Description

    Thomas Fitzsimons Autograph Letter Signed, "Thos Fitzsimons". Two pages, 8.25" x 9.75", Philadelphia, September, 2, 1789, to Dr. Benjamin Rush concerning a congressional bill that would have situated the permanent seat of government just north of Philadelphia. The Pennsylvania congressman writes, in part: "When the winds blow worship the Echo was the advice of some of the Antient[sic] Philosophers apply it to present circumstances and suspend your opinion of present measures till you are informed of the reasons on which they are founded[.] I venture to assure you if any blame is to be the consequence it will not fall where you seem to apprehend--the bill for establishing the seat of Governm[ent] came down abt. 2 oclock[sic] on Saturday totally changed- a district of 10 miles square including Germantown and Northern Libertys[sic] has taken place of the banks of the Susq[uehanna] and a proviso that 100,000 dollars be supply[e]d by the State of Pennsylv[ania] or its citizens made a condition on a motion to postpone till next session it was lost 29 to 25 but an adjournment till today was obtained contrary to our wishes. All that I apprehend from the delay is further intrigue, yet I have a considerable degree of confidence in our associates. I confess to you however I am not without apprehension-the aggrandizement of Philad[elphia] and the certainty of the business being carryd[sic] into speedy effect are strong temptations to desertion--it is scarcely possible for you to conceive the motives which could influence the New Yorkers to this measure and yet we have such hold of them that they cannot decide? I think there is scarce a possibility of our delaying our adjournment beyond tomorrow so that I shall soon have the pleasure of assuring you in person how much I am..." The proposal for Philadelphia was one of many efforts between 1789 and 1790 to reach a consensus on defining the permanent seat of the federal government. The argument dragged on until the summer of 1790 and only came to an end as the result of a compromise between Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson. Hamilton needed a southern support for his Assumption Bill in which the national government would assume the Revolutionary War debts of the several states. The bill was resisted by southerners because most of that debt was held by the northern states. The offer to locate the federal capital in the south was an effective compromise which allowed the passage of both the Residence and Assumption Acts. As a bow to the Pennsylvania delegation, Congress designated Philadelphia as the temporary capital from 1791 until 1800 when the government would relocate to its permanent home in the District of Columbia. Some toning, usual folds, else very good. Ex. Henry E. Luhrs Collection


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    Auction Dates
    October, 2007
    25th-26th Thursday-Friday
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