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To John Jay from James Duane, 20 December 1788

From James Duane

Albany 20th Decr 1788

My dear Sir

I set off in a hurry which alone prevented my calling upon you for which I had a variety of motives. One was to explain the reasons which induced me to transmit to you a State of facts on a subject which I thought somewhat interesting,1 and the more so as it ^had^ produced a Visit from three reverend Doctors the evening before I commenced my Journey— Their object was to prevent a flame which they saw rising & which might affect a Harmony they had much at heart. I did not know but you might think it of importance enough to merit a pacific paragraph to keep the federal Interest out of the reach of Animosity. Time alone prevented my attempting it for I was interrupted by my Fellow traveller who was impatient to proceed. I know your goodness will excuse the Liberty I took, and your prudence will decide for the best.

I shoud not have entered into this little detail, but from a wish to give you a Sketch of our legislative Situation. In the respective houses there is a small majority opposed to each other: five in the Senate to about double the number in the assembly. The latter have taken the first opportunity of throwing the Gauntlet by turning out on the Joint ballot all the four federal Delegates whom we supported in Vain.2 A strong proof of their Enmity as that office is a mere feather at present! S. Jones3 whom they have substituted for one takes the lead on their side and apparently with great boldness and decision. The next Step is the appointment of Electors & Senators— we insist it shall be done by Law to secure a negative both with respect to the men & the manner: they on a Joint ballot of both houses which would ^put^ every thing in their power. Each have proposed bills on their respective principles and both seem tenacious. If the assembly interfere neither Electors nor Senators will be appointed tho’ I am not without hopes of an accomodation by consenting to an equality of weight in the proposed Appointments. Mr Townshend we find decidedly against us; Mr Fonda for us;4 The rest of the Senators on each side as we conjecturd before we left New York. You will from hence form a Judgement of the Events of this Session. With great respect & regard I have the Honor to be Dear Sir Your affectionate & most obedient Servant

Jas. Duane

Honore. John Jay Esquire

ALS, NNC (EJ: 05564). Addressed: “Honorable John Jay Esquire / Broadway / New York / Honord by Jacob Morris”. Endorsed. Duane was at this time a state senator.

1Not found.

2The Federalists had a majority in the state senate but were outnumbered in the assembly. Joint balloting to select delegates to Congress resulted in the election of Antifederalists. E. Wilding Spaulding, His Excellency George Clinton, Critic of the Constitution (New York, 1938), 186.

3Samuel Jones of Queens County, one of the Antifederalists whose shift at the Poughkeepsie Convention made possible the state’s ratification of the Constitution.

4State senators Samuel Townshend (1717–90) of Oyster Bay, and Jellis Fonda (1729–91), of Montgomery County.

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