-Tuesday, July 10, 1787
Yesterday's debate was on why slaves should be represented in the national Legislature when they are not allowed to vote in the States.
IN a private display of anger and despair at the chaotic direction of this Convention, Gen. George Washington today revealed in a letter to a former military aide (a copy obtained by this correspondent) that his patience and innate optimism have deserted him.
Writing to Col. Alexander Hamilton in New York, the hero of Valley Forge confessed that the current Convention deadlock gives little grounds for hope that a new national government can be formed. General Washington went on to give this gloomy outlook:
``In a word, I almost despair of seeing a favourable issue to the proceedings of the Convention, and do therefore repent having had any agency in the business.
``The men who oppose a strong & energetic government are, in my opinion, narrow minded politicians, or are under the influence of local views.''
However, General Washington indicated in his letter to Colonel Hamilton that the current deadlock would not discourage renewed effort until a new Constitution is signed. One observer points out that the general's letter was partly a rebuke to Colonel Hamilton for leaving the Convention at the peak of the current crisis and partly a plea that he return to Philadelphia from New York.
A former French officer who has observed General Washington as he has left the Convention during the past few days reports:
``The look on his face reminded me of its expression during the terrible months we were in Valley Forge Camp.''
Today's session provides an illustration of why the general is gloomy. Convention delegates spent the entire session disagreeing about the number of representatives needed to make up the national Legislature. The only agreement was a unanimous vote to adjourn.
In the meantime, the New York delegation left for home today, leaving only 10 States at this still bitterly stalemated Convention. Robert Yates and John Lansing have been increasingly dissatisfied with the proposed new government, particularly with the sweeping powers it may assume. Judge Yates and Mr. Lansing, in a letter to New York's Gov. George Clinton, said they were leaving Philadelphia because their original instructions mandated only amending the Articles of Confederation, not writing a new constitution.
New York's third delegate, Colonel Hamilton, left at the end of June, also disappointed at the direction of a Convention that he had played a prominent part in engineering into existence. Colonel Hamilton's poor performance here is a puzzle to some observers. The New York lawyer and legislator has privately charged that Judge Yates's and Mr. Lansing's decision to desert the Convention is on the direct instructions of Governor Clinton, a bitter political enemy of Colonel Hamilton's.
Col. George Mason of Virginia has revealed, however, that when the three New York delegates were present at the Convention, their disagreements were so fundamental that he cannot recall ``one single instance'' when they voted together. Colonel Mason also maintains that Colonel Hamilton became so frustrated at the deadlock within the New York delegation that it contributed to his own departure.
These day-by-day reports on the Constitutional Convention will continue tomorrow.