Description

    John Adams informs John Jay that he is "extremely anxious" that the new US Constitution "be adopted"

    John Adams Autograph Letter Signed. One and one-third pages, 7.5" x 10", Braintree [Massachusetts], July 18, 1788. Only months before Adams was elected as George Washington's vice president in the first U.S. presidential election, he writes to John Jay, a delegate at the New York Constitutional Ratification Convention, of "the very great Importance" of New York's role in the Constitution being "adopted kindly and cordially."

    When news of the proposed new Constitution first reached John Adams in the fall of 1787, he was in London serving as ambassador to Great Britain. Though he would have preferred that the proposed Constitution allow for a stronger executive branch, he heartily endorsed the document as the best means to bind the fledgling nation. He returned to the United States and his home in Braintree almost exactly one month before writing this short letter of encouragement to Jay.

    Though John Jay did not attend the Constitutional Convention held in Philadelphia during the summer of 1787, he had still remained very busy in the new government serving as the secretary of foreign affairs (later known as the State Department). Following the drafting of the new Constitution, Jay, James Madison, and Alexander Hamilton, had written over eighty essays between November 1787 and March 1788 that were later compiled under the title of The Federalist Papers. These essays were an attempt to promote the Constitution, which, after the convention adopted it on September 17, 1787, went to the thirteen states for ratification.

    Jay was chosen as a delegate to the New York Ratification Convention held at the courthouse in Poughkeepsie, eighty miles north of New York City. The convention had been meeting since June 17 when Adams sent this letter reminding Jay, who was playing a significant role in the process, of the importance of the Poughkeepsie decision. In full:

    Dear Sir,

    I am honoured with your Letter of the 4. Of July and thank you for your friendly Congratulations on my arrival.

    The Decision of the Convention at Poughkeepsie, is of very great Importance to this Nation, perhaps to some others. I am extremely anxious, that, as the new Constitution has already proceeded to far, it be adopted kindly and cordially, by all the three that remain. A little time I hope will reconcile all.

    Mrs. Adams is very Sensible of the Honour of your Congratulations, and desires to present her best Respects with mine to you and Mrs. Jay. With every Sentiment of Esteem I am yours

    [Signed] John Adams.
    The "three that remain" were New York, North Carolina, and Rhode Island. Jay was unsure of what the outcome would be in New York. Earlier on July 4, he had written congratulating Adams on his return to the United States, but noted that he wasn't optimistic about New York's ratification of the Constitution. (Interestingly, also on July 4, a fight broke out in Albany, New York, over the adoption of the Constitution; one person was killed and eighteen wounded. This may explain Adams' reference to the Constitution being "adopted kindly and cordially.") New York's decision was finally reached on July 26, 1788: with a final tally of 30 in favor and 27 opposed, the state became the eleventh to ratify the Constitution, which went into effect two months later. (North Carolina ratified in November 1789 and Rhode Island in May 1790.)

    Addressed in Adams's hand to "Honble: John Jay Esqr / Member of Convention / New York / Poughkeepsie" and docketed by Jay on the address panel, "Mr. Adams 18 July 1788."

    Condition: Flattened folds; with toning throughout. Some light dampstaining affecting the outer margins of each page, though Adams' large signature is unaffected. Heavy dampstaining to address sheet. Page one bears remnants of the original seal, while address page has a small amount of paper loss due occurring when the letter was opened.


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