James Madison Papers

From James Madison to Edmund Pendleton, 2 April 1782

To Edmund Pendleton

RC (LC: Madison Papers). That Pendleton was the addressee is made clear by his letter of 15 April to JM (q.v.).

Philada. April 2d. 1782.

Dear Sir

The only event with which the period since my last has enabled me to repay your favor of the 25th. Ulto.1 is the arrival of four Deputies from Vermt. with a plenipotentiary commission to accede to the confederacy. The business is referred to a Committee who are sufficiently devoted to the policy of gaining the Vote of Vermont into Congress.2 The result will be the subject of a future letter.

The thinness or rather vacancy of the Virginia line, & the little prospect of recruiting it are subjects of a very distressing nature. If those on whom the remedy depends were sensible of the insulting comparisons to which they expose the State,3 & of the wound they give to her influence in the General Councils, I am persuaded more decisive exertions would be made. Considering the extensive interests & claims which Virga. has, & the enemies & calumnies which these very claims form agst. her She is perhaps under the strongest obligation of any State in the Union to preserve her military contingent on a respectable footing,4 and unhappily her line is perhaps of all in the most discraceful condition. The only hope that remains is that her true policy will be better consulted at the Ensuing assembly, & that as far as a proper sense of it may be deficient, the expostulations of her friends and clamours of her enemies will supply the place of it.5 If I speak my sentiments too freely on this point, it can only be imputed to my sensibility to the honor & interest of my Country6

I am Dr Sir Yrs. very sincerly.

J Madison Jr

1Not found.

2See Motion Concerning Documents on Vermont, 3 April, and n. 2; and Motion on Letter of Vermont Agents, 20 April 1782. Congress on 1 April 1782 referred the “business” to George Clymer, Daniel Carroll, Abraham Clark, Samuel Livermore, and Richard Law. With the exception of Livermore, these men were known to favor adding to the number of small states or, as in the cases of Carroll and Clymer, forming Vermont from parts of New York and New Hampshire so as to establish a precedent warranting Congress to assert title to and jurisdiction over Virginia’s territory in the Old Northwest (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XXII, 157–58, 185; Burnett, Letters description begins Edmund C. Burnett, ed., Letters of Members of the Continental Congress (8 vols.; Washington, 1921–36). description ends , VI, 312, 323, 324, 326, 329).

3Examples of these “calumnies” that found their way into print are a letter in the Pennsylvania Packet of 6 April taking Virginia severely to task for neglecting to reinforce General Greene’s army, and an article by “A Lover of Justice” in the same newspaper on 27 April 1782. “The claim, or rather the pretentions of Virginia,” wrote this scribe, “to lands which can only belong to the United States, has debased her mind[;] it has taught her to do dishonourable things.… Has her monopoly enriched her? No. Has it enabled her to send more men into the field? No. Has it filled her treasury and forwarded her share of supplies? No. It has aggrandized a few; but it has left her without troops in the service; without money in her coffers, and without honour in the Union.”

4See Papers of Madison description begins William T. Hutchinson, William M. E. Rachal, et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison (4 vols. to date; Chicago, 1962——). description ends , III, 317–18; 318, n. 3; 349, n. 9; Harrison to Virginia Delegates, 11 January, and n. 2; 9 February; and 1 March; Jameson to JM, 26 January, n. 1; 23 February, n. 6; 2 March; and 23 March; Virginia Delegates to Harrison, 15 February 1782, and n. 3.

5See Jameson to JM, 23 March 1782, n. 5. In his message of 6 May 1782 to the General Assembly, Harrison mentioned the complete failure of the recruiting act then in force to raise more than “a few substitutes.” If, continued the governor, “we wish to be at ease at home it will be necessary to Keep the enemy fully employed at a distance, to do which part of the strength of this country must be applyd as it is certain the States of North & South Carolina are too much exhausted by the ravages of the enemy to confine them long to Charles Town with the Troops they now have or can expect from any other quarter; indeed it appears to me to be a duty incumbent on us as friends, neighbors & confederates to send them powerful assistance. Justice seems to call for it, and our own honor and importance in the American scale will be lost without it” (McIlwaine, Official Letters description begins H. R. McIlwaine, ed., Official Letters of the Governors of the State of Virginia (3 vols.; Richmond, 1926–29). description ends , III, 214–15).


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