James Madison Papers
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To James Madison from Edmund Randolph, 22 March 1787

From Edmund Randolph

Richmond March 22. 1787.

My dear friend

I am afraid by your omission to acknowledge my letters, that all of them, tho’ written punctually to the time, except during my absence to the Naval offices, have miscarried.1

Genl. Nelson refuses to join us. Colo. R. H. Lee has been appointed in his stead.2 This seemed proper from the conspicuousness of the Character,3 and the respect, due to past services. The objection to his unfoederal opinions was so urgently pressed, that the council consisting of eight were equally divided. I gave the decision, from a hope that himself and his friends might be attached to the union, on those principles, which can alone support it. Should Mr. Lee refuse or another vacancy happen, no other appointment will be made.4

Mr. Fox’s conduct is mysterious. I have seen a private letter (on which however we cannot publickly act) from him to Colo. Henley, declaring that he will not leave Phila. until money is advanced, and his allowance increased. Henley is left here without a shilling of money—the accounts are ready—our commissioner goes on a standing salary of 300£ per annum—and congress will lose ground, if Fox should hold off, as he threatens.5

Some doubt, whether Mr. M. Smith will be elected.6 They urge no plausible reason for such an opinion.

Colo. Nicholas is assaulted in Albemarle for the tenor of past politicks; and yet, mirabile dictu! Mr. Edwd. Carter will probably be elected, altho’ paper money and hostility to British debts are his profession and characteristics.7 Adieu

E. R.

RC (DLC). Addressed and franked by Randolph. Docketed by JM.

1The first surviving letter of Randolph to JM after the latter’s return to Congress is that of 1 Mar. 1787. Randolph was away from Richmond during the first three weeks of February to visit the naval offices at York, Hampton, and Norfolk (JCSV description begins H. R. McIlwaine et al., eds., Journals of the Council of the State of Virginia (4 vols. to date; Richmond, 1931——). description ends , IV, 40–41).

2See JCSV description begins H. R. McIlwaine et al., eds., Journals of the Council of the State of Virginia (4 vols. to date; Richmond, 1931——). description ends , IV, 62; Randolph to Richard Henry Lee, 20 Mar. 1787 (Executive Letter Book description begins Executive Letter Book, 1786–1788, manuscript in Virginia State Library. description ends , p. 62). Former Gov. Thomas Nelson had been appointed to replace Patrick Henry, who had also refused to serve as a delegate to the Philadelphia convention (JCSV description begins H. R. McIlwaine et al., eds., Journals of the Council of the State of Virginia (4 vols. to date; Richmond, 1931——). description ends , IV, 41–42).

3Randolph wrote “Xaracter.”

4Lee refused, pleading poor health, but Dr. James McClurg, a member of the council, accepted an appointment in his place (Richard Henry Lee to Randolph, 26 Mar. 1787, Ballagh, Letters of Richard Henry Lee, II, 415; JCSV description begins H. R. McIlwaine et al., eds., Journals of the Council of the State of Virginia (4 vols. to date; Richmond, 1931——). description ends , IV, 73).

5See Papers of Madison description begins William T. Hutchinson et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison (9 vols. to date; Chicago, 1962——). description ends , VIII, 343 n. 1. As a condition of Virginia’s renewed cession of the Northwest Territory in 1784, Congress had agreed to reimburse the state for the expenses of George Rogers Clark’s western expeditions. A board of three commissioners was to determine the amount to be credited to Virginia. Edward Fox, appointed by Congress, and William Heth, appointed by Virginia, chose the third commissioner, Col. David Henley (Ferguson, Power of the Purse, pp. 216–17). When Fox failed to appear in Richmond, the Virginia Council of State advised Heth and Henley to “proceed in the work” without him (JCSV description begins H. R. McIlwaine et al., eds., Journals of the Council of the State of Virginia (4 vols. to date; Richmond, 1931——). description ends , IV, 67). Fox subsequently resigned and was replaced by John Pierce, commissioner of army accounts (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XXXII, 165–66, 171–72; Ferguson, Power of the Purse, p. 217).

6Meriwether Smith was elected to represent Essex County in the House of Delegates for the 1787 session (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. 26).

7Both George Nicholas and Edward Carter were elected to the House of Delegates (ibid.).

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