2 pp, 8 x 9 ½, Philadelphia, 5th May 1796, Anti-Federalist Congressman JOHN WILLIAMS ALS to Lieut. Alex McNeish, at Salem, Washington County, State of New York, with Williams Free Frank. The letter contains a significant reference to the “British Treaty,” also known as The Treaty of New York. It involved negotiations between the United States and Seven Nations of Canada. Under it, Native Americans gave up, for compensation, all claim to land in New York.
“I should have answered your kind letter before this time, was it not that we were so engaged and I can assure you that I never in all my Legislative business felt such anxiety. I believe that nearly the greatest part of the Merchants in the Union have petitioned the Legislature to provide for the British Treaty. It’s now done and you cannot conceive how business hath revived. All are again at their employment. My conduct therein is forwarded in the Papers – the advantages to our State is incalculable and I hope it will meet your approbation.
“When I produced your Power, it was refused & I was about drawing another Power for you. But the Auditor sent me a note yesterday that he would give it me with the same power. I supposed he takes me to be an honest man – will bring it home with me. We are now pursuing our business with that harmony which characterizeth Legislature of a free People and I hope again once more to be permitted to return to my friends. I have often been tired with Legislative business but never half so much as at the present session – a subject not only new to me, but at a time when matters of the greatest moment came under consideration. I have with great application become somewhat acquainted with the Business and necessarily had to take an active part. If I have erred it’s from the want of knowledge – not from any bad intent. But believe me that in all my actions my conclusions have been from a thorough conviction of being for the Interest of the community and particularly of those and the State I have the honor to represent.
“Our Post Road from Lunsingburgh by Salem to Plattsburgh, also from Lunsingburgh by Fort Edwards to Skeensborough and from Schenectady by Baltimore Court House, the Springs over the Bridge at Glenn Falls and Sandy Hill – is agreed, too, by the Committee of the Whole and we are now drawing a Bill for the Purpose, but I am sorry to add that there are a number of new roads tacked to it that makes it doubtful if we shall be able to pass it this session. However, I shall pay ever attention to it...John Williams”
WILLIAMS, an Anti-Federalist Congressman from New York, studied medicine and surgery in St. Thomas, London. He immigrated to America in 1773 and settled in New Perth, Charlotte County (now Salem, Washington County) N.Y. He was also a member of the State Provincial Congress in 1775, serving until 1777. He was appointed surgeon of the state forces in 1775 and Colonel of the Charlotte County Regiment in 1776. He retained the command through the Revolutionary War.
During 1788 when the American people were debating whether their states should ratify the proposed Constitution of the United States, Williams was an Anti-Federalist, opposing the Constitution. He was one of several people suspected of having written very influential Anti-Federalist essays under the pen name Brutus. He was subsequently a delegate to the convention where he and other Anti-Federalists failed to stop the Constitution but succeeded in obtaining assurances that a Bill of Rights would be added.
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