James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Rufus King, 3 February 1788

From Rufus King

Boston. Sunday 3d. Feb. 1788

Dear Sir

I inclose a newspaper of yesterday containing the propositions communicated by Mr. Hancock to the Convention, on Thursday last.1 Mr. Adams2 who contrary to his own Sentiments has been hitherto silent in convention, has given his public & explicit approbation of Mr. Hancock’s propositions.

We flatter ourselves that the weight of these two characters will insure our success, but the Event is not absolutely certain. Yesterday a committee was appointed on the motion of a doubtful Character to consider the propositions submitted by Mr. Hancock, and to report Tomorrow Afternoon. We have a Majority of Fedaralists on this Committee and flatter ourselves the result will be favorable. I have not Time to add except that I am with Esteem &c yours &c.

R King

PS. We shall probably decide on Thursday or Friday next, when our numbers will amount to about 363. Gerry has kept at Cambridge & Our Opponents say nothing of his reinvitation.3

RC (DLC); Tr (NHi). RC addressed by King and franked. RC docketed by JM and directed by him on the verso of the cover to “Col. Hamilton.” See n. 3 below. Enclosure forwarded to Washington on 11 Feb. 1788.

1The enclosed paper was the Boston Mass. Centinel of 2 Feb. 1788. On 31 Jan., Hancock had submitted a series of amendments to the Constitution, proposing that the convention recommend adoption of them as part of its agreement to ratify the Constitution (Massachusetts Debates, pp. 79–81, 224–25). Hancock’s conciliatory scheme was evidently the result of a political bargain. In return for his influence in favor of the Constitution, the Massachusetts Federalists promised full support for Hancock in the next gubernatorial election and even held out to him the prospect of the vice-presidency or presidency under the new federal government (Harding, Contest over Ratification of the Constitution in Massachusetts, pp. 82–87).

2JM placed an asterisk here and wrote in the left margin, “*Saml. Adams.”

3Below the postscript JM wrote, probably to Alexander Hamilton, the following note: “Read the above immediately & send it back by the Bear[er] who will wait for it. I shall be glad of the Newspaper in about an Hour & an half.”

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