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Knox, Henry (1750-1806) to Marquis de Lafayette

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Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC02437.03860 Author/Creator: Knox, Henry (1750-1806) Place Written: New York, New York Type: Manuscript letter Date: 26 April 1788 Pagination: 5 p. : docket ; 32.5 x 19.7 cm. Order a Copy

Contemporary secretarial copy of a letter sent to Lafayette. References Lafayette's letters from November 1787 and February 1788. Says that "The Convention by you Mr. Jefferson and Common Sense [Thomas Paine], judge wisely respecting the New Constitution requiring some amendments & of the time they should be effected." Of the Constitutional Convention says "The unanimity of the former convention may be regarded as a rare evidence of the empire of reason." Believes there will not have to be another convention. Says it is likely that nine states will accept the constitution over the next 2-3 months. Says New York will have its ratifying convention in June and hopes the acceptance of other states will influence them to vote for it. Goes into other state's conventions. Lashes out at Rhode Island. Gives Lafayette an update on Catherine Greene, the wife of the late General Nathanael Greene. Seems like she wants to send her son George to France to study. Asks for an updated list of French officers in the Society of the Cincinnati so he can send them diplomas. Says war seems less likely in Europe now, but that the English "however are haughty and overbearing - too much so I am apprehensive, for a firm and durable peace." Below the docket, a later note initialed by "EY" sums up the letter and states that Lafayette's letters to Knox referenced in this letter is feared lost. In the hand of William Knox.

New York 26.th April 1788.
I thank you my dear Marquis for your highly esteemed favors of Nov.r & Feby. last.
The Statements you were so good as to make [struck: me] in your letters are considered by me as unequivocal proofs of the continuance of your friendship which is so dear to me.
The Convention by you M.r Jefferson and Common Sense, judge wisely respecting the New Constitution requiring some amendments & of the time they should be effected.
Most certainly if the amendments were made a condition of the adoption of the Constitution, neither amendments or constitution would ever be received - A more complex and difficult task cannot be imagined than to obtain the concurrence of a majority of all the States to a constitution, militating more or less with the prejudices, habits or interests of most of the States - The unanimity of the former convention may be regarded as a rare evidence of the empire of reason and sound policy - Let another be assembled, and perhaps no four States [2] States would agree in any one system.
But I think my hopes are well founded that we shall not be under the necessity of having recourse to the miserable alternative of another Convention - For the prospects are very flattering that more than nine states will accept the Constitution in the course of two or three months - six have already adopted it - New York Convention also sit in June - the issue problematical, but as eight States will have adopted it, and perhaps nine, before the session of this State, some allowance must be made for the influence of other States on the conduct of this. - In my opinion the result of the deliberations in this convention will be the adoption of the New Constitution - Maryland is now in session and will adopt it by a great Majority - the Elections in Virginia are just known to us, and notwithstanding all the falshoods that have been propagated against the constitution it is now pretty well ascertained that it will be adopted in Virginia whose Convention meets the first Monday in June North - [3] N.th Carolina the Convention of which meets in July will follow the conduct of Virginia - South Carolina will meet the 12.th May and is said to be greatly in favor of the Constitution -
In short as the prospect now presents itself Hopes may be indulged of twelve States acceeding to the Constitution in the course of the year.
As to Rhode-Island no little State of Greece ever exhibited greater turpitude than she does - paper money and tender laws engross her attention entirely - this is in other words plundering the Orphan[struck: s] & widow by virtue of laws.
Mrs Greene and her little family, you so kindly enquire after are seated at Wethersfield in Connec.t under the auspices of our friend Col.o Wadsworth - M.rs Greene is most Honorably & industriously employed in the education of her Children - Col.o Wadsw.th is anxious George should be sent to France to which M.rs Greene consents - It is possible the young gentleman may be addressed to your care in the course of one or two packets hence.
I [4] I wrote you the last year, for you to forward me an Authentic list of the french Officers who served in our Army and who are members of the Cincinnati - this is a necessary document whereon to found the diplomas which shall be forwarded to you as soon as I receive the list with your authentication
At the same time I wrote the Counts D'Estaign & Rochambeau for similar lists to be authenticated by them of the officers who served in the Navy & Army and who are members of the Cincinnati
I have received the list from Count de Rochambeau but not from [Count] DEstaign - I have by this opportunity forwarded the Diplomas for the Officers of the Army to the Minister of War agreably to the direction from Count de Rochambeau
Will you be so good as to speak to the Count D'Estaign on this subject - Were the Diplomas to be forwarded without the list required, some ridiculous blunders would be probably Committed - You enclosed in your letter the application of [5] of a Gentlemen, but do not support it in any degree - We shall in all cases which shall respect the French Officers be extremely careful to admit none but those who shall be most strongly recommended by the Society of France.
The appearance of War in the hither part of Europe seems to have vanished - The English however are haughty and overbearing - too much so I am apprehensive, for a firm and durable peace - I shall flatter myself to hear from you now & then about the Turks and Russians - Were a fair opportunity for glory to present itself to you - I should expect to hear that you were involved in all the dangers of one side or the other
I am very dear Marquis
Your Affectionate friend
The Marquis
De La Fayette}

Copy of a Letter to
M. Le Marq.s de la Fayette
26.th April 1788

Lafayette, Marie Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert Du Motier, marquis de, 1757-1834
Knox, Henry, 1750-1806

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