George Washington Papers

To George Washington from William Bradford, 17 October 1794

From William Bradford

Philadelphia. Oct. 17th 1794.


Foreign Intelligence is conveyed to you so quickly and domestic occurrences have been so unimportant, that I have been unwilling to trouble you with a letter which could give you no material information: but I perceive, that if I indulge these scruples longer, I shall not have the honor of writing to you at all.

I spent part of last week in New Jersey & had an opportunity of conversing with a good many gentlemen of information. I learnt from them all, that the late events & measures had excited & encreased the Attachment to the general government in every part of the state in a wonderful degree. Great indignation against the insurgents still prevails; and some fears were expressed lest the wound should not be thoroughly probed: for a report was in circulation that the Army would march no further than Bedford. Notwithstanding the inconveniences which result from the absence of so many men, it seemed to be the general wish that they should not return so early: but it was the hope of every one that the situation of things might be such as to prevent the necessity of your proceeding into the insurgent Country.1

As the election was approaching, exertions were making to render the subsequent state Legislature more respectable than usual. Judge Patterson, it seems, has completed his digest of the state-Laws & expects to make his report to the next Assembly.2 Both he & his friends, are anxious that men capable of understanding the work should be the Judges of it: & several respectable professional men have been prevailed on to permit themselves to be proposed as candidates. The election for members of Congress in that state will not be had till an act is passed for that purpose. Mr Boudinot has informed his friends that it will be inconvenient for him to serve longer than the period for which he has been elected.3

The affairs of the Manufacturing Society are exceedingly deranged and their funds so far exhausted that there are no hopes the business can be carried on without an increase of capital. There is little prospect of accomplishing this; and unless some men of property embark in a purchase of the works, machinery & privileges of the Corporation, the objects of the institution will be wholly defeated.4

The march of the militia has produced a sensible rise in the price of all articles which are furnished by domestic labour. In this mild season wood sells at 8 dollars per cord: & common bricks have risen from 5 to 7 & 8 dollars the thousand. The price of day-labour is also greatly increased.

The election for a representative in Congress in this City has so issued as to give little satisfaction. Neither of the Candidates were favorites. Many declined voting for either—& some voted for one merely to vote against the other. Under those circumstances success is not very gratifying. As the returns from the Army have not arrived, the successful candidate is not yet known.

Reports are in circulation of new advantages gained by the french armies in the south—particularly of their irruption into Biscay and capture of Bilboa. But as far as I can learn it is ship-news by the way of Boston—tho’ by no means improbable.5

The Mercantile letters from London, I understand, discover great confidence that the issue of Mr Jay’s negociation will be a successful one. If the price of American Stock on the London Exchange may be considered as a thermometre of public opinion, that confidence was not only high but encreasing. The Stock of the bank U.S. was at 110£ sterling, & was still rising. In consequence of this advice, the price has risen here also to 26 & 27. perCent advance. It is devoutly to be wished that this confidence may not be delusive.

Mr Hammond has returned to the City from New York.

While I was in New Jersey, I was informed that Mr Genet, finding the times unfavorable for any political operations, was quietly reposing at his country house near Jamaica, on Long-island. His suit to the Lady was not abandoned; but it was believed that he would recieve no decisive answer, untill the Election of next spring was past.6 The event of that election will in some measure depend upon the event of Mr Jay’s negociations.

No official returns of the elections for members of Congress for this state have yet been received in the Secretary’s office. But correct information states, that the majorities in Favor of Mr Thomas, of Chester County, Mr Morris of Montgomery, & Mr Sitgreaves of Northampton are so great that they cannot be affected by the votes of the militia abroad. These gentlemen are supported by the federal interest in their respective districts. Mr Peter Muhlenberg is, of course, left out. There seems to be no doubt but Colo. Hartley & Mr Kittera will be rechosen.7

Our city continues to be healthy and the yellow fever as well as all conversation about it seems to have left the Place: but a messenger arrived from Woodberry last night, to Dr Rush with accounts of Mrs Stockton’s illness, and her friends there write, that they apprehend that her disorder is of that class. She is very ill, but is not thought to be in danger.8

You will perceive, Sir, that I have written this letter rather with a view of indulging my own feelings tha[n]9 with the hope of conveying any interesting information. I shall not be inattentive to any thing material that occurs & will take the liberty of apprizing you of it, if you are detained long with the army.

I have only to add my best wishes for your health & to assure you of the respect & attachment with which I am Your faithful & Obedt Servt

Wm Bradford.


1Such support was expressed in a poem of this date addressed to GW that appeared in The New York Magazine, or Literary Repository of October (p. 639):

“O THOU, whose virtuous, favour’d, victor hand

Allured blest Peace to this our wasted land,

Thou whom Columbians as father claim,

And, wreathe rich garlands round thine honour’d name;

Still art thou doom’d to War! must his alarms

Call thee again from loved Retirement’s charms?

Instead of songs of peace which thou shouldst hear,

Must martial clangors thunder in thine ear?

And, bounding o’er the plain, shall thy fierce steed

Bear thee where heaps of erring freemen bleed?

Kind Heaven forbid it!—No, illustrious chief,

Thy hands were destined to bestow relief;

Divine Philanthropy dilates thy breast,

And Conquest—Conquest blazons on thy crest!

—Not such indeed as Macedon’s proud son,

Mad after fame, bade through the sad world run;

Which laid the fathers of the hamlet low,

And bade the orphan’s tears profusely flow;

Which set the grand Persepolis on flame,

And wiped away the august Persian name.

“No! ’tis a triumph which thine acts shall save

From the dark fetters of Oblivion’s grave—

Shall bid them all survive Obloquy’s art,

For ’tis a conquest of the human heart!

“Go then, loved man, go join the warlike band,

Valor shall guide thee—Victory attend,

And stern Rebellion’s self shall bow the knee,

And, weeping, offer up his arms to thee.

“Charm’d with thy valorous deeds, hard-hearted Time,

Whose hand hath blotted out the marks sublime

Of the vain Pharoahs, who to purchase fame

Raised mighty Pyramids to save their name,

Which now are mouldering at his touch—even he

Shall rear a lasting obelisk for thee.”

2By “An Act for revising and digesting the Laws of this State,” 24 Nov. 1792, the New Jersey legislature had appointed William Paterson “to collect and reduce into proper Form … all the Statutes of England or Great-Britain, which, before the Revolution, were practised, and which, by the Constitution, extend to this State; as also all the Publick Acts which have been passed by the Legislature of this State, both before and since the Revolution, which remain in Force,” the result to be placed before the legislature and “if approved, enacted into Laws.” Moreover, “when several Laws relate to the same subject Matter,” Paterson was authorized “to reduce them into one Law” and propose amendments to the legislature (Acts of the Seventeenth General Assembly of the State of New-Jersey. At a Session begun at Trenton the 23d Day of October 1792, and continued by Adjournments. Being the First Sitting [Trenton, 1792], 794–95). On 5 Nov. Paterson, laid forty bills before the legislature for consideration (Votes and Proceedings of the Nineteenth General Assembly of the State of New-Jersey. At a Session begun at Trenton on the 28th Day of October, 1794, and continued by Adjournments. Being the First Sitting [Elizabeth-Town, N.J., 1794], 20–21). His completed work was published as Laws of the State of New-Jersey; Revised and Published under the Authority of the Legislature (Newark, N.J., 1800).

3On 17 Nov. the New Jersey legislature passed “An Act directing the Time and Mode of electing Representatives in the House of Representatives of the Congress of the United States for this State.” The act provided that nominations were to be submitted to the county clerks on 24 Nov., and the election was to commence on 30 Dec. and continue (if judged necessary) until 3 Jan. 1795 (Acts of the Nineteenth General Assembly of the State of New-Jersey. At a Session begun at Trenton on the 28th Day of October 1794, and continued by Adjournments. Being the First Sitting [Trenton, 1795], 928–31). Elias Boudinot was not a candidate in the election.

4Bradford was referring to the Society for Establishing Useful Manufactures, founded with a state charter in 1791, which had set up a manufacturing center at Paterson, N.J. The declining fortunes of the society led the directors in January 1796 to “put a Stop to every species of manufacture” by the company (Hamilton Papers description begins Harold C. Syrett et al., eds. The Papers of Alexander Hamilton. 27 vols. New York, 1961–87. description ends , 20:200–201).

5As early as 27 Sept. a Boston newspaper printed a report from Marblehead “that the French had possessed themselves of St. Sebastian—had taken and sent into port two British sloops of war cruizing in the Bay of Biscay, were pushing forward to Bilboa.” That news was circulating in Philadelphia by 3 Oct. (Columbian Centinel [Boston], 27 Sept.; The Philadelphia Gazette and Universal Daily Advertiser, 3 Oct.). On 14 Oct. another Massachusetts paper reported learning “By a passenger in the Minerva … that Bilboa was in their possession,” a report reprinted in Philadelphia on 17 Oct. (Morning Star [Newburyport, Mass.], 14 Oct.; The Philadelphia Gazette and Universal Daily Advertiser, 17 Oct.).

6Edmond Genet married Cornelia Tappen Clinton (1774–1810), a daughter of Gov. George Clinton, on 6 November.

7Richard Thomas (1744–1832), who represented Chester County in the Pennsylvania senate at this time, was elected to represent the congressional district composed of Chester and Delaware counties. James Morris (1753–1795) had represented Philadelphia County in the Pennsylvania legislature in the 1782–83 and 1783–84 sessions, and Montgomery County in the Pennsylvania convention to ratify the U.S. Constitution in 1787 and the Pennsylvania constitutional convention of 1789–90. At this time he was register and recorder for Montgomery County and a brigadier general of militia. The votes for Morris and John Richards were so close that the governor did not certify a victor for the second of the two seats representing the district composed of Bucks, Northampton, and Montgomery counties, explicitly leaving the matter to the U.S. House (The Philadelphia Gazette and Universal Daily Advertiser, 3 March 1795). Morris died before the House considered the issue, and although the committee on elections initially reported that he had been elected, they subsequently revised their figures to show Richards as the victor, and the House voted on 18 Jan. 1796 to seat Richards (Journal of the House description begins The Journal of the House of Representatives: George Washington Administration 1789–1797. Edited by Martin P. Claussen. 9 vols. Wilmington, Del., 1977. description ends , 8:17, 42, 98–102, 115–16; Biog. Dir. Cong. description begins Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, 1774–1989. Washington, D.C., 1989. description ends , 58). Samuel Sitgreaves (1764–1827), an Easton, Pa., lawyer who had served as a delegate to the 1789–90 state constitutional convention, was the other man seated from that district. John Peter Gabriel Muhlenberg trailed Sitgreaves, Morris, and Richards. Congressmen Thomas Hartley, of York, and John Wilkes Kittera (1752–1801), a Lancaster, Pa., lawyer, were re-elected in their districts.

8Bradford probably was referring to Annis Boudinot Stockton, Benjamin Rush’s mother-in-law.

9Bradford wrote “that.”

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