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There seems to be but little thought at present in the particular States, of mending their particular constitutions; but the grand Federal Constitution * is generally blamed as not having given sufficient powers to Congress, the federal head. A convention is therefore appointed to revise that constitution, and propose a better. You will see by the enclosed paper, that your friend is to be one in that business, though he doubts his malady may not permit his giving constant attendance. I am glad to see, that you are named as one of a General Assembly to be convened in France. I flatter myself, that great good may accrue to that dear nation from the deliberations of such an assembly. I pray God to give it his blessing.
I sympathize with you and the family most sincerely, in the great loss sustained by the decease of that excellent woman.t It must be indeed a heavy one. My best wishes attend those that remain, and that the happiness of your sweet domestic society may long continue without such another interruption.
I send herewith a volume of the Transactions of our Philosophical Society for you, another for M. de Condorcet, and a third for the Academy. The war had interrupted our attempts to improve ourselves in scientific matters, but we now begin to resume them.
The bearer of this is Mr. Paine, the author of a famous piece, entitled Common Sense, published here with great effect on the minds of the people at the beginning of the Revolution. He is an ingenious, honest man; and as such I beg leave to recommend him to your civilities. He carries with him the model of a bridge of a new construction, his own invention, concerning
which I intended to have recommended him to M. Pey
• The Old Confederation.
t The Duchess d'Enrille, mother of the Duke de la Rochefoucauld. — W. T. F.
ronnet, but I hear he is no more. You can easily procure Mr. Paine a sight of the models and drawings of the collection appertaining to the Punts et Chausstes; they must afford him useful lights on the subject. We want a bridge over our river Schuylkill, and have no artist here regularly bred to that kind of architecture.
My grandsons are very sensible of the honor of your remembrance, and desire me to present their respects. With the most sincere and perfect esteem and attachment, I am ever, my dear friend, &c.
TO THE MARQUIS DE CHASTELLUX.
His Journal of Travels.—Assembly of JVolables.
Philadelphia, 17 April, 1787.
Your most pleasing letter, accompanied by the invaluable present of your Journal,* and translation of Colonel Humphreys's poem, came to hand but lately, though dated in June last . I believe they have been in the West Indies. They have given me a great deal of pleasure in the perusal, as every thing of yours always did. The portrait you have made of our country and people is what in painting is called a handsome likeness, for which we are much obliged to you. We shall be the better for it, if we endeavour to merit what you kindly say in our favor, and to correct what you justly censure. I am told the Journal is translated into English, and printed in one of the States, I know not which, not having seen the translation.
The newspapers tell us, that you are about to have an Assembly of Notables, to consult on improvements of your government. It is somewhat singular, that we should be engaged in the same project here at the same time; but so it is, and a convention for the purpose of revising and amending our federal constitution is to meet at this place next month. I hope both assemblies will be blessed with success, and that their deliberations and counsels may promote the happiness of both nations.
* Journal of Travela in America.
In the State of Pennsylvania, government, notwithstanding our parties, goes on at present very smoothly, so that I have much less trouble in my station than was expected. Massachusetts has lately been disturbed by some disorderly people; but they are now quelled. The rest of the States go on pretty well, except some dissensions in Rhode Island and Maryland respecting paper money. Mr. Paine, whom you know, and who undertakes to deliver this letter to you, can give you full information of our affairs, and therefore I need not enlarge upon them. I beg leave to recommend him to your civilities. I have fulfilled all your commissions to the ladies here, who are much flattered by your kind remembrance of them. My family job in every sentiment of esteem and respect with, my dear friend, yours most affectionately,
TO MESSRS. THE ABBES CHALtTT AND ARNAUD.
Philadelphia, 17 April, 1787.
Your reflections on our situation, compared with that of many nations of Europe, are very sensible and just. Let me add, that only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters.
Our public affairs go on as well as can reasonably
Vol. x. 38
opinion; which condescension will very much oblige, Sir, your most obedient servant,
FROM JOHN SEVIER TO B. FRANKLIN.
Concerning the New State of Franklin.
State of Franklin, Mount Pleasant, 9 April, 1787.
Permit me to introduce to your Excellency the subject of our new disputed government. In the year 1784, in the month of June, the legislature of North Carolina ceded to Congress all their claim to the lands west of the Appalachian Mountains, on conditions I make no doubt you are acquainted with, as the act was shortly after laid before Congress. The inhabitants of this country, well knowing that the Congress of the United States would accept the cession, and having no idea that North Carolina would attempt repealing the act, formed themselves into a separate and independent State by the name of Franklin.
In November following, North Carolina repealed this act of cession. In May, 1785, Congress took the several acts under their consideration, and entered into resolves respecting the same, the purport of which, I presume, you are acquainted with. The government of Franklin was carried on unmolested by North Carolina, until November, 1785, when that legislature passed an act, allowing the people in some of our counties to hold elections under certain regulations unknown to any former law; whereby a few, from disaffection and disappointment, might have it in their power to elect persons, who were to be considered the legal delega
• See the answer to this letter, Vol. VI. p. 571.
tion of the people. This was done and countenanced; and at their last session, in November, 1786, they have undertaken to reassume their jurisdiction and sovereignty over the State of Franklin, notwithstanding the whole of their adherents do not exceed two or three hundred against a majority of at least seven thousand effective militia. They have, contrary to the interest of the people in two of the counties, to wit, Washington and Sullivan, by their acts removed the former places of holding courts to certain places convenient to the disaffected, as we conceive, in order that they might have a pretext to prevaricate upon.
I have thus given your Excellency the outlines of our past and present situation, and beg leave to inform you, that, from your known patriotic and benevolent disposition, as also your great experience and wisdom, I am, by and with the advice of our Council of State, induced to make this application, that, should you, from this simple statement of the several occurrences, think our cause so laudable, as to give us your approbation, you would be pleased to condescend to write on the subject. And any advice, instruction, or encouragement, you may think we shall deserve, will be acknowledged in the most grateful manner.
We have been informed, that your Excellency some time since did us the honor to write to us on the subject of our State; if so, unfortunately for us, the letters have miscarried, and are not come to hand. Many safe conveyances might be had. A letter may be sent by the bearer, Captain John Woods, if he should return by the way of Franklin; or, if it were directed to the care of the Governor of Georgia, it would come safe; and perhaps by a number of people who travel to this country. I have the honor to be, Sir, &.c.