George Washington Papers

[Diary entry: 28 January 1790]

Thursday 28th. Sent a letter (with an Act of the Legislature of the State of Rhode Island, for calling a Convention of that State to decide on the Constitution of the Union) from Governor Collins, to both Houses of Congress—to do which, was requested by the Act, of the President.

The following Gentlemen dined here—viz.—The Vice President the Secretary of the Treasury—Messrs. Schuyler, Morris, Izard Dalton and Butler of the Senate; and Messrs. Smith, (So. Carolina) Stone, Schureman Fitzimmons, Sedgwick, Huger and Madison of the House of Representatives.

rhode island: Gov. John Collins’s letter, enclosing the act of the Rhode Island legislature authorizing a state ratifying convention, is dated 18 Jan. 1790. Collins expressed his pleasure at the legislature’s decision but noted that “The Operation of the Federal Government, according to the existing Laws, will immediately prove greatly injurious to the Commercial Interests of this State, unless a further Suspension of them can be obtained: I do therefore, at the Request of the General Assembly, and in Behalf of the State, make this application to the Congress of the United States, requesting a further Suspension of the Acts of Congress subjecting the Citizens of this State to the payment of foreign Tonnage, and foreign Duties, during the pleasure of Congress” (DNA: RG 46, President’s Messages, Entry 5).

James Schureman (1756–1824), a New Brunswick, N.J., merchant, graduated from Rutgers in 1775 and served in the Revolution. In 1783–85 and 1788 he was in the New Jersey legislature and in 1786–87 was a member of the Continental Congress. In 1789 he was elected as a Federalist to the First Congress.

Thomas FitzSimons (Fitzsimmons; 1741–1811) was an Irishman who immigrated to Philadelphia as a young man. By the early 1760s he was well established as a merchant in the West Indies trade. An active Patriot during the Revolution, he served in the Continental Congress in 1782 and 1783, in the Pennsylvania legislature 1786–87, and as a member of the Constitutional Convention in 1787. He was elected to the United States House of Representatives as a Federalist in 1789 where he became a vigorous supporter of administration measures.

Theodore Sedgwick (1746–1813) was born in West Hartford, Conn., and educated at Yale. He began the practice of law in Great Barrington, Mass., in 1766 and then moved to Sheffield, Mass. During the Revolution he was a member of the 1776 expedition against Canada and in 1780, 1782–85, and 1787–88 served in the Massachusetts legislature. Sedgwick was a member of the Continental Congress 1785–88 and of the Massachusetts Ratifying Convention in 1788. In 1789 he was elected as a Federalist to the First Congress, where he became a firm supporter of a strong executive and a spokesman for the Washington administration’s fiscal policies.

Daniel Huger (1742–1799), a member of a prominent South Carolina family, was born in Berkeley County, S.C., and educated in South Carolina and in England. He was a member of the state legislature in 1778–79, of the governor’s council in 1780, and of the Continental Congress 1786–88 and was elected to the United States House of Representatives in 1789.

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