7 December 2015
[CONSTITUTION.] MOLTON, Michael. Autograph letter signed (“Michael Molton”) to Jeremiah Greene, Newport, 17 August 1788. 2 pages, folio, blank integral leaf, seal hole and wear at folds costing portions of a few words.
“I SUPPOSE UNTIL REAL NECESSITY DRIVES US TO IT, WE NEVER SHALL COME IN”
A Rhode Island Federalist laments his State’s refusal to adopt the new Federal Constitution, and notes the dampening effect on business. “The new Constitution is the topic” consuming all Rhode Islanders, Molton reports, “and as our present administration appears to be Enveterate Enemies to it and the Country in general very much attached to the present administration, I think they are likely to continue for some time at the helm and where they will steer the ship to, God only knows. You doubtless have heard of Eleven States adopting it & that there remains only North Carolina & we to come in. We daily expect to hear of North Carolina coming in, but I suppose if we come in at the eleventh hour we shall be accepted, & I suppose until real necessity drives us to it, we never shall come in…” This political uncertainty had a dampening effect on business. “It appears that those men in this Town who are able to levy on any business are waiting to know the effects of the new Government,” and this made “business very dull.” The approaching winter “loudly call for employment of the mechanic and labourer.” Molton, however makes his own political position clear: “I am a Federalist,” he writes in large letters, and as for the new charter, “I am in favour of it.”
Rhode Island was the last of the 13 original states to adopt the Constitution. It sent no delegate to the Philadelphia convention in 1787, and the first state ratification referendum rejected the document by a 10-1 margin! More than a year after Washington’s inauguration, on 29 May 1790, Rhode Islanders finally relented and joined the Union.
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