James Madison Papers

From James Madison to George Washington, 29 April 1783

To George Washington

RC (LC: Washington Papers). Addressed to “His Excellency General Washington.” Cover missing. A draft of this letter, varying from recipient’s copy only in abbreviations, capitalization, and punctuation, is in LC: Madison Papers.

Philada. Apr. 29. 1783.


I have been honored with Your Excellency’s favor of the 22d. inst: bearing testimony to the merits & talents of Mr. McHenry.1 The character which I had preconceived of this Gentleman was precisely that which your representation has confirmed. As Congress have not yet fixed the peace establishment for their foreign affairs and will not probably fill up vacancies unless there be some critical urgency, until such an Establishment be made, it is uncertain when an opportunity will present itself, of taking into consideration the wishes & merits of Mr. McHenry.2 Should my stay here be protracted till that happens, which I do not at present expect,3 I shall feel an additional pleasure in promoting the public interest from my knowledge that I at the same time fulfill both your Excellency’s public judgment & private inclination.

I have the honor to be with perfect respect & sincere regard yr. Excelly’s Obt. & hble Servt.

J. Madison Jr.

1Q.v., and n. 1.

2JM Notes, 4 Apr., and n. 10. On 12 June 1783, the day after James McHenry entered Congress as a delegate from Maryland, Congress gave a general answer to what “the peace establishment for their foreign affairs” would be by unanimously adopting a committee report, drafted by JM, which declared in part that “the true interest of these States requires that they shd. be as little as possible entangled in the politics and controversies of European Nations” (NA: PCC, No. 79, III, 255; JM Notes, 12 June 1783 [LC: Madison Papers]; JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XXIV, 389, 392–94; Boyd, Papers of Jefferson description begins Julian P. Boyd et al., eds., The Papers of Thomas Jefferson (18 vols. to date; Princeton, N.J., 1950——). description ends , VI, 276).

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