George Washington to John Jay
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Mount Vernon 18th May 1786.
In due course of Post, I have been honoured with your favours of the 2d & 16th of March; since which I have been a good deal engaged, and pretty much from home.
For the inclosure which accompanied the first, I thank you. Mr Littlepage seems to have forgot what had been his situation--What was due to you--and indeed what was necessary for his own character. And his Guardian I think, seems to have forgot every thing.
I coincide perfectly in sentiment with you, my dear Sir, that there are errors in our National Government which call for correction; loudly I will add; but I shall find my self happily mistaken if the remedies are at hand. We are certainly in a delicate situation, but my fear is that the people are not yet sufficiently misled to retract from error! To be plainer, I think there is more wickedness than ignorance, mixed with our councils. Under this impression, I scarcely know what opinion to entertain of a general Convention. That it is necessary to revise, and amend the articles of Confederation, I entertain no doubt; but what may be the consequences of such an attempt is doubtful. Yet, something must be done, or the fabrick must fall. It certainly is tottering! Ignorance & design, are difficult to combat. Out of these proceed illiberality, improper jealousies, and a train of evils which oftentimes, in republican governments, must be sorely felt before they can be removed. The former, that is ignorance, being a fit soil for the latter to work in, tools are employed which a generous mind would disdain to use; and which nothing but time, and their own puerile or wicked productions, can show the inefficacy and dangerous tendency of. I think often of our situation, and view it with concern. From the high ground on which we stood--from the plain path which invited our footsteps, to be so fallen!--so lost! is really mortifying. But virtue, I fear, has, in a great degree, taken its departure from our Land, and the want of disposition to do justice is the sourse of the national embarrassments; for under whatever guise or colourings are given to them, this, I apprehend, is the origin of the evils we now feel, & probably shall labour for sometime yet. With respectful Complimts to Mrs Jay--and sentiments of sincere friendship--I am--Dear Sir Yr most Obedt Hble Servt
P.S. Will you do me the favor to forward the enclosed, with any dispatches of your own, for England? 
ALS, NNC; LB, DLC:GW. From The Papers, Confederation Series, 4:55-56.«back | home
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