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Washington's entry into New York...

[Detail] Washington's entry into New York...

For Lesson Two:
Letter from George Washington to Lafayette, May 28, 1788

NOTE: This is an excerpt. The full text version of Letter from George Washington to Lafayette, May 28, 1788 is in George Washington Papers, 1741-1799.

{excerpt begins}

The Writings of George Washington from the Original Manuscript Sources, 1745-1799. John C. Fitzpatrick, Editor.--vol. 29

Mount Vernon, May 28, 1788.

Since I had the pleasure of writing to you by the last Packet, the Convention of Maryland has ratified the federal Constitution by a majority of 63 to 11 voices. That makes the seventh State which has adopted it, next Monday the Convention in Virginia will assemble; we have still good hopes of its adoption here: though by no great plurality of votes. South Carolina has probably decided favourably before this time. The plot thickens fast. A few short weeks will determine the political fate of America for the present generation and probably produce no small influence on the happiness of society through a long succession of ages to come. Should every thing proceed with harmony and consent according to our actual wishes and expectations; I will confess to you sincerely, my dear Marquis; it will be so much beyond any thing we had a right to imagine or expect eighteen months ago, that it will demonstrate as visibly the finger of Providence, as any possible event in the course of human affairs can ever designate it. It is impracticable for you or any one who has not been on the spot, to realise the change in men's minds and the progress towards rectitude in thinking and acting which will then have been made.

... {excerpt ends}

Questions:

  • To whom was the document written? What role, if any, did this correspondent play in the American Revolution? What was the person's relationship to Washington?
  • What is Washington's view of the federal convention to be held in Philadelphia beginning in May 1787? What does he insist must happen there?
  • How does Washington characterize the proceedings of the Convention from his vantage point as an eyewitness to the events? What evidence exists of the famous compromises that occurred there?
  • What does Washington's correspondence reveal regarding the struggle in each of the states over the ratification of the Constitution?

Go to the complete interview from which this excerpt was taken.