Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from James Madison, 27 August 1793

From James Madison

Aug: 27. 1793

Dear Sir

I wrote you a few lines by the last post from this place just to apprize you of my movement to it. I have since seen the Richmond and the Philada. papers containing, the latter the certificate of Jay and King and the publications relating to the subject of it, the former1 the proceedings at Richmond dictated no doubt by the Cabal at Philada. It is painful to observe the success of the management for putting Wythe at the head of them. I understand however that a considerable revolution has taken place in his political sentiments under the influence of some disgusts he has received from the State Legislature. By what has appeared I discover that a determination had been formed to drag before the public the indiscretions of Genet and turn them and the popularity of the P. to the purposes driven at. Some impression will be made here of course. A plan is evidently laid in Richd. to render it extensive. If an early and well digested effort for calling out the real sense of the people be not made, there is room to apprehend they may in many places be misled. This has employed the conversation of —— and myself. We shall endeavor at some means of repelling the danger; particularly by setting on foot expressions of the public mind in important Counties, and under the auspices of respectable names. I have written with this view to Caroline, and have suggested a proper train of ideas, and a wish that Mr. P. would patronise the measure. Such an example would have great effect. Even if it should not be followed it would be considered as an authentic specimen of the Country temper; and would put other places on their guard against the snares that may be laid for them. The want of opportunities, and our ignorance of trust worthy characters will circumscribe our efforts in this way to a very narrow compass. The rains for several days have delayed my trip to the Gentleman named in my last. Unless tomorrow should be a favorable day, I shall be obliged to decline it altogether. In two or three days I shall be in a situation to receive and answer your letters as usual. That by Mr. DR. has not yet reached me.

RC (DLC: Madison Papers); unsigned; endorsed by TJ as received 9 Sep. 1793 and so recorded in SJL.

For the certificate of Jay and King, see note to enclosure to George Washington to TJ, 15 Aug. 1793. Concerning the proceedings at Richmond, see George Wythe to TJ and Edmund Randolph, 17 Aug. 1793, and note. Wythe’s disgusts were probably triggered by a November 1792 act by which the Virginia legislature lengthened the interval during which appeals could be made from his High Court of Chancery to the Court of Appeals, which had regularly begun to overturn his rulings owing, Wythe believed, to the personal animus of Edmund Pendleton, its senior judge (Hening, description begins William Waller Hening, ed., The Statutes at Large; Being a Collection of All the Laws of Virginia, Richmond, 1809–23, 13 vols. description ends xiii, 421; Imogene E. Brown, American Aristides: A Biography of George Wythe [Rutherford, N.J., 1981], 257–62). The person with whom Madison was in conversation was James Monroe. Mr. P.: Edmund Pendleton. Dr.: David Meade Randolph.

1Word interlined by Madison in place of “latter,” apparently at a later date, to correct a slip of the pen.

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