Journal of William Maclay: Chapter 6

CHAPTER VI.

THE ASSUMPTION AND NATURALIZATION BILLS.

March 4th. — Visited Mr. Harris this morning. Found him recovering fast. I have an interest in everything that happened to him, of which he is little aware; indeed, nobody knows my feelings on this subject but myself. He will, I trust, be well in a few days, and if his complaint should be completely removed it may tempt me to advise a person, in whose welfare I feel myself deeply interested, to submit to the same operation. But of this hereafter.

My bodings of yesterday were not ill founded with respect to Bailey's bill. A man ought not to put his hand in a dog's mouth, and trust to his generosity not to bite it; commit the bill to its declared enemies, and trust to their generosity to report in favor of it! My conjectures were right, and they have reported dead against it.

Dined with the President of the United States. It was a dinner of dignity. All the Senators were present, and the Vice-President. I looked often around the company to find the happiest faces. Wisdom, forgive me if I wrong thee, but I thought folly and happiness most nearly allied. The President seemed to bear in his countenance a settled aspect of melancholy. No cheering ray of convivial sunshine broke through the cloudy gloom of settled seriousness. At every interval of eating or drinking he played on the table with a fork or knife, like a drumstick. Next to him, on his right, sat Bonny Johnny Adams, ever and anon mantling his visage with the most unmeaning simper that ever dimpled the face of folly. Goddess of Nature, forgive me if I censure thee for that thou madest him not a tailor, so full of small attentions is {207} he, and so well qualified does he seem to adjust the etiquette of loops and buttons. But stay, perhaps I wrong thee. So miserably doth he measure politics, and so unmercifully and unskillfully would he play the shears of government in cutting out royal robes and habiliments, that it may justly be doubted whether the measure of his understanding be adequate to the adjusting the proportions of file back, belly, and breeches of the human form agreeably to the rules of an experienced habitmaker. Thus, goddess, among the savage tribes of the lazy, lying, lumpish Indian, who can neither hunt, fish, nor hoe corn, makest thou the dreaming, smoking, pretended prophet, priest, and politician. Goddess, we acknowledge thy power and submit to thy sway, but humbly pray we may never have another similar example of it.

March 5th. — Just after I entered the Senate chamber, I received from my brother a letter; which made me considerably uneasy, about some rascally carryings on at the Pennsylvania Land-Office. It has occasioned me to write sundry letters, and really has fretted me a good deal. But away with it! This day gave a fresh instance of the rascality of Otis. The committee on Bailey's bill reported yesterday, and said not one word more, nor was another word said in the Senate, but Otis had on the minutes ordered that the report be accepted. I did not immediately observe it, but I called on him about it. His excuse was Mr. Adams had ordered him to do so. Visited Mr. Harris; found him getting much better.

March 6th. — Stayed at home. In the evening visited Mr. Harris, whom I found recovering. I wrote this day to the Secretary and Receiving-General of the Land-Office respecting the affair of which my brother wrote to me. Read the account of the Pelew Islands by Keale, a catchpenny thing, perhaps true enough, but stretched and swelled as if it had been puffed by Hawksworth. Paid my barber for two months, and 1s. 6d. for a ribbon.

March 7th. — Devoted this day to writing to my family. Wrote to every one, even little Billy. I, however, crowded the girls into one letter. This is hardly fair, but I must be more liberal to them next time. Called to see Mr. Harris, {208} and found him quite cheerful. He will be about in a few days, if nothing happens amiss to him.

March 8th. — This is the important week, and perhaps the important day, when the question will be put on the assumption of the State debts. I suspect this from the rendezvousing of the crew of the Hamilton galley. It seems all hands are piped to quarters.

Four o'clock. — I was rather deceived, as the adoption party do not yet consider themselves strong enough to risk the putting of the question, for it seems the day has passed and nothing is done. The Naturalization bill was taken up. The debates were exceedingly lengthy and a great number of amendments moved. Mr. Morris stood by me in one, that was to enable aliens to hold lands in the United States. 'Tis said he has an agent in Europe now selling lands. I am wrong to minute this circumstance. He is, however, very seldom with me. I know not how it came, but I was engaged, on one side or the other, warmly on every question. The truth of the matter is, it is a vile bill, illiberal and void of philanthropy, and needed mending much. We complained [to the Representatives from Pennsylvania] that such an ungenerous bill should be sent to us — at least I did. They answered, "You have little to do," and they sent us employment.

This night the Pennsylvanians supped together at Simmons'. 'Twas freely talked of that the question was to have been taken this day on the assumption of the State debts, but Vining, from the Delaware State, is come in, and it was put off until he would be prepared by the Secretary [Hamilton], I suppose, so that my morning creed was a well-founded belief. The language of the Philadelphia gentlemen is still for adoption. The great reason formerly urged for it was that Pennsylvania would draw a great revenue from the Union. I brought forward the case of Amsterdam, to which the United Provinces owed great balances, which were not paid a century after the Revolution. Mr. Fitzsimons said they were not paid yet nor never would be; but then, with one voice, all the three citizens [Morris, Fitzsimons, and Scott] said little, if anything, would be due to Pennsylvania, and declared that settling old accounts was misspent time. Burn all old accounts, {209} said Mr. Morris, and pay only the people who now hold certificates. I wished for harmony and declined argument, but said the citizens of Philadelphia would not abandon the State securities. This was admitted, but Mr. Morris said that the State might subscribe for the amount of them. This would be sinking two per cent to the State, as they would subscribe in at four per cent, and pay six to their own citizens. But I forbore entering into argument. Colonel Hartley kept shuffling about, still repeating all depends on the adoption of the State debts. "If this is not done, New England and Carolina will fly off, and the Secretary's scheme is ruined. We must, we must adopt it." Hartley is lucky, but this, in fact, is the court lesson.

March 9th. — In the Senate chamber this morning Butler said he heard a man say he would give Vining one thousand guineas for his vote, but added, "I question whether he would do so in fact." So do I, too, for he might get it for a tenth part of the sum. I do not know that pecuniary influence has actually been used, but I am certain that every other kind of management has been practiced and every tool at work that could be thought of. Officers of Government, clergy, citizens, [Order of] Cincinnati, and every person under the influence of the Treasury; Bland and Huger carried to the chamber of Representatives — the one lame, the other sick. Clymer stopped from going away, though he had leave, and at length they risked the question and carried it, thirty-one votes to twenty-six. And all this after having tampered with the members since the 22d of last month [February], and this only in committee, with many doubts that some will fly off and great fears that the North Carolina members will be in before a bill can be matured or a report gone through. Mr. Morris received a note signed J. C., communicating the news. He only said, "I am sorry it is by so small a majority." General Muhlenberg and Heister, of the Pennsylvania delegation, only, were in the negative.

I had to wrangle with the New England men alone on the Naturalization bill till near one o'clock. Johnston, of North Carolina, took in some degree a part with me. I held my own, or at least I thought so, with tolerable success, but such {210} shuffling and want of candor I really scarce ever before was witness to. I certainly, however, gained greatly. Twice yesterday did we attempt, without success, to throw out the two years' residence. The amendments which I offered went to cure this defect with respect to the power of holding lands. Numbers of gentlemen now declared their dislike of the two years, and wished the bill committed for the purpose of having this part rejected. I agreed, but we were very unlucky in our committee. We Pennsylvanians act as if we believed that God made of one blood all families of the earth; but the Eastern people seem to think that he made none but New England folks. It is strange that men born and educated under republican forms of government should be so contracted on the subject of general philanthropy. In Pennsylvania, used as we are to the reception and adoption of strangers, we receive no class of men with such diffidence as the Eastern people. They really have the worst characters of any people who offer themselves for citizens. Yet these are the men who affect the greatest fear of being contaminated with foreign manners, customs, or vices. Perhaps it is with justice that they fear an adoption of any of the latter, for they surely have enough already.

March 10th. — Was the first at the Hall this morning. However, it was not long before some of the Secretary's [Hamilton] gladiators came in. What an abject thing a man becomes when he makes himself a tool to any one! I ventured to predict to one of them that the Secretary's system would fail. "Why, but the assumption of the State debts is carried already." I ventured to tell how. From me, distant as the room would let him, did he fly off. Bassett has this day declared in the most unequivocal manner against the adoption of the State debts; says if they are adopted he will move for two per cent. I asked him how Mr. Read would be on this question. He said against assumption. But both of them acted a weak part in the affair of the residence. The business of this day does not merit a minute. The Senate adjourned early and I came home, as I did not feel very well.

We had company this day. The greater part were New England men, who soon went away. Burke and Tucker both {211} voted for the assumption of the State debts. Tucker declared his views in file most unequivocal manner; after the State [debts] were discharged by the Federal assumption, to sponge the whole. Burke reprobated the whole of the Secretary's report and declared it would blow up. He was not so explicit, but seemed in unison with Tucker. What must come of the report if these men are sincere? They have been among the supporters of it; but, alas! what poor, supple things men are, bending down before every dinner and floated away with every flask of liquor! Paid my boarding off this day.

March 11th. — Snowed all last night and a snowy morning. Attended at the Hall. Two bills came up from the Representatives — the bill for inventions and one to give additional salaries to clerks. Read for the first time. A bill for the mitigation of fines and forfeitures was taken up for a second reading. Opposed by Bassett and Few. A commitment was early moved and seemed generally agreed to, but the members popped up and down talking about it and about it for above an hour. Something occurred to me which none of them touched; but I thought it useless to rise; besides, I had been almost constantly on my legs on the 8th and 9th, and a man, even a good speaker, loses all weight if he makes himself troublesome. Patterson, I find, belongs to the gladiatorial band. I ever thought since I knew him that he was a loaf-and-fish man. He talks of resigning, and I suppose we will hear of his being a judge or something better than a Senator.

March 12th. — Attended this day at the Hall. No business of consequence done. The committee on the Naturalization bill reported, but far short of the points which I wished established in it. There really seems a spirit of malevolence against Pennsylvania in this business. We have been very liberal on the subject of admitting strangers to citizenship. We have benefited by it and still do benefit. Some characters seem disposed to deprive us of it. I moved a postponement of a day, that we might consider of this amendment. It was easily carried; but Izard snapped, ill-natured as a cur, and said "No" alone. Mr. Morris turned toward me this day and seemed to invite a tête-à-tête. He said Mr. Wilson is coming over. I asked if on any court business. He did not know; believed {212} not. We spoke of who would be Governor [of Pennsylvania]. He declared in favor of St. Clair; spoke against Mifflin and Bingham. I said I had heard Miles spoken of. He objected to Miles as wanting knowledge. I never made mention of any of the Muhlenbergs. He objected to Mifflin; said, "See what sort of people he has put in office." The S. G. was mentioned. He said, "You should have had that office." I went into some details of the duties of that office, showed it was one in which a drone might slumber, but if filled well was a most laborious office, and pointed out how.

March 13th. — Being Saturday, the Senate did not meet. Stayed at home all day; read and looked over the journals of Congress. A day perfectly unimportant. The streets were very sloppy with the melting of the snow.

March 14th. — There was a considerable fire in the neighborhood last night; it, of course, raised me by daylight. After breakfast the day seemed so delightful I could not help walking. I went to Mr. Scott's lodgings. I got at him on the subject of the Secretary's report. He declared to me that he was altogether against it. I asked him if he had any correspondence with Pennsylvania. He declared no. I put Nicholson's piece into his hand; I put Mr. Findley's letter into his hand. I told him there were some people discontented in Pennsylvania. I read Dr. Logan's letter to him as a proof of it. He called it anti-Federalism. I took out Dr. Rush's — call him anti-Federal if you will. It was worse. He went into the allegations against Nicholson with regard to the State accounts. To say all of him [Scott] in one word, he has thrown himself into Fitzsimons' wake more from the principles of indolence than anything else. He will not give himself the trouble of acting independently. I found a woman in the room with him with a young child in her arms. He appeared to be fondling on the child.

I called in the afternoon on a Mr. Ryerson, a member of the Assembly from Pennsylvania, at the City Tavern. I expected he had letters from my brother; but he had none, nor did my brother* know of his coming. I asked him what was {213} doing in the Pennsylvania Assembly. He said not much. He had dined out with Mr. Morris. I spoke to him of the adoption of the State debts. Oh, yes, he believed people were generally for it. On speaking a little further, I found him absolutely ignorant of every ray of information about them. He owned it after some time, and desired me to put some state of the matter on paper, and that he would pay particular attention to it when he returned.

[* Samuel Maclay, afterward United States Senator, 1803-1809.]

March 15th. — I complied with Mr. Ryerson's request, and furnished him with an abstract of the State debt of Pennsylvania, and a number of remarks on it. I read it very deliberately to him, and he seemed to understand it.

The only debate of any consequence this day in the Senate was on the Naturalization bill. The same illiberality as was apparent on other occasions possessed the New England men. Immigration is a source of population to us, and they wish to deprive us of it. I was up several times, but always endeavored to be concise and to the point as much as I possibly could. Mr. Morris was up once. I thought he lost himself, and, by way of getting out, said he was of the same opinion as the member from New York (Mr. King). Mr. King is as much against us as any of them, but he does it in an indirect manner. We spent to three o'clock on it.

I dined this day at Elsworth's by invitation from General Heister. Madison, Bishop Prevost, and a considerable number at dinner, the Speaker and General Muhlenberg. Nothing remarkable.

I called on Ryerson and put into his hands a number of remarks pointedly against the Assumption bill, etc. He talked of great intimacy with my brother. My brother had mentioned him to me in terms of respect in some of his letters. I therefore treated him with unbounded confidence. This was imprudent and I ought not to have done it, nor would I had it not been for some of my brother's letters, in which he mentions Ryerson as connected with him in some political points.

March 16th. — Mr. Morris looked with a strange degree of shyness at me for some time after we met in the Hall. I had heard that Ryerson came from Philadelphia to do business with Mr. Morris. It occurred in a moment to me that he had {214} betrayed to Mr. Morris all that had passed between him and me, and likewise my remarks in manuscript on the assumption of the State debt. In this moment mens conscia recti was a treasure to me. I had told Ryerson that there were no hopes of Mr. Morris being with me on this question, but that I had passed no censure on him for it. I determined to avow all I had done, as I did nothing with any view of concealment. I had hinted to Ryerson that I rather wished than otherwise that the General Assembly [of Pennsylvania] should declare their sense on this question of assumption, and the more so as Carolina had instructed her members for it.

Mr. Morris, after sitting serious a good while, turned to me and began a familiar chat. At last he asked me to walk on one side from our seats, and asked me if back lands could still be taken up. I told him yes. He immediately proposed to me to join him in a speculation in lands which he said he thought that he, from his connections in Europe, could sell at a dollar an acre. I paused a moment; said, as our waste lands were totally unproductive, such a thing might be beneficial to the public as well as ourselves; that in these points of view I saw no objection. I stated some affairs of our Land-Office briefly, and he concluded we would make up our estimates at the first leisure moment. If he is in earnest in this matter, he will be favorable to the lowering of the terms of the Land-Office. I have, however, the most unequivocal proofs of the baseness of Ryerson, who, notwithstanding his promises, has communicated everything to Mr. Morris. The principal debates this day were on the Naturalization bill, and were characterized with the same illiberality as those before mentioned.

We had company this day, mostly Virginians Colonel Bland was of the number. He is an assumer on the subject of the State debts. tie avowed his design to be a demonstration to the world that our present Constitution aimed directly at consolidation, and the sooner everybody knew it the better; so that, in fact, he supported the Secretary on anti-Federal principles. This, I believe, is the design of Gerry and many more. The New England men, however, want to get their debts shook off before they declare themselves completely. In their former attempts to sink them they raised Shays' insurrection. {215} After dark I received a letter from my brother, calling Ryerson a scoundrel in direct terms. He is a mere tool to the Philadelphians, and has deceived my brother.

March 17th. — The Appropriation bill was just read, and the President passed to and took up the Mitigation bill [of fines, forfeitures]. It was on the third reading, and Elsworth offered an amendment and the bill was committed.

Now the Naturalization bill was taken up, and all our old arguments went over and over again. The fact is, the adoption of strangers has set Pennsylvania far ahead of her sister States. They are spiteful and envious, and wish to deprive her of this source of population; but it will scarcely do to avow openly such ungenerous conduct. It therefore must be done under various pretenses and legal distinctions. Two years' residence was insisted on in the bill. We cared not for this, but let the stranger hold land the moment he comes, etc., etc. Two law opinions were supported in the debates of the day: one, that of the power of holding lands was a feature of naturalization; that lauds, etc., could not be held without it. This doctrine was pushed so far by Elsworth as to declare that the rights of electors, being elected, etc., should attend and be described in the act of naturalization. All that could be said would not support this doctrine. Elsworth was even so absurd as to suppose, if a man acquired the right of suffrage in one State, he had it in all, etc. This doctrine it was seen would not carry, and now one more conformable to the common law was set up.

It was alleged that the disability of an alien to hold lands arose from the common law, and was separable from the rights of naturalization, as in the case of denization in England, where the Crown could confer the right of giving, receiving, and holding real property. When an alien, therefore, was enabled to hold real estate, it was in reality by repealing part of the common law with respect to him; not by giving a power, but taking away a disability. It, therefore, strictly speaking, rested with the respective States whether they would repeal the common law with respect to aliens touching the point of holding property, and, being a pure State concern, had no occasion to be made any mention of in the Naturalization {216} act, but must remain to be settled by the different States by law, as well as the rights of elections, etc. We of Pennsylvania contended hard to have a clause for empowering aliens to hold, etc., but the above reasoning prevailed, and we lost it.

Before the Senate was formed this morning, Mr. Carrol, of Carrolton, happened to be sitting next to me. We were chatting on some common subject. The Vice-President was in the chair, which he had taken on the performance of prayer. He hastily descended, and came and took the chair next to Mr. Carrol's. He began abruptly: "How have you arranged your empire on your departure? Your revenues must suffer in your absence. What kind of administration have you established for the regulation of your finances? Is your government intrusted to a viceroy, nuncio, legate, plenipotentiary, or chargé d'affaires?" etc., etc. Carrol endeavored to get him down from his imperial language by telling him he had a son-in-law who paid attention to his affairs, etc. 'Twas in vain. Adams would not dismount his hobby. At it again; nor was there an officer, in the household, civil, or military departments of royal or imperial government that he had not an allusion to. I pared my nails and thought he would soon have done, but it is no such easy thing to go through the detail of an empire. Guardian goddess of America, canst thou not order it so, that when thy sons cross the Atlantic they may return with something else besides European forms and follies? But I found this prayer ruffled me a little, so I left them before Adams had half settled the empire.

Mr. Morris had some further chat on the proposal of yesterday. I told him that, if I thought it possible that disadvantage could flow either to the public or individuals, I never would hear of it. He said advantage would probably flow to the public from it. It would be the means of bringing us both money and people. I now touched him on the subject of lowering back lands of Pennsylvania. It was a cold scent. I find he is for what the speculators call dodging: selling the land in Europe before he buys it here. He repeated that a dollar an acre could be got for it.

March 18th. — The burden of this day's debate was the Naturalization bill over again. From the most accurate observation {217} I have been able to make, the conduct of the members has been influenced by the following motives: As Pennsylvania is supposed likely to derive most benefit by migrations, the Eastern members are disposed to check it as much as they can. Jersey nearly indifferent; Delaware absolutely so; Maryland as Jersey; Virginia unrepresented; North Carolina favorable; South Carolina and Georgia want people much, but they fear the migrations, and will check them rather than run the chance of importing people who may be averse to slavery. Hence the bill passed the House [Senate] nearly as it came up from the Representatives.

The governing ideas, however, seem to be the following: That the holding property was separable from and not absolutely connected with naturalization; that laws and regulations relating to property, not being among the powers granted to Congress, remained with the different States. Therefore, Congress would be guilty of an assumption of power if they touched it; that the holding of property was a common law right, and the disability of aliens to hold property from that quarter. King, Patterson, Bassett, Read, Henry, and Johnson, all finally settled in this way. Elsworth dead against this; the holding property (real) a feature inseparable from naturalization, etc. Strong rather inclined to Elsworth. Dr. Johnson said about as much on one side as the other. Few, too, is said to be a lawyer; but, though he spoke a great deal, he did not seem to enter into the distinctions. For our parts we wished the Naturalization bill to be in exact conformity as possible to the existing laws relating to aliens in Pennsylvania; and this, I am convinced, would have been the case had it not been for that low spirit which contaminates public characters as well as private life.

March 19th. — The Naturalization bill again taken up. Now Butler, too proud to have lent his aid to any motion that was not his own, came forward with two motions. They were, in fact, nearly the same which had been negatived three or four times before. It was alleged they were out of order; but he was indulged, and lost them both. Now Few must be a great man, and he must bring forward his motion, too. It was equally out of order; but he was indulged in the loss of {218} it. It appears that all over Europe, where the civil law prevails, aliens hold property. It is the common law of England that deprives them of holding real estate. The common law has been received by us, and with it this consequence. However, since we can not get the rights of property fully acknowledged, it is best that the Naturalization bill say nothing about it.

Mr. Morris got warmly at me this day about the affair of land. Repeated he thought even more than a dollar per acre could be got, and requested me to write him an account of the kind of land, distance to market, etc. I wrote him as follows:

NEW YORK, March 20, 1790.

SIR: The lands concerning which you have made inquiry are situated in the county of Northumberland, on the head of the Lycoming, Pine Creek, and Tioga branches of the river Susquehanna. Their distance from Philadelphia, as the roads now go, is from one hundred and eighty to two hundred miles, but it may be shortened by opening a more direct communication. The county of Northumberland, in which the first settlements were made about the year 1770, was totally desolated by the incursions of the Indians during the Revolution, a misfortune it can never experience a second time, as the late settlements of the State of New York [being extended north of it] and Luzerne County form a complete barrier, and the savages have greatly diminished — must soon be totally excluded by the increasing settlements from the Atlantic side of the great lakes Ontario and Erie. Northumberland County now contains between two and three thousand families. Provisions of all kinds can be had in abundance. The average price of wheat, rye, Indian corn, barley, buckwheat, and speltz, when compounded, has seldom been equaled, to a half a Spanish dollar per bushel. The present year it is higher, not owing to any failure of crops, but the uncommon demand for exportation. The country in which these lands are situated is mountainous, but the high ridges are never included in the surveys. It is covered with an immense forest of timber — maple-sugar tree, birch, beech, oak of all kinds, pine, mostly of the white and spruce kinds, white walnut, wild cherry, hickory, ash, etc. {219} These forests, some time ago, seemed to set husbandry at defiance; but we now know that, independent of the advantages of clearing the ground, they can be converted to useful purposes in the manufacture of potash. The different streams of the Susquehanna offer the means of conveying any produce whatever to market. This country has been observed to be particularly favorable to grass, and perhaps the raising of cattle may be the most profitable object of husbandry, as stock carries itself to market. These parts enjoy in an eminent degree the advantage and security of double crops.

The snows, which fall regularly at their proper season in winter, insure a plentiful harvest of the fall grain, wheat and rye, with tolerable husbandry seldom yielding less than twenty bushels per acre. The length of the summer is well adapted to Indian corn, flax, oats, spring barley, summer wheat, tobacco, and vegetables of all kinds. Buckwheat is often sowed with success in the same summer on the ground from whence wheat, rye, or winter barley had been reaped. Perhaps, so far as respects seasons, the interests of husbandry are nowhere better secured than in Pennsylvania. The abundant exports of flour, grain, etc., from the port of Philadelphia afford full proof of this. It is certain that as you advance southward and diminish the rigors of winter, you lessen the certainty of the winter crop; while ascending to the north, the contracted and chilly season seldom brings to maturity the summer produce, which is often blasted or perished by early frosts.

Yet such is the rage of migrations that lands with all the advantages of soil and climate in the bosom of society are neglected for fancied elysiums in Yazoo or Kentucky. I can not state with precision the quantity of these lands, having no actual surveys before me, but I know that they are no less than fifty thousand acres. If I can render you any further information, I shall be happy in doing so.

I am, sir, your most, etc., W.M.

Honorable R. Morris, Esq.

Writing the foregoing letter was all I did this forenoon. The Speaker took me in his carriage and we rode in the afternoon.

{220}

March 21st, Sunday. — Wrote letters to my family this forenoon. Dated a piece of intelligence from Hamiltonople, etc. After dinner walked alone, up and down, back and forward on the island. The Speaker told me the report was not to be taken up until Fitzsimons came back, which was to be on Thursday. He knows all the motions of the janizaries and gladiators.

March 22d. — Visited Mr. Wilson's lodgings with the Speaker. I then went with Mr. Wynkoop to visit Mr. Carrol, of Carrolton. We got on the subject of the State of Carolina having instructed their representation. Could any hints have gone from here, said he, to set them on this measure? He is a Roman Catholic, and the intimate friend of Mr. Fitzsimons.

This question raised the following train of ideas in my mind: Fitzsimons is gone to prevent a similar measure in Pennsylvania, and I am suspected of having given hints to set such a measure going. Perhaps something of this kind may be alleged against me with justice. The doctrine of instruction may certainly be carried so far as to be in effect the tribunitial veto of the Romans, and reduce us to the state of a Polish Diet. But it is introduced. Perhaps the best way is for all the States to use it, and the general evil, if it really should be one, will call for a remedy. But here is a subject worthy of inquiry: Is it to be expected that a Federal law passed directly against the sense of a whole State will ever be executed in that State? If the answer is in the negative, it is clearly better to give the State an early legislative negative than finally let her use a practical one which would go to the dissolution of the Union.

A memorial of one Tracy was read, praying a bankrupt law to be passed under the authority of the United States. A motion for the appointment of a committee to bring in a bill for such a purpose. There was a great deal of speaking on this subject, and, really, I thought the subject had not justice done to it. I got up and was listened to with attention while I explained the difference between the common law for the discharge of insolvent debtors and the laws respecting commission of bankruptcy, and confined the latter to its proper field, the trading part of the community; and this part only {221} belonged to Congress to take up, and I doubted whether they had done most harm or good, etc. I was led into a detail of the laws of England on this head. Much was said on all hands, but we negatived the motion.

The appropriation bill was now reported, with a very trifling amendment indeed; to divide a sum of about a hundred and ninety dollars between our doorkeeper and the doorkeeper of the Representatives. The momentum of a spittle would have been as effectual to stop the flowing of the sea as any effort to cheek this bill. The appropriations were all in gross, and to the amount of upward of half a million. I could not get a copy of it. I wished to have seen the particulars specified, but such a hurry I never saw before. I did not see the bill in the hands of any of the members, but they might have had it for aught I know. I really fear the committee gave themselves little trouble about it. The moment it was through, General Schuyler and Mr. Morris called for it on the third and last reading, for they said the Secretary wanted to make remittances to Europe. They got what they wanted, and thus we had done with it.

This mode of doing business can not last long. All evils, it is said, cure themselves. Here is a general appropriation of above half a million dollars — the particulars not mentioned — the estimate on which it is founded may be mislaid or changed; in fact, it is giving the Secretary the money for him to account for as he pleases. This certainly is all wrong. The estimate should have formed part of the bill, or should have been recited in it.

Am I too sharp-sighted, or have I observed some shyness in some people? I believe it is the former. Mr. Morris this day asked if I had prepared anything on the subject we had been conversing about [buying lands]. I put the letter into his hands. He read it with apparent satisfaction; put it into his pocket. He asked me if some kind of houses could not be raised and covered with bark at a small expense on these lands. I told him they might, if honest men were employed who would not make a job of it.

The Senate adjourned about two o'clock. I was told there was warmth in the House of Representatives on the Quaker {222} memorial, and went in. The House have certainly greatly debased their dignity, using base, invective, indecorous language; three or four up at a time, manifesting signs of passion, the most disorderly wanderings in their speeches, telling stories, private anecdotes, etc. I know not what may come of it, but there seems to be a general discontent among the members, and many of them do not hesitate to declare that the Union must fall to pieces at the rate we go on. Indeed, many seem to wish it.

March 23d. — Went with a party to wait on Mr. Jefferson. He was out. We left our names. Sat a long time in the Senate chamber without doing anything whatever. At last up came the appropriation bill. The original bill gave Gifford Dally, the doorkeeper of the Representatives, one hundred and ninety-two dollars for services during the vacancy. We divided the sum, and gave ninety-six dollars to Dally and ninety-six dollars to Mathers, our doorkeeper. This they [the Representatives] would not agree to; continued the one hundred and ninety-two dollars to Dally, and put in ninety-six dollars for Mathers. Pretty amusement for the governors of a great empire to play at cross-purposes! King, Elsworth, and Morris were all up, and "Adhere!" "Adhere!" was heard from every quarter of the House. Our Vice-President put some questions, but whether it was for "non-concurrence," "insisting," or "adhering," I do not remember. It was, however, carried; no one thinking it worth while to say no.

Mr. Morris chatted with great freedom with me to-day on his private affairs. Explained some of the difficulties he had met with in the settlement of his accounts. Says the balance will be in his favor. Declares he will soon have done and put to silence his adversaries. Justice says plainly this ought to be the ease, if he has been injured. He is very full of the affair between him and me. His countenance speaks the appearance of sincerity and candor. Interest, however, the grand anchor to secure any man, lies at the bottom.

March 24th. — This day little of consequence done in the Senate. The appropriation bill was sent up. The Representatives withdrew their amendments, after having showed a {223} spirit of petulance to no purpose. I was called out of the Senate. When I came in, the report of the committee on the difference of boundary between the United States and Nova Scotia was under consideration. I said a few words, which appeared to be well received, on the subject. Izard and Butler both manifested a most insulting spirit this day, when there was not the least occasion for it nor the smallest affront offered. These men have a most settled antipathy to Pennsylvania, owing to the doctrines patronized in that State on the subject of slavery. Pride makes fools of them, or rather completes what Nature began.

This day the Speaker entertained. The company was not numerous; the discourse not entertaining, or at least nothing remarkable.

March 25th. — The Speaker told me last night that Mr. Clymer wished to see us this morning at his lodgings. As I always embrace the smallest hint to meet the delegation, I was early ready, but the "Friends," who had been in town on the abolition business, called in two parties to take leave of us. I, however, hastened to Mr. Clymer's lodgings. Found Scott, Heister, and Wynkoop at the door. I asked what had happened. Scott, with a great laugh, said Clymer had read them a letter to the Speaker, and was dreadfully afraid all the people would fly to the Western world. I replied, "Scott, I told you some time ago that all this would happen if you taxed the Atlantic States too high, and you gave me a great Monongahela laugh in answer." "Aye," says he, "and I will give you many more." I went up-stairs, and had a letter of Clymer's composing put into my hands; the amount of it was that every man was worth two hundred pounds sterling; that every man that went to the Western country was lost to the United States, and therefore every tract of land we sold to a settler would be attended with the loss of a man or his equivalent, two hundred pounds sterling, deducting the trifle the United States would get for the land.

All this fine reason falls dead to the ground should it appear that the man is not lost to the United States. It is, however, a fact that by an impolitic oppression of taxes we may detach the whole country from us and connect them with {224} New Orleans; and in that case we will get nothing for the lands. Clymer came in, and said on the principle of that letter he would vote against paying any of the public debt with back lands. What a deal of pains he has been at to fish up some kind of reason to accommodate his vote to the wish of the public creditors, alias speculators! They are a powerful body in Philadelphia, and therefore are not to be neglected. I asked what our friends in Philadelphia thought, particularly on the assumption of the State debt. He said they were divided, but there were more against it than for it. He now said some fine things on the improvement of the State, etc. I walked with him and Colonel Hartley. All the way to the Hall did his tongue run on the subject of going to the Potomac. I bore my testimony in the plainest language against all this; regretted our not having tried an adjournment to Philadelphia a year ago; said, if we would go to Philadelphia with the promise of the permanent residence on the Potomac, we could without it. He was peevish and fretful.

No business of consequence done in the Senate. Two bills came up to be signed. Our Vice-President used these words from the chair before he signed them: "Is there any objection, gentlemen, to the signing of these bills?" He seems a tone lower than he used to be. The amendment on the mitigation bill was non-concurred in, and managers for a conference appointed.

March 26th. — The bill for augmenting the military to sixteen hundred men came up. Read, and Monday appointed for a second reading. A petition read from Captain Barry and others for communication. Nothing else done in the Senate. Spent some time on the bill for the encouragement of inventions, etc. The Speaker had company this day — all Pennsylvanians. Mr. Morris took pains to make himself agreeable. The Speaker told him they had determined to risk the revenue business, as they now found Williamson and Ashe would be for the assumption, as they had changed their minds. How true is the observation made by Henry, of Maryland: "All great governments resolve themselves into cabals"! Ours is a mere system of jockeying opinions. Vote this way for me, and I will vote that way for you.

{225}

March 27th. — Being Saturday, read in my room. After dinner walked and caught cold. In the evening received a few lines from Dr. Rush, in which he tells me I am complained of for my correspondence with the Comptroller-General. This, I well know, comes from Fitzsimons. He would wish that no man but himself should know anything of the finances of Pennsylvania. I have made advances to the Philadelphians repeatedly, but they shake us off, and, when meetings had been settled for the communication of knowledge, they have broken them up. But I am found to possess knowledge of the finances of Pennsylvania. The presumption is that I correspond with Nicholson. [I] am become independent of them, and therefore criminal. I had written to the Doctor, but inclosed a note to him on this subject, for which see my letter-book.

Mr. Morris has made no agreement with me about lands. He said he would draw up something on this subject in writing. Nothing of this has happened, and perhaps never will. I thought such a thing might happen, and was careful in my letter. But I will make no rash conclusions. Time will settle all matters, and we, with all our little bristlings, will soon be as quiet as the trodden sod.

March 28th. — Being Sunday, was a day devoted to the thoughts of my family. Wrote letters, as usual. I have been upward of three months from them. This is really disagreeable. The time may come when I would give anything in my power to be one day with them, and now I am absent with my own consent. I wish I was honorably off with this same business of the Senate. If Congress continues to sit in New York, I can not pretend to continue a member of it. Circumstances may direct me to what is best. God has, however, given to every man his talent for the express purpose of making use of it; or, in other words, that he may conduct himself on the principles of right reason. May he enable me to keep my lamp trimmed always! Stayed at home all day.

March 29th. — Committee on the bill for the progress of writs, etc., reported. Three other bills came up to us: one for treaty with Indians; for extending the effect of the State inspection laws; and the North Carolina session. The last amended by striking out the word "Honorable" from before {226} the names of the Senators. Butler bounced, and Izard made frightful faces at it. They were opposed by King, Elsworth, and Patterson. I was pleased to see the Yorkers and the Southern people at it. The business was got rid of by a new clause altogether in the beginning of the bill, from which a clear inference in practice follows, viz.: That the whole of a bill is in the power of the Senate, notwithstanding their former agreement, and the concurrence of the other House to any part or parts of it; and their deliberations are not confined to the parts only respecting which the disagreement subsists. I have spoken to Otis to copy all the papers that I may plead this precedent, if necessary; for this doctrine was pointedly denied in the disputes respecting the permanent bill; viz., my papers for the copies made out by Otis.

This day the House of Representatives took up the report of the Committee of the Whole House on the Secretary's report; and, after adopting the first three clauses, recommitted the one on the assumption of the State debts — twenty-nine to twenty-seven; so that I hope this will be rejected at last. The Speaker has declared that he will vote against it if there should be a tie in the House. This was my opinion, which he early adopted and which he has so often subscribed to, that it will be impossible for him to recede from it upon this principle — that a matter of moment, not absolutely necessary, had better be omitted than carried by so small a majority vote as one vote. This opinion has met with much approbation from many members of the Senate, and I have taken care to let the Speaker know it.

March 30th. — The bill for additional pay to the clerks of the accounts between the United States and individual States was called up and lost. Third reading of the bill for the progress of useful arts produced a debate by the New England members in favor of a man from their country, but by being joined by the Southern men we defeated them. Read the law for giving effect to the inspection laws of the States. Message from the Representatives with Cession bill agreed to. Message from the President with nominations to vacant offices. The bill for the military establishment took up the rest of the day in desultory debate, and was finally committed to seven {227} members. This bill seems laying the foundation of a standing army. The justifiable reasons for using force seem to be the enforcing of laws, quelling insurrections, and repelling invasions. The Constitution directs all these to be done by militia. Should the United States, unfortunately, be involved in war, an army for the annoyance of an enemy in their own country (as the most effective mode of keeping the calamity at a distance and enforcing an adversary to terms) will be necessary. This seems the meaning of the Constitution, and that no troops should be kept up in peace. This bill certainly aims at different objects. The first error seems to have been the appointing of a Secretary of War when we were at peace, and now we must find troops lest his office should run out of employment.

Dressed and attended the levee. I generally used to leave this part of duty to Mr. Morris; but now he is gone, and, lest there should be any complaints, I will discharge this piece of etiquette. The day was fine and the levee large.

March 31st. — A call of the gladiators this morning. Therefore expect it will be a day of some importance in the House of Representatives. In the Senate the bill for enforcing the inspection law of the State had a third reading. The appointment of Rufus Putnam, a Judge of the Western Territory; James Brown, Attorney for Kentucky; and Henry Bogart, Surveyor for Albany, were consented to. Senate adjourned.

Went early, to hear the event of this day's debates in the House of Representatives. Nothing remarkable, save a violent personal attack on Hamilton by Judge Burke, of South Carolina, which the men of the blade say must produce a duel. The question was not taken, on the assumption. Mr. Wynkoop spoke to me in the chamber of Representatives, to have a meeting of the delegation. I supported this idea, and we agreed to meet at the Speaker's. But I first went and drank tea with Mr. Wynkoop and Mrs. Wynkoop. There was a great deal of desultory discourse at the meeting. Mr. Clymer took on him to assert that the State of Pennsylvania was in debt to the Union, and disbelieved all Mr. Nicholson's statements, and declared unequivocally for burning all old accounts. I mentioned Nicholson's statements as being made from authority, and that they neither ought nor could be invalidated {228} on supposition; that the old Confederation had proceeded every step on the grounds of a final settlement; that to annihilate the old accounts was contrary to the new Constitution, which had sanctified every act of the old Congress; nor could I see how any State could call on the Union to assume any debt of theirs until she showed by a settlement that she had exceeded her requisitions. Both Clymer and Wynkoop are seeking for some plausible excuse to change their ground. I have endeavored to humor them, but their pride and obstinacy are hard to subdue.

April 1st. — This day in Senate two bills were signed, the Carolina Cession act and the bill for giving effect to the State inspection laws. A committee was also appointed to settle the pay of the Senators up to this time.

The Senate adjourned, and I went into the chamber of Representatives to hear the debates. It was a dull scene. Gerry took up the time of the committee to the hour of adjournment. He is a tedious and most disagreeable speaker. The committee rose and no question was taken. Soon after I came in I took an opportunity of speaking to Mr. Wynkoop. I was pointing out some inconveniences of the assumption. I found he seemed much embarrassed. Lawrence and Benson had got him away from his usual seat to near where they commonly sat. He paused a little; got up rather hastily; said, "God bless you!" went out of the chamber, and actually took his wife and proceeded home to Pennsylvania. The way in which this good man can best serve his country is in superintending his farm. Perhaps there is no method more acceptable to Nature; he certainly is wanting in political fortitude. Benson, Lawrence, the Secretary, and others have paid attention to him, and he has not firmness of mind to refuse them his vote. But he has done what equally offends them and subjects himself to ridicule: he has abandoned the whole business and deserted the cause of his country at a time when an honest vote is inestimable. To-morrow being Good Friday, we adjourned over to Saturday.

April 2d. — The House of Representatives met, but adjourned on account of the holiday. I conversed this day at the Hall with George Gray. He declares the people of Pennsylvania {229} are universally opposed to assumption, now the matter is understood. This is the effect of the publications which I have labored hard indeed to get into the prints. The Speaker is now firm against the assumption, and so is Scott. Clymer is so, too, I believe, but I am not quite certain whether his wish of popularity has as yet been able to subdue his pride and obstinacy. Hartley is too giddy and unsettled for any one to determine how he will vote, and, as his judgment has no share in it, the presumption is that he will vote with Smith, of Carolina, and those whose company he always keeps. I have put my political life in my hand in starting this opposition in the teeth of the Philadelphians. If I fail, my seat in Congress and disgrace in the public eye will follow. But I am conscious of rectitude of intention, and hic murus aheneus esto, nil conscire sibi, nulla pallescere culpa."

I was this day to have dined with the Secretary [Hamilton], but a violent storm of wind and rain came on, and I could not get a hackney. The Speaker offered me his carriage, but then his servants were all gone to church.

April 3d. — Called in the morning at Mr. Hamilton's office to make an apology for not dining with him. Could not see him. He was closeted with the Secretary of War. Was desired to stay until he was disengaged. The importance of my business would not justify this. Gave my name and compliments to Colonel Hamilton, and information that the badness of the weather prevented my dining with him yesterday, as I happened to be so unfortunate as not to be able to procure a carriage; and now, this momentous affair being settled, went to the Hall. The minutes were read. A message was received from the President of the United States. A report was handed to the Chair. We looked and laughed at each other for half an hour, and adjourned. The report was the pay due to each member. Dr. Elmer and Mr. Bassett whispered me, after the report was handed in, that King and Schuyler were allowed full pay, notwithstanding they had not been much with us, and that Dr. Johnson was allowed full pay and mileage to Connecticut, though he lives here, while the time Dr. Elmer was absent was deducted. Honesty thrives but badly east of the Hudson.

{230}

I went into the Representative chamber, expecting the assumption would be taken up. A listless apathy seemed to pervade the whole. Two motions were negatived touching some appointment of a foreign nature that did not seem to have been well digested. Somebody said adjourn, and they adjourned accordingly. This really seems like the mockery of business. The New England men despair of being able to saddle us with their debts, and now they care not whether they do any business or not. Mr. George Gray, of the Lower Ferry, Mr. Luper, his son-in-law, Colonel Oswald, and another gentleman, dined with us. We had much free conversation after dinner. Mr. Luper had waited on Mr. Fitzsimons before he came away. Fitzsimons advised him not to come, and told him a year hence would be time enough; that nothing would be done in the business until he returned to New York. They sat till late. I was happy to have a company of Pennsylvanians.

April 4th. — I wrote my letters early. The day was inviting and I could not avoid the temptation of walking out. I went to Scott's lodgings and he walked with me. The town is much agitated about a duel between Burke and Hamilton. So many people concerned in the business may really make the fools fight.

When I was called down to dinner, the Speaker and General Muhlenberg were closeted with Clymer and Jackson. All was profound mystery. We had half finished our dinner before they joined us. I saw they were filled with thoughts of importance, but I scorned to be inquisitive. I retired to my chamber. The Speaker soon came to me and unfolded the mystery. Clymer had a proposal to barter away the Pennsylvania votes for an assumption for the Carolina and Massachusetts votes for an adjournment to Philadelphia. He and Fitzsimons are now squirming like eels in a basket to regain the popularity which they have or are likely to lose on this business by bringing forward a plausible pretext to justify their late vote. The Speaker, however, openly avowed to me the reason of the vote for assumption, viz., consolidation and uniting in one Government. I told him plainly Hamilton had no ability for such work, and the thing would miscarry in his or {231} any other hands. I determined to go and call on Clymer about this business. I did so, but he had Jackson (of the President's family) with him.*

[* Meaning a voter for Hamilton.]

I sat till I was tired and rose with the first of the company to come away. Clymer asked me to walk on the Battery, and we roamed almost the whole length of the town, up the East River and back again, without his giving me an opportunity of speaking to him. I felt hurt at his distant treatment. I went with him home. He called Jackson in. Jackson made a florid harangue on the golden opportunity of bartering the votes of Pennsylvania with South Carolina and Massachusetts to give the assumption, and get the residence of Congress. Whatever I might have done in other company, I would not commit myself to Jackson. I spoke my sentiments sincerely on the villainy of bartering votes; declared my opinion that Pennsylvania need make no sacrifice to obtain Congress; that matters were working as favorably as could be wished; that I entertained no doubt of adjourning to Philadelphia; that assuming the State debts in the proposed manner was so radically wrong that nothing could justify the act, and that the postponement of it ought to take place at any rate.

Clymer said it would not be postponed; it would be carried. I said the Pennsylvanians might see each other before that time. He said they could not. I told him if the Pennsylvanians were able to postpone it after a contract was made they were able to do it without any contract; and if they really, meant to sell their votes, it was idle to talk of giving them without and before a contract was made. Make a present of a thing, and you need not demand the price afterward. I concluded with saying I would have time enough to make up my mind before the business appeared before the Senate, but had no objection to deliver my sentiments at any time, and had given them now with freedom. The cold, distant, stiff, and, let me add, stinking manner of this man is really painful to be submitted to. I never will go into any company with design to give offense, but I really think out of respect to myself I ought to avoid his company; at least I need not go into it {232} without necessity. Jackson's interfering in this business is far from proper.

Hence appears plainly how much the assumption of the State debts was made a point of by the court party. In fact, the reduction of the State governments was the object in theory in framing both the Constitution and Judiciary and in as many laws of the United States as were capable of taking a tincture of that kind. But it won't do.

April 5th, Monday. — The bill for the progress of the useful arts was concurred with after considerable debate. The report of the Senators from the joint committee on the Mitigation bill was that the disagreement continued. A communication was received from the President of the United States of three acts of the Legislature of New York. The whole paper was read. The act of transmission from the government of New York was pomposity itself. They, however, often reiterated the words "free and independent," which I thought done designedly. I had some discourse with Colonel Hartley, and he has promised to withhold his vote for the assumption for some time at least.

I went this afternoon to hear a negro preach. I can only say it would be in favor of religion in general if preachers manifested the same fervor and sincerity that were apparent in his manner. He declared himself untutored, but he seemed to have the Bible by heart. Tempora mutantur et nos mutamur in illis.

April 6th. — The Senate seemed likely to have no business before them this day; but all at once up rose Few, and offered a report of the bill for the military establishment. Some trifling amendments were made in the compensation to the officers, but the bill was materially the same. It was agreed to, as the sense of the Senate, that no report should be offered until the bill for regulating the intercourse with the Indians and the treaty bill should be put into the hands of the same committee; but whatever is, is best. It is out of the hands of the committee and postponed. I spoke against the whole bill as an egg from which a standing army would be hatched, as it is a standing army in fact, for the smallness of the number does not diminish the principle. But I foresee I will have much to say under this head at a future day.

{233}

Carrol, of Carrolton, edged near me in the Senate chamber and asked me if I had seen the King of France's speech and the acts of the "Tiers États," by which the distinctions of the nobility were broken down. I told him I had, and I considered it by no means dishonorable to us that our efforts against titles and distinctions were now seconded by the representative voice of twenty-four millions. A flash of joy lightened from his countenance. How fatal to our fame as lovers of liberty would it have been had we adopted the shackles of servility which enlightened nations are now rejecting with detestation!

April 7th. — A committee was appointed in the Senate to bring in a bill for the territory of the United States south of the Ohio. I did not oppose the appointment of a committee, but told some of them that they must make it stand alone, as I wished to avoid all expense. I had no notion of salaries to the Governor, judges, etc. I considered the motion brought forward by way of making some entry on the journals as much as anything else. A short bill, however, came up and had a first reading.

The Speaker had company this day. I was wanting in spirits, and did not seem to enjoy it. The table was, however, filled well, and there was a good flow of conviviality. After dinner the Speaker told me that Fitzsimons and Clymer wanted to see the delegation at their quarters. I was not well. It was late, and a tempest of wind and cold. But I went. Fitzsimons [spoke as if he] had been hired to extol the political merit of Massachusetts and South Carolina and deprecate that of Pennsylvania. It was in vain that I told him everything in a pecuniary point of view must remain in doubt until the accounts were settled; that the only man who had it in his power to give an opinion on the subject (the Comptroller-General) had taught us to think differently. I said that the State, Navy, and defense of the river Delaware had cost vast sums. I could not see that the defense of the Delaware, etc., was any more charged against Pennsylvania than the expense of the American arms before Boston was a demand against Massachusetts, or the charges at Yorktown against Virginia. If Pennsylvania advanced the money, it was in the general {234} defense, as well as her own, and the charge lay well against the Union.

The business of the meeting was to consult about all adjournment to Philadelphia, and, as the votes of Pennsylvania would determine for or against assumption, whether they could not be so managed as to affect that measure. I will only set down what I said on the matter as opinion, that to barter votes was unjustifiable; that the risk of losing votes was as great as the chance of gaining by making a bargain with the other side, for Philadelphia had friends on both sides; that the best mode was to postpone the assumption and push the adjournment to Philadelphia while both parties feared and both courted the Pennsylvania vote.

April 8th. — A bill which came up yesterday for suspending part of the revenue law with respect to the port of Yeomus in Virginia was read a second time. Now Elsworth moved some alteration of the law with regard to some ports in Connecticut. Langdon wanted an alteration in New Hampshire, and Dalton one for Massachusetts. It was committed to these three members. God forgive me if I wrong them, but I fear they want to make loopholes in the impost law to suit their private purposes, or rather the purposes of State smuggling.

I never observed so drooping an aspect, so turbid and forlorn an appearance as overspread the partisans of the Secretary [Hamilton] in our House this forenoon. If I had chosen to use the language of political scandal, I would call them "Senatorial Gladiators." Elsworth and Izard in particular walked almost all the morning back and forward. Strong and Patterson seemed moved, but not so much agitated. King looked like a boy that had been whipped, and General Schuyler's hair stood on end as if the Indians had fired at him. I accounted for the appearance of King and Schuyler from the publications that have appeared against them in the papers for two days past.

Just before dinner Andrew Brown, the printer, called. It seems there had been a meeting of the citizens of Philadelphia on Saturday last to consider on the subject of General Knox's report, and a committee is appointed to draw up something. Brown has refused to print for them, and has flown off to this {235} place for the purpose of giving notice of the event and claiming his reward; and perhaps a third motive has had weight with him, for I really never saw any man have more the appearance of fright upon him. I know him to have been a spy and tool for Hamilton for some time past. He told us of some man having offered some violent pieces to him for publication, which he said were written well; but he refused to print them, and the author took them away. He said they were addressed to the yeomanry of Pennsylvania. I suspect this may be my friend George Logan. He ought to beware of A. Brown; he does not know him. Brown owned to us that Hamilton had written to Jefferson in his favor after publishing his recantation, and refused to print anything against the Secretary's report.

April 9th. — The committee of yesterday reported the bill with Elsworth's amendment only. Said Mr. Hamilton was of opinion, when the new impost law was enacted, the other amendments could be introduced. This is art in him to make friends to his new bill, and shows that he is either still confident of success or affects it. There was no objection and the bill had all its readings.

Elsworth reported a bill for the government south of the Ohio. It was to be the same as the government of the Western Territory, mutatis mutandis. I had some previous discourse with Elsworth on this subject. I can with truth pronounce him the most uncandid man I ever knew possessing such abilities. I am often led to doubt whether he has a particle of integrity; perhaps such a quality is useless in Connecticut.

In Senate this day the gladiators seemed more than commonly busy. As I came out from the Hall, all the President's family were there — Humphreys, Jackson, Nelson, etc. They had Vining with them, and, as I took it, were a standing committee to catch the members as they went in or came out. The crisis is at hand. At dinner the Speaker told me there had been a call of the Secretary's party last night. Fitzsimons, he said, had been sent for, and they had determined to risk an action tomorrow.

April 10th. — Busy to near eleven writing letters to my {236} family. Dressed and attended to see the event of the day, but it was put off by consent. The Treasurer told me the reason of it afterward. Sherman, who is against the assumption, is expected to go away, and thus the other party will be less strong, or at least more so, by one vote. The Secretary's people scarce disguise their design, which is to create a mass of debts which will justify them in seizing all the sources of Government, thus annihilating the State Legislatures and creating an empire on the basis of consolidation.

April 11th, Sunday. — Stayed at my lodgings almost all day, a few minutes excepted, when I went to the lodgings of General Irwin, who is this day to set off on his journey to Carlisle. Wrote sundry letters, read, etc. I charged General Irwin with letters for Harrisburg and Sunbury. Wrote a few lines to Eleazer Oswald, editor of the Independent Gazetteer, to inclose his paper and forward it to my son Johnny, to be left at Adam Zantzinger's in Market Street, Philadelphia.

April 12th, Monday. — The business done in the Senate was trifling. A bill for establishing the government of the North Carolina cession was taken up. I had occasion to speak to it, and moved a postponement until the bill be printed and put into the members' hands. It was carried. Elsworth was fretted, and I cared not. Two amended bills came up from the other House and were postponed. We adjourned between twelve and one o'clock.

I went into the House of Representatives to hear the question of assumption taken up. Clymer got up; said the assumption was two and a quarter millions against his State; more than she ought to pay; but, for confirming the Government and for national purposes, he would vote for it. I could not hear all he said, but the above was the amount of it.

Fitzsimons hoped to have a great many conditions obtained, such as that the interest of the State debt should be paid in the respective States; that no improper charges should be brought forward. But he would vote for it now in expectation that these conditions would be obtained afterward. Certainly this could not be called the conduct of a wise man; he {237} voted as well as Clymer for it formerly and took all the Pennsylvania delegation with him except Heister and General Muhlenberg without any condition whatever, unless it might be private ones known only to himself and the Treasury. The question was, however, taken and lost: thirty-one against it and twenty-nine for it.* Fitzsimons, Clymer, and Hartley voted for it.

[* This, of course, greatly reduced the value of certificates.]

Sedgwick, from Boston, pronounced a funeral oration over it. He was called to order; some confusion ensued; he took his hat and went out. When he returned, his visage, to me, bore the visible marks of weeping. Fitzsimons reddened like scarlet; his eyes were brimful. Clymer's color, always pale, now verged to a deadly white; his lips quivered, and his nether jaw shook with convulsive motions; his head, neck, and breast contracted with gesticulations resembling those of a turkey or goose nearly strangled in the act of deglutition. Benson bungled like a shoemaker who had lost his end. Ames's aspect was truly hippocratic — a total change of face and features; he sat torpid, as if his faculties had been benumbed. Gerry exhibited the advantages of a cadaverous appearance, at all times placid and far from pleasing; he ran no risk of deterioration. Through an interruption of hectic lines and consumptive coughs he delivered himself of a declaration that the delegates of Massachusetts would proceed no further, but send to their State for instructions.

Happy impudence sat enthroned on Lawrence's brow. He rose in puffing pump and moved that the committee should rise, and assigned the agitation of the House as a reason. Wadsworth hid his grief under the rim of a round hat. Boudinot's wrinkles rose in ridges and the angles of his month were depressed and assumed a curve resembling a horse's shoe. Fitzsimons first recovered recollection, and endeavored to rally the discomfited and disheartened heroes. He hoped the good sense of the House would still predominate and lead them to reconsider the vote which had been now taken; and he doubted not but what it would yet be adopted under proper modifications. The Secretary's group pricked up their ears, {238} and Speculation wiped the tear from either eye. Goddess of description, paint the gallery; here's the paper, find fancy quills or crayons yourself.

April 13th, Tuesday. — Nothing of moment done this day in the Senate. The bill for the Territory south of the Ohio passed a second reading. Some trifling debate on the amendments of the bill defining crimes and punishments. The day was clear, though somewhat cold, but I felt a desire of being abroad, and walked out almost all day with Mr. R. Harris, who is now abroad again.

April 14th, Wednesday. — There was nothing of importance transacted this day in the Senate, no debate worth minuting. The Senate adjourned, and we, or at least I, went into the House of Representatives. But even there everything seemed equally unimportant. The House adjourned, and as I was to dine this day with Mr. Izard, the Speaker, and General [Muhlenberg] being likewise engaged at the same place, we had an hour on hand to saunter away before dinner. It began to rain as we got to Izard's. There was of the company Count yon Berkel, the Speaker of the New York House of Representatives, members of Congress, etc. Among our wine I mentioned the expected death of Dr. Franklin. Izard knew him as well as any man in the world. Dr. Johnson would yield to no man on intimate acquaintance with his [Franklin's] character, and at him they both went. I really never was much of an admirer of the Doctor, but I could hardly find it in my heart to paint the devil so bad. He had every fault of vanity, ambition, want of sincerity, etc. Lee's rascally virtue of prudence was all they would leave him.

I must note it down that Clymer called me out of the Senate chamber this day. It was on no business of any consequence. He talked with me a considerable time. After I came into the Representative chamber he came and took a chair beside me. I must declare that, be his motives what they may, I never saw him so condescending. I will not balk him in his advances to me; my heart tells me that peace with all the world is the most acceptable and desirable object to be pursued. I will not shun her, but place myself in her paths. What is it that whispers in my ear that if any dirty {239} trick is played me that has its date about this time, I need not be at a loss to guess the author? No, no. I will give it no such meaning. I will not suppose him to have worn a cloak, but that he came clothed in candor.

April 15th, Thursday. — The bill for regulating the military establishment was called up. The friends of this bill seem to be chiefly Butler, King, and Schuyler. I have opposed this bill hitherto as often as it has been before the House as the foundation, the corner-stone of a standing army. The troops are augmented one half. The reasons hitherto given have been the distressed state of Georgia. Butler has blazed away on this subject at a great rate; declared over and over that Georgia would seek protection elsewhere if troops were not sent to support her, etc., etc., and said fifty Indians had penetrated into that State, of which he had authentic information, etc. Carrol joined him. King, Schuyler, Elsworth, and Lee opposed them. Lee made a set speech against standing armies. He really spoke well. King at last got up and rather upbraided the Georgia members for their silence on this question. This brought up Colonel Gunn. He declared he knew nothing of fifty Indians making any inroads into Georgia. He was just from there, and had the latest accounts. Georgia was in peace, and never had a better prospect of continuing so. There existed no cause in Georgia for augmenting the troops; and since that was the reason assigned for it, he should vote against it.

Infatuated people that we are! The first thing done under our new Government was the creation of a vast number of offices and officers. A treasury delated into as many branches as interest could frame. A Secretary of War with a host of clerks; and above all a Secretary of State, and all these men labor in their several vocations. Hence we must have a mass of national debt to employ the Treasury, an army for fear the Department of War should lack employment. Foreign engagements, too, must be attended to to keep up the consequences of that Secretary. The next cry will be for an Admiralty. Give Knox his army, and he will soon have a war on hand; indeed, I am dearly of opinion that he is aiming at this even now, and that, few as the troops are that he now has {240} under his direction, he will have a war in less than six months with the Southern Indians.

Lent the Speaker fifty dollars.

April 16th. — And now again for the augmentation of the troops. I took a minute view of all the papers forwarded by General Knox. They were copies of letters which he had received from different places and carried, evidently, management on the face of them. Thus, for instance, General Knox writes to General Wayne in Georgia to inform him whether the Spaniards had not lately supplied the Indians with arms and ammunition. General Wayne answers that his inquiries on this head resolved themselves into the affirmative, and adds his opinion that it is highly probable hostile uses may be made of those supplies by the savages. In this manner leading letters procure favorable answers from men who expect to be employed in case troops are raised. Before Colonel Gunn came, the dangers and distress of Georgia were magnified as far as fancy could from frightful pictures. Colonel Gunn contradicts all this.

Hew phantoms for the day must be created. Now a dangerous and dreadful conspiracy is discovered to be carrying on between the people of Kentucky and the Spaniards. King unfolded this mysterious business, adding that he conceived his fears were well founded. He firmly believed there was a conspiracy; that it was dangerous to put arms into the hands of the frontier people for their defense, lest they should use them against the United States.

I really could scarce keep my seat and hear such base subterfuges made use of one after another. I rose, demanded what right gentlemen had to monopolize information. If they had it, let them come forward with it and give other people an opportunity of judging of the authenticity of the information, as well as the persons in possession of it; declared that I could not tamely sit and hear the characters of the people on the Western waters traduced by the lump. This day was the first ever I heard of the word "conspiracy" being applied to the inhabitants of the Western waters. I had a right to doubt it until authentic proof was brought forward of the fact. I felt myself disposed to wipe King hard, and certainly did so. {241} It was moved and seconded very fairly to reduce the number to one thousand, and carried, eleven to nine. Elsworth, though he spoke for the reduction, voted against us. Mr. Morris desired to be excused from voting, as he had come but lately. Elsworth said he voted against one thousand because he wanted twelve hundred; and, though it was certainly out of all order, got a question put on this number and carried it by one vote. No man ever had a more complete knack of putting his foot in a business than this same Elsworth. At one thousand we should have had but one regiment. Now the committee to whom it is recommitted will try to continue them in two. And yet economy is all his cry.

I gave notice that, when the title of the bill came to be considered, I would move to strike out "for regulating the military establishment of the United States," and mentioned particularly what I took the intention of the troops to be agreeably to the old acts of Congress, viz., protection of the frontiers of the United States; facilitating the surveying and selling the public. lands and preventing unwarrantable encroachments on the same. The man must be blind who does not see a most unwarrantable management respecting our military affairs. The Constitution certainly never contemplated a standing army in time of peace. A well-regulated militia to execute the laws of the Union, quell insurrections, and repel invasions, is the very language of the Constitution. General Knox offers a most exceptional bill for a general militia law which excites (as it is most probably he expected) a general opposition. Thus the business of the militia stands still, and the Military Establishment bill, which increases the standing troops one half, is pushed with all the art and address of ministerial management.

April 17th. — Being Saturday, a party was formed to go to Haerlem. Long cooped up in the city, I joyfully joined them, but the wind soon blew cold and raw from the east, and we could not stay out of doors. Like most other human expectations, our hopes vanished in disappointment. I got some cold, and felt slight complaints of the rheumatic kind. The ramble has, however, had its uses, and may cure me on the subject of excursions in the future.

{242}

April 18th, Sunday. — This is the most tempestuous day which I remember. Snow, torrents of rain, high winds. Kept the house all day; read and wrote to my family. The Speaker received letters by which it appears the Philadelphians, or at least the aristocrats, will support Mifflin rather than him [Muhlenberg] for Governor. He recapitulated the return they had always made to him for his engaging the Germans to support their measures. He had a share of the profits of the vendue office from Paton, but it amounted to little. They deserted him on the appointment of vendue-master. For the Northern Liberties he got the office in Montgomery by a constitutional vote, and it never paid him for the paper he spent for the Republican party.

April 19th, Monday. — The journals of the Senate can scarce designate a day of less importance than the present. The yeas and nays had been fairly taken on reducing the troop from sixteen hundred to one thousand, but the way the minutes read the question was for the striking out of every man, viz. the whole sixteen hundred. Elsworth moved to strike out the whole of the yeas and nays, etc. This certainly was against all rule: the reading of the minutes is for correction, not altering them. Wyngate and Langdon spoke a good deal, but it was in vain. They carried it.

I bought two little pocket-books for Betsey and Nelly, to be sent home by Bobby Harris. On the vellum in one of them I wrote:

A daddy to a daughter dear
  This little present sends:
May she to him, far off or near,
  By duty make amends!

In the other one I wrote the following:

A father to a favorite child
  Presents this little toy:
May she through life a sunshine mild
  And happiness enjoy!

Wretched man that I am, who do not break loose from this disagreeable place and stay, live and die with my family!

April 20th, Tuesday. — Dressed this day to go with Bobby Harris to the levee, but the President was gone to Long {243} Island. We sat a long time in the Senate, without doing anything. At last the committee on file military bill reported. The report was a mere matter of detail, only the clause limiting the bill to two years was struck out. I had given notice that I would move to alter the title of the bill so as to express the use and intention of raising the troops, but our Vice-President, in order to jockey me, was for putting the question on the bill without saying anything about the title at all. Elsworth, who can not bear that anybody should move anything but himself, and to whom I showed the title I had proposed to offer, pushed himself before me with a title different and much shorter. He was not seconded. I offered mine, and was seconded by Lee. A long debate ensued. Elsworth now gave all the opposition in his power. It was really painful to hear the servile sentiments that were advanced. The spirit of the whole was, that we had nothing to do with the troops; had no right to know what the President did with them or applied them to; it was interfering with his command, etc. I thought they were well answered. But what of that?. We lost it. Elsworth now showed plainly that he cared little about his motion, and that he had only started his to draw off the Senate from mine. Butler had declared he would second him during the debate on mine. I, therefore, called for it. He now moved it differently, viz., "An act to raise troops for the service of the United States." His first motion was "for the defense of the frontiers and for other purposes." All we could do was to get a question on it, such as it was. The Senate divided, ten to ten. The Vice-President made a remarkable speech. He said to raise troops for the service of the United States was as much a standing army as a military establishment, and voted for the old title. I thought I confirmed every argument I advanced, either from the old or new Constitution of Pennsylvania, or from the Constitution of the United States. But a sentence from the Secretary [Knox] is of more avail than all the Constitutions in the United States with many people.

The limiting clause at the end of the bill confining it to two years being lost, I moved that three years in the first clause should be struck out and two inserted. I brought forward {244} the "appropriation" clause in the Constitution to support me in this motion, but, as it was known where the majority was, I could not obtain a second.

We had a meeting last night of our delegation on the subject of removing Congress. The avowed language of the Philadelphians [was] to make a Potomac contract. I insisted we should lose as much on one hand as we could gain on the other, and infamy was certain; that the business could be better done without it, etc.

April 21st. — The bill for regulating the military establishment was taken up for a third reading. Being in the Senate, and of course in order, I moved to restore the seventeenth section, which had been struck out yesterday, in the following words: "And be it further enacted that this act shall continue and be in force until the 26th day of March, 1792." I went over the Constitutions of Pennsylvania, old and new; first they were abhorrent of a standing army in time of peace inferred, as I thought, clearly the same doctrine from the Constitution of the United States. I then showed first this bill established a standing army. It was for regulating the military establishments of the United States. It carried a permanent establishment on the face of it, as it was unlimited in point of time. It clearly carried with it a permanent standing army. I compared it to the Mutiny bill of Great Britain. All the world knew that Great Britain had a standing army, and her soldiers were enlisted generally for life; and yet the jealousy of the nation was such that the boldest minister dared not propose tim extending of the Mutiny bill to more than one year. In the legislative theory, the English had no standing army. It was but an annual one. But if the bill passed in its present form we should not have even a theory to oppose to a standing army, etc.

Elsworth got up and said the reason the clause was struck out was that it contradicted the terms of enlistment, and he made a distinction between enlisting men for three years and appropriating pay for them for three years. We could do the one. We could not do the other without breaking the Constitution. He wished they were enlisted for seven or ten years, etc. I answered that it seemed as if men strained their ingenuity {245} unity to try bow near they could approach an infraction of the Constitution without breaking it. There could be no doubt but what; the clause limiting the appropriation to two years was meant as a bar against a standing army, and yet gentlemen scented to strain their faculties to accomplish the very end prohibited, without being chargeable with a direct breach of commandments, etc.

Elsworth declared, both yesterday and this day, that military establishment meant and could mean nothing short of a standing army. Carrol used the same language, and expressly said that, though the Constitution of Pennsylvania might forbid it, we were not to be governed by any State Constitution. But of all the flamers, none blazed like Izard. He wished for a standing army of ten thousand men. He feared nothing from them. No nation ever lost its liberty by a standing army, etc. The Romans lost their liberty, but it was not by the army under Julius Caesar. He was well answered by Lee, but it was in vain. A standing army was the avowed doctrine, and on the question Lee, Wyngate, and myself rose. I openly declared my regret that there were not enough of us to call the yeas and nays. Mr. Morris was not in at the taking of the question.

I find in some conversation which I have had with the Speaker that Hartley is very dependent in his circumstances. A mere borrower and discounter of notes at the Philadelphia bank. It is much against him in point of prudence that he should be the most extravagant member of the Pennsylvania delegation.

April 22d. — The morning looked so tempting I could not resist the impulse I felt for walking out. The Speaker joined me at the door. We called on Mr. Wynkoop, who is confined with his sore leg. We got on the assumption of State debts. I find the Speaker rather wavers of late. Wynkoop seemed all Secretary [Hamilton]. I embarked, as I generally do, and I endeavored to speak so plain that I scarce think it possible I could be misunderstood; and I could not help thinking that to understand and obtain consent were inseparable. He waved what I said as if he would push all by in the lump. But if I had talked to a mute camel, or addressed myself to {246} a dead horse, my speech would have had the same effect; and yet he seemed to have neither opinion nor system of his own.

Attended at the Hall. A bill was committed, a message was received, and the Senate adjourned. Wrote a short piece against the assumption of State debts; sent a copy to Bailey for publication. This day there were accounts published of the death of Dr. Franklin, and the House of Representatives voted to drape their arms for a month. When I consider how much the Doctor has been celebrated, and when I compare his public fame with his private character, I am tempted to doubt whether any man was as perfect. Yet it is, perhaps, for the good of society that patterns of perfection should be held up for men to copy after. I will, therefore, give him my vote of praise, and, if any Senator moves crape for his memory, I shall have no objection to it; yet we suffered Grayson, to die without any attention to his memory, though he belonged to our body, and perhaps had some claim to a mark of sorrow.

April 23d. — Felt rheumatic pains over a considerable part of me, and really have some fear that I shall have a fit of it. A bill had been committed yesterday "for the relief of a certain description of officers." I believe it came from the Secretary of War. It was absolutely unintelligible, and it really struck me it was meant as the stock to ingraft some mischief on with respect to the commutation pensions and half-pay of the old army, everything relating to which we had generally considered as settled. I spoke freely of it yesterday and this day, though I was not of the committee. The committee, however, reported against the whole of it, and it was rejected.

It really seems as if a listlessness or spirit of laziness pervaded the House of Representatives. Anything which comes from a Secretary is adopted almost without any examination. The military establishment bill came up — concurred in. Strange that not a Pennsylvanian should object to this bill. As it now stands, it flatly contradicts the Constitution of Pennsylvania, both old and new.

Carrol rose and made a motion that the Senate should wear crape for a month for the loss of Dr. Franklin. Before he was seconded, Elsworth got up and opposed it; said, as it would not be carried in the Senate; he trusted it would not be seconded. {247} I rose and seconded Carrol. Izard and Butler hated Dr. Franklin, and I well knew that this opposition of Elsworth aimed at their gratification. Perhaps my supporting Carrol had something of a tincture of the same kind. King and Dr. Johnson joined Elsworth. Elsworth addressed Carrol and told him (through the Chair) that he might as well withdraw his motion, as it would be lost. This was really insulting. But as the matter, strictly speaking, was not senatorial or such as belonged to us in our capacity as a public body, and as it was opposed, Carrol looked at me and I nodded assent, and it was withdrawn.

April 24th. — A party was formed by General Muhlenberg to go to Long Island, but, recollecting the disappointment of last Saturday, I declined going with them. Stayed at home and spent the day rather in a lounging manner. Wrote some letters. The Speaker proposed a ride in his carriage. I was all passive. He took a lady who was indisposed. I went in the evening and sat awhile with Mr. Wynkoop. In the afternoon Henry Stone and some other members of Congress called on me to go and see some cattle of enormous size, I went. Two bullocks of great bulk indeed were shown to us. I was sorry for my walk. They were in the yard of the slaughter-house. I now learned some secrets of the butcher business which I never knew before. The ox is emptied by repeated bleedings of almost all his veins before he is killed. A place is fitted up to which their heads are drawn up by a rope, and the jugular veins are opened. The blood falls down on the boards, inclined so that it runs into a trough fixed in the ground; and hogs are kept to feed on it. All this preparation is made to make the beef white. Then the great, harmless creatures had undergone several of their bleedings, and were moving about faint and languid, with looks of dumb despair. O man, what a monster art thou! I can not get rid of the impression this sight has left me.

April 25th, Sunday. — I wrote letters as usual to my family this morning. At ten o'clock went to Mr. Wynkoop's lodgings, in order to go to the meeting. It blew up cold and began to rain. The clergyman we intended to hear (Dr. Lynn) was sick, so we did not go out, but I sat with him a considerable {248} time. Our chat was on various and trifling subjects: weather, home, farming, and what not. After a pause he broke out with a laugh, saying how fine and quietly we got over the military establishment; all smooth — not a word of opposition. He expressed great satisfaction, and seemed to manifest that kind of triumph which would follow the performance of an arduous task with unexpected facility. Surely the ministerial gentry must have looked for opposition and prepared themselves accordingly; and my worthy friend must have been of their council, which seems a hard thought, but what am I to believe?, I, however, soon undeceived him with regard to the part I had acted in the Senate, and he looked like a man who unexpectedly finds himself in strange company.

April 26th, Monday. — Attended at the Hall. Mr. Walker, from Virginia, the gentleman elected in the room of Mr. Grayson, took his seat. The Progress bill, which in fact consisted only of one clause continuing the old one to another session, had a second reading. We did not continue in our seats for more than three quarters of an hour, till King moved an adjournment. Modesty by degrees begins to leave. We used to stay in the Senate chamber till about two o'clock whether we did anything or not, by way of keeping up the appearance of business. But even this we seem to be got over.

Dr. Elmer asked me to walk with him. I saw cards handed about the Senate, but this happens so often that I took no notice of it. When we were in the street the doctor asked me if I had not a card to dine with the President. I told him, with all the indifference I could put on, no, and immediately took up some other subject, which I entered upon with eagerness, as if I had hardly noticed his question. This is the second time the Doctor has asked me the same question, so that the President's neglect of me can be no secret. How unworthy of a great character is such littleness! He [Washington] is not aware, however, that he is paying me a compliment that none of his guests can claim. He places me above the influence of a dinner, even in his own opinion. Perhaps he means it as a punishment for my opposition to court measures. Either way, I care not a fig for it. I certainly feel a pride arising from a consciousness that the greatest man in the world {249} has not credit enough with me to influence my conduct in the least. This pride, however, or perhaps I should call it self-approbation, is the result of my conduct and by no means the motive of it. This I am clear in.

I am so very intent on getting Congress away from this place that I went to see the Philadelphians and concert what was further to be done. I wished to communicate to them the result of my inquiries, and receive their stock of information on the subject of removal. I had some time ago determined never to call on them any more, but my anxiety on this point made me break through this rule. But the result has made me re-enact my former resolution. I think it best to respect myself. Let this resolution be as a ring on my finger or the shirt on my back; let me never be without it.

This morning we had snow near two inches deep. It melted as it fell during the fore part of the day, and turned at last to rain.

This day Mr. Clymer made his famous speech for throwing away the Western world. A noble sacrifice, truly, to gratify the public creditors of Philadelphia! Reject territory of an extent of an empire so that it may be out of the power of Congress to oblige the public creditors to take any part of it. This, added to the confiscation of the seventeen shillings sixpence in every pound of alieniated certificates, which virtually belonged to the person who performed the original service and bestowing on it a base speculation, completes the counterpart of villainy to the meritorious soldier on the one hand, and defrauded and betrayed country on the other, whose resources are rejected that the debt may become irredeemable and permanent.

April 27th. — This is a day of no business in. the Senate. Before the House formed, Mr. Adams, our Vice-President, came to where I was sitting and told how many late pamphlets he had received from England; how the subject of the French Revolution agitated the English politics; that for his part he despised them all but the production of Mr. Burke, and this same Mr. Burke despised the French Revolution. Bravo, Mr. Adams! I did not need this trait of your character to know you.

{250}

In the evening I called at the post-office on a business of Mr. Zantzingers. Langdon, who lodges nearly opposite, called to me from a window. I went over and had a long discourse with him on the subject of removing Congress. He wants to make the assumption of State debts the condition of it. I was guarded as to any concessions on this subject. He avowed in the most unequivocal manner that consolidation of the different governments was his object in the matter; that perhaps it was against the interests of his State in particular, etc.

This morning was snowy and remarkably cold. I have used the cold bath for two mornings past, and, I think, with good effect. I certainly am in better health, and feel a very great improvement of appetite. Perhaps I must be guarded as to this point. The flesh-brush I never omit. The party who went on Long Island Saturday week have most of them repented of it.

April 28th. — This was really a snowy day. The distant hills in the evening were still white. Even in the town the houses were white till in the afternoon. Three successive snowy days at this time of the year appears extraordinary, indeed.

Childs this day published a piece which I contrived to get into his hands. Neither he nor any of the printers here know me to he a writer; nor will they know it unless the Speaker or General Muhlenberg should blow me; but even then they do not know me to be the author of more than two or three pieces.

As we had nothing to do in the Senate, Carrol moved for a committee to consider what was to be done about Rhode Island, etc. One was accordingly appointed. The Senate adjourned early, on pretense of doing business in committees. I went for a while into the House of Representatives, but, finding the debates unimportant, I went to settle some private business, and soon came home, where I remained the rest of the day. In the evening had the satisfaction to receive letters from home up to the 15th instant. All well.

April 29th. — Called to see Colonel Gunn. He was willing to talk, and I had no mind to interrupt him. He spoke freely relating to the barefaced conduct of King and Elsworth in {251} supporting any measure proposed by the Secretaries. Indeed, their toolism is sufficiently evident to everybody. He says the agitating the affair of Rhode Island is only to furnish a pretext to raise more troops. Be this as it may, that Carrol was only a tool in bringing it forward yesterday was sufficiently evident. Gunn is going to Philadelphia, and I have arranged matters so that he will be taken notice of there.

No business was done. in the Senate but consenting to some nominations sent down yesterday, and the Senators from Virginia laid a resolution on the table for opening the doors of the Senate on the discussion of legislative subjects.

April 30th. — A flood of business came up from the Representatives, but none of it was acted on save the first reading of bills and appointing a committee to confer with them on some point of order or etiquette. Mr. Morris spoke to me as to repealing the law or that part of the judiciary about holding a District and Circuit Court at Yorktown. I gave as my opinion that it was best to let the other House do it, as they had introduced Yorktown; and I find Boudinot has this day carried in a bill for this purpose. I hate the whole of the judiciary, and, indeed, made no place at first but Philadelphia for holding the courts. I shall not therefore give them my opposition. If a place is hereafter appointed for holding any Circuit Court, it, perhaps, should be Harrisburg.

Senate adjourned over to Monday.

May 1st, Saturday. — This is a day of general moving in New York, being the day on which their leases chiefly expire. It was a finer day than yesterday. I could not forbear the impulse of walking out. I went for Mr. Scott, but he had changed his lodgings and was not to be found. Fell in with Walker and Parker, of Virginia. They were coming to visit our house. They pressed us so hard for dinner that we consented. I had not, however, walked far enough, and went to see Mr. Wynkoop. We got again on the subject of State debt. I never saw a man take so much pains not to see a subject. It is, however, now disposed of, at least for this session.

I have a letter from Dr. Rush. He praises the piece I sent him. Calls it sensible; owns himself convinced. His {252} words [were], "I have erred through ignorance on this subject" [State debts].

With less prudence than integrity I attacked the Secretary's [Hamilton's] report the moment it appeared. When the leading feature in it, the assumption of State debts, was carried by a majority of five in the committee of the whole Representatives, I redoubled my efforts against it; and I really believe that by my endeavors it was finally rejected. I am fully sensible that I staked every particle of credit [popularity] I had in the world on this business, and have been successful. But let me lay my account, never to be thought of for it. Be it so. I have made enemies of all the Secretaries, and all their tools, perhaps of the President of the United States, and Bonny Johnny Adams for the many pieces I have written. With all the pains I have taken to conceal myself [the pieces] must have betrayed me in one shape or other. But I have no enemy in my own bosom.

Williamson's coming in, and one of his colleagues, had a considerable effect. When rite whole of the North Carolina delegation appeared, it settled the business. The assumption Would have completed the pretext for seizing every resource of government and subject of taxation in the Union, so that even the civil list of the respective governments would have to depend on the Federal Treasury. This was the common talk of the Secretary's tools.

We could not resist the pressing invitation of Parker and some Virginians to dine with them on turtle. All this is not worth a note, but on the next page are some anecdotes of General Washington.

No Virginian can talk on any subject, but the perfection of General Washington interweaves itself into every conversation. Walker had called at his farm [Washington's] as he came through Virginia. It consists of three divisions. The whole contains some ten or fifteen thousand acres. It is under different overseers, who may be styled generals, under whom are grades of subordinate appointments descending down through whites, mulattoes, negroes, horses, cows, sheep, hogs, etc.; it was hinted all were named. The crops to be put into the different fields, etc., and the hands, horned-cattle, etc., to {253} be used in tillage, pasturing, etc., are arranged in a roster calculated for tell years. The Friday of every week is appointed for the overseers, or we will say the brigadier-generals, to make up their returns. Not a day's work but is noted; what, by whom, and where done; not a cow calves or a ewe drops a lamb but it is registered; deaths, etc., whether accidental or by the hands of the butcher, all minuted. Thus the etiquette and arrangement of all army are preserved on his farm. This may truly be called sham-care; but is it not nature? When once the human mind is penetrated by any system, no matter what, it can never disengage itself. Query: Did not the Roman poet understand nature to perfection who makes his heroes marshal their armies of ghosts in the Elysian fields; and spirits imitate in shadows the copies of their former occupation?

May 2d, Sunday. — The fore part of this day was very pleasant. An east wind blew up and deformed the afternoon. I, however, walked a good deal. I have drunk wine with the Speaker at the rate of about three glasses a day, and I really consider myself worse for it. May be I am mistaken. I will observe for a day or two longer. I bore this day with more impatience and have thought more about my family than any other day since I have been in New York. I wrote as usual to them and sundry other acquaintances.


Next | Previous | Contents | Text Version

More To Explore