To Thomas Mann Randolph
Philadelphia Jan. 13. 1800
Th:J. to TMR.
I have suffered the Post day to come upon me for two weeks past so unexpectedly as to be unable to write even the necessary letters of business. I found on my arrival that Barnes had not had the courage to sell our tobacco notwithstanding my positive directions to do so. he could then I believe have got 7½ D. for it. I struggled for a fortnight for that price, but was obliged at length to take 7. D. at very long instalments, to wit, 2, 4, 6, 8, & 10. months. I was indeed confined almost entirely to Lieper, because I would not have trusted any merchant in Philadelphia for 10. months. the Hamburg failures, (which are in truth English failures, for the Hamburghers were only the depositories for the English merchants) are so total, & such consignments of produce have been made thither from all the trading towns of the US. & bills drawn on them & now on their passage, that no merchant is safe. for however unconnected himself with Hamburgh he is connected with those in that trade, and a crush is expected of incalculable extent. Mc.Gruder owed Gamble in account 49,000 Doll. besides £16,000 sterl. bills of his sold & endorsed by Gamble which it is expected will all come back. this came from Temple through a single hand to me.—you will see by the papers that a motion to disband the army has failed, by a majority of 60. to 39. of that majority, Virginia contributed 7. votes, & N.C. near as many. another motion will be tried to-day, to stop recruiting: but I see no reason to expect it to succeed.—J. Randolph has spoken twice with infinite applause, on two successive days, tho’ the tenor of his speeches were very temperate he used a word, ragamuffins, in speaking of the common soldiery, on the first day. he took it back of his own accord very handsomely the next day. nevertheless he was insulted by some officers on the 2d evening at the playhouse; but being spiritedly supported by some members of Congress who were with him it passed off. as they are said to have been very inferior officers of the navy, I understand his friends have thought it the best course to address the President for their dismissal.—I arrived here on the 8th. day of my journey having had good weather & good roads after I got to Fredsbg. I left Jupiter there very sick, & having heard nothing of him since am not without anxiety. I think his complaint of very doubtful event, tho it may be of some time. if mr Trist has not yet left Charlottesville I would thank you to ask the favor of him to bring about half a pint of the cowpeas to me. it is to oblige a very particular friend here.—Bureaux-Pusy (the companion of La Fayette) arrived some time ago at N. York, & with him the wife & daughter of Dupont de Nemours. the latter is the wife of Bureaux-Pusy. I recieved by him a letter from La Fayette who expected to sail for America in July, but probably waits the issue of our negociation. I have not yet seen Bureaux-Pusy. I understand they expect Dupont daily.—the deficit for the year is 5. millions of Dollars. they propose to borrow it, but I think they cannot in the present crazy state of our merchants. I am told there will be an attempt by the minority to tax the funds & banks equally with lands. this would add a capital for taxation of 100. millions of dollars, which does not now pay one dollar. it would carry an argument home to those gentry who are calling for a war in which they are neither to pay nor fight. but the attempt will fail with the present Congress.—my warmest love to my ever dear Martha. kisses to the children & affectionate salutations to yourself.
P. S. since writing the above we recieve information of the failure of the house of Stewart in Baltimore for a million & a half of dollars.
RC (DLC); endorsed by Randolph as received 1 Feb. 1800. PrC (same).
Motion to disband the army: on 10 Jan. the House defeated the resolution introduced by John Nicholas on 1 Jan. calling for the repeal of the acts of 16 July 1798 to augment the army and of 3 Mch. 1799 for the better organizing of the troops. Eleven Virginia representatives voted for the reduction of the army but Thomas Evans, description begins Charles Evans, Clifford K. Shipton, and Roger P. Bristol, comps., American Bibliography: A Chronological Dictionary of all Books, Pamphlets and Periodical Publications Printed in the United States of America from …1639 …to …1820, Chicago and Worcester, Mass., 1903–59,14 vols. description ends Samuel Goode, Henry Lee, John Marshall, Robert Page, Josiah Parker, and Levin Powell voted against the measure. Of the nine North Carolina representatives present, four voted for the resolution and five against it. On 13 Jan. Harrison Gray Otis brought in a report recommending that the army of 4,000 men already raised be kept in readiness but that recruiting be stopped. A bill to suspend further enlistments passed the House on 24 Jan. and the Senate on 11 Feb. by a 21 to 10 vote (Annals, description begins Annals of the Congress of the United States: The Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States… Compiled from Authentic Materials, Washington, D.C., Gales & Seaton, 1834–56, 42 vols. All editions are undependable and pagination varies from one printing to another. The first two volumes of the set cited here have “Compiled … by Joseph Gales, Senior” on the title page and bear the caption “Gales & Seatons History” on verso and “of Debates in Congress” on recto pages. The remaining volumes bear the caption “History of Congress” on both recto and verso pages. Those using the first two volumes with the latter caption will need to employ the date of the debate or the indexes of debates and speakers. description ends 10:227–8, 247, 368–9, 374–5; JHR description begins Journal of the House of Representatives of the United States, Washington, D.C., 1826, 9 vols. description ends , 3:556–7, 560–1, 569; JS description begins Journal of the Senate of the United States, Washington, D.C., 1820–21, 5 vols. description ends , 3:23, 29). For a discussion of the support of a number of Federalists for the bill, see Kohn, Eagle and Sword, description begins Richard H. Kohn, Eagle and Sword: The Federalists and the Creation of the Military Establishment in America 1783–1802, New York, 1975 description ends 260–3.
Mc.gruder: notice of the failure of the Baltimore firm of William B. McGruder & Co. appeared in the Federal Gazette & Baltimore Daily Advertiser, 24 Dec. 1799.
John Randolph, the first-term congressman from Virginia, argued in debate on 9 Jan. against a standing army and in support of the militia. He referred to the common soldiery as “mercenary forces” and “ragamuffins” and noted the adverse effect on the public temper of troops “who live upon the public, who consume the fruits of their honest industry, under the pretext of protecting them from a foreign yoke.” Randolph took it back the next day and wished that he could “exchange” the word “ragamuffin,” a term that had been “extorted from him by the character and appearance of the recruits in his country; men the most abject and worthless of the community.” Two marines, Captain James McKnight and Lieutenant Michael Reynolds, harangued and jostled him that same evening at the New Theatre on Chestnut Street and several congressmen who had accompanied him came to his defense. Randolph, arguing that by the assault on him the independence of the legislature had been attacked, penned an address to the president for their dismissal, “to deter others from any future attempt to introduce the reign of terror” into the country. Encouraged by his cabinet officers, Adams transmitted the letter to the House of Representatives on 14 Jan., requesting them to investigate the incident. Randolph retorted that it was up to the president, as commander-in-chief of the Army, “to afford a remedy, and to restrain men under his command from giving personal abuse and insult.” A committee dominated by Federalists investigated, chided Randolph for addressing Adams improperly, and resolved to thank the president for respecting the privileges of the House by forwarding Randolph’s letter to them. A second resolution found insufficient cause “for the interposition of this House” in the matter. On 29 Jan. the House passed the resolution thanking the president. Republicans made an unsuccessful effort to amend the second resolution by finding the conduct of the two officers “indiscreet and improper.” An attempt by Randolph supporters at a resolution disapproving the behavior of McKnight and Reynolds was ruled out of order by the Speaker. The resolution failed, and no action was taken (JHR description begins Journal of the House of Representatives of the United States, Washington, D.C., 1826, 9 vols. description ends , 3:572–7; Annals, description begins Annals of the Congress of the United States: The Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States… Compiled from Authentic Materials, Washington, D.C., Gales & Seaton, 1834–56, 42 vols. All editions are undependable and pagination varies from one printing to another. The first two volumes of the set cited here have “Compiled … by Joseph Gales, Senior” on the title page and bear the caption “Gales & Seatons History” on verso and “of Debates in Congress” on recto pages. The remaining volumes bear the caption “History of Congress” on both recto and verso pages. Those using the first two volumes with the latter caption will need to employ the date of the debate or the indexes of debates and speakers. description ends 10:298, 367, 369, 372–4, 377–84, 448–50, 502–7; Page Smith, John Adams, 2 vols. [Garden City, N.Y., 1962], 2:1023).
Letter from La Fayette: see 19 Apr. 1799.