To Nathaniel Barrell

    Philadelphia        11 December 1790

    My friend,

    Last evening I had the pleasure of reading yours of the 27th. November, wrote just after your Town-meeting for choosing federal Representative—The town of York, in giving me so generally their suffrages, have certainly confered on me the greatest honor they had to bestow, expressive of the high sense they entertain of my abilities & integrity1—with this Testimony of their confidence I must be lost to all sense of moral & political duty not to endeavour that my future conduct shall correspond with their reasonable expectations—And whether so many of the votes in the other towns, in the district, unite with your wishes, & confident hopes, as to effect my election, or not—I must ever entertain a very gratefull sense of the partiality of the voters electors of your Town have shewn in my favour—

    However, you seem confident this will prove the case; from letters I received by last post from Portland & Biddeford, I am rather of opinion General [William] Lithgow will carry off the prize, or at most the votes will be so divided between that Gentleman, Mr. [Nathaniel] Wells & myself, as to destroy the election—Some time before the votes were given in the first time, I saw a pretty strong party forming in favour of Mr. Wells in the County of Cumberland; the center of this party was Portland, & the leaders, some Gentlemen of strong passions, some of whom, but a little before were, professionally, among my warmest advocates; and political disappointment had induced to declare in favour of Judge Wells—I strongly apprehended, & events have since convinced me, that this party had neither esteem, nor affection for him—the same disappointment they had met with in me & led them to set up Mr. Wells, in order to keep me out, has since induced them to join in league with the friends of General Lithgow—And I have good ground to suppose, that if, on examining the poll it should possibly turn out that I stand higher than their present Candidate, & the most abandoned person in the district should offer himself, with the least prospect of success, they would as readily join his interest—This is not meant as any way to reflect on either of the Gentlemen before named—I have an high esteem & sincere friendship for both of them—I only make these observations to convey my ideas of the motives & general dispositions of the party before aluded to—

    I confess when I was informed that Judge Wells seriously permited himself to become a Candidate—I was not a little surprised; and could account for it no other way than by supposing that he was exceedingly desirous of an election, & therefore was willing to run upon a mere possibility—or that he was altogether unacquainted with the sentiments of the electors at large in the district—& more especially of the motives & tempers of his Portland advocates—

    Interest, under one form or another is the great mover of all human actions—To this I dare say you will except—because you have so often, & for so long a time, done actions that apparently benefit others more than yourself, you may have lost sight of your private in their general Good—But even the desire of releaving our brethren from pain & destress arises from our unhappy feelings at what they undergo—Interest, like the Camilion, will successively put on a thousand different appearances—& we are very liable to fall into error when we attempt to investigate the productive causes of human actions.

    I am more & more led into the beleif that individuals, & parties of all kinds, whether religious or political, are governed by fixed & invariable Laws—Laws as inviolable as those by which the planets keep in their orbs—the tides rise—or vegitation springs—

    I have nothing very material to write you of a public nature—The reports of a war between England & Spain, are in this City, as in Boston & with you, a subject of speculation & general conversation when Nothing else more interesting presents itself.2

    Last October the President of the United States sent out a party of Militia with four or five hundred Continental Troops to scour the woods, & drive the hostile Indians from the Territory of the United States North-west of the Ohio—And reports, from different routs, say there has been a very bloody action in which many on both sides were slain—But the Americans were obliged to give up the Ground & leave their dead unburied3—No official accounts had arrived to the President yesterday—

    The usual preparatory incidents are gone thro by the two houses, & on the morrow they at twelve oClock, the Senate, & at two the House, return their answers to the Presidents Speech—after which they will settle down to the business of the Session—

    I hope all our little Girls are well—& I will answer for it, they are in good spirits—I depend on their visiting Mrs. [Sarah Savage] Thatcher this winter—

    I am, with the sincerest friendship both to you & Mrs. [Sarah Sayward] Barrell, your friend & humble Servant

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    ALS, Barrell Correspondence