Birth of the Nation: The First Federal Congress 1789-1791 | Next Page
The Compromise of 1790
Letter of Henry Lee to Rep. James Madison of Virginia
Henry Lee to Rep. James Madison of Virginia
(Courtesy of the Library of Congress)

By the spring of 1790, American politicians such as George Washington and John Adams had cause to worry about the survival of the Union to which they had devoted their careers. Southerners remained angry over their inability to establish the capital on the Potomac and the northern demand that the federal government assume the state debts. Northerners expressed their frustrations openly, especially after the House rejected assumption on April 12. Prominent men in both sections began to question the viability of the Union. Henry Lee of Virginia (later to be the father of Robert E. Lee) wrote Madison that he would "rather myself submit to all the hazards of war and risk the loss of every thing dear to me in Life, than to live under the rule of a fixed insolent northern majority."

Full text transcript of Henry Lee's letter.

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