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Knox, Henry (1750-1806) to unknown

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Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC02437.03778 Author/Creator: Knox, Henry (1750-1806) Place Written: New York, New York Type: Autograph letter signed Date: circa 29 September 1787 Pagination: 8 p. ; 32 x 20.2 cm.

Summary of Content: Discusses the Constitution of the United States. Declares, "But a candid examination of [the Constitution], will most probably produce a conviction that it is one of the best models of a republican government ever presented to the sons of men." Comments on different groups' opposition to the Constitution, noting that the southern states will oppose it because they think it will support the commercial interest of the north. Remarks that the Constitution will affect "the projects of the paper money..." Notes that America is seen with contempt abroad. Of the current government writes, "The present ship is unfit to encounter the riding storm, it will not answer even for the smooth surface of peace- it must sink- let us then embark on board the new ship offered by the united [wisdom] of our country." Notes that, "every thing depends on Massachusetts" to set an example (by adopting the Constitution). Relates that Pennsylvania is the only state whose Legislature is in session, and they will soon set a date for their state ratification convention to be called. Date inferred based on Knox's reference to the unanimous adoption by Congress on "Friday" of the 28 September 1787 Resolution calling for state conventions to consider the Constitution.

Full Transcript: [draft]
My dear Sir

The [struck: occasion] [inserted: circumstance] of a new constitution being proposed to the people of the United States [struck: induces] occasions [inserted: at this time] my ...presenting myself [inserted: confidentially] to your remembrance [struck: at this time] - Conscious [inserted: as I am of a solid friendship for you] [struck: of a respect for] the result of a long [struck: friendship] [inserted: acquaintance], I persuade myself [struck: of that] of [struck: sentiments somewhat] of the possibility [strikeout] that you may entertain similar sentiments towards me -
The time has arrived, when the [struck: well intentioned] [inserted: well principled] and independent minds of [struck: this country] [inserted: the United States], are required by the high obligations of love to their Country, to declare themselves [struck: unreservedly] [inserted: freely] on the most interesting points than can be submitted to their consideration - Whether they are to approximate to [struck: good government] [inserted: happiness] [2] by realizing all the blessings of a government of Laws [struck: and not of men], or whether they are still to follow the misrule of anarchy [struck: and] [inserted: or] a government of convenience & caprice
The proposed Constitution has been the result of the [struck: most laborious] deepest investigations and deliberations on [struck: the govern] government suited to the various interests of the [struck: Union] [inserted: States] It is [inserted: therefore] an amicable compromise [struck: of the various interests of the respective States] of the different parts of the Union -
If it should not perfectly correspond with the theory of the closet [struck: of some suspicions] in every minutia, it ought [struck: perhaps] to be considered as the only [inserted: constitution] which could [struck: be peaceably] [inserted: be] obtained [inserted: in a peaceable manner] - But a candid [struck: investigation] [inserted: examination] of it, will most probably produce a conviction that it is one of the best models [inserted: of a republican government] ever presented [3] models ever presented to the sons of men -
It is not for the constitution itself to detail its operations - explanations and Laws [inserted: will] naturally spring [struck: up] out of its administration - sufficient it is [inserted: that] it contains the great principles, by which liberty and property are to be secured -
If some points are not amply [struck: explicit] [inserted: clear now] [struck: to minds which [think] darkly] the first Legislature will [strikeout] [struck: by passing certain] [struck and inserted: pass] [inserted: enact] [inserted: such] fundamental Laws, [struck: which] [inserted: as] will remove all doubts and apprehensions
But there are people who will oppose it - plausible and delusive reasons will be held out as grounds for an opposition - The state demagogue will declaim on the inroad on State power [4] power and sovereignty
[struck: Some] men in [inserted: some of] the southern states will [strikeout] harrangue on the subject of [struck: the of] their being sacrificed to the commercial interest of the eastern States -
The orators of the small states will talk loudly on their being sacrificed to the large States in the house of representatives, and the [struck: speakers] [inserted: opposers] in the large states will bring forward the [struck: unequal representation on the states] [inserted: undue advantage of the small States] in the Senate -
In short as the proposed constitution affects deeply the projects of the paper money, and convenient politicians, it will set in motion every subelty [sic] and art they possess to retard its progress and frustrate its adoption
[struck: And] there [struck: will] [inserted: may also] be some well meaning people who will oppose [5] it because it militates with some darling speculation they may have entertained -
However, it is to be hoped that [inserted: a majority of] the people of the respective States, [struck: see] will reflect maturely on their present situation - That they will see the contempt with which the american name is [struck: regarded] [inserted: treated] abroad - [struck: They That they will] That the goverment [sic] at home is in the last gasp of a deadly consumption - without money & without credit - unable either to resist the smallest faction [inserted: [rather]] to chastise [inserted: the despicable] bands of murdering savages on the frontiers -
It is easily demonstrable that if the proposed constitution should be rejected with the visionary hope of [6] obtaining some unimportant amendments that such an event never [struck: can happen] can take place - [struck: perhaps] There are [inserted: influential] men in [inserted: almost] every state who were a convention to be again chosen, would cause instructions to be given which would effectually prevent an agreement even of the majority of the States much less an unanamious assent - Indeed the [struck: probable] discussions on the Subject [inserted and struck: Indeed] will [struck: most probably] [inserted: most probably] beget heats and animosities, that would in case of another convention prevent a general acquiscence [sic] in any plan -
The present ship is unfit to encounter the rising storm, it will [strikeout] not answer even for the smooth surface of peace - it must sink - Let us then [inserted and struck: wisely] embark on board the new ship [7] [struck: proposed] offered by the united [struck: del] [strikeout] [inserted: wisdom] of our country - If it should not on experiment work perfectly well, we shall have [struck: plenty of materials to repair it] [inserted: the means of repairing or altering it in our] possession - But if we should decline embracing the present offer because [struck: we] [struck: some of the ornaments] some of the rigging or ornamental parts are not to our liking, we ought to apprehend the most fatal consequences - And posterity will [struck: say that we justly men mended our [future] our folly -] [inserted: execrate us for]
On Friday Congress unanimously decided eleven states being present to transmit the new constitution for the purposes and objects specified in the resolves of the convention [8] Hitherto Heaven appears to smile on the [struck: honest] [inserted: honest] labors of our country to amend their political constitution - Should the eastern States adopt it readily there can be no doubt but it will obtain generally every thing depends on Massachusetts should she set the bright example, [struck: It would add [push] dignity to her importance] [inserted: She will derive additional dignity from the circumstance] - Pennsylvania is the only state whose Legislature is at present in session - Most probably it will [strikeout] direct the Convention to be called at some early day
I rely on your goodness [struck: I beg] you to excuse my prolixity on this truly important Subject - [struck: Have the goodness] [inserted: please] to present me affectionately to the members of the Stone house Club & believe me to be with great sincerity My dear Sir
your most obedient
humble servt
HKnox
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People: Knox, Henry, 1750-1806

Historical Era: The New Nation, 1783-1815

Subjects: US ConstitutionRatificationRevolutionary War GeneralGovernment and CivicsPoliticsFederalistsEconomicsCommerceFinanceCoins and CurrencyGlobal History and US Foreign PolicyGlobal History and US Foreign Policy

Sub Era: Creating a New Government

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