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eight hundred thousand acres, which it is supposed would sell pretty readily for public securities, and some of it, lying on the Ohio, even for specie. It will be difficult, however, to get proper steps taken by Congress, so many of the States having lands of their own at market. It is supposed that this consideration had some share in the zeal for shutting the Mississippi. New Jersey, and some others having no Western lands, which favored this measure, begin now to penerate the secret.
A letter from the Governor of Virginia informs me, that the project of paper-money is beginning to recover from the blow given it at the last session of the Legislature. If Mr. Henry espouses it, of which there is little doubt, I think an emission will take place,:40
TO EDMUND RANDOLPH.
New York, March 25, 1787. DEAR SIR,
I have had the pleasure of your two favors of the first and seventh instant. The refusal of Mr. Henry to join in the task of revising the Confederation is ominous; and the more so, I fear, if he means to be governed by the event which you conjecture. There seems to be little hope, at present, of being able to quash the proceedings relative to the affair which is so obnoxious to him ;* though on the other hand, there is reason to believe that they will never reach the object at which they aimed.
* Jay's project for shutting the Mississippi for twenty-five years.
Congress have not changed the day for meeting at Philadelphia, as you imagine. The act of Virginia, I find, has done so in substituting the second day for the second Monday in May, the time recommended from Annapolis.
I cannot suppose that Mr. Otto has equivocated in his explanation to the public touching the Floridas. Nothing of that subject has been mentioned here, as far as I know. Supposing the exchange in question to have really been intended, I do not see the inference to be unfavorable to France. Her views, as they occur to me, would most probably be to conciliate the Western people, in common with the Atlantic States, and to extend her commerce, by reversing the Spanish policy. I have always wished to see the Mississippi in the hands of France, or of any nation which would be more liberally disposed than the present holders of it.
Mr. Jay's report on the treaty of peace has at length been decided on. It resolves and declares, that the treaty, having been constitutionally formed, is the law of the land, and urges a repeal of all laws contravening it, as well to stop the complaints of their existing as legal impediments, as to avoid needless questions touching their validity. Mr. Jay is preparing a circular address to accompany the Resolutions, and the latter will not be forwarded till the former is ready.""
TO EDMUND RANDOLPH.
New York, April 8, 1787. Dear Sir,
I have your favor of the fifteenth ultimo. All of preceding date have already been acknowledged. The information which you wished to go to Mr. Guardoqui has been communicated. The real impression made by it cannot easily be seen through the political veil. If he views the state of Western affairs in the true light, his representations to Spain must convince her that she has no option but between concession and hostilities. It is to be lamented that so many circumstances have concurred to enlist her pride on the side of the latter alternative.
The papers accompanying the advice of the Council as to Clark, have been laid before Congress. Similar communications have also been made from North Carolina. The impression they have made is not unfriendly, I conjecture, to the rights of the Western people, and it is probable that a rediscussion of these may be produced by the occasion. Our strength, however, is unequal to any effectual vote. A reinforcement from either Maryland or South Carolina would, I believe, supply the defect, Pennsylvania having lately appointed Armstrong in the place of Pettit, which throws that State into the right scale. We have some hopes also of Rhode Island. She begins to see the policy of some States in her neighborhood, in excluding the Federal territory from the market at which they offer their own.
New Jersey has fully entered into this view of the matter, and feels no small indignation at it.
Rhode Island has negatived a motion for appointing deputies to the Convention, by a majority of twenty-two votes. Nothing can exceed the wickedness and folly which continue to reign there. All sense of character as well as of right is obliterated. Paper-money is still their idol, though it is debased to eight for one.
TO EDMUND RANDOLPH.
New York, April 8, 1787. DEAR SIR,
Your two favors of the twenty-second and twentyseventh of March, have been received since
last. In a preceding one you ask, what tribunal is to take cognizance of Clark's offence? If our own laws will not reach it, I see no possibility of punishing it. But will it not come within the act of the last session concerning treasons and other offences committed without the commonwealth ? I have had no opportunity yet of consulting Mr. Otto on the allegation of Oster touching the marriage of French subjects in America. What is the conspicuous prosecution which you suspect will shortly display a notable instance of perjury?
I am glad to find that you are turning your thoughts towards the business of May next. My despair of your finding the necessary leisure, as signified in one of your letters, with the probability that some leading propositions at least would be expect
ed from Virginia, had engaged me in a closer attention to the subject than I should otherwise have given. I will just hint the ideas that have occurred, leaving explanations for our interview.
I think with you, that it will be well to retain as much as possible of the old Confederation, though I doubt whether it may not be best to work the valuable articles into the new system, instead of engrafting the latter on the former. I am also perfectly of your opinion, that, in framing a system, no material sacrifices ought to be made to local or temporary prejudices. An explanatory address must of necessity accompany the result of the Convention on the main object. I am not sure that it will be practicable to present the several parts of the reform in so detached a manner to the States, as that a partial adoption will be binding. Particular States may view different articles as conditions of each other, and would only ratify them as such. Others might ratify them as independent propositions. The consequence would be that the ratifications of both would go for nothing. I have not, however, examined this point thoroughly. In truth, my ideas of a reform strike so deeply at the old Confederation, and lead to such a systematic change, that they scarcely admit of the expedient.
I hold it for a fundamental point, that an individual independence of the States is utterly irreconcilable with the idea of an aggregate sovereignty. I think, at the same time, that a consolidation of the States into one simple republic is not less unattainable than it would be inexpedient. Let it be tried, then, whether any middle ground can be taken,