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Peirce, John (fl. 1784-1787) to Henry Knox

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Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC02437.03703 Author/Creator: Peirce, John (fl. 1784-1787) Place Written: s.l. Type: Autograph letter signed Date: 12 November 1787 Pagination: 3 p. : address : docket ; 22.5 x 18.4 cm.

Summary of Content: Gives information about events in Virginia related to ratifying the Constitution. Encloses an act [not present] "now adopted by the legislature," about calling a convention. States that, "the policy of the state is against the constitution and the union itself. a great majority of the members of the Legislature are opposed to it - but the body of the people at large continues in favor of it." Believes the representatives will cave when they return home and are influenced by the people. Mentions the recommendation of Congress respecting British debt and states, "Patrick Henry is against paying them in any way. Paper money is kicked out of doors." Informs that a committee proposed a law to limit the importation of "distilled spirituous liquors" but there is doubt it will pass. On the second page, in a postscript, Peirce relays a situation involving judges in a county court who have adjourned without doing any business, purportedly to avoid having to render debt judgments against themselves. Says they are worse than the [Daniel] Shays mob. The people are petitioning against their conduct. Ends by stating that the House of Delegates have petitioned Congress about the navigation of the Mississippi River. [Patrick] Henry introduced it, "to shew in a forcible manner how the commercial interests of the Southern States are sacrificed by the Northern whenever it suits their convenience. This gentleman fires his shot at the new constitution every opportunity." Stamped "Richmond." "Free" stamped on address leaf with no signature.

Full Transcript: [draft]
November 12. 1787.
Dr Sir
When I wrote to you I informed you of the act as formed by the House of Delegates for calling a convention. it was altered by ...the senate to what you will find by the enclosed paper, which is the one [inserted: now] adopted by the legislature. the policy of the state is against the constitution and the union itself. a great majority of the members of the Legislature are opposed to it - but the body of the people at large continues in favor of it. I am however of opinion, that when the representatives now here return to their homes, that they will influence the people generally against it - & it will fall. -
The assembly appear favorable to instalments which will probably take place tho' no vote has yet been taken on it. The recommendation of Congress respecting British debts will not be complied with & Patrick Henry is against paying them [inserted: in] any way. Paper money is [kicked] our of doors. [Strikeout] A Committee of the whole house have voted a Law to be made prohibiting after a certain period the importation of [inserted: distilled] spirituous liquors. it meets with considerable opposition and there is some doubt yet of its becoming a Law.
I am very respectfully your ob sert.
Jno Peirce
Genl Knox. [2]
There is an affair lately turned up here that will make some noise [inserted: the Judges of] one of the county Courts here after opening Court adjourned the same to a distant day without entering into any business. assigning as a reason for their conduct, that it is expected that this Session of Legislature will install Debts & therefore [struck: it is improper] it was improper to proceed to give judgment in the causes before them. in consequence of this determination & conduct the inhabitants have circulated Petitions [inserted and struck: to the Executive] to be signed thro' the country praying [struck: that] the Executive of the state [struck: may] [inserted: to] remove [the] [strikeout] judges from their offices. The judges say that their opinions are not to be called in question. on the contrary the Petitioners say that by the oath of office and agreeable to the obligations of their duty, they are obliged to set & determine causes, and cannot constitutionally refuse it - that [inserted: tis true they are not answerable for their opinions, but they are answerable that they [set] and give news that their conduct is a greater violation of the rights of the people, than the mob which Shays headed. it proceeded from the same motives, it obstructs justice in the same manner and [struck: proceeding] [inserted: coming] from the judges themselves is infinitely more alarming. The Judges are about issuing processes against the ring leaders for slandering the Courts and the Petitioners are endeavoring to prove which they say they can, that the majority of the Judges had they acted were obliged to [strikeout] give several judgments against themselves [inserted: for their own debts] which was the true motive for their conduct.
The House of Delegates have this day employed themselves in voting another remonstrance to Congress respecting the navigation [3] of the Missisippi. this was unnecessary as one has been made already for that purpose. but Mr Henry introduced it, to shew in a forcible manner how the commercial interests of the Southern States are sacrificed by the Northern whenever it suits their convenience. This gentleman fires [strikeout] his shot at the new constitution every opportunity.

[address leaf]
Richmond, Nov 12 FREE
The Honble Maj. Genl Knox
Secretary at War.
New York

[docket]
J Peirce Esqr
12th Novr 1787
See More

People: Knox, Henry, 1750-1806
Peirce, John, 1750-1798
Henry, Patrick, 1736-1799

Historical Era: The New Nation, 1783-1815

Subjects: US ConstitutionRatificationRevolutionary War GeneralGovernment and CivicsPoliticsFederalistsContinental CongressCongressGlobal History and US Foreign PolicyGlobal History and US Foreign PolicyCoins and CurrencyEconomicsFinanceCommerceMerchants and TradeAlcoholLawJudiciaryCorruption and ScandalRebellionMobs and RiotsShays' RebellionPetitionDebtTransportationSectionalism

Sub Era: Creating a New Government

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