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Cyrus Griffin 10th President of the United States in Congress Assembled, married nobility and supported the new US Constitution - A Stan Klos Biography

Cyrus Griffin
10th President of the United States
in Congress Assembled
January 22, 1788 to March 4, 1789

GRIFFIN, Cyrus, jurist, born in Farnham, Richmond County, Virginia in 1749; died in Yorktown, Virginia, 14 December 1810. He was educated in England studying law at the University of Edinburgh and at the Temple in London. While in England Griffin courted nobility and married a Lady Christhena, daughter of John Stuart, sixth Earl of Traquair. He returned to Virginia and as a young lawyer gave early adhesion to the patriot cause. Griffin was elected a member of the State house of delegates in 1777, 1778, 1786, and 1787. , was a member of the Virginia legislature.

Cyrus Griffin was elected a  delegate to the Continental Congress in 1778 and served until 1761.  He was elected as a delegate to the United States in Congress Assembled in  1787. On January 22, 1788 Griffin was elected President  of the United States in Congress Assembled serving until the government's demise in 1789.  The Chronology of his presidency is as follows:

January 21 Convenes seven states represented. January 22 Elects Cyrus Griffin president. January 23-31 Fails to achieve quorum 

February 1 Reviews backlog of reports and letters. February 5 Receives report on Massachusetts-New York boundary survey. February 6-9 Fails to achieve quorum. February 12 Authorizes secretary for foreign affairs to issue sea letters. February 14 Sets date for reception of new French minister, comte de Moustier. February 19 Elects John Cleves Symmes judge of the Northwest territory. February 25 Debates appointment job superintendent of Indian affairs for the southern department. February 26  Holds audience for comte de Moustier. February 28 Receives treasury report on foreign debt. February 29 Appoints Samuel Provost and John Rodgers chaplains of Congress, and Richard Winn superintendent of Indian affairs for the southern department; debates Kentucky statehood motion. 

March 4 Debates Kentucky statehood in committee of the whole. March 6 Receives reports on the claims of French settlers in the Illinois country and on the survey of western lands. March 10-11 Fails to achieve quorum. March 12 Receives report on military bounty lands. March 18 Receives communications on Indian affairs. March 19 Debates western land ordinance amendment. March 24-27 Debates western land ordinance amendment. March 31 Fails to achieve quorum.


April 1-30 Fails to achieve quorum.


May 1 Fails to achieve quorum. May 2 Receives treasury report on proposed new Dutch loan, three war office reports on Indian affairs, and ten communications from the secretary for foreign affairs. May 5 Receives reports on western land issues. May 8 Elects Jonathan Burrall and Benjamin Walker commissioners for settling the accounts of the five wartime departments. May 20 Authorizes fortnightly posts between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. May 21 Receives treasury report on coinage. May 22 Orders institution of suits to collect outstanding Continental accounts. May 26 Receives treasury report on western land contracts and war department report on settler violations of Cherokee treaty rights. May 27-29 Debates western land ordinance amendment.


May 30 Debates Kentucky statehood in committee of the whole.


June 2 Receives committee of the whole report recommending Kentucky statehood. June 3 Elects grand committee on Kentucky statehood. June 5 Fails to achieve quorum. June 6 Authorizes survey of New York; Pennsylvania boundary preparatory to granting Pennsylvania greater access to Lake Erie. June 9 Directs treasury to submit 1788--;89 fiscal estimates. June 12 Receives report on land reserve for French settlers in the Illinois country. June 13 Responds to French protest against Virginia's harboring a French pirate. June 17 Receives war office report on manpower and recruitment. June 18 Receives report opposing state inspection of the mails. June 19 Debates western land ordinance amendment. June 20 Elects Joseph Martin Continental agent to the Cherokees; authorizes negotiation of western land contract with George Morgan associates. June 24 Authorizes three-month extension of Continental claims. June 25 Abolishes office of inspector of Continental troops. June 27 Debates report on Georgia--;Creek Indian affairs.


July 2 Debates western land ordinance amendment; receives notification of the ratification of the Constitution by the ninth state (New Hampshire); appoints committee "for putting the said constitution into operation." July 3 Postpones action on Kentucky statehood until proceedings shall commence under the new Constitution. July 7-8 Debates western land ordinance amendment. July 9 Refers fiscal estimates to committee; adopts "supplement" to western land ordinance. July 14 Debates report on implementing the Constitution. July 15 Rejects terms of Georgia's western land cession, but accepts responsibility for southwestern frontier defense. July 17 Directs resumption of western land surveys; rejects proposed Virginia western land reserve for military bounties. July 21 Receives report on Continental Army manpower needs. July 25 Orders deployment of Continental troops to pacify Luzerne County, Pa. July 28 Debates report on implementing the Constitution; rejects motion to establish capital at Philadelphia. July 30 Rejects motion to establish capital at New York.


August 1 Extends term of northern superintendent of Indian affairs. August 4 Extends term of southern superintendent of Indian affairs. August 5-6 Debates motions on the location of the capital. August 7 Debates status of delegates from states that have not ratified the Constitution. August 12 Plans mobilization of frontier militia against western Indians. August 13 Debates report on implementing the Constitution. August 20 Adopts 1788 requisition. August 26 Debates report on implementing the Constitution; seeks Spanish cooperation for apprehending fugitive slaves fleeing to Florida. August 28 Revises George Morgan associates western land contract. August 29 Confirms land titles of French settlers in the Illinois country.


September 1 Condemns settler encroachments on Cherokee lands. September 2 Debates report on implementing the Constitution. September 3 Reserves Ohio lands of Christian Delaware Indians; rejects motion to establish capital at Annapolis. September 4 Debates report on implementing the Constitution; confirms land contract giving Pennsylvania large tract bordering Lake Erie. September 8 Receives John Jay report on negotiations with Spain concerning the Mississippi question. September 13 Adopts plan for implementing the Constitution. September 16 Recommends that states ban importation of felons; directs suspension of negotiations concerning the Mississippi question. September 18-24 Fails to achieve quorum. September 26-29 Fails to achieve quorum. September 30 Receives report on treasury department inquiry. October 1 Rejects Silas Deane settlement of Beaumarchais' accounts.


October 2 Receives report on war department inquiry. October 6-7 Fails to achieve quorum. October 8 Receives communications on Indian relations in the western territory. October 10 Suspends the work of the commissioners appointed to settle the states' Continental accounts; adjourns what proves to be its final session under the Articles of Confederation. October 13-16 Fails to achieve quorum. October 21


November 1 Fails to achieve quorum. November 3 Assembles for the new federal year---;only two delegates attending. November 15- 1789 March 2 Secretary Charles Thomson records occasional attendance of 17 additional delegates.


July 25, Secretary Thomson delivers papers and records of the Confederation to new federal government.

President's Griffin social status as US President in New York was second to none under the Articles of Confederation.  His office, English education, and marriage to nobility solidified his status as the pinnacle of society among his nation's legal elite.  Lady Christhena's state parties for foreign dignitaries were legendary. The Griffin's set the benchmark for Presidential entertaining that wasn't surpassed until well into the next century.

Some Authors on Griffin, who was the US President during the ratification process, maintain that  he was an anti-federalist.  In this April 7th, 1788 letter as President to he congratulates James Madison, Father of the US Constitution, on his election to Virginia's delegation to consider ratification of the Constitution:

My dear Sir,

... Rhode Island have in fact rejected the constitution; so that only eight states can have adopted the system before the Session of Virginia. We all much rejoiced to hear of your election, especially as your being present, we are told, was absolutely necessary to counter- act some unwarrantable proceedings ...

At some convenient hour I hope you will give me your opinion upon the prospect of the new-Constitution; the Elections now finished.

News papers enclosed. I am, my dear Sir, with the highest respect & friendship, your obedient Servant,

C Griffin, President

On May 5th he writes Madison again stating:

Maryland has acceded to the proposed Constitution by a great majority. Chase, Paca, Martin, and Mercer opposed it with their utmost vigor and abilities, but with decency. South Carolina will adopt the system very soon. The opposition in Virginia is much to be lamented and in New York also; however from the present appearance of things I rather incline to believe that in the course of 12 months we shall have the Government in operation ...

Finally on May 26th with the Constitution's passage hanging in the balance over New York and Virginia's indecisiveness Griffin writes to Madison:

The Courtiers are ridiculing our situation very much, and say upon all occasions in a laughing manner that when the united states shall assume some sort of Government then England will speak out.

Gentlemen are perpetually calling to know what will be the event of the Constitution in Virginia---;do, my kind friend, at this particular crisis write to me from time to time that I may give the best information upon the subject.

Clearly Griffin, a Virginian, in the 1788 pivotal role of President of the United States in Congress Assembled not only supported the Constitution's passage but feared for the nation's survival if the New Plan for The Federal Government was not ratified.  The Constitution was finally ratified and President Griffin well into 1789 help eased the nation into this new form of government as evidenced by this letter to Beverley Randolph:

March 9th. 1789.

I am honored by your excellency's letter of the 13th of Feby(1) only this morning.
I did not understand that any person was appointed to come forward with the accounts of the State against the united States, or most certainly myself would not have been mentioned.(2) Colonel Davies is a man very proper to answer the purpose, and I think will be found extremely useful. The Board of Commissioners met on the 17th of January, and are now ready to act upon the business of their destination.

I am favored also with the Returns of nine of the Representatives of Virginia enclosed by your excellency, which I shall deliver to Colonel White, the only member at present from that State. There are only eight Senators and 18 Representatives assembled---;a very unfortunate thing.

Be so kind to accept the enclosed papers, and to believe me with sincere respect and attachment, Your excellency's most obedient Servant,
C Griffin

After the presidency Griffin was apoointed president of the Supreme Court of admiralty from its creation until its abolition, was commissioner to the Creek nation in 1789, and was judge of the First Federal Appeals Court for the district of Virginia from December, 1789, until his death in Yorktown on December 14, 1810.  He is interred with his wife, Lady Christhena, in Bruton Churchyard, Williamsburg, Va.

JOHN GRIFFIN, son,  born 1770 and in Philadelphia on Friday the 3d of August 1849, Judge , in the 79th year of his age. He was a man of nobility, of fine education, and great intelligence and uprightness of character. He received the appointment of U.S. Judge for the Northwest Territory, from the elder Admis, and at the time of his death, was the nearest male heir, in the line of entail, to the Earldom of Traquair, in Scotland, his mother having been the Lady Christhena Stuart, of that ancient house.

GRIFFIN, Cyrus, jurist, born in Virginia in 1749; died in Yorktown, Virginia, 14 December 1810. He was educated in England, and while there married a lady belonging to a noble family. He gave early adhesion to the patriot cause, was a member of the Virginia legislature, a delegate to the old congress in 1778-'81 and in 1787-'8, and was president, in the latter year. He was president of the Supreme Court of admiralty from its creation until its abolition, was commissioner to the Creek nation in 1789, and was judge of the United States court for the district of Virginia from December, 1789, until his death.

Edited Appletons Encyclopedia, Copyright © 2001 VirtualologyTM

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