James Madison Papers
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From James Madison to James Madison, Sr., 27 May 1783

To James Madison, Sr.

RC (LC: Madison Papers). Docketed “May 27. 1783” by the recipient. Probably some years after writing the letter, JM wrote “Madison Js” above the date line.

Philada. May 27. 1783.

Hond. Sir

I duly recd. yours of the 16th. inst:1 yesterday by the post, and hope as you are fixing a communication with Fredg.2 that I shall hear often from you during my stay here thro’ the same channel, as I shall be attentive on my side to fulfil your wishes on that subject. How long my stay will be continued here is uncertain, but longer probably than my last indicated. I wish for this reason, that tho’ I shall attend to the bark & Vitriol3 for my mother, an intermediate supply may be procured within the State. I shall endeavor to provide a chair for you, on a convenient model, perhaps with a top to it if such an addition will not too much augment the price.4 I have hitherto not been inattentive to the request of Mos: Joseph,5 but shall in consequence of your letter renew my efforts for the books, which the return of peace, renders more likely to be attainable for him. I see few books in the Catalogue which you have sent6 which are worth purchasing, but I will peruse it more carefully & send you the titles of such as I may select.

I rcd. a letter from Mr. Jos: Chew a few days ago by which & the information of Col: Wadsworth who brought it & is a friend of his, I find that he is in N.Y. with his family, that they are all well, that he continues as yet to hold a post which supports them comfortably, that altho’ he has enjoyed opportunities of honestly laying up profits, his generosity of temper has prevented it. I can-not learn whether he proposes to remain in this country or not, but am inclined to think he will go to Canada, where he has some little expectations.7 He seems to be exceedingly anxious to hear of his friends in Virga. and I have written as fully to him on the subject as my knowledge would admit. I wish some of his friends on the spot & particularly yourself would write to him. Besides the information he wd. receive, it would be a pleasing proof to him that he still retained a place in their remembrance & regards.

We are without information of late as to the progress of the difinitive Treaty, and of the bill in the British Parliamt. for opening trade with the U. States. The confusions produced in their councils by the long suspension of the Ministry seem to put every thing to a stand.8 The paper which I inclose will give you the latest information on that subject.9 Remember me affectionately to all the family & be assured that I am

Yr. dutiful son

J. Madison Jr.

P.S. I have got a piece of silk for Sally which I shall send by the first opportunity if any offers before I set out myself. Perhaps I may make an addition to it. Fanny I suppose too must not be overlooked.10

1Not found.

2JM’s letter of 5 June to his father (q.v.) makes clear that the father’s letter of 16 May 1783 had been sent to James Maury, a merchant of Fredericksburg, which was on the postrider’s route from Richmond to Philadelphia. For Maury, see Papers of Madison description begins William T. Hutchinson, William M. E. Rachal, et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison (7 vols. to date; Chicago, 1962——). description ends , I, 114, n. 8; VI, 388.

3The “bark” was cinchona bark (quinine) or a substitute for it. See Papers of Madison description begins William T. Hutchinson, William M. E. Rachal, et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison (7 vols. to date; Chicago, 1962——). description ends , IV, 126; 127, n. 3. “Vitriol,” as adapted for medicinal use, was an astringent salt (sulphate). Taken internally, it served as a cathartic; applied externally to a wound it helped to stanch bleeding. Vitriol in liquid form (oil of vitriol) appears among other medicines advertised in the Pennsylvania Packet, 27 May 1783.

4A chair was a light, one-horse, open, two- or four-wheel chaise or gig.

5Moses Joseph (d. ca. 1788) was a small-scale farmer of Orange County (Orange County Court Records, Personal Property Tax Books, 1782–1788; Land Tax Books, 1782–1788, both in Va. State Library).

6JM’s letter of 5 June 1783 to his father designates this work as “Docr. Hamilton’s.” No doctor with either that surname or the variant spelling “Hambleton” appears to have been a resident of Orange or any contiguous county in 1783. The “Catalogue” may have been a manuscript compiled, or a printed work purchased, by a “Doctor Hamilton” who lived far distant from Virginia.

7For Joseph Chew, Loyalist and merchant, see Papers of Madison description begins William T. Hutchinson, William M. E. Rachal, et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison (7 vols. to date; Chicago, 1962——). description ends , I, 69, and n. 5. Refinement of the date of his birth, given as ca. 1725, in that footnote, is permitted by the remark of James Madison, Sr., that both he and Chew were born in April 1723 (James Madison, Sr., to Chew, 19 Feb. 1783, MS in College of William and Mary Library). Chew had returned to America by 1779 and, as secretary of Indian affairs, was attached to British headquarters in New York, where he interested himself in the plight of Loyalist refugees, “many” of whom were his “old neighbours” (Historical Manuscripts Commission, eds., Report on American Manuscripts, I, 30, 422; IV, 282; Chew to JM, 6 Nov. 1783). “Wadsworth” probably was Colonel Jeremiah Wadsworth (1734–1804), a resident of Hartford, Conn., and formerly continental commissary of purchases. He and his partner John Carter had contracted with Robert Morris to supply food to Washington’s army (Papers of Madison description begins William T. Hutchinson, William M. E. Rachal, et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison (7 vols. to date; Chicago, 1962——). description ends , V, 227, n. 11).

9The Pennsylvania Packet of 27 May 1783, which was the “paper” probably enclosed by JM, informed his father of the course of the Franco-British war in India during the early autumn of 1782; of the St. Patrick’s Day “Ceremonial” in Dublin on 17 March 1783; and of the members of the Portland-Fox-North coalition ministry, as listed by an unauthenticated report dated 1 April in London. See Papers of Madison description begins William T. Hutchinson, William M. E. Rachal, et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison (7 vols. to date; Chicago, 1962——). description ends , VI, 504, n. 3.

10JM’s sisters Sarah (“Sally”), eighteen years of age, and Frances (“Fanny”), nine (Papers of Madison description begins William T. Hutchinson, William M. E. Rachal, et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison (7 vols. to date; Chicago, 1962——). description ends , I, 76, n. 3; “The Madison Family Tree,” following p. 212, nos. 1, 3; III, 206; 208, n. 4).

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