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Letter to John Langdon

Tobias Lear

Mount Vernon, Virginia

December 03, 1787

Your obliging favor of the 3d Ulto. Came to hand last week.—You will please to accept of my best thanks for the information contained in it.- I now, for once, feel proud of being a native of that part of America which discovers the wisdom of its inhabitants & a just idea of its true interest by receiving the proposed national constitution in so favourable a manner.- I think Colo. Mason must, by this time, wish that he had not handed forth his objections as so early a period, or at least that he had considered the matter a little more deliberately-he gave them in manuscript to persons in all parts of the country where he supposed they would make an impression, but avoided publishing them. I waited for a long time in expectation that they would appear in the publick papers, but finding they did not, I conveyed a copy of them & am now answering the rest, but as it is under an assumed signature, it is not known, even to the General, by whom it is done. I do not flatter myself that I am able to cope with a man  of Colo. Mason’s abilities, on  a subject which has been the chief business & study of his life, but my situation here gives me so good an opportunity of gaining information in all matters of publick & governmental concern, that, joined to the knowledge which I have acquired from reading will, I think enable me to accomplish the task which I have undertaken.

I can say nothing with certainty upon what will be the issue of the proposed Government in this State, it has many able opponents here, at the head of whom are Mr. Henry, Colo. Mason & Mr. R. H. Lee, I was very sorry to find the latter among the number because I think he is a worthy, honest character & opposes it from principle.

Mr. Henry’s conduct is somewhat unaccountable, he reprobates the present confederation; reviles the proposed constitution & yet points out nothing that is better; if I may be allowed to form an opinion, from his conduct, of what would be his wish, it is to divide the Southern States from the others. Should that take place, Virginia would hold the first place among them, & he the first place in Virginia-But this is conjecture.

I shall do myself the pleasure to communicate to you from time to time whatever may transpire here worthy of your attention. –I must beg of you, my dear Sir , to tell my friends in Portsmouth that I hold them in the most affectionate remembrance & that my not writing to them oftener does not proceed from a want of respect but from want of time—since the Genls. return from Philadelphia his correspondents from all parts of Europe & America have poured their letters upon him so fast that it requires my constant  & unremitting attention to them, and to be candid with you, my dear Sir, you are more obliged to him for the trouble  of this letter than to me, for as he was about to write to you himself he asked me if I should answer your letter at this time, I told him I did not think I should be able to do it, he replied “that it should be done”-I was Therefore obliged to obey-though it will cost him half an hour of his own time to do what I should have been doing for him.-

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