The Documentary History of the First Federal Congress of the United States of America, 1789-1791

[William Maclay]

Attended pretty early this Morning many were however there before Us me. it was all hudling away in small parties our President was very busy indeed. running to every one, he openly attacked Mr. Lee before me on the Subject in debate. and they were even loud on the business I began to Suspect. That the Court party had prevailed, Senate however met and at it they went Mr. Lee began, but I really believe the Altercation tho' not a Violent One, which he had with the president, had hurt him, for he was languid, and much shorter than ever I had heard him on almost any Subject.
Mr. Patterson got up, for a long time you could not know what he would be at, after however he had warmed himself with his own discourse, as the Indians do with their War Song, he said he was for the Clause continuing, he had no sooner said so than he assumed a bolder Tone of Voice. Flew over to England extolled its Government wished in the most unequivocal language, that our President had the same powers, said let Us take a 2d View of England, repeating nearly the same thing, let Us take a 3d View of it said he and he then abused the Parliament for having made themselves first Trennial and lastly Septennial. Speaking of the Constitution he used expressly these Words. speaking of the removing of Officers. There is not a Word of Removability in it. his Argument of course was that the Executive held this Matter of Course—  Mr. Wyngate got up and said something for Striking out. Mr. Read rose, and was swinging on his legs for an Hour, he had to talk a great deal before he could bring himself, to declare against the Clause Motion, but now a most curious Scene opened—  Dalton rose, and said a number of things in the most hesitating, and embarrassed Manner, it was his recantation had just now altered his mind from What had been said by the Honorable Gentleman from Jersey. he was now for the Clause Mr. Izard was so provoked. That he jumped up declared nothing had fell from that Gentleman that possibly could convince any Man—  that Man might pretend so, but the thing was impossible, Mr. Morris's face had reddened for some time he rose hastily. he threw Censure on Mr. Izard declared that the recanting Man behaved like a Man of honor. that Mr. Patterson's Arguments were good and sufficient to convince any man. the Truth however was that every body believed that John Adams was the great Converter, but now Recantation was in fashion. Mr. Basset, recanted, too. tho' he said he had prepared himself on the other side We now saw how it would go. and I could not help admiring the frugality of the Court party in procuring Recantations or Votes, which you please. After all the Arguments were ended & the Votes Question taken the Senate was 10 to 10 and The president with great Joy cryed out it is not a Vote, without giving himself time to declare the division of the House, and give his Vote in Order. Every Man of our side in giving their Sentiments, spoke with great freedom. and seemed willing to avow their Own Opinion in the openest Manner. Not a Man of the others who made any speech to the Merits of the Matter, but went about it and about it, I called this singing the War Song and told him Mr. Morris I would give him every One Who I heard Sing the War Song, or in other Words those who could not avow the Vote they were fully minded to give, untill they had raised Spirits enough, by their own Talk, to enable them to do it. Grayson made a Speech it was not long. But he had in it this remarkable Sentence. "The Matter predicted by Mr. Henry,[1] is now coming to pass, consolidation is the object of the New Government, and the first Object attempt will be to destroy the Senate, as they are the Representatives of the State legislatures."
It has long been a Maxim with me, That no frame of Government Whatever, would secure liberty or equal administration of Justice to a People, unless Virtuous Citizens, were the legislators & Governors. I live not a day, without finding new reason to Subscribe to this Doctrine. What avowed & repeated attempts have I seen to place the President above the powers stipulated for him by the Constitution.

For Striking out


Against Striking out

{I reply'd to a number of their Arguments, and the Substance of them is on the adjoining Loose Sheet[3]— } {of All the Members of our House the Conduct of Patterson surprizes me most. he has been characterized to me as a Staunch Revolution Man & Genuine Whig. Yet he has in every republican Question deserted and in some instances betrayed Us. I know not that there is such a thing as buying Members, but if there is he is certainly sold.
I never was treated with less respect than this day, Adams behaved with Studied neglect inattention He was snuffling up his Nose, kicking his heels or talking & Sniggering with Otis, the Whole time, I was up. Butler, tho' no Man bears a thing of this kind with less temper, engaged WingateWashington, George. The Papers of George Washington: Retirement Series, March 1797 - December 1797. Eds. W. W. Abbot and Dorothy Twohig. Vol. 1. Charlottesville: The University Press of Virginia, 1998. ,> Izard & his End of the Table in Earnest conversation. Elsworth, Basset, Reed formed another knot. Mr. Morris went out. The Door Keeper[4] was kept on a continual trot, calling out Strong, Patterson, Henry, Carrol & ca.—  I might he have said more, but it was Useless.}
    [1.] Patrick Henry (1736-99), member of the state House of Delegates, 1740-84 and 1787-90, was a major force in Virginia and national politics. He was born in Hanover County, Virginia. After 1779 he resided in Henry County, which had been named for him in 1776. His elected offices included member of the House of Burgesses, 1765-75; delegate to Congress, 1774-75; governor of Virginia, 1776-79 and 1784-86; and presidential elector, 1789. He refused to attend the Federal Convention in 1787 and led the opposition to the Constitution in the Virginia Ratification Convention a year later. Henry secured the election of Antifederalists as the first senators from Virginia, almost prevented the election of James Madison to the House, and was a candidate for both president and vice president, at least in the minds of the Federalists, who had reason to fear his influence. (DHFFE 2:166, 181, 193, 415; [Philadelphia] Federal Gazette, 3 Jan. 1789)
    [2.] This vote is not recorded in the Senate Legislative Journal. On 18 July the vote was taken again and the slightly different tabulation is in the Senate Legislative Journal, p. 86.
    [3.] The loose sheet is no longer with the manuscript diary, although remnants of the wafer that held it are visible.
    [4.] James Mathers (1750-1811) was born in Dublin, Ireland and came to New York City before the War for Independence. After serving in the war, he became doorkeeper for Congress in 1788, having been the assistant since 1785. Mathers was recommended by several members of Congress for a congressional position, and the Senate chose him as its doorkeeper on 7 April 1789. He served in this position until his death. (Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789 34:153; National Intelligencer, 5 Sept. 1811; DAR Lineage Book 147:137; Testimonial, 4 March 1789, Petitions and Memorials: Applications for jobs, SR, DNA)