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Jay, John (1745-1829) to Richard Price

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Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC00013 Author/Creator: Jay, John (1745-1829) Place Written: New York, New York Type: Autograph letter signed Date: 24 August 1785 Pagination: 1 p. : docket ; 22.7 x 18.3 cm.

Written by Jay as Secretary of Foreign Affairs under the Confederation government to Price, a dissenting minister and moralistic pamphleteer in Britain who supported American independence. Apologizes to Price for being tardy in responding and thanks him for sending pamphlets (Price wrote several pro-American pamphlets in Britain, the most famous of which was "Observations on Civil Liberty and the Justice and Policy of the War with America," which was published in 1776). Echoing the weaknesses of the Confederation and foreshadowing the creation of the Constitution in 1787, Jay says "I am not without Hopes that Time and Experience will yet bring our political system to that Degree of Perfection, which may reasonably be expected in human Institutions." Says his character, integrity, and abilities are well respected in America.

New York 24 Augt 1785

Dear Sir
Having since my coming into Office, found it necessary to apply very closely to the Business of it, which from its having been long vacant, had greatly accumulated; I was obliged to suspend that attention & Punctuality, which I observe in my private correspondences, whenever [strikeout] a due Regard to public Business, will admit of sufficient Leisure for the Purpose -
Hence it happened that I have so long delayed presenting you my thanks for the Pamphlets you was so obliging as to send me - that work has been reprinted, read, & admired. I am not without Hopes that Time and Experience will yet bring our political System to that Degree of Perfection, which may reasonably be expected in [struck: a] human Institutions, Popular governments must be influenced by popular opinion, and popular opinion must be created not commanded - it is a kind of creation too which can proceed but slowly, because often opposed by Prejudices, Ignorances, clashing Interests, and natural tho illfounded Jealousies. Your Character for Love of Liberty & mankind as well as for Integrity & abilities is high in this Country, and your pen has [inserted: done] & may do us much good ~

with the best wishes for your Health & Happiness

I am Dr. Sr. your most Obt. Servt.

The Revd Doctr Price - John Jay -


A letter from
Mr. Jay at N. York
Aug 24th 1785

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