John Jay Papers
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From John Jay to Richard Price, 24 August 1785

To Richard Price

New York 24 Augt. 1785

Dear Sir

Having since my coming into office, found it necessary to apply very closely to the Business of it, which from its having been long vacant, had greatly accumulated; I was obliged to suspend that attention & Punctuality, which I observe in my private Correspondences, whenever my private whenever a due Regard to public Business, will admit of sufficient Leisure for the Purpose—

Hence it happened that I have so long delayed presenting You my Thanks for the Pamphlets you was so obliging as to send me—that work has been reprinted, read, & admired.1 I am not without Hopes that Time and Experience will yet bring our political System to that Degree of Perfection, which may reasonably be expected in a human Institutions, popular Governments must be influenced by popular opinion, and popular opinion must be created not commanded—it is a kind of Creation too which can proceed but slowly, because often opposed by Prejudices, Ignorances, clashing Interests, and natural tho illfounded Jealousies. Your Character for Love of Liberty & mankind as well as for Integrity & abilities is high in this Country, and your Pen has ^done^ & may do us much Good—with the best wishes for your Health & Happiness I am Dr. Sr. your most obt. Servt

John Jay

The Revd Doctr Price—

ALS, NNGL (EJ: 90501). Endorsed: “A letter from / Mr Jay at N. York / Aug 24th. 1785 / Ansd”.

1Price had forwarded copies of his 1784 pamphlet Observations on the Importance of the American Revolution, and the Means of Making it a Benefit to the World with his letter of 22 Oct. 1784, JJSP, description begins Elizabeth M. Nuxoll et al., eds., The Selected Papers of John Jay (3 vols. to date; Charlottesville, Va., 2010—) description ends 3: 619–20. Price’s pamphlet was reprinted at Boston by Powars and Willis in 1784, and in Bennington, Vt., by Haswell and Russell, in New Haven by Meigs, Bowen and Dana, in Philadelphia by M. Carey and Co. (in two editions), in Trenton by Isaac Collins, and in Hartford by Barlow and Babcock [Early Am. Imprints, description begins Early American Imprints, series 1: Evans, 1639–1800 [microform; digital collection], edited by American Antiquarian Society, published by Readex, a division of Newsbank, Inc. Accessed: Columbia University, New York, N.Y., 2006–13, description ends nos. 18739, 19204, 19201, 19202 and 44479, 19203, 44778, respectively], in 1785; see Price Correspondence, description begins W. Bernard Peach and D. O. Thomas, eds., The Correspondence of Richard Price (3 vols.; Cardiff, Wales, and Durham, N.C., 1983–94) description ends 2: 10n. For JJ’s further response to Price’s writings, see his letter of 27 Sept. 1785, below.

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