James Madison Papers
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To James Madison from Edmund Randolph, 27–29 June 1782

From Edmund Randolph

RC (LC: Madison Papers). Unsigned and undocketed letter in Randolph’s hand. The cover is missing.

Virginia June 27. 1782.

Dear sir

The capture of the mail, announced in your favor of the 18th. instant,1 cannot thro’ my means avail the enemy, nor give pain to either of us. It is impossible indeed to recollect the contents of my letter, as it was leng[thy] but I believe, that the cypher was scarcely necessary for the evelopment of any of them. But The2 accident is an irrefragable reason against parsimony in using it in our future confidential intercourse.

I wrote to Colo. Bland and yourself fully by the last post, gleaning for your information every scrap of legislative intelligence.3 Since that date Mr. Henry and Mr. R. H. Lee have left the assembly: the members of which seem resolved to adjourn the day after tomorrow.4 In order to accomplish this, they have discharged the standing committees from the business, referred to them, meet at nine o’clock, and confine themselves to Matters of real weight.

A bill has passed the house of delegates for the appropriation of the public revenue.5 No particular sum is allotted for the treasury of the U. S. But the balance, after certain objects shall be satisfied, is destined for Phila. I shall endeavour to obtain a more accurate knowledge of the probable amount of this balance;6 and will therefore only remind you at present of two data for calculation, which I mentioned to you in a former letter,7 the division of the payment into two instalments, and the commutability of the taxes for tobacco at 25s/pr. ct. wt. Rappahannock tobacco does not now exceed 16/. nor James river 20/.8

The assembly seem disposed to indulge the inhabitants of Kentucky with a separate court. I think the measure is wise; as it may retard the separation, at least until a fitter day. It is enormous to bring criminals from the distance of 400 miles for trial, and to oblige the poor settlers to travel hither for the adjustment of their disputes, at the expence perhaps of an half of their little capital.9

June 29.

The legislature will not rise before tuesday.10

The recruiting bill will pass the delegates today. The men are to be demanded from each county according to the number of militia, and the property of each division in a county is to [be] assessed for raising a bounty. With this bounty, which is not yet decided, indeed with less, if it be possible, a man is to be raised by voluntary inlistment. But a draught is to be adopted with respect to the divisions, which [s]hall fail to raise a man or the bounty.11

The mode of settling our past accounts has been changed; I am to[ld] much to the advantage of you, whose frugality brought your disbur[se]ments within so small a compass. We are allowed a ½ Johs. by the day. The new provision for future support is the same.12

2After interlineating “But,” Randolph neglected to change the succeeding “T” to lower case.

4Although Patrick Henry’s last recorded appearance in the House of Delegates was on 19 June, he evidently continued there until some day between 20 and 27 June. On 20 June Richard Henry Lee was given “leave for remainder” of the session. On 28 June the Senate was notified by the House of Delegates of its determination to adjourn on 2 July and reconvene on 21 October 1782 (Minute Book, House of Delegates, May 1782 description begins Minute Book, House of Delegates, May 1782, MS in Virginia State Library. description ends , pp. 75, 76, 83).

5On 22 June (ibid., p. 78).

7Probably in the intercepted dispatch mentioned in the first paragraph of this letter.

8Randolph refers to “an act to amend ‘the act for ascertaining certain taxes and duties, and for establishing a permanent revenue,’” which became law on 1 July 1782 (Minute Book, House of Delegates, May 1782 description begins Minute Book, House of Delegates, May 1782, MS in Virginia State Library. description ends , p. 82; Hening, Statutes description begins William Waller Hening, ed., The Statutes at Large; Being a Collection of All the Laws of Virginia, from the First Session of the Legislature, in the Year 1619 (13 vols.; Richmond and Philadelphia, 1819–23). description ends , XI, 66–71). Although this measure left unaltered the provision of the parent statute of 5 January 1782, specifying that tobacco would be accepted in payment of taxes at the rate of twenty-five shillings a hundredweight (Journal of the House of Delegates description begins Journal of the House of Delegates of the Commonwealth of Virginia; Begun and Held at the Capitol, in the City of Williamsburg. Beginning in 1780, the portion after the semicolon reads, Begun and Held in the Town of Richmond. In the County of Henrico. The journal for each session has its own title page and is individually paginated. The edition used, unless otherwise noted, is the one in which the journals for 1777–1786 are brought together in two volumes, with each journal published in Richmond in 1827 or 1828, and often called the “Thomas W. White reprint.” description ends , October 1781, p. 74; Hening, Statutes description begins William Waller Hening, ed., The Statutes at Large; Being a Collection of All the Laws of Virginia, from the First Session of the Legislature, in the Year 1619 (13 vols.; Richmond and Philadelphia, 1819–23). description ends , X, 501–17), it required only 50 per cent of the obligation, rather than 100 per cent as in the original law, to be met on 1 July. The remaining half would be due on 1 November 1782.

10See n. 4, above.

11See Randolph to JM, 20 June 1782, and n. 48.

12In his letter of 25 June to JM (q.v.), Jones had cited the daily allowance of a delegate as $8.00, the equivalent of Randolph’s one-half Johannes, a Portuguese coin. The statute, passed on 1 July 1782, defined the delegates’ stipend as “eight dollars per day for every day they shall be travelling to, attending on, and returning from congress, to be paid them quarterly” (Minute Book, House of Delegates, May 1782 description begins Minute Book, House of Delegates, May 1782, MS in Virginia State Library. description ends , p. 85; Hening, Statutes description begins William Waller Hening, ed., The Statutes at Large; Being a Collection of All the Laws of Virginia, from the First Session of the Legislature, in the Year 1619 (13 vols.; Richmond and Philadelphia, 1819–23). description ends , XI, 32).

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