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From James Madison to Edmund Pendleton, 8 September 1783

To Edmund Pendleton

RC (Manuscript Division, the New York Public Library: Astor, Lenox, and Tilden Foundations). Docketed by Pendleton, “James Madison jr. Sepr. 8. 1783.”

Philada. Sepr. 8. 1783.

Dear Sir

Your favor of the 1st. found me here whither Mr. Jones & myself had been called by some private business for a day or two. I thank you for your remarks on the jurisdiction necessary for Congress within the limits which may be ceded for their permanent residence. They seem to comprise all the alternatives among which a choice is to be made.1

We have recd, no advices from Europe since my last.2 The light in which Sr. G. Carlton places his delay in evacuating N.Y. will be seen in the inclosed paper.3 He has made report to Congs. of the result of inquiry into the forgery of Morris’ Notes, which did not capitally convict any of the authors of the villany but brought forth all the implements made use of not only for that purpose, but for the various forgeries which have issued from N.Y. in the course of the war, and fully verify the charges on that head. These implements were sent to Congress with the Trial. The accused pleaded the countenance of authority for former experiments in this way, and wonder’d at the change of system which had dictated prosecutions for the present. You will wonder I dare say at the facility with which Sr. G. C. has exposed the dishonorable but no doubt secret measures of his predecessors. His military powers might easily have stifled the enquiry & discoveries if he had chosen to do so.4

The Legislature of this State have in addition to the other steps rehearsed in the inclosed, made German Town a Candidate for the permanent abode of Congress.5 The Eastern States are in great perturbation on the subject of the half pay. The violent opposition of the people to that Constitutional demand is considered by those who have been witnesses of it, as of so serious a nature as to threaten very inauspicious effects.6

With sincere regd. I am Dr. Sir Yr. friend & servt.

J. Madison Jr.

1JM to Randolph, 28 July; Pendleton to JM, 1 Sept. 1783, and nn. 2, 3. The committee on “the jurisdiction necessary” had been appointed by Congress on 18 July and enlarged on 23 July and 3 September (JM to Pendleton, 28 July, and nn. 1–3). The committee’s report, drafted by James Duane, was submitted to Congress on 5 September, read thirteen days later, and first discussed on 22 September (NA: PCC, No. 186, fols. 112, 121; Motion in re Permanent Site, 22 Sept. 1783).

2JM’s comment on this subject in his missing letter to Pendleton, on or about 30 August, probably resembled that in his letter of 30 August to Randolph (q.v.).

3In view of this subject together with the one mentioned at the outset of the letter’s third paragraph, JM probably enclosed either the Pennsylvania Packet of 2 and 4 September or the Pennsylvania Journal of 3 and 6 September. See also Delegates to Harrison, 8 Sept. 1783, and n. 5.

4Delegates to Harrison, 26 July, and n. 7; JM to Randolph, 28 July; Harrison to Delegates, 15 Aug. 1783, and n. 3; Burnett, Letters description begins Edmund C. Burnett, ed., Letters of Members of the Continental Congress (8 vols.; Washington, 1921–36). description ends , VII, 250.

5JM to James Madison, Sr., 30 Aug., and n. 9; to Randolph, 30 Aug. 1783, and n. 6. Congress on 26 July had received from a property owner in Germantown, Pa., an offer of land for its use (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XXIV, 451, n. 1, 537). There was read in Congress on 11 September an invitation, dated 4 September, and signed by about 420 residents of Germantown, to choose for the “grand Council of the Nation” the ample accommodations of that town, with their attendant advantages of a “beautiful situation, Salubrious Air, excellent Water, plentiful Market, extensive Pastures, fertile Soil and Contiguity to one of the most flourishing commercial Cities in the Union.” The invitation omitted reference to the troublesome issue of jurisdiction (NA: PCC, No. 46, fols. 117–21; JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XXV, 553, n. 1). See also Pendleton to JM, 6 Oct. 1783.

6Pendleton to JM, 4 Aug., and n. 2; JM to Jefferson, 11 Aug., and n. 19; to Randolph, 12 Aug.; 18 Aug. 1783; Burnett, Letters description begins Edmund C. Burnett, ed., Letters of Members of the Continental Congress (8 vols.; Washington, 1921–36). description ends , VII, 288, 296, 316–17. JM referred particularly to the protest of 13 July of the Massachusetts General Court. Congress, having received this document on 31 July, referred it to a committee which reported on 2 September. A new committee on the issue reported six days later. Thereupon Congress revived the report of 2 September and referred it on 18 September to a committee comprising JM, chairman, Mercer, and Duane (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XXIV, 483, n. 2; XXV, 578–80, 581–85, 584, n. 1). See also Memorial of Massachusetts General Court, 19 Sept. 1783.

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