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had been omitted. On the other side, the right of Congress was not denied, but the inexpediency of exerting it was urged on the following grounds ;first, that every circumstance indicated that the introduction of Congress as a party to the reform was intended by the States merely as a matter of form and respect; secondly, that it was evident, from the contradictory objections which had been expressed by the different members who had animadverted on the plan, that a discussion of its merits would consume much time, without producing agreement even among its adversaries; thirdly, that it was clearly the intention of the States that the plan to be proposed should be the act of the Convention, with the assent of Congress, which could not be the case, if alterations were made, the Convention being no longer in existence to adopt them; fourthly, that as the act of the Convention, when altered, would instantly become the mere act of Congress, and must be proposed by them as such, and of course be addressed to the Legislatures, not Conventions of the States, and require the ratification of thirteen instead of nine States, and as the unaltered act would go forth to the States directly from the Convention under the auspices of that body, some States might ratify the one and some the other of the plans, and confusion and disappointment be the least evils that would ensue. These difficulties, , which at one time threatened a serious division in Congress, and popular alterations, with the Yeas and Nays on the Journals, were at length fortunately terminated by the following Resolution: “ Congress having received the Report of the Convention lately assembled in Philadelphia, Resolved unanimously that the said Report, with the Resolutions and letter accompanying the same, be transmitted to the several Legislatures, in order to be submitted to a Convention of Delegates chosen in each State by the people thereof, in conformity to the Resolves of the Convention made and provided in that case.” Eleven States were present, the absent ones, Rhode Island and Maryland. A more direct approbation would have been of advantage in this and some other States, where stress will be laid on the agency of Congress in the matter, and a handle be taken by adversaries of any ambiguity on the subject. With regard to Virginia and some other States, reserve on the part of Congress will do no injury. The circumstance of unanimity must be favorable every where.
The general voice of this City seems to espouse the new Constitution. It is supposed nevertheless that the party in power is strongly opposed to it. The country must finally decide, the sense of which is as yet wholly unknown. As far as Boston and Connecticut have been heard from, the first impression seems to be auspicious. I am waiting with anxiety for the echo from Virginia, but with very faint hopes of its corresponding with my wishes.
. P. S. A small packet of the size of two volumes octavo addressed to you lately came to my hands with books of my own from France. General Pinkney has been so good as to take charge 0. them. He set out yesterday for South Carolina, and means to call at Mount Vernon.'46
TO EDMUND RANDOLPH.
New York, October 7, 1787. DEAR SIR,
Congress are at present deliberating on the requisition. The Treasury Board has reported one in specie alone, alleging the mischiefs produced by “Indents.” It is proposed by a Committee that indents be received from the States, but that the conditions tying down the States to a particular mode of procuring them, be abolished; and that the indents for one year be receivable in the quotas of any year.
St. Clair is appointed Governor of the Western country, and Major Sarjent, of Massachusetts, the Secretary of that establishment. A treaty with the Indians is on the anvil, as a supplemental provision for the Western country. It is not certain, however, that any thing will be done, as it involves money, and we shall have on the floor nine States one more day only.
We hear nothing decisive as yet concerning the general reception given to the act of the Convention. The advocates for it come forward more promptly than the adversaries. The sea coast seems every where fond of it. The party in Boston which was thought most likely to make opposition, are warm in espousing it. It is said that Mr. S. Adams objects to one point only, viz. the prohibition of a religious test. Mr. Bowdoin's objections are said to be against the great number of members composing the Legislature, and the intricate election of the President. You will no doubt have
heard of the fermentation in the Assembly of Pennsylvania."
Mr. Adams is permitted to return home after February next, with thanks for the zeal and fidelity of his services. As the commission of Smith expires at that time, and no provision is made for continuing him, or appointing a successor,
representation of the United States at the Court of London will cease at that period.
TO EDMUND RANDOLPH.
New York, October 21, 1787. DEAR SIR,
We hear that opinions are various in Virginia on the plan of the Convention. I have received, within a few days, a letter from the Chancellor, by which I find that he gives it his approbation; and another from the President of William and Mary, which, though it does not absolutely reject the Constitution, criticises it pretty freely. The newspapers in the Northern and Middle States begin to teem with controversial publications. The attacks seem to be principally levelled against the organization of the Government, and the omission of the provisions contended for in favor of the press, and juries, &c. A new combatant, however, with considerable address and plausibility, strikes at the foundation. He represents the situation of the United States to be such as to render any government improper and impracticable which forms the States into one nation, and is to operate directly on the people. Judging from
the newspapers, one would suppose that the adversaries were the most numerous and the most earnest. But there is no other evidence that it is the fact. On the contrary, we learn that the Assembly of New Hampshire, which received the Constitution on the point of their adjournment, were extremely pleased with it. All the information from Massachusetts denotes a favorable impression there. The Legislature of Connecticut have unanimously recommended the choice of a Convention in that State, and Mr. Baldwin, who is just from the spot, informs me, that, from present appearances, the opposition will be inconsiderable; that the Assembly, if it depended on them, would adopt the system almost unanimously; and that the clergy and all the literary men are exerting themselves in its favor. Rhode Island is divided; the majority being violently against it. The temper of this State cannot yet be fully discerned. A strong party is in favor of it. But they will probably be outnumbered, if those wbose numbers are not yet known should take the opposite side. New Jersey appears to be zealous. Meetings of the people in different counties are declaring their approbation, and instructing their representatives. There will probably be a strong opposition in Pennsylvania. The other side, however, continue to be sanguine. Doctor Carroll, who came hither lately from Maryland, tells me, that the public voice there appears at present to be decidedly in favor of the Constitution. Notwithstanding all these circumstances, I am far from considering the public mind as fully known, or finally settled on the subject. They amount only to a strong presump
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