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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 pre
cautions 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 penerate 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.!40
TO EDMUND RANDOLPH.
New York, March 25, 1787. DEAR SIR,
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 ;* though on the other hand, there is reason to believe that they will never reach the object at which they aimed.
* Jay's project for shutting the Mississippi for twenty-five years.
Congress have not changed the day for meeting at Philadelphia, as you imagine. The act of Virginia, I find, has done so in substituting the 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."
TO EDMUND RANDOLPH.
New York, April 2, 1787. DEAR SIR,
I have your favor of the fifteenth ultimo. All of preceding date have already been acknowledged. The information which you wished to go to Mr. Guardoqui has been communicated. The real impression made by it cannot easily be seen through the political veil. If he views the state of Western affairs in the true light, his representations to Spain must convince her that she has no option but between concession and hostilities. It is to be lamented that so many circumstances have concurred to enlist her pride on the side of the latter alternative.
The papers accompanying the advice of the Council as to Clark, have been laid before Congress. Similar communications have also been made from North Carolina. The impression they have made is not unfriendly, I conjecture, to the rights of the Western people, and it is probable that a rediscussion of these may be produced by the occasion. Our strength, however, is unequal to any effectual vote. A reinforcement from either Maryland or South Carolina would, I believe, supply the defect, Pennsylvania having lately appointed Armstrong in the place of Pettit, which throws that State into the right scale. We have some hopes also of Rhode Island. She begins to see the policy of some States in her neighborhood, in excluding the Federal territory from the market at which they offer their own.