To Nathaniel Barrell

    New York City        16 July 1789

    My dear Sir—

    In runing over, this morning, a list of unanswered Letters from my friends, I find two or three with your signiture—But how it has happened I declare I am at a loss to determine, as few, if any, possess a greater share of my esteem—

    I presume you are now in the midst of your haying—and I trust, from the accounts I have heard from the eastward, you are happy in viewing the burthen of Grass as thick & good—I wish it was in my power to make you a visit of a few days—I mean in company with Mrs. [Sarah Savage] Thatcher—

    The report of a Committee ascertaining the Compensation to be allowed the President Vice-President, Senate & Representatives is now before the house—The sum of Twenty five thousand Dollars is voted by the house, as a compensation for the President to be paid him annually in quarterly payments—This vote was by no means unanimous—many were of opinion the 18 or 20 thousand Dollars a year would be sufficient—

    The question now, before the house, is, what sum shall be allowed to the Vice-President—and five thousand Dollars is proposed—upon which sum a debate has taken place—some say it is too high—& one or two think it too low—in a few moments it will be fixed — — The debate begins to put on the appearance that predicts a lengthy one—so I will proceed to something else—after observing, which I am sorry to have occasion for, that there is a prevailing sentiment in the house that, in order to get good men to administer the Government, very large sums of money must be held out as a compensation—but here I ought to observe that the word large, when applied to sums of money, has a very different meaning when used by a Gentleman from the South, from what it has in the mouth of a man from the North—

    A Judicial System is before the Senate & has had two readings there; we expect it before the house every day—According to this System the United States are divided into thirteen districts—of which the Territory east of New-Hampshire makes one—In each district resides one Judge—who is to hold four Courts a year—In our district, it is proposed the Courts shall be held at Portland—but, at present, I think that they ought to be held at Portland & Pownalborough, because there is a majority of the Inhabitants east of the former place; and I rather think, when the Bill [Judiciary Act] comes before the House, I shall endeavour to divide the Courts between those places—I think this will accommodate the greatest number of Suiters1

    The Bill for Collecting the Impost has had three readings before the House & is now with the Senate2—By this Bill an officer called a Collector, who is to enter & clear Vessels for York Kittery & Berwick, & collect the Impost on Goods wares & merchandizes brought into those Towns, must reside at York—The profits of this officer cannot be very great, not nor worth the attention of a person who has any other Business to take up his time—I have it in contemplation to recommend Mr. Trevitt to the President, as a suitable person for Collector3—He has, for many years, been Naval Officer at that Port; and tho a particular friend of mine [Joseph Tucker] has applied for the appointment, it appears hard to turn out an old & good Officer, when no objection is brought against him—And it is pretty much the Intention of the President to nominate the Officers, now in Office, to the Senate, unless good reasons be assigned why the persons now in Office under the State Government should not be continued in Office—The debate continues—and my Letter is likely to prove longer than usual—I will give up the idea of puting my name on this page—& run on one page more—

    How does your honoured father enjoy his health this summer? I often think of him & some of his predictions4

    The question on the Vice-Presidents pay is taken & tis agreed that he shall have five thousand Dollars a year And the question now before the house is, what shall be the pay of the Senators & Representatives? & it is moved that 6 six Dollars a day to the Senators, & five to the Representatives, be allowed—A debate ensues—

    This motion for making a distinction between the pay of the Senate & House is lost—And the pay to the members of both Houses is set at six dollars a day!!! Twenty miles Travel is equal to one day’s Attendance—

    I now submit to you whether my apprehension, before expressed, touching high Salaries & pay, is not well founded?5

    I am, my dear Sir, your friend &c

    [P.S.] I forgot to add—the pay of the Speaker is set at twelve dollars a day—!!!!!!—double to the astonishment at the pay of common members—

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    ALS, Barrell Correspondence