November 30, 1788

My Dear Sir

Your favor of the 29th ult: was received in N. York—the pleasing one of the 19th Inst. found me in this city, whither I had come with a view either to return to N. York or proceed to Virginia as circumstances might determine—I have not sooner acknowledged your first favor, because it intimated that the subject of it admitted of delay, and I did not wish to precipitate a determination on it—although I did not foresee any addition of lights to guide me—The truth is I am fully satisfied that your calculations of advantage in the purchase are in substance at least well founded—I cannot be less so, that the proposition to me is the genuine offspring of a friendship, which demands the warmest returns and acknowledgements—an opportunity of bettering my private circumstances cannot be prudently disregarded by me—and I need not add that one more acceptable could not be found, than that in which every instance of profit to myself would be a pleasing proof of concurrent profit to you. To these considerations nothing is opposed but an inability to make the contributions which would be due & necessary on my part—and a fixt aversion to becoming a burden in the contract, and to stand in the way perhaps of other friends, who have an equal title to gratification, with the requisite means of giving effect to the plan—I do not know that within 12 months I could command more than one or two hundred pounds, unless I could dispose of property, which is not at present practicable.

You will see from the above explanation that notwithstanding my inclination, I dare not avail myself of your friendship on this occasion—any further than arrangements can be engrafted in the Bargain which will make the bargain contribute itself the means of fulfilling its obligations, and its objects. So far I shall be happy in partaking its benefits in such proportion as you may think fit—not exceeding the reparation in your own behalf—How far the means can be extracted out of the bargain you alone can determine. I apprehend that one at least of the gentlemen on whom you have cast an eye, is in no condition at present to enter into such a speculation. Wadsworth is probablyable—but I cannot even guess his dispositions on the subject—of the other I know nothing—The measures pursued at Richmond are as impolitic as they are otherwise exceptionable—if alterations of a reasonable sort are really in view, they are much more attainable from Congress than from attempts to bring about another convention. It is already decided that the latter mode is a hopeless pursuit—N. H—Mass—Con. N. J. Pena. & Delaware having appointed Senators known to be Bona fide friends to the constitution—From the 1st State will be Langdon & Bartlett—from the 2d Bowdoin & Strong—from N. Jersey, Patterson & Elmer—the others you know—Maryland, S. Carolina & Georgia will make appointments of the like complexions. The elections of Reps for Pena is over, but the result is not yet known from all the counties, little doubt is entertained on one side, that it will prove favorable, though the other side do not renounce its hopes. In the city the majority was nearly as five to one—In Lancaster county still greater I am told, and in one or two others, the proportion not less—The antifederal counties however are farthest off, and have not yet been heard from—In Berks where unanimity almost prevailed on that side, the badness of the day and the height of the waters reduced the number of voters to about 400—although the county must contain several more—In general a small proportion of the people seemed to have voted—How far this is to be charged on the weather or an indifference to the occasion I am not able to say.

I am not yet entirely recovered from the complaint which was reproduced by the journey from N. York hither—Nor am I yet absolutely decided whether I shall go back in consequence of the reappointment to Cong.—or proceed forthwith to Virga—I mean to be a member of the H. of Reps if elected to that service—and to take the proper steps for offering my services. Those of a contrary character I shall certainly decline. Even the electioneering appearance of a trip to Virga. at this crisis is not a little grating to me. Present me in the best manner to Mrs Lee. I am yrs affy


November 23, 1788

I thank you, my dear sir, for yours of the loth. The only part of it which surprises me is what you mention respecting Clinton. I cannot, however, be lieve that the plan will succeed. Nor, indeed, do I think that Clinton would be disposed to exchange his present appointment for that office, or risk his popularity by holding both. At the same time the attempt merits attention, and ought not to be neglected as chimerical or impracticable.

In Massachusetts the Electors will, I understand, be appointed by the Legislature, and will be all Federal, and ’t is probable will be, for the most part, in favor of Adams. It is said the same thing will happen in New Hampshire, and, I have reason to believe, it will be the case in Connecticut. In this State it is difficult to form any certain calculation. A large majority of the Assembly was doubtless of an Anti-federal complexion, but the schism in the party, which has been occasioned by the falling off of some of its leaders in the Convention, leaves me not without hope that, if matters are well managed, we may procure a majority for some pretty equal compromise. In the Senate we have the superiority by one. In New Jersey there seems to be no question but that the complexion of the Electors will be Federal, and I suppose, if thought expedient, they may be united in favor of Adams. Pennsylvania you can best judge of. From Delaware, Maryland, and South Carolina, I presume, we may count with tolerable assurance on Federal men; and I should imagine, if pains are taken, the danger of an Antifederal Vice-President might itself be rendered the instrument of Union. At any rate, their weight will not be thrown into the scale of Clinton, and I do not see from what quarter numbers can be marshalled in his favor equal to those who will advocate Adams, supposing even a division in the Federal votes.

On the whole I have concluded to support Adams, though I am not without apprehensions on the score we have conversed about. My principal reasons are these: First, he is a declared partisan of deferring to future experience the expediency of amendments in the system, and (although I do not altogether adopt this sentiment) it is much nearer my own than certain other doctrines. Secondly, he is certainly a character of importance in the Eastern States; if he is not Vice-President, one of two worse things will be likely to happen. Either he must be nominated to some important office, for which he is less proper, or will become a malcontent, and give additional weight to the opposition to the government. As to Knox, I cannot persuade myself that he will incline to the appointment. He must sacrifice emolument by it, which must be of necessity a primary object with him.

If it should be thought expedient to endeavor to unite on a particular character, there is a danger of a different kind to which we must not be inattentive—the possibility of rendering it doubtful who is appointed President. You know the Constitution has not provided the means of distinguishing in certain cases, and it would be disagreeable to have a man treading close upon the heels of the person we wish as President. May not the malignity of the opposition be, in some instances, exhibited even against him? Of all this we shall best judge when we know who are our Electors; and we must, in our different circles, take our measures accordingly.

I could console myself for what you mention respecting yourself, from a desire to see you in one of the executive departments, did I not perceive the representation will be defective in characters of a certain description. Wilson is evidently out of the question. King tells me he does not believe he will be elected into either House. Mr. Gouverneur Morris set out to-day for France, by way of Philadelphia. If you are not in one of the branches, the government may sincerely feel the want of men who unite to zeal all the requisite qualifications for parrying the machinations of its enemies. Might I advise, it would be, that you bent your course to Virginia.


Philadelphia, November 23, 1788

My Dear Friend,

Your two favors of the 5th & 10th instant have been duly recd. The appointments for the Senate communicated in the latter, answer to the calculations I had formed, notwithstanding the contrary appearances on which the former was founded. My only surprise is that in the present temper and disproportionate number of the anti federal part of the Assembly, my name should have been honored with so great a vote as it received. When this circumstance is combined with that of the characters which I have reason to believe concurred in it, I should be justly chargeable with a very mistaken ambition, if I did not consider the event in the light which you anticipated. I shall not be surprised if the attempt should be equally successful to shut the door of the other House agst me, which was the real object of my preference as well for the reason formerly suggested to you, as for the additional one that it will less require a stile of life with which my circumstances do not square, & for which an inadequate provision only will probably be made by the public. Being not yet acquainted with the allottment of Orange in the districts, I can form no estimate of the reception that will be given to an offer of my services. The district in which I am told it is likely to be thrown, for the choice of an Elector, is a very monitory sample of what may & probably will be done in that way.

My present situation embarrasses me somewhat. When I left N. York, I not only expected that the Choice for the Senate would be as it is, but was apprehensive yt the spirit of party might chuse to add the supposed mortification of dropping my name from the deputation to Congress for the fraction of a year remaining. I accordingly left that place under arrangements which did not require my return. At the same time, I had it in view, if left entirely to my option, to pass the Winter or part of it there, being desirous of employing some of the time in matters which need access to the papers of Congress, & supposing moreover that I should be there master more of my time yn in Virginia. The opportunity of executing my plan is given me I find by one of the votes of the Assembly. On the other hand I am now pressed by some of my friends to repair to Virginia, as a requisite expedient for counteracting the machinations agst my election into the H. of Reps. To this again I am extremely disinclined for reasons additional to the one above mentioned. It will have an electioneering appearance which I always despised and wish to shun. And as I should shew myself in Orange only, where there will probably be little difficulty, my presence could have no very favorable effect; whilst it is very possible that such a mark of solicitude strengthened by my not declining a reappointment to Congress, and now declining to serve in it, might by a dexterous misinterpretation, be made to operate on the other side. These considerations are strong inducements to join my colleagues at N. York, and leave things to their own course in Virginia. If Orange should fall into a federal district it is probable I shall not be opposed; if otherwise a successful opposition seems unavoidable. My decision however is not finally taken.

Mr Dawson arrived here this morning. He took Anapolis in his way, where he tells me the disputed election of Baltimore engages the whole attention at present.

Will you be good eno’ to enable me to answer the inclosed paper. I do not chuse to trust my recollection of the law on the subject. The enquiry comes from the French Consul at N. York.

You may continue to address yr. letters to N. York till I give you other notice as they will not be lost whatever direction I may take, and will be highly grateful if I should go thither.
Yrs most Affecty.


Paris, November 18, 1788

Dear Sir,

—My last to you was of the 31st July: since which I have received yours of July 24, Aug. 10 & 23. The first part of this long silence in me was occasioned by a knoledge that you were absent from N. York; the latter part by a want of opportunity, which has been longer than usual. Mr. Shippen being just arrived here, and to set out to-morrow for London, I avail myself of that channel of conveyance. Mr. Carrington was so kind as to send me the 2d vol. of the Amer. phil. transactions, the federalist, and some other interesting pamphlets; and I am to thank you for another copy of the federalist and the report of the instrns. to the ministers for negotiating peace. The latter unluckily omitted exactly the passage I wanted, which was what related to the navigation of the Mississippi. With respect to the Federalist, the three authors had been named to me. I read it with care, pleasure & improvement, and was satisfied there was nothing in it by one of those hands, & not a great deal by a second. It does the highest honor to the third, as being, in my opinion, the best commentary on the principles of government which ever was written. In some parts it is discoverable that the author means only to say what may be best said in defence of opinions in which he did not concur. But in general it establishes firmly the plan of government. I confess it has rectified me in several points. As to the bill of rights however I still think it should be added and I am to see that three states have at length considered the perpetual re-eligibility of the president as an article which should be amended. I should deprecate with you indeed the meeting of a new convention. I hope they will adopt the mode of amendment by Congress & the Assemblies, in which case I should not fear any dangerous innovation in the plan. But the minorities are too respectable not to be entitled to some sacrifice of opinion in the majority especially when a great proportion of them would be contented with a bill of rights. Here things internally are going on well. The Notables, now in session, have indeed passed one vote which augurs ill to the rights of the people, but if they do not obtain now so much as they have a right to, they will in the long run. The misfortune is that they are not yet ripe for receiving the blessings to which they are entitled. I doubt, for instance, whether the body of the nation, if they could be consulted, would accept of a Habeas corpus law, if offered them by the King. If the Etats generaux, when they assemble, do not aim at too much, they may begin a good constitution. There are three articles which they may easily obtain, 1, their own meeting periodically. 2, the exclusive right of taxation. 3, the right of registering laws & proposing amendments to them as exercised now by the parliaments. This last would be readily approved by the courts on account of their hostility against the parliaments, & would lead immediately to the origination of laws. The 2d has been already solemnly avowed by the King; and it is well understood there would be no opposition to the first. If they push at much more, all may fail. I shall not enter further into public details, because my letter to Mr. Jay will give them. That contains a request of permission to return to America the next spring, for the summer only. The reasons therein urged, drawn from my private affairs, are very cogent. But there is another more cogent on my mind, tho’ of a nature not to be explained in a public letter. It is the necessity of attending my daughters myself to their own country, and depositing them safely in the hands of those with whom I can safely leave them. I have deferred this request as long as circumstances would permit, and am in hopes it will meet with no difficulty. I have had too many proofs of your friendship not to rely on your patronage of it, as, in all probability, nothing can suffer by a short absence. But the immediate permission is what I am anxious about; as by going in April & returning in October I shall be sure of pleasant & short passages out & in. I must intreat your attention, my friend, to this matter, and that the answers may be sent me thro’ several channels.

Mr. Limozin at Havre, sent you by mistake a package belonging to somebody else. I do not know what it contained, but he has written to you on the subject, & prayed me to do the same. He is likely to suffer if it be not returned.

Supposing that the funding their foreign debt will be among the first operations of the new government, I send you two estimates, the one by myself, the other by a gentleman infinitely better acquainted with the subject, shewing what fund will suffice to discharge the principal and interest as it shall become due, aided by occasional loans, which the same fund will repay. I inclose them to you, because collating them together, and with your own ideas, you will be able to devise something better than either. But something must be done. This government will expect, I fancy, a very satisfactory provision for the paiment of their debt, from the first session of the new Congress. Perhaps in this matter, as well as the arrangement of your foreign affairs, I may be able when on the spot with you, to give some information & suggest some hints, which may render my visit to my native country not altogether useless. I consider as no small advantage the resuming the tone of mind of my constituents, which is lost by long absence, and can only be recovered by mixing with them: and shall particularly hope for much profit & pleasure, by contriving to pass as much time as possible with you. Should you have a trip to Virginia in contemplation for that year, I hope you will time it so as that we may be there together. I will camp you at Monticello where, if illy entertained otherwise, you shall not want for books. In firm hope of a happy meeting with you in the spring or early in summer I conclude with assurances of the sincere esteem & attachment with which I am, Dear Sir, your affectionate friend & servant.


November 18, 1788

Dear Sir:

Your last two letters have duly come to hand, and the Count de Moustier has delivered me the watch you committed to his charge. Your obliging attention to this matter claims my particular acknowledgments. I will make no apology for asking you to take the additional trouble of forwarding the enclosed to the General. I take the liberty of passing it through you, that you may, by perusing the contents, know the situation of the business.

The demand of fifty guineas is to me quite unexpected. I am sorry to add that there is too good evidence that it cost a mere trifle to the General. This, however, I mention in confidence. Nor shall I give you any further trouble on the subject. Whatever may be proper will be done.

Mrs. Hamilton requests her affectionate remembrances to Mrs. Washington, and joins me in the best wishes for you both.

P. S.—Your last letter, on a certain subject, I have received. I feel a conviction that you will finally see your acceptance to be indispensable. It is no compliment to say that no other man can sufficiently unite the public opinion or can give the requisite weight to the office in the commencement of the government. These considerations appear to me of themselves decisive. I am not sure that your refusal would not throw every thing into confusion. I am sure that it would have the worst effect imaginable. Indeed, as I hinted in a former letter, I think circumstances leave no option.


Hartford, November 16, 1788

My Dearest Friend

We Reached this place last evening and put up at a Mr. Aves private Lodgings, where we are very well accomodated. I am delighted with the view I have had of this State, the River is in full sight from the House and the fields yet retain their verdure. Lands I am told are valued here at a hundred pounds per acre, and it is not unusuall to let the Farms upon this River st four pounds per annum per acre. Manure is generally carried out in the fall. So much for Farming which is in your own Way, besides I have learnt a New Method of preserving pumpkins which is in my own way. I hope to make the journey usefull to me by further observations. I followd your injunctions Stricktly kept open the windows, walkt some times &c. but still no remedy against evening air. The day's being short and the evenings fine we wisht to improve the good weather and get on our journey as fast as possible, so rode late in the Evening by which means I got a bad cold, or rather added to that which I had when I left Home, it is however going off today. I hope you are relieved from yours and that without the assistance of Bridgham prescription. I think of you very often and how I shall get back to you. I find the weather full cold enough now for travelling with comfort. We have a very easy carriage good carefull driver and able Horses, yet find thirty miles as much as we can accomplish in one day. Some of the Road Rough enough as you well remember. Our Landlord who is an intelligent man fell into politicks to day, inquired who were talkd of for Senators in our state, &c. but finding no politicians in comapny few observations were made. He was high in praise of Dr. Johnson and Judge Elsworth, hop'd the rest of the States would send as good Men and then he did not believe that the House of Lords in England could equal them, did no like pensilvana's sending chusing a Man who had never been heard of before, he might be a good Man, but he wanted thoses Men in office whose Fame had resounded throughout all the States. I ventured to ask him who we talkd of for representatives. He said Col. Wadsworth would be one, but that much had not been said upon the Subject yet. Our Friend Trumble lives within a few doors of this House. I have sent my compliments to him to come and take a dish of Tea with us, the Messenger is not yet returnd. We propose persuing our journey early in the morning and hope to reach New York by thursday Night.

I hope to hear from you by Genll. Knox or Mr. Jarvis, pray see that our son exercises daily. I shall wnat to know a little of politicks, but ofwith them I suppose you will tell me I share no Buisness. I design to be vastly prudent I assure you hear all and say little I hope you will be in good Spirits all the Time I am gone, remembering Solomans advise that a merry Heart was good like a medicine. Love to all my friends.

Have had a charming visit from Trumble we were so happy and sociable. I wisht you had been here to have shard it, we talkd of Books a little politicks, &c. &c. and so long that, the post is just going, and I have only time to say a good Night and that I am yours most tenderly

A Adams

Dont leave my Letters upon the table.


November 9, 1788

My Dear Sir:

Your last letter but one met me at Albany attending court, from whence I am but just returned. Yours of the 2d inst. is this moment handed me.

I am very sorry for the schism you hint at among the Federalists, but I have so much confidence in the good management of the fast friends of the Constitution, that I hope no ill consequences will ensue from that disagreement. It will, however, be worthy of great care to avoid suffering a difference of opinion on collateral points, to produce any serious division between those who have hitherto drawn together on the great national question.

Permit me to add that I do not think you should allow any line to be run between those who wish to trust alterations to future experience, and those who are desirous of them at the present juncture. The rage for amendments is in my opinion rather to be parried by address than encountered with open force. And I shall therefore be loth to learn that your parties have been arranged professedly upon the distinction I have mentioned. The mode in which amendments may best be made, and twenty other matters, may serve as pretexts for avoiding the evil and securing the good.

On the question between Mr. H. and Mr. A., Mr. King will probably have informed you that I have, upon the whole, concluded that the latter ought to be supported. My measures will be taken accordingly. I had but one scruple, but after mature consideration, I have relinquished it. Mr. A., to a sound understanding, has always appeared to me to add an ardent love for the public good, and, as his further knowledge of the world seems to have corrected those jealousies which he is represented to have once been influenced by, I trust nothing of the kind suggested in my former letter will disturb the harmony of the administration. Let me continue to hear from you, and believe me to be, with very great esteem and regard, etc.


New York, November 5, 1788

Dear Sir,

The inclosed memorandum was put into my hands by Mr. St. John, the French Consul. He is a very worthy man & entitled, by his philanthropy and zealous patronage of whatever he deems useful, to much esteem and regard. You will therefore oblige me by putting it in my power to afford him the little gratification he asks. I have another request to trouble you with, which concerns myself. Col. H. Lee tells me that he has purchased the tract of land thro’ which the Canal at the great falls is to run, and on which the basin will be, for £4000. The tract contains 500 Acres only and is under the incumbrance of a Rent of £150 Sterlg per annum; but, on the other hand derives from its situation, as he supposes, a certain prospect of becoming immensely valuable. He paints it in short as the seat of an early Town, the lots of which will be immediately productive, and possessing other peculiar advantages which make the bargain inestimable. In addition to many instances of his friendship he tenders me a part in it, and urges my acceptance on grounds of advantage to myself alone. I am thoroughly persuaded that I am indebted for the proposal to the most disinterested and affectionate motives; but knowing that the fervor with which he pursues his objects sometimes affects the estimate he forms of them, and being in no condition to make hazardous experiments, it is advisable for me to have the sanction of other judgments to his opinions. You are well acquainted with the situation and can at once decide whether it presents the material and certain advantages on which Col. Lee calculates. A general intimation therefore of the light in which the matter strikes you, will lay me under a very particular obligation. I am by no means sure that in any result it will be in my power to profit by Col. Lee’s friendship, but it may be of some consequence whether the opportunity be worth attending to or not.

My information from Richmond is very unpropitious to federal policy. Yours is no doubt more full and more recent. A decided and malignant majority may do many things of a disagreeable nature; but I trust the Constitution is too firmly established to be now materially vulnerable. The elections for the Legislature of Penna. N. Jersey, & Maryland, ensure measures of a contrary complexion in those States. Indeed Virginia is the only instance among the ratifying States in which the Politics of the Legislature are at variance with the sense of the people, expressed by their Representatives in Convention. We hear nothing from Massachuts or N. Hampshire since the meeting of their General Courts. It is understood that both the appointments & arrangements for the Government will be calculated to support and as far as possible to dignify it. The public conversation seems to be not yet settled on the Vice President. Mr. Hancock & Mr. Adams have been most talked of. The former it is said rejects the idea of any secondary station; and the latter does not unite the suffrages of his own State, and is unpopular in many other places. As other candidates however are not likely to present themselves, and New England will be considered as having strong pretensions, it seems not improbable that the question will lie between the Gentlemen above named. Mr. Jay & Genl Knox have been mentioned; but it is supposed that neither of them will exchange his present situation for an unprofitable dignity.

I shall leave this in a day or two, and am not yet finally determined how far my journey may be continued Southward. A few lines on the subject above mentioned will either find me in Philada, or be there taken care of for me. Should anything occur here or elsewhere worth your attention, it shall be duly communicated by, Dear Sir your very respectful and Affectionate Servant.


New York, November 2, 1788

My Dear Friend,

I rec’d yesterday your favor of the 23d. ult. The first countenance of the assembly corresponds with the picture which my imagination had formed of it. The views of the greater part of the opposition to the federal government, and particularly of its principal leader, have ever since the Convention, been regarded by me as permanently hostile, and likely to produce every effort that might endanger or embarrass it. The defects which drew forth objections from many quarters, were evidently of little consequence in the eye of Mr H—ry. His own arguments proved it. His enmity was levelled, as he did not scruple to insinuate agst the whole system; and the destruction of the whole system I take to be still the secret wish of his heart, and the real object of his pursuit. If temperate and rational alterations only were his plan, is it conceivable that his coalition and patronage would be extended to men whose particular ideas on the subject must differ more from his own than of others who share most liberally in his hatred?

My last letter with Col. Carrington’s communications to which it referred will have sufficiently explained my sentiments with regard to the Legislative Service under the new Constitution. My first wish is to see the Government put into quiet and successful operation; and to afford any service, that may be acceptable from me, for that purpose. My second wish if that were to be consulted, would prefer, for reasons formerly hinted, an opportunity of contributing that service in the House of Reps. rather than in the Senate; provided the opportunity be attainable from the spontaneous suffrage of the Constituents. Should the real friends to the Constitution think this preference inconsistent with any primary object, as Col. Carrington tells me is the case with some who are entitled to peculiar respect, and view my renouncing it as of any material consequence, I shall not hesitate to comply.—You will not infer from the freedom with which these observations are made, that I am in the least unaware of the probability that whatever my inclinations or those of my friends may be, they are likely to be of little avail in the present case. I take it for certain that a clear majority of the assembly are enimies to the Govt. and I have no reason to suppose that I can be less obnoxious than others on the opposite side. An election into the Senate therefore can hardly come into question. I know also that a good deal will depend on the arrangements for the election of the other branch; and that much may depend moreover on the steps to be taken by the candidates which will not be taken by me. Here again therefore there must be great uncertainty, if not improbability of my election. With these circumstances in view it is impossible that I can be the dupe of false calculations even if I were in other cases disposed to indulge them. I trust it is equally impossible for the result whatever it may be, to rob me of any reflections which enter into the internal fund of comfort and happiness. Popular favor or disfavor, is no criterion of the character maintained with those whose esteem an honorable ambition must court. Much less can it be a criterion of that maintained with oneself. And when the spirit of party directs the public voice, it must be a little mind indeed that can suffer in its own estimation, or apprehend danger of suffering in that of others.

The Sepr. British Packet arrived yesterday, but I do not find that she makes any addition to the stock of European intelligence. The change in the French Minister is the only event of late date of much consequence; and that had arrived through several other channels. I do not know that it is even yet authenticited; but it seems to be doubted by no one, particularly among those who can best decide on its credibility.

With the utmost affection I am my dear sir

Yrs Sincerely.


Newer Posts Older Posts Home

Blogger Template by Blogcrowds.