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From James Madison to Edmund Randolph, 4 March 1783

To Edmund Randolph

RC (LC: Madison Papers). Unsigned but in JM’s hand. Cover franked by “J. Madison Jr.” and addressed by him to “Edmund Randolph Esqr. Richmond.” Docketed by Randolph, “James Madison March 4, 1783.” The italicized words are those written by JM in the Randolph code, for which see Papers of Madison description begins William T. Hutchinson, William M. E. Rachal, et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison (6 vols. to date; Chicago, 1962——). description ends , V, 307; 309, n. 1.

Philada. March 4. 1783

My dear Sir

The past week has not added a syllable of evidence to our preceding calculations of peace. The inferences from the suspence are as various as the fancies & interests of those who make them.1 Your letter by last post which came to hand the day after the usual time adopts I conceive the most rational solution, namely, the difficulties & delays incident to so complicated a negociation.2

Provision for the public debts continues to be the wearisome topic of congressional discussion.3 Mercer declared that although he deems the opponents of a general revenue right in principle, yet as they had no plan and it was essential that some thing should be done he should strike in with the other side4

A letter from Genl. Knox is in Town which I under stand places the temper and affairs of army in a less alarming view than some preceding accounts5

The resignation of the Superintendt. of finance with his motives are contained in paper inclosed. It is as you may well suppose a subject of general and anxious conversation. The effect on public credit will be fully anticipated by your knowledge of our affairs.6 Yesterday’s Mail brought me no letter from you. Adieu

Mr. Jefferson is here awaiting further instructions of Congs. which w[ill?] be adapted to the first authorita[tive] advices from Europe.7

2Randolph to JM, 15 Feb., and n. 3. See also JM to Jefferson, 18 Feb., and n. 2; JM to Randolph, 18 Feb. 1783. Mail from Richmond usually arrived in Philadelphia on Monday. JM probably received Randolph’s letter of the fifteenth on Tuesday, 25 February 1783.

4JM to Randolph, 25 Feb., and n. 3; JM Notes, 27 Feb. 1783, and nn. 3, 4. In encoding “side,” JM inadvertently used the cipher for “sl” rather than for “si.”

5The letter of General Henry Knox to which JM referred may have been addressed either to Gouverneur Morris or General Alexander McDougall, both of whom were in Philadelphia. Writing on 21 February from West Point, N.Y., to each of them about the “temper and affairs” of Washington’s army, Knox was somewhat more optimistic in his comments to Morris than in those to McDougall. On 3 March in a letter to his friend Secretary at War Benjamin Lincoln, Knox strongly urged that “every thing respecting the Army be decided upon before peace takes place,” for if the troops were disbanded without a “settlement” of their pay, they would become the country’s “tygers and wolves” (Mass. Historical Society: Papers of Henry Knox).

For examples of “preceding accounts,” see Papers of Madison description begins William T. Hutchinson, William M. E. Rachal, et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison (6 vols. to date; Chicago, 1962——). description ends , V, 159; 162, n. 16; 474, n. 8; JM Notes, 13 Jan., and n. 5; 19 Feb., and n. 12; 20 Feb., and nn. 18–20; 25 Feb., and n. 1; JM to Randolph, 13 Feb., and n. 6; 25 Feb. 1783. See also Syrett and Cooke, Papers of Hamilton description begins Harold C. Syrett and Jacob E. Cooke, eds., The Papers of Alexander Hamilton (15 vols. to date; New York, 1961——). description ends , III, 254–55, 277–79.

6JM Notes, 24 Jan., and nn. 20, 23; 26 Feb., and n. 14; 27 Feb.; 4–5 March 1783, and nn. 3, 4, 6–9, 11, 12.

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