George Washington Papers

From George Washington to James Madison, 31 May 1789

To James Madison

[New York, c.31 May 1789]

As far as a momentary consideration has enabled me to judge, I see nothing exceptionable in the proposed amendments.1 Some of them, in my opinion, are importantly necessary; others, though of themselves (in my conception) not very essential, are necessary to quiet the fears of some respectable characters and well meaning men. Upon the whole, therefore, not foreseeing any evil consequences that can result from their adoption, they have my wishes for a favourable reception in both houses.

AL, NN: Lee Kohns Collection.

1At this point Madison at some later date inserted an asterisk and wrote at the bottom of the page “amendments to the Constitution proposed by J. M. at the first Session of Congress in 1789.” The discussion on amendments to the Constitution originally had been scheduled for discussion in the House on 25 May but was postponed, at Madison’s request, for two weeks (Gazette of the United States [New York], 27 May 1789). On 8 June Madison “reminded the House that this was the day that he had heretofore named for bringing forward amendments to the constitution, as contemplated in the fifth article of the constitution” (Annals of Congress description begins Joseph Gales, Sr., comp. The Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States; with an Appendix, Containing Important State Papers and Public Documents, and All the Laws of a Public Nature. 42 vols. Washington, D.C., 1834–56. description ends , 1st Cong., 1st sess., 440–41). After some discussion that the introduction of amendments was premature, Madison introduced the proposed amendments, which, after further debate, were referred to a committee of the whole (ibid., 448–68). Madison had evidently submitted the amendments to GW for his consideration earlier in May.

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