old.
But the radical infirmity of the “Arts. of Confederation” was the dependence of Congs on the voluntary and simultaneous compliance with its Requisitions, by so many independent Communities, each consulting more or less its particular interests & convenience and distrusting the compliance of the others. Whilst the paper emissions of Congs continued to circulate they were employed as a sinew of war, like gold & silver. When that ceased to be the case, and the fatal defect of the political System was felt in its alarming force, the war was merely kept alive and brought to a successful conclusion by such foreign aids and temporary expedients as could be applied; a hope prevailing with many, and a wish with all, that a state of peace, and the sources of prosperity opened by it, would give to the Confederacy in practice, the efficiency which had been inferred from its theory.
The close of the war however brought no cure for the public embarrassments. The States relieved from the pressure of foreign danger, and flushed with the enjoyment of independent and sovereign power; (instead of a diminished disposition to part with it), persevered in omissions and in measures incompatible with their relations to the Federal Govt and with those among themselves.
Having served as a member of Congs. through the period between Mar. 1780 & the arrival of peace in 1783, I had become intimately acquainted with the public distresses and the causes of them. I had observed the successful opposition to every attempt to procure a remedy by new grants of power to Congs I had found moreover that despair of success hung over the compromising provision of April 1783, for the Public necessities, which had been so elaborately planned and so impressively recommended to the States.1 Sympathizing, under this aspect of affairs, in the alarm of the friends of free Govt at the threatened danger of an abortive result to the great & perhaps last experiment in its favour, I could not be insensible to the obligation to co-operate as far as I could in averting the calamity. With this view I acceded to the desire of my fellow Citizens of the County that I should be one of its representatives in the Legislature, hoping that I might there best contribute to inculcate the critical posture to which the Revolutionary cause was reduced, and the merit of a leading agency of the State in bringing about a rescue of the Union, and the blessings2 of liberty staked on it, from an impending catastrophe.
It required but little time after taking my seat in the House of Delegates in May 1784, to discover that however favorable the general disposition of the State might be towards3 the Confederacy the Legislature retained the aversion of its predecessors to transfers of power from the State to the Govt of the Union; notwithstanding the urgent demands of the Federal Treasury; the glaring inadequacy of the authorized mode of supplying it, the rapid growth of anarchy in the Fedl System, and the animosity kindled among the States1 by their conflicting regulations.
The temper of the Legislature & the wayward course of its proceedings may be gathered from the Journals of its Sessions in the years 1784 & 1785.
The failure however of the varied propositions in the Legislature, for enlarging the powers of Congress, the continued failure of the efforts of Congr to obtain from them the means of providing for the debts of the Revolution; and of countervailing the commercial laws of G. B., a source of much irritation & agst. which the separate efforts of the States were found worse than abortive; these Considerations with the lights thrown on the whole subject, by the free & full discussion it had undergone led to a general acquiescence in the Resoln. passed on the 21. of Jany 1786, which proposed & invited a meeting of Deputies from all the States to—insert the Resol. (See Journal.)2
The resolution had been brought forward some weeks before on the failure of a proposed grant of power to Congress to collect a revenue from commerce, which had been abandoned by its friends in consequence of material alterations made in the grant by a Committee of the whole. The Resolution Tho introduced by Mr. Tyler an influential member, who having never served in Congress, had more the ear of the House than those whose services there exposed them to an imputable bias, was so little acceptable that it was not then persisted in. Being now revived by him, on the last day of the Session, and being the alternative of adjourning without any effort for the crisis in the affairs of the Union, it obtained a general vote; less however with some of its friends from a confidence in the success of the experiment than from a hope that it might prove a step to a more comprehensive & adequate provision for the wants of the Confederacy.
It happened also that Commissioners appointed by Virga & Maryd to settle the jurisdiction on waters dividing the two States had, apart from their official reports, recoended a uniformity in the regulations of the 2 States on several subjects & particularly on those having relation to foreign trade. It appeared at the time that Maryd. had deemed a concurrence of her neighbors, Pena & Delaware, indispensable in such a case, who for like reasons would require that of their neighbors. So apt and forcible an illustration of the necessity of a uniformity throughout all the States could not but favour the passage of a Resolution which proposed a Convention having that for its object.
The coissioners appointed by the Legisl: & who attended the Convention were E. Randolph the attorney of the state St. Geo: Tucker & J. M. The designation of the time & place to be proposed for its meeting, and communicated to the states having been left to the Comrs. they named for the time early September and for the place the City of Annapolis avoiding the residences of Congs and large Coercial Cities as liable to suspicions of an extraneous influence.
Altho’ the invited Meeting appeared to be generally favored, five states only assembled; some failing to make appointments, and some of the individuals appointed not hastening their attendance, the result in both cases being ascribed mainly, to a belief that the time had not arrived for such a political reform, as might be expected from a further experience of its necessity.
But in the interval between the proposal of the Convention, and the time of its meeting such had been the advance of public opinion in the desired direction, stimulated as it had been by the effect of the contemplated object, of the meeting, in turning the general attention to the Critical State of things, and in calling forth the sentiments and exertions of the most enlightened & influential patriots, that the Convention thin as it was did not scruple to decline the limited task assigned to it and to recommend to the States a Convention with powers adequate to the occasion. Nor was it unnoticed that the commission of the N. Jersey Deputation had extended its object to a general provision for the exigencies of the Union. A recommendation for this enlarged purpose was accordingly reported by a Come to whom the subject had been referred. It was drafted by Col: H., and finally agreed to unanimously in the following form. Insert it.1
The recommendation was well recd. by the Legislature of Virga, which happened to be the first that acted on it, the example of her compliance was made as conciliatory and impressive as possible. The Legislature were unanimous or very nearly so on the occasion, and as a proof of the magnitude & solemnity attached to it, they placed Genl. W. at the head of the Deputation from the State; and as a proof of the deep interest he felt in the case he overstepped the obstacles to his acceptance of the appointment.1
A resort to a General Convention to remodel the Confederacy, was not a new idea. It had entered at an early date into the conversations and speculations of the most reflecting & foreseeing observers of the inadequacy of the powers allowed to Congress.1 In a pamphlet published in May 81 at the seat of Congs Pelatiah Webster an able tho’ not conspicuous Citizen, after discussing the fiscal system of the U. States, and suggesting among other remedial provisions including national Bank remarks that “the Authority of Congs, at present is very inadequate to the performance of their duties; and this indicates the necessity of their calling a Continental Convention for the express purpose of ascertaining, defining, enlarging and limiting, the duties & powers of their Constitution.”
On the 1. day of Apl, 1783, Col: Hamilton, in a debate in Congs. observed that.2
He alluded probably to (see life of Schuyler in Longacre3 —)
It does not appear however that his expectation had been fulfilled.
In a letter to J. M. from R. H. Lee then President of Congs. dated Novr 26, 1784 He says:4
The answer of J. M. remarks.5
In 1785, Noah Webster whose pol & other valuable writings had made him known to the Public, in one of his publications, of American policy brought into view the same resort for supplying the defects Fedl System (see his life in Longacre).1
The proposed & expected Convention at Annapolis the first of a general character that appears to have been realized, & the state of the public mind awakened by it, had attracted the particular attention of Congs and favored the idea there of a Convention with fuller powers for amending the Confederacy. to J. M. letters of Monroe of Grayson.2
It does not appear that in any of these cases, the reform system was to be otherwise sanctioned than by the Legislative authy of the States; nor whether nor how far a change was to be made in the structure of the Depository of the Federal powers.
The act of Virga providing for the Convention at Philada, was succeeded by appointments from the other states as their Legislatures were assembled, the appointments being selections from the most experienced & highest1 standing Citizens. Rh. Is. was the only exception to a compliance with the recommendation from Annapolis, well known to have been swayed by an obdurate adherence to an advantage which her position gave her of taxing her neighbors thro’ their consumption of imported supplies, an advantage which it was forseen would be taken from her by a revisal of the “articles of Confederation.”
As the pub. mind had been ripened for a salutary Reform of the pol. System, in the interval between the proposal & the meeting of the Comrs. at Annapolis, the interval between the last event, and the meeting of Deps at Phila had continued to develope more & more the necessity & the extent of a systematic provision for the preservation and Govt of the Union. Among the ripening incidents was the Insurrection of Shays, in Massts., against her Govt; which was with difficulty suppressed, notwithstanding the influence on the insurgents of an apprehended interposition of the Fedl troops.
At the date of the Convention, the aspect & retrospect of the pol. condition of the U. S. could not but fill the pub. mind with a gloom which was relieved only by a hope that so select a Body would devise an adequate remedy for the existing and prospective evils so impressively demanding it.
It was seen that the public debt rendered so sacred by the cause in which it had been incurred remained without any provision for its payment. The reiterated and elaborate efforts of Cong. to procure from the States a more adequate power to raise the means of payment had failed. The effect of the ordinary requisitions of Congress had only displayed the inefficiency of the authy making them; none of the States having duly complied with them, some having failed altogether or nearly so; and in one instance, that of N. Jersey, a compliance was expressly refused; nor was more yielded to the expostulations of members of Congs deputed to her Legislature, than a mere repeal of the law, without a compliance (see letter of Grayson to J. M.).
The want of Authy in Congs. to regulate Commerce had produced in Foreign nations particularly G. B., a monopolizing policy injurious to the trade of the U. S., and destructive to their navigation; the imbecility and anticipated dissolution of the Confederacy extinguishg all apprehensions of a Countervailing policy on the part of the U. States.
The same want of a general power over Commerce led to an exercise of the power separately, by the States, wch not only proved abortive, but engendered rival, conflicting and angry regulations. Besides the vain attempts to supply their respective treasuries by imposts, which turned their commerce into the neighbouring ports, and to coerce a relaxation of the British monopoly of the W. Inda. navigation, which was attempted by Virginia,1 (see Journal of NA) the States having ports for foreign commerce, taxed & irritated the adjoining States, trading thro’ them, as N. Y., Pena., Virga & S. Carolina. Some of the States, as Connecticut, taxed imports as from Massts, higher than imports even from G. B. of wch Massts. complained to Virga. and doubtless to other States (see letter of J. M.). In sundry instances as of N. Y., N. J., Pa & Maryld, (see NA). The navigation laws treated the Citizens of other States as aliens.
In certain cases the Authy of the Confederacy was disregarded, as in violation not only of the Treaty of peace; but of Treaties with France & Holland, which were complained of to Congs.
In other cases the Fedl Authy was violated by Treaties & wars with Indians, as by Geo.; by troops raised & kept up witht the consent of Congs, as by Massts.; by compacts witht the consent of Congs, as between Pena and N. Jersey, and between Virga & Maryld. From the Legisl: Journals of Virga it appears, that a vote refusing to apply for a sanction of Congs was followed by a vote agst the communication of the Compact to Congs.
In the internal administration of the States a violation of Contracts had become familiar in the form of depreciated paper made a legal tender, of property substituted for money, of Instalment laws, and of the occlusions of the Courts of Justice; although evident that all such interferences affected the rights of other States, Relatively creditor, as well as Citizens Creditors within the State.
Among the defects which had been severely felt was that of a uniformity in cases requiring it, as laws of naturalization and bankruptcy, a Coercive authority operating on individuals and a guaranty of the internal tranquillity of the States.
As a natural consequence of this distracted and disheartening condition1 of the union, the Fedl Authy had ceased to be respected abroad, and dispositions were shewn there, particularly in G. B., to take advantage of its imbecility, and to speculate on its approaching downfall: At home it had lost all confidence & credit; the unstable and unjust career of the States had also forfeited the respect & confidence essential to order and good Govtt involving a general decay of confidence between Man & man. It was found moreover that those least partial to popular Govt, or most distrustful of its efficacy were yielding to anticipations, that from an increase of the confusion a Govt might result more congenial with their taste or their opinions. Whilst those most devoted to the principles and forms of Republics, were alarmed for the cause of liberty itself, at stake in the American Experiment, and anxious for a system that wd avoid the inefficacy of a mere confederacy without passing into the opposite extreme of a consolidated govt. It was known that there were individuals who had betrayed a bias towards Monarchy (see Knox to G. W. and him to Jay,) (Marshall’s life1 ) and there had always been some not unfavorable to a partition of the Union into several Confederacies; either from a better chance of figuring on a Sectional Theatre, or that the Sections would require stronger Govts, or by their hostile conflicts lead to a monarchical consolidation. The idea of a dismemberment had recently made its appearance in the Newspapers.
Such were the defects, the deformities, the diseases and the ominous prospects, for which the Convention were to provide a remedy, and which ought never to be overlooked in expounding & appreciating the Constitutional Charter, the remedy that was provided.
As a sketch on paper, the earliest perhaps wch of a Constitutional Govt for the Union (organized into the regular Departments with physical means operating on individuals) to be sanctioned by the people of the States, acting in their original & sovereign character, was contained in a letter from J. M. of Apl 8 1787 to Govr. Randolph, a copy of the latter is here inserted.
The feature in the letter which vested in the general Authy a negative on the laws of the States, was suggested by the negative in the head of the British Empire, which prevented collisions between the parts & the whole, and between the parts themselves. It was supposed that the substitution, of an elective and responsible authority for an hereditary and irresponsible one, would avoid the appearance even of a departure from the principle of Republicanism. But altho’ the subject was so viewed in the Convention, and the votes on it were more than once equally divided, it was finally & justly abandoned, as apart from other objections it was not practicable among so many states increasing in number and enacting each of them so many laws. Instead of the proposed negative, the objects of it were left as finally provided for in the Constitution.
On the arrival of the Virginia Deputies at Philada, it occurred to them that from the early and prominent part taken by that State in bringing about the Convention some initiative step might be expected from them. The Resolutions introduced by Governor Randolph were the result of a Consultation on the subject; with an understanding that they left all the Deputies entirely open to the lights of discussion, and free to concur in any alterations or modifications which their reflections and judgments might approve. The Resolutions as the Journals shew became the basis on which the proceedings of the Convention commenced, and to the developments, variations and modifications of which the plan of Govt. proposed by the Convention may be traced.
The curiosity I had felt during my researches into the History of the most distinguished Confederacies, particularly those of antiquity, and the deficiency I found in the means of satisfying it more especially in what related to the process, the principles, the reasons, & the anticipations, which prevailed in the formation of them, determined me to preserve as far as I could an exact account of what might pass in the Convention whilst executing its trust, with the magnitude of which I was duly impressed, as I was with the gratification promised to future curiosity by an authentic exhibition of the objects, the opinions, & the reasonings from which the new System of Govt. was to receive its peculiar structure & organization. Nor was I unaware of the value of such a contribution to the fund of materials for the History of a Constitution on which would be Staked the happiness of a people great even in its infancy, and possibly1 the cause of liberty throughout the world.
In pursuance of the task I had assumed I chose a seat in front of the presiding member, with the other members on my right & left hands. In this favorable position for hearing all that passed, I noted in terms legible & in abbreviations & marks intelligible to myself what was read from the Chair or spoken by the members; and losing not a moment unnecessarily between the adjournment & reassembling of the Convention I was enabled to write out my daily notes during the session or within a few finishing days after its close, in the extent and form preserved in my own hand on my files.
In the labor and correctness of this I was not a little aided by practice, and by a familiarity with the style and the train of observation and reasoning which characterized the principal speakers. It happened, also, that I was not absent a single day, nor more than a casual fraction of an hour in any day, so that I could not have lost a single speech unless a very short one.
It may be proper to remark, that, with a very few exceptions, the speeches were neither furnished, nor revised, nor sanctioned, by the speakers, but written out from my notes, aided by the freshness of my recollections. A further remark may be proper, that views of the subject might occasionally be presented, in the speeches and proceedings, with a latent reference to a compromise on some middle ground, by mutual concessions. The exceptions alluded to were,—first, the sketch furnished by Mr. Randolph of his speech on the introduction of his propositions, on the twenty-ninth day of May; secondly, the speech of Mr. Hamilton, who happened to call on me when putting the last hand to it, and who acknowledged its fidelity, without suggesting more than a very few verbal alterations which were made; thirdly, the speech of Gouverneur Morris on the second day of May, which was communicated to him on a like occasion, and who acquiesced in it without even a verbal change. The correctness of his language and the distinctness of his enunciation were particularly favorable to a reporter. The speeches of Doctor Franklin, excepting a few brief ones, were copied from the written ones read to the Convention by his colleague, Mr. Wilson, it being inconvenient to the Doctor to remain long on his feet.
Of the ability and intelligence of those who composed the Convention the debates and proceedings may be a test; as the character of the work which was the offspring of their deliberations must be tested by the experience of the future, added to that of nearly half a century which has passed.
But whatever may be the judgment pronounced on the competency of the architects of the Constitution, or whatever may be the destiny of the edifice prepared by them, I feel it a duty to express my profound and solemn conviction, derived from my intimate opportunity of observing and appreciating the views of the Convention, collectively and individually, that there never was an assembly of men, charged with a great and arduous trust, who were more pure in their motives, or more exclusively or anxiously devoted to the object committed to them, than were the members of the Federal Convention of 1787, to the object of devising and proposing a constitutional system which should best supply the defects of that which it was to replace, and best secure the permanent liberty and happiness of their country.
end of volume ii.
The allusion is to his rejection the month before by Miss Floyd, a daughter of William Floyd, of New York.
Cypher represented by italics.
See letter of Feby. 17, , shewing Buffon who had been read to have been misconceived. Note in MSS.
[1 ]George Hancock, a citizen of Virginia, assaulted Jonas Beard, a justice of the peace and member of the legislature of South Carolina. The Governor of South Carolina demanded Hancock’s surrender from the Governor of Virginia, under the fourth article of the confederation, charging the assault as a high misdemeanor. Randolph, as Attorney General of Virginia, thought that Virginia had a right to insist upon proof of Hancock’s guilt before taking action, but that South Carolina’s definition of a misdemeanor must be admitted by Virginia, and that flight ought not to secure one from punishment. Randolph to Jefferson, January 30, 1784, Conway’s Randolph, 51.
Italics for cypher.
[1 ]See the letter of July 3d to Jefferson.
“Monroe is buying land almost adjoining me. Short will do the same. What would I not give [if] you could fall into the circle. . . . There is a little farm of 140 as adjoining me, & within two miles, all of good land, tho’ old, with a small indifferent house on it, the whole not worth more than £250. Such a one might be a farm of experiment & support a little table and household. It is on the road to Orange & so much nearer than I am. It is convenient enough for supplementary supplies from thence. Once more think of it, and adieu.”—Jefferson to Madison, Feb. 20, 1784. Writings of Jefferson, iii., 406. Madison’s personal plans were given a definite shape the following summer, Aug. 19, 1784, when his father presented him with a farm of 560 acres, a part of the Montpelier tract.—Orange County MSS. Records.
[2 ]Italics for cypher.
[1 ]Notes of Speech on Proposed Amendment to the Constitution of Virginia. June, 1784:
“For Amending Constitution of Va. in 1784.
“Nature of a Constitution examd. see Massts. p. 7. 8. 15. 16. N. Y. p. 63.—Pena p. 85. 86. Del. p. 106 N. C. p. 146-150. S. C. p. 188. Geo p. 175. 186.
“Convention of 1776. without due power from people.
“1. passed the ordinance for Constn. on recommendation of Congs of May 15. 1776. prior to d of independence: as was done in N. H. p. 1 & N. J. p. 78-84.
“2. Passed it from impulse of necessity.—See last clause of the preamble.
3. before independence declared by Congs.
“4. power from people no where pretended.
“5. other ordinances of same Session deemed alterable as relative to Senators—oaths—Salt.
“6. provisions for care of West Augusta in its nature temporary.
“7. Convention make themselves branch of the Legislature.
“Constitution, if so to be called defective.
“1. in a Union of powers which is tyranny Montesq.
“2. Executive dependent on Legislature. 1. for salary. 2. for character in the treñial expulsion.—3. expensive—4. may be for life contrary to Art: 5 of Declaration of Rights.—
“3. Judiciary dependent for amt. of salary.
“4. Privileges & wages of members of Legislature unlimited & undefined.
“5. Senate badly constituted & improperly barred of the originating of laws.
“6. equality of representation not provided for see N. Y. p. 65. S. C. p. 165.
“7. Impeachmts. of great moment & on bad footing.
“8. County Courts seem to be fixed p. 143. 144. also General Court.
“9. Habeas Corpus omitted.
“10. no mode of expounding constitution & and of course no check to Genl. Assembly.
“11. Right of suffrage not well fixed—quere if popish recusants &c. are not disfranchised? Constn. rests on acquiescence, a bad basis.
“Revision during war improper—on peace decency requires surrender of power to people.
“No danger in referring to the people who already exercise an equivalent power.
“If no change be made in the Constitution, it is advisable to have it ratified and secured agst. the doubts and imputations under which it now labours.”—Mad. MSS.
[2 ]“J. M.’s proposition to the Gen. Assembly [June—1784]. See Journal Whereas by the 4th. article of the Definitive Treaty of Peace ratified and proclaimed by the United States in Congress assembled on the 14th. day of Jany last ‘it is agreed that Creditors on either side shall meet with no lawful impediment to the recovery of the full value in sterling money, of all bona fide debts heretofore contracted’: and whereas it is the duty and determination of this Commonwealth, with a becoming reverence for the faith of Treaties, truly and honestly, to give to the said article, all the effect, inasmuch as the debts due from the good people of this commonwealth to the subjects of G. Britain were contracted under the prospect of gradual payments, and are justly computed to exceed the possibility of full payment at once, more especially, under the diminution of their property resulting from the devastations of the late war: and it is therefore conceived that the interest of the British creditors themselves will be favored by fixing certain reasonable periods, at which divided payments shall be made.
“Resolved, that it is the opinion of this Committee, that the laws now in force relative to British debts, ought to be so varied & amended as to make the same recoverable in the proportions & at the periods following: that is to say, part thereof with interest of 5 per Ct from the date of the definitive Treaty of peace, on the day of and the remaining on the day of And whereas it is further stipulated by art: 7th. of the said Treaty, among other things, that ‘his Britannic Majesty shall with all convenient speed, and without causing any destruction, or carrying away any negroes or other property of the American inhabitants, withdraw all his armies, garrisons and fleets from the said United States; and from every post place and harbour within the same, leaving in all fortifications the American artillery that may be therein, and shall also order and cause all archives, records, deeds & papers, belonging to any of the said States, or their citizens, which in the course of the war, may have fallen into the hands of his officers, to be forthwith restored and delivered to the proper States and persons to whom they belong,’ which stipulation was in the same words contained in the Provisional articles signed at Paris on the 30th day of November 1782 by the commissioners empowered on each part: and whereas posterior to the date of the said provisional articles, Sundry negroes the property of citizens of this commonwealth were carried away from the city of New York whilst in possession of the British forces, and no restitution or satisfaction on that head, has been made, either before or since the Definitive Treaty of peace; And whereas the good people of this commonwealth have a clear right to expect that whilst, on one side, they are called upon by the U. S. in Congress assembled to them by fœderal Constitution the powers of war & peace are exclusively delegated, to carry into effect the stipulations in favour of British subjects, an equal observance of the stipulations in their own favor, should, on the other side, be duly secured to them under the authority of the Confederacy.
“Resolved, that it is the opinion of this Committee; that the Delegates representing this State in Congress ought to be instructed to urge in Congress peremptory measures for obtaining from G. Britain satisfaction for the infringement of the article aforesaid; and in case of refusal or unreasonable delay of such satisfaction, to urge that the sanction of Congress be given to the just policy of retaining so much of the debts due from citizens of this commonwealth, to British subjects, as will fully repair the losses sustained from such infringement: and that to enable the said Delegates, to proceed herein with the greater precision & effect, the Executive ought to be requested to take immediate measures for obtaining & transmitting to them, all just claims of the citizens of this Commonwealth under the 7th art: as aforesaid.”—Mad. MSS.
[1 ]At this session a concerted effort was made by the various churches for State recognition. There was a committee of the legislature charged “with all matters relating to religion and morality.” Petitions were presented from the Baptists and Presbyterians asking for a removal of all remaining distinctions in favor of the Episcopal Church, in order that “religious freedom be established upon the broad basis of perfect political equality.” The bill for the Episcopal Church was debated two days.—Rives, i., 560, et seq. John B. Smith, president of Hampden-Sydney College, wrote to Madison, June 21, 1784, that the bill was insulting to non-Episcopalians, and any measure to enable the Episcopal clergy to regulate all spiritual concerns of that church was an express attempt “to draw the State into an elicit connection and commerce with them,” and to put the legislature in the position of being at the head of the church. He was sorry that Christian ministers should virtually declare their church to be a mere political machine.—Smith to Madison, Mad. MSS.
[1 ]The boundary between Virginia and Maryland was the Potomac, and the charter of Lord Baltimore had defined the Southern shore as the line. This Virginia confirmed in the Constitution of 1776, reserving, however, the free naviigation and use of the river. Madison feared that this general confirmation would be construed by Maryland into a total surrender of all jurisdiction over the river. Having accertained through Jefferson that Maryland would appoint commissioners to form regulations if Virginia did so, Madison introduced a bill to that effect, which was passed June 30th. See Rives, i., 535, et seq. Through a blunder in the notifications Madison and Randolph did not attend the meeting with the Maryland Commissioners, which took place at Mount Vernon, but the Maryland Commissioners having journeyed some distance, Mason and Henderson decided to proceed with the conference.—Mason to Madison, August 9, 1785.—Mad. MSS. The Maryland members were T. Stone, Daniel of St. Thomas Jenifer and Samuel Chase. Together with Mason and Henderson they signed the report which was dated Mount Vernon, March 28, 1785, and transmitted to the General Assembly as “Result of the Deliberations of the Commissioners of Virginia & Maryland, appointed to settle the navigation & Jurisdiction of that Part of the Chesapeake Bay within the Limits of Virginia, & of the Rivers Potomack and Pokomoke.” The Commissioners also united in a joint letter to the President of the Executive Council of Pennsylvania, recommending the cooperation of that State.—Mad. MSS. There is no reason for supposing that Madison’s bill had any deeper purpose than the simple one that appeared on the surface, but when it appeared that regulations between Virginia and Maryland would be useless unless Pennsylvania were included, it became equally evident that New York, New Jersey, and Delaware could render ineffective any agreement Pennsylvania might make. A general convention of all the States to bring about what was at first projected for two States only was the logical suggestion. It resulted in the call for the Annapolis meeting, which in turn led to the Philadelphia convention. The proceedings of the Virginia and Maryland Commissioners are traced in Kate Mason Rowland’s George Mason, ii., 12, et seq. For Madison’s resolutions extending the Commissioners’ powers, see post.
[1 ]“Mrs. Carr was informed by Mr. Jefferson, previous to his departure to Europe, that he had requested the favor of you, to direct the Studies of her two Sons Peter & Dabney in his absence. Should it be convenient for you to comply with Mr. Jeffersons request, Mrs. Carr will be much obliged to you to inform her, when, and in what manner you would wish them disposed of.”—W. O. Collis to Madison, August 9, 1784.—Mad. MSS.
[1 ]Madison wrote to Washington on this subject July 2d less fully than in this letter. For Washington’s suggestion that something should be done for “poor Paine,” see his letter of June 12, 1784, to Madison, Writings of Washington, x., 393, and for Jefferson’s opinion of the action of the Assembly, Jefferson to Madison, December 8, 1784, Writings of Jefferson, iv., 17.
[1 ]Chinch-bug. Note in MS.
[1 ]Italics for cyphers.
[1 ]“I can with truth therefore declare to you, and wish you to repeat it on every proper occasion, that no person on earth is authorized to place my name in any adventure for lands on the western waters.” Jefferson to Madison, November 11, 1784.—Writings of Jefferson, iv., 3.
[1 ]Italics for cypher.
[1 ]. . . “That one reason assign’d for detaining the Western posts from the United States was, because Virginia had not repealed her laws that impede the recovery of British debts. It is sincerely to be lamented that our State should be so charged, and it is much to be wished that the Advocates for retaining those laws wd no longer insist upon furnishing pretext for detaining from the U. S. possessions of such capital importance to the Union as these posts are.”—Richard Henry Lee to Madison, November 20, 1784. Mad. MSS.
[1 ]Italics for cypher.
[1 ]Oliver Wolcott, Richard Butler, and Arthur Lee.
[1 ]A paraphrase of this speech may be found in Rives i., 604. The speech is written in a microscopic hand on the back of a letter.
[1 ]The opening of the letter relates to Monroe’s journey over the same ground substantially that Madison had just travelled.
[1 ]The resolution was brought in by Henry. It declared that “the people of the commonwealth, according to their respective abilities, ought to pay a moderate tax or contribution for the support of the Christian religion, or of some Christian church, denomination, or communion of Christians, or of some form of Christian worship.” Only one petition appeared against the measure. A special committee with Henry at the head was appointed to prepare the bill. See Rives i., 599, et seq.
[1 ]Madison also had a scheme for improving the roads of the State, and prepared resolutions in the winter of 1784-85 to be introduced at this session of the Legislature, but the time being inopportune he allowed the matter to drop.
“Whereas the opening & keeping in repair of direct roads from the different parts of this Common’th to the several market Towns, and from one market Town to another would greatly encourage agriculture by cheapening the transportation of its productions to the places of consumption & exportation, and would in other respects contribute to the improvement of the Country by facilitating intercourse between the different parts thereof, and it is considered by the present general assembly, that altho’ the various necessary burdens which now press on the people render a general plan for the aforesaid purpose unadvisable at this moment, yet that such a beginning ought to be made in the work as will not only produce immediate advantage to the community; but will lead to a more diffusive & complete execution thereof: and it is the more necessary that the principal roads should be so straightened before the value of the ground to be obtained from individuals increases. Be it therefore enacted that the governour with the advice of the Council of State shall be & he hereby is authorized to cause surveys to be made in order to determine the best courses for roads, (having regard to the nature of the ground as well as to distance) from & to the following places to wit; from and for executing such surveys the Governor with the advice aforesaid is further authorized to appoint a proper person for each of such surveys who shall be allowed a sum not exceeding per day during his actual employment in the service, and who may take with him so many assistants & such daily wages as the Executive shall approve, the said Surveyors shall make to the Governour the ”—Mad. MSS.
[1 ]Cypher represented by italics.
[1 ]Cypher represented by italics.
[1 ]Italics for cypher.
[1 ]This passage briefly recounts the acts passed by the Legislature.
[1 ]James Maury. He was appointed Consul at Liverpool, where he acted as Madison’s agent in selling his tobacco for many years.
[1 ]Italics for cypher.
[1 ]By concentrating our Commerce at Alexandria and Norfolk the object of the Port-Bill. [Note in MS.]
[2 ]Italics for cypher.
[1 ]“You may be surprised to hear that a late Convention have unanimously agreed to petition the assembly to have this District established into a State. I cannot explain the prevailing Sentiments better, than by telling you We conceive the people of this District do not at present enjoy a greater portion of Liberty than an American Colony might have done a few years ago had she been allowed a Representation in the British Parliament. . . . Until lately I have myself thought it would be more eligible to continue as we are a while longer; but finding that our Situation is too remote to enjoy the advantages of Government with Virginia in any tolerable degree, I have fallen in with the opinion that it is better to part in peace than to remain together in a state of Jealousy and Discontent.” Caleb Wallace to Madison, Lincoln Co., July 12, 1785. Mad. MSS.
[1 ]Nicholas, of Albemarle.
[1 ]Italics for cypher.
[1 ]Italics for cypher.
[1 ]Several of Madison’s friends in Kentucky wrote to him asking his assistance in the framing of a new government. January 6, 1785, George Muter transmitted questions which Caleb Wallace wished answered, which were the same as those answered above. In the MSS. this letter is not addressed, and is marked as having been sent to “John Brown, Kentucky,” but Sept. 24, 1785, Caleb Wallace replied to it as a letter to him, which doubtless it was.—Mad. MSS.
[1 ]The Constitution of N. York directs an experiment on this Subject. [Note in MS.]
[1 ]Italics for cypher.
[2 ]R. H. Lee.
[1 ]By a vote of ayes 48, noes 38, the third reading of the engrossed bill to establish a provision for the teachers of the Christian religion was postponed December 24, 1784, to the fourth Thursday in the next November. Among those voting against the postponement were Benjamin Harrison, Joseph Jones, John Marshall, Philip Barbour, Richard Bland Lee, Richard Henry Lee, and Henry Tazewell. Washington also favored the bill. It was printed for distribution among the voters in order that their sentiments towards it might be ascertained. Among its opponents were Wilson Cary Nicholas and George Nicholas. A copy of the bill is found among the Washington MSS. The copy of the Remonstrance used here is one of the broadsides printed by the Phenix Press of Alexandria, now in the Virginia Historical Society, with a number of signatures appended to it. It has been collated with the notes in Madison’s hand found among the Madison MSS.
“My brother informs me that he conversed with you on the propriety of remonstrating against certain measures of the last session of Assembly and that you seemed to think it would be best that the counties opposed to the measure should be silent. I fear this would be construed into an assent especially to the law for establishing a certain provision for the clergy: for as the Assembly only postponed the passing of it that they might know whether it was disagreeable to the people I think they may justly conclude that all are for it who do not say to the contrary. A majority of the counties are in favor of the measure but undecipherable] a great majority of the people against it, but if this majority should not appear by petition the fact will be denied. Another reason why all should petition is that some will certainly do it and those who support the bills will insist that those who petition are all the opposition. Would it not add greatly to the weight of the petition if they all hold the same language? by discovering an exact uniformity of sentiment in a majority of the country it would certainly deter the majority of the assembly from proceeding. All my expectations are from their fears, and not their justice. . . . If you think with me that it will be proper to say something to the Assembly, will you commit it to paper. I risk this because I know you are most capable of doing it properly and because it will be most likely to be generally adopted. I can get it sent to Amherst Buckingham Albemarle, Fluvanna, Augusta, Botetourt, Rock Bridge and Rockingham and have no doubt that Bedford and the counties Southward of it will readily join in the measure. I will also send it to Frederick and Berkeley and if it goes from your county to Farquieur Culpeper and Loudoun it will be adopted by the most populous part of the country.”—George Nicholas to Madison, Charlottesville, April 22nd 1785, Mad. MSS.
“I found that no alteration could be made to the remonstrance without injury and immediately had it copied and sent to the counties I mentioned in a former letter.”—Nicholas to Madison, Sweet Springs, July 24, 1785, Mad. MSS.
[1 ]Decl. Rights, Art: 16. [Note in the original.]
[1 ]Decl. Rights, Art. 1. [Note in the original.]
[2 ]Art: 16. [Note in the original.]
[1 ]Art. 16. [Note in the original.]
[1 ]Decl. Rights-title. [Note in the original.]
[1 ]This skeleton of a speech is written, as other speeches are, upon a slip of paper in a hand so small that parts of it can hardly be deciphered with the naked eye. An effect of the speech was the adoption by the House of a resolution, that “an act ought to pass to authorize the delegates of this State in Congress to give the assent of the State to a general regulation of the Commerce of the United States, under certain qualifications.”
[1 ]The non-importation agreements of the colonies before the Revolution were not entered into by Delaware until some time after the other colonies. See Life of George Read, 81.
[2 ]“De l’Administration des Finances de la France” had made its appearance the year before this speech was delivered.
[1 ]From the New York Public Library (Lenox) MSS. A copy of the letter was printed in the Nation July 19, 1894.
[2 ]The act was passed at the May session, 1782, of the General Assembly: “Whereas application hath been made to this present general assembly, that those persons who are disposed to emancipate their slaves may be empowered so to do, and the same hath been judged expedient under certain restrictions: Be it therefore enacted, That it shall hereafter be lawful for any person, by his or her last will and testament, or by any other instrument in writing, under his or her hand and seal, attested and proved in the county court by two witnesses, . . . to emancipate and set free, his or her slaves, or any of them, who shall thereupon be entirely and freely discharged from the performance of any contract entered into during servitude, and enjoy as full freedom as if they had been particularly named and freed by this act.”—Hening’s Statutes at Large, xi, 39.
Jacob Read, of South Carolina, wrote to Madison from Congress August 29, 1785: “An opinion prevails in South Carolina that the principal holders of Slaves in your State wish to divest themselves of that kind of property and that tolerable good purchases might be made on good Security being given for payments by installments with a regular discharge of the Interest.
“Under the Impression of this opinion the Honle. Mr. J. Rutledge of So. Carolina has addressed a Letter to me wishing to become engaged in any purchase I may be able to make, & to make a joint concern. . . . My present application to you is to request you to inform me if you know of any such persons as may wish to sell a gang of Hands & the Terms on which they might be had. . . . We want! Greatly want!! the assistance of your abilities & Experience in Congress.”—Mad. MSS.
[1 ]Aug. 9, 1785, George Mason wrote from Gunston Hall to Madison, enclosing for his inspection a copy of his and Henderson’s report to the Legislature and of the joint letter to the government of Pennsylvania of the Virginia and Maryland commissioners.
January 13, 1786, the Virginia General Assembly agreed that duties on exports and imports should be the same in Virginia and Maryland, and that commissioners from the two States should meet annually to arrange the schedules—Journal of the House of Delegates.
The petition is in Madison’s handwriting.
June 3, 1784, a memorial from the Protestant Episcopal Church in Virginia was presented in the House of Delegates stating that the church labored under disadvantages because of several laws directing the modes of worship, and requesting the repeal of such acts; “that an act may pass, to incorporate the Protestant Episcopal Church in Virginia, to enable them to regulate all the spiritual concerns of that Church, alter its form of worship, and constitute such canons, by-laws and rules for the government and good order thereof, as are suited to their religious principles; and in general that the Legislature will aid and patronize the Christian religion.” This was referred to the Committee on Religion, of which Madison was himself a member; but he was opposed to the views of the majority of his colleagues. On June 8 Carey reported that the memorial seemed to the committee to be reasonable. The bill for the incorporation of the Protestant Episcopal Church was read the second time June 16, and after modification to a less objectionable form passed at the next session of the Assembly. (See Journal of the House of Delegates.) Madison himself voted for it, as a strategic movement, to ward off action on the more important bill for religious assessments. The act contained twelve sections, providing that the “Minister and vestry of the Protestant Episcopal Church” should, under that name, constitute a body politic and corporate in the respective parishes, and should forever enjoy all glebe lands already purchased, churches, burying-grounds, etc., belonging to them, “and every other thing the property of the late established church.” In the proceedings of the ministers and vestries all matters were to be decided by a majority vote. They had full power and authority to purchase and enjoy lands, etc. In whatever parishes ministers and vestrymen wished to form a body corporate under the act, it was lawful for any two members of the church to call together the other members in the parish and elect twelve church members, to form a vestry and with the minister of the church were authorized to regulate all its religious concerns, doctrine, discipline and worship. (Hening’s Statutes at Large, 11, 532).
Beginning with the session of the Assembly in the Autumn of 1786 petitions to repeal the act began to pour in, and also a smaller number against the repeal (Journal of the House of Delegates, Oct. 31, Nov. 1, Nov. 6, Nov. 9, Nov. 10, Nov. 17, Nov. 24, Dec. 4, Dec. 5, Dec. 7.) The act of repeal was finally passed Jan. 10, 1787. (Hening’s Stats. at Large, 12, 266.)
Rev Dr John B. Smith, of Hampden-Sidney College, a Presbyterian, wrote to Madison under date June 21, 1784:
“Since my arrival at home, I have seen a part of your Journals, & by them have learned the objects of the Petition from the Episcopal Clergy, which in one or two instances, appear to me very exceptionable. The first part of their prayer is necessary & proper; & the whole of it might pass without much animadversion to its disadvantage, ’till you hear them requesting that ‘they, the Clergy, may be incorporated by law’; & then an attentive mind must revolt against it as very unjustifiable, & very insulting to the members of their communion in general. Had they requested that an incorporating act should pass, in favour of that Church as a party of Christians, whereby the people might have had a share in the direction of ecclesiastical regulations, & the appointment of Church officers for that purpose, it would have been extremely proper. But as the matter now stands, the clergy seem desirous to exclude them from any share in such a privilege & willing to oblige the members of their Churches to sit down patiently, under such regulations as an incorporated body of Clergymen, who wish to be peculiarly considered as ministers in the view of the law, shall chuse to make, without a legal right to interpose in any manner, but such as these spiritual leaders may think fit to allow. * * * * * *
“But that part of the petition, which concerns me most as well as every non-Episcopalian in the state, is, where these Clergymen pray for an act of the Assembly to enable, them to regulate all the spiritual concerns of that Church &c. This is an express attempt to draw the State into an illicit connexion & commerce with them, which is already the ground of that uneasiness which at present prevails thro’ a great part of the State. According to the spirit of that prayer, the Legislature is to consider itself as the head of that Party, & consequently they as members are to be fostered with particular care.”
[1 ]“On my return to Orange I found the copy of your Notes brought along with it by Mr. Doradour. I have looked them over carefully myself & consulted several judicious friends in confidence. We are all sensible that the freedom of your strictures on some particular measures and opinions will displease their respective abettors. But we equally concur in thinking that this consideration ought not to be weighed against the utility of your plan. We think both the facts and remarks which you have assembled too valuable not to be made known, at least to those for whom you destine them, and speak of them to one another in terms which I must not repeat to you.”—Madison to Jefferson, November 15, 1785. Mad. MSS.
[1 ]The portions of the letter printed in italics are in cypher in the original.
[1 ]Meriwether Smith.
[1 ]Cypher for italics.
[1 ]“If you visit this place shortly I will present you to a young lady who will be adopted a citizen of Virga. in the course of this week.” Monroe to Madison, February 11, 1786.—Writings of Monroe, i., 123.
[2 ]Madison and Monroe bought lands in the Mohawk Valley on a speculation. They desired Jefferson to join in the enterprise but he did not accept. Apparently no money was made in the transaction.
[1 ]“Jersey having taken into consideration the late requisition, the house of delegates resolv’d that having enter’d into the confederation upon terms highly disadvantagous to that state, from the necessity of public Affrs at the time, and a confidence that those points in which they were aggriev’d wod. be remedied and finding this was not the case and a compact founded in such unequal principles likely, by their acquiescence to be fetter’d on them, they wod. not therefore comply with the same until their grievances were redress’d.”—Monroe to Madison, March 19, 1786.—Writings of Monroe, i., 124.
[1 ]On Virginia.
[1 ]“ ‘Behold, Reader, the form of George Washington. For his worth, ask History; that will tell it, when this stone shall have yielded to the decays of time. His cuntry erects this monument. Houdon makes it.’ This for one side. On the 2d represent the evacuation of Boston with the motto ‘Hostibus primum fugatis.’ On the 3d the capture of the Hessians with ‘Hostibus iterum devictis.’ On the 4th the surrender of York, with ‘Hostibus ultimum deballatis.”’—Jefferson to Madison, February 8, 1786.—Writings of Jefferson, iv., 195. Fortunately the unpretentious inscription required by Virginia was adhered to.
[2 ]Italics for cypher.
* * * * * * * * *
“as soon as I had got clear of the town I fell in with a poor woman walking at same rate with myself & going the same course. wishing to know the condition of the labouring poor I entered into conversation with her, which I began by enquiries for the path which would lead me into the mountain: & thence proceeded to enquiries into her vocation, condition & circumstance. she told me she was a daylabourer, at 8 sous or 4d. sterling the day: that she had two children to maintain, & to pay a rent of 30 livres for her home, (which would consume the hire of 75 days) that often she could get no emploiment, and of course was without bread. as we had walked together near a mile & she had so far served me as a guide, I gave her, on parting, 24 sous. she burst into tears of a gratitude which I could perceive was unfeigned, because she was unable to utter a word. she had probably never before received so great an aid. this little attendrissement, with the solitude of my walk led me into a train of reflections on that unequal division of property which occasions the numberless instances of wretchedness which I had observed in this country & is to be observed all over Europe. the property of this country is absolutely concentered in a very few hands, having revenues of from half a million of guineas a year downwards. these employ the flower of the country as servants, some of them having as many as 200 domestics. not labouring. they employ also a great number of manufacturers, & tradesmen, & lastly the class of labouring husbandmen. but after all these comes the most numerous of all the classes, that is, the poor who cannot find work. I asked myself what could be the reason that so many should be permitted to beg who are willing to work, in a country where there is a very considerable proportion of uncultivated lands? these lands are kept idle mostly for the sake of game. it should seem then that it must be because of the enormous wealth of the proprietors which places them above attention to the increase of their revenues by permitting these lands to be laboured. I am conscious that an equal division of property is impracticable. but the consequences of this enormous inequality producing so much misery to the bulk of mankind, legislators cannot invent too many devices for sub-dividing property, only taking care to let their sub divisions go hand in hand with the natural affections of the human mind. the descent of property of every kind therefore to all the children, or to all the brothers & sisters, or other relations in equal degree is a politic measure, and a practicable one. another means of silently lessening the unequality of property is to exempt all from taxation below a certain point, & to tax the higher portions of property in geometrical progression as they rise. Whenever there is in any country, uncultivated lands and unemployed poor, it is clear that the laws of property have been so far extended as to violate natural right, the earth is given as a common stock to man to labour & live on. if, for the encouragement of industry we allow it to be appropriated, we must take care that other employment be permitted to those excluded from the appropriation. if we do not the fundamental right to labour the earth returns to the unemployed. it is too soon yet in our country to say that every man who cannot find employment but who can find uncultivated land, shall be at liberty to cultivate it, paying a moderate rent, but it is not too soon to provide by every possible means that as few as possible shall be without a little portion of land. the small land holders are the most precious part of a state.”—Jefferson to Madison, Mad. MSS.
[1 ]Malthus’ first edition of his Essay on the Principle of Population was not published till 1798.
[1 ]in enumerating the distinctions between our mole & the coon one of Europe, I find I omitted the difference of colour. You know the colour of ours, which is pretty remote from black, tho’ somewhat darkish. [Note in MS.]
[1 ]Italics for cypher.
[1 ]The claims of the State against the General Government. See Monroe’s letter. Writings, i., 135.
[1 ]The MSS. records of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Company in the office of the Company in Washington show the work referred to here of the Potomac Company.
[1 ]The portions of the letter in cypher are represented by italics.
[1 ]Monroe left the White House hopelessly broken in fortune and spent the latter part of his life in absolute poverty. Madison and Jefferson left behind them estates overburdened with debt. No one of the three possessed the talent of either making or saving money. It was this land speculation, however, which Madison believed would make him moderately wealthy.
[1 ]August 15 Madison sent the substance of this part of the letter to Monroe. Mad. MSS.
[1 ]From the Works of Madison.
[2 ]“It has occurr’d to G[rayson] & myself to propose to Congress that negotiations be carried on with Spn. upon the following principles: 1. That exports be admitted thro’ the Mississippi to some free port—perhaps N. Orleans, to pay there a toll to Spn. of abt 3 pr. centm. ad valorem & to be carried thence under the regulations of Congress. 2. That imports shall pass into the Western country thro’ the ports of the U. S. only. 3. That this sacrifice be given up to obtain in other respects a beneficial treaty. I beg of you to give me yr. opinion on it.”—Monroe to Madison, August 14, 1786, Writings of Monroe, i., 151, 152.
[1 ]New York Public Library (Lenox) MSS.
[1 ]The instructions to Jay on the subject of the Mississippi negotiations having been in part repealed, the plan of the friends of the free navigation to order the transfer of negotiations to Madrid was blocked by a newly-adopted rule of Congress “that we shall not move in form or substance any proposition which has been set aside by the previous question, unless the same number of States are present.”—Monroe to Madison, Writings of Monroe, i., 159, 160.
[2 ]The following bill is of interest as showing what Madison’s expenses were while he was attending the Annapolis convention:
|“Septr. 5||Lodging & Breakfast 3/9 Dinner 3/9||£ 0.||7.||0|
|wine 3/9 punch 2/6 porter 2/6||0.||8.||9|
|punch 1/ servt Board 12/||0.||13.||0|
|6||Lodging & Breakfast 3/9 wine 2/6||0.||6.||3|
|porter 2/6 Dinner 3/9. Servt Grog 1/||0.||7.||3|
|Board for Servt. 6/||0.||6||0|
|“Septr. 7||Lodging and Breakfast 3/9 Tea 1/10||£ 0.||5.||7|
|Servt. Board 6/||0.||6.||0|
|8||Lodging and Breakfast 3/9 Servt Board 6/||0.||9.||9|
|9||Lodging and Breakfast 3/9 Punch 1/3||0.||5.||0|
|Dinner and Club 8/9 Tea 1/10 Servt Board 6/||0.||16.||7|
|10||Lodging and Breakfast 3/9 Tea 1/10 Servt board 6/||0.||11.||7|
|11||Lodging & Breakfast 3/9 Dinner 3/9 Club 5/||0.||12.||6|
|Tea 1/10 Servt Board 6/||0.||7.||10|
|12||Lodging & Breakfast 3/9 Dinner & Club 8/9||0.||12.||6|
|Tea 1/10 Servt Board 6/||0.||7.||10|
|13||Lodging & Breakfast 3/9 Servt Board 6/||0.||9.||9|
|Stabling & hay 45/ Oats 56 Gallons @ 10d 46/8/||4.||11.||8|
|Omited the 4th Punch 2/6 Supper 3/ servt do. 2/||4.||7.||6|
|Hay and Oats 6/8||4.||6.||8|
|14||Lodging & Breakfast 3/9 Dinner & Club 10/9||0.||14.||6|
|Servts Board 6/ Hay & Oats 11. 8||0.||11.||8|
|15||Lodging 1/ Servt. 6/||1.||6|
Contents Received in full Geo Mann.” Mad. MSS.
[1 ]The prospective treaty with Spain closing the navigation of the Mississippi.
[1 ]The House of Delegates received a memorial from the delegates representing the counties of the district of Kentucky, setting forth that a report prevailed in that district that Congress proposed to cede to Spain the exclusive navigation of the Mississippi for twenty-five or thirty years, in consideration of some commercial advantages, that they conceived it their duty to represent that the prosperity of the Western country was absolutely dependent on the free navigation of that river, as without it they could not carry their produce to market; that Congress could not, without a flagrant violation of the confederation, deprive them of an advantage which nature had thus given them, and for the secure enjoyment of which the federal government was formed. Resolutions and instructions to the delegates in Congress in the sense of the memorial were passed by the House, November 29, 1786.—Journal of House of Delegates.
[1 ]Edmund Randolph was elected.
[1 ]The vote appears in the Journals of the House of Delegates as 85 to 17. The resolution was: “Resolved, that it is the opinion of this committee, [of the whole] that the petition of sundry inhabitants of the counties of Brunswick and Campbell, praying for an emission of paper money, are unreasonable and ought to be rejected; and that, in the opinion of this committee, an emission of paper money would be unjust, impolitic and destructive of public and private confidence, and of that virtue which is the basis of republican government.” Nevertheless, petitions praying for an emission of paper money were received by the House December 7.
[1 ]Notes on the back of a letter to Madison from Robt. Johnson, dated 23d September, 1786:
|Unequal to specie.||Bank notes. Stock.|
|Objectn.||navy bills. tallies|
|Spanish paper Useless|
|Unjust either to Credts. or debtrs|
|2. Weights & measures|
|3. brass made for silver by Romns.|
|4. Case of debtrs to other States|
|Unconstitutional.||1. property decd by bill of Rights|
|Antifedl.||2. trial by Jury|
|Unnecessary.||1. produce will bring specie|
|2. paper in Tobo. notes Warrts. &c|
|Hurtful||1. by luxury increase, not cure the evil of scarcity of specie|
|2. destroy confidence public & private|
|3. source of dissension between States see Confedn. as to regulation of coin|
|4. enrich collectors, speculators &—|
|5. vitiate morals|
|6. reverse the end of Govt by punishing good Citizens & rewarding bad.|
|7. discourage foreign commerce &c|
|8. dishonor our Repub [illegible] the eyes of mankind|
|Examples of other States & during war|
|Objectn.||paper good formerly|
|Answer.||1. Not true in N. E. Va. Maryd. 12 to 20 Per Ct.|
|2. Confidence then|
|3. principles of money not then understood|
|Such wd not then nor now do in Europe|
|Advantages from rejectg. paper|
|1. Distinguish the State & its credit|
|2. draw coerce & specie|
|3. Not honorable [example] to other states.|
[1 ]Shortly after Cicero’s first great speech against Catiline, Catiline’s friend, Caius Manlius, despatched deputies to the Roman general, Quintus Marcius Rex, with instructions to say, among other things: “Often have your forefathers, taking compassion on the Roman people, relieved their poverty by their decrees; and very recently, within our memory, silver was paid with brass, owing to the pressure of debt, with the approval of all good citizens.”—Sallust’s Conspiracy of Catiline, ch. 33. The payments were in pursuance of a law proposed by L. Valerius Flaccus, Consul, A. U. C. 667. Only the fourth part was paid, an as for a sestertius, and a sestertius for a denarius.
[1 ]Respecting Shay’s Rebellion.
[1 ]“Alexa. 20th. Decr. 86.
“My Dear Sir,—After the notification of my disgrace which reached me about the 20th Nov. I hastened from N York & pressed forward to my home. Every difficulty of weather and roads opposed my progress and retarded me effectually, for it took us three weeks to reach this place which I had reckoned on accomplishing in twelve days. At length we arrived on the banks of patomac, and thro our avidity to embrace our friends, were on the point of destruction for some hours, by rashly adventuring to cross in the night, thro’ bodies of floating ice. But providence, kinder to me than my beloved country rescued my family & myself, with some detriment of sense but no injury to my reputation—striking difference to be sure, and a theme for unceasing admiration of the Supreme benevolence on my part. This subject always disturbs me & excites my resentment. But cruel & ungrateful as I estimate the treatment I have received from the assembly, I am frank to declare to you that the opinion I had formed of your dereliction of the friendship which existed between us rendered my affection doubly severe. In all nations precedents are to be found demonstrative of the caprice & indelicacy of public bodys, therefore being not alone I could have procured repose to my feelings that all who knew me, would attribute my dismission to the proper cause.
“Your abandonment of a man who loved your character to excess & who esteemed your friendship among the first blessings of his life connected with the circumstance of your election to the office from which he was dismissed, together with many other considerations which are unnecessary to repeat wounded me deeply, & has given me many melancholy hours. Your letter of the 11th. affords me some relief, & as it explains your intentions which before were subject to conjecture, strengthens my hope that you regard me as I have esteemed you, & that no difference in political sentiments ever has or ever can cool the affection which commenced in our youth, and till very lately has existed in full vigor. It is my wish that we may ever be united, & I believe you cannot question my sentiments, especially, when it relates to you.”—Henry Lee to Madison, Mad. MSS. Lee was soon restored to favor in the State. Madison wrote to him again November 23d..
[1 ]“Resolved unanimously, That an act ought to pass, in conformity to the report of the Commissioners assembled at Annapolis on the 14th of September last, for appointing Commissioners on the part of this State, to meet Commissioners on the part of the other States, in Convention at Philadelphia, on the second Monday in May next, with powers to devise such further provision as shall appear to them necessary to render the constitution of the federal government adequate to the exigencies of the Union; and to report such an act for that purpose to the United States in Congress assembled, as when agreed to by them, and afterwards confirmed by the Legislature of every State, will effectually provide for the same.”
The resolution was written by Madison. The copy enclosed was contained in a newspaper clipping.
[2 ]Henry refused to serve. The full Virginia delegation consisted of Madison, Wythe, Randolph, Mason, Blair and McClurg.
[1 ]“The truth is, we have not a government to wield and correct. . . . We have only four States now on the floor.”—Carrington to Madison, from Congress, December 18, 1786. Mad. MSS.
[1 ]Washington declined re-election to the presidency of the Society of the Cincinnati, chiefly because he did not wish to participate in a contest over a proposed change in the plan of the society, which was to be discussed at the meeting to be held at Philadelphia in May. He gave, as his reasons for not attending, his occupations, his precarious health, and that he desired to live in retirement. To serve in the federal convention when the Cincinnati were in session might put him in a false position. He finally yielded, however, to the pleadings of his friends. Washington to Madison, December 16, 1786, Ford’s Writings of Washington,ii, 92, et seq.
[1 ]“Mr. James Madison, a delegate from Virginia, produced his credentials, by which it appears, that on the 7th of November last, he was appointed a delegate to serve in Congress until the first Monday in November, 1787.”—Journals of Congress, February 12, 1787, vol. xii., p. 9. (Ed. 1801.)
[1 ]February 21, “Congress having had under consideration the letter of John Dickinson, Esq; chairman of the commissioners, who assembled at Annapolis, during the last year; also the proceedings of the said commissioners, and entirely coinciding with them, as to the inefficiency of the federal government, and the necessity of devising such farther provisions as shall render the same adequate to the exigencies of the union, do strongly recommend to the different legislatures to send forward delegates, to meet the proposed convention, on the second Monday in May next, at the city of Philadelphia.” On motion of the Massachusetts delegates the following was substituted: “Resolved, That in the opinion of Congress, it is expedient, that on the second Monday in May next, a convention of delegates, who shall have been appointed by the several states, be held at Philadelphia, for the sole and express purpose of revising the articles of confederation, and reporting to Congress and the several legislatures, such alternations and provisions therein, as shall, when agreed to in Congress, and confirmed by the States, render the federal constitution adequate to the exigencies of Government, and the preservation of the Union.”—Journals of Congress, xii., 13, 14. (Ed. 1801.)
[1 ]“Extract of a letter from a Gentleman in Boston of the 4th. March 1787 to R. King
“— has come back from Virginia with news that the commissioners on the part of New York alarmed the Virginia Delegates, with an account that the Commissioners on the part of Massachusetts were for a monarchy; that those Delegates wrote their Legislature of it, who shut their Galeries and made a most serious Business of the matter—pray let me know by the next post what you hear of this, and what has been said—
“The Commissioners alluded to, are those who settled the late Territorial Controversy between Massachusetts & New York—
“Mr. King presents his compliments to Col. Grayson & Mr. Madison, and for the satisfaction of his friend, who wrote the Letter, from which the above is an Extract, begs to be informed whether they have any knowledge of a letter written by the Delegates of Virginia or any of them, containing the information suggested in the Extract, or of any proceedings of the Virginia Legislature of the nature alleged. . . .
“Monday morng. 11 Mar. 1787.”
[1 ]“On my way to this place I met a man from the Settlement on Cumberland River in North Carolina who had just come by the way of Kentucky. He informs me that the minds of all the Western People are agitated on account of the proposed cession of the Mississippi navigation to Spain every person talks of it with indignation and reprobates it as a measure of the greatest Injustice and Despotism declaring that if it takes place they will look upon themselves released from all Federal Obligations and fully at Liberty to seek alliances & connections wherever they can find them and that the British Officers at Detroit have already been tampering with them. I am apprehensive that these matters will hasten the separation of the District of Kentucky prematurely from the other part of the State. * * *” John Campbell to Madison, Pittsburgh, February 21, 1787. Mad. MSS.
[1 ]From Madison’s Works. The correct date of the letter is doubtless March 18th, as Jefferson acknowledged on June 20th the receipt of two letters, dated respectively March 18th and 19th, and this letter evidently preceded the other letter to Jefferson dated March 19th. The letter should be taken in connection with that of April 8th to Randolph and April 16th to Washington as developing Madison’s plan of government. See also the letter on the subject of the Kentucky constitution, January 6, 1785, to George Muter.
[1 ]From the Madison Papers (1840).
[1 ]From the Madison Papers (1840).
[2 ]The Jay project for a treaty with Spain.
[1 ]From the Madison Papers (1840).
[1 ]From the Madison Papers (1840).
[2 ]March 21, 1787, Congress unanimously resolved that the Legislatures of the several States could not, of right, pass acts for interpreting or construing a treaty, nor in any manner retard its operation, and that all State acts repugnant to the treaty of peace with Great Britain ought to be repealed, and the State Legislatures were requested to repeal them. Journals of Congress (Ed. 1801), xii., 23, 24. On April 13th, the Secretary for Foreign Affairs (Jay) reported a letter to the States, which was agreed to, to accompany the resolutions of March 21st. It regretted that in some of the States too little attention had been paid to the public faith pledged by the treaty, and urged the binding nature of a treaty upon each member of the Confederacy. Id. 22, et seq.
[1 ]From the Madison Papers (1840).
[1 ]This memorandum is written on small sheets of paper, which, put together, formed a compact little book, suited to be carried in the pocket. There are 39 pages, and it would seem Madison intended extending it, for an extra page is headed “Gryson Confederacy.”
[2 ]L’Esprit des Lois (1748).
[3 ]Canton of Grisons, Switzerland.
[4 ]Code de l’Humanité on la Legislation, by Felice in 13 vols.
[1 ]Translation: Strabo [Lib. xiv, cap. iii], moreover, mentions the lack of laws of the Lycians: concerning which we will add a little to what he says.—There were twenty-three cities, divided into three classes, according to their power. To the first class belonged the six largest, to the second those of intermediate rank, the number of which is uncertain, to the third all the rest, whose importance was very small. And each of these cities took care of its affairs at home, and had its own magistrates and its own system of civil government, but all, uniting, formed one joint republic, and had one deliberative assembly, a greater senate, as it were. In that assembly they deliberated and decided concerning war, peace and treaties, and, in a word, concerning all the affairs of Lycia. Persons sent from each city with the right to vote met in this assembly; and, in that matter, they were governed by a most equitable law. For any city of the first class had the right to cast three votes, of the second two, of the third one. In the same proportion they also paid taxes, and performed other duties. For as reason itself dictates, and as equity demands that those who possess more and are richer than others, should contribute more to the public service and the support of the State, thus also the same rule of equity requires that, in deciding with regard to the common interest, those same persons should have greater influence than others; especially since they are more interested in the welfare of the State than are the poor. They had no fixed place for this assembly, but they selected, from the entire number, the city that seemed best suited to the occasion. The assembly having convened, they first designated a Lyciarch as head of the whole State; they next chose other magistrates to govern the component parts of the State, and finally, they established courts of justice. And they did all these things maintaining the same proportion, so that no city was neglected, or was excluded from participation in these functions and honors. And this state of things remained unchanged until the time when the Romans, having become masters of Asia, brought it also under their control.
[1 ]Encyclopédie, published under the direction of Diderot and d’Alembert.
[1 ]John Potter’s Archeologia Græca, two volumes, Oxford, (1688-9).
[1 ]Polybe’s General History (probably the Paris edition of 1609).
[1 ]Translation: This assembly was invested with the supreme authority, and in pursuance of its decisions wars were begun and ended, and laws became valid and were abrogated. It was also within its province to choose magistrates common to the whole community, to decide upon sending embassies, etc. . . . The prætor, especially, presided over the assembly, if he was present, and also other magistrates, whom the Achæi called δημιουςγοί. These were ten in number, and were elected from the entire community by a vote of the legitimate assembly (which was held in the spring) as being eminent for wisdom, and their advice was mainly followed by the prætor, according to law. Their power and dignity were next to those of the prætor and therefore Livy, following Polybius(II, 38 seq.), calls them the chief magistracy of the Achæans. With these therefore the prætor consulted beforehand concerning the transaction of the more important business in the assembly, nor was it allowable, unless the majority concurred, to lay it before the assembly.
That was indeed a specially memorable law, drawing very close the bond of the Achæan league, and strengthening harmony; by it any city forming part of this league was forbidden to send, independently, ambassadors to any foreign nation; they were not to send them to the Romans, and not to others. And this was expressly inserted in the treaties of the Achæans with the Roman people. . . . The most excellent law of all was in force among them . . . whereby any one, whether a private individual or a magistrate, was forbidden to accept gifts from any King on any account whatever.
[1 ]Note in Madison’s writings: By ye Convention of Stantz, any member attacked has a direct claim on the succour of the whole confederacy. Coxe, p. 343. William Coxe’s Voyages.
[1 ]Sir William Temple’s Remarks on the United Provinces (1674).
[1 ]Gabriel Bonnot de Mably (1709-1785).
[1 ]From the context it would appear that this sketch was written about the year 1835, when Madison was preparing for posthumous publication his journal of the constitutional convention. It is an exceedingly rough draft, written upon separate slips of paper, and some of these slips have been lost since Gilpin used the sketch in his edition of Madison’s Works (1840). The Bulletin of the Bureau of Rolls and Library, Department of State, No. 9, October, 1897, contained about a fifth part of the sketch, but since then all of it has been found, except the last four paragraphs which are reprinted here from the Gilpin edition.
[2 ]The word “confederacies” also appears here parallel with “confederal.”
[3 ]The word “operations” also appears here.
[4 ]“and leading to another” also appears.
[5 ]The word “precedent” also appears.
[1 ]“extortion” also appears.
[2 ]“plan” also appears.
[3 ]“experimental” also appears.
[4 ]“met” also appears.
[1 ]“preliminary” also appears.
[1 ]“that would not be abandoned” also appears.
[2 ]“reluctance” also appears.
[1 ]“was” also appears.
[2 ]“relief” also appears.
[1 ]See address of Congress. Note in MS. It may be found in Vol. I, p. 454, n., of this edition.
[2 ]“cause” also appears.
[3 ]“to” also appears.
[1 ]“its members” also appear.
[2 ]“Resolved, that Edmund Randolph, James Madison, Jr., Walter Jones, St. George Tucker, and Meriwether Smith, Esquires, be appointed Commissioners, who, or any three of whom, shall meet such Commissioners as may be appointed in the other States of the Union, at a time and place to be agreed on, to take into consideration the trade of the United States; to examine the relative situations and trade of said States; to consider how far a uniform system in their commercial regulations may be necessary to their common interest and their permanent harmony; and to report to the several States such an act, relative to this great object, as, when unanimously ratified by them, will enable the United States in Congress effectually to provide for the same.” See Madison’s letter of Jany. 22, 1786, to Jefferson.
[1 ]The adoption of the address was the only thing done by the Annapolis meeting. The draft was submitted by Hamilton at a conference and some of the more radical features were toned down at the insistence of Randolph. Madison said to Hamilton: “You had better yield to this man, for otherwise all Virginia will be against you.”—Morse’s Hamilton, I, 167. The address was as follows:
* * * “Deeply impressed, however, with the magnitude and importance of the object confided to them on this occasion, your Commissioners cannot forbear to indulge an expression of their earnest and unanimous wish, that speedy measures may be taken to effect a general meeting of the States in a future Convention, for the same and such other purposes, as the situation of public affairs may be found to require.
“If, in expressing this wish, or in intimating any other sentiment, your Commissioners should seem to exceed the strict bounds of their appointment, they entertain a full confidence, that a conduct dictated by an anxiety for the welfare of the United States will not fail to receive an indulgent construction.
“In this persuasion, your Commissioners submit an opinion, that the idea of extending the powers of their Deputies to other objects than those of commerce, which has been adopted by the State of New Jersey, was an improvement on the original plan, and will deserve to be incorporated into that of a future Convention. They are the more naturally led to this conclusion, as, in the course of their reflections on the subject, they have been induced to think that the power of regulating trade is of such comprehensive extent, and will enter so far into the general system of the Federal Government, that to give it efficacy, and to obviate questions and doubts concerning its precise nature and limits, may require a correspondent adjustment of other parts of the Federal System.
“That there are important defects in the system of the Federal Government, is acknowledged by the acts of all those States which have concurred in the present meeting. That the defects, upon a closer examination, may be found greater and more numerous than even these acts imply, is at least so far probable, from the embarrassments which characterize the present state of our national affairs, foreign and domestic, as may reasonably be supposed to merit a deliberate and candid discussion, in some mode which will unite the sentiments and councils of all the States. In the choice of the mode, your Commissioners are of opinion, that a Convention of deputies from the different States, for the special and sole purpose of entering into this investigation, and digesting a plan for supplying such defects as may be discovered to exist, will be entitled to a preference, from considerations which will occur without being particularized.
“Your Commissioners decline an enumeration of those national circumstances on which their opinion, respecting the propriety of a future Convention with more enlarged powers, is founded; as it would be an useless intrusion of facts and observations, most of which have been frequently the subject of public discussion, and none of which can have escaped the penetration of those to whom they would in this instance be addressed. They are, however, of a nature so serious, as, in the view of your Commissioners, to render the situation of the United States delicate and critical, calling for an exertion of the united virtue and wisdom of all the members of the Confederacy.
“Under this impression, your Commissioners, with the most respectful deference, beg leave to suggest their unanimous conviction, that it may essentially tend to advance the interests of the Union, if the States by whom they have been respectively delegated would themselves concur, and use their endeavors to procure the concurrence of the other States, in the appointment of Commissioners, to meet at Philadelphia on the second Monday in May next, to take into consideration the situation of the United States; to devise such further provisions as shall appear to them necessary to render the constitution of the Federal Government adequate to the exigencies of the Union; and to report such an act for that purpose, to the United States in Congress assembled, as, when agreed to by them, and afterwards confirmed by the Legislatures of every State, will effectually provide for the same.
“Though your Commissioners could not with propriety address these observations and sentiments to any but the States they have the honor to represent, they have nevertheless concluded, from motives of respect, to transmit copies of this Report to the United States in Congress assembled, and to the Executives of the other States.”
[1 ]“Trust” also appears.
[2 ]“Bill” and “act” also appear.
[3 ]“Bill” also appears.
[4 ]It was written by Madison:
“Whereas, the Commissioners who assembled at Annapolis, on the fourteenth day of September last, for the purpose of devising and reporting the means of enabling Congress to provide effectually for the commercial interests of the United States, have represented the necessity of extending the revision of the Federal system to all its defects; and have recommended that deputies for that purpose be appointed by the several Legislatures, to meet in Convention in the City of Philadelphia, on the second Monday of May next,—a provision which seems preferable to a discussion of the subject in Congress, where it might be too much interrupted by the ordinary business before them, and where it would, besides, be deprived of the valuable counsels of sundry individuals who are disqualified by the constitutions or laws of particular States, or restrained by peculiar circumstances from a seat in that Assembly:
“And whereas, the General Assembly of this Commonwealth, taking into view the actual situation of the Confederacy, as well as reflecting on the alarming representations made from time to time, by the United States in Congress, particularly in their act of the fifteenth day of February last, can no longer doubt that the crisis is arrived at which the good people of America are to decide the solemn question, whether they will, by wise and magnanimous efforts, reap the just fruits of that independence which they have so gloriously acquired, and of that union which they have cemented with so much of their common blood; or whether, by giving way to unmanly jealousies and prejudices, or to partial and transitory interests, they will renounce the auspicious blessings prepared for them by the Revolution, and furnish to its enemies an eventual triumph over those, by whose virtue and valour, it has been accomplished:
“And whereas, the same noble and extended policy, and the same fraternal and affectionate sentiments, which originally determined the citizens of this Commonwealth to unite with their brethren of the other States, in establishing a federal government, cannot but be felt with equal force now, as motives to lay aside every inferior consideration, and to concur in such farther concessions and provisions, as may be necessary to secure the great objects for which that government was instituted, and to render the United States as happy in peace, as they have been glorious in war.
“Be it, therefore, enacted, by the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Virginia, That seven Commissioners be appointed by joint ballot of both Houses of Assembly, who, or any three of them, are hereby authorized as Deputies of this Commonwealth, to meet such Deputies as may be appointed and authorized by other States, to assemble in Convention at Philadelphia, as above recommended, and to join with them in devising and discussing all such alterations and farther provisions, as may be necessary to render the Federal Constitution adequate to the exigencies of the Union; and in reporting such an act for that purpose, to the United States in Congress, as when agreed to by them, and duly confirmed by the several States, will effectually provide for the same.
“And be it further enacted, That in case of the death of any of the said deputies, or of their declining their appointments, the Executive are hereby authorized to supply such vacancies; and the Governor is requested to transmit forthwith a copy of this act to the United States in Congress, and to the Executives of each of the States in the Union.”
[1 ]See Alexander Hamilton to James Duane, Sept. 3, 1780. Works of Hamilton (Lodge), i., 203.
[2 ]— he wished to see a general convention with the object of strengthening the federal constitution instead of several conventions of representatives of the several sections of the country. Vol. i., 439, of this edition.
[3 ]The reference is incorrect, and should be to the sketch of Hamilton in Longacre, Vol. ii.: “The same legislature [of 1782] that appointed him [Hamilton] unanimously passed resolutions, introduced into the senate by General Schuyler, declaring that the confederation was defective in not giving congress power to provide revenue for itself, or in not investing them with funds from established and productive sources; and that it would be advisable to revise and amend the confederation.”
[4 ]— that a general convention to revise the articles of confederation is being talked about in congress.
[5 ]— that he favors the project, but doubts if it is favored in Virginia. See his letter to Lee, December 24, 1784, ante.
[1 ]“Sketches of American Policy,” published in the winter of 1784-85. Longacre Vol. ii.
[2 ]Cf. the letters of Monroe to Madison, December 26, 1785, February 11 and March 19, 1786. Writings of Monroe, i., 109, 122, 123. The letter of Grayson is dated New York, March 22, 1786:
* * * * * * * *
“There has been a great contest in Jersey for the Argent papier; but though it went triumphantly through the lower house, it was lost in the Council, 8 to 5,—some of the Members who were adverse to it, have been burnt in effigy, in particular Colo Ogden at or near Elizabeth town: the old Governor was drawn up to the Stake but pardoned, on account of his having been the first magistrate: This same Jersey bill was one of the most iniquitous things I ever saw in my life; the money was a tender, if it was refused, the debt was suspended for 12 years, in the mean time the act of limitation ran of course, which in effect destroyed it.—Jersey has not been singular in her attempts at cheating: in this place a bill is depending, of the same purport as that of Jersey, & which it is probable will pass, although it is violently opposed by the upright & respectable part of the Commy. The Antients were surely men of more candor than We are; they contended openly for an abolition of debts in so many words, while we strive as hard for the same thing under the decent & specious pretense of a circulating medium. Montesquieu was not wrong when he said the democratical might be as tyranical as the despotic, for where is there a greater act of despotism than that of issuing paper to depreciate for the purpose of paying debts, on easy terms; If Lord Effingham is right that an act agt. the Constitution is void, surely paper money with a tender annexed to it is void for is it not an attack upon property, the security of which is made a fundamental in every State in the Union:—There has been some serious thoughts in the minds of some of the Members of Congress to recommend to the States the meeting of a general Convention, to consider, of an alteration of the Confederation & there is a motion to this effect now under Consideration: it is contended that the present Confederation is utterly inefficient, and that if it remains much longer in its present State of imbecillity we shall be one of the most contemptible Nations on the face of the Earth:—for my own part I have not yet made up my mind on the subject: I am doubtful whether it is not better to bear those ills we have than fly to others that we know not of: I am however in no doubt about the weakness of the foederal Government: if it was weaker notwithstanding, it would answer if the States had power as in the United Netherlands the foederal Government is weak but the Individual States are strong—It is no wonder our Government should not work well, being formed on the Dutch model where circumstances are so materially different:— * * * .”
[1 ]“High” also appears.
[1 ]The allusion is to the act of the Virginia Assembly passed January 21, 1786, imposing a tonnage tax of 5s. on vessels of foreigners, described in Madison’s letter to Monroe of January 22, 1786, ante.
[1 ]“appearances” also appears.
[1 ]June 27, 1786, Jay wrote to Washington: “What I most fear is, that the better kind of people (by which I mean the people who are orderly and industrious, who are content with their situations, and not uneasy in their circumstances) will be led by the insecurity of property, the loss of confidence in their rulers, and the want of public faith and rectitude, to consider the charms of liberty as imaginary and delusive. A state of uncertainty and fluctuation must disgust and alarm such men, and prepare their minds for almost any change that may promise them quiet and security.” In the course of his reply Washington said: “What astonishing changes a few years are capable of producing! I am told that even respectable characters speak of a monarchical form of government without horror. From thinking, proceeds speaking, thence to acting is often but a single step. But how irrevocable and tremendous! what a triumph for our enemies to verify their predictions!—what a triumph for the advocates of despotism to find that we are incapable of governing ourselves, and that systems founded on the basis of equal liberty are merely ideal and fallacious! Would to God that wise measures may be taken in time to avert the consequences we have but too much reason to apprehend.”—Marshall’s Washington (2d. Ed.), ii., 107, 109.
From New York, October 28, 1786, Knox wrote to Washington as follows:
“. . . Our political machine constituted of thirteen independent sovereignties, have [sic] been constantly operating against each other, and against the federal head, ever since the peace. The powers of Congress are utterly inadequate to preserve the balance between the respective States, and oblige them to do those things which are essential to their own welfare, and for the general good. The human mind in the local legislatures seems to be exerted, to prevent the federal constitution from having any beneficial effects. The machine works inversely to the public good in all its parts. Not only is State against State, and all against the federal head, but the States within themselves possess the name only, without having the essential concomitant of government, the power of preserving the peace, the protection of the liberties and property of the citizens.
“On the first impression of Faction and licentiousness the fine theoretic government of Massachusetts has given way, and its laws arrested and trampled under foot. Men at a distance, who have admired our systems of government, unfounded in nature, are apt to accuse the rulers, and say that taxes have been assessed too high and collected too rigidly. This is a deception equal to any that has hitherto been entertained. It is indeed a fact, that high taxes are the ostensible cause of the commotions, but that they are the real cause is as far remote from truth as light from darkness. The people who are the insurgents have never paid any, or but very little taxes. But they see the weakness of government; They feel at once their own poverty, compared with the opulent, and their own force, and they are determined to make use of the latter, in order to remedy the former. Their creed is ‘That the property of the United States has been protected from the confiscation of Great Britain by the joint exertions of all, and therefore ought to be the common property of all. And he that attempts opposition to this creed is an enemy to equity and justice, and ought to be swept from off the face of the earth.’ In a word they are determined to annihilate all debts public and private and have agrarian Laws, which are easily affected by the means of unfortunate paper money which shall be a tender in all cases whatever.
“The numbers of these people amount in Massachusetts to about one fifth part of several populous counties, and to them may be collected, people of similar sentiments, from the States of Rhode Island, Connecticut and New Hampshire so as to constitute a body of 12 or 15000 desperate & unprincipled men. They are chiefly of the young and active part of the community, more easily collected than perhaps kept together afterwards. But they will probably commit overt acts of treason, which will compell them to embody for their own safety—once embodied they will be constrained to submit to discipline for the same reason. Having proceeded to this length for which they are now ripe, we shall have a formidable rebellion against reason, the principles of all government, and the very name of liberty. This dreadful situation has alarmed every man of principle and property in New England. They start as from a dream, and ask what has been the cause of our delusion? what is to afford us security against the violence of lawless men? Our government must be braced, changed, or altered to secure our lives and property. We imagined that the mildness of our government and the virtue of the people were so correspondent, that we were not as other nations requiring brutal force to support the laws. But we find that we are men, actual men, possessing all the turbulent passions belonging to that animal and that we must have government proper and adequate for him. The people of Massachusetts for instance, are far advanced in this doctrine, and the men of reflection, & principle, are determined to endeavor to establish a government which shall have the power to protect them in their lawful pursuits, and which will be efficient in all cases of internal commotions or foreign invasions. They mean that liberty shall be the basis, a liberty resulting from the equal and firm administration of the laws. They wish for a general government of unity as they see the local legislatures, must naturally and necessarily tend to retard and frustrate all general government.
“We have arrived at that point of time in which we are forced to see our national humiliation, and that a progression in this line, cannot be productive of happiness either public or private. Something is wanting and something must be done or we shall be involved in all the horror of faction and civil war without a prospect of its termination. Every tried friend to the liberties of his country is bound to reflect, and to step forward to prevent the dreadful consequences which will result from a government of events. Unless this is done we shall be liable to be ruled by an arbitrary and capricious armed tyranny, whose word and will must be law. . . .”—Wash. MSS.
[1 ]“perhaps” also appears.