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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. 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 were certainly 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. 143
TO EDMUND RANDOLPH.
New York, April 22, 1787. Dear Sir,
I have the pleasure of yours of the eleventh instant, acknowledging mine of the second. In some of your letters I observe you do not say whether any have been received from me or not. I have not omitted to write, in a single instance, since our correspondence commenced.
The time approaches so nearly when I shall have an opportunity of making verbal communications on confidential points, that I forbear to commit them to paper.
Congress are deliberating on the plan most eligible for disposing of the Western territory not yet surveyed. Some alteration will probably be made in the ordinance on that subject, in which the idea of townships will not be altogether abandoned, but rendered less expensive. An act passed yesterday providing for the sale of the surveyed lands, under the direction of the Treasury board. The price to be one dollar at the lowest; the sale is to be duly advertised in all the States, but the office is to be opened and held where Congress shall sit. The original plan of distributing the sale through all the States was certainly objectionable. To confine it to one place, and that so remote as New York is, both from the centre of the Union and the premises in question, cannot be less so.
The inhabitants of the Illinois complain of the land-jobbers, particularly Pentecost and Clarke, who are purchasing titles among them. Those of St. Vincent's complain of the defect of criminal and civil justice among them, as well as of military protection. These matters are before Congress, and are found to be infinitely embarrassing.
A copper coinage was agreed on yesterday to the amount of two hundred and odd thousand dollars. It is to be executed under a contract between the Treasury Board and the Coiner, and under the inspection of a person to be appointed on the part of the United States,-fifteen per cent. to be drawn from this operation into the Federal Treasury.
A great revolution is taking place in the administration in Massachusetts. Bowdoin is displaced in favour of Hancock. A great proportion of the Senate is already changed, and a greater is expected in the other branch of the Assembly. A paper emission there also is much feared by the friends of
justice. I find that the fetter originally pat on the Deputies from that State to the Convention was taken off in consequence of the recommendatory act of Congress, and that the commission was adjusted to that act.
Connecticut has not yet been in Assembly, and, of course, has not decided on the Convention. I am told the changes which are taking place in her elections are far from strengthening the probability of her concurrence.
TO THOMAS JEFFERSON,
New York, April 23, 1787. DEAR SIR,
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