Partisanship at Home

    june 1794–february 1797

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    To John Hobby

    Philadelphia        5 June 1794

    My dear Sir—

    This is the second day [a]greed upon by the Resolution of both houses to adjourn, but I believe we must again repeal the resolve, & pass another for tomorrow or next day—

    I have recieved yours of 27. May And am sorry to hear of so many people being dissatisfied with the expiration of the Embargo—surely it must arise from its not being viewed in its proper operation, & connection with the Trading interest of the Country—By some accounts I have seen, of the uneasiness at the Embargo being taken off, as the expiration of it is frequently expressed, I should suppose Congress had actually passed a Law compelling the merchants to fix out their Vessells, & all the Seamen to proceed to engage on board the Vessells, & sail immediately to some foreign port—for all the complaints seem to be founded on an idea that Congress had done something that will force the people & their property into danger—This is not a just state of the fact—And, pray let me ask, if there is danger in going to Sea, or to one port more than another, why do merchants send out their Vessells, at all. Or if they are inclined to undertake the risque for the prospect of Gain, why do they blame Congress for giving them their election to go or not as they calculate a voyage for their interest?

    All the facts necessary to form a judgment, as to the danger of going to foreign ports, are before the people—Congress have nothing more than they have—Why then is not each individual who is disposed to risque his property entitled to an opportunity to try his Luck, so long as his exercise of this right does not compel another, who thinks the danger too great to venture his vessel or himself, to do the same? It really appears to me that if Congress, in the present state of things were to have continued the embargo, there would have been just cause of complaint—in that Congress had undertaken to say what degree of danger should actually prevent any of the Citizens from venturing to Sea—

    But there are certain cases when the old proverb, “the proof of the pudden is in eating” must be resorted to—And it will be impossible to determine whether it be good or bad otherwise than by taking a piece into our mouths & swallowing it.

    Tis possible that all the Vessells which have, or shall [have] hereafter sailed from the United States, since the expiration of the embargo, will be captured and carried into some english port for “Legal adjudication”—And perhaps be finally condemned—I say all this is possible—And those who think the danger very great will voluntaryly embargo their vessells—to all such there is no need that Congress should lay an embargo for them—while to others, among whom I am one, may be of opinion there is no danger at all, or if any, tis so trifling that I am they are willing to take the risque, & why should they be deprived of thus consulting my their own good?

    Whether [James] Madison & his party are more patriotic, & have proposed measures more friendly to the mercantile & other general interests of the people of the United States during the present Session, than those who have opposed him & his measures, there will be a considerable diversity of opinion—And however favourable the measures may turn out which have been adopted by Congress contrary to his wishes, (for in truth he & his party have been rather unsuccessful in most of their plans, & I confess as long as their ideas & systems continue to appear so injurious to the United States as they have hitherto done, I hope they will continue to be practiced) it will always remain impossible to determine whether his propositions if they had been adopted, would not have been more beneficial, than the measures which have been adopted—I say, this must always be a subject of doubt—And I am too well acquainted with the nature of man, to suppose that so long as there are some people in massachusetts who hate certain of their own representatives, Mr. Madison & his measures will not find advocates—Not that I believe or have any idea of their really liking or approving his ideas— but ’tis enough to induce them to fall in with & appear to aprove of him in order to make a more effectual opposition to those they dislike from their own State—

    Do you believe the warm, I say pretended, friends of Madison in Massachusetts, would like a general direct Tax, in lieu of excises on distilled Spirits & Carriages?1 I am persuaded they would not—Do you believe the Town of Boston have more confidence in Josiah Parker or Wm. B. Giles of Virginia than they have in [Fisher] Ames or [Samuel] Dexter? Yet they forwarded to those two Gentlemen & to Mr. Madison each a copy of the votes in their late Town meeting—while they transmitted but one copy to the representatives of their own District of election—Is it possible the people of Boston can prefer the moral or political qualities of Josiah Parker to those of Ames or Dexter? I am not afraid to answer honourably for my countrymen, & say, no—And it is less to their dishonor to acknowledge, in this business, they acted more in true par[t]y spirit, than in conformity to any regard to moral or patriotic qualities of the

    The Invalids of main[e] that have been examined before Judge [David] Sewall under both of the acts for that purpose, will be placed [on] the pension List2—And receive their pensions regularly at the Loan Office of Massachusetts—

    Your demand cannot be got thro’ this Session—but it will be seasonably attended to3

    We have nothing new from abroad except the manifesto of the King of Prussia, declaring that he will no longer co-operate with the combined powers against France4

    Danton ’tis said is guilotined!5

    To return to the subject of Embargo, a moment—There appears here very little apprehension of danger among the merchants on account of their Vessells gone to Europe & the West Indies—except the fear of being captured by the Elgerines—which, from all accounts seems also to be diminishing—

    Mr. Thompson is recommended to Genl. [Henry] Knox—I also with Genl. [Peleg] Wadsworth recommended a young man by name of Benjn. Rand6


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    FC, TFP. The last page of manuscript was alienated from the letter, and is currently misfiled as an undated fragment.