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Letter to Henry Knox, March 3, 1788

George Washington. Autograph letter signed: Mount Vernon, to Henry Knox, 1788 March 3. 3 p.

Mount Vernon

My dear Sir,

I pray you to accept my acknowledgments of your favors of the 10th. & 14th. Ult. and congratulations on the acceptance of the proposed Constitution by the State of Massachusetts. Had this been done without its concomitants, and by a larger majority, the stroke would have been more severely felt by the antifederalists in other States. As it is, it operates as a damper to their hopes, and is a matter of disappointment & chagreen to them all. Under the circumstances enumerated in your letters, the favorable decision which has taken place, in that State, could hardly have been expected. Nothing short of the good sense, sound reasoning, moderation & temper of its powerful advocates, could have carried the question. The decision of which will be very influencial on the equivocal States, of the two which are next to convene (New Hampshire & Maryland) there [2] can be no doubt of the reception [inserted: of the prop[ose]d Consti[tution] and but little in So. Carolina which makes nine States without a dissentient. The force of which (argument) is not to be combatted by locallity & sophistry. Candor and prudence therefore, it is to be hoped, will pave the way to a unanimous adoption of the proposed form; and yet, thereare [sic] some characters among us, I believe, who would hazard every thing rather than cease their opposition, or give a chance to the evidence of its merits, to convict them of the fallacy of their [struck: of] [inserted: predictions respecting] it, by which the sagacity of their foresight might be impeached.

This day introduces the Elections of delegates for the Convention of this State, which will progress as the Court days in [strikeout] [inserted: it] shall arrive; after which a more accurate opinion may be formed of the probable decision of the State.

From the latest European intelligence I have seen, the political State of Affairs in France seem to be in a delicate situation. What will be the issue is not easy to decide, but the spirit which is diffusing itself, may produce changes in that Government, which a few years [3] past could hardly have been dreamt of. All these things, added to the importance assumed by G.B. on occasion of the turn her disputes with France have taken, and the unsettled condition of other European powers, are strong additional inducements for us to establish a well toned Government.

Mrs. Washington joins me in every good wish for Mrs. Knox, yourself & family and with sentiments of the most friendly and affectionate regard
I am – my dear Sir
Y[ou]r. Obed[ien]t. & Obliged
Go: Washington
General Knox.

Notes: Fitzpatrick, Writings of Washington, 29: 434-435