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From James Madison to Thomas Jefferson, 20 May 1783

To Thomas Jefferson

RC (LC: Madison Papers). Unsigned but in JM’s hand. Addressed to “Thomas Jefferson Esqr.” Following the return of this letter to JM, he docketed it “Madison Jas.” above the date. Many years after the letter was written, he or someone at his bidding placed a bracket at the beginning of the second paragraph and another bracket at the close of the third paragraph to designate them for inclusion in the first comprehensive edition of his writings. See Madison, Papers (Gilpin ed.) description begins Henry D. Gilpin, ed., The Papers of James Madison (3 vols.; Washington, 1840). description ends , I, 538–40.

Philada. May 20. 1783.

Dear Sir

In obedience to your request I am to answer by this post your favor of the 7. inst:1 recd yesterday. My brevity will therefore be excused.

For the tenor of the conditions on which Congs. were formerly willing to accept the cession of Virga. I beg leave to refer to their resolutions of the 6 of Sepr. & 10 of Ocr. 1780.2 I take it for granted you have their Journals. The expunging of the article relative to State expences was a subject of no less regret with me than it is with you & for the same reason,3 but I acknowledge that considering the probable defect of vouchers in Virga.4 & the ardor with which the clause was supported from some other quarters, mine was much diminished in the course of the discussion. On the last trial there were but two or three States besides Virga. that favored it. S. Carolina’s opposition to it had great weight.5 After this clause was expunged it was thought improper to retain the connective clause as Virga. will now be at liberty to confine her accession to the revenue part of the plan, without enlarging her territorial Cession or being deprived of the opportunity of annexing any Conditions she may think fit. The connective clause however could not have been carried I believe either before or after the mutilation of the plan.6 Notwithstanding this disappointment I adhere to my wishes not only that the revenue may be established, but that the fœderal rule of dividing the burdens may be changed,7 and the territorial disputes accomodated. The more I revolve the latter subject, the less inducement I can discover to a pertinacity on the part of Virga. and the more interesting it appears to the Union.8

I am sorry your departure from Richmond became necessary before more of the members were assembled. I make no doubt that useful impressions have been left with those who were so & were susceptible of them. I shall keep in mind the intimation relative to Mr. Short.9 The idea of adding the fraction of a year to my Congressial service is totally new, and even if it sd. prevail, will not as far as I can now see, coincide with my private conveniency.10

Since my last I have been able to procure for you a copy of pamphlet which I herewith enclose. If in consequence of the provisional steps I before took it sd. prove a duplicate I shall thank you to forward one of them to my father.11 The ladies & gentlemen join me in complimts. to Miss Patsy & to your self.12

Adieu.

1Q.v. 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, 502, and n. 3.

2Papers 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, 77–78; 78, n. 2; 136–37; 138, n. 2; VI, 315, n. 14.

4The defective vouchers were both those which were nonexistent because they had been destroyed by the British during their invasions of Virginia and those supporting the controversial claims of Oliver Pollock and Simon Nathan for military supplies furnished to Virginia troops in Kentucky and the Illinois country. 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, 14; 15, n. 8; 30, n. 8; 54, and n. 2; 154; 155, n. 2; 192; 212; 215, n. 14; 474; 475, nn. 3–5; 476, nn. 6, 7; 502; Delegates to Gálvez, 4 May 1783, and ed. n., nn. 1–3.

5The italicization of “S. Carolina’s” signifies that JM underlined it. The South Carolina delegates, including the influential John Rutledge, had favored expunging the article, even though the state had incurred heavy expenses in resisting the British. The Pennsylvania delegates, also contrary to expectation, had voted to retain the article. On 21 April, the date of the “last trial,” only New York and Pennsylvania joined Virginia in an effort to reinstate the article in the plan for restoring public credit. 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, 291; 292; 310; 314, n. 1; 316, n. 16; 317–18, and n. 2; 400–401; 403, nn. 11–13; 404, nn. 14, 18; 442–43; 444, nn. 2, 6–8; 468, and n. 1; 469; 470, nn.; JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XXIV, 256, n. 1.

JM’s “ardor” may have been “much diminished” by finding the Pennsylvanians ranged on his side. Their state had usually obtained the prior consent of Congress before going into debt for war purposes and had consistently opposed Virginia’s claims to the territory north and west of the Ohio River. He almost certainly knew that James Wilson, the ablest member of the Pennsylvania delegation, as well as Robert Morris and other leading residents of Philadelphia, was a shareholder in western land companies based on grants deemed invalid by Virginia (Thomas Perkins Abernethy, Western Lands and the American Revolution [New York, 1937], pp. 216, 239. 263; 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, 443; 444, nn. 7, 8; 471; 472, n. 4).

6Papers 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, 440; 441, n. 6; 471; 472, nn. 2–4; 481; 482, nn. 10, 11.

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, 327; 402; 404, n. 22; 405, n. 27; 406; 408; 440; 481; 482, n. 10.

8In the report on restoring public credit, JM had stated that a cession of the western lands to Congress would be “a further mean[s] as well of hastening the extinguishment of the debts, as of establishing the harmony of the U. States” (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, 312–13; 442–43; 502, and n. 3). JM also believed that for Virginia to retain title to, and jurisdiction over, most of her western territory would be to her disadvantage both politically and economically. If Congress was ceded the West, it would become the common possession of all the states, thus serving as a much needed bond of union among them (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, xvii; 116; 119, n. 19; 276; 292, n. 19).

9Jefferson to JM, 7 May 1783, and nn. 8–11, 14, 15. Following “so,” JM obviously meant the word “assembled” to be interpolated.

10Ibid.; 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, 464, and n. 6. JM’s “private conveniency” probably related either to his expected marriage to Catherine Floyd in the autumn or to his plan to study and to collect primary sources on the American Revolution (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, 232). JM inadvertently wrote “coinincide” instead of “coincide” and an “I” between “far” and “as.”

12Papers 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, 182, nn. 28, 29; JM to Jefferson, 6 May 1783, and n. 12.

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