George Washington Papers
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To George Washington from Henry Knox, 28 January 1796

From Henry Knox

Boston 28 Jany 1796.

My dear sir

I cannot refrain from trespassing on Your time by expressing to you the perfect satisfaction which the people of New England possess by the operations of the general goverment. The unanimity of the legislature of this state was such as to overbear all dispositions of a disorganizing nature. Had the legislature conceived it proper or constitutional they would have expressed their approbation in the highest degree—But they conceived this would be a two edged sword—Mr Adams the Governor may console himself with his good intentions but he has no credit for them in the opinion of the wise and enlightened part of his Countrym⟨en.⟩1

The whole Country from Maryland to New Hampshire inclusively may be considered as a Phalanx of good order, and attachment to the administration of the general Government.

A conviction of the excellence of this dispos[i]tion, and the most cordial affection to you, must afford you sensations of satisfaction which are inexpressible; especially after the gloomy threatnings of anarchy which prevailed but in too many places the last summer. May this satisfaction never be clouded for a moment. I am with perfect attachment and respect for you and Mrs Washington in which sentiments Mrs Knox cordially unites Your Obedient Servt

H. Knox


1Samuel Adams (1722–1803) became governor of Massachusetts upon the death of John Hancock in 1793 and continued in office until 1797. In his address to the legislature on 19 Jan., he pointed to a possible conflict in the U.S. Constitution between the section vesting legislative powers in the Senate and House and the provision that allowed treaties to be made by the Senate and the president with no involvement by “the most popular branch of Congress.” He suggested that an alteration might be necessary, and then, after expressing a hope “that what I am now about to say will not be deemed improper,” he continued, “I may never hereafter have an opportunity of publicly expressing my opinion on the Treaty lately made with the Court of London: I am therefore constrained with all due respect to our Constituted Authorities to declare, that the Treaty appears to me to be pregnant with evil. It controuls some of the powers specially vested in Congress for the security of the people; and I fear that it may restore to Great Britain such an influence over the Government and people of this country as may not be consistent with the general welfare” (Independent Chronicle: and the Universal Advertiser [Boston], 21 Jan.).

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