From Burgess Ball
Fredericksbg. 8th. of Decr. 1788.
Influenc’d by the best motives, friendship for you and love for my Country, I take the liberty of writing to you. The Proceedings of our Assembly no doubt you are acquainted with. It is here believ’d that a Majority of that Body under the Controul of ——1 are disposed to do every thing they can to disappoint & hurt your feelings. The Counties annexed to yours are arranged so, as to render your Election, I fear, extremely doubtful, the greater no. being Antifederal. Culpeper, you know, is much at the disposal of one Man,2 and it is pretty certain that he meens to exert himself in favour of your opponant, Colo. Monroe, who has declar’d himself for the District.
This County, I’m in hopes, will be at least as much for you as against you, the principle Men havg. declar’d themselvs for you, W—l—s & Waller excepted.3 We think it is necessary that you immediately come in, as we are told there is no Occasion for many Members at Congress at present, and, for the Interest of our Country you must take some trouble however disagreeable it may be to you. The Circle I am in, which is truly patriotic, are exceedingly anxious indeed that you wd. come in without delay. On Culpeper much depends, and wd. you visit it and attend their Publick Meetings, I’ve no doubt you wd. frustrate the designs of that Great Man. In Louisa I’m told you will be pretty successful, at least one half being in your favour. As to Albermarle, you can there lose but few, but in Amherst you will get few or none. Thus sir, on Culpeper it is generally thought the desicion will depend. Your own County we hope will stand to you, but, if Mr. S——r4 shd. opperate upon Mr. P——r5 you know he can do a great deal. Upon the whole, the Baptist Interest seems every where to prevail. Bletcher and Leland in the Counties above, and the Wailers below.6 I think upon such an Occasion, I wd. even sollicit their Interest, thro some frds. or in some proper manner. I must begg you’ll pardon the liberties I’ve taken, and be assur’d no Person wishes you Success in this Matter and all your other undertakings more fervently than I do. Our friend Gordon has lost his Reason, and confin’d in this place. He is somethg. better, and we have some hopes of his Recovery. Politicks and a total disappointmt. in his Expectations while in the Assembly, that is, their Conduct respecting you and the Constitution, is suppos’d to’ve been the Cause. Your speedy Arrival in the state, and Activity in endeavouring to get into Congress, is sincerely desir’d and wish’d for by (I’m sure) all your friends. I’m with the highest Esteem sir, your mo: Obt servt.
RC (DLC). Addressed and franked by Ball. Docketed by JM.
1. Ball alluded to Patrick Henry.
2. French Strother.
3. John Whitaker Willis (ca. 1758–post 1798) served six terms in the House of Delegates between 1785 and 1796. “Waller” was possibly John Waller, Jr., clerk of Spotsylvania County from 1774 to 1786 (Swem and Williams, Register description begins Earl G. Swem and John W. Williams, eds., A Register of the General Assembly of Virginia, 1776–1918, and of the Constitutional Conventions (Richmond, 1918). description ends , p. 446; F. Johnston, comp., Memorials of Old Virginia Clerks [Lynchburg, Va., 1888], p. 378).
5. Charles Porter, who had served with JM in the House of Delegates and was an unsuccessful candidate for the convention of 1788 (Swem and Williams, Register description begins Earl G. Swem and John W. Williams, eds., A Register of the General Assembly of Virginia, 1776–1918, and of the Constitutional Conventions (Richmond, 1918). description ends , p. 418; PJM description begins William T. Hutchinson et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison (vols. 1–10, Chicago, 1962–77; vols. 11—, Charlottesville, Va., 1977—). description ends , X, 516, 518, 542 n. 4).
6. The identity of “Bletcher” is uncertain. Ball may have referred to Aaron Bledsoe (PJM description begins William T. Hutchinson et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison (vols. 1–10, Chicago, 1962–77; vols. 11—, Charlottesville, Va., 1977—). description ends , X, 516 and n. 2). John Waller (1741–1802) was pastor of Lower Spotsylvania Church, subsequently known as “Waller’s.” He moved to South Carolina in 1793 and was succeeded by Absalom Waller (1772–ca. 1820), his nephew (Semple, History of the Rise and Progress of the Baptists in Virginia [rev. ed., 1894], pp. 24 and n., 197–99; David Benedict, A General History of the Baptist Denomination in America … [2 vols.; Boston, 1813], II, 393–99; James B. Taylor, Virginia Baptist Ministers, Series I [Philadelphia, 1859], pp. 281–99).
7. Burgess Ball (1749–1800) of Traveller’s Rest, Spotsylvania County, served with a Virginia regiment in the Revolution and had been captured at Charleston in 1780. In postwar years his fortune declined, and he subsequently moved to Spring-wood, Loudoun County (Hayden, Virginia Genealogies, pp. 111–16).