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ing? This speech was received with the highest pleasure. It was addressed to his “brother plough-joggers," as he called them, and it nettled the insurgents, who called him to order; but their voice was over-ruled, and he went through.
How much longer this Assembly may sit, we can but conjecture. The friends to the Constitution say that many converts have been made; and they intend, if they cannot get a clear vote to carry it “all hollow,” as the phrase is, — to annex some amendments recommended to be adopted by the first Congress, — if the other States agree; and, in this way, they expect to carry it by a considerable majority.
Rufus King shines among the Feds. with a superior lustre. His speeches are clear, cool, nervous, pointed, and conclusive. Parsons distinguishes accurately and reasons forcibly; but I need not give the particular merits of each. You will have them in the papers; for the printers are vigilant, and keep a scribe constantly employed to take minutes, though they cannot copy the energy and pathos of the speakers.*
Now to your questions. The negroes in Massachusetts and New Hampshire are all free, by the first article in the Declaration of Rights. This has been pleaded in law, and admitted. “ All men are born free and equal.” The number of negroes now in New Hampshire is inconsiderable. A number enlisted in the late war for 3 years, and thereby purchased their freedom. This was before the new Constitution was made. Some of them died in the service, others removed, and but few are left; but they are all free. No slaves may be imported into this State. I know of no prohibitory law in New Hampshire ; but, as slavery is abolished by the Constitution, it could be to no purpose to import negroes. When I have opportunity, I will give you the “substance” of the laws respecting slaves; but this is the effect of them, or of the Constitution rather, which is the supreme law.* However, we are defective in one point. Vessels are not restrained from going to Africa, and selling slaves in the West Indies. Two or three went this fall. In this we are excelled even by Rhode Island, where President Manning (who is now here) says they have made a law, whereby vessels are prohibited going to Africa for slaves, and the oath of one sailor is sufficient to convict the master.
* See some further minutes of the Convention, in Proceedings of Mass. Hist. Soc. for March, 1858, pp. 296–304. - EDS.
Negro children have a right to go to town schools, but I know of none who exercise it. The negroes of sufficient property vote in town-meetings. Prince Hall, GrandMaster of the Black Lodge, constantly votes for Governour and Representatives; so do some others. They have a religious society in this town, at which the ministers are invited to preach. I preached to them once. They behave with great decency, and sing very well. Many of them can read and write. I had two negroes, this fall, sawing my wood. While at work, one of them received a billet, in due form, from another negro. What it contained I know not; but it produced a great horse-laugh among them. They use the sirname of the families where they formerly lived, and are published for marriage by those names.
Now for Buck. If Dr. Stevens should hear, or think, of the removal of his dear Sally, his only ewe-lamb, from his neighbourhood, it would bring down his grey hairs with sorrow to the grave: therefore, I cannot say a word in favour of the motion. B. is a Calvinist, a sincerely good man, and faithful minister. Serious people all love him ; but there is a natural severity in him, which hinders his popularity in a great measure.
* Dr. Belknap was living in New Ilampshire in 1783, when the Constitution of that State was adopted, and in 1784, when it took effect. After he had removed to Massachusetts, in 1787, he heard of the decision there, as to the clause in their Declaration of Rights, “ All men are born free and equal;” and, as lie knew that that declaration had been copied by New Hampshire, he inferred that slavery was abolished there also. But in 1795, in collecting information on this subject to answer the inquiries of Judge Tucker, he came to the conclusion that New Hampshire had not adopted the Massachusetts construction of the Declaration of Rights, but applied it to the after-born only. There probably had been no judicial decision in that State on this clause. All this shows how little was known or thought here on the subject at this time. See 1 Hist. Coll. IV. 204. — Eds.
If Jedediah Morse is so far advanced in his geographical work, there will be no need of my attempting it.
The “ Foresters” will be continued. I left it optional with the proprietors to say so, or concluded, and they said the former; but I cannot prepare one for January, it is now so late in the month. I am drawn into a correspondence with Dr. Rush, and shall beg to make use of you as a medium. Dr. Clarkson will not write, but I love him, notwithstanding. Nothing yet from Sullivan. . I have no great hope there. The pay for the Columbian pieces is collected here by the sale of the Magazines, and I take it as I want it. I can keep up the Biography, I believe, for one year at least.
Saturday P.M. The Convention have advanced no farther than the 9th section of the 1st article. I suppose the Anti-feds. begin to be weary. Adieu. Love to you and yours.
HAZARD TO BELKNAP.
NEW YORK, February 3, 1788.
MY DEAR SIR, -Yours of 20th and 25th ult. are both before me.
The former has been read almost as often as either of St. Paul's Epistles. I got fairly tired of reading it; and yet I could not refuse, as it contained the most particular account of your Convention, and their doings, that has yet been received, and everybody here feels deeply interested in both. Continue your favours in this way; for I am almost run down by friends who wish for information, and are to the last degree anxious to hear, either that Massachusetts has adopted the new Constitution, or that it is reduced to a certainty that she will do it. Your letters have encouraged them; but we cannot certainly determine whether the Federals have a majority or not; or, if they have, how many. Can you tell us ? It seems clear that they have the majority of understanding and eloquence; but a nose of wax will be counted one, as well as any other nose.
So G. has got out of the Pound. I wonder that he ever suffered himself to get into it. The specimens of elocution and similies which you gave me were very pleasing: they were very natural, and I think must have had great influence on the “ plough-joggers," as they were in their own way. The Convention proceeds with great deliberation indeed. We have been told that the delegates from the province of Maine have been converted, and are now all Federal. Is it so ? And I have been told to-day that Massachusetts has adopted the new Constitution. Indeed, a gentleman came to my house on purpose to ask me if I had any advice of it from Boston. I told him no, but thought it could not be true, as on the 25th ult. the Convention had advanced no farther than article 1, section 9, unless the Anti-feds. had got weary, and called for the question.
I thank you for the information about the negroes. What I said about Buck was only from myself. I question whether anybody else here knows him. It will probably go no farther. Our Mr. Wilson has been regularly and honourably dismissed, and is on the point of sailing for his new charge, at Charleston, South Carolina. I think it not improbable that we shall have Jedediah Morse here, as a supply, for some time; at least, he has been thought of. These temporary supplies will give us an opportunity of looking round for a master workman
to give a call to. I am glad the Foresters are to be continued. Spotswood has dropped his newspaper, for want of encouragement. Some Anti-federal writers, in other papers, assert it was because he was Anti-federal. Carey is going to resume the publication of that paper, the Herald. Take care how you commit yourself to your new correspondent. Neither his stability nor prudence are to be depended upon. Dr. C., I believe, cannot write. My mother (his sister) and I very seldom hear from him, and I am sure he loves us, as we all do you and Mrs. B. I had forgot to tell you that the second 5 dollar bank-note came safe to hand, and I have ordered payment to Mr. Aitken. But the mail will be closed. Adieu.
BELKNAP TO HAZARD.
Boston, February 3, 1788, evening.
MY DEAR SIR, — As Mr. Wingate is going in the stage to-morrow morning, I shall send this by him, as well as a letter of introduction to you. He was formerly a clergyman, but is now an independent husbandman, — sensible, benevolent, judicious, and knowing. I am sure you will be pleased with him, and he with you.
You will see, by Saturday's Sentinel, the operations of last week in Convention. Hancock is the ostensible puppet in proposing amendments; but they are the product of the Feds. in concert, and it was thought that, coming from him, they would be better received than from any other person. Should they finally take, it will greatly help his popularity, and ensure his election the next year.
Yesterday they chose a committee of two from each county, a Fed. and an Anti., as nearly as they could guess, who are to consider the proposed amendments, and report to-morrow. Tuesday is the day appointed, but it may be Wednesday or Thursday before the final determination.