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title:“Manasseh Cutler: Journal”
authors:Manasseh Cutler
date written:1787-7-13

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last updated:Jan. 22, 2013, 8:19 a.m. UTC
retrieved:April 27, 2017, 5:04 a.m. UTC

Cutler, Manasseh. "Manasseh Cutler: Journal." The Records of the Federal Convention of 1787. Vol. 3. Ed. Max Farrand. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1911. Print.

Manasseh Cutler: Journal (July 13, 1787)

[1787], Friday, July 13. This tavern (Indian Queen) is situated in Third Street, between Market Street and Chestnut Street, and is not far from the center of the city. It is kept in an elegant style, and consists of a large pile of buildings, with many spacious halls, and numerous small apartments, appropriated for lodging rooms. . . .
Being told, while I was at tea, that a number of the Members of the Continental Convention, now convened in this city for the purpose of forming a Federal Constitution, lodged in this house, and that two of them were from Massachusetts, immediately after tea, I sent into their Hall (for they live by themselves) to Mr. Strong, and requested to speak with him. We had never been personally acquainted, nor had I any letter to him, but we had both of us an hearsay knowledge of each other, and Mr. Gerry had lately mentioned to Mr. Strong that he daily expected me, in consequence of a letter he had received from Governor Bowdoin. Mr. Strong very politely introduced me to Mr. Gorham, of Charlestown, Mass; Mr. Madison and Mr. Mason and his son, of Virginia; Governor Martin, Hon. Hugh Williamson, of North Carolina; the Hon. John Rutledge and Mr. Pinckney, of South Carolina; Mr. Hamilton, of New York, who were lodgers in the house, and to several other gentlemen who were spending the evening with them. I spent the evening with these gentlemen very agreeably.
. . . Mr. Strong was up as early as myself, and we took a walk to Mr. Gerry's in Spruce street, where we breakfasted. . . . Mr. Gerry has hired a house, and lives in a family state. . . .
From Mr. Peale's we went to the State House. This is a noble building; the architecture is in a richer and grander style than any public building I have before seen. The first story is not an open walk, as is usual in buildings of this kind. In the middle, however, is a very broad cross-aisle, and the floor above supported by two rows of pillars. From this aisle is a broad opening to a large hall, toward the west end, which opening is supported by arches and pillars. In this Hall the Courts are held, and, as you pass the aisle, you have a full view of the Court. The Supreme Court was now sitting. This bench consists of only three judges. Their robes are scarlet; the lawyers', black. The Chief Judge, Mr. McKean, was sitting with his hat on, which is the custom, but struck me as being very odd, and seemed to derogate from the dignity of a judge. The hall east of the aisle is employed for public business. The chamber over it is now occupied by the Continental Convention,1 which is now sitting, but sentries are planted without and within — to prevent any person from approaching near — who appear to be very alert in the performance of their duty. . . .
Dr. Franklin lives in Market Street, between Second and Third Streets, but his house stands up a court-yard at some distance from the street. We found him in his Garden, sitting upon a grass plat under a very large Mulberry, with several other gentlemen and two or three ladies. . . . I delivered him my letters. After he had read them, he took me again by the hand, and, with the usual compliments, introduced me to the other gentlemen of the company, who were most of them members of the Convention. Here we entered into a free conversation, and spent our time most agreeably until it was dark. . . . The Doctor showed me a curiosity he had just received, and with which he was much pleased. It was a snake with two heads, preserved in a large vial. . . . The Doctor mentioned the situation of this snake, if it was traveling among bushes, and one head should choose to go on one side of the stem of a bush and the other head should prefer the other side, and that neither of the heads would consent to come back or give way to the other. He was then going to mention a humorous matter that had that day taken place in Convention, in consequence of his comparing the snake to America, for he seemed to forget that everything in Convention was to be kept a profound secret; but the secrecy of Convention matters was suggested to him, which stopped him, and deprived me of the story he was going to tell. . . . We took our leave at ten, and I retired to my lodgings.
The gentlemen who lodged in the house were just sitting down to supper; a sumptuous table was spread, and the attendance in the style of noblemen. After supper, Mr. Strong came in and invited me into their Hall, where we sat till twelve. . . .
[Footnotes as included or written by Farrand]
  • 1 "The Convention which met to form the Constitution of the United States, met up stairs, and at the same time the street pavement along Chestnut Street was coverd with earth to silence the rattling of wheels." Watson, Annals of Philadelphia and Pennsylvania, (1855), I, 402.
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