It is very certain that the attention paid by the old Government to the Overtures of Spain, and the resolutions relative to the Navigation of the Missisipi were improper, and, in principle, dangerous in a free country. They were therefore unjustifiable in ours, and impolitic in the highest degree considering the lax & feeble cords by which the temper & situation of the Western people bind them to us. It is but reasonable that they should be alarmed—that they should doubt our justice and regard for those rights, which, whether the eastern or western people are the claimants, are not to be dispensed with, or infringed. Tis manifest that such doubts and Apprehensions have been excited by the measures of Congress, and it is very certain that the hesitation about the new Constitution in that quarter arose in a greater part from those causes, than from any faults they found in it as a System of Government. Besides the obligations of justice and liberty which must govern the Administrators of our affairs in every place, and with every part of our Citizens there is another light in which the Western people must be viewed, which should be most seriously considered. They alone are possibly to be converted into powerful neighbouring enemies. The Northern country of G. Britain is so bound up for a great part of the Year, its soil is so bad in one part and its Government in another, that little is to be feared from that quarter. The Climate & soil of the Floridas, and the civil & religious objections to the Spanish Government with the difficult approach of the Mouth of the Missisipi and the want of enterprize & policy in that court leave little ground of Apprehension from them. But the Western Country seperated from us, in close connexion with either, especially the latter, would expose the remainder of the Union to a very troublesome & growing Enemy.
As these considerations impress our Minds wth. the necessity of keeping them not only friendly but connected with us in Government, it seems a very important Object in our Affairs to devise the most likely Methods of allaying their fears, reviving their confidence and encreasing their Attachments to the Union; and at the same [time] to establish our plans in such a way that we may draw revenue from them. All these Appear to me practicable.
To allay their fears we must candidly examine the conduct that has offended them—and frankly give them efficient securities for our refraining from such Attempts in future.
A part of the ideas in the 2d. division of the 7th. Amendment of Virginia might perhaps be safely modified and adopted, if the subject of Amendments is touched. A Majority of every legislature in the Union would I am of Opinion ratify such an Amendment should Congress send it forward. Frankly to remove fears and do justice always revives confidence & encreases affection—and I am satisfied the measure proposed would have that effect in an eminent degree on a people governed exceedingly by their feelings, and whose situation seperates them from all the world but their relatives on the one hand, & two powers whom they either despise or dislike on the other.1