To John Hobby

    Philadelphia        21 February 1794

    Dear Sir—

    In my last I gave it as my opinion that the Invalids examined by the Circuit Courts would not be placed on the pension List;1 I now have to inform you that the Supreme Court of the United States has determined that the before description of Invalids cannot by Law be intitled to the pensions assigned them by the Courts—And what measure Congress will take relative to this Subject I will not take upon me to say at present—I shall, however, detain the Certificate of Broadstreet, untill something shall be done—

    The Secretary has not reported on your petition; I wrote him a few days ago & desired him to take up your memorial as soon as the pressure of official business would permit—He has assured me he will do it2

    Before this reaches you, it is possible that Portland may have followed the example the Town of Boston has set them of calling a Town meeting to examin & determine on the propriety of adopting Mr. [James] Madisons Regulations of trade & Commerce—But I really hope Portland understands the subject too well to tread in the steps of Boston3

    I have noted with some concern the extreme readiness the news paper-writers have fallen into the belief that the Resolutions brought forward by Mr. M. would be advantageous to America—And consequently that their Representatives deserve a degree on [of?] censure for not advocating them—Indeed the [Independent] Chronacle of last week is almost full of abuse against Mr. [Fisher] Ames, [Samuel] Dexter & others for not joining with Mr. Madison—And a Meeting was held in Boston, as I learn by Letters recieved last evening, for the express purpose of taking the subject into consideration & instructing their Representatives what they ought to do—My opinion is their Representatives have before them better means of understanding this Subject than tis possible for the inhabitants of Boston to have—& if they will let their representatives act freely I have no doubt but they will do right—

    There could not be a more improper time than the present for bringing forward regulations of Trade—while all Europe seems agitated by an uncommon impulse & no mortal can form a probable conjecture what will be the state of things the very next month, how can commercial regulations be formed with any certainty of their being permanent—And regulations that are not durable must be extremely injurious to Commerce—

    I believe the people in the eastern states who have been most ardent for the adoption of Mr. Madisons regulations do not fully understand them and or see their almost inevitable consequence—The great object of the regulations most undoubtedly was to shackle our trade with great Britain—And I cannot but apprehend the consequence of their adoption would be a war with that nation—

    I know that many people have long railed at our trade with England; and because we import from that nation to a greater amount than we sell there, they conclude the balance against us is injurious—But this is a very partial view of the subject—That we buy more of England than we sell to her is true; but it is because we can purchase of her those things that we need & either cannot procure them elsewhere, or so cheep as we can get them of that nation—If a merchant sells his cargo in France or Spain & takes the money, it is advantageous to have a variety of Markets to resort to, & if he can procure what he wants in England at a lower rate than where he sells his cargo—who will say that he shall not go there & lay out his money!

    As to the English Regulations of Trade & Commerce they are more favourable to Americans than the regulations of to any other nation whatever—

    But you will find this subject so fully & clearly discussed in the speaches of Mr. [William Loughton] Smith, Ames & some others, that I need not to have troubled you with it—

    Commissioners to supercede Citizen Genet have arrived at Norfolk4—they left Brest [France] about the 25th. December—On their passage they fell in with the homeward-bound English Fleet from India and took a Frigate & several smaller vessells—On board of one of them were the Standards & Treasury they took from Pondecherry5—When they left France the Combined powers were retreating from Alsace on the Rhine—several Towns & Cities in Flanders had fallen into the hands of the Republicans, & Ostend was closly besieged—They also say, Information had reached Paris, that the Garrison of Toulon had twice offered to capitulate by [but?] Genl. Carteaus would not accept the offer—as he had it in command from the National Convention to destroy the City6—&c

    How much of this is true I will not say, as I have it I give it to you—

    The Fleet, in which came the Commissioners, are said to consist of two Ships of the Line[,] Frigates & small vessells—Also a like fleet is said to be on their passage to New York—

    It is supposed their great object is to get provisions—In consequence of this apprehension every thing has taken a start in price—

    I am, dear Sir, yours &c

    P.S. The Report of the Committee for building a fleet of four frigates & two smaller Ships of War has been agreed to in the House—And a Bill ordered to be brought in for that purpose7

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    FC, TFP