Birth of the Nation: The First Federal Congress, 1789-1791 Back to the Exhibit


New York. May 13th 1789

My beloved Brother

      I wrote you a few lines by your 3 sons who left me a week past to take passage for Norfolk, & as the weather has been favorable I flatter myself that ere this they are safely arrived—I often lament that I cannot get the better of that unpardonable indolence which possesses me, for I have many things in mind that I wish from time to time to communicate & to have your observations on. But unfortunately I always find myself so much in Arrears for Letters to different correspondents, that I never can begin one without feeling the Weight of the whole of them so heavy on my spirits as almost to deprive me of the power of writing.

      Our new Government is now in full Operation but how it will move or what will be the end of it I can scarcely conjecture. I am not yet in Love with it, & I doubt if I ever shall be. With concern I perceive that it has infused into the Minds of People here the most intolerable rage for Monarchy that can be imagined. Verily I believe that a very great proportion are ripe for a King & would salute the President as such with all the Folly of Enthusiasm. What are Men? Not rational Beings, surely, as they pretend to be, they bawl about Liberty, & only want the Liberty to make themselves slaves. This spirit has been prevailing here for a great while, but I was .in hopes that when they saw that the Senators were but Men & even the President but a Man, the Rage would subside. This however is not the case & nothing is thought of but titles for the President & Vice-President. If this Folly were not encouraged it might in time wear off. But unfortunately the Wisdom of the Senate gives its Sanction. They have taken it up very seriously & I believe they have bestowed more time in debating on that than on any other Subject whatever. Soon after the arrival of the President, they sent us a resolution appointing a committee to confer with a Committee of our House & to report whether any Titles & what other than expressed in the Constitution were to be given to the President & Vice President. I objected to the Appointment of a Committee on our part as unconstitutional the Subject being such as we have no Right to take into Consideration. But I was alone in my Opinion & a Committee was appointed the Report to both Houses was that no Titles be given. We agreed to the report & presented our Addresses accordingly in Answer to the Speech to both Houses. After this we received a Message from the Senate informing us that they had rejected the Report & at the same time a new Resolution ap pointing a Committee to confer with a Committee of our House & to report what Title was to be given the President. I again objected to the appointment of a Committee, but in vain. A Committee was appointed to confer on the subject of the differing Votes of the two Houses. In the mean while this Senate, it seems, have done more on this Subject than they have informed us of (by the bye their Doors had never been set open). They had, I understand, appointed a Committee to report what Title should be given. & the Report was that it be His Highness the President, Protector of the Liberties of the United States.

      What will be the Issue of all this I know not; but the word Highness is in the Mouth of every Fool & Knave—& even His Sacred Majesty has been seriously talk’r of. I am out of all Patience when I think how we suffered ourselves to be duped into Measures distructive of every Republican idea how these things sit upon the Mind of the President. I cannot judge, but if he is the Man I take him to be & hope to find him they must give him not a little pain. Let me know what you think or these matters for I feel as if I wanted some Person to help me to vilify Mankind. Yet am I obliged to try to put a good face upon it & to live in peace with them.—Let me hear from you & inform me if I may expect to see you with your sons. It would afford me infinite happiness to spend some time with you.

      Remember me kindly to the youths, to Fanny, etc., etc.. I am ever most truly my beloved brother your unalterably affect.

Thos. Tud. Tucker.


(Letter courtesy of the College of William and Mary)

digitized from DHFFC transcription   
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