George Rogers Clark: His Life and Public Services

By Temple Bodley | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XXXI
Clark AT MULBERRY HILL

THE year 1788 opened with prospects dark indeed for the American people. By midsummer the Confederation ceased to exist; and thereafter nine months passed before a government was formed under the Federal Constitution. In the interim there was no real union of the states, and not much prospect of any. Everywhere were poverty, interstate and sectional jealousies, bankrupt state governments failing to function, and general demoralization, almost inconceivable in this day. Only chaotic conditions seemed ahead. For many months after the new constitution was submitted to the states, few believed it would be adopted -- fewer still that it would remedy existing ills. It had been framed without authority and was vigorously assailed in every state. With thirteen disordered and quarreling sovereignties -- each suspicious of the others, and some systematically legislating to cripple others -- there seemed small hope that they could be brought into union. Thousands of men of tried patriotism lost all confidence in popular government, thought republican institutions unworkable, and, like John Adams, preferred the rule of the select few. Many more regretted the loss of the peace, order and prosperity they had enjoyed under royal rule; and not a few wished for a monarchy. Washington was urged to become a dictator. From Congress Madison wrote Randolph: 'The existing Confederacy is tottering to its foundation. Many individuals of weight, particularly in the eastern district, are suspected of leaning towards monarchy. Other individuals predict a partition of the states into two or more confederacies. It is pretty certain that if some radical amendment of the single one cannot be. . .introduced, that one or the other of these resolutions --the latter no doubt -- will take place.'1

Thousands looked for asylums under the more orderly foreign governments. Numberless letters of the time show the anxiety of the writers to remove themselves and their

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1
Library of Congress, Madison Papers, Ac. 1081.

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