Letter from Certain Citizens of Rhode Island to the Federal Convention (1787)

Image: Providence, R.I., harbor view, taken from the grounds of Geo. W. Rhodes, Esq. W. (N[ew] Y[ork] : Endicott & Co., c1858) Library of Congress. https://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2003674129/

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Providence, May 11, 1787.

Gentlemen,— Since the legislature of this state have finally declined sending delegates to meet you in Convention, for the purposes mentioned in the resolve of Congress of the 21st February, 1787, the merchants, tradesmen, and others, of this place, deeply affected with the evils of the present unhappy times, have thought proper to communicate in writing their approbation of your meeting, and their regret that it will fall short of a complete representation of the Federal Union.

The failure of this state was owing to the non-concurrence of the upper House of Assembly with a vote passed in the lower House, for appointing delegates to attend the said Convention, at their session holden at Newport, on the first Wednesday of the present month.

It is the general opinion here, and, we believe, of the well-informed throughout this state, that full power for the regulation of the commerce of the United States, both foreign and domestic, ought to be vested in the national council, and that effectual arrangements should also be made for giving operation to the present powers of Congress in their requisitions for national purposes.

As the object of this letter is chiefly to prevent any impression unfavorable to the commercial interest of the state from taking place in our sister states, from the circumstance of our being unrepresented in the present national Convention, we shall not presume to enter into any detail of the objects we hope your deliberations will embrace and provide for, being convinced they will be such as have a tendency to strengthen the union, promote the commerce, increase the power, and establish the credit, of the United States.

The result of your deliberations, tending to these desirable purposes, we still hope may finally be approved and adopted by this state, for which we pledge our influence and best exertions.

[* This will be delivered you by the Hon. JAMES M. VARNUM, Esq., who will communicate (with your permission) in person, more particularly, our sentiments on the subject matter of our address.] [Note *: * This paragraph was in the letter enclosed by Gert, Varnum, but not in the duplicate alluded to by his letter.]


In behalf of the merchants, tradesmen, &c., we have the honor, &c. &c.


John Brown,

Joseph Nightingale,

Levil Hall,

Philip Allen,

Paul Allen,

Jabez Bowen,

Nicholas Brown,

John Jinkes,

Welcome Arnold,

William Russell,

Jeremiah Olney,

William Barton,

Thomas Lloyd Halsey,


The Honorable the Chairman of the General Convention, Philadelphia.

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