To David Sewall

    New York City        4 July 1790

    Dear Sir

    The inclosed Bill [Residence Act] passed the Senate, and came to the House on Fryday—And Tuesday is assigned to take it up. This bill is the result of a very singular combination of circumstances—And however proper the Bill may be—& however advantageous it will prove to the U. States for the permanent Seat of government to be fixed so far south as the Patomack, nothing but an extraordinary combination of circumstances could, at this time, have produced it—Every passion good and bad has had its influence—every degree of art—simulation and dissimulation has been practiced during the discussion and passage of the Bill thro the Senate—It has a thousand times brought to my mind a passage of the bible—I think, in Psalms—And if I mistake not nearly in these words—“surely the wrath of man shall praise the[e]—And the remainder of his wrath thereof thou wilt restrain”1—I dont know that I have recited the words exactly—but sufficiently so to refer you to the place where they may be seen

    When I see public men giving their votes for, & advocating measures, which their reason & cooler understanding, at the very time, condemn—and, which measures finally turn out to the good of the Community, or of the human race in general, I look upon them as a literal fulfillment of the declaration contained in the foregoing words—And I dont know of an instance where it was more compleatly so than the present—For I beleive it will be acknowledged, by some of the actors themselves, that the very worst of passions, have been chiefly instrumental in effecting this Bill—What will be done with it in the House I cannot yet say—but am rather of opinion it will be agreed to—a majority of the House are, some from one motive, & some from another, in sentiment—if not in league, with the party who carried it in the Senate—

    This subject of Residence has cost much time, & been the cause of vast delay of public Business—for which the members of Congress have been justly censured—And yet, in the present state of things, passions & prejudices, I must acknowledge that I dont see how it could have been otherwise—It seems like “the offences that must happen, & yet woe to the men by whom they come”2

    The papers inform us of Mr. Daltons fall3—and we Representatives look upon it as laying the ax at the root of the tree, the declaration whereof is, “be ye also ready”4—And blessed is the man who shall be found prepared—

    Yours of the 28th. June came to hand last evening—I am almost surprised at the increase of legal Business in the County of York—And am inclined to think a prediction made, four or five years ago by Crazy Jonathan, is begining to come to pass—viz. that the increase of Justiciary power will have quite a different effect on the Commonwealth from what was generally expected5

    [. . . .]

    Yours. &c

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    FC, TFP. Omitted text relates to Joseph Hardison’s petition for back pay for service in the Continental Army; see DHFFC 7:402, 417-18, 420.