James Madison Papers

Samuel McDowell to Virginia Delegates, 25 September 1787

Samuel McDowell to Virginia Delegates

Danville, Septemr. 25. 1787.


I have the honour to inclose you two Resolutions of a Convention of the Representatives for the District of Kentucky, by which you will be certified of their determinations respecting its separation from the State of Virginia.1

As you are instructed by Government, to use your endeavours to obtain the assent of Congress to the Measure; we rely on your exertions for success, and are happy that we shall have your Influence in our favour.2

The Convention, however, to manifest their anxiety for the Event; and at the same time, to manifest their unfeigned respect for Congress, as well as their attachment to the American Union, have judged it proper to address them on the momentous occasion; and have directed me to solicit your favour in having it preferred to that august Body.3 I have the honour to be, with every sentiment of respect, Gentlemen, Your most obt. Servant

Saml McDowell—president

RC and enclosure (PCC). Addressed by McDowell.

1The enclosed document containing the two resolutions was headed, “Extracts from the Journals of a Convention of the Representatives of the District of Kentucky in the state of Virginia, begun and held at Danville on Monday the 17th day of September 1787” (PCC). The resolutions, calling for the establishment of Kentucky as an independent state by 31 Dec. 1788, are printed in William Littell, Political Transactions in and concerning Kentucky, from the First Settlement Thereof, Until It Became an Independent State, in June, 1792 (1806; Louisville, 1926 reprint), p. 85.

2The Virginia act providing for Kentucky statehood instructed the delegates in Congress to obtain congressional approval of the proposed measure by 4 July 1788 (PJM description begins William T. Hutchinson et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison (10 vols. to date; Chicago, 1962——). description ends , IX, 208).

3See the address of “the Representatives of the good people of Kentucky,” signed by Samuel McDowell and attested by Thomas Todd (PCC; printed in Littell, Political Transactions, pp. 85–87). The address and resolutions were read in Congress on 29 Feb. 1788, followed by a motion of the Virginia delegates providing for the assent of Congress to the proposed separation of Kentucky from Virginia. A grand committee was appointed on 3 June to prepare “an act for acceding to the independence of … Kentucky,” but the committee was discharged a month later on notification that Virginia had ratified the federal Constitution. Congress thereupon suspended further proceedings on the matter, declaring that it should be taken up by the new federal government (JCC description begins Worthington C. Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XXXIV, 72–73, 194, 198, 287, 287–94; Littell, Political Transactions, pp. 88–93).

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