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I confess I am not able to discover wherein lies the weight of objection to the measure. We are either a united people, or we are not so. If the former, let us in all matters of general concern, act as a nation which has a national character to support; if we are not, let us no longer act a farce by pretending to it; for, whilst we are playing a double game, or playing a game between the two, we never shall be consistent or respectable, but may be the dupes of some powers, and the contempt assuredly of all. In any case, it behoves us to provide good militia laws, and to look well to the execution of them ; but if we mean by our conduct, that the States shall act independently of each other, it becomes indispensably necessary, for therein will consist our strength and the respectability of the Union.
It is much to be wished that public faith may be held inviolable. Painful is it, even in thought, that attempts should be made to weaken its bands. It is a dangerous experiment. Once slacken the reins, and the power is lost. And it is questionable with me, whether the advocates of the measure foresee all its consequen
It is an old adage, that honesty is the best policy. This applies to public as well as private life, to States as well as individuals.
I hope the Port and Assize Bills no longer sleep, but are awakened to a happy establishment. The first, with some alterations, would in my judgment be productive of great good to this country. Without it, the trade thereof, I conceive, will ever labor and languish. With respect to the second, if it institutes a speedier administration of justice, it is equally desirable.
From the complexion of the debates in the Pennsylvania Assembly, it would seem as if that legislature intended their assent to the propositions from the States of Virginia and Maryland, respecting a road to the
Youghiogany, should be on the condition that permission be given by the latter to open a communication between the Chesapeake and Delaware, by the way of the rivers Elk and Christiana ; which I am sure will never be obtained, if the Baltimore interest can give effectual opposition. The directors of the Potomac navigation have sent to the delegates of this county, to be laid before the Assembly, a petition (which sets forth the reasons) for relief in the depth of the canals, which it may be found necessary to open at the Great and Little Falls, of the river. As public economy and private interest equally prompt the measure, and no possible disadvantage, that we can see, will attend granting the petition, we flatter ourselves no opposition will be given. To save trouble, to expedite the business, and to obtain uniformity without delay, or an intercourse between the two Assemblies on so trifling a matter, we have taken the liberty of sending the draft of a bill to members of both Assemblies, which, if approved, will be found exactly similar. With the greatest esteem and regard, I am, Dear Sir, &c.
TO SAMUEL VAUGHAN.
Mount Vernon, 30 November, 1785. DEAR SIR, I have been honored with your favor of the 9th, and have received the pamphlet, which you were so obliging as to send me, entitled Considerations on the Order of Cincinnatus, by the Count de Mirabeau. I thank you, my good Sir, for this instance of your attention, but wish you had taken time to peruse it first, as I have not yet had leisure to give it a reading. I thought, as most others seemed to think, that all the
exceptionable parts of that institution had been done away at the last general meeting ; but, with those who are disposed to cavil, or who have the itch of writing strongly upon them, nothing can be made to suit their palates. The best way, therefore, to disconcert and defeat them, is to take no notice of their publications. All else is but food for declamation.
There is not, I conceive, an unbiassed mind, that would refuse the officers of the late army the right of associating for the purpose of establishing a fund for the support of the poor and distressed of their fraternity, when many of them, it is well known, are reduced to their last shifts by the ungenerous conduct of their country in not adopting more vigorous meas
to render their certificates productive. That charity is all that remains of the original institution, none, who will be at the trouble of examining it, can deny.
I have lately received a letter from Mr. Vaughan (your son) of Jamaica, accompanied by a puncheon of rum, which he informs me was sent by your order as a present to me. Indeed, my dear Sir, you overwhelm me with your favors, and lay me under too many obligations to leave a hope remaining of discharging them. Hearing of the distress, in which that island, with others in the West Indies, is involved by the late hurricane, I have taken the liberty of requesting Mr. Vaughan's acceptance, for his own use, of a few barrels of superfine flour of my own manufacturing. My best respects, in which Mrs. Washington joins, are offered to Mrs. Vaughan, yourself, and family; and with the highest esteem and regard, I am, dear Sir, &c.
TO COUNT DE ROCHAMBEAU.
Mount Vernon, 1 December, 1785. MY DEAR Count, Your letter of the 2d of June, which you had the goodness to write to me at the moment of your taking leave of the venerable Dr. Franklin, now lies before me; and I read the renewed assurances of your friendship with sentiments of gratitude and pleasure, short of nothing but the satisfaction I should feel at seeing you, and the recollection of the hours in which, toiling together, we formed our friendship, a friendship which I hope will continue as long as we shall continue to be actors on the present theatre.
A man in the vigor of life could not have borne the fatigues of a passage across the Atlantic with more fortitude, and greater ease, than the Doctor did; and since, instead of setting himself down in the lap of ease, which might have been expected from a person of his advanced age, he has again entered upon the bustling scenes of public life, and in the chair of state is endeavouring to reconcile the jarring interests of the citizens of Pennsylvania. If he should succeed, fresh laurels will crown his brow; but it is to be feared, that the task is too great for human wisdom. I have not yet seen the good old man, but have had intercourse with him by letters.
Rumors of war between the Dutch and the Emperor still prevail, and it seems, if newspaper accounts are to be credited, to be near at hand. If this event should take place, more powers must engage in it, and perhaps a general flame will be kindled ere the first is extinguished. America may think herself happy in having the Atlantic for a barrier ; otherwise a spark might set her a blazing. At present we are peaceable,
and our governments are acquiring a better tone. Congress, I am persuaded, will soon be vested with greater powers. The commercial interests throughout the Union are exerting themselves to obtain these, and I have no doubt will effect it. We shall be able then, if a commercial treaty is not entered into with Great Britain, to meet her on the restrictive and contracted ground she has taken, and interdict her shipping and trade in the same manner she has done those of these States. This, and this only, will convince her of the illiberality of her conduct towards us; or that her policy has been too refined and overstrained, even for the accomplishment of her own purposes.
Mrs. Washington is thankful for your constant remembrance of her, and joins me in every good wish for you and Madame de Rochambeau.
I have the honor to be, &c.
TO L. W. OTTO.*
Mount Vernon, 5 December, 1785.
The letter, which you did me the honor to write to me on the 1st of October, only came to hand the 28th of last month. My particular acknowledgments are due to you for your recollection and attention, and I pray you to be assured of the pleasure I felt at hearing the place lately filled by M. de Marbois, near the sovereignty of these States, was so happily supplied. On this instance of his Most Christian Majesty's attention to your merits, I offer you my sincere congratulations.
For the favorable sentiments entertained of me in
* Successor to M. de Marbois as Chargé d'Affaires from the Court of France in the United States.