James Madison Papers

From James Madison to William Bradford, [early March] 1775

To William Bradford

Copy (Historical Society of Pennsylvania).

[Early March 1775]1

Dear Sir,

I intend to throw this in the way of Mr David Hoopes2 who I hear is setting out for Philada. As it is uncertain whether he may get it I shall only return a short answer to yours of Jany 4th. [Mr Dunlap’s mistake about price of his paper—the 2 Vol. of Papers too dear & vide lit.]3

We had a report here a few days [ago] that the New Yorkers had again given way & that the assembly had voted the proceedings of the Congress illegal. It raised a surprizing spirit of indignation & resentment which however Subsided on the report’s being contradicted. The intimation you gave me of the state of affairs there prepared me to hear it without Surprize.

I lately saw in one of our Gazettes a pamphlet in answer to the friendly address &c: by what you informed me I conjecture it to have been written by Genl. Lee. It has much Spirit and Vivacity & contains some very sensible remarks. Some of our old bigots did not altogether approve the Strictures on the Clergy & King Charles; but it was generally, nay with this exception, universally, applauded.4 I wish most heartily we had Rivington & his ministerial Gazetteers for 24. hours in this place. Execrable as their designs are, they would meet with adequate punishment. How different is the Spirit of Virginia from that of N York? A fellow was lately tarred & feathered for treating one [of] our county committees with disre[s]pect; in NY. they insult the whole Colony and Continent with impunity!5

Some persons have expressed to me a curiosity to See the Friendly Address &c and as you mention it as the best performance on that Side of the dispute & promise to Send it with Ferguson &c I should be obliged to you for it.6 If you should See Mr Hoops and are acquainted with him if he is not to much encumbered on his return perhaps he would be kind enough to bring them. I shall add no more at present for the reason above mentioned, but that I am Yours most Sincerely & affectionately:

JM Jun.

1JM probably wrote this undated letter early in March because on the 17th he mentions it as having been sent “very lately” by David Hoops.

2David Hoops (ca. 1757–post-1791), a son of Adam Hoops, was probably in Virginia to plan his move there as a Louisa County farmer. By 1777 he was farming in Frederickville Parish, about thirty-five miles from Montpelier, but shortly thereafter he moved back to Pennsylvania. He was related by marriage to Patrick Henry’s half-brother, Colonel John Syme, Jr. (Malcolm H. Harris, History of Louisa County, Virginia [Richmond, 1936], p. 162; Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, XXV [1911], 512).

3Bradford’s brackets evidently inclose a mention of two subjects about which JM wrote at some length in his original letter, as signified by vide lit. To what “2 Vol.” he referred is unknown, but apparently he had been overcharged for Dunlap’s newspaper (JM to Bradford, 26 November 1774, n. 2; and Bradford to JM, 4 January 1775, n. 1).

4See Bradford to JM, 4 January 1775, n. 5. Confident that Reverend Myles Cooper had written the anonymous Friendly Address, Charles Lee opened his reply (Strictures on a Pamphlet) to it by accusing every high “Ecclesiastick” of the Church of England of “want of candour and truth, the apparent spirit of persecution … and the zeal for arbitrary power.” He then continued: “I believe there are at least ninety-nine Americans in a hundred, who think that Charles the First was an execrable tyrant; that he met with no harder fate than he deserved; and that his two Sons ought, in justice, to have made the same exit.” JM probably read Lee’s essay in the Virginia Gazette (Williamsburg, Purdie) of 3 February 1775.

5This episode has not been identified. On 10 March 1782, however, Thomas Parker, in a letter to Governor Benjamin Harrison of Virginia, mentioned the tar and feathering of Tories in Isle of Wight County seven years before (William P. Palmer et al., eds., Calendar of Virginia State Papers and Other Manuscripts [11 vols.; Richmond, 1875–93], III, 92). In the Magazine of History and Notes and Queries, III (New York, 1906), 156, a letter from Williamsburg of 27 November 1774 is summarized, telling of a pole erected opposite the Raleigh Tavern, “upon which was hung a large mop and a bag of feathers and under it a bucket of tar.”

6For Ferguson’s essay, see Bradford to JM, 4 January 1775, nn. 1 and 5.

Index Entries