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Knox, Henry (1750-1806) to George Washington

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Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC02437.03797 Author/Creator: Knox, Henry (1750-1806) Place Written: New York, New York Type: Autograph letter Date: 14 February 1788 Pagination: 4 p. ; 32.6 x 19.9 cm.

Reports on Massachusetts' adoption of the Constitution of the United States. Writes, "It may with great truth be asserted that no subject was ever more candidly debated- Many of the minority express their determination, of inculcating the principle of union among their constituents." Categorizes those who oppose the Constitution into three groups: the "insurgent interest," the "desperate debtors," and "honest men, without information whose minds are apprehensive of danger to their Liberties." Encloses a paper "containing a description of the demonstration of Joy by the Boston people on the occasion" (not present). Notes that New Hampshire's ratification convention assembled the previous day.

[draft]
New York 14 February 1788

My dear Sir
It is with great satisfaction I inform you that
Last evening the news arrived here, of the adoption of the new constitution in Massachusetts on the 6th instant. The numbers present in the convention on the decision of the question 355. for it 187. against 168 - majority 19.
It may with great [inserted: truth] be asserted that no subject [struck: ed] was ever more candidly debated. [struck: as] - Many of the minority express, their determination, of inculcating the principle of union among their constituents
The opposition arose from local causes, which [struck] existed [2] [inserted: long] before convention convened in Philadelphia, and are to be clased under the following heads.
1st The insurgent interest - who oppose every species of fixed government which may prevent a return to great Britain. The persons who influence the insurgents have been fixed on this point and consider the constitution as the greatest obstacle to the accomplishment of their wishes
2 Desperate debtors who are warmly attached to paper money, and tender Laws.
3. Honest men, without information [3] whose [sic] [struck] minds are apprehensive of danger to their Liberties - But like people in the dark, they possess no principle to ascertain the quality degree or nearness of the danger - [inserted: Their suspicions render them incapable of conviction.] The 1st and & 2d classes constituted 8th/10ths of the opposition in the convention of Massachusetts - There were 45 members from the province of main present 25 of whom voted for the constitution
I enclose a post paper containing [struck: A list of the Yeas & Nays, and also] a description of the demonstrations of Joy [4] by the Boston people on the occasion -
There [struck: ought] [inserted: is] not [struck: to be] a doubt [struck] that the majority will be [inserted: [struck]] perfectly efficient within the State of Massachusetts - But the example to the other States particularly to this will not be so influential as if the majority had been larger.
New Hampshire Convention [struck: convened] [inserted: assembled] yesterday - In about 20 days hence I hope to have the justification of [struck: announcing to] [inserted: informing] you, of the adoption of the constitution in that State -

I am my dear Sir
[inserted: with sincerest affection]
Your most Obedient
Humble servt

His Excellency
Genl Washington

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