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To George Washington from Edward Carrington, 6 December 1795

From Edward Carrington

Richmond Decr 6th 1795

Dear Sir

On the 20th Ultimo I did myself the honor to communicate to you the result of a proposition in the lower House of assembly here, approving the vote of the two Senators from this State, against the Treaty, and at the same time, took pleasure in mentioning the decorum observed during the debate respecting yourself and the ratifying Senators. on the next day however, the active persons of the party, presuming on the decided turn which they supposed had been fixed in favor of their views, unveiled themselves, & carried in the House, some points very extraordinary indeed, manifesting disrespect towards you—it is highly probable you may have seen the proceedings in the public papers.1 the result of these proceedings, together with the original vote of approbation, went to the Senate—the approving vote was there concurred in, with an immaterial amendment; but a very decided discountenance was put on the other proceeding, by an amendment totally reversing its aspect. by this time it was observed that many in the lower House, had become dissatisfied with their former conduct, and when the amendment came down, the zealots of anarchy were backward to act on it, while the friends of order were satisfied to let it remain for further effects of reflection. on the 4th Instant the amendment of the Senate was taken up and carried by a majority of 78 agt 62, & I believe that on the same question now, the majority would be much greater. the fever has raged, come to its Crisis, and is abating.2

As an evidence that the temper of the people at large is not such as our Members in Congress will probably exhibit an appearance of, referrence may be had to the consequences of insiduous attempts to get signed through the Country, some seditious petitions which were sent in Vast numbers from Philadelphia. these petitions were at first patronized with great zeal, by many of our distinguished anarchists; but, from the best intelligence I can get, I am satisfied that very few Copies will be sent to Congress fully signed. after a very short time they were viewed with contempt in most places. I think this information is correct. a short time will shew how far it is so, as it is not to be doubted that all the Copies will be laid before Congress, which are but tolerably signed.3 it will be no new intelligence to you to be informed, that several of our Members of Congress, have been the most active in endeavors to dissatisfy the people with the Treaty, & other measures of administration which have saved us from War, foreign dependance, and domestic wretchedness. my hope is, that from the other states in the Union, better dispositions will be met on that floor where the great republican principle is perhaps to be put to trial; for if it really turns out, that in any one of the branches of government resentments against one nation, or love for another, is to supercede a calm consideration of our own interests and happiness, a dependence utterly inconsistent with freedom must be the result; let it be once ascertained that the people of the United States are incapable of self government, and where else can it ever be tried again? I trust & believe they will preserve the sacred principle. I have the Honor to [be] with great affect⟨ion⟩ Dr Sir your Obt Servt

Ed. Carring⟨ton⟩


1For the proceedings in the Virginia House on 21 Nov., see Henry Lee to GW, 4 Dec., n.2. The relevant proceedings of that date were printed in The Virginia Herald, And Fredericksburg & Falmouth Advertiser of 1 Dec. and reported in the Aurora General Advertiser (Philadelphia) on 30 Nov. and 1 December.

2On 24 Nov., the Senate amended the resolution approving the conduct of Virginia senators by substituting “The General Assembly of Virginia” for “this House” (Journal of the Senate of Virginia, November Session 1795, Vi). For their amendment to the resolution about GW, see Lee to GW, 4 Dec., n.3. That amendment was returned for House approval on 25 Nov. (Va. House of Delegates Journal 1795, description begins Journal of the House of Delegates of the Commonwealth of Virginia, begun and held at the Capitol, in the city of Richmond, on Tuesday, the tenth day of November, one thousand seven hundred and ninety-five. Richmond, 1795. description ends 41).

3On 18 Sept., The Virginia Herald, and Fredericksburg Advertiser printed a “REMONSTRANCE and PETITION, intended to be handed round to the people of the United States, for their signatures,” which had been “forwarded to us by a correspondent.” The petition, dated 28 Aug. and addressed to the U.S. House of Representatives, expressed concern that the Jay Treaty might “involve us in the political intrigues of European nations” and lead to war with France, and it listed ten ways in which it encroached on “the constitutional powers of Congress, and the chartered rights of the people.” The petitioners then “most earnestly” prayed “that the representatives of the people, in Congress assembled, will, in their wisdom, adopt such measures, touching the said treaty, as shall most effectually secure, free from encroachment, the constitutional delegated powers of Congress, and the chartered rights of the people, and preserve to our country, an uninterrupted continuance of the blessings of peace” (see also Aurora General Advertiser [Philadelphia], 25 Sept.). On 23 Dec. the House received “Divers petitions” from Virginia to that effect. More petitions were received from Virginia on 24 and 29 Dec. and on 4 and 7 Jan., and by mid-April 1796 the House had received similar petitions from Vermont, Georgia, New York, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania (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 8:50, 53, 59, 69, 85–86, 142, 164, 181, 244, 259–60, 287–88, 346–47).

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