69
69
Gerry, Elbridge, Signer of the Declaration of Independence from Massachusetts
Estimate
5,0007,000
LOT SOLD. 3,125 USD
JUMP TO LOT
69
Gerry, Elbridge, Signer of the Declaration of Independence from Massachusetts
Estimate
5,0007,000
LOT SOLD. 3,125 USD
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

The JAMES S. COPLEY LIBRARY: MAGNIFICENT AMERICAN HISTORICAL DOCUMENTS: FIRST SELECTION

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New York

Gerry, Elbridge, Signer of the Declaration of Independence from Massachusetts
Autograph letter (retained copy) signed ("E Gerry"), 2 pages (9 1/2 x 7 1/8 in.; 240 x 180 mm), Philadelphia, 22 February 1780, to the President of Congress [Samuel Huntington]; formerly folded, small residue of cello tape in upper corner. Green half-morocco drop-box, black morocco gilt-stamped title label on spine.
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Literature

P.H. Smith, ed., Letters of Delegates to Congress, 1774-1789, vol. 14 (1987), p. 436; see J.T. Austin, Life of Elbridge Gerry (1828), pp. 322-323

Catalogue Note

Gerry announces his intention to boycott the Continental Congress until his motion is considered.

In February 1780, the Continental Congress considered an estimate of supplies to be furnished for the war in the current year and the prices at which these supplies should be credited to the states, resulting in a levy upon each state. The final amounts were based, not on prior contributions or the inequalities thereof, but on the opinions of the members, who simply wished to pass the burden on to others. The Massachusetts delegation felt overburdened and opposed the assessment but their motion was ruled out of order by the full house. Gerry moved for presentation of a vote tally on this ruling, but was refused.

Gerry then writes to the President of Congress: "I am informed by some of my Collegues[sic], that Congress have not considered ye letter which I had ye honor of addressing them ... containing a Remonstrance against their decision of ye preceding day ... the reason assigned for this is that some of ye Gentlemen objected to my Mode of proceeding as unparliamentary and said 'that a member who supposes his privileges infringed should remonstrate in his place and may there be heard.'"

Gerry denies that the Congress should be governed by the rules of parliament and "... cannot consent to take my place for these amongst other reasons, that I have not ye privilege in Congress of other members, & that every member, by ye Rules of the House may require my Voice upon any question agitated and put whilst I am in Congress, in answering which I shall betray my cause. When disputes respecting privilege are not between Congress and a Member, ye latter may complain in his plea without these Inconveniences."

He views the motion for a vote tally as a privilege as essential "... Congress viewed it in this light, or I presume they would not have ingrafted it into ye Confederation..." He notes that several days have passed since he has attended and that denying his motion is denying the state of Massachusetts its representation.

The JAMES S. COPLEY LIBRARY: MAGNIFICENT AMERICAN HISTORICAL DOCUMENTS: FIRST SELECTION

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New York