James Madison Papers
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To James Madison from Edmund Pendleton, 4 May 1783

From Edmund Pendleton

RC (Historical Society of Pennsylvania). Cover missing.

Virga.1 May 4. 1783

Dear Sir

I am now to acknowledge the rect. of yr. two favrs. of the 8th. & 22d. past,2 Mr. Jones being, as I suppose from his letter, by this time in Virginia: this circumstance will increase your trouble, but I must reiterate former injunctions, that when it will be particularly inconvenient to you to write, you make free in leaving me unaddressed.3 The doubt whether the War is discontinued until the signing of the definitive treaty, has reached our Executive, & suspended the admitting to Entry a British Ship arrived here, until that event, or until our Assembly, who meet tomorrow, shall alter the Law.4 we are told that an embargo on all ships for America, is laid in London, probably on Acct. of this doubt, tho’ that circumstance, & their manifesting no preparation for the evacuation of New-York, excites Suspicions of some intentions not honourable on their part.5 Congress will no doubt be on their guard, & I hope the Assemblies will not take up the Subject of the Treaty in any part until it has it’s definitive force.6

I am sorry to hear that Congress in the final adjustment of their plan have rejected any thing wch. had a tendancy to sooth the Minds of our Assembly, who I am afraid wanted not provocatives to relish the whole but badly:7 I find a fix’d Aversion in some Gentn. to putting an independent Revenue into the hands of Congress, which say they, is necessary for no other purpose than to give them the appointment of a number of Officers dependent on them, & so to gain an undue Influence in the States: besides that the Nature of Man & former experience justifies a suspicion that a Number of unnecessary Offices may be created, to make room for Relations and favourites, by wch. much of the Revenue may be diverted from the payment of our debts. The impost they approve, but can’t be perswaded but that it may be collected & remitted to the Continental Treasury, by our Naval Officers & Treasurer, without the Intervention of any new Officer.8 these are the sentiments of most of the few Members9 I have conversed wth., what will be the result of a full discussion of the Subject, I can’t pretend to foretel, but you’l perceive it was rather unlucky for the Plan, to withhold any part that had an aspect favourable to Us. My hopes of any thing good from that unhappy youth C. T., have been for some time at an end, & therefore I am the less affected by his last Imprudent step, for such I have no doubt it will turn out to be.10 I am

My Dr. Sir Yr. mo. Affe. & Obt.

Edmd Pendleton

1Edmund Pendleton had arrived in Richmond on 25 April (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, 500; 501, n. 10).

2These “favrs” are missing, but at least some of their contents, according to Pendleton’s remarks in the present letter, were very similar to those in JM’s letters to Randolph on the same dates (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, 439–40; 483).

3Joseph Jones apparently left Philadelphia on the evening of 6 May to return to Virginia (JM to Randolph, 6 May 1783). He and JM customarily alternated week by week in writing to Pendleton, but when Jones was in Virginia or was ill, his turn was taken by JM (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, 97; 98, n. 12; 157; 192–93; 194, n. 2).

5Pendleton probably either read or heard a rumor set afoot by the Maryland Gazette (Annapolis) of 1 May, which printed an extract of a purported letter from Lorient, dated 14 March 1783, stating that “An embargo is laid in England upon all the vessels which were fitting out for America, of which there were many, till the treaty of commerce is settled, or till it is known they will be admitted into the ports of the United States.” The last British troops did not leave New York City until 25 November 1783.

6That is, until the definitive treaty became effective. It was signed by the representatives of Great Britain and the United States on 3 September 1783, ratified by Congress on 14 January 1784, by George III on 9 April 1784, and ratifications exchanged on 12 May 1784 (Wharton, Revol. Dipl. Corr description begins Francis Wharton, ed., The Revolutionary Diplomatic Correspondence of the United States (6 vols.; Washington, 1889). description ends ., VI, 673–74, 756, 806). The official news of the exchange reached Charles Thomson, secretary of Congress, on 27 July of that year (Burnett, Letters description begins Edmund C. Burnett, ed., Letters of Members of the Continental Congress (8 vols.; Washington, 1921–36). description ends , VII, 575).

7Papers 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, 481; 482, nn. 10, 11; 483.

8The plan for restoring public credit, which had been adopted by Congress on 18 April, was not sent to the executive of each state until 9 May. The plan recommended a schedule of duties on specific imports, to be collected by men “appointed by the states, within which their offices are to be respectively exercised” (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XXIV, 257–58; Burnett, Letters description begins Edmund C. Burnett, ed., Letters of Members of the Continental Congress (8 vols.; Washington, 1921–36). description ends , VII, 160–61). See also 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, 311–14. A naval officer supervised shipping in each of the seven districts comprising tidewater Virginia. There were also three deputy naval officers (McIlwaine, Official Letters description begins H. R. McIlwaine, ed., Official Letters of the Governors of the State of Virginia (3 vols.; Richmond, 1926–29). description ends , III, 355–56; 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, 258–64).

9That is, of the Virginia General Assembly. See Ambler to JM, 3 May 1783, n. 2.

10Craddock Taylor (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 , II, 262, and n. 1). The name of Taylor’s wife and the date and place of the marriage have not been determined. See Pendleton to JM, 16 June 1783.

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