To [Pierse Long]

    Biddeford        23 April 1788


    Yours of the fifteenth inst. came to hand by the last Post, & would have been duly acknowledged, had not my attention time been taken up in some matters of Law that demanded immediate attention on my arrival home—

    I assure you, Sir, that I was very sorry at in not finding you at home on my coming through Portsmouth [New Hampshire]; for tho’ my hurry to get to York, the Court then seting at that place, would not have permitted me to make a very long stay, yet I wanted to have enquired of many things about your late Convention, the speakers, their debates, & the prospect of the Constitution being adopted on the adjournment1—And possibly might in my turn [have] given you some information upon the subject of your queries—

    You enquire about the fate & sale of the Western Country—To be particular upon this Question would involve an answers to so many others, that which would fall incidentally in the way—that as would be tedious for a Letter, & therefore for the present, I shall only observe generally—That the Companies of Cutler & Sergent—Flint & Parker—Symms & his associates,2 have contracted for three several Tracts containing not more than eight or nine million of Acres—to be paid for in Continental Securities at certain periods by Installments upon which payments deeds are to be executed to the purchasers—but if not paid for no Title is to be given—And I believe I am justified in saying, that all the payments upon by the three Companies do not exceed half a million of Dollars—& I am not certain that it does 270,000 Dollars—For my part I must acknowledge, my faith of paying the Domestic Debt, by regular sails of the western Land, never was very great—There is Land eno’ & that which is excellent—A few days before I left New-York, I was in company with the Geographer General of the United States3 & he said, from a calculation he had made, he would warrant there was more than two hundred million of acres of good Land in the North-west of the Ohio—But to me the Idea of runing this out, & by the neat proceeds of its sails discharging any considerable part of the Debt is almost as chimerical as to count upon the number of Cod-fish, & Whales in the ocean for that purpose—Not a great many purchasers have offered themselves, & few that have could give evidence of their ability, & of the latter still a those that could, still a smaller number have, & probably ever will, fully comply with their contracts—Continental Securities have been for several years very low—perhaps lower than they ever will be hereafter should the proposed Constitution, or any other with energy enough to discharge the Interest, be adopted—Hence if purchasers have found it difficult to discharge their Contracts while public Securities have been sold from 6/ to 3/ on the pound—what probability is there of their being enabled after the adoption of a Constitution that shall secure their Redemption, & make them equal to silver & Gold—

    As to the negotiation of public Treaties, it appears to me the existing articles of Confederation have exhibited to all Europe too evident marks of incompetency to for any national purposes to induce foreign Powers to trust to Treaties made under them—The Queen of Portugal has shewn a disposition for negotiations of Friendship & Commerce—But here difficulties arise on the part of America—And perhaps if I were to say that Congress cannot command Cash or credit sufficient to support a Negotiator at the Court of Lisbon, to promote & improve any overtures of this kind—I should not be far from the truth4—Money is universally acknowledged to be the Sinews of war—And I think it cannot be doubted, to be equally necessary to the support of Civil Government, & the formation of foreign Treaties—

    The Importance of the Navigation of the Masseseppee is a matter I am not sufficiently informed to say much about—But from the general state of that Country there can be but little doubt, that if the navigation of the Messeseppee should be beneficial to the American Settlements, they will enjoy it—The Idea of Spains interupting it is almost inadmissible—within 20 Years—and upon the Settlement of a good Government the Danger will be on the side of the Spains Loosing her possessions on the Western Waters—rather than the Americans loosing the navagation—But the navagation of that River will ever be attended with difficulty from its rapid Current—From the mouth of the ohio to the mouth of the Messesipi as the River Runs, is one thousand miles—and on a right Line not more than five hundred[.]. A vessell or boat, may go down this River in less than three weeks, but three or four months are required in ascending the same distance

    “Will all the southern States agree to the proposed Constitution?”

    The Convention in Maryland meets this day for the purpose of considering the new plan of Government.5 When I came from new-York, which will be four weeks to morrow morning, it was the general opinion there, that the Constitution would be adopted in Maryland by a large majority of the Convention—There being three fourths at least of the people warmly in favour of it—And that this was matter of fact, I have no doubt, since both parties, antifederal as well as federal joined in this general opinion—

    South-Carolina meets on the twelfth of May6—from the best information we could get respecting the sentiments of that State upon the great Question The Federalists entertained no doubt—they were secure in the idea of its being adopted—But so we were last winter with regard to New-Hampshire—’tis almost impossible that disappointment should be greater than ours was on hearing the result of your Convention! However, I have faith—Can you strengthen it?

    There now remains Virginia & North-Carolina—the former meets in June, I think towards the last, and from many accounts, from various parts of that state wherein the Federal & antifederal parties seemed to agree—there was at that time a decided & large majority in that State against it.7

    * * *

    FC (incomplete?), Chamberlain. A transcription in the “Thatcher Papers” (pp. 347-48) notes it was “Copied from Thatcher’s retained copy.” Since there is no salutation or addressee, the recipient’s name must have been supplied by the nineteenth century editor from evidence on a page or pages subsequently lost.