Constitutional Journal

-Friday, August 3, 1787

Yesterday Mercy Otis Warren, first historian of the American Revolution, attacked the Convention and ``busy geniuses'' more interested in strong government than freedom and equal rights.

THE American Minister to France proposed today that the Convention in its draft Constitution deal with the chaotic commercial relations of the 13 States and find a formula to pay off the Confederation's $100 million debt.

Thomas Jefferson wrote today in a letter to Gov. Edmund Randolph of Virginia that the States' commercial relations should be regulated by Congress as a means to pay off their debts.

``A delinquent State makes itself a party against the rest of the Confederacy,'' Mr. Jefferson adds. The debt of the current American Confederation has been a source of acute embarrassment to him ever since he took up his diplomatic post in Paris.

America owes millions to the French monarchy for the military and financial support it gave the breakaway British Colonies during the War of Independence.

One observer believes that the current financial crisis facing France can be traced, in part, to the money, men, and war materials the Americans received throughout most of their war.

The crisis is reported to be so serious that one observer in France says that riots have broken out, with mobs shouting revolutionary slogans and hanging government ministers in effigy. He also discloses that a feeling is growing in France that the country is on the eve of a ``great revolution in the government ... and a strong leaven of liberty [is] increasing every hour since the American Revolution.''

Mr. Jefferson, the author of the Declaration of Independence, has received reports in Paris that the Convention in Philadelphia is seriously considering a monarchy. He expresses his displeasure:

``I am astonished at some people's considering a kingly Government as a refuge. ... Send them to Europe to see something of the trappings of monarchy, and I will undertake that every man shall go back thoroughly cured.''

While approving of the Convention, Mr. Jefferson has been critical of its rule of secrecy. His most direct contribution to the Convention has been the books that he sent to James Madison of Virginia. Mr. Madison has referred to them extensively in arguing during Convention sessions for a new national government.

Since Mr. Jefferson went to Paris to replace Dr. Benjamin Franklin as Minister to France, he has been busy seeking treaties of commerce and loans from France and other European countries. He is also working to convince Europe that the still-to-be-united States can be trusted to meet their obligations and pay their debts.

It is for this reason that Mr. Jefferson wrote to Virginia Governor Randolph today, urging the Convention to devise some formula for the States to pay their debts. He has lobbied Convention delegates and friends since the Convention began to give the new government the powers necessary to deal with the problems of commerce and finance.

It is doubtful, however, that Mr. Jefferson fully understands in Paris that what has been happening here in Philadelphia is a revolution in government far greater than the new one he anticipates or the one he helped precipitate 11 years ago.

These day-by-day reports on the Constitutional Convention will continue on Monday.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.
QR Code to Constitutional Journal
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today