President Arthur St. Clair
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Ninth President of the United States
in Congress Assembled
February 2, 1787 to January 21, 1787
A Forgotten Founders Corporation Biography
Copyright © Stan Klos, President Who? Forgotten Founders 2004 & 2008
The Third United American Republic
in Congress Assembled
February 2, 1787 to January 21, 1787
A Forgotten Founders Corporation Biography
Copyright © Stan Klos, President Who? Forgotten Founders 2004 & 2008
The Third United American Republic
Presidents of the United States in Congress Assembled
March 1, 1781
July 6, 1781
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July 10, 1781
November 4, 1781
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November 4, 1782
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November 22, 1785
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June 5, 1786
June 6, 1786
February 1, 1787
February 2, 1787
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January 21, 1789
Arthur St. Clair of Pennsylvania was elected President of the United States, in Congress Assembled on February 2, 1787 and served until October 29, 1787. He was born in Thurso, Scotland on March 23, 1734 and died in Greensburg, Pennsylvania on August 31, 1818. St. Clair's life, more than any other U.S. President, was comprised of sterling and stark contrasts. Enjoying a great family inheritance in his youth only to end his life in desolate poverty; crossing the Delaware with Washington to capture Trenton and Princeton while later losing Fort Ticonderoga under his own command; presiding as President of the United States, in Congress Assembled that produced the U.S. Constitution and Northwest Ordinance only to be removed by President Jefferson as Governor of the Northwest Territory for opposing Ohio Statehood. Arthur St. Clair also has the unique distinction of being the only foreign born President of the United States.
Arthur St. Clair was born in Thurso, Scotland on March 23, 1734 and died in Greensburg, Pennsylvania on August 31, 1818. There is much debate over President St. Clair's Lineage and even his year of birth. The Clan Sinclair in U.S.A,. for instance maintains that St. Clair's actual name in Scotland was Sinclair and he was born March 23, 1736 -- (clarified by clicking here).
St. Clair attended the University of Edinburgh and studied medicine, serving part of an apprenticeship with the renowned anatomist, William Hunter. In 1757, St. Clair changed his career path by purchasing a commission as ensign in the 60th Foot Infantry. He came to America with Admiral Edward Boscawen's fleet in 1757 to exchange blows in the War for Empire. He served under General Jeffrey Amherst at the capture of Louisburg on July 26th, 1758. On April 17, 1759 he received a lieutenant's commission and was assigned to the command of General James Wolfe. At the Battle of the Plains, which decided the fate of the French in America, St. Clair took a notable part:
Shortly after the war St. Clair was assigned to duty in Boston. Here he met the daughter of Balthazar Bayard & Mary Bowdoin whose grandfather was James Bowdoin a wealthy Boston merchant. Her cousin, James Bowdoin II, was a member of the Massachusetts General Court. He would later authored the highly political report on the 1770 Boston Massacre that became one of the most influential pieces of writing that shaped public opinion in the colonies.
St. Clair’s courtship of Phoebe Bayard was a short-lived as they were married within six months on May 24, 1760 at the Trinity Episcopal Church. In 1762 he resigned his commission in Boston and moved to Bedford, Pennsylvania to survey land for the Penn's. By 1764 the couple decided to settle permanently in Ligonier Valley, Pennsylvania. St. Clair aggressively purchased large land farm and timber tracts. He erected mills, dug mines, and farmed eventually becoming the largest landowner in western Pennsylvania and a prominent British subject.
In 1770 St. Clair was appointed surveyor of the district of Cumberland. He was subsequently appointed a justice of the court, of quarter sessions and of common plea. Other offices included appointments to the proprietary council, a county justice, recorder, and clerk of the orphans' court.
On March 9, 1771, Bedford County was established by an act of the General Assembly of the Province of Pennsylvania, entitled "An act for erecting a part of the county of Cumberland into a separate county." The commissioners appointed to "run, mark out, and distinguish the boundary lines between the said counties of Cumberland and Bedford," were Robert McCrea, William Miller, and Robert Moore. Arthur St. Clair was appointed the first prothonotary, recorder, and clerk of court, by Governor John Penn, March 12, 1771, and deputy register for the probate of wills, 18th of same month, by Benjamin Chew, Register General. Bedford County, whose boundaries then stretched to the Ohio River Valley, was the part of the western frontier of the British colonies and eventually was divided into 21 different present Pennsylvania counties. In 1772 there were 350 families on the county tax rolls being, principally, Scotch-Irish and German immigrants. St. Clair’s offices were located in the basement of Bedford's "Espy House" that still stands today. President George Washington would later utilize the same home as his Whiskey Rebellion headquarters while St. Clair served as his Northwest Territorial Governor.
As prothonotary, recorder and clerk of Bedford County, Pennsylvania, Arthur St. Clair had a wide range of duties. In 1771 no other western Pennsylvania counties existed. Bedford County encompassed present-day counties of Fayette, Westmoreland, Washington, Greene and parts of Beaver, Allegheny, Indiana and Armstrong counties. This September 24th, 1771 Arthur St. Clair to William Allen gives a sampling of what his position entailed in the frontier of Western Pennsylvania.
Arthur St. Clair to William Allen September 24th, 1771- Courtesy Stan Klos
Sir -- I am sorry to inform you that the Murder of two Six Nation Indians has lately happened in our County. The Murderer is now in our Gaol. I had him taken to Fort Pitt and confined there for a few days that the Indians might see him and know that we were inclined to do them Justice and took the information against him before them. They appeared to be well satisfied with it and declared in their way that their Hearts should still be well towards their Brothers tho' this affair had given them much uneasiness. It has unluckily fallen in a bad Family as the People killed were near Relations to the Chief of the Six Nations in that part of the Country. That you may be the better acquainted with the Circumstances I have inclosed a copy of the Information and you will please to give Order for the Fellows Trial when you think Proper.
From the Appearance of things at first I flatter'd myself this County would soon be brought into good Order, but the Prospect is at present much altered, the People to the westward of the Allegany Mountain forming dangerous Associations to oppose the execution of the Laws. The Sherrif was lately escorted out of a settlement upon the Youghiogeny by a Body of Armed Men and threatned severly if he ever returned to execute his Office till the western line of the Province was run; and a number had the audacity to go to Col. Wilson, who is a Magistrate in that Quarter, and insist on his signing their Association; but he behaved with great spirit. Sized and confined their ring-leader and obliged them to relinquish their Agreement and burn the Paper before his Face. God knows where these things will end. I wish we have not something like the regulating scheme in Carolina. I have enclosed a copy of the Sheriff’s Deposition to Mr. Shippen together with Col. Wilson’s letter to me that he may lay them before Council. I am extremely glad to hear of Mr. Penn and his Lady and Mr. Allen’s safe arrival in England and am with great respect
Sir Your most obedient and very humble Servant
Arthur St. Clair.
September 24th, 1771 Arthur St. Clair to William Allen - Courtesy Stan Klos
By 1774 Arthur St. Clair had risen in favor and was appointed the Magistrate, as well as Prothonotary, in the newly formed Westmoreland County. Colonial Virginia was in a bitter border dispute with the Penn's of Pennsylvania over large parts of the new Pennsylvania County including Fort Pitt.
In 1758 General Forbes, along with Colonel Washington, took command of the Ohio River junction from the French garrison who had burnt Fort Duquesne in their flight to Canada. The Fort had been burnt beyond repair but the garrison left behind to secure the source of the Ohio River needed shelter from the winter. Colonel Hugh Mercer was charged as the commander and oversaw fortification construction on the banks of the Monongahela River 1000 or so feet from where it flowed in the Allegheny River forming the Ohio River. Fort Mercer was completed in January 1759 and was large enough to shelter a force of 400 men. Here soldiers, engineers, indigenous people, and citizens labored for 19 months to construct an elaborate fortress on the three rivers triangle consisting of two acres inside the fortress walls and 18 more inside the outer earthen works.
Fort Pitt was considered royal possession. The western Pennsylvania roads leading to the fort were constructed during the Forbes Campaign open the area to settlement by Pennsylvanians. Three years earlier, roads were constructed by General Braddock’s during his campaign to capture Fort Duquesne through the Virginia wilderness. Braddock’s force were routed by the French and forced into retreat after advancing to present day Braddock, Pennsylvania on the Monongahela River. General Braddock was mortally wounded in the battle and of the 1,300 men he had led in the campaign, 456 were killed and 422 wounded. Braddock’s road, however, remained intact opening the northern Ohio Valley for future settlement by Virginians. Both colonies, therefore, were poised to claim Fort Pitt once the British forces withdrew ending the royal jurisdiction over the territory.
Peace between the colonies had reigned at Fort Pitt for the years while it was garrisoned by British troops. A decision, however, was finally made to withdraw British troops from Fort Pitt due to debts incurred over the War for Empire better known as the French and Indian War in the North American theater. In 1772, thirteen years after it was built, the fort was sold by Captain Charles E. Edmonstone of the 18th Royal Regiment to Alexander Ross and William Thompson for fifty pounds of New York colonial currency. The construction materials that were used in the outer fort’s embankments were dismantled and utilized in the construction of buildings that would eventually form the earliest structure of the “Pittsburg” settlement. Jurisdiction over the region passed from the English Crown to the Pennsylvania Colony.
This did not settle the Boundary disputes between Pennsylvania and Virginia. To protect its interest Pennsylvania, with permission from the Crown, garrisoned a colonial militia to protect the fort. This action did not deter Colonial Governor Lord Dumore who insisted the land claims to the region, including the settlement of Pittsburg, belong to Virginia. On January 6, 1774, Dunmore commissioned and sent Dr. John Connolly to Fort Pitt as the "Captain and Commandant of Pittsburgh and its dependencies." Connolly began rising a militia from local Virginians who quickly garrisoned the dilapidated fort for Lord Dumore.
The fort, upon Connolly’s seizure, was renamed Fort Dumore in honor of the Colonial Governor. Commandant Connolly then issued a Fort Dumore Proclamation, calling on the people of Western Pennsylvania to meet him, as a militia, on the 25th of January 1774. Arthur St. Clair who was the King's magistrate of Westmoreland County, founded only year earlier on February 26, 1773 encompassing the fort, was appalled by Connolly's seizure and issued a warrant for his arrest. Connolly was captured and imprisoned by Magistrate St. Clair in the jail at Hannastown, the Westmoreland County seat.
In asserting the claims of Virginia, Lord Dumore insisted that Magistrate St. Clair should be punished for his temerity in arresting his Captain by dismissal from office. Governor Penn declined to remove St. Clair instead commending him as a superior magistrate by first providing proper legal notice to Mr. Connolly who was only arrested after he refused to surrender the Fort. Governor Penn wrote Governor Dumore on March 31, 1774:
I am truly concerned that you should think the commitment of Mr. Conolly so great an insult on the authority of the Government of Virginia, as nothing less than Mr. St. Clair's dismission from his offices can repair. The lands in the neighbourhood of Pittsburg were surveyed for the Proprietaries of Pennsylvania early in the year 1769, and a very rapid settlement under this Government soon took place, and Magistrates were appointed by this Government to act there in the beginning of 1771, who have ever since administered justice without any interposition of the Government of Virginia till the present affair. It therefore could not fail of being both surprising and alarming that Mr. Conolly should appear to act on that stage under a commission from Virginia, before any intimation of claim or right was ever notified to this Government. The advertisement of Mr. Conolly had a strong tendency to raise disturbances, and occasion a breach of the public peace, in a part of the country where the jurisdiction of Pennsylvania hath been exercised without objection, and therefore Mr. St. Clair thought himself bound, as a good Magistrate, to take a legal notice of Mr. Conolly.
Mr. St. Clair is a gentleman who for a long time had the honour of serving his Majesty in the regulars with reputation, and in every station of life has preserved the character of a very honest worthy man; and though perhaps I should not, without first expostulating with you on the subject, have directed him to take that step, yet you must excuse my not complying with your Lordship' s requisition of stripping him, on this occasion, of his offices and livelihood, which you will allow me to think not only unreasonable, but somewhat dictatorial.
I should be extremely concerned that any misunderstanding should take place between this Government and that of Virginia. I shall carefully avoid every occasion of it, and shall always be ready to join you in the proper measures to prevent so disagreeable an incident, yet I cannot prevail on myself to accede in the manner you require, to a claim which I esteem, and which I think must appear to everybody else to be altogether groundless.
Counter arrests and much correspondence followed, but the controversy was soon obscured by the stirring events of Lord Dunmore's War. Disturbances were renewed by Connolly on several border fronts and once again he was arrested. The Virginia Colonial Governor ordered the counter arrest of three of the Pennsylvania justices and in an exchange Connolly was released. The boundary troubles between Virginia and Pennsylvania were finally settled by the Continental Congress while Arthur St. Clair was commissioned in the Revolutionary War.
Arthur St. Clair was appointed a colonel of one of the Pennsylvania regiments and received his recruiting orders on the 10th of January, 1776. Colonel St. Clair raised and trained a regiment in the dead of winter. He then marched six companies of the regiment from Pennsylvania to Canada, a distance of several hundred miles, and joined the American army in Quebec on April 11th, 1776.
General Montgomery, who in the fall of 1775 defeated the British at Chamblee, St. Johns, and Montreal, gave Congress a fair prospect of expelling the British from Canada annexing that province to the United Colonies. Unfortunately the General was defeated and killed before St. Clair's arrival after the disastrous affair at Three Rivers. St. Clair, therefore, could only aid General Sullivan in the retreat as second in command under General Thompson. St. Clair's familiarity with British military strategy and the Canadian wilderness were key assets that helped save the Northern army from capture.
According to 18th Century military historian David Ramsay:
The Americans were soon repulsed and forced to retreat. In the beginning of the action General Thomson left the main body of his corps to join that which was engaged. The woods were so thick, that it was difficult for any person in motion, after losing sight of an object to recover it. The general therefore never found his way back. The situation of Colonel St. Clair, the next in command became embarrassing. In his opinion a retreat was necessary, but not knowing the precise situation of his superior officer, and every moment expecting his return, he declined giving orders for that purpose. At last when the British were discovered on the river road, advancing in a direction to gain the rear of the Americans, Colonel St. Clair in the absence of General Thomson, ordered a retreat.
Colonel St. Clair having some knowledge of the country from his having served in it in the preceding war, gave them a route by the Acadian village where the river de Loups is fordable. They had not advanced far when Colonel St. Clair found himself unable to proceed from a wound, occasioned by a root which had penetrated through his shoe. His men offered to carry him, but this generous proposal was declined. He and two or three officers, who having been worn down with fatigue, remained behind with him, found an asylum under cover of a large tree which had been blown up by the roots. They had not been long in this situation when they heard a firing from the British in almost all directions. They nevertheless lay still, and in the night stole off from the midst of surrounding foes. They were now pressed with the importunate cravings of hunger, for they were entering on the third day without food. After wandering for some time, they accidentally found some peasants, who entertained them with great hospitality. In a few days they joined the army at Sorel, and had the satisfaction to find that the greatest part of the detachment had arrived safe before them. In their way through the country, although they might in almost every step of it have been made prisoners, and had reason to fear that the inhabitants from the prospect of reward, would have been tempted to take them, yet they met with neither injury nor insult. General Thomson was not so fortunate. After having lost the troops and falling in with Colonel Irwine, and some other officers, they wandered the whole night in thick swamps, without being able to find their way out. Failing in their attempts to gain the river, they had taken refuge in a house, and were there made prisoners.
In recognition of this service St. Clair was promoted to Brigadier-General on August 9th, 1776 and ordered to join George Washington to organize the New Jersey militia. Ramsay reports of these desperate times:
This retreat into, and through New-Jersey, was attended with almost every circumstance that could occasion embarrassment, and depression of spirits. It commenced in a few days, after the Americans had lost 2700 men in Fort Washington. In fourteen days after that event, the whole flying camp claimed their discharge. This was followed by the almost daily departure of others, whose engagements terminated nearly about the same time. A farther disappointment happened to General Washington at this time. Gates had been ordered by Congress to send two regiments from Ticonderoga, to reinforce his army. Two Jersey regiments were put under the command of General St. Clair, and forwarded in obedience to this order, but the period for which they were enlisted was expired, and the moment they entered their own state, they went off to a man. A few officers without a single private were all that General St. Clair brought off these two regiments, to the aid of the retreating American army. The few who remained with General Washington were in a most forlorn condition. They consisted mostly of the troops which had garrisoned Fort Lee, and had been compelled to abandon that post so suddenly, that they commenced their retreat without tents or blankets, and without any utensils to dress their provisions. In this situation they performed a march of about ninety miles, and had the address to prolong it to the space of nineteen days. As the retreating Americans marched through the country, scarcely one of the inhabitants joined them, while numbers were daily flocking to the royal army, to make their peace and obtain protection. They saw on the one side a numerous well appointed and full clad army, dazzling their eyes with the elegance of uniformity; on the other a few poor fellows, who from their shabby cloathing were called ragamuffins, fleeing for their safety. Not only the common people changed sides in this gloomy state of public affairs, but some of the leading men in New-Jersey and Pennsylvania adopted the same expedient. Among these Mr. Galloway, and the family of the Allens of Philadelphia, were most distinguished. The former, and one of the latter, had been members of Congress. In this hour of adversity they came within the British lines, and surrendered themselves to the conquerors, alleging in justification of their conduct, that though they had joined with their countrymen, in seeking for a redress of grievances in a constitutional way, they had never approved of the measures lately adopted, and were in particular, at all times, averse to independence.
On the day General Washington retreated over the Delaware, the British took possession of Rhode-Island without any loss, and at the same time blocked up commodore Hopkins' squadron, and a number of privateers at Providence.
When George Washington and St. Clair retreated over the Delaware, the boats and barges along the east side of the Delaware River were removed and garrisoned by the remnants of the Continental Army. This act halted the progress of the British Forces into Pennsylvania in the winter months of November and December. The English commanders, sure of eminent conquest once the Delaware River froze, deployed their army in Burlington, Bordentown, Trenton, and on other waterfront towns in New Jersey.
On the Pennsylvania side of the river, General Washington ordered Generals Sullivan and St. Clair to recruit and train troops as the Continental Army was in desperate need of reformation. Together, with the Philadelphia troop recruiting successes of General Mifflin, Sullivan and St. Clair raised over 2000 new troops to support the Revolution. St. Clair and Sullivan joined Washington's beleaguered 400 troops in Pennsylvania and prepared for Washington's Delaware crossing to Trenton, New Jersey. On Christmas night 1776 St. Clair's Continental troops, now under Washington's command, crossed into New Jersey and attacked the Hessians at dawn on the 26th. Twenty-two Hessians were killed, 84 wounded and 918 taken prisoner. Ramsay account of the surprise attack states:
Of all events, none seemed to them more improbable, than that their late retreating half naked enemies, should in this extreme cold season, face about and commence offensive operations. They [The British] indulged themselves in a degree of careless inattention to the possibility of a surprise, which in the vicinity of an enemy, however contemptible, can never be justified. It has been said that colonel Rahl, the commanding officer in Trenton, being under some apprehension for that frontier post, applied to general Grant for a reinforcement, and that the general returned for answer. 'Tell the colonel, he is very safe, I will undertake to keep the peace in New-Jersey with a corporal's guard.'
In the evening of Christmas day, General Washington, made arrangements for recrossing the Delaware in three divisions; at M. Konkey's ferry, at Trenton ferry, and at or near Bordentown. The troops which were to have crossed at the two last places were commanded by generals Ewing, and Cadwallader, they made every exertion to get over, but the quantity of ice was so great, that they could not affect their purpose. The main body which was commanded by General Washington crossed at M. Konkey's ferry, but the ice in the river retarded their passage so long, that it was three o'clock in the morning, before the artillery could be got over. On their landing in Jersey, they were formed into two divisions, commanded by general Sullivan, and Greene, who had under their command brigadiers, lord Stirling, Mercer and St. Clair: one of these divisions was ordered to proceed on the lower, or river road, the other on the upper or Pennington road. Col. Stark, with some light troops, was also directed to advance near to the river, and to possess himself of that part of the town, which is beyond the bridge. The divisions having nearly the same distance to march were ordered immediately on forcing the out guards, to push directly into Trenton, that they might charge the enemy before they had time to form. Though they marched different roads, yet they arrived at the enemy's advanced post, within three minutes of each other. The out guards of the Hessian troops at Trenton soon fell back, but kept up a constant retreating fire. Their main body being hard pressed by the Americans, who had already got possession of half their artillery, attempted to file off by a road leading towards Princeton, but was checked by a body of troops thrown in their way. Finding they were surrounded, they laid down their arms. The number which submitted was 23 officers, and 885 men. Between 30 and 40 of the Hessians were killed and wounded. Colonel Rahl, was among the former, and seven of his officers among the latter. Captain Washington of the Virginia troops, and five or six of the Americans were wounded. Two were killed, and two or three were frozen to death. The detachment in Trenton consisted of the regiments of Rahl, Losberg, and Kniphausen, amounting in the whole to about 1500 men, and a troop of British light horse. All these were killed or captured, except about 600, who escaped by the road leading to Bordentown.
The British had a strong battalion of light infantry at Princeton, and a force yet remaining near the Delaware, superior to the American army. General Washington, therefore in the evening of the same day, thought it most prudent to re-cross into Pennsylvania, with his prisoners.
The effects of this successful enterprise were speedily felt in recruiting the American army. About 1400 regular soldiers, whose time of service was on the point of expiring, agreed to serve six weeks longer, on a promised gratuity of ten paper dollars to each. Men of influence were sent to different parts of the country to rouse the militia. The rapine, and impolitic conduct of the British, operated more forcibly on the inhabitants, to expel them from the state, than either patriotism or persuasion to prevent their overrunning it.
On the 28th, Washington re-crossed the Delaware and took possession of Trenton. The British detachments that had been distributed over the New Jersey river towns had now assembled at Princeton. These troops were also reinforced by a British detachment from New Brunswick, N.J. commanded by General Cornwallis. From this position the English planned to overwhelm Washington, by sheer numbers, hoping to defeat the Continental Army on January 2nd. Realizing this Washington carefully considered his options. A retreat to the city of Philadelphia would have shattered the Continental Army's confidence that permeated the new nation after their Victory at Trenton. George Washington decided to stand, fight and see what opportunities may arise in the heat of what would be a manageable late afternoon battle. The Continental forces readied their defenses.
The British began their advance from Princeton at 4 P.M. attacking a body of Americans that were posted with four field pieces just north of Trenton. This overwhelming military action required the forces to retreat over Assunpink Creek. Here Washington had posted cannons on the opposite banks of the creek. The cannons, together with musket fire, stalemated the pursuing British at the bottleneck created by the bridge. The British fell back out of reach of the cannons, and made camp for the night. The Americans remained defiantly camped on the other side cannonading the enemy until late in the evening.
Washington called a council of war that night on January 2, 1777 with his troops camped along Assunpink Creek. Many of St. Clair's Biographers, and even St. Clair himself, claim that the movement that culminated in the Victory at Princeton the following day was his recommendation to the council. The General's biographers purport that not only did St. Clair direct the details of the march but also his own brigade marched at the head of the advancing army.
Washington's decision to go around the British lines at night and advance on Princeton was brilliant. The plan was a smashing success and British losses were estimated at 400 to 600 killed, wounded or taken prisoner. General Cornwallis and his troops were forced to withdraw into Northern New Jersey to protect key towns recently conquered by the British. Ramsay reports on the battle:
The next morning presented a scene as brilliant on the one side, as it was unexpected on the other. Soon after it became dark, General Washington ordered all his baggage to be silently removed, and having left guards for the purpose of deception, marched with his whole force, by a circuitous route to Princeton. This maneuver was determined upon in a council of war, from a conviction that it would avoid the appearance of a retreat, and at the same time the hazard of an action in a bad position, and that it was the most likely way to preserve the city of Philadelphia, from falling into the hands of the British. General Washington also presumed, that from an eagerness to efface the impressions, made by the late capture of Hessians at Trenton, the British commanders had pushed forward their principal force, and that of course the remainder in the rear at Princeton was not more than equal to his own. The event verified this conjecture. The more effectually to disguise the departure of the Americans from Trenton, fires were lighted up in front of their camp. These not only gave an appearance of going to rest, but as flame cannot be seen through, concealed from the British, what was transacting behind them. In this relative position they were a pillar of fire to the one army, and a pillar of a cloud to the other. Providence favoured this movement of the Americans. The weather had been for some time so warm and moist, that the ground was soft and the roads so deep as to be scarcely passable: but the wind suddenly changed to the northwest, and the ground in a short time was frozen so hard, that when the Americans took up their line of march, they were no more retarded, than if they had been upon a solid pavement.
General Washington reached Princeton, early in the morning, and would have completely surprised the British, had not a party, which was on their way to Trenton, descried his troops, when they were about two miles distant, and sent back couriers to alarm their unsuspecting fellow soldiers in their rear. These consisted of the 17th, the 40th, & 55th regiments of British infantry and some of the royal artillery with two field pieces, and three troops of light dragoons. The center of the Americans, consisting of the Philadelphia militia, while on their line of March, was briskly charged by a party of the British, and gave way in disorder. The moment was critical. General Washington pushed forward, and placed himself between his own men, and the British, with his horse's head fronting the latter. The Americans encouraged by his example, and exhortations, made a stand, and returned the British fire. The general, though between both parties, was providentially uninjured by either. A party of the British fled into the college and were there attacked with field pieces which were fired into it. The seat of the muses became for some time the scene of action. The party which had taken refuge in the college, after receiving a few discharges from the American field pieces came out and surrendered themselves prisoners of war. In the course of the engagement, sixty of the British were killed, and a greater number wounded, and about 300 of them were taken prisoners. The rest made their escape, some by pushing on towards Trenton, others by returning towards Brunswick. The Americans lost only a few, but colonels Haslet and Potter, and Captain Neal of the artillery, were among the slain. General Mercer received three bayonet wounds of which he died in a short time. He was a Scotchman by birth, but from principle and affection had engaged to support the liberties of his adopted country, with a zeal equal to that of any of its native sons. In private life he was amiable, and his character as an officer stood high in the public esteem.
While they were fighting in Princeton, the British in Trenton were under arms, and on the point of making an assault on the evacuated camp of the Americans. With so much address had the movement to Princeton been conducted, that though from the critical situation of the two armies, every ear may be supposed to have been open, and every watchfulness to have been employed, yet General Washington moved completely off the ground, with his whole force, stores, baggage and artillery unknown to, and unsuspected by his adversaries. The British in Trenton were so entirely deceived, that when they heard the report of the artillery at Princeton, though it was in the depth of winter, they supposed it to be thunder: The Battle of Princeton was another important Continental Victory as it further raised the moral of the troops and the nation. The surprised British troops quickly evacuated Princeton on the onslaught and to Washington's delight; they re-deployed their troops from quartering Bordentown and Trenton to New Brunswick. The British also decided to evacuate their troops from Newark and Woodbridge holding under force only Amboy, along with New Brunswick, in Central New Jersey. The British retreat from the victories of Trenton and Princeton sparked a resurrection of patriotism that kept George Washington and his troops invigorated throughout the winter of 1777.
General Washington, upon St. Clair's council, made the decision to winter in Morristown because its passes and hills afforded geographical shelter to his suffering army. The negative outlook that had ceased these United States of America in the fall of 1776 had all but dissipated in the northern hills of New Jersey. Recruiting that had been painfully measured just before the Battle of Trenton was successfully rehabilitated. It soon became clear to everyone that George Washington would quickly organize and train a permanent regular force to resume the offensive in the spring.
While in Morristown, the New Jersey militia was re-charged and conducted several successful skirmishes killing forty and fifty Waldeckers at Springfield. These were the same soldiers who were, but a month before, overrun by the British without even meager opposition. George Washington remained, throughout his incredible life, steadfastly loyal to Arthur St. Clair recognizing the Pennsylvania general's deeds and council during the campaigns against Trenton and Princeton. It was a beginning of a friendship that would positively serve the United States, beyond anyone's expectations, for the next 24 years. For his service in 1776 and 1777 St. Clair was promoted to Major-General.
Arthur St. Clair's next call to action was by John Hancock who ordered him to defend Fort Ticonderoga. This upstate New York fort was built to control the strategic route between the St. Lawrence River in Canada and the Hudson River to the south. Overlooking the outlet of Lake George into Lake Champlain, it was considered a key to the continent. The fort was used in the War for Empire and largely abandoned except for British military stores that remained there at the beginning of the Revolution. In 1775, Ethan Allen and Benedict Arnold surprised the British and captured Fort Ticonderoga. The cannons and armaments were used in the siege of Boston, which drove the British out of Massachusetts. The fort was garrisoned with 12,000 troops to counter any invading force coming into America from Canada.
In 1776 with Washington's losses troops deserted and were moved to more pressing posts in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. By the spring of 1777 Fort Ticonderoga had fallen in disrepair with only a handful of troops protecting the northern passage When it became clear that the British, under General Burgoyne, were marching to retake the position, Congress hastily ordered Major General Arthur St. Clair to command and defend Fort Ticonderoga, by a letter:
Philadelphia, April 30, 1777 John Hancock to Arthur St. Clair - Courtesy of Stan Klos
To: Maj. Gen. Arthur St. Clair.
Sir: -- The Congress having received intelligence of the approach of the enemy towards Ticonderoga have thought proper to direct you to repair thither without delay. I have it therefore in charge to transmit the enclosed resolve [not present] and to direct that you immediately set out on the receipt hereof.
John Hancock, Presidt.
Major-General St. Clair arrived in early June and set about preparations for defense. Although Congress desperately wanted to retain Fort Ticonderoga, St. Clair was only spared some 2,500 men and scarce provisions to hold it. A minimum garrison of 10,000 men was required to check the British advance. Burgoyne's army consisted of 8,000 British regulars and 2,500 auxiliary troops.
In preparation, St. Clair's force was too small to cover all exposed points. In his scramble to post his men St. Clair made the decision not to fortify the steep assent to the mountain top which he deemed impassable for heavy artillery. When British arrived in the area, he was proved disastrously wrong because Burgoyne outflanked him by hauling his artillery batteries atop nearby Mount Defiance. The British were now capable of bombarding Fort Ticonderoga without fear of retaliation by the Americans.
St. Clair and his officers held a council of war, and decided to evacuate the fort. Matthias Alexis Roche de Fermoy, by orders of Congress, and against the protest of George Washington was made the commander of Fort Independence, opposite Fort Ticonderoga. Fermoy made a grave military error that almost caused St. Clair the loss of a large number of his forces. Upon the retreat of St. Clair from Ticonderoga, Fermoy set fire to his quarters on Mount Independence at two o'clock on the morning of July 6th, 1777 thus revealing to Burgoyne St. Clair's evacuation of Fort Ticonderoga. Had it not been for this, St. Clair would have made good his retreat with minimal causalities and loss of his supplies.
St. Clair fled through the woods, leaving a part of his force at Hubbardto. These troops were attacked and defeated by General Fraser on July 7th, 1777, after a well-contested battle. On July12th, St. Clair reached Fort Edward with the remnant of his men. St. Clair reported:
"I know I could have saved my reputation by sacrificing the army; but were I to do so, I should forfeit that which the world could not restore, and which it cannot take away, the approbation of my own conscience".
St. Clair's action forced General Burgoyne to divide his forces between pursuit of St. Clair and garrisoning Fort Ticonderoga. Burgoyne, after a long and arduous trek through the New York frontier, made an unsuccessful attempt to break through American Forces and Capture Saratoga. Burgoyne retreated and ordered his troops to entrench in the vicinity of the Freeman Farm. Here he decided to await support from Clinton, who was supposedly preparing to move north toward Albany from New York City. He waited for three weeks but Clinton never came. With his supply line cut and a growing Continental Army he decided to attack on October 7th ordering a recon-naissance-in-force to test the American left flank. This attack was unsuccessful and Burgoyne loss General Fraser primarily due to Benedict Arnold's direct counter-attack against the British Center.
That evening the British retreated but kept their campfires burning brightly to mask their withdrawal. Burgoyne's troops took refuge in a fortified camp on the heights of Saratoga. Clinton never arrived, the Continental Forces swelled to over 20,000. Faced with overwhelming numbers, Burgoyne surrendered on October 17, 1777 to General Horatio Gates who was hailed the "Hero of Saratoga". This was one of the great American victories of the war and made the British retention of Fort Ticonderoga untenable. This surrender shocked the European Nations and direly needed foreign aid poured into US coffers from France and the Netherlands.
Despite this positive outcome General St. Clair was accused of cowardice by the same faction (Conway Cabal) that sought the ousting of George Washington as Commander-in-Chief for "The Hero of Saratoga". George Washington supported St. Clair’s position who remained with his army throughout the court-martial process. St. Clair was with Washington at Brandywine on September 11th, 1777, acting as voluntary aide.
The Court met August 25th, 1778, and continued the examination of witnesses until September 29th with General Benjamin Lincoln as its President. The charges were: neglect of duty, cowardice, treachery, incapacity as a General, and shamefully abandoning the posts of Ticonderoga and Mount Independence.
General St. Clair testified in his own defense on September 29 which those in attendance found to be very able and complete. The court acquitted him stating:
Indeed, from the knowledge I had of the country through which General Burgoyne had to advance, the difficulties I knew he would be put to subsist his army, and the contempt he would naturally have for an enemy whose retreat I concluded he would ascribe to fear, I made no doubt he would soon be so far engaged, as that it would be difficult for him either to advance or retreat. The event justified my conjecture, but attended with consequences beyond my most sanguine expectations. A fatal blow given to the power and insolence of Great Britain, a whole army prisoners, and the reputation of the arms of America high in every civilized part of the world! But what would have been the consequences had not the steps been taken, and my army had been cut to pieces or taken prisoners? Disgrace would have been brought upon our arms and our counsels, fear and dismay would have seized upon the inhabitants, from the false opinion that had been formed of the strength of these posts, wringing grief and moping melancholy would have filled the now cheerful habitations of those whose dearest connections were in that army, and a lawless host of ruffians, set loose from every social tie, would have roamed at liberty through the defenseless country, whilst hands of savages would have earned havoc, devastation, and terror before them! Great part of the State of New York must have submitted to the conqueror, and in it he could have found the means to enable him to prosecute his success. He would have been able effectually to have co-operated with General Howe, and would probably have soon been in the same country with him; that country where our illustrious General, with an inferior force, made so glorious a stand, but who must have been obliged to retire if both armies came upon him at once, or might have been forced, perhaps, to a general and decisive action in unfavorable circumstances, where by the hopes, the now well-founded hopes of America, of liberty, of peace and safety, might have been cut off forever. Every consideration seems to prove the propriety of the retreat, that I could not undertake it sooner, and that, had it been delayed longer, it had been delayed too long.
The Court, having duly considered the charges against Major-General St. Clair, and the evidence, are unanimously of opinion that he is Not Guilty of either of the charges against him, and do unanimously acquit him of all and every of them with the highest honor. B. Lincoln, President.
Lafayette wrote to St. Clair,
I cannot tell you how much my heart was interested in anything that happened to you and how I rejoiced, not that you were acquitted, but that your conduct was examined.
John Paul Jones wrote,
I pray you be assured that no man has more respect for your character, talents, and greatness of mind than, dear General, your most humble servant.
St. Clair assignment after the ordeal was to assist General John Sullivan in preparing his expedition against the Six Nations and later was appointed a commissioner to arrange a cartel against the British at Amboy on March 9th, 1780. St Clair was then appointed to command the corps of light infantry in the absence of Lafayette, but did not serve, owing to the return of General George Clinton. He was a member of the court-martial that condemned Major Andre, commanded at West Point in October 1780, and aided in suppressing the mutiny in the Pennsylvania line in January 1781.
St. Clair remained active during the 1780's Campaigns raising troops and forwarding them to the south to Lafayette and Washington. Congress in an attempt to protect Philadelphia from another British occupation ordered St. Clair's to round up troops to defend the city from what was believed to be an imminent attack by General Clinton:
Philadelphia, September 19, 1781 Charles Thomson to Arthur St. Clair - Courtesy of Stan Klos
By the United States in Congress Assembled September 19, 1781 Ordered that Major General St. Clair cause the levies of the Pennsylvania line now in Pennsylvania to rendezvous at or near Philadelphia with all possible exposition. -- Charles Thompson -- Extract from the minutes
Specifically the Journals of the Continental Congress reported:
The report of the committee on the letter from Major General St. Clair was taken into consideration; Whereupon, The Committee to whom were referred the letter of the 28th. of August last from Major General St Clair, beg leave to report-- That they have conferred with the Financier on the subject of the advance of money requested by General St Clair for officers and privates of the Pennsylvania line, and that he informs your Committee that it is not in his power to make the said advances--
That your Committee know of no means which enables Congress at present to make the advance requested by General St Clair: and they are therefore of opinion that his application ought to be transmitted to his Excellency the President and the Supreme Executive of the State of Pennsylvania with an earnest request that they will take the most effectual measures in their power to enable General St Clair to expedite the march of the troops mentioned in his letter.
Ordered, That the application of Major General St. Clair be transmitted to his Excellency the president and the supreme executive council of the State of Pennsylvania and they be earnestly requested to take the most effectual measures in their power to enable General St. Clair to expedite the march of the troops mentioned in his letter.
Washington continued he maneuvers surrounding Cornwallis at Yorktown. When Congress realized that the British were not going to attack Philadelphia; orders were hastily given to St. Clair to move his forces south to Yorktown. St. Clair joined Washington at Yorktown only four days before the surrender of Lord Cornwallis.
In November he was placed in command of a body of troops to join General Nathanael Greene, and remained in the south until October 1782. St. Clair writes of this period:
When the army marched to the southward, I was left in Pennsylvania to organize and forward the troops of that State and bring up the recruits that had been raised there. The command of the American Army was kept open for, the General intending to take it upon himself. Formally, the command of the allied army, which hitherto he ha had only done actually. After sending off the greatest part of that line under General Anthony Wayne, and on the point of following them, Congress became alarmed that some attempt on Philadelphia would be made from New York, in order to diver General Washington from his purpose against Lord Cornwallis, and they ordered me to remain with the few troops I had left, to which it was purposed to add a large body of militia, and to form a camp on the Delaware: of this I immediately apprised Washington, who had written to me, very pressingly, to hasten on the reinforcements of that State; informing me of the need he had of them, and, as he was pleased to say, of my services also. He wrote again on the receipt of my letter, in a manner still more pressing, and I laid that letter before Congress, who, after considerable delay and much hesitation, revoked their order, and I was allowed to join the Army at Yorktown, but did not reach it until the business was nearly over, the capitulation been signed in five or six days after my arrival.
From thence I was sent with six regiments and ten pieces of artilleray, to the aid of general Greene in South Carolina, with orders to sweep, in my way, all those British Posts in North Carolina; but they did not give me trouble, for, on my taking direction towards Willmington, they abandoned that place and every other post they had in that country, and left me at liberty to pursue the march by the best and most direct route; and on the 27th of December, I joined General Greene, near Jacksonburgh.
The war was effectively over after this assignment and Arthur St. Clair was furloughed and returned home in 1782. His Ligonier estate, including the mill which he had opened for communal use, was in ruins. Titles to his lands were not carefully managed and squatters occupied key tracts. St. Clair noted in a letter that he lost £20,000 on one piece of real estate alone. His biographer William Henry Smith summed up his homecoming plight: as:
The comfortable fortune, and the valuable offices, which were all his in 1775, and eight years of the prime of life were all gone ---- all given freely, and without regret, for freedom and a republic.
St. Clair, though still a major-general, was elected to the Pennsylvania Council of Censors. He was an active member and drafted the report of the Censors, who were charged with correcting defects in the Pennsylvania Constitution. St. Clair's authored the recommendations calling for a new Pennsylvania State constitutional Convention. The measure, however, was defeated as less than 2/3rds of the People supported the Resolution. In that same year he was elected Vendue-master of Philadelphia (auctioneer) which was thought to be a very lucrative position in City government. The victory in the war left the State with a lot of property to be sold of which St. Clair received a portion of the revenue. St. Clair later, as the 9th President of the USCA, declared that he lost money in that office fronting expenses that were never reimbursed by the financially distressed city.
In the summer of 1783, while General St. Clair was still discharging his duties as Vendue-master of Philadelphia, a crisis gripped the confederation government that would doom it from ever assembling at Independence Hall again. President Boudinot and the United States in Congress Assembled on a hot summer day were faced with a mutiny of soldiers in Philadelphia surrounding their session at Independence Hall. USCA requested that the Pennsylvania Supreme Council, also in session at Independence Hall, call out the Pennsylvania militia but they declined seeking to settle the mutiny peacefully. The mutineers demands were made in very dictatorial terms, that,
unless their demand were complied with in twenty minutes, they would let in upon them the injured soldiery, the consequences of which they were to abide.
Word was immediately sent, by President Boudinot, to General St. Clair and his presence requested. General St. Clair rushed to the scene and confronted the mutineers. St. Clair then reported to President Boudinot, Congress and the State legislators of Pennsylvania his assessment and the demands of the mutineers. Congress then directed him
... to endeavor to march the mutineers to their barracks, and to announce to them that Congress would enter into no deliberation with them; that they must return to Lancaster, and that there, and only there, they would be paid.
After this, Congress appointed a committee to confer with the executive of Pennsylvania, and adjourned awaiting St. Clair’s signal that it was safe to evacuate the building. The Journals of the United States in Congress report on Saturday, June 21, 1783:
The mutinous soldiers presented themselves, drawn up in the street before the statehouse, where Congress had assembled. The executive council of the state, sitting under the same roof, was called on for the proper interposition. President DICKINSON came in, and explained the difficulty, under actual circumstances, of bringing out the militia of the place for the suppression of the mutiny. He thought that, without some outrages on persons or property, the militia could not be relied on. General St. Clair, then in Philadelphia, was sent for, and desired to use his interposition, in order to prevail on the troops to return to the barracks. His report gave no encouragement.
In this posture of things, it was proposed by Mr. IZARD, that Congress should adjourn. It was proposed by Mr. HAMILTON, that General St. Clair, in concert with the executive council of the state, should take order for terminating the mutiny. Mr. REED moved, that the general should endeavor to withdraw the troops by assuring them of the disposition of Congress to do them justice. It was finally agreed, that Congress should remain till the usual hour of adjournment, but without taking any step in relation to the alleged grievances of the soldiers, or any other business whatever. In the meantime, the soldiers remained in their position, without offering any violence, individuals only, occasionally, uttering offensive words, and wantonly pointing their muskets to the windows of the hall of Congress. No danger from premeditated violence was apprehended, but it was observed that spirituous drink, from the tip-pling-houses adjoining, began to be liberally served out to the soldiers, and might lead to hasty excesses. None were committed, however, and, about three o'clock, the usual hour, Congress adjourned; the soldiers, though in some instances offering a mock obstruction, permitting the members to pass through their ranks. They soon afterwards retired themselves to the barracks.
Thanks to Arthur St. Clair's ability to reason with the mutineers, President Boudinot, the Delegates and the Pennsylvania legislators passed through the files of the armed soldiers without being physically molested. President Boudinot on June 23rd wrote his brother requesting his aid to protect Congress in what would be the new Capitol of the United States.
My dear Brother Philada. 23 June 1783 -- I have only a moment to inform you, that there has been a most dangerous insurrection and mutiny among a few Soldiers in the Barracks here. About 3 or 400 surrounded Congress and the Supreme Executive Council, and kept us Prisoners in a manner near three hours, tho' they offered no insult personally. To my great mortification, not a Citizen came to our assistance. The President and Council have not firmness enough to call out the Militia, and allege as the reason that they would not obey them. In short the political Maneuvers here, previous to that important election of next October, entirely unhinges Government. This handful of Mutineers continue still with Arms in their hands and are privately supported, and it is well if we are not all Prisoners in a short time. Congress will not meet here, but has authorized me to change their place of residence. I mean to adjourn to Princeton if the Inhabitants of Jersey will protect us. I have wrote to the Governor particularly. I wish you could get your Troop of Horse to offer them aid and be ready, if necessary, to meet us at Princeton on Saturday or Sunday next, if required.
A committee, with Alexander Hamilton as chairman, waited on the State Executive Council to insure the Government of the United States protection in Philadelphia so Congress could convene the following day. Elias Boudinot, however, received no pledge of protection by the Pennsylvania militia and ordered an adjournment of the USCA on June 24th to Princeton, New Jersey. This was the last time the Confederation Congress would convene in Pennsylvania.
The President issued and released this Proclamation to the Philadelphia newspapers explaining the USCA’s move to Princeton:
A Proclamation. Whereas a body of armed soldiers in the service of the United States, and quartered in the barracks of this city, having mutinously renounced their obedience to their officers, did, on Saturday this instant, proceed under the direction of their sergeants, in a hostile and threatening manner to the place in which Congress were assembled, and did surround the same with guards: and whereas Congress, inconsequence thereof, did on the same day resolve, " That the president and supreme executive council of this state should be informed, that the authority of the United States having been, that day, grossly insulted by the disorderly and menacing appearance of a body of armed soldiers, about the place within which Congress were assembled; and that the peace of this city being endangered by the mutinous disposition of the said troops then in the barracks, it was, in the opinion of Congress, necessary, that effectual measures should be immediately taken for supporting the public authority: and also, whereas Congress did at the same time appoint a committee to confer with the said president and supreme executive council on the practicability of carrying the said resolution into due effect; and also whereas the said committee have reported to me, that they have not received satisfactory assurances for expecting adequate and prompt exertions of this state for supporting the dignity of the federal government ; and also whereas the said soldiers still continue in a state off open mutiny and revolt, so that the dignity and authority of the United States would be constantly exposed to a repetition of insult, while Congress shall continue to fit in this city; I do therefore, by and with the advice of the said Committee, and according to the powers and authorities in me vested for this purpose, hereby summon the Honorable the Delegates composing the Congress of the United States, and every of them, to meet in Congress on Thursday the 26th of June instant, at Princetown, in the state of New Jersey, in order that further and more effectual measures may be taken for suppressing the present revolt, and maintaining the dignity and authority of the United States; of which all officers of the United States, civil and military, and all others whom it may concern, are desired to take notice and govern themselves accordingly.
President Boudinot chose Princeton for the seat of government because he was a former resident, a Trustee of the College of New Jersey, and his wife was from a prominent Princeton Stockton family. Additionally, Princeton was located approximately midway between New York and Philadelphia and the College of New Jersey had a building large enough in which the USCA could assemble.
Assembled in Princeton, the USCA turned to a resolution that was proposed by Alexander Hamilton ordering General Howe to march fifteen hundred troops to Philadelphia to disarm the mutineers and bring them to trial. The matter was sent to a committee. General Washington had already taken action and dispatched the troops in response to President Boudinot’s letter of the 21st requesting is aid. General Howe had already arrived just outside of Princeton that evening writing Commander-in-Chief Washington on the 1st “I arrived yesterday with the Troops within four Miles of this Place where they will halt until twelve to Night.” The following day, the USCA resolved:
That Major General Howe be directed to march such part of the force under his command as he shall judge necessary to the State of Pennsylvania; and that the commanding officer in the said State he be instructed to apprehend and confine all such persons, belonging to the army, as there is reason to believe instigated the late mutiny; to disarm the remainder; to take, in conjunction with the civil authority, the proper measures to discover and secure all such persons as may have been instrumental therein; and in general to make full examination into all parts of the transaction, and when they have taken the proper steps to report to Congress.
With the resolution in hand, Howe set out for Philadelphia. He spent the night of July 2nd encamped in Trenton and started crossing the Delaware River into Pennsylvania the following morning. Near Trenton Howe met with General St. Clair coming to Princeton and he updated the general on the situation. General St. Clair pressed on to Princeton and met with the President that evening. Boudinot wrote General Washington:
General S'. Clair is now here, and this moment suggests an Idea which he had desired me to mention to your Excellency, as a Matter of Importance in his View of the Matter in the intended Inquiry at Philadelphia.— That the Judge Advocate should be directed to attend the Inquiry — By this Means the Business would be conducted with most Regularity — The Inquiry might be more critical, and as several of the Officers are in Arrest, perhaps a Person not officially engaged, may Consider himself in an invidious Situation — It is late at Night, and no possibility of obtaining the Sense of Congress, and therefore your Excellency will consider this as the mere Suggestion of an individual & use your own Pleasure.
George Washington, after receipt of the letter, ordered Judge Advocate Edwards to repair at once to Philadelphia.
The USCA resolution directing General Howe to move with the troops against the mutineers affronted General St. Clair and he regarded it as an attempt to supersede his command and undermine his negotiations. General St. Clair took it upon himself to write Congress a scathing letter, which was answered by Elias Boudinot:
I duly recd your favor of yesterday but conceiving that you had mistaken the Resolution of Congress, I showed it to Mr. Fitzsimmons and we have agreed not to present it to Congress, till we hear again from you. Congress were so careful to interfere one way or the other in the military etiquette, that we recommitted the Resolution to have everything struck out that should look towards any determination as to the Command, and it was left so that the Commanding officer be him who it might, was to carry the Resolution into Execution; and it can bear no other Construction. If on the second reading you choose your Letter should be read in Congress, it shall be done without delay … Elias Boudinot, President P. S., You may depend on Congress having been perfectly satisfied with your conduct.
Boudinot undoubtedly trusted St. Clair’s judgment and spared him the embarrassment of making his letter known to Congress. William Henry Smith, the complier of Arthur St. Clair’s Papers concludes his chapter on this incident stating:
Before this force could reach Philadelphia, St. Clair and the Executive Council had succeeded in quieting the disturbance without bloodshed. The principal leaders were arrested, obedience secured, after which Congress granted a pardon. The resolution directing General Howe to move with the troops, gave offense to General St. Clair, who regarded it as an attempt to supersede him in his command. Thereupon, he addressed a sharp letter to the President of Congress, who very considerately refrained from laying it before that body. Explanations followed, showing that St. Clair had misconstrued the order, and peace prevailed once more.
It was not until two years later that Arthur St. Clair would enter onto the stage of national politics. In November of 1785 he was elected a Pennsylvania delegate to the USCA and joined the ranks of the same body he freed from the military mutiny two years earlier. His tenure as a delegate to the USCA was plagued with quorum failures. By January 1, 1787, the USCA had gone almost two months without forming a quorum and replacing President Gorham who had returned to Massachusetts in early November 1786.
So paralyzed was the federal government that on January 12th, when Massachusetts General William Shepard wrote to Knox pleading with him to endorse the decision to arm 900 local militia using guns and ammunition commandeered from the U.S. Arsenal he was marching on to protect at Springfield, Knox replied that he lacked authority to give that permission. That authority, Knox wrote, rested with the United States Congress, which was not currently in session. General Shepard decided to go ahead without Knox’s permission lest the Arsenal "fall into into Enemies from too punctilious observance of Forms." Shepard reached the armory before Shays and commandeered the weapons stored there.
1787, the most eventful legislative year in United States history, began with only eight states assembling to form the USCA in New York City. The delegates, after much debate, turned to Major-General Arthur St. Clair, who freed the Third USCA from mutineers in Philadelphia in 1783. Aside from Revolutionary War military experience, St. Clair also had close personal ties to former Commander-in-Chief George Washington. These were qualities the Seventh USCA Delegates deemed essential to lead the nation in this time of civilian crisis. The five states that had no representation, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina, were notified the other eight States elected Arthur St. Clair President by Charles Thomson on February 2, 1787.
Little did these states realize that February 2, 1787 would usher in a Presidency, USCA and Philadelphia Convention that would transform rebellion and their crumbling Perpetual Union into a prosperous nation committed to citizen liberty and free enterprise. Today Arthur St. Clair’s Election Day is celebrated heatedly in Western Pennsylvania. Since 1841, St. Clair’s fellow Western Pennsylvanians revel this momentous date by anxiously awaiting Punxsutawney Phil’s emergence from a “burrow” to see or not to see his shadow. Few, if any, realize the importance of Ground Hog Day in U.S. Founding history.
After St. Clair’s election, the USCA ordered a report on 1787 fiscal estimates, adopted the report of committee on delegate qualifications, and poured over the mountain of accumulated treasury and war office reports. On February 14th nine states were represented for the first time in three months permitting the enactment of laws and resolutions binding all thirteen states. The USCA spent almost the entire day debating, reorganizing and drafting:
An Ordinance for regulating the Post Office of the United States of America. Whereas the communication of intelligence with regularity and dispatch, from one part to another of these United States, is essentially requisite to the safety as well as the commercial interest thereof; and the United States in Congress assembled, being by the articles of confederation, vested with the sole and exclusive right and power of establishing and regulating Post Offices throughout all the United States; and whereas it is become necessary to revise the several regulations heretofore made, relating to the Post Office, and reduce them to one act.
The following day Congress authorized the postmaster general to contract for mail delivery and then turned to debating the Annapolis Convention’s recommendations for revising the Constitution of 1777. On February 21, 1787 St. Clair’s USCA considered their committee’s report on the Annapolis Convention. James Madison wrote:
The Report of the Convention at Annapolis in September 1786 had been long under consideration of a Committee of the Congress for the last year; and was referred over to a Grand Committee of the present year. The latter Committee after considerable difficulty and discussion, agreed on a report by a majority of one only, which was made a few days ago to Congress and set down as the order for this day. The Report coincided with the opinion held at Annapolis that the Confederation needed amendments and that the proposed Convention was the most eligible means of affecting them. The objections which seemed to prevail against the recommendation of the Convention by Congress were with some. That it tended to weaken the federal authority by lending its sanction to an extra-constitutional mode of proceeding with others 2. that the interposition of Congress would be considered by the jealous as betraying an ambitious wish to get power into their hands by any plan whatever that might present itself … All agreed & owned that the federal Govt. in its existing shape was inefficient & could not last long. The members from the Southern & middle States seemed generally anxious for some republican organization of the System which wd. preserve the Union and give due energy to the Government.
The USCA formally tweaked and then approved the New York Delegation’s resolution calling for a Philadelphia Convention at Independence Hall to revise the Articles of Confederation beginning in the 2nd week of May 1787.
Resolved that in the opinion of Congress it is expedient that on the second Monday in May next a Convention of delegates who shall have been appointed by the several States be held at Philadelphia for the sole and express purpose of revising the Articles of Confederation and reporting to Congress and the several legislatures such alterations and provisions therein as shall when agreed to in Congress and confirmed by the States render the federal Constitution adequate to the exigencies of Government and the preservation of the Union. 
Just after the passage of the Philadelphia Convention resolution, Congress received this communication for the State of Massachusetts:
The delegates of Massachusetts in Obedience to the Instructions of the legislature of that Commonwealth and to the end that their constituents may claim and possess all the benefits and advantages to which by the articles of Confederation and perpetual Union they are or may be entitled, represent to the United States in Congress assembled the information contained in the three subjoined papers; 1 Being the speech of the Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to the general court thereof; 2. The reply of the general court to the speech of the Governor; 3. The declaration of a rebellion within that commonwealth and the said delegates in conformity with the instructions of their constituents farther represent to the United States in Congress assembled that the legislature of Massachusetts are firmly persuaded that by far the greater part of the citizens of that commonwealth are well affected to the government thereof and that there is the highest probability by the blessing of Almighty God that the present rebellion will be speedily suppressed. The said legislature confiding that had it been necessary the firmest support and most effectual aid would have been afforded by the United States to that Commonwealth for putting an end to the insurrections and rebellion which have happened within the same, such support and aid being expressly and solemnly stipulated by the Articles of Confederation and perpetual Union.
The report, fully published in the March 9th, 1787 USCA Journals went on to inform the President that the insurrection was crushed, Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court sentenced fourteen of the rebellion's leaders, including Shays, to death for treason. Only two men, John Bly and Charles Rose of Berkshire County, were hung for their part in the Rebellion as the others, including Shays’ case were held under review.
What occurred a month earlier was that General Shepard's militia, numbering 1200 men, reached the Springfield Arsenal before Shay’s forces on January 25th. The Rebellion’s forces were split on either side of the river due to miscommunication between Daniel Shays and Luke Day who wrote the leader he was unable to reach the Arsenal until January 26th. The message was never received and 1,400 men, led by Captain Daniel Shays, advanced on the Arsenal a day early.
It was bitterly cold and the Arsenal barracks, as well as the arms, embolden Shays’ men to challenge Shepard’s militia. General Lincoln’s 4,000 man Army, marching from Boston, had not arrived as Shays had predicted. It was therefore up to General Shepard’s forces, armed with the federal arsenal’s muskets, ammunition, and two canons, to prevent Shays' column from taking the take the Arsenal.
The general’s first move was to send out an officer requesting Shays’ men disband but they continued to march towards the arsenal believing their fellow citizens would not fire on their neighbors. Shepard ordered the canons to fire warning shots above the heads of the advancing column but again they failed to disperse. The order was given to fire directly into the approaching army "at waistband height." Several rounds of cannonballs and grapeshot were ablazed into the center of the rebellion, killing three men and wounding two dozen. Crying "Murder," with no musket fire from either side, Shays’ forces fled north. Luke Day, whose forces were still across the River disbanded and headed north. This action ended Shays Rebellion.
In New York, with the rebellion crushed, the USCA turned their attention back to the west and the opportunities for raising revenue though land sales of the new Territory. Congress understood that the Ohio River was navigable to the Mississippi opening up trade routes to New Orleans and the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico. A Spanish treaty for free and uninhibited access to the Mississippi Delta meant new business development for the Northwest Territory who lands bordered the Ohio and the mighty Mississippi rivers. This marked increase in land acquisition applications and eventually, the USCA’s land would greatly increase in value.
The Spanish Treaty was followed up with yet another foreign accomplishment by Secretary John Jay’s establishment of a consul at Lisbon, Portugal:
Jay's report had been prompted by a February 20 letter from the American agent at Madiera, John Marsden Pintard. Pintard, who had been on leave in New York and was on the point of returning to Madiera, had recommended that Congress extend his "Agency" to include the port of Lisbon, adding that he would serve there, as he had in Madeira, without "any pecuniary Compensation or salary." Although expressing a preference for having "a Resident or Minister with consular Powers" at Lisbon, Jay essentially endorsed Pintard's recommendation, and Congress resolved March 13 "That a commercial Agent to reside at the Port of Lisbon be appointed. 
No appointment was made because Congress' had yet to settle the claims of the former United States agent at Lisbon during the war. Arnold Henry Dohrman, who had fronted over $25,000 on behalf of captive Americans brought into Portuguese ports during the War, had yet to be reimbursed four years later. The USCA Journals report that the day set for the election of the new Lisbon Minister, “March 19, was also the date the board of treasury submitted its report on Dohrman's claims, but its recommendations were not adopted until October 1.”
Arthur St. Clair like his predecessors was constantly plagued with juggling precarious personal finances in a debt ridden economy, with the duties of a Presidential office that provided no salary. By mid-March, St. Clair’s personal debt obligations were weighing heavily on his shoulders. He took the time to write John Nicholson of Philadelphia concerning money owed to him by Pennsylvania so he could settle some private debts that were quite deficient. This letter also indicates that the USCA was considering relocation to Philadelphia. President St. Clair writes from New York:
Tomorrow is the day which was fixed by you as the longest day to which any delay in the payment of our Arrears could be extended. I am not informed what payments or whether any have been since made. It is most unfortunate for me that I am at present confined to this City, by my public Duty, because I am certain I could if it had been possible to have got back to Philadelphia have obtained Money to answer the Demand in some way or other in the present Situation all I have been able to do has been to insist on the other two Gentlemen’s paying up their respective Balances which will amount to a considerable part of the Sum; my own I have no other way of providing for, but by a Sale of Certificates, which I will send on for the purpose by tomorrows Post or the next day at farthest unless Council should be pleased to allow me to place them as a deposit in your hands for farther assurance and grant some farther time for the collection of our Debts, which I have requested. … I have only to request that you will not issue process until my certificate gets to hand; that can be turned into Money in a few Hours, tho' to my very great Injury but the loss of Money is a trifle in my Eyes, compared to the loss of Reputation. There is a probability that Congress will remove to Philadelphia, but should that not happen, I suppose my presence may be dispensed with for a short time, but I can take no steps about it until I hear from Philadelphia which I expected by last post, and anxiously look for by the next.
April’s business in the USCA centered around 1787 fiscal estimates, more Spanish negotiations on the Mississippi, another land sales plan for the Northwest Territory, the establishment of copper coinage, and the discharge of the troops who had enlisted to put down Shays' Rebellion. On April 13, 1787 the USCA and the President found it necessary to send a circular letter to all the States reminding them that they must comply with the Treaty of Paris. This is yet another testament, signed by the President of the United States, that the Articles of Confederation were a constitution:
Let it be remembered that the thirteen Sovereign States have by express delegation of power formed & vested in us a General, though limited Sovereignty, for the General & National purposes Specified in the Confederation. In this Sovereignty they cannot severally participate except by their Delegates nor with it have concurrent jurisdiction, for the 9th Article of Confederation most expressly conveys to us the Sole and exclusive right & power of determining war & peace and of entering into Treaties and alliances, &c. When therefore a Treaty is constitutionally made, Ratified and Published by us, it immediately becomes binding on the whole Nation and Superadded to the Laws of the Land without the intervention of State Legislatures. Treaties derive their obligation from being Compacts between the Sovereignty of this, and the Sovereignty of another Nation.
Only on the 16th and 17th did Congress fail to achieve a quorum. On the 21st the following resolution was enacted for the copper coinage:
That the board of treasury be and they are hereby authorized to contract for three hundred tons of copper Coin of the federal standard agreeably to the proposition of Mr. James Jarvis; provided that the premium, to be allowed to the United States on the amount of copper Coin contracted for, be not less than fifteen per cent; that it be coined at the expense of the contractor, but under the inspection of an Officer appointed and paid by the United States.
US Fugio 1787 cent - Mind Your Own Business
US Fugio 1787 cent - Mind Your Own Business
That the Obligations to be given, for the payment of the copper coin to be delivered under such contract, be redeemable within twenty years after the date thereof, that they bear an interest not exceeding six per cent per annum and that the principal and interest accruing thereon be payable within the United States. That the whole of the aforesaid loan shall be sacredly appropriated and applied to the reduction of the domestic debt of the United States and the premium thereon towards the payment of the interest of the foreign debt.
|Fugio 1787 cent - We Are One|
This resolution was followed with land resolution assigning parcels to the Army and adopting terms for the sale of western land:
Resolved, that after the Secretary at War shall have drawn for the proportionate quantity of the lands already surveyed which were assigned to the late Army, agreeably to the Ordinance1 of the 20th May 1785, the remainder shall be advertised for Sale in one of the Newspapers at least of each of the States, for the Space of four months from the date of the Advertisement, [and] at the expiration of which time [five months from this day], the sale of the land shall commence in the place where Congress shall sit, and continue from day to day until the same shall be disposed of; provided that none of the Land shall be sold at a less price than one dollar per Acre, and that the Sale shall be made agreeably to the mode pointed out by the Ordinance aforesaid.
Resolved, that one third of the purchase money shall be immediately paid in any of the public securities of the United States to the Treasurer of the said States; and that the remaining two thirds shall be paid in like manner in three months after the date of the sale, on which payment (a Certificate thereof being previously furnished by the Treasurer to the Board of Treasury) Titles to the lands shall be given to the purchasers by the Board of Treasury, agreeably to the terms prescribed by the said Ordinance; provided, that if the second payment shall not be made in three months as aforesaid the first payment shall be forfeited, and the land shall again be exposed to Sale.
Ordered, that the Board of Treasury take the Necessary measures for carrying the aforesaid resolutions into effect, and also for exhibiting the Surveys of the Lands. 
On April 23 the USCA approved extending franking privilege to the delegates of Philadelphia Convention. On the 24th Congress was forced to order recapture of Fort Vinncennes which was a very important fortification during the Revolutionary War. George Rogers Clark had captured Vincennes in 1779 and Virginia established the county of Illinois which marked the beginning of U.S. control of the Northwest Territory. Virginia’s secession of the territory and Fort to the Federal Government prompted squatters and settlers to take a bold action against the Congress. The Journals reported that “a body of men who have in a lawless and unauthorised manner taken possession of post St. Vincent’s in defiance of the proclamations and authority of the United States.”  This action forced Congress to dispatch troops to regain possession.
Good news followed this action with the notification that the Massachusetts-New York land dispute was finally settled. On April 25th and 26th Congress received and debated North Carolina’s formal protest against their Native American treaties. From April 27th to May 1 the Congress failed to achieve a quorum.
The USCA was able to gather itself together again from May 2nd to the 11th debating proposals concerning interstate commercial conventions, the Northwest Ordinance, the location of federal capital and once again Mississippi River negotiations with Spain. From May 12th-31st the USCA failed to achieve quorum due to the loss of delegates from certain States to attend the Philadelphia Convention at Independence Hall. On May 18th even the President found it to be a waste of his time to appear each day in the USCA only to adjourn the session due to a failed quorum call. St. Clair explains this in a letter to Secretary Thomson this letter just before he departed for Philadelphia:
Having some pressing Business, in a distant part of Pennsylvania, that cannot well be done without my being personally present, I avail myself of the Situation of Congress at this time to attend to it. It will probably be five or six Weeks before I can return, but I am the easier on that account as there seems little probability that Congress will be fuller within either of these periods. Should however a sufficient number of States for the dispatch of Business present themselves earlier, be so obliging as to make them acquainted with the necessity there was for my Absence, and my request that they will please to appoint a Chairman until I can get back, an Event that I will hasten as much as possible. The Adjournment from Day to Day until seven States appear you, of course, will attend to, and I find by the Journals that the presence of the President, merely for the purpose of adjourning has not been thought necessary but has often been done by the Secretary.
Despite the Presidential directive, Secretary Charles Thomson also left for Philadelphia and did not return to New York until June 24th. William Grayson was elected chairman of Congress to perform presidential duties until St. Clair’s return on July 17th. Who was discharging the duties of Secretary Thomson in late May is still a question of scholarly concern.
After three years of hotly contested debates the time was right for the approval of an Ordinance for governing the Northwest Territory. The treasury was utterly empty, the United States had defaulted on its loan payments to France opting to pay Holland or risk impressments of its ships, and USCA was in the right frame of mind to consider plans for bringing the government lands into market because the Ohio Company was willing to purchase millions of acres for private development. Additionally, earlier in the month Delegate James Monroe’s committee on the western government proposed the replacement of Jefferson’s 1784 eleven states’ plan with a system that would result in no less than three or more than five states.
Earlier that year, the Ohio Company replaced Parsons with the Reverend Manasseh Cutler aligned himself with William Duer, secretary of the U.S. Treasury Board. Pressures on the U.S. Treasury were dire and Duer and his associates formed a steadfast group of New York speculators determined for the settlement of the Northwest Territory. It was the economic strain added to the influence of Duer and Massachusetts Delegate Nathan Dane that persuaded President Arthur St. Clair and key delegates to permit Dr. Cutler to work directly with the committee assigned the task of drafting the Northwest Ordinance.
The Committee consisted of only Virginia Delegate Edward Carrington and Massachusetts Delegate Nathan Dane because committee members James Madison and Rufus King were in Philadelphia at the Philadelphia Convention. In the afternoon, the USCA appointed three new members, former President Richard Henry Lee, John Kean, and Melancton Smith to replace the three absent delegates. The new delegates outnumbered the old delegates who had been working on the measure for over a year. Additionally, Carrington was elected as the Chairman and they with Ohio Company Agent Cutler took up James Monroe’s plan. This committee did not merely revise the ordinances of 1784 and 1785; they began to draft an entirely new plan for the territory northwest of the Ohio government.
The committee, animated by the presence of Lee, went to its work in good earnest. Dane, who had been actively employed on the colonial government for more than a year, and for about ten months, had served on the committee which had the subject in charge, acted the part of scribe. Like Smith and Lee, he had opposed a federal convention for the reform of the constitution. The three agreed very well together, though Dane secretly harbored the wish of finding in the West an ally for " eastern politics." They were pressed for time, and found it necessary finally to adopt the best system they could get. At first they took up the plan reported by Monroe; but new ideas were started; and they worked with so much industry that on the eleventh of July their report of an ordinance for the government of the territory of the United States north-west of the river Ohio was read for its first time in congress.
Cutler added an educational provision which was revised by the committee and became part of Article III. Other revisions were made after input from the President. Dr. Cutler, satisfied with the changes, did not remain in New York for the vote in Congress and left for Philadelphia that evening.
The ordinance required seven votes to pass and the States were divided four South and five North. The reading by Chairman Nathan Dane on the 11th did not include the provision abolishing slavery. The Chairman who has been credited, along with Cutler, with the primary drafting of the ordinance thought it best to leave the anti-slavery language out. He and other anti-slavery delegates believed this would enable the southern delegations to focus more clearly on the favorable attributes of the ordinance. On July 12th, the ordinance was read again by Dane but this time the anti-slavery provision was added.
In a strange twist of events on July 12th, as the all-important Northwest Ordinance bill was being debated on the floor, President St. Clair decided to take a three-day leave of Congress along with what surely would have been a yes vote from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Eight states remained, evenly divided and neither the President nor the Ohio Company was present to effectuate the required seven state passage of the ordinance. On July 13th to Dane’s surprise, the ordinance passed unanimously.
It has been charged that both Arthur St. Clair and Dr. Cutler left New York to cover-up their back room dealings of the President’s appointment to the governorship. St. Clair’s biographer writes:
On the 13th of July he [President Arthur St. Clair]did not preside. He had gone the day before to New Jersey to visit a friend, and he did not return until two days after the passage of the Ordinance. Only eight States out of thirteen voted for that instrument: Pennsylvania was one of the five not represented. When St. Clair returned to New York, he was accompanied by General Irvine, one of his colleagues. In a letter of the latter, written 19th July, and addressed to Colonel Richard Butler, he refers to the Ordinance which had passed two days before his return, and adds: "Who the officers of that government will be I have not heard, nor inquired."
If the name of General St. Clair had been canvassed, or, if he had had any understanding with the New England people, as is alleged, it would have been known to a friend as intimate as General Irvine. But, furthermore, we have his own testimony, which is of the best, to sustain us. In a letter to the Hon. William B. Giles, he says that the office of Governor was, in a great measure, forced upon him by his friends, who thought there would be in it means to compensate for his sacrifices to his country, and provide for his large family. But it proved otherwise. He had "neither the taste nor genius for speculation in land; nor did he consider it consistent with the office." He declared the accepting of the Governorship the most imprudent act of his life, for he was then in possession of a lucrative office, and his influence at home was very considerable. But he had the "laudable ambition of becoming the father of a country, and laying the foundation for the happiness of millions then unborn."
On the day of the ordinance’s passage, Chairman Dane, transmits a copy to Rufus King with this letter shedding more light on the negotiations on the land purchase:
We have been much engaged in business for ten or twelve days past for a part of which we have had eight States. There appears to be a disposition to do business, and the arrival of R. H. Lee is of considerable importance. I think his character serves, at least in some degree, to check the effects of the feeble habits and lax modes of thinking in some of his Countrymen. We have been employed about several objects; the principal ones of which have been the Government enclosed and the Ohio purchase.
The former you will see is completed and the latter will be probably completed tomorrow. We tried one day to patch up M; Systems of W. Government; Started new Ideas and committed the whole to Carrington, Dane, R. H. Lee, Smith, & Kean; we met several times and at last agreed on some principles at least Lee, Smith & myself. We found ourselves rather pressed, the Ohio Company appeared to purchase a large tract of the federal lands, about 6 or 7 million of acres; and we wanted to abolish the old system and get a better one for the Government of the Country; and we finally found it necessary to adopt the best system we could get.
All agreed finally to the enclosed except A. Yates; he appeared in this Case, as in most other not to understand the subject at all. I think the number of free Inhabitants 60,000, which are requisite for the admission of a new State into the Confederacy is too small, but having divided the whole territory into three States, this number appeared to me to be less important, each State in the Common Course of things must become important soon after it shall have that number of Inhabitants. The eastern State of the three will probably be the first, and more important than the rest; and, will no doubt be settled chiefly by Eastern people, and there is, I think, full an equal chance of it adopting Eastern politics. When I drew the ordinance which passed (in a few words excepted) as I originally formed it, I had no idea the States would agree to the sixth Article prohibiting Slavery; as only Massa. of the Eastern States was present; and therefore omitted it in the draft; but finding the House favorably disposed on this subject, after we had completed the other parts I moved the article; which was agreed to without opposition.
We are in a fair way to fix the terms of our Ohio sale, &c. We have been upon it three days steadily. The magnitude of the purchase makes us very cautious about the terms of it, and the security necessary to ensure the performance of them.
The negotiations with the Ohio Company and their New York Associates syndicate later known as the Scioto Company was fruitful.
The contract between the Board of Treasury of the United States (which then administered land affairs), and the Ohio Company stipulated the sale to the company of 1,500,000 acres in what is now southeast Ohio for $1,000,000. The contract acknowledged the payment of one-half the purchase price, the second $500,000 to be paid one month after the completion of a survey of the exterior lines of the tract. Within seven years the company was to provide the federal government an internal survey of the grant "Laid out and divided into Townships [six miles square] and fractional parts of Townships and also divided into Lots," according to the Land Ordinance of 1785. In addition to the company’s purchase, Congress granted lot (that is, section) sixteen in each township for schools, lot twenty-nine for purposes of religion, and two townships for a university. Sections eight, eleven, and twenty-six remained “Congress lands.” Samuel Osgood and Arthur Lee signed the contract for the Board of Treasury; Cutler and Winthrop Sargent for the Ohio Company …
Appointed superintendent of the Ohio Company, Putnam arrived at the confluence of the Muskingum and Ohio Rivers on 7 April 1788 with a company of men to found a settlement, subsequently named Marietta. While the work of surveying, clearing, and building went on, the company's directors attempted to raise the remaining $500,000 owed to the government. In October 1789 Richard Platt, a New York merchant and the company’s treasurer, reported that shareholders were almost $300,000 in arrears for their subscriptions of company stock, but had all of them paid up, the company still would have been short of the money that was owed. In addition, trouble with the Indians on the company's land meant the hiring of guards, the building of fortifications, and the curtailing of settlements. In 1790 Congress accepted a plan proposed by Alexander Hamilton, Secretary of the Treasury, to fund all outstanding federal and state debts, a plan that effectively raised the depreciated currency to par value.
The passage of the Northwest Ordinance under Arthur St. Clair's Presidency was rightfully praised, in the 19th Century, by U.S. Senator Daniel Webster:
We are accustomed to praise lawgivers of antiquity ... but I doubt whether one single law of any lawgiver, ancient or modern, has produced the effects of more distinct, marked, and lasting character than the Ordinance of 1787.
In 1787, the world was now put on notice that the land north and west of the Ohio River and east of the Mississippi would be settled and utilized for the creation of "… not less than three nor more than five territories." Additionally, this plan for governing the Northwest Territory included freedom of religion, right to trial by jury, the banishment of slavery, and public education as asserted rights granted to the people in the territory. This ordinance was and still remains one of the most important laws ever enacted by the government of the United States and it begins:
An Ordinance for the government of the Territory of the United States northwest of the River Ohio. Section 1. Be it ordained by the United States in Congress assembled, That the said territory, for the purposes of temporary government, be one district, subject, however, to be divided into two districts, as future circumstances may, in the opinion of Congress, make it expedient. …
Specifically, this ordinance was an exceptional piece of legislation because Article Five permitted the people North and West of the Ohio River to settle their land, form their own territorial government, and take their place as a full-fledged state, equal to the original 13. The Northwest Ordinance's Article Five became the principle that enabled the United States rapid westward expansion, which ended with the inclusion of Alaska and Hawaii as our 49th and 50th states. This ordinance also guaranteed that inhabitants of the Territory would have the same rights and privileges that citizens of the original 13 States enjoyed.
Equally important, Article Six provided that slavery and involuntary servitude were outlawed in the Northwest Territory.
There shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude in the said territory, otherwise than in the punishment of crimes, whereof the party shall have been duly convicted: Provided always, that any person escaping into the same, from whom labor or service is lawfully claimed in any one of the original States, such fugitive may be lawfully reclaimed and conveyed to the person claiming his or her labor or service, as aforesaid. 
Article Six was the first federal law that finally gave some merit to "... all men are created equal...” written 11 years earlier in the Declaration of Independence. In 1865, when Abraham Lincoln succeeded in passing through Congress the 13th Amendment that finally abolishing United States slavery, he changed only one word in Article Six, “territory” became “states.”
Theism was also openly expressed in the legislation as Article Three of the Ordinance stated:
Religion, Morality and knowledge being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, Schools and the means of education shall be forever encouraged.
This measure essentially legislated that religion and morality were indispensable to good government but it was not carried out by the federal government because the United States confederation was financially insolvent in 1788 and faded away in 1789. A second constitution emerged from Philadelphia that laid the legal foundation that Jefferson would refer to as "thus building a wall of separation between Church & State.”
Several western state governments adopted similar legislation to Article Three and provided financial assistance to the churches up and until the early 19th Century. Today the second U.S. Constitution finds itself an opponent to both Article Three and States that support churches and/or religion with public funding.
With the Northwest Ordinance passed, the 1787 Congress turned to international matters ratifying a commercial treaty with Morocco, orders John Adams to seek a convention with Britain on violations of the treaty of peace, approves appointments of commercial agents to Morocco, orders report on formation of "a Confederacy with the powers of Europe" against the Barbary States; instructs Jefferson on consular convention with France and continues debates through August on Native American holdings in the Northwest Territory.
Five days after the passage of the Northwest Ordinance, the USCA ratified a commercial treaty with Morocco. The Moroccan sultan, Muhammad III, included the United States in a list of countries to which Morocco’s ports were open in December of 1777. Morocco became the first country whose head of state publicly recognized the new United States and the relations were formalized with the Moroccan–American Treaty of Friendship negotiated by Thomas Barclay, and signed by Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and Muhammad III in 1786. Ratified by the USCA and President St. Clair on July 18, 1787, this treaty has withstood transatlantic stresses and strains for more than 220 years, making it the lengthiest unbroken treaty relationship in United States history.
|Moroccan–American Treaty of Friendship Ratification dated July 18, 1787 by “Arthur St. Clair, our President, at the City of New York” - Image Courtesy of the Library of Congress|
Meanwhile, in 1787 Philadelphia a reasonable quorum of States did not convene to “revise” the Articles of Confederation and ultimately form the new constitution until May 25th. On that day James Madison writes:
Friday 25 of May … Mr Robert Morris informed the members assembled that by the instruction & in behalf, of the deputation of Pena. he proposed George Washington Esqr. late Commander in chief for president of the Convention. Mr. Jno. Rutlidge seconded the motion; expressing his confidence that the choice would be unanimous, and observing that the presence of Genl Washington forbade any observations on the occasion which might otherwise be proper.
General (Washington) was accordingly unanimously elected by ballot, and conducted to the chair by Mr. R. Morris and Mr. Rutlidge; from which in a very emphatic manner he thanked the Convention for the honor they had conferred on him, reminded them of the novelty of the scene of business in which he was to act, lamented his want of (better qualifications), and claimed the indulgence of the House towards the involuntary errors which his inexperience might occasion.
The convention was attended by 12 States (Rhode Island sent no delegates) and produced an innovative new Plan of the New Federal Government. Volumes have been written on the convention that produced the current constitution of the United States of America and here are some highlights.
President George Washington began the first session by adopting rules of order which included the provision of secrecy. No paper could be removed from the Convention without the majority leave of the members. The yeas and nays of the members were not recorded and it was the unwritten understanding that no disclosure of the proceedings would be made during the lives of its delegates. At the end of the convention Washington ordered that every record be burned except the Journals which were merely minutes, of which he took personal possession. “We the People” of the United States, therefore, knew very little about the Convention until the Journals were finally published in 1819. It was not until the death of President James Madison that his wife, Dolley, revealed she possessed his account of the convention. Dolley Madison sold the journals to the Library of Congress in 1843.
The delegates of the convention had no authority to scrap the Articles of Confederation and construct a new constitution in its place. Throughout the proceedings this fact was addressed in debate and federally minded delegates led by George Washington, James Madison, Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton and Charles Pinckney all stood firm on formulating an entirely new constitution. To this end, the larger states (by population) were determined to change the one state one vote system adopted under the Articles of Confederation. The smaller states sought to preserve their sovereignty and equality in casting votes. The two sides, as they did in York Pennsylvania formulating the Articles of Confederation in 1777, clashed ten years later on this same issue of States rights over federalism.
Edmund Randolph submitted the large states “Virginia Plan” that was primarily drafted by James Madison. There were other plans, most just seeking revisions to the Articles of Confederation. Surprisingly, the 29 year old delegate from South Carolina, Charles Pinckney, provided a plan of a federal structure and powers that were more tangible than any other plan. Pinckney's plan was actually a nascent form of the constitution that would be eventually be passed by the Philadelphia convention of States.
The small States clashed with the large States over representation in the newly proposed bi-cameral legislature. They went into committee to develop their plan, emerging only seeking to amend the Articles of Confederation’s one-state one-vote system. The proposed improvements consisted primarily of weak federal executive and judiciary branches in addition to the unicameral legislature. The federal government, under the small States’ “New Jersey Plan” would remain a confederation with the requirement of at least nine states voting in the positive to enforce their decrees.
There were many compromises in the Philadelphia convention but none was more crucial than how the representatives and senators would be numbered in the two newly proposed legislative houses. The large States insisted that all members be selected based on population. The small States disagreed and they lost the convention vote on this matter to the large State voting bloc, which embittered many of the members. James Madison wrote of one small State delegate:
Mr. L. MARTIN resumed his discourse, contending that the Genl. Govt. ought to be formed for the States, not for individuals: that if the States were to have votes in proportion to their numbers of people, it would be the same thing whether their representatives were chosen by the Legislatures or the people; the smaller States would be equally enslaved; that if the large States have the same interest with the smaller as was urged, there could be no danger in giving them an equal vote; they would not injure themselves, and they could not injure the large ones on that supposition without injuring themselves and if the interests, were not the same, the inequality of suffrage wd. be dangerous to the smaller States: that it will be in vain to propose any plan offensive to the rulers of the States, whose influence over the people will certainly prevent their adopting it: that the large States were weak at present in proportion to their extent: & could only be made formidable to the small ones, by the weight of their votes; that in case a dissolution of the Union should take place, the small States would have nothing to fear from their power; that if in such a case the three great States should league themselves together, the other ten could do so too: & that he had rather see partial confederacies take place, than the plan on the table.
This was the substance of the residue of his discourse which was delivered with much diffuseness & considerable vehemence.
On June 28, 1787 the small States gave an ultimatum to the convention that unless representation in both branches of the proposed legislature was on the basis of equality, one-state one-vote, they would forthwith leave the proceedings. With tempers flaring, Benjamin Franklin rose and called for a recess with the understanding that the delegates should confer with those whom they disagreed rather than with those with whom they agreed.
This recess resulted in a crucial compromise of the convention. The House of Representatives were to be elected by the people based on population thus providing more representation in the new federal government to the large states. This House, however, was to be checked by the Senate where each state, regardless of size, would have two votes. This solved the great convention crisis and the delegates would labor another two months to create, arguably, one of the most elastic forms of government in human history. The new plan for the federal government that scrapped the Articles of Confederation consisted of less than four thousand words.
The innovative Plan of the New Federal Government was passed on September 17, 1787 and rushed to New York by stagecoach. The new constitution was presented to Congress along with a letter from the convention’s President, George Washington to President Arthur St. Clair:
SIR, -- WE have now the honor to submit to the consideration of the United States in Congress assembled, that Constitution which has appeared to us the most advisable.
The friends of our country have long seen and desired, that the power of making war, peace and treaties, that of levying money and regulating commerce, and the correspondent executive and judicial authorities should be fully and effectually vested in the general government of the Union: but the impropriety of delegating such extensive trust to one body of men is evident—Hence results the necessity of a different organization.
It is obviously impracticable in the federal government of these States, to secure all rights of independent sovereignty to each, and yet provide for the interest and safety of all—Individuals entering into society, must give up a share of liberty to preserve the rest. The magnitude of the sacrifice must depend as well on situation and circumstance, as on the object to be obtained. It is at all times difficult to draw with precision the line between those rights which must be surrendered, and those which may be reserved; and on the present occasion this difficulty was encreased by a difference among the several States as to their situation, extent, habits, and particular interests.
In all our deliberations on this subject we kept steadily in our view, that which appears to us the greatest interest of every true American, the consolidation of our Union, in which is involved our prosperity, felicity, safety, perhaps our national existence. This important consideration, seriously and deeply impressed on our minds, led each State in the Convention to be less rigid on points of inferior magnitude, than might have been otherwise expected; and thus the Constitution, which we now present, is the result of a spirit of amity, and of that mutual deference and concession which the peculiarity of our political situation rendered indispensible.
That it will meet the full and entire approbation of every State is not perhaps to be expected; but each will doubtless consider, that had her interests been alone consulted, the consequences might have been particularly disagreeable or injurious to others; that it is liable to as few exceptions as could reasonably have been expected, we hope and believe; that it may promote the lasting welfare of that country so dear to us all, and secure her freedom and happiness, is our most ardent wish.
With great respect, we have the honor to be, SIR, Your EXCELLENCY'S most obedient and humble Servants,
George Washington, President.
By unanimous Order of the CONVENTION.
By unanimous Order of the CONVENTION.
The President of Congress 
The President of Congress 
Plan of The New Federal Government, Printed by Robert Smith, September 1787 Original Manuscript from the Stan Klos Collection.
The Convention delegates called for the Plan of The New Federal Government to be sent to the states for their consideration with only 2/3rds of their legislatures being required to discard the Articles of Confederation for the new constitution. The convention overstepped its authority granted by the seventh USCA on February 21, 1787 by first discarding the Articles instead of revising the constitution and second, completely dismissing the modification requirements set forth in Article XIII of the federal constitution that stated:
Every State shall abide by the determination of the United States in Congress assembled, on all questions which by this confederation are submitted to them. And the Articles of this Confederation shall be inviolably observed by every State, and the Union shall be perpetual; nor shall any alteration at any time hereafter be made in any of them; unless such alteration be agreed to in a Congress of the United States, and be afterwards confirmed by the legislatures of every State.
The proposed obliteration of the Articles of Confederation by convention was to be accomplished without the unanimous approval by the States. It was a constitutional crisis that, to this day, has not been equaled in the United States save the southern succession of the 1860s.
Throughout the month of September USCA failed to achieve a quorum until the 20th when the Constitution of 1787 arrived in New York from the Philadelphia Convention. While the Constitution was being examined by the delegates, the USCA convened and reelected treasury commissioners Arthur Lee, Walter Livingston, and Samuel Osgood on the 21st while cutting civil employee jobs. On September 24th Congress accepted John Adams' retirement request from Foreign Service and reviewed a report on the Netherlands. Finally, on September 26th and 27th President Arthur St. Clair called for the debate to begin on the proposed Constitution of 1787 and the Philadelphia Convention’s recommendation to send it on to the thirteen States for ratification without any alterations.
Only sketches of the great debate that ensued exist due to the veil of secrecy that surrounded Congress. We do know from the notes by New York delegate Melancton Smith, which became publicly available in 1959, that a majority of the delegates believed they had the right to alter the Constitution of 1787 before it was sent on to the States. James Madison, Rufus King, and Nathaniel Gorham, all Philadelphia Conventioneers, argued to the contrary. Unlike the Articles of Confederation, the unanimous 13 state ratification of the second constitution was not required. Richard Henry Lee who sought full 13 State ratification would lead the opposition to amend the Constitution of 1787 with this condition and a Bill of Rights. Smith writes in his notes:
RH LEE -- The convention had not proceeded as this house were bound; it is to be agreed to by the States & means the 13; but this recommends a new Confederation of nine; the Convention has no more powers than Congress, yet if nine States agree becomes supreme Law. Knows no instance on the Journals as he remembers, opposing the Confederation the impost was to be adopted by 13.
This is to be adopted & no other with alteration Why so? good things in it; but many bad; so much so that he says here as he will say everywhere that if adopted civil Liberty will be in eminent danger.
After both Rufus King and James Madison made their arguments to send the Constitution of 1787 on to the States without any changes or amendments Smith records Lee’s response as:
Strangest doctrine he ever heard, that referring a matter of report, that no alterations should be made. The Idea the common sense of Man. The States & Congress he thinks had the Idea that congress was to amend if they thought proper. He wishes to give it a candid enquiry, and proposes such alterations as are necessary; if the General wishes it should go forth with the amendment.; let it go with all its imperfections on its head & the amendments by themselves; to insist that it should go as it is without amendments, is like presenting a hungry man 50 dishes and insisting he should eat all or none.
Smith records James Madison’s response as:
The proper question is whether any amendments shall be made and that the house should decide; suppose altercations sent to the State, the Acts require the Delegates to the Constitutional Convention to report to them; there will be two plans; some will accept one & some another this will create confusion and proves it was not the intent of the States.
In addition to the discussions on whether or not the United States, in Congress Assembled should alter or amend the Constitution the case, “If not altered how it should be submitted to the States?” was debated. It was reported of Delegate Clark by Smith:
Don’t like any proposal yet made; he can’t approve it; but thinks it will answer no purpose to alter it; will not oppose it in any place; prefers a resolution to postpone to take up one, barely to forward a copy to the States, to be laid before the Legislatures to be referred to conventions.
It was reported of Delegate Grayson:
This is in a curious situation, it is urged all alterations are precluded, has not made up his mind; and thinks it precipitous to urge a decision in two days on a subject took 4 Months. If we have no right to amend, then we ought to give a silent passage; for if we cannot alter, why should we deliberate. His opinion they should stand solely upon the opinion of Convention.
James Madison and Rufus King’s arguments won out in the end. The final resolution of Arthur St. Clair’s Congress passed the Constitution unaltered onto the States and read:
Congress having received the report of the Convention lately assembled in Philadelphia: Resolved Unanimously that the said Report with the resolutions and letter accompanying the same be transmitted to the several legislatures in Order to be submitted to a convention of Delegates chosen in each state by the people thereof in conformity to the resolves of the Convention made and provided in that case.
On September 30, 1787 James Madison wrote George Washington, the President of the Philadelphia Convention, about the September debate on the Constitution of 1787 in the United States, in Congress Assembled:
It was first urged that as the new Constitution was more than an alteration of the Articles of Confederation under which Congress acted, and even subverted these articles altogether, there was a Constitutional impropriety in their taking any positive agency in the work. The answer given was that the Resolution of Congress in February had recommended the Convention as the best mean of obtaining a firm national Government; that as the powers of the Convention were defined by their Commissions in nearly the same terms with the powers of Congress given by the Confederation on the subject of alterations, Congress were not more restrained from acceding to the new plan, than the Convention were from proposing it. If the plan was within the powers of the Convention it was within those of Congress; if beyond those powers, the same necessity which justified the Convention would justify Congress; and a failure of Congress to Concur in what was done, would imply either that the Convention had done wrong in exceeding their powers, or that the Government proposed was in itself liable to insuperable objections; that such an inference would be the more natural, as Congress had never scrupled to recommend measures foreign to their Constitutional functions, whenever the Public good seemed to require it; and had in several instances, particularly in the establishment of the new Western Governments, exercised assumed powers of a very high & delicate nature, under motives infinitely less urgent than the present state of our affairs, if any faith were due to the representations made by Congress themselves, echoed by 12 States in the Union, and confirmed by the general voice of the People. An attempt was made in the next place by Richard Henry Lee to amend the Act of the Convention before it should go forth from Congress. He proposed a bill of Rights; provision for juries in civil cases & several other things corresponding with the ideas of Col. M---;---;. He was supported by Mr. M---;---; Smith of this State. It was contended that Congress had an undoubted right to insert amendments, and that it was their duty to make use of it in a case where the essential guards of liberty had been omitted.
On the other side the right of Congress was not denied, but the inexpediency of exerting it was urged on the following grounds. 1. That every circumstance indicated that the introduction of Congress as a party to the reform was intended by the States merely as a matter of form and respect 2. That it was evident from the contradictory objections which had been expressed by the different members who had animadverted on the plan that a discussion of its merits would consume much time, without producing agreement even among its adversaries. 3. that it was clearly the intention of the States that the plan to be proposed should be the act of the Convention with the assent of Congress, which could not be the case, if alterations were made, the Convention being no longer in existence to adopt them. 4. that as the Act of the Convention, when altered would instantly become the mere act of Congress, and must be proposed by them as such, and of course be addressed to the Legislatures, not conventions of the States, and require the ratification of thirteen instead of nine States, and as the unaltered act would go forth to the States directly from the Convention under the auspices of that Body; Some States might ratify one & some the other of the plans, and confusion & disappointment be the least evils that could ensue.
These difficulties which at one time threatened a serious division in Congress and popular alterations with the yeas & nays on the journals, were at length fortunately terminated by the following Resolution; "Congress having recd. the Report of the Convention lately assembled in Philada., Resold. unanimously that the said Report, with the Resolutions & letter accompanying the same, be transmitted to the several Legislatures, in order to be submitted to a Convention of Delegates chosen in each State by the people thereof, in conformity to the Resolves of the Convention made & provided in that case."
Fellow Virginian, Richard Henry Lee, wrote to another prominent Virginian, Patrick Henry on his view of the USCA proceedings:
I have waited until now to answer your favor of September 18th from Philadelphia, that I might inform you how the Convention plan of Government was entertained by Congress. Your prediction of what would happen in Congress was exactly verified. It was with us, as with you, this or nothing; & this urged with a most extreme intemperance. The greatness of the powers given, & the multitude of Places to be created, produces a coalition of Monarchy men, Military Men, Aristocrats, and Drones whose noise, imprudence & zeal exceeds all belief; Whilst the Commercial plunder of the South stimulates the rapacious Trader.
In this state of things, the Patriot voice is raised in vain for such changes and securities as Reason and Experience prove to be necessary against the encroachments of power upon the indispensable rights of human nature. Upon due consideration of the Constitution under which we now Act, some of us were clearly of opinion that the 13th article of the Confederation precluded us from giving an opinion concerning a plan subversive of the present system and eventually forming a New Confederacy of Nine instead of 13 States. The contrary doctrine was asserted with great violence in expectation of the strong majority with which they might send it forward under terms of much approbation.
Having procured an opinion that Congress was qualified to consider, to amend, to approve or disapprove; the next game was to determine that tho a right to amend existed, it would be highly inexpedient to exercise that right; but surely to transmit it with respectful marks of approbation. In this state of things I availed myself of the Right to amend, & moved the Amendments copy of which I send herewith & called the ayes & nays to fix them on the journal.
This greatly alarmed the Majority & vexed them extremely; for the plan is, to push the business on with great dispatch, & with as little opposition as possible: that it may be adopted before it has stood the test of Reflection & due examination. They found it most eligible at last to transmit it merely, without approving or disapproving; provided nothing but the transmission should appear on the Journal. This compromise was settled and they took the opportunity of inserting the word Unanimously, which applied only to simple transmission, hoping to have it mistaken for an Unanimous approbation of the thing.
It states that Congress having Received the Constitution unanimously transmit it &c. It is certain that no Approbation was given. This constitution has a great many excellent Regulations in it, and if it could be reasonably amended would be a fine System. As it is, I think 'tis past doubt, that if it should be established, either a tyranny will result from it, or it will be prevented by a Civil war.
I am clearly of opinion with you that it should be sent back with amendments Reasonable and Assent to it withheld until such amendments are admitted. You are well acquainted with Mr. Stone & others of influence in Maryland. I think it will be a great point to get Maryland & Virginia to join in the plan of Amendments & return it with them. If you are in correspondence with our Chancellor Pendelton, it will be of much use to furnish him with the objections, and if he approves our plan, his opinion will have great weight with our Convention, and I am told that his relation Judge Pendleton of South Carolina has decided weight in the State, & that he is sensible & independent. How important will it be then to procure his union with our plan, which might probably be the case, if our Chancellor was to write largely & pressingly to him on the subject; that if possible it may be amended there also. It is certainly the most rash and violent proceeding in the world to cram thus suddenly into Men a business of such infinite Moment to the happiness of Millions.
On October 5th Richard Henry Lee also wrote a lengthy letter to his dear friend Samuel Adams concluding:
But I think the new Constitution (properly amended) as it contains many good regulations, may be admitted; And why may not such indispensable amendments be proposed by the Conventions and referred With the new plan to Congress, that a new general Convention may so weave them into the proffer'd system as that a Web may be produced fit for free men to weave? If such amendments were proposed by a capital state or two, & a willingness expressed to agree with the plan so amended; I cannot see why it may not be effected. It is a mere begging the question to suppose, as some do, that only this Moment and this Measure will do. But why so, there being no war external or internal to prevent due deliberation on this most momentous business. The public papers will inform you what violence has been practiced by the Agitators of this new System in Philadelphia to drive on its immediate adoption as if the subject of Government were a business or passion, instead of cool, sober, and intense consideration.
The USCA, in less than one year, enacted the Northwest Ordinance, produced legislation that called for the Philadelphia Convention, provided the second U.S. Constitution be submitted unchanged to all the 13 States for ratification, and sold 1.5 million acres in the Northwest Territory. All of this presided over by a President whose office and name are forgotten by the 300 million Americans who enjoy daily, the fruits of his USCA labors.
Arthur St. Clair Military Commission as President of the United States of America,
in Congress Assembled – Courtesy of Stan Klos
On October 5, 1787 the USCA turned west and elected a territorial Governor and Secretary:
Congress proceeded to the election of a governor for the western territory pursuant to the Ordinance of the 13th of July last and the ballots being taken the honorable Arthur St Clair was elected. Congress proceeded to the election of a secretary pursuant to the said Ordinance and the ballots being taken Mr. Winthrop Sargent was elected.
On October 21st, the USCA approved the sale of over one million acres to the Ohio Company. Governor St. Clair was now responsible for governing, settling and subdividing the territory of what are now Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota whose lands, at that time, comprised more than one half the geographic area of the United States of America. No one was more positive about the Northwest Territory’s vast lands’ ability to retire the U.S. Debt than former Land Ordinance of 1785 President, Richard Henry Lee who wrote to George Washington:
We have the pleasure to see the first Act of Congress for selling federal lands N.W of Ohio becoming productive very fast. A large sum of public securities being already paid in upon the first sales: and a new Contract is ordered to be made with a company in N. Jersey for the lands between the two Miamis that will rid us of at least 2 millions more of the public debt. There is good reason to suppose that by the next spring we shall have reduced the domestic debt near six millions of dollars. And it seems clear that the lands yet to be disposed of, if well managed, will sink the whole 30 Millions that are due.
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USCA Journals report this chronology of the St. Clair's Congress:
1787 - February 2 Achieves quorum; elects Arthur St. Clair president, Samuel Provost and John Rodgers chaplains. February 3 Reads correspondence received since early November February 5 Orders report on 1787 fiscal estimates. February 6-9 Fails to achieve a quorum. February 12 Adopts report of committee on qualifications; reads accumulated treasury and war office reports. February 14 Nine states represented for first time; reads draft Post Office ordinance. February 15 Authorizes postmaster general to contract for mail delivery. February 19 Elects Lambert Cadwalader chairman in absence of President St. Clair. February 21 Receives report on Annapolis Convention; endorses Philadelphia convention called to "render the federal Constitution adequate to the exigencies of Government and the preservation of the Union." February 22-23 Fails to achieve a quorum February 26 Receives Virginia call for an interstate commercial convention.
March 5-7 Fails to achieve quorum March 8 Reaffirms specie requirement for quota payments. March 9 Receives Massachusetts report on Shays' Rebellion; adopts report on western posts. March 13 Receives report on military stores; authorizes appointment of unsalaried commercial agent at Lisbon. March 23 Adopts reduction of the Continental civil list. March 28 Debates motions on the loan or sale of Continental property. March 30 Receives report of seizure of American property at Natchez.
April 2 Receives 1787 fiscal estimates. April 4 Orders John Jay to report on Spanish negotiations: receives report on the military establishment. April 5 Receives report on land sales plan. April 9 Orders discharge of troops enlisted against Shays' Rebellion except two artillery companies; receives treasury report on copper coinage. April 10 Debates location of federal capital. April 13 Adopts letter to the states recommending repeal of all state acts repugnant to the treaty of peace; receives John Jay reports on Spanish negotiations. April 16-17 Fails to achieve quorum (three and six states attending). April 18 Receives draft ordinance on settlement of state accounts; debates sending commissioner to Spain to negotiate Mississippi question. April 20 Receives John Jay report on sending commissioner to Spain; receives committee report on copper coinage. April 21 Adopts copper coinage plan; adopts western land sales plan. April 23 Extends franking privilege to Philadelphia Convention delegates. April 24 Orders recapture of Fort Vinncennes; receives notification of the settlement of the Massachusetts-New York land dispute April 25 Receives North Carolina protest against federal Native American treaties; receives report on western land ordinance. April 27 Fails to achieve quorum.
May 1 Fails to achieve quorum May 2 Authorizes sale of surplus Continental arms. May 3 Receives British Consul Phinease Bond; receives report on the military establishment. May 7 Appoints commissioners for settling departmental accounts; adopts ordinance for settlement of state accounts. May 8 Debates proposal concerning interstate commercial conventions. May 9 Debates Northwest Ordinance. May 10 Debates Northwest Ordinance; debates location of federal capital. May 11 Debates Mississippi negotiations with Spain. May 12-31 Fails to achieve quorum.
June 1-29 Fails to achieves quorum July 2-3 Fails to achieve quorum. July 4 Achieves quorum; elects William Grayson chairman in absence of President St. Clair; receives report on Spanish negotiations. July 5 Fails to achieve quorum. July 10 Receives report on sale of western lands to land companies. July 11 Reads Northwest Ordinance; receives report on issuance of indents for Continental quotas; receives report on Native American hostilities. July 13 Adopts Northwest Ordinance. July 14 Orders report on 1787 requisition. July 18 Ratifies commercial treaty with Morrocco; receives report on southern Native American land claims. July 19-21 Debates measures for Native American pacification July 20 Instructs John Adams on a convention with Britain on violations of the treaty of peace. July 23 Approves appointments of commercial agents to Morocco. July 25 Debates measures for pacification of western Native Americans. July 26 Debates measures for pacification of southern Indians; authorizes postal contracts; receives report on foreign loans. July 27 Orders report on formation of "a Confederacy with the powers of Europe" against the Barbary States; instructs Jefferson on consular convention with France.
August 3 Debates southern Native American affairs. August 6-8 Fails to achieve quorum. August 9 Accepts South Carolina land cession; receives report on northern Ne American affairs. August 10-31 Fails to achieve quorum.
September 3-19 Fails to achieve quorum September 20 Receives report of the Philadelphia Constitutional Convention. September 21 Reelects treasury commissioners Arthur Lee, Walter Livingston, and Samuel Osgood; reduces civil list. September 24 Accepts John Adams' retirement (post February 24, 1788); receives report on Netherlands protest. September 26-27 Debates Constitution submitted by Philadelphia Convention.. September 28 Resolves to submit Constitution to the states. September 29 Receives report on prize money received by John Paul Jones; receives report on 1787 requisition.
October 2 Receives report on foreign debt. October 3 Sets civil list and military establishment for Northwest Territory. October 5 Elects Arthur St. Clair governor of the Northwest Territory, Winthrop Sargent, secretary; resolves that a treaty be held with the western Native Americans; receives report on U.W. embassy at London. October 8 Terminates federal proceedings in Massachusetts-New York land dispute. October 11 Ratifies John Adams' contract for Dutch loan; authorizes indents for loan office interest in payment of Continental quotas; directs payment of prize monies received by John Paul Jones. October 12 Authorizes ransom of American captives at Algiers; reelects Thomas Jefferson minister to France; receives Postmaster General report. October 13 Orders arrest of Lt. John Sullivan for jeopardizing American-Spanish relations; debates Virginia infringement of U.S. treaty obligations. October 15 Authorizes postal contracts. October 16 Elects John Armstrong, Jr., Samuel Holden Parsons, and James Mitchell Varnum judges of the Northwest Territory, commends John Paul Jones. October 17 Authorizes sale of the Carlisle barracks. October 18-19 Fails to achieve quorum. October 20 Appeals for North Carolina and Georgia land cessions; reduces postal rates. October 21 Authorizes sale of one million acres to the Ohio Company. October 22 Sets aside military bounty lands; authorizes treaty with the western Native Americans. October 26 Adopts instructions for holding Native American negotiations. October 29-31 Fails to achieve quorum
November 1-2 Fails to achieve quorum. November 5 New Congress assembles; five delegates attend, two states represented. November 6-30 Fails to achieve quorum.
Arthur St. Clair would serve his country as governor for 13 years amidst controversy and the disgrace of losing more men in a battle against Native Americans than George Custer lost at Little Big Horn. By 1801, St. Clair would be the last federalist to wield any real power at the turn of the 19th Century. In his arrogance, he would challenge Republican President Thomas Jefferson on Ohio Statehood. It was Delegate Jefferson, whose committee in 1784 wrote the original ordinance for the vast territory proposing a mechanism for new States. President Jefferson would disregard Governor St. Clair's protest letters and heartedly back fellow Virginian Thomas Worthington who championed Ohio Statehood. In a sad end to St. Clair’s service, President Jefferson dismissed the Governor with this letter written by his from Secretary of State, James Madison:
The President observing, in an address lately delivered by you to the convention held at Chillicothe, an intemperance and indecorum of language toward the Legislature of the United States, and a disorganizing spirit and tendency of very evil example, and grossly violating the rules of conduct enjoined by your public station, determine that your commission of Governor of the Northwestern Territory shall cease on the receipt of this notification.
On February 19, 1803, the Republican United States Congress approved Ohio's constitution and admitted Ohio as the 17th state. Thomas Worthington was hailed as the hero of the Ohio Constitutional Convention and usurped forever the moniker: "The Father of Ohio's Statehood" its founder. Arthur St. Clair returned to his farm in Western Pennsylvania and resided there for 15 years with his wife Phoebe as a private citizen.
St. Clair’s biographer wrote that in August, 1818:
… the venerable patriot, in his eighty- fourth year, undertook to go to Youngstown, three miles distant, for flour and other necessaries. He bade good-bye to his Louisa and started off with his pony and wagon, in good spirits. The authorities had changed the Stage road so that it passed along the Loyalhauna Creek, several miles north of the St. Clair residence, and the route to Youngstown was rough and dangerous. Pony and wagon moved safely along until within a mile of the village, when a wheel falling into a rut, the wagon was upset, and the aged General thrown with great force upon the rocky road. In the course of the day he was discovered lying where he had fallen, insensible, and the pony standing quietly at a short distance, awaiting the command of his old master — faithful to the last. He was carried tenderly back to the house, but neither medical skill nor the tender care of loved ones could restore him, and, on the thirty-first, Death came with his blessed message of peace forevermore.
On a neat sand-stone monument, erected by the Masonic Society, in the cemetery of Greensburg, is this inscription: The Earthly Remains Of Major-General Arthur St. Clair Are Deposited Beneath This Humble Monument, Which Is Erected To Supply The Place Of A Nobler One Due From His Country.
No President or United States legislator before or since Arthur St. Clair has ever presided over more important acts than the combination of "An Ordinance for the government of the Territory of the United States northwest of the River Ohio" and the 1787 Constitution of the United States of America. He is buried in the Old St. Clair Cemetery in Greensburg, Pennsylvania with a 1913 monument stating: The earthly remains of Arthur St. Clair are deposited beneath this humble monument which is erected to supply the place of a nobler one due from his country.”
Arthur St. Clair, Autograph Letter Signed dated March 4th, 1813 two sided thanking several women for sending him money in his poverty while reminding his benefactors that he "... made the people happy and laid a foundation for the continuance of the happinefs to millions yet unknown..." In part he states:
"... My Heart Is not yet so cold as to be insensible to female Praife (Praise) --- it conveyed a Balm to my wounded spirit. Wounded not by the loss of fortune and the need of pecuniary aid, but by confine obloquy and contumely whom I thought (and now since I have their approbation I say it boldly), I thought that I had least merited thanks, for to say nothing of my military services which they have so kindly eulogized. I had, in a great meafsive (massive) therefore at my own expense, raised up for the United States in fifteen years a colony from thirty men to upwards of sixty thousand -- amalgamation the most heterogeneous mafs -- Mafs of population --- carried Laws, Religion, Mounts and Manner to the extreme limits of New Territory --- made the people happy and laid a foundation for the continuance of the happinefs to millions yet unknown and in which every faculty of mind and Body has been overwhelmingly employed. ... "
Several months later the legislature of
Pennsylvania finally granted St. Clair an annuity of $8400, and shortly before his death he received from congress $2,000 in discharge of his claims, and a pension of $60 a month.
The Second United American Republic
Continental Congress of the United States Presidents
July 2, 1776 to February 28, 1781
The Fourth United American Republic
Presidents of the United States of America
The First United American Republic
Continental Congress of the United Colonies Presidents
Sept. 5, 1774 to July 1, 1776
Continental Congress of the United States Presidents
July 2, 1776 to February 28, 1781
Commander-in-Chief United Colonies & States of America
George Washington: June 15, 1775 - December 23, 1783
The Third United American Republic
Presidents of the United States in Congress Assembled
March 1, 1781 to March 3, 1789
March 1, 1781 to March 3, 1789
March 1, 1781
July 6, 1781
July 10, 1781
July 10, 1781
November 4, 1781
November 5, 1781
November 3, 1782
November 4, 1782
November 2, 1783
November 3, 1783
June 3, 1784
November 30, 1784
November 22, 1785
November 23, 1785
June 5, 1786
June 6, 1786
February 1, 1787
February 2, 1787
January 21, 1788
January 22, 1788
January 21, 1789
The Fourth United American Republic
Presidents of the United States of America
 St. Clair Arthur and Smith Henry, The St. Clair Papers: The Life and Public Services of Arthur St. Clair, Robert Clark and Company 1881, Page 4
 Peter Force, American Archives Series 4, Volume 1, Page 0255, Answer of Governor Penn, to the Earl of Dunmore. Review of the respective claims of Pennsylvania and Virginia, in regard to the disputed Boundary. Claims Pittsburgh to be within the Charter limits of Pennsylvania -- justifies the conduct of Mr. St. Clair, in imprisoning Connolly. [1774-03-31] Pennsylvania Council. [S4-V1-p0255]
 John Frost, Pictorial history of America from the earliest times to the close, J.B. Smith, 1853, page 45
 David Ramsay, The History of the American Revolution - Volume 1, James J. Wilson, Trenton, N.J., 1811, Page 398
 Ibid, Volume II, page 137.
 Ibid, page 140
 Americana, American historical magazine, Volume 12, National American Society, New York, 1918, page 349
 William Henry Smith, The St. Clair papers: the life and public services of Arthur St. Clair 1882, Page 457
 Americana, American historical magazine, Volume 12, National American Society, New York, 1918, page
 Journals of the Continental Congress, September 19, 1781
 William Henry Smith, The St. Clair papers: the life and public services of Arthur St. Clair 1882, Page 112
 Ibid, page 114
 Journals of the United States in Congress Assembled Saturday, June 21, 1783
 Smith, Paul H., et al., eds. Letters of Delegates to Congress, 1774-1789. Elias Boudinot to Elisha Boudinot June 23, 1783, 25 volumes, Washington, D.C.: Library of Congress, 1976-2000)
 Journals of USCA, July 1, 1783
 Letters of the Delegates, Boudinot to Washington July 3, 1783
 Letters of Washington, General Orders, July 7, 1783
 Boudinot, Elias, Original Manuscript, Klos Western Collection, July 9, 1783
 The St. Clair papers, Volume I, page 115
 William Shepard to Henry Knox, Autograph Letter Signed, January 12, 1787, Historic Deerfield Library, Deerfield, MA
 Groundhog Day is celebrated on February 2 and according to folklore, if it is cloudy when a groundhog emerges from its burrow then spring will come early. If it is sunny, the groundhog will see its shadow and retreat back into its burrow, and the winter weather will continue for six more weeks.
 Journals of the USCA, February 14, 1787
 Letters of the Delegates, James Madison's Notes of Debates, February 21, 1787.
 Ibid, February 21, 1787
 Letters of Delegates to Congress, President Arthur St. Clair’s Speech on the floor of the USCA, March 13, 1787.
 Journals of the USCA, March 19, 1787.
 Letters of Delegates to Congress, Arthur St Clair to John Nicholson, March 19, 1787
 St. Clair, Arthur, The New Annual Register or General Repository of History Politics and Literature for the Year 1787, G.G.J. & J. Robinson, London, 1788 April 13th, 1787, Circular Letter to the 13 States.
 Journals of the USCA, April 21, 1787.
 Journals of the USCA, April 21, 1787
 Acting under the authority of the French colony of Louisiana, François-Marie Bissot, Sieur de Vincennes constructed a fort to secure the lower Wabash Valley for France in 1732.
 Journals of the USCA, April 24, 1787
 Letters of Delegates to Congress, Arthur St Clair to Charles Thomson, May 18, 1787.
 William Grayson (1740 – March 12, 1790) was a soldier, lawyer, and statesman from Virginia. He was a member of the USCA 1785-1786. He was delegate to the Virginia Convention for the adoption of the second US Constitution, which he opposed. He was one of the first two U.S. Senators from Virginia, and belonged to the Anti-Federalist faction.
 Ibid, March 28, 1787
 William Duer (March 18, 1743– May 7, 1799) was a British-born lawyer, developer, Continental Congress Delegate 1777 - 1778, signer of the Articles of Confederation and NYC land speculator. He wrote in support of ratifying the second United States Constitution as "Philo-Publius."
 Nathan Dane (December 29, 1752 – February 15, 1835) was an American lawyer & Massachusetts USCA Delegate from 1785 through 1788. He played a major role in formulating the Northwest Ordinance and introduced its amendment to prohibit slavery.
 Manasseh Cutler (May 13, 1742 – July 28, 1823) was an American clergyman, a member of the Ohio Company, member of the United States House of Representatives and a founder of Ohio University. Cutler took a leading part in drafting the Ordinance of 1787 for the government of the Northwest Territory, which was finally presented to the USCA by Massachusetts delegate Nathan Dane.
 Edward Carrington (February 11, 1748 – October 28, 1810) was a Revolutionary War Lieutenant Colonel, Nathanael Greene’s Southern campaign Quartermaster, artillery commander at the Battle of Hobkirk's Hill and the siege of Yorktown. He was also a USCA Virginia Delegate 1786 to 1788, first U.S. Marshal for Virginia, mayor of Richmond, and Aaron Burr treason trial jury foreman.
 John Kean (1756 – May 4, 1795) was an American merchant and a USCA South Carolina delegate 1785 - 1787.
 Melancton Smith (May 7, 1744 – July 29, 1798) was a Merchant, Revolutionary War major in a NY militia, Founder of the New York Manumission Society, and USCA New York Delegate 1775-1787. He was the most important Anti-federalist member of the State ratification convention at Poughkeepsie in 1788 because he broke ranks against Governor Clinton forces resulting the NY's ratification.
 Bancroft, George, History of the United States of America: from the discovery of the Continent to 1789, Volume 6 Appleton, 1896, page 287-289
 Ibid, July 13, 1787
 St. Clair Arthur and Smith Henry, The St. Clair Papers: The Life and Public Services of Arthur St. Clair, Robert Clark and Company 1881, page 128
 Letters of Delegates to Congress, Nathan Dane to Rufus King, July 13, 1787.
 Neu, Irene D., Background of the Ohio Company of Associates, Manuscripts and Documents of the Ohio Company of Associates, Special Collection, Marietta College Library.
 Librarian of Congress, The Works of Charles Sumner, Lee and Shepard: 1877 Entered according to Act of Congress, In the year 1877, page 416
 Journals of the United States in Congress Assembled, July 13, 1787,An Ordinance for the government of the Territory of the United States northwest of the River Ohio
 Jefferson, Thomas (1802-01-01). "Jefferson's Letter to the Danbury Baptists". U.S. Library of Congress.
 Journals of the United States in Congress Assembled, July – August 1787.
 The New Jersey Plan was the developed by the small States and named after N.J. Delegate William Paterson who presented it on the convention floor.
 Farrand, Max, The records of the Federal convention of 1787, Volume 1 By United States. Constitutional Convention, Yale University Press, 1911 page 444
 Washington, George, Plan of the New Federal Government, Printed by Robert Smith, Philadelphia: 1787, Original Document, Stan Klos Collection.
 JCC, 1774-1789, ed. Worthington C. Ford et al , November 15, 1777, the Articles of Confederation
 Smith, Paul H., et al., eds. Letters of Delegates to Congress, 1774-1789. 25 volumes, Washington, D.C.: Library of Congress, 1976-2000). Melancton Smith's Notes of Debates
 Journals of the USCA, September 28, 1787
 Ibid, James Madison to George Washington, September 30, 1787.
 Letters of Delegates, Richard Henry Lee to George Mason, October 1, 1787
 Letters of Delegates, Richard Henry Lee to Samuel Adams, October 5, 1787
 Journals of the USCA, October 5, 1787
 Letters of Delegates, Richard Henry Lee to George Washington, October 11, 1787
 St. Clair Arthur and Smith Henry, The St. Clair Papers: The Life and Public Services of Arthur St. Clair, Robert Clark and Company 1881, page 244-247.
 Ibid, page 254