With North Carolina's ratification of the Constitution, President Washington expands the United States finance system to its first new state
Significant LS as president, signed “Go: Washington,” one page, 8 x 12.5, February 20, 1790. Letter to Governor Samuel Huntington of Connecticut, in full: "I have the honor to transmit to Your Excellency an Act passed in the second Session of the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States, entitled 'an Act for giving effect to the several Acts therein mentioned, in respect to the State of North Carolina, and other purposes.'" Handsomely mounted, matted, and framed with an engraved portrait to an overall size of 25.5 x 21.25. In fine condition.
On September 17, 1787, members of the Constitutional Convention, presided over by George Washington, signed the final draft of the Constitution of the United States. The document required ratification by a minimum of nine states before being placed into effect. By the time George Washington was officially inaugurated as president of the United States on April 30, 1789, just two of the original thirteen colonies—North Carolina and Rhode Island—had not yet ratified the Constitution.
While both states feared the consolidation of power in a central government and protested the absence of a Bill of Rights, it became clear that they would be treated as foreign entities if they did not ratify—a worse fate, by all accounts. Acts passed in the first session of Congress applied only to the eleven states—among these were the important Tariff Act of 1789, and further acts regulating commerce along the coast. When North Carolina became the first new state to ratify the Constitution on November 21, 1789, it became a priority of the second session to enact legislation to enforce existing laws upon the new state.
Thus, when the second session of the first Congress opened in 1790, it passed legislation that applied the same tariff and revenue laws to North Carolina as existed in the rest of the states, divided the state into five districts, defined its ports of entry, and acknowledged that 'by virtue of the adoption of the Constitution of the United States, by the said State of North-Carolina,' certain penalties were discontinued. President Washington signed the act into law on February 8th, and subsequently had to officially notify the governors of the states. With the present letter, he transmitted the text of the act to Connecticut Governor Samuel Huntington, who had previously been president of the Continental Congress, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, and a framer of the Articles of Confederation.
Later in 1790, President Washington would cede the task of notifying governors of new legislation to Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson. As a result, there are few known examples of such Washington letters in private hands.
From The Michael Allen Collection.