James Madison Papers
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From James Madison to James Monroe, 30 October 1786

To James Monroe

Richmd. Octr. 30. 1786

Dear Sir

I drop you a few lines rather as a fulfilment of my promise than for the purpose of information, since they go by Mr. Jones who is much better acquainted with the politics here than myself.1 I find with pleasure that the navigation of the Misspi. will be defended by the Legislature with as much zeal as could be wished. Indeed the only danger is that too much resentment may be indulged by many agst. the federal Councils.2 Paper money has not yet been tried even in any indirect mode that could bring forth the mind of the Legislature. Appearances on the subject however are rather flattering.3 Mr. H.4 has declined a reappointmt. to the office he holds, and Mr. Randolph is in nomination for his successor and will pretty certainly be elected.5 R. H. L. has been talked of but is not yet proposed. The appts. to Congs. are a subject of Conversation & will be made as soon [as] a Senate is made.6 Mr. Jones will be included in the New Delegation. Your presence & communications on the point of the Missippi are exceedingly wishd for and would in several respects be extremely useful. If Mr. Jones does not return in a day or two come without him I beseech you. I am consulted frequently on matters concerning which I can not or ought not to speak, and refer to you as the proper source of information as far as you may be at liberty. Hasten your trip I again beseech you. I hope Mrs. Monroe continues well. My sincerest respects wait on her. In haste Adieu. Yrs.

Js. M. Jr

RC (DLC). Addressed by JM, “Hond. by Mr. Jones.”

1Joseph Jones was Monroe’s uncle and a member of the Council of State. JM’s first day in the House of Delegates was 28 Oct. (JHDV description begins Journal of the House of Delegates of the Commonwealth of Virginia; Begun and Held at the Capitol, in the City of Williamsburg. Beginning in 1780, the portion after the semicolon reads, Begun and Held in the Town of Richmond, In the County of Henrico. The journal for each session has its own title page and is individually paginated. The edition used is the one in which the journals for 1777–1786 are brought together in two volumes, with each journal published in Richmond in either 1827 or 1828 and often called the “Thomas W. White reprint.” description ends , Oct. 1786, p. 10).

2JM must have been well aware of the hostile sentiments of the Kentucky delegates toward the federal government over the navigation of the Mississippi. On 17 Nov. a memorial of the delegates from the counties in the Kentucky district and of “sundry others” represented that cession of the right to the use of the Mississippi would be an abrogation of their natural right and urged that measures be adopted to protect them in their privileges (ibid., p. 46).

3Two petitions had already been presented to the House and referred to a Committee of the Whole: one on 26 Oct. from the county of Botetourt against the emission of paper money, and one on 28 Oct. from Brunswick requesting it (JHDV description begins Journal of the House of Delegates of the Commonwealth of Virginia; Begun and Held at the Capitol, in the City of Williamsburg. Beginning in 1780, the portion after the semicolon reads, Begun and Held in the Town of Richmond, In the County of Henrico. The journal for each session has its own title page and is individually paginated. The edition used is the one in which the journals for 1777–1786 are brought together in two volumes, with each journal published in Richmond in either 1827 or 1828 and often called the “Thomas W. White reprint.” description ends , Oct. 1786, pp. 7, 10). The Va. Gazette description begins Virginia Gazette and Weekly Advertiser (Richmond: Thomas Nicolson et al., 1781–97). description ends (25 Oct. 1786) and Va. Journal and Alexandria Advertiser (21 and 28 Sept. 1786) printed essays against the issuance of paper currency.

4JM at a later time added in superscript, “arrison.” However, he originally meant Patrick Henry, whose term as governor was nearly over.

5The same day that JM wrote this letter to Monroe, the Speaker had laid before the House Henry’s letter stating his desire to retire from office at the expiration of his term (Vi: Executive Communications; JHDV description begins Journal of the House of Delegates of the Commonwealth of Virginia; Begun and Held at the Capitol, in the City of Williamsburg. Beginning in 1780, the portion after the semicolon reads, Begun and Held in the Town of Richmond, In the County of Henrico. The journal for each session has its own title page and is individually paginated. The edition used is the one in which the journals for 1777–1786 are brought together in two volumes, with each journal published in Richmond in either 1827 or 1828 and often called the “Thomas W. White reprint.” description ends , Oct. 1786, p. 11). At the close of the day JM moved that the House, by joint ballot with the Senate, choose a governor for the term beginning on 13 Nov. (ibid., p. 12). Edmund Randolph was elected on 7 Nov. (ibid., pp. 25–26).

6George Nicholas introduced the resolution on 24 Oct. for the election of five delegates to Congress (ibid., p. 6). The election was postponed until 7 Nov. when William Grayson, JM, Richard Henry Lee, Joseph Jones, and Edward Carrington were chosen (ibid., pp. 25–26).

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