The Records of the Federal Convention of 1787/Volume 3/Appendix A/CCIII
May 28th. 1788.
The people were alarm’d at their possitive assertions, and I am assurd when they attended the Polls, a wildness appeard in many which show’d they were realy frightend by what they had just heard—I am sorry to add on this occasion to yrself only, or such as you can entirely confide in, without my names being mentioned that it is probable Mr Mercer’s assertions contributed in no small degree to this effect—Among other things take the following. A few men had long before projected the propos’d plan of Govt Mr Morris’ report to Congress proposing certain specific funds, & the mode of collection which you may remember were read if not debated in Congress, was made out to be part of this plan, & some thing from the French Minister in Support of it—Hence was a Juncto with a French Interest infer’d—This was to be disclosd to our Convention and be opend in yrs, and some of the then members of Congress were to be call’d on as evidences to the truth of it. What do you say to this wonderfull plot? Extraordinary as the assertion was in itself, it became more effectual for the purposes intended by some of the hearers, confounding the time, and takeing up the Idea that the French Minister was actually concernd in promoting that scheme at the federal Convention—Again, a Member from N. Hampshire (I believe Langdon) declar’d in Convention that rather than the States shou’d have the power of emitting paper money he woud consent to make General Washington despot of America—further that it was the declar’d sense of the Convention that Tryales by jurys in civil cases were taken away. &ca.
… Among other matters which have been circulated, there is one which had the effect my Enemies (if I may so call any persons) wishd. I was on a ballot last winter for members of Congress left out by the difference of 2 or 3.—It was imputed to the Majority of the Delegates being Anti-federal; but I find from some Members another matter operated for that purpose—It has come to light that Luther Martin in his Tavern harangues among the members during the sitting of that Assembly had informd many of them that more than 20 Members of the Convention were in favor of a Kingly Government, and that he receivd the information from Mr McHenry who had a list of their names on the 1st printed report of the Committee of Detail—This positive assertion under the weight of Mr McHenrys name had the effect I have mentioned—Some time after the breaking up of the Assembly being informd of what Martin had said, I wrote to Mr McHenry who gave for answer, that seeing a list of names on Mr Mercers report, he copied it & ask’d him what the words for and against meant, who replied, for a Kingly governmt. against it. I wrote to Mr McHenry that as I had been injurd by his names being mentiond I desird he wou’d take a proper occasion whilst the Convention was sitting of having justice done me—He has answerd that on speaking to Mercer, on the Subject, he told him that he meant a National Govt. to which McHenry says I do not know what you meant, but you said a Kingly Govert.’—This Mercer denies and has given from under his hand that he neither said Kingly or National Govt.—I have a letter from Luther Martin wherein he says he had the information from McHenry without Mercer being mentioned who told him he might rely on ye persons being as markd for a Kingly Govt.—Thus this matter rests at present—it is to be setteld between McHenry & Martin on one point, & him & Mercer on another—
- Documentary History of the Constitution, Ⅳ, 636–640.
- See ⅭⅭⅪ below.