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Knox, Henry (1750-1806) to Marquis de Lafayette

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Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC02437.03680 Author/Creator: Knox, Henry (1750-1806) Place Written: New York, New York Type: Autograph letter Date: 24 October 1787 Pagination: 7 p. : docket ; 32.3 x 20 cm.

Summary of Content: Says he has probably already heard of the results of the Constitutional Convention. Says "The propositions being essentially different, in many respects from the existing Confederation, and which will probably produce different national effects, are contemplated by the public at large with an anxious attention. The discussions are commenced in the news papers & in Pamphlets, with all the freedom & liberality which challenge a people who are searching by their own experience after a form of government most productive of happiness." Expresses his affinity for a stronger national government and believes the new constitution will provide it. Goes on to claim it is not a perfect document though and "There are several things in it that I confess I could wish to be altered." Says the people are ready for the change and that it "will be discussed fully." Predicts parties will be raised during the debate. Discusses state ratification. Will send an update from time to time. Mentions European affairs and fears French aggression. Asks for news. Says Washington is doing well, but that his crops are injured by "severe drought." Encloses a copy of the Constitution (not included). Docketed by William Knox.

Full Transcript: [draft]
New-York 24 October 1787
My dear Marquis
You will have received long before this period, the [struck: proceedings] [inserted: results] of the Convention [inserted: which] assembled in Philadelphia during the month ...of May - These propositions being essentially different, in many respects from the existing confederation, and which will probably produce different national effects, are contemplated by the public at large with an anxious attention. The discussions are commenced in the newspapers & in Phampletts, with all the freedom & liberality which characterize a people who are searching by their own experience after a form, of government most productive of happiness -
[2] To speak decisively [inserted: at this moment] of the fate of the proposed constitution characterizes [inserted: effectively] the person, giving the opinion - [Habited as] I have been for a long period to [struck: wish for] [inserted: desire] the consolodation [sic] of the powers [struck: of this government] of all parts of this country as an indispensible [illegible] to [inserted: a] national character & national happiness I receive the propositions as they are and from my soul I wish them God speed - [struck: Not but] The transition from, wishing an event to beleiving that it will happen is easy indeed - [inserted: perhaps] I therefore am led in to a strong persuasion that the proposed government will be generally or universally adopted in the course of twelve or fifteen months -
[3] In desiring that the [struck: present] proposed government may be adopted I would [not] that you should beleive that I think it all perfect - There are several things in it that I confess I [struck: should] could wish to be altered - But I apprehend no alterations can be [struck: peaceably] effected peaceably - All the states represented agreed to the constitution as it stands - There are substantial reasons to beleive that such an agreement could not again be produced even by the same men - the minds of the people at large were fully prepared for a change without any particular specification - The proposition will be discussed fully - [parties] will be raised - were therefore the same work to be again discussed the Representatives of the different States [4] different states would repair to the convention with instructions, respecting their assent unless certain powers [favord] to the [struck: individual] [inserted: interest] of the particular States should be established - Hence it would result, that no agreemt could be made which depended on [inserted: illegible] a mutual accomodation [sic] - This single circumstance, independent of the connections which might & probably would arise in the interim is sufficient of itself to point out the importance and value of the [struck: present] new Constitution.
The ensuing winter & Year, will be a busy season in the Country. I shall do myself the pleasure of communicating our progress from time to time [5] if any credit is to be given to [appearances] you will also have your share of work in Europe - With the information before us the affairs of the dutch assume [struck: a dark complexion] a [hostilee] aspect and likely to involve the neighboring powers - If France should be inclined to keep Peace at home by making war abroad, and to discipline her troops [struck: at the expence] in [struck: the] actual service [struck: at the expence of other people] she will most probably have the opportunity presented to her -
I should be obliged to you for such [struck: communicating] [inserted: information] from time to time as you may think proper to transmit. It shall [6] be retained to myself or communicated to other friends or the public as you may direct
Our illustrious friend Genl Washington is well - [struck: he returned] I have just received a letter from him but [struck: he has lost his] [inserted: his] crops are injured by a [struck: drought] severe [drought].
[struck: With] I pray you to present my most perfect respects & those of Mrs Knox to your marchioness &
I am my dear Marquis
with the sincerest affection
Your very humble Servant
The right hon -
Marquis dela Fayette

N.B. I Inclose one of the new constitutions with Charles [Thompsons] name to it to be placed [struck: in your beaureau] [inserted: among your] of curiosities

The Rt. Honble. The Marquis
de La Fayette. Paris
New York 24th . Octr. 1787
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Historical Era: The New Nation, 1783-1815

Subjects: US ConstitutionArticles of ConfederationRevolutionary War GeneralUS Constitutional ConventionFranceGovernment and CivicsJournalismPoliticsRatificationGlobal History and US Foreign PolicyGlobal History and US Foreign PolicyMilitary HistoryPresidentAgriculture and Animal Husbandry

Sub Era: Creating a New Government

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