Monday, July 16, 2012
Thomas Jefferson wrote to James Monroe regarding the Residence Act of 1790 and Federal assumption of state debt from the Revolution:
The bill for removing the federal government to Philadelphia for 10. years & then to Georgetown has at length passed both houses. The offices are to be removed before the first of December. I presume it will be done during the President's trip to Virginia, which will be in September & October...
Congress will now probably proceed in better humour to funding the public debt. This measure will secure to us the credit we now hold at Amsterdam, where our European paper is above par, which is the case of no other nation. Our business is to have great credit and to use it little.
Whatever enables us to go to war, secures our peace, At present it is essential to let both Spain & England see that we are in a condition for war, for a number of collateral circumstances now render it probable that they will be in that condition. Our object is to feed & theirs to fight. If we are not forced by England, we shall have a gainful time of it.
He described how this came about in his Anas a few decades later:
"I proposed to [Alexander Hamilton] however to dine with me the next day, and I would invite another friend or two [James Madison], bring them into conference together, and I thought it impossible that reasonable men, consulting together coolly, could fail, by some mutual sacrifices of opinion, to form a compromise which was to save the union. The discussion took place. I could take no part in it, but an exhortatory one, because I was a stranger to the circumstances which should govern it.
But it was finally agreed that, whatever importance had been attached to the rejection of this proposition, the preservation of the union, & of concord among the states was more important, and that therefore it would be better that the vote of rejection should be rescinded, to effect which some members should change their votes. But it was observed that this pill would be peculiarly bitter to the Southern States, and that some concomitant measure should be adopted to sweeten it a little to them.
There had before been propositions to fix the seat of government either at Philadelphia, or at Georgetown on the Potomac; and it was thought that by giving it to Philadelphia for ten years, and to Georgetown permanently afterwards, this might, as an anodyne, calm in some degree the ferment which might be excited by the other measure alone. So two of the Potomac members agreed to change their votes, & Hamilton undertook to carry the other point.
Jefferson and Hamilton did not see eye to eye on much, and there was a great deal of regional jealousy and differences of opinion between southern states like Virginia and the North. Yet somehow these very flawed Framers worked some fairly important shit out, usually without duels or even total obstruction. You know, by each side giving up something.
July 16, 2012 | Permalink
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