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TO NOVEMBER 2, 1788,
SUBSEQUENT TO THE DEBATES OF 1787.
TO EDMUND RANDOLPH.
New York, February 15, 1787.
Having but recently got here, I had not time to add a few private lines as I wished, to our public letter. We have as yet no definitive information from Massachusetts touching the operations of General Lincoln. Little doubt, however, is entertained that the insurrection will be effectually quelled. The Legislature of that State seem to have taken great spirit from the prospect. They have come at length to the resolution of declaring the existence of a rebellion, and, it is said, mean to disarm and disfranchise all who have been engaged in it. We have no information from any other quarter, and I have not been here long enough to collect any just idea of the general politics.
TO EDMUND RANDOLPH.
New York, February 18, 1787.
Congress have received no late intelligence either from Mr. Jefferson or Mr. Adams. Nor have any interesting measures yet taken place since they have been assembled in force. Those in expectation re
late to,-first, the Mississippi. On this subject I have no information to give, not a word having passed concerning it since my arrival. Secondly, the treaty of peace. This subject is now depending in the form of a Report from Mr. Jay. I find what I was not before apprized of, that infractions on the part of the United States preceded even the violation on the other side, in the instance of the negroes. If Congress should be able to agree on any measures for carrying the treaty into execution, it seems probable that the fundamental one will be a summons of the States to remove all legal impediments which stand at present in the way. There seems to be no reason to believe that Great Britain will comply on any other conditions than those signified in the communication of Lord Carmarthen to Mr. Adams. Thirdly, the proposed Convention in May. A great disagreement of opinion exists as to the expediency of a recommendation from Congress to the backward States in favor of the meeting. In would seem as if some of the States disliked it because it is an extra-constitutional measure, and that their dislike would be removed or lessened by a sanction from Congress to it. On the other hand it is suggested, that some would dislike it the more if Congress should appear to interest themselves in it. I observe in a late newspaper, that instructions are to be brought forward in the Legislature here to the Delegates in Congress, to propose and urge their interposition in favor of the Convention. What the sense of the State is on the merit of the project, is not perfectly clear. A refusal a few days ago, by a large majority, to grant the impost, does
not augur well. Hopes, however, are entertained. The four States north of it are also still to declare their sentiments. Massachusetts, it is now expected, will appoint deputies to the Convention, and her example will be much respected by the three others. The intermediate States from New York to South Carolina, Maryland excepted, have made appointments; and Maryland has determined to do so, though she has not yet agreed on the individuals. South Carolina and Georgia are supposed by their Delegates here to be well disposed to back the plan. Fourthly, the troops raising under the authority of Congress in Massachusetts. The prospect of a close to the turbulent scenes in that quarter has produced a motion for stopping the enlistments. The Delegates from the New England States generally, and from Massachusetts in particular, are anxious that the motion should be suspended for a few weeks, that the influence of the military preparations of the United States may be continued in favor of their State measures, some of which are likely to be pretty vigorous, and to try the strength of their Government. It appears, besides, that the ringleader of the insurrection has not yet been apprehended, and, according to report, still harbours mischief. We begin to experience already the inconveniency of the clause in our treaties stipulating the privileges of the most favored nation. Mr. Van Berkel has got hold of the late act of our Assembly in favor of French wines and brandies brought in French bottoms, and contends that it violates the Dutch treaty. He has been told that these privileges are a requital for equal ones granted on the VOL. I.-39*
side of France; and that Holland must pay the price before she can claim the concession. His answer is, that nothing is said about compensation in the treaty; that it is expressly stated that the Dutch shall pay no higher duties than the most favored nation is, or shall be, obliged to pay. We tell him, the compensation is necessarily implied; and that a contrary interpretation would render the treaty too inconvenient to both the parties to be supposed the true one. He persists in alleging that it is the true one, that the treaty pursues the carrying policy marked by a like stipulation in every treaty where it could be introduced, and that the clause relative to compensation was intentionally omitted. He means to bring the matter before Congress, and to direct the Dutch Consul to protest against the duties in case of their being exacted. He professes and appears, notwithstanding, to be anxious for an amicable adjustment, and would have forborne to apply to Congress if we could have authorized a hope that the law would not be actually put in execution against Dutch cargoes. As it is, he means to put a copy of the note to Congress in our hands, that it may be communicated to the State. I have not yet thoroughly investigated the question. The letter of the treaty is on his side, the equity of it on ours. If his construction be admitted, the United States could not purchase the West India trade of Great Britain or France, without letting in Holland to the privileges granted on our part, although she should keep her ports in that quarter shut against us,-a consideration not only unjust towards us, but creating objections on the part of Great Britain or France. A
very dismal account of Clark's proceedings in the Western country has been informally laid before Congress, and will be forwarded to your department. If the information be well founded, you will probably receive a confirmation through other channels,
TO EDMUND RANDOLPH.
New York, February 25, 1787.
The Secretary's despatch will have communicated to you the Resolution of Congress giving their sanction to the proposed meeting in May next. At the date of my last, a great division of opinion prevailed on the subject, it being supposed by some of the States that the interposition of Congress was necessary to give regularity to the proceeding, and by others that a neutrality on their part was a necessary antidote for the jealousy entertained of their wishes to enlarge the powers within their own administration. The circumstance which conduced much to decide the point, was an instruction from New York to its Delegates, to move in Congress for some recommendation of a Convention. The style of the instruction makes it probable that it was the wish of this State to have a new Convention instituted, rather than the one on foot recognized. Massachusetts seemed also skittish on this point. Connecticut opposed the interposition of Congress altogether. The act of Congress is so expressed as to cover the proceedings of the States, which have already pro