James Madison Papers
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To James Madison from Edmund Randolph, 28 June 1783

From Edmund Randolph

RC (LC: Madison Papers). Unsigned but in Randolph’s hand. Cover addressed to “The honble James Madison jr. esq. of congress Philadelphia To go by the post.” Erroneously docketed by JM, “June 8. 1783.”

Pettus’s1 June 28. 1783.

My dear friend

The last post brought, as usual, your esteemed favor.2

The friends to the impost, as recommended by congress, finding, that the adoption of that measure in the form of the bill, then depending before the delegates would fix it in a manner averse to continental views, did on thursday last assent to the postponing of it until the next session.3 It seems now to be the current opinion, that at the next session it will be carried. For my part I perceive no good ground for such an expectation. The opposition is deeprooted in the hearts of the most persevering & most eloquent.4

The arrival of Gen: Washington’s circular letter excited this hope in the minds of the sanguine:5 but its effect is momentary, and perhaps it will hereafter be accepted by the assembly with disgust. For the murmur is free and general against what is called the unsolicited intrusion of his advice.

General Lincoln reached Richmond yesterday morning. It was at first believed by those, to whom he was unknown, that he was an ambassador from congress, with a full catalogue in his mouth of the necessities & complaints of the army.6

You will readily conceive, how little suited to my feelings a mission is, which I fear will not redound much to the credit of our country nor myself. Nathan’s accounts have been the topic of much vehemence in the assembly: and the issue is, that the decision of Reed & Bradf[ord] is annulled and other arbitrators are to be app[oin]ted in Maryland. Before these I am to appear to prop the reputation of Virginia for good faith and to submit to hear just & copious reproaches thrown upon her. The resolution, making this arrangement, assigns as a reason for reversing the award of those gentlemen; that no evidence was before them. It binds Nathan to enter into a bond of £15,000, but leaves the state at liberty to ratify [o]r not what may be the result of their deliberat[ions.]7 If we should not succeed in Maryland, it is possible that I may be honored with a trip to North Carolina; and so on until I visit you in a journey to the states eastward of Phila.8

Mr. Jefferson was placed at the head of the delegation, not without his approbation, as I have been informed.9

1Papers 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, 148, n. 2.

3Jones to JM, 28 June 1783, and nn. 2, 3. Although the members of the House of Delegates probably agreed on Thursday, 26 June, to postpone further consideration of the impost, they did not adopt a motion to that effect until the next day (JHDV description begins (1828 ed.). Journal of the House of Delegates of Virginia, Anno Domini, 1776 (Richmond, 1828). description ends , May 1783, p. 93).

6Ibid., and n. 11.

7Jones to JM, 21 June, and nn. 12, 23. The decision, dated 17 February 1783, of William Bradford, Jr. (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, 73, n. 1), and Joseph Reed, the arbitrators, had fully sustained Simon Nathan’s claims against Virginia (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, 154; 192, and n. 2; 241; 278; 307; JHDV description begins (1828 ed.). Journal of the House of Delegates of Virginia, Anno Domini, 1776 (Richmond, 1828). description ends , May 1783, p. 75). On 5 May Governor Harrison submitted a copy of the decision to the House of Delegates of the Virginia General Assembly (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, 439; 474; 475, n. 3; Executive Letter Book, 1783–1786, pp. 109, 137, MS in Va. State Library). After rejecting a committee’s recommendation of compliance with the decision, the House of Delegates on 24 June and the Senate the next day resolved that Nathan’s claims should be arbitrated anew in the manner indicated by Randolph (JHDV description begins (1828 ed.). Journal of the House of Delegates of Virginia, Anno Domini, 1776 (Richmond, 1828). description ends , May 1783, pp. 72, 75, 81–82, 84; JCSV description begins H. R. McIlwaine et al., eds., Journals of the Council of the State of Virginia (4 vols. to date; Richmond, 1931——). description ends , III, 174, 275). See also Randolph to JM, 23 Aug. 1783.

Joseph Reed (1741–1785), a native of New Jersey, had been graduated by the College of New Jersey (Princeton) in 1757 and admitted to the bar in 1762. Thereafter he had prepared himself further for the practice of law by studying at the Middle Temple in London. Both in Trenton and in Philadelphia, to which he moved in October 1770, he participated prominently in the opposition to Great Britain’s colonial policies. After serving as president of the Pennsylvania Provincial Congress early in 1775, as military secretary to Washington in 1775–1776, and as a delegate in Congress in 1777 and 1778, he was president of the Supreme Executive Council of Pennsylvania, 1778–1781. For the earlier connection of Reed and Bradford with the Nathan affair, 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 , III, 187; 190–91; 192, nn. 3, 4; 284, n. 2.

8Randolph’s satire reflected his weariness at being further involved in the settlement of a claim which had been frequently troublesome for over three years. For a summary of its history, see Boyd, Papers of Jefferson description begins Julian P. Boyd et al., eds., The Papers of Thomas Jefferson (18 vols. to date; Princeton, N.J., 1950——). description ends , VI, 321–24.

9Jones to JM, 8 June, and n. 10. Jefferson himself, while “in the neighborhood of Richmond,” may have informed Randolph of his willingness to become a delegate to Congress (Jefferson to JM, 7 May 1783, and n. 7).

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