From the Reverend James Madison
RC (LC: Madison Papers). Docketed by JM, “Madison Js Augst. 27. 1783.” Cover missing.
Williamsburg Aug. 27h. 1783.
I have not written to you, my good Friend, for some Time past,1 because I expected you would have been in Virga. soon after the last I recd. from you; but as I have not heard of your Arrival, suppose you to be still in Congress.2 If so, I shall continue to tax you even without your Consent.
Is there the least Probability that Congress will fix upon this Place, as their Residence? I promised our Friend M’C to ask you this Question some Time past. When is it proposed finally to determine this Matter? What ever Motives may principally influence the Determination, I am sure pacific Considerations shd. operate as strongly in Favour of this, as any other whatever.3 I am also interested in the Choice to be made, for then it is probable you wd. once more form a Part of our Society, which I shall always consider as adding materially to our Happiness.4
However gloriously the Contest may have been terminated for America, I fear a Patriot in Congress cannot at present be free from much Anxiety, & the deepest concern. Every one here has recd. the Insult offered to the Supremacy of their common Country with Indignation. How much is it to be lamented that such Conduct shd. cloud the bright Morning of our political Day, or rather that the different Legislatures shd. not by their Prudence, have prevented the Cause wh. produced it.5 I fear we are politicians only in Theory—the practical Part will be more difficult. I have seen with much Pleasure the Pamphlet from Cong. in wh. you have born an active part.6 It was well calculated to direct the Mind to important Objects, and if Ama. be just & wise, she will not fail to profit from it.
We are here invaded by our annual Enemy—Ague & Fever who never fails to make his Approach, at this Season. The Weather hot, but I believe it is seldom attended with the Effects I see mentioned in Phila. The Therm. I am sure has not been above 90. It was not more than 86, at the Time referred to in Phila.7
My Wife8 wishes you all Happiness, and no one more sincerely than
When you write let me know if you see or hear of any capital Books from Europe of late Publication, or any thing in this way to the Northward.
2. Except for one transcription, all letters written by JM to the Reverend James Madison have probably been destroyed (JM to the Rev. James Madison, 2 Oct. 1783). In his letter to JM on 15 April 1783, the Reverend James Madison had remarked, “Your Stay at Congress must be nearly at an End” (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, 464, and n. 6).
3. “Friend M’C” was Dr. James McClurg. See JM to Randolph, 10 June 1783, and citations listed in n. 13. In JM’s opinion, the possibility that Congress would establish its permanent residence at Williamsburg was “very slender” (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, 448, nn. 4, 6, 7; Jones to JM, 28 June; Instructions to Delegates, 28 June, and nn. 2, 5–7; Harrison to Delegates, 4 July, and n. 5; 12 July, and n. 3; Pendleton to JM, 21 July, and n. 5; JM to Randolph, 28 July; 18 Aug. and nn. 3, 4; Delegates to Harrison, 14–15 Aug., and n. 7; 23 Aug. 1783, and n. 7).
4. With the capital of Virginia at Williamsburg in 1776, when JM was a member of the Convention and, later in that year, of the General Assembly, and again in 1778–1779, when he was a member of the Council of State, he roomed most of the time in the home of his second cousin, the Reverend James Madison (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, 165–323, passim, and esp. 222–23; 224, n. 2; 311, n. 1; 316; 317, n. 11).
5. The reference is to the mutiny of the Pennsylvania troops between 17 and 25 June, caused mainly by the inability of Congress, owing to the failure of the states to forward their financial quotas, to provide the soldiers with a portion of their long-overdue pay. After being insulted by the mutineers and refused adequate protection from them by the executive of the state, Congress had moved from Philadelphia to Princeton (JM Notes, 19 June, and nn. 6, 7; 20 June, and n. 1; 21 June 1783, and nn.).
6. JM’s “Address to the States,” which was among the enclosures sent to the executive of each state along with the congressional plan for restoring public credit, also drafted by JM (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, 471; 487–94). For a brief article praising the “Address,” see Pa. Packet, 16 Aug. 1783.
7. The Reverend James Madison may have seen the Pennsylvania Packet of 26 July and 5 August 1783. The earlier of these issues noted that “Within these few days past, several persons in and about the city have died by the excessive heat of the weather. Others have lost their lives by imprudently drinking cold water when they were very much heated.”
8. On 28 April 1779 the Reverend James Madison married Sarah Taite (d. 1815) of Williamsburg (Va. Gazette description begins Virginia Gazette, or, the American Advertiser (Richmond, James Hayes, 1781–86). description ends [Williamsburg, Dixon and Hunter], 1 May 1779; Daily Compiler [Richmond], 21 Aug. 1815).