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movements of the Prussian troops have disconcerted the patriotic party and their supporters, and it seems as if the Stadtholder would gain a complete triumph. What effect this may have on the Government of that country, I cannot undertake to foretell. I have never been inclined to think that complete success to the views of either party would be favorable to the people. If the Stadtholdership were abolished, the government, unless further changes occurred, would be a simple aristocracy. Should the patriots, as they call themselves, be excluded from the government, the Stadtholder would be an absolute monarch. Whilst both continue, they check each other; which is absolutely necessary, as the people have no check on either. The consequence of the people arises from the competitions of the two for their favor. In general the lower orders have been partizans of the Stadtholder. They are so, it is said, in the present contest.
We have not more than two or three States as yet attending. It is altogether conjectural when the deficiency of a quorum will be made up.
No recent indications of the views of the States as to the Constitution have come to my knowledge. The elections in Connecticut are over, and, as far as the returns are known, a large majority are friendly to it. Doctor Johnson says, it will be pretty certainly adopted; but there will be opposition. The power of taxing any thing but imports appears to be the most popular topic among the adversaries. The Convention of Pennsylvania is sitting. The result there will not reach you first through my hands. The divisions on preparatory questions, as they are published in the newspapers, shew that the party in favor of the Constitution have forty-four or forty-five vs. twenty-two or twenty-four, or thereabouts.
The enclosed paper contains two numbers of the Federalist. This paper was begun about three weeks ago, and proposes to go through the subject. I have not been able to collect all the numbers, since my return from Philadelphia, or I would have sent them to you. I have been the less anxious, as I understand the printer means to make a pamphlet of them, when I can give them to you in a more convenient form. You will probably discover marks of different pens. I am not at liberty to give you any other key than that I am in myself for a few numbers, and that one besides myself was a member of the Convention.150
TO THOMAS JEFFERSON.
New York, December 20, 1787. Dear Sir,
Mr. De la Forest, the Consul here, called on me a few days ago, and told me he had information, that the Farmers General and Mr. Morris, having found their contract mutually advantageous, are evading the resolutions of the Committee by tacit arrangements for its continuance. He observed, that the object of the Farmers was singly profit, that of the Government two fold, revenue and commerce. It was consequently the wish of the latter to render the monopoly as little hurtful to the trade with America as possible. He suggested as an expedient, that the Farmers should be required to divide the contracts among six or seven houses, French and American, who should be required to ship annually to America a reasonable proportion of goods. This, he supposed, would produce some competition in the purchases here, and would introduce a competition also with British goods here. The latter condition, he said, could not be well required of, or executed by, a single contractor, and the Government could not abolish the farm. These ideas were meant for you.
Since the date of my other letter, the Convention of Delaware have unanimously adopted the new Constitution. That of Pennsylvania has adopted it by a majority of 46 against 23. That of New Jersey is sitting and will adopt pretty unanimously. These are all the Conventions that have met. I hear from North Carolina that the Assembly there is well disposed. Mr. Henry, Mr. Mason, R. H. Lee, and the Governor, continue by their influence to strengthen the opposition in Virginia. The Assembly there is engaged in several mad freaks. Among others a bill has been agreed to in the House of Delegates, prohibiting the importation of rum, brandy, and all other spirits not distilled from some American production. All brewed liquors under the same description, with beef, tallow candles, cheese, &c., are included in the prohibition. In order to enforce this despotic measure, the most despotic means are resorted to. If any person be found, after the commencement of the act, in the use or possession of any of the prohibited articles, though acquired previously
to the law, he is to lose them, and pay a heavy fine. This is the form in which the bill was agreed to by a large majority in the House of Delegates. It is a child of Mr. Henry, and said to be a favorite one. They first voted, by a majority of thirty, that all legal obstructions to the treaty of peace, should cease in Virginia as soon as laws complying with it should have passed in all the other States. This was the result of four days' debate, with the most violent opposition from Mr. Henry. A few days afterward he renewed his efforts, and got a vote, by a majority of fifty, that Virginia would not comply until Great Britain shall have complied.
The States seem to be either wholly omitting to provide for the Federal Treasury; or to be withdrawing the scanty appropriations made to it. The latter course has been taken by Massachusetts, Virginia, and Delaware. The Treasury Board seems to be in despair of maintaining the shadow of government much longer. Without money, the offices must be shut up, and the handful of troops on the frontier disbanded, which will probably bring on an Indian war, and make an impression to our disadvantage on the British garrisons within our limits.'
TO GENERAL WASHINGTON.
New York, December 20, 1787. DEAR SIR,
I was favored on Saturday with your letter of the seventh instant, along with which was covered the printed letter of Colonel R. H. Lee to the Governor.
It does not appear to me to be a very formidable attack on the new Constitution; unless it should derive an influence from the names of the correspondents, which its intrinsic merits do not entitle it to. He is certainly not perfectly accurate in the statement of all his facts; and I should infer from the tenor of the objections in Virginia that his plan of an Executive would hardly be viewed as an amendment of that of the Convention. It is a little singular that three of the most distinguished advocates for amendments; and who expect to unite the thirteen States in their project, appear to be pointedly at variance with each other on one of the capital articles of the system. Colonel Lee proposes, that the President should choose a Council of eleven, and with their advice have the appointment of all offi
Colonel Mason's proposition is, that a Council of six should be appointed by the Congress. What degree of power he would confide to it, I do not know. The idea of the Governor is, that there should be a plurality of co-equal heads, distinguished probably by other peculiarities in the organization. It is pretty certain that some others who make a common cause with them in the general attempt to bring about alterations, differ still more from them than they do from each other; and that they themselves differ as much on some other great points, as on the constitution of the Executive.
You did not judge amiss of Mr. Jay. The paragraph affirming a change in his opinion of the plan of the Convention, was an arrant forgery. He has contradicted it in a letter to Mr. J. Vaughan which has been printed in the Philadelphia gazettes.