James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Edmund Pendleton, 2 September 1782

From Edmund Pendleton

Tr (LC: Force Transcripts). Addressed to “Hon James Madison, Esqr.” At the top of the left margin of the first page of the transcription, Peter Force’s clerk wrote “MSS [M]c Guires.” See Papers of Madison description begins William T. Hutchinson, William M. E. Rachal, et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison (5 vols. to date; Chicago, 1962——). description ends , I, xxii, xxiii. Another copy, also made from the missing original, is printed in the Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society, 2d ser., XIX (1905), 161–62.

Virga. Sepr 2d 1782.

Dear Sir

I was disappointed in not receiving by yr last favr of the 20th past,1 some Intelligence from our foreign Ministers respecting the great Object which at present Occupys all our thoughts.2 their silence at such a crisis cannot be supposed, and therefore we must charge it to the Capture of the Vessels by which their letters were forwarded.3 Some of our Fat Tories say there is a Suspension of Hostilities in Europe, and I am told there are some Irish Cutters arrived here with Cargoes, who report the same thing.4 If this be true I should suppose it to be in consequence of the signing of preliminaries to Peace; I wish the good work compleated.

I wrote you my Nephew had sent his oversr to Baltimore after his runaway slave.5 he concealed himself for two or three days, but made a friend amongst the Attendants of the French Army who at length discover’d the slave & the Oversr took him in an Officer’s tent who had emploied him as a Servant. They attempted to rescue the fellow & threaten’d the Overseer with sending him to the guard house, but as I had written to my friend Mr Lux6 requesting his Assistance, he interposed and procured the release of the Oversr & delivery of the slave, not however ’til he agreed to pay 20 dollars for his maint[en]ance under pretence of an Order of our Governor & Council, allowing them to demand of the owners of all7 runaway slaves, a reasonable sum for their provisions.8 I never heard of such an Order, but if there was such, I am persuaded it related only to those taken from the British at the seige of York,9 and not to such as run away and join them on their March, & are encouraged to do so by their secreting & Protecting them from their Masters. The oversr. had lost his horse & went in pursuit of him, leavg the slave tied & handcuff’d at Mr Lux’s, from whence he escaped & must have had some Assistance. after two days fruitless search, he was obliged to return without him, having added to the loss of him that of a valuable horse, the 20 Dollars & other considerable expences. The[re] are a number of other people here have lost their slaves in the same manner, and are in a very ill humor on the Occasion; And as I am persuaded the principal officers in that Army are no ways privy or consenting to such Plundering, I have no doubt but that upon Application, they would all be delivered up, when they might be confined, & on public Notice the Owners get them again—otherwise I expect that application will be made to Our Assembly, & Probably from them to Congress,10 which might lay the foundation of Bickerings with our good friends, that would give me more concern than even the loss of my nephew’s slave, tho’ his circumstances do not make that a very light one, with the accumulated expences which have been consequent upon it. The Overseer cannot tel, nor does Mr Lux mention the name of the officer who extorted the 20 Dollars, & had emploied the slave as a servant. they only say he was a Lieutn. I wish I knew his name that you might point him out to the General. In the mean time it is possible the slave may have fallen into your hands, tho’ he has practiced every Stratagem to conceal himself by denying his Master’s name, & changing his own & his dialect; but the marks on his shoulders cannot be removed. If you have got, or shall get him, tho’ I suppose a Citizen of Pennsylva. can’t purchase him by their laws, yet perhaps some transient persons, of whom there are many in the City, may do so, as he is stout and young,11 & until last year, behaved very well, and my Nephew will thank you to sell him for what you can get above £50, as he neither wishes to se him again, or to risque a further Loss in his conveyance to Virga. Our friend Mr Jones is again returned to Philada & will I hope again releive you from half the burthen of corresponding12 with

Dr Sr Yr affec & obt Servt

Edmd. Pendleton


2That is, the peace negotiations.

3See Papers of Madison description begins William T. Hutchinson, William M. E. Rachal, et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison (5 vols. to date; Chicago, 1962——). description ends , IV, 422, n. 30; 450, n. 17.

4The version of this letter in the Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society has “repeat” rather than “report.” Among the “Fat Tories” of Caroline County whom Pendleton probably had in mind were William Harrison, Sr. (d. 1784), a prominent planter, and Andrew Leckie (d. 1787), an affluent commission merchant (Caroline County Court Records, Order Book, 1781–1785, p. 342; ibid., 1787–1789, p. 9, microfilm in the Virginia State Library; T[homas] E. Campbell, Colonial Caroline: A History of Caroline County, Virginia [Richmond, 1954], pp. 227, 229, 269). Rumors of what Pendleton reported had also been noted in the issues of the Virginia Gazette description begins Virginia Gazette, or, the American Advertiser (Richmond, James Hayes, 1781–86). description ends of 17, 24, and 31 August. “Irish cutters” were fast, small, single-masted vessels, first developed for smuggling (William Falconer, An Universal Dictionary of the Marine … [new ed.; London, 1789], no pagination). On 19 August, or shortly before, two cutters had arrived at Yorktown from Norway with “Salt and Bale Goods” (Calendar of Virginia State Papers description begins William P. Palmer et al., eds., Calendar of Virginia State Papers and Other Manuscripts (11 vols.; Richmond, 1875–93). description ends , III, 223, 262; 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, 303).

6Probably Colonel Darby Lux (1737–1795) of Baltimore and Mount Airy, Baltimore County, who had inherited much property in 1777 from his brother William, a wealthy merchant of the town. Colonel Lux had been prominent in Baltimore’s civic life and in resisting British policies on the eve of the Revolution (Maryland Historical Magazine, XXXVII [1942], 137; Thomas Scharf, The Chronicles of Baltimore: Being a Complete History of “Baltimore Town” and Baltimore City from the Earliest Period to the Present Time [Baltimore, 1874], pp. 131, 136–38, 146–47, 155; Hamilton Owens, Baltimore on the Chesapeake [Garden City, N.Y., 1941], pp. 80–85, 90–91, 110–12).

7In the Massachusetts Historical Society version, “the” follows “all.”

8The governor and council had no statutory authority to issue an order of this kind. In his letter of 26 June 1782 to General Rochambeau, Governor Harrison asked for the return of “all the Negroes without distinction that are amongst your Troops” (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, 257–58). Harrison complained to Washington in a dispatch of 11 July that he had “written on the subject till I am wearied out without being able” to recover more than a few of them (ibid., III, 265–66). See also Papers of Madison description begins William T. Hutchinson, William M. E. Rachal, et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison (5 vols. to date; Chicago, 1962——). description ends , IV, 399; Journals of the Council of State description begins H. R. McIlwaine et al., eds., Journals of the Council of the State of Virginia (3 vols. to date; Richmond, 1931——). description ends , III, 114.

9Article IV of the Articles of Capitulation of Yorktown provided only that “any Property obviously belonging to the Inhabitants of these States, in the possession of the [British]Garrison, shall be subject to be reclaimed” (NA: PCC, No. 152, X, 302). In General Orders dated 25 October 1781 Washington directed “All Officers of the Allied Army and other persons of every denomination” to deliver up the “many Negroes and Mulattoes,” who, owned by Virginians, had attached themselves to “British Officers” or to those of the French and American forces (Fitzpatrick, Writings of Washington description begins John C. Fitzpatrick, ed., The Writings of George Washington, from the Original Sources, 1745–1799 (39 vols.; Washington, 1931–44). description ends , XXIII, 264–65).

10This matter was neither referred by Governor Harrison to the Virginia General Assembly during the session of October 1782 nor made the subject of legislative instructions to the delegates in Congress. See Motion on Slaves Taken by the British, 10 September 1782, and n. 1. On 1 July 1782 the General Assembly had adopted “An act for the recovery of slaves, horses, and other property, lost during the war.” Excepted from the provisions of the statute were chattels “taken by the enemy and retaken in action by any soldier or citizen of this state, or any of the United States,” unless such properties “were by capitulation or agreement to be returned to their owners” (Hening, Statutes description begins William Waller Hening, ed., The Statutes at Large; Being a Collection of All the Laws of Virginia, from the First Session of the Legislature, in the Year 1619 (13 vols.; Richmond and Philadelphia, 1819–23). description ends , XI, 23–25).

11The version in the Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society reads, “really stout and young.” For the law of Pennsylvania, see JM to Pendleton, 6 August 1782, and n. 5. For more about the effort to recover this slave, see JM to Pendleton, 3 September 1782.

12See JM to Randolph, 27 August 1782, and n. 15. Joseph Jones and JM had been accustomed to take turns in writing to Pendleton from Philadelphia.

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