James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Cyrus Griffin, 24 March 1788

From Cyrus Griffin

N: york 24 March 1788:

My dear sir

Before the date of this letter I hope you are gotten safe to orange, and found all things in a situation the most agreeable.

We are still going forward in the same tract of Seven states, of course not a great deal can be done, and indeed not a great deal to do.

A prospect of the new Constitution seems to deaden the activity of the human mind as to all other matters; and yet I greatly fear that constitution may never take place; a melancholy Judgment most certainly—and would to heaven that nothing under the Sun shall be more erroneous!

The adjournment of N. Hampshire, the small majority of Massachusets, a certainty of rejection in Rhode Island, the formidable opposition in the state of n. york, the convulsions and Committee meetings in Pennsylvania, and above all the antipathy of Virginia to the system, operating together, I am apprehensive will prevent the noble fabrick from being enacted. The constitution is beautiful in Theory—I wish the experiment to be made—in my opinion it would be found a government of sufficient energy only.

Neither of the packets have yet arrived, and what has detained the french no one at this place can determine.

Not a word from our Ministers abroad.

Congress have taken final leave of the Chavalier by a very polite and friendly letter.1

The Marchioness is recovering rapidly, and the Count in good health; I mention them because they entertain a very exalted2 of you and talk much upon that subject.

Daniel Shays and Eli Parsons have petitioned the Legislature of Massachusets for pardon—and will succeed.3

The frequent attacks upon the postoffice has produced the enclosed performance.4

The customary papers are sent to you within this cover. I am, my dear Sir, with friendship and Sincerity your obedient Servant

C Griffin

RC (DLC). Docketed by JM. Enclosures not found.

1See JCC description begins Worthington C. Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XXXIV, 93.

2Griffin omitted, but almost certainly intended, to write “opinion.”

3The petition, submitted to the General Court on 10 Mar., was printed in the Boston Mass. Centinel on 15 Mar. 1788. The legislature approved a general pardon in June (Starkey, A Little Rebellion, pp. 248–50).

4Griffin probably enclosed a copy of the N.Y. Journal for 21 Mar., containing Ebenezer Hazard’s defense of his conduct as postmaster general. Immediately preceding this was a piece by Eleazer Oswald, publisher of the Philadelphia Independent Gazetteer, that had originally appeared in the Philadelphia paper on 12 Mar. Oswald criticized Hazard for allegedly discontinuing the custom of dispatching and distributing newspapers through the post office.

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