My question is about the well known anecdote related by William Pierce about Washington admonishing the Convention to maintain the secrecy rule. I am wondering if anyone can help me determine which day this event occured. Just to be clear, I’m asking about the day Washington waved a copy of the Virginia Plan which he claimed was found outside the doors of the State House where a passerby might find it. I say “claimed” because I have come to doubt that is what happened. Here’s the quote I am talking about :
“Gentlemen! I am sorry to find that some one member of this body has been so neglectful of the secrets of the Convention as to drop in the State House a copy of their proceedings, which by accident was picked up and delivered to me this morning. I must entreat gentlemen to be more careful, lest our transactions get into the newspapers and disturb the public repose by premature speculations. I know not whose paper it is, but there it is [throwing it down on the table], let him who owns it take it.”
I have gone through my bookshelf and the best I can come up with is from A More Perfect Union by William Peters which, after briefly discussing Thursday, June 14th, says that "It was most likely on this morning, after all the copying of resolutions the day before, that General Washington rose to speak." He goes on to give Washington’s speech. That’s the best I can find. Peters’ book isn’t cited. He gives no indication why he believes this is the likely day of the incident. Madison’s notes for the day say nothing of it nor do Pierce’s notes, such as they are.
So my question is, does anyone have any information that might help date the event more accurately? Because if it did indeed occur on June 14th then I think I have a strong argument that the supposed paper dropping was merely a device Washington used to remind the convention to keep to the secrecy rule. It seems that the very day before an account of the activities of the secret convention appeared in the Pennsylvania Herald which read in part, “some schemes, it is said, have been projected which preserve the form, but effectively destroy the spirit of democracy; and others, more bold, which, regarding only the necessity of a strong executive power, have openly rejected even the appearance of a popular consitution.”