James Madison Papers
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To James Madison from Henry Lee, 13 March 1790

From Henry Lee

Alexa. 13th. March 90

My dear sir.

Before I left home, Col Lee being about to depart for Congress, I wrote you by him. Since my arival here I got your letr. of the 1st. March, & have had an opportunity of reading your debates in Congress.

Your motion which underwent so much discussion & met with such a decided negative is pleasing to the landed interest in this Country, & very much disrelished by the town interest. It is substantially right indubitably, altho not consonant to the spirit of contracts between man & man. It will I suppose undergo the same fate in Congress, as all other questions will, which in any degree resist the opinions & wishes of the Northern people. This govt. which we both admired so much, will I fear prove ruinous in its operation to our native state. Nothing as I said in my letr. the other day can alleviate our sufferings but the establishment of the permanent seat near the center of territory & direct taxation.

Hav⟨ing wri⟩tten largely on politics last week I ⟨forbear to write⟩ more now on that subject. As I passed thro Dumfries yesterday poor Grayson was breathing his last. He was speechless, had been so the previous night, & before this must have paid his last debt.1

Henry & yourself are named as competitors for the vacancy. But he will not (it is said) accept, & whether you will is doubtful.2

I wish Mr. Henry was with you in the lower house, & in the event of your walking up stairs that he could take your place. But this is impracticable. Mr. Shorts letr. repeats what Mr. Jefferson has before communicated to me.

I am very sorry that want of a small sum of money should stop the use & improvement of a spot really necessary to the trade & convenience of the people on the potomac. Always & truely yours

Henry Lee

RC (DLC). Docketed by JM.

1William Grayson died Friday, 12 Mar. (Va. Independent Chronicle, 24 Mar. 1790).

2George Mason was appointed as Grayson’s successor but refused to serve. John Walker was then appointed and took the seat on 26 Apr. 1790 (Biographical Directory of Congress [1971 ed.], p. 52).

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