From Edmund Pendleton
Tr (LC: Force Transcripts). In the left margin at the top of the transcription, Peter Force’s clerk wrote “MSS McGuire’s.” See Papers of Madison description begins William T. Hutchinson, William M. E. Rachal, et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison (6 vols. to date; Chicago, 1962——). description ends , I, xxii, xxiii. Addressed to “The Honbl. James Madison Esq Philadelphia.” A passage, also taken from the original letter but occasionally varying in spelling, punctuation, and capitalization from the present text, is in Stan. V. Henkels Catalogue No. 694 (1892), p. 92.
Virga. April 14th 1783
Yr favr of the 25th past,1 confirm’d what I expected to be the case that Congress in the first Moment of Peace, would turn their thoughts to such great Arrangements, as are necessary to realise the blessings of that important event,2 and should they adopt measures as comprehensive & liberal as our situation requires, I can’t doubt but they will be ratified by the several Members of the Union, who, now at leisure to reflect calmly & seriously without the sword suspended o’er their heads, will surely see the utility and indeed necessity of mutual concessions & good offices to preserve the fœdral strength & give it dignity amongst Nations: the adage so often mentioned in the commencement of the dispute, “united we stand, divided we fall,” will be found no less true in Peace than in War.3 An honourable and permanent provision for paying our debts foreign & domestic, seems amongst the foremost & most Important subject for consideration, and in order to that, the Ascertainment of the whole debt, the Quota of each state, and the Past Accounts of each; on view of which, certain & unchangeable funds should be provided for Paying the Annual Interest & certain proportions of the Principal, so as to sink the whole in a reasonable time. The fixing the value of domestic Loans, and the Rate of Redemption of the Continental paper yet in circulation, are also necessary steps preparatory to the fixing our debt wch will occasion some difficulty.4 I think our Elections, as far as I have hitherto heard of them, have generally been in favr of the best men. Mr Gilchrist and Colo John Taylor are ours; the County seem’d more than Ordinarily anxious for the old Gentln to prove to the Assembly they did not think him within their resolutions agt Tory Members.5
I am happy to hear that the Army are appeased, and hope they will meet with no disappointment in the funds promised them, since I should be sorry to part with them in ill humour, after the merit they have acquired.6
I am told 22/6 cwt on James River & 30/ on Rappa hath been offered & refused for our tobo. I believe the one party knows not what to offer, nor the other what to ask, at present.7 My Complts to Mr Jones. I miss’d his Letter by last Post.8 I am with perfect respect & Esteem Dr Sr
Yr very Affe & obt Servt
3. The idea that union makes for strength is at least as old as the writings of Vergil and Plutarch, but John Dickinson in the following couplet of “The Liberty Song” (1768) may have been the first to state the matter epigrammatically:
Then join in hand brave Americans all,
By uniting we stand, by dividing we fall.
This general truth was embodied in Article III of the Articles of Confederation (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , IX, 908). The aphorism, in the exact form quoted by Pendleton, became the motto of Kentucky upon her admission to the Union on 1 June 1792.
4. In these two sentences Pendleton mentioned most of the principal issues comprising the general problems of (1) determining with justice to each of the four classifications of creditors (foreign governments and bankers, state governments, civilians, and soldiers) the specie total of the Confederation debt; (2) deciding upon sources of revenue so varied in nature that together they would bear equitably upon all the states; (3) devising effective methods of collecting the revenue without unduly encroaching upon the sovereignty of each state; and (4) providing sufficient annual income to restore public credit by paying at least the interest, overdue and to become due, on the debt. Although it obviously is impracticable to cite all the references to these issues in JM’s notes, correspondence, and other papers, see for examples the index of the present volume under (1) Continental Congress, actions on or discussion of: army memorial and pay, debt of U. S., lack of money, requisitioning money, settling accounts with states or individuals, valuation of land in states, (2) Impost amendment, (3) Money, (4) Sectionalism and states’ rights, (5) Taxes.
5. Pendleton to JM, 31 Mar. 1783, and n. 8. The “old Gentln” was Robert Gilchrist. For the “resolutions agt Tory Members,” see Papers of Madison description begins William T. Hutchinson, William M. E. Rachal, et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison (6 vols. to date; Chicago, 1962——). description ends , V, 454; 455, n. 8.
6. JM Notes, 7 Apr. See also JM Notes, 13 Jan., and nn. 11, 21; 24 Jan., and nn. 20, 32, 39; 25 Jan., and nn. 8, 11, 12; 28 Jan., and n. 45; 4 Feb., and nn. 10, 11; 18 Feb., and nn. 3, 5; 20 Feb., and nn. 17–20; 25 Feb., and nn. 1, 2; 27 Feb.; 28 Feb.; 10 Mar.; 17 Mar., and nn. 1, 2; 26 Mar., and n. 6; JM to Randolph, 13 Feb.; 25 Feb. 1783.
7. Virginia planters evidently were expecting the sales value per hundredweight (“cwt”) to rise as compared with what it had been not long before (Harrison to Delegates, 31 Jan.; JM to Randolph, 11 Feb., n. 3; Pendleton to JM, 17 and 24 Feb., n. 3). Writing to Theodorick Bland on 8 April 1783 from Prince William County, Va., Arthur Lee commented: “The expectation of peace has had little apparent effect here as yet. There is so little money in this part of the state at least, that little tobacco is purchased, and no higher price than 20 shillings offered” (Charles Campbell, ed., The Bland Papers: Being a Selection from the Manuscripts of Colonel Theodorick Bland, Jr., of Prince George County, Virginia [2 vols.; Petersburg, Va., 1840–43], II, 108). See also Papers of Madison description begins William T. Hutchinson, William M. E. Rachal, et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison (6 vols. to date; Chicago, 1962——). description ends , V, 44; 45, n. 10; 71, n. 15; 202–3.
8. Joseph Jones’s letter, if any, would have been written on or about 3 April 1783. See Papers of Madison description begins William T. Hutchinson, William M. E. Rachal, et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison (6 vols. to date; Chicago, 1962——). description ends , V, 157; 158, nn. 6, 8; 192; 194, n. 2; 241, n. 3.