To Charles Cotesworth Pinckney
[New York, March 15, 1802]
You will probably have learned before this reaches you that the act of last Session for the better organization of the Judiciary Department has been repealed,1 and I take it for granted, that you will with me view this measure as a vital blow to the Constitution. In my opinion, it demands a systematic and persevering effort by all Constitutional means to produce a revocation of the precedent, and to restore the Constitution.
For this purpose I deem it essential that there should be without delay a meeting and conference of a small number of leading Federalists from different States.
Unless there shall be a plan of Conduct, proceeding from such a source, our measures will be disjointed, discordant, and of course ineffectual. There is also a further danger which may attend the want of a plan capable of fixing opinions and determining objects.
There are among us incorrect men with very incorrect views; which may lead to combinations and projects injurious to us as a party, and very detrimental to the Country.
These considerations have determined me to make an attempt to bring about such a meeting.2 And it has occurred that the first Monday of May next at the City of Washington may be a convenient time and place.
A general meeting of the Society of the Cincinnati is to be then and there held.3 I have likewise taken the liberty to request the attendance of Governor Davie4 of North Carolina. In the event of your concurring in sentiment with me, it will be expedient for you to second my invitation to him.
With the truest esteem and most affectionate regard
JCH Transcripts description begins John C. Hamilton Transcripts, Columbia University Libraries. description ends .
1. See “An Act to provide for the more convenient organization of the Courts of the United States” (2 Stat. description begins The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America, II (Boston, 1850). description ends 89–100 [February 13, 1801]).
2. According to David Hackett Fischer, “… The few important Federalists who came to Washington were not able to agree on anything of political significance, if indeed they ever tried. There were a few similar efforts, but all in vain” (The Revolution of American Conservatism [New York, 1965], 84). No evidence of a meeting of Federalists in Washington has been found.
4. William R. Davie, former governor of North Carolina and a member of the three-man peace commission which negotiated the Convention of 1800 (Treaty of Môrtefontaine), was appointed on January 6, 1802, as a commissioner to negotiate a treaty between the state of North Carolina and the Tuscaroras, and the Senate consented to his appointment on January 22 (Executive Journal, I description begins Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate (Washington, 1828), I. description ends , 401, 405).
H’s letter to Davie has not been found.