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Stewart, Walter to William Irvine re: opposition to Constitution

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Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC04844 Author/Creator: Stewart, Walter Place Written: Philadelphia Type: Autograph letter signed Date: 1788/02/20 Pagination: 3 p. + addr 22.5 x 18.7 cm Order a Copy

Stewart writes to Irvine, a Penna. delegate to the Continental Congress: "It is expected by the Anti-Federal Party that very extensive Petitions will be laid before them against the new Constitution. I however think they have abated much in their Warmth since they see Massachusetts have come to it. [....] And they [the Anti-Federalists] at last say they think amendments may probably be made. I sincerely hope they will, as it would be a means of reconciling all Party's, and enable us to carry it through; Without them, the opposition will be so powerful as to clog its execution in too large a degree."

After Pennsylvania ratified the Constitution, critics inundated the state assembly with petitions demanding that the vote of the ratification convention be overturned. In Carlisle, Pennsylvania, and several other towns, the Constitution's opponents staged riots, raising the specter of armed insurrection. Walter Stewart (1756?-1796), a Brigadier General in the Continental Army during the Revolution, discusses opposition to the Constitution in the state and notes that Massachusetts had ratified the Constitution two weeks earlier, in part because of promises that a Bill of Rights would be appended to the document.

Philada. Feb.y 20th. 1788
Dear Sir
Accept my Sincere thanks for your different favors; as also for the Books you were good enough to forward me by General St. Clair. The Advertisement you Inclos'd me was malicious to a degree, sent in by a Mr. Blair who is at this moment largely in Mr. McClenachans debt, and who is now actually [sued] for the same by Him. He begs me to return you his Sincere thanks for the Early Information you forwarded us of this Affair.
Yesterday our Assemby were to meet, and I suppose they will be able to make a House this Week. It is Expected by the Anti Federal Party that very extensive Petitions will be laid before them Against the New Constitution. I however think they have [2] abated much in their Warmth Since they see Masachusets have come into it, And they at last say they think Amendments may possibly be made. I Sincerely hope they will, as it Would be a means of Reconciling all Party's, and Enable us to Carry it through; Without them, the Opposition will be so powerful as to Clog its Execution in too great a degree.
Mr. Fitzsimmons is Clearly of Opinion in Official Letter from the Delegates of Pennsylvania to either the Assembly, or some one of the Members, stating the Situation in which Congress use might have a desireable Effect, to Himself I think it might be as properly address'd as any other Person.
I much fear Matters will be Carried to great lengths against the [3] People Concern'd in the Riot at Carlisle, I have spoken to many on the Subject, some of whom think it Would be best to bury the Whole in Oblivion, whilst others fear the People then might Conceive it a Want of Ability in Government to punish the Offenders th[text loss] letting the prosecution drop.
The River still Unnavigable, Money scarce, And every thing dull here
I Am Dr Sir With
Much Esteem Yr.
Most Obedt. Servt.
Walter Stewart

[address leaf]
General William Irvine
Mr. Ellsworths
New York

Stewart, Walter, 1756-1796
Irvine, William, 1741-1804

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