James Madison Papers

To James Madison from John Pendleton, 15 July 1805

From John Pendleton

City of Richmond July 15. 1805


Presuming on a slight acquaintance but more especially on your universal Civility I take the liberty of addressing you on a subject which gives me infinite concern: I Know sir it does not belong to your Department to attend to applications of this Nature but as the secretary of War is an entire Stranger to me I hope you will pardon me for the intrusion & that he will be so good as to excuse my addressing him through you. I have a son (an only son) who has long lead a very dissipated & irregular course of life, & not long since in the extravagancy of his imprudence & folly, without consulting me or advising with any of his friends enlisted into the Military Corps Stationed at Fort Nelson in the Vicinity of Norfolk in this State, & he has lately written to me to endeavour to procure for him a discharge from that Service; Conscious that he is totally unfit for the fatigue & duty of a soldiers life & hoping that the present moment (if he could be discharged from a situation which is mortifying & painful to him) might be so improved as to get him setled [sic] in business & effect a reformation I feel extremely anxious to obtain a discharge for him; I know sir that applications of this Kind must place the Secretary of War in a delicate situation but as I am confident that it was a precipitate act—that he is unfit from the delicacy of his consitution for the service—that he is very unhappy & that if he is confined to that situation it will soon cost him his life. I hope I shall be pardoned for entreating you sir to intercede with the Secretary at War for his discharge from the service; Your attention to this application will confer superior obligations on sir Your most obedt. & very h’ble Servant

John Pendleton1


1John Pendleton (ca. 1749–1806) was Edmund Pendleton’s nephew. He had been clerk of the Virginia Committee of Safety in 1775 and 1776, clerk of the state senate, auditor of public accounts, and was a member of the Council of State from 1796 to 1802. He died intestate and deeply in debt (New-York Gazette & General Advertiser, 19 Aug. 1806; PJM, 1:190 n. 8; PJM-SS, 4:187 n. 2; Pickett et al. v. Stewart et al., 1 Rand. 478 [Peyton Randolph, comp., Reports of Cases Argued and Determined in the Court of Appeals of Virginia (6 vols.; Richmond, Va., 1823–29)]).

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