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To George Washington from Alexander Robertson, 19 April 1796

From Alexander Robertson

Newyork 19 April 1796

Honoured & Dear Sir

Stand Unmoved in the Integerity of your Heart on the Solid Ground in Which Our Divine Master has placed You as Presedent of the United States See with Wondour how A Wise Providence is Carr[y]ing on the Plan in Disposeing of all the Distractions that take place in our National Afairs how the plans formed by Wicked & Desginneing Men are Overturned and made to Work for the General Good I can See it clearly by that Party in the National Assembly who have combined to Overset our happie Goverment and Oppose the Treaty entred into with Britian the good effects of which has Already been experenced in the keeping this Country in Pace and out of a Destructive Warr The Good effects of there Wicked plan is this The Whole Contenent is alarmed with there Conduct and particulary the Mercantile Intrest in whose hands the principal Wealth of the Country are Lodged and are the Springs of its circulation have Judged it prudent to Stop Trade and not Exporte or Insure property only for Sea Risque to Europe This has had Such an effect on the Mind of the publick that provisions of every kind have fallen from 15 to 20 per Cent in Value Nothing but a publick alarm Such as the present could have brought about Such a change in the price of Provisions for the Good of the poor So that this is one Good end the present Wicked Men have brought about contrary to there Intention and No doubt our Gracouse God will also frustrate all there other wicked Schames and make them Work for the Good this Country and they Shall have Shame and Disgrace for that part they have Acted You have the Aprobation and the prayers of the Godly for your Suport Aproveing of the line your conduct and you have Nothing to fear from the plans of Wicked Men our God will carry you Honourably through and I hope Crown you with better Honours then this poor World can give Belive me to be with great regard Your Most Obedent & very Humb. St

Alexander Robertson

N.B. The Merchants & Traders this City have had a Meeting this day at Coffiee House To Send a Petition to Congress to Adopt the Treaty & make provision for it with G. Britian1 which petition will be as respectable One as has been ever before Congress as our demecrates now hang there Head very low.


Alexander Robertson (c.1733–1816) was a New York City merchant and stockholder in the Bank of North America and the Bank of New York. He contributed to several civic and charitable organizations. For Robertson’s letter to James Madison dated 15 April 1796 supporting the Jay Treaty, see Madison Papers, description begins William T. Hutchinson et al., eds. The Papers of James Madison, Congressional Series. 17 vols. Chicago and Charlottesville, Va., 1962–91. description ends 16:327–28; see also Robertson to Albert Gallatin, 27 April 1796 (NHi).

1The American Minerva; An Evening Advertiser (New York) for 19 April printed the address to the U.S. House of Representatives adopted at this meeting in the Tontine Coffee House: “We the undersigned Merchants Traders and other Citizens of the City of New-York being of the number of your constituents and deeply interested in the issue of every public measure that can affect the essential interests of our Country, find ourselves impelled by that consideration to address you on the subject of certain resolutions now depending in your House respecting the Treaty made with Great Britain, which fill our minds with very serious apprehensions, which have already given occasion to very serious embarrassments and which in our opinion threaten very extensive and complicated evils—the whole magnitude of which it is not easy to foresee or to calculate.

“Whatever difference of sentiment may at any time have existed among us respecting particular public measures, yet on this occasion and at this time, we all unite in one opinion—and that opinion is, that the above mentioned Treaty ought to be provided for, and executed on the part of the United States with punctuality and good faith.”

Regardless of the distribution of authority among the branches of government, “no existing considerations are of sufficient weight, to render it adviseable to refuse making provision for the execution of the said Treaty.” Indeed, “compleat execution of the Treaties with Great-Britain, Spain and Algiers … appears to us a point of the greatest consequence to this young and rising Country—affording a prospect of durable peace; and of an uninterrupted progress to that maturity and strength, which will enable us to defy the enmity of foreign Powers, without those immense sacrifices which War in our present situation, must inevitably produce.”

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