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From James Madison to Edmund Randolph, 25 June 1782

To Edmund Randolph

RC (LC: Madison Papers). Unsigned letter in JM’s hand. The cover is missing. Randolph wrote his own name in the lower left-hand margin of the first page of the manuscript. Probably many years later JM or someone at his bidding placed a bracket at the beginning of the first paragraph and another bracket at the close of the fifth paragraph to designate that portion of the letter for publication. See Madison, Papers [Gilpin ed.] description begins Henry D. Gilpin, ed., The Papers of James Madison (3 vols.; Washington, 1840). description ends , I, 144–45.

Philada. 25th. of June 1782

Dear Sir

Your favor of the 15th. being more fortunate than the preceding one came safe to hand yesterday. The loss of the mail is the more provoking as it is said to have contained a packet from N.Y. which had been intercepted on its passage to England & carried into N. Carolina.1

The illicit trade with the British lines has been pushed so far under the encouragement of the enemy as to threaten a deep wound to our Finances. Congress have renewed their exhortation to the States on this subject and recommended to the people, through them, a patriotic cooperation with the public measures.2 This trade we have also discovered is carried on with considerable effect, under collusive captures. This branch of the iniquity falls properly within the purview of Congress and an ordinance for its excision is in the hands of a Committee.3

A private letter from Mr. Adams of the 11th. of April informs his correspondent that 5 of the 7 provinces had decided in favor of a Treaty with the U. S. and that the concurrence of the remaining 2 might be expected in a few days. A Leyden paper of a subsequent date, reduces the exception to a single Province. It would seem from a Memorial from the Merchants to the States General, that this revolution had been greatly stimulated by an apprehension that a sudden pacification might exclude their commerce from some of the advantages which England may obtain.4

The Memorial appeals to the effect of the American trade on the resources of France, & to the short & indirect experience of it which Holland enjoyed before the loss of St. Eustation,5 as proof of its immense consequence. It observes also that the Ordinance of Congress agst. British Manufactures presented a precious crisis for introducing those of other nations; which ought to be the rather embraced, as nothing would be so likely to dispose Britain to the Independence of America & a general peace, as the prospect of her being supplanted in the commercial preference expected from the habits of her lost Provinces.

The present conjecture with regard to the fleet mentioned in my late letters, is, that it conveyed a parcel of miserable refugees who are destined to exchange the fancied confiscations of their rebellious Countrymen, for a cold and barren settlement in Nova Scotia or Penobscot.6

A Foreign paper has reinstated Hyder Ally in his superiority over Sr. Eyre Coote. Major General Monk is numbered among the slain in the battle which produced this reverse of fortune to the British arms.7

I hear nothing from Mr. Jones.8 Tell him if he is at Richmond that this is the reason why he does not hear directly from me. Instead of the paper of this morning which is uncommonly barren, I send you one of wednesday last which contains a very curious remonstrance from the disconsolate Loyalists.9

5See Papers of Madison description begins William T. Hutchinson, William M. E. Rachal, et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison (4 vols. to date; Chicago, 1962——). description ends , III, 338–39; for the capture of the island of St. Eustatius by the British, see ibid., III, 28, n. 11.

7See Papers of Madison description begins William T. Hutchinson, William M. E. Rachal, et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison (4 vols. to date; Chicago, 1962——). description ends , III, 298, n. 4. The source of JM’s information is unknown. The Pennsylvania Packet of 2 July reported a speech made in the House of Commons on 9 April presenting a “gloomy picture” of the situation in India. Following Lieutenant General Sir Eyre Coote’s (1726–1783) defeat of Haidar Ali (1722–1782) at Porto Novo in July 1781, the course of the Second Mysore War in India favored now the one and now the other of these antagonists until the autumn of 1782, when ill health obliged each of them to relinquish his command to a less able successor (E[ric] W[illiam] Sheppard, Coote Bahadur: A Life of Lieutenant-General Sir Eyre Coote, K.B. [London, 1956], pp. 136–70, passim). Major General Monk has not been identified. No officer with that surname and rank served in the Second Mysore War. The Virginia Gazette description begins Virginia Gazette, or, the American Advertiser (Richmond, James Hayes, 1781–86). description ends of 6 July 1782 repeated the misinformation and stated that it accorded with what had appeared in “Late European papers.”

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