To Nathaniel Barrell

    New York City        27 January 1788

    My dear friend—

    Your very agreeable Letter of the 15th. inst. came to hand a few hours since—I have had only time to read it—but not with the attention it deserves1—For as the mail is closed at nine, this evening, I must drive my quill, like a sermonizer, or some letters will remain unanswered—

    Your Letter both flatters & pleases me—perhaps these effects always go together; but be that as it may I cant philosophise upon that subject just now—You say you are pleased with the freedom upon which I touch upon politics; and however we differ upon that point, you hope we shall ever view each other as friends to good Government—I know it can never be otherwise—I was honoured with your acquaintance in the year eighty—Political parties then run high Whigg & Tory were the only characters then upon the Stage—And judge you whether I ever appeared to like or dislike a man on account of his embracing one side, or the other—If I did, it was unknown to me, and I am now certain I must have done what was wrong—I view all people as men, and as such there are good & bad—And become objects of Love & esteem or otherwise according to their conduct—Their political & religious characters are out of the question—

    Whether a man worships the same god that I do, or one of his own—is of no consequence to me; for I have seen enough to convince me that ’tis a very rare thing to find two men agreed in the object of their religious worship—Also whether a man likes the same Government that I am willing to live under, is a matter of indifference to me if it dont become the means of seperating us in different & far distant States, or Kingdoms—When we are together I shall not trouble myself with his God nor his Government any further than is agreeable; and becoms necessary to keep up social, and instructive conversation—But my friend, could I be with you but four hours, & I believe, two, would be enough, I could take from your mind all your doubts and difficulties about the new-Government—I know I could—I have as yet but barely read them—but I see they are founded upon an honest good heart; and have nothing selfish near them—A misinformation touching a few matters of fact—and a misconstruction of two or three parts of the Constitution, being rectified, I am confident, will unite your & my sentiments upon the new-Government—I dont mean that both, or either of us shall think it a perfect Government—far from it—It is very imperfect—and so, my friend, are all the productions of men—But we should agree in this, that it is infinitely better than the one we are now under—That it is perfectly republican and dependent upon the people in every respect that a Government ought to be—that it has all the great outlines of a perfect Government, and consequently might be in operation many years without any possible injury to the Rights & Priviledges of the people, which I assure you, my friend, I, as one of them, hold more dear than Life.

    Upon this you would be convinced that it ought to be adopted—And then, my friend, it ought to be amended—I agree with you that it is imperfect, and so say all the States, even those who have adopted it, and in this they will all most readily meet the massachusetts and join another Convention to amend the imperfections—And I will now give you one reason why this amendment had better take place after it be adopted than before—It is this.

    When it is adopted & begins to be in operation the United States will immediately feel the good effects of it both from abroad & at home—money may be raised to discharge the Interest of our foreign debt—(which, by the way we are now obliged to hire abroad for that purpose—& consequently, pay Interest upon Interest on the whole of the foreign Debt—) as also to carry on the & support the Union which is now passing the brink of annihilation—

    I say upon adopting the present plan, & whilst these happy consequences are flowing to the union—regular steps may be taken to make all necessary amendments—And my friend it is impossible there should be any the lest possible danger in this—Because the first Congress, under the new Constitution, must be appointed, in every respect, by the State Governments & the people—& it will exist for two years, in which time every necessary amendment can be made—As I said before—all the States will join in this—But should this this plan be rejected by the Massachusetts—I tremble at the consequences—it may give the Lead to others & be the means of a general rejection—In this situation there will be no probability of geting another plan established under two years or more—Excuse me, but in the name of God what is the Union to do in the mean time!

    Money they can not procure abroad—Requisitions on the States are totally neglected—And Congress is a name—a farce. These, my dear friend, are serious truths—

    I would by no means prejudice your mind in favour of a System you think dangerous to the Liberties of the people—And I confess that what I have said upon the Subject in this Letter has more tendency to prejudice your mind than enlighten it—I dont mean any thing I have here said to be a direct answer to your Letter—this I will endeavour to do, by the next post. All I mean, & wish to convince you of, at this time, is—the necessity of having some Government established as soon as possible, whereby the Union may be preserved—And to me nothing appears so likely to unite the Continent as each States adopting the present plan—and while the new Congress is geting under way, as we Sailors say—another Convention can amend the Constitution, by adding a Bill of Rights, & such other Restraints as shall be thought necessary—I am yours &c

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    ALS, Barrell Correspondence