George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Jonathan Trumbull, Jr., 2 October 1793

From Jonathan Trumbull, Jr.

Lebanon [Conn.] 2d Octo. 1793

Dear sir

The prevalence of the distressing and fatal sickness which continues to rage in Philadelphia, induces me to address you with a quere on the propriety of Congress meeting in that City at their approaching Sessions—The unhappy continuance of the Disorder to this period—with the threatning aspect of its Nature & Symptoms, make it more than probable that the City cannot be rendered a healthfull & convenient place for Business for some Months from this time—Under these melancholly circumstances attending that Capital, it would seem that an Occasion exists, sufficiently extraordinary, to warrant the Presidents interposing his discretionary power of making a special Call of Congress, to convene at some other place, than that to which they now stand adjourned1—this I suppose may be constitutionally done, under the urgency of existing Circumstances—fixing on some time—say a few Days—previous to the 1st monday in Decr next—Should this discretionary power not interpose—a majority of both Houses must Convene in Phila.—be the Danger what it may—before an Adjou[r]nment can be made to a place of Safety & Convenience.

My Anxiety for the Health & Safety of the Executive & Legislature of the Union—with that of the various Departments of the Goverment, I trust will plead my excuse for troubling you with these hints—I am sure you will credit me when I say, they are made in the sincerity of my Heart 2—most devoutly praying that the melancholly occasion, as it respects Phila.—may speedily be removed—& that Providence may soon interpose its healing relief & protection to that distressed City—I beg leave to subcribe myself—with unabated respect & regard—sir—Your most Obedient and most humble Servant

J. Trumbull


1Trumbull evidently was relying on the part of Article 2, section 3 of the Constitution that stated that the president “may, on extraordinary Occasions, convene both Houses, or either of them.”

2At this point in his draft, Trumbull wrote the following paragraph, which he then struck: “As to the place of extra Meetg I will say but little—perhaps nothing on the subject from me would be best—I will presume only to mention—That in casting about, it is probable that the Towns of Baltimore & N. York will occur as the most convenient places—our former experience of the Convenience of the latter place may perhaps be a leadg principle in fixing your Judgment—tho I am sensible objections will be started—but whatever place may be thot best, I [s]hall heartily acquiese.”

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