To Edward Hutchinson Robbins

    Philadelphia        31 January 1800


    We take the liberty to address you on a subject which appears to us very important to the interests of our Country. The communication however is not designed for the use of the legislature at large, but we submit it to your discretion to shew it to any individual members confidentially.

    The present plan of opposition to the opposers of the General Government clearly is to bend their force to democratize the character of the State Legislatures, & among other objects to affect the choice of electors of President & Vice President so as to secure an antifederal President. The danger that they may succeed at the next election we think greater than is generally supposed. The Virginia Legislature have provided for a general ticket; in this way they get a unanimous suffrage for an antifederalist & annihilate the federalists of Virginia, they being the Minority.

    In Pennsylvania they the antifederalists will probably either produce a similar event, or prevent any electors from being appointed. In N. York, where the Legislature choose electors, a great effort is making to obtain a democratic majority of in that legislature, & they express confidence in their success. N. Jersey is also mentioned by them as a subject to be practised on. In this critical state of things we feel that it is very important to guard against one antifederal vote from Massachusetts; for one vote may turn the election.

    Whether this is to be done by choosing at large thro the Comth. [Commonwealth], or by choosing by the Legislature, or by uniting two or more districts for choosing, or in some other mode, the wisdom of the Legislature will determine. We presume not to point out the mode, but only to suggest the danger which we apprehend, & which we in this place & in our present employment are perhaps better circumstanced to observe than our friends in Massachusetts can be. Excuse us for suggesting these ideas, our anxiety for the event of the election must be our apology.

    We have the honor to be with great respect & esteem Sir, Your very obedt. servts.

    * * *

    ALS (hand of Samuel Dexter), James Murray Robbins Papers, 1845-1937, Ms. N-801, MHi. With the exception of Samuel Sewall, who had resigned on 10 January but was not succeeded by Nathan Read until 25 November, all the signatories to this circular letter were Federalist members of Massachusetts’s congressional delegation. Listed in the order their names appear, in two parallel columns, they were: Reps. Samuel Lyman, Harrison Gray Otis, Lemuel Williams, William Shepard, and Peleg Wadsworth; Senators Benjamin Goodhue and Samuel Dexter; Speaker Theodore Sedgwick; and Reps. Samuel Sewall, Silas Lee, George Thatcher, Bailey Bartlett, John Reed, and Dwight Foster. (The delegation’s two Democratic-Republican members, Phanuel Bishop and Joseph B. Varnum, did not sign.) Marginal notation on the first page states “a similar letter to this is sent to Mr. Phillips with whom you will communicate.” Samuel Phillips, Jr. was then serving as president of the state senate.