From Edmund Pendleton
Tr (LC: Force Transcripts). In the left margin at the top of the transcription, Peter Force’s clerk wrote “MSS. McGuires.” See Papers of Madison description begins William T. Hutchinson, William M. E. Rachal, et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison (7 vols. to date; Chicago, 1962——). description ends , I, xxii, xxiii. Addressed to “The Honble. James Madison, Eqr. Philadelphia.”
Virga. June 2d 1783
I have yr favr of the 20th past1 and find Sir Guy Carleton, tho’ he still avows his strange interpretation of the Provisional Articles respecting the Slaves, has yet the caution to guard agt. the consequences of being directed so to Act by his Superiors, and to represent the evasion as his own private opinion, a subterfuge of the same Character with the construction,2 for if he is not authorised to Act in the Execution of the Treaty, to what purpose did he meet Genl Washington? was it to deliver his private opinions how the treaty might be evaded, for amusement, whilst the negroes were carrying away out of his & the owners power?3
We have several arrivals, but they are of the old Bristol kind, the Capts can tell no more news than the ships can; they have however got goods down to a tolerable price & 40/ pr hundred hath been given for tobacco at Richmond, which is not considered as the ne plus Ultra of the market, and at the same time our fine Merchts on Rappa. talk of only 20/. 25/ has been offered by others for Rappa tobacco.4
Nothing conclusive is determined as to the impost, upon a considerable debate, a Majority gave leave to bring in the Bill, but it begins to be doubted whether it will pass, and it is said that even Mr H——y, the great Patron of it, begins to cool on the Subject. what will become of our credit & the public debts, if it fails, I don’t know. the Suspension of our taxes ’til December, appears a very bad succedaneum for the imposts: I am willing to hope the matter is misrepresented to me & that you will have a more favourable prospect from Richmond.5
The Council have replied to the Governor’s charge, & so the matter rests, no determination hath yet been made between them, & I am told there are diversity of opinions which is right; sure I am something should be done it, and if they doubt whether the Act in question be constitutional or not, they ought to repeal it and establish a mode of removal of Justice wch is unexceptionable, since the Act of Government ought not to be violated on the one hand, nor on the other unworthy Majistrates immoveably fixed on the state.6
I am Dr Sir Yr mo. affe friend
1. Not found.
2. This first paragraph of the letter, as written in the original manuscript, appears in Stan. V. Henkels Catalogue No. 694 (1892), p. 93. That copy renders the word as “construction” rather than “constitution,” as written by Force’s clerk. JM had used the word “construction” in the same context in his letter of 20 May to Randolph (q.v.) and hence had probably done so in his missing letter of that day to Pendleton.
3. Walke to Delegates, 3 May, and n. 5; Delegates to Harrison, 20 May, and n. 3; 27 May; Jones to JM, 25 May; 31 May; JM Notes, 26 May, and n. 1; Pendleton to JM, 26 May; 16 June 1783. In conformance with instructions from Congress, Washington took the initiative in seeking a conference with Carleton. Carleton seems to have accepted the invitation reluctantly, for he professed to be uninformed by the British ministry about how he should interpret the preliminary articles of peace on subjects requiring his participation. Commenting in his letter of 12 May 1783 to Washington upon the issue of the Negroes, Carleton reiterated, “after all I only give my own opinion” (NA: PCC, No. 52, fol. 164). Since he lacked instructions, his emphasis in this regard was not an “evasion.” See also Papers of Madison description begins William T. Hutchinson, William M. E. Rachal, et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison (7 vols. to date; Chicago, 1962——). description ends , VI, 462, n. 2; 466, n. 3; 479; 480, n. 7; 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 , XXVI, 347–49, 370, 403–5, 409.
4. The Virginia Gazette of 7 June announced the arrival in the James River at Richmond of the “brig Harmony, Captain Caton, in eight weeks from Bristol.” See also the issues of that weekly for 24 and 31 May; JM to Randolph, 13 May, and n. 6; Pendleton to JM, 17 May, and n. 6; Jones to JM, 31 May 1783. Tobacco grown in the Richmond neighborhood rarely was of as high quality as the best which came to market along the Rappahannock River. Forty shillings a hundredweight was nearly twice the price offered in February 1783. See Papers of Madison description begins William T. Hutchinson, William M. E. Rachal, et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison (7 vols. to date; Chicago, 1962——). description ends , VI, 244, n. 3; 248, n. 3; 282, n. 3; 462, n. 7; Pendleton to JM, 9 June 1783. On 24 May the Virginia state “Agent for Commutables” was offered 25 shillings a hundredweight for the tobacco received for taxes (Cal. of Va. 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, 601).