Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Thomas Worthington, 8 November 1802

From Thomas Worthington

Chilicothe Novr 8th 1802


I have the honour to enclose to you herewith the Sioto Gazette from which you will find our convention has commenced its sitting—you will also see a communication made by Governor St Clair to the convention which is expressive of his wishes & opinions in this business—Having taken a very active part in obtaining the passage of the law of Congress for our admission I have felt very deeply interested in the event of our elections for members to the Convention—My gratification has in some measure equalled my anxiety. The republican ticket has succeed beyond my most sanguine expectations. 26 decided republicans have been elected 7 federalists & 2 doubtful in all 35 the number given us by the law—I feel the greatest pleasure Sir in giveing you this information as our republican friends in Congress have exhibited the strongest proof of their friendship towards in enabling us to form for ourselves a constitution and state government congenial to the feelings of free men without respect to any difference in political opinion—I have good reason to believe there will not be two federalists in our first Legislature—It will therefore follow that our Senators to Congress will also be republican—I have the honour to enclose a communication made to the people soon after my return to this country from which you will observe sir that my small might has not been wanting in support of what I believed right—I beg you will accept of my most sincere and grateful thanks for the kind and polite attentions I received from you (during my troubles for such I called them) last winter in the city and accept of my most sincere wishes for your health & happiness. I have the honour to be with the highest respect Sir

Your Obt St

T. Worthington

RC (DLC); addressed: “Thomas Jefferson Esquire President of the United States”; endorsed by TJ as received 19 Nov. and so recorded in SJL. Enclosures:(1) Scioto Gazette, 6 Nov. 1802, which includes journal extracts from the first four days of the Ohio constitutional convention at Chillicothe, and a 3 Nov. address to the convention by Arthur St. Clair, defending his actions as governor and denying Congress the power to authorize the convention; “That the people of the Territory should form a convention and a constitution, needed no act of congress,” argues St. Clair, and “To pretend to authorise it was, on their part, an interference with the internal affairs of the country, which they had neither the power nor the right to make”; St. Clair deems the Enabling Act a “nullity, and could it be brought before that tribunal where acts of congress can be tried, would be declared a nullity”; the internal affairs of the territory were the province of its own legislature, which was no more bound by an act of Congress “than we would be bound by an edict of the first consul of France”; St. Clair denounces terms in the Enabling Act that limits the new state to one representative until the next census and excludes Wayne County from the state’s boundaries; he calls on representatives to demand admission of the entire territory to statehood, and if refused by Congress, to govern itself under its new constitution; “We have the means in our hands to bring congress to reason, if we should be forced to use them,” St. Clair concludes, “If we submit to the degradation, we shall be trodden upon, and what is worse, we shall deserve to be trodden on” (Alfred Byron Sears, Thomas Worthington: Father of Ohio Statehood [Columbus, 1998], 95–7). (2) Thomas Worthington, Communication, to Those Citizens of the North-Western Territory, Opposed to an Alteration of the Boundaries of the States, as Established by Congress, and Who Are Favourable to the Formation of a Constitution and State Government within the Eastern State, as Originally Established, dated 5 July 1802, congratulating the inhabitants of the Northwest Territory on the defeat in Congress of efforts to redivide the territory and thereby postpone statehood for the eastern division; enactment of the redivision scheme would have delayed the territory’s emancipation from “an obnoxious government” and been “destructive to their rights and liberties,” and Worthington hopes this past experience “may make you watchful and guarded in future”; Worthington also congratulates his fellow citizens on the passage of the Enabling Act, which provides a detailed explanation of its terms and conditions, and also attaches a copy of the act; he points out that every Federalist present in Congress voted against the act, while the Republicans “uniformly declared it was their intention to do us that justice they believed we merited”; Worthington strongly approves of the act and leaves his fellow citizens to determine whether it will be advantageous to accede to its propositions (Sowerby, description begins E. Millicent Sowerby, comp., Catalogue of the Library of Thomas Jefferson, Washington, D.C., 1952–59, 5 vols. description ends No. 3337).

OUR CONVENTION: as authorized by the Enabling Act passed by Congress on 30 Apr. 1802, the Ohio constitutional convention convened at Chillicothe on 1 Nov. and adjourned on 29 Nov., after ratifying a state constitution and approving an address to the president and Congress. Worthington was a member of the Ross County delegation (U.S. Statutes at Large description begins Richard Peters, ed., The Public Statutes at Large of the United States . . . 1789 to March 3, 1845, Boston, 1855–56, 8 vols. description ends , 2:173–5; Sears, Thomas Worthington, 94, 107; Worthington to TJ, 22 Dec. 1802).

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