My Hopes for Congress Then and Now!

This letter was to my Dear Friend Elbridge Gerry.  He was serving in the Confederated Congress when I wrote this letter to him.  My concerns for Congress hold true not only for that day in September in 1783 but would hold my beliefs more so after the new Constitution came into being.

I wrote on September 9th Saying:

This is the first letter I have been able to write since I had the pleasure of seeing you, excepting a short one to our delegates, informing them that the general court had appointed a committee to correspond with them. Mr. Appleton and Mr. Rowe are my colleagues in this business. The correspondence is to be very extensive. “Any other important matter which relates to the being and welfare of the United States!” My bodily illness has prevented my engaging in it. I wish the delegates would begin. The welfare, and perhaps the being of the United States, in my opinion, depends much upon congress possessing the confidence of the people at large; that upon the administration of public affairs being manifestly grounded upon principles of equality and justice, or upon the people being assured that congress merit their confidence. The war is now over, and the people turn their eyes to the disposition of their money, a subject, which I hope congress will always have so clear a knowledge of, as to be able at any time to satisfy the rational enquiries of the people. To prevent groundless jealousies, it seems necessary not only that the principal in that department should himself be immaculate, but that care should be taken that no persons be admitted to his confidence but such as have the entire confidence of the people. Should a suspicion prevail that our high treasurer suffers men of bad principles or of no principles to be about him and employed by him, the fidelity of congress itself would be suspected, and a total loss of confidence would follow. I am much concerned for the reputation of congress, and have laboured to support it because that body is and must be the cement of the union of the states. I hope, therefore, they will always make it evident to reasonable men that their administration merits the public applause. Will they be able to do this, if they should cease to be very watchful over men whom they trust in great departments, especially those who have the disposition of the public moneys? Power will follow the possession of money, even when it is known that it is not the possessor’s property. So fascinating are riches in the eyes of mankind! Were our financier, I was going to say, even an angel from heaven, I hope he will never have so much influence as to gain the ascendency over congress, which the first lord of the treasury has long had over the parliament of Britain; long enough to effect the ruin of that nation. These are the fears which I expressed in congress when the department was first instituted. I was told, that the breath of congress could annihilate the financier; but I replied, that the time might come, and if they were not careful it certainly would, when even congress would not dare to blow that breath. Whether these fears are the mere creatures of the imagination you will judge.
My regards to Dr. Holten and Mr. Higgenson, if he is still in Congress.

Pray write to me often.

Have not modern times played out the concerns that I had?  Are not those that control the treasury of the Union and even of the States more in control then the Representatives of the People?  The People are to blame for not maintaining the watchful eye over those that have been elected and worse, the elected not holding accountable those appointed to the various departments.

Mr. Gerry and I are for Limited government!  That must be the cry of the people!  To demand a full accountability for the Peoples money and to regard it with the same principles of good conduct as one would within their own household.

For those in the present age, it is critical that you understand the Tale of Two Constitutions and hear this told at your events and meetings.

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