In addition to the official Letter of
Transmittal that accompanied the freshly signed Constitution, the President
of the Convention, George Washington, wrote
his own personal letter to the President of Congress, Arthur St. Clair.
The text of this letter can be found in the The Records of the Federal
Convention of 1787 (Farrand's Records, Volume 2).
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
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
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 interest
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,
Your Excellency's most
obedient and humble servants,
George Washington, President.