Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Edmund Pendleton, 17 June 1800

From Edmund Pendleton

Edmundsbury June 17th. 1800

Dear Sir

When I view the date of yr. favor of April 19th., I am ashamed of having so long delayed to acknowledge it’s reciept & comply with your small request. my Answers to your queries are now inclosed, which I fear will be a poor compensation for the delay, or for your trouble in forming the Questions. The truth is that when your letter came to hand, I was engaged in a very disagreable piece of business, not to be put by, wch. I found would employ me ’til you would have left Philadelphia, & since I gave way to an inclination to procrastinate, which I suppose the companion of old age, as I do not remember to have felt it in Youth. Another truth is that I am not only rusty in Parliamentary Rules, but never read much on the Subject; my small stock of knowledge in that way I caught from Mr. Robinson & Mr. Randolph, or was the result of my own reflections, dictated by the principle of having every question so put as to be well understood, & free as might be from embarrassment or complexity. My mite however is freely cast into your Treasury, and I wish it was of more value.

I had flattered my self with hopes of hearing that peace was concluded between France & Austria, as Negotiation was continued & hostilities not commenced so early, as Usual, notwithstanding the great preparations on both sides; but it seems treaty has failed, & Buonaparte Left to the event of his secondary means of procuring Peace, by beating them into it. If the French have been as successful on the Rhine (about which there are contradictory reports,) as in Itally, I fancy the Peace will not be long delayed. I hope that between France & America is ’ere now concluded.

Our early wheat crop, chiefly cultivated in this neigh[bour]hood, was very promising—free from the Fly, so destructive above, […] Rust among that of the latter kind below—but we are much alarmed for the wet weather in the commencement of our Harvest. Accept my friendly Salutations, & assurance of Unchangeable & Affecte. esteem

Edmd Pendleton

RC (DLC); torn at seal; endorsed by TJ as received 17 July and so recorded in SJL.

John Robinson was speaker of the Virginia House of Burgesses for 28 years. Upon his death in 1766 the office went to Peyton Randolph, who held it until Lord Dunmore dissolved the assembly in 1774. Randolph then became chairman of the first three Virginia Conventions, 1774–75, and first president of the Continental Congress (ANB description begins John A. Garraty and Mark C. Carnes, eds., American National Biography, New York and Oxford, 1999, 24 vols. description ends ).

Although the foreign ministers of France and Austria corresponded during the winter of 1799–1800, no terms peace were reached and each nation readied its armies as the campaigning season approached. Initially Bonaparte intended to give emphasis to the Rhine, but movements by the Austrians made northern Italy the sudden focus of activity in the spring of 1800. In fact by the time Pendleton wrote TJ, Bonaparte had moved a newly formed reserve army through the Alps and managed to wring out a victory at Marengo on 14 June, resulting in an immediate armistice and the Austrians’ withdrawal from the region. By mid-June, however, Americans were still seeing a mélange of reports and rumors from no later than April that antedated the decisive sequence of events (Roider, Thugut, description begins Karl A. Roider, Jr., Baron Thugut and Austria’s Response to the French Revolution, Princeton, 1987 description ends 334–40; David G. Chandler, The Campaigns of Napoleon [New York, 1966], 264–98; Universal Gazette, 5, 12 June; Philadelphia Gazette, 6 June; Aurora, 7, 11 June).

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