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title:“Simeon Baldwin to James Kent”
authors:Simeon Baldwin
date written:1788-3-8

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last updated:Jan. 22, 2013, 8:19 a.m. UTC
retrieved:Dec. 10, 2022, 1:45 a.m. UTC

Baldwin, Simeon. "Letter to James Kent." The Documentary History of the Ratification of the Constitution. Vol. 16. Ed. Gaspare J. Saladino and John P. Kaminski. Madison: Wisconsin Historical Society Press, 1986. 349-52. Print.
Yale University

Simeon Baldwin to James Kent (March 8, 1788)

A thousand unforeseen accidents have prevented my writing to you before, but principally the want of conveyance-nothing will induce me my friend to sacrifice to it, the pleasure & advantage of your Correspondence your last Letter I have not by me or I would give it a particular answer. - I think it contained some Law Questions which ought before this to have been answered, but the short notice I had of this conveyance will not allow me to search for authorities-You was so kind as to give me your opinion upon one point of Law, which I have since tried & had established (after a warm dispute,) agreeable to your Sentiments-Action on Note-plea. Infancy when the Note was given-Reply. that it was given in NY. for Necessaries suitable &c. & that by the Laws of the state of N Y. Notes given by minors for necessaries are good valid, & binding in Law-to this reply there was a demurrer, & the Court ruled the reply sufficient-It would indeed make very wild work with contracts should we establish the principle that the Lex Loci must not govern them-The property of Individuals who reside in States, connected with such intercourse as there is between the US. of America, would be very precarious upon a contrary System-A greater uniformity in Laws will probably follow the adoption of the proposed Constitution- I have not heard your sentiments upon that subject, & I know that the State of New York is much divided upon it-But I'll venter to write to you as a friend to it-for I cannot think that a man of your candour & discernment-unbiased by Interest-can stand forth, & wield the weapons of Anarchy-against the Salvation of our Country-who are they in general who oppose the Constitution?-none but the uninformed or the interested I have frequently been diverted to hear the very trifling & yet very different objections which are made to it by different peasants of this State-for you know that in this State the farmers are all politicians-many will condemn the same Articles which others with zeal recommend. none of them agree in their objections-even this Circumstance must convince an unbiassed mind that the wisdom of that venerable Body who framed the Constitution has led them thro' that central point of Gravity wh. must support the interest of all-
The conduct of New Hampshire has surprized us all this way-we did not expect it-but had ever calculated upon that State as sure-our fears were centered upon New York-we are sensible that more self-interest must be sacrificed to the general Good in that State-from their darling impost than in any other. Yet as there is a pretty equal consumption thro' the States of Articles subject to impost-Justice will certainly require that the avails should go to the advantage of those from whom the Impost is collected-let the Ports at which they are landed & from whence they are scattered be one or many-I wish for your Sentiments upon the Constitution & the prospect of its adoption in the State-Many of your influential Characters we are told are against it-I must believe that the supreme being, whose hand is so visible in the settlement of this Country-in its rapid population-the extent of territory over which the People have spread-in the general diffusion of knowledge among them, which is not equalled by the people of any territory on earth-& in the surprizing union of the whole in the Cause of Liberty-has designed something great, noble, glorious from such a Country-such a people-such a revolution. And I will add from such a change in the Constitution as the United Wisdom of the U. S. has proposed, from the most perfect models of Govt. both in Theory & practice which have appeared on earth & been sanctioned by the approbation of the wise politicians who have gone before us-
This State is at present very quiet in its politics-the federal party have evidently obtained the superiority, & both sides seem quietly disposed to lay down their Arms-but it has not ever been a circumstance in the politics of this State that those who are concerned in them remain long in a State of Apathy. The leading Characters among our antifœderalist are in general willful & Dogmatical-no Speakers are found among them-all their influence is by a low clandestine intrigue Our Leaders in the federal Party are the Leaders in the House of Assembly-Men who despise secrecy in their Sentiments & attempt more by solid Reason & an overbearing Eloquence, than by intreague-Their foible is-they do not try to reconcile-but frequintly irritate by sarcastic reflections-
The situation of this State as it respects their property, is far from being flourishing-we seem to have arrived to the turning point, between a Commerce in who the balance has long been against us, & the introduction of manufactures among ourselves wh. will supercede the Necessity of such a Commerce-The fact is we have too many inhabitants for the extent of territory-considering our mode of Cultivation & the employments of the people-All have not farms nor can they obtain them-of course untill Manufactures are introduced, the people must be idle, or crowd into those professions which do not immediately depend on the soil-The people thus employed, consume the produce of the farmer-till nothing is left for a remittance for those Articles which our stage of Society has to a Degree rendered necessary-Some attempts were made in this Town the last year for the introduction of a linnen manufactory, that is coarse linnen-for Sails &c. which succeded so as to yield a profit to the subscribers far beyond their expectation-the same is continued & another subscription for a Wollen manufactory is filling up fast-The introduction of a few such manufactures by men of fortune & enterprize will doubtless opperate to the advantage of the State-we can never expect to be in so flourishing Circumstances as the State of New York-their situation gives them a superiority which industry cannot equal-& I must think that the Policy of that State as it respects their finance is managed with admirable foresight & the circumstances of the Citizens are very different from ours-I rejoice my friend that you are placed among them-that you are sharing in its riches &can toil with the prospect of reaping a reward for your Labour-I have frequently lamented that I did not attend enough to my own advantage when I could have tarried & probably have pursued my professional employment there-A bubble brought me back & local attachments bind me here...

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