James Madison Papers

From James Madison to James Madison, Sr., 23 January 1778

To James Madison, Sr.

RC (LC: Madison Papers). The address sheet makes it clear that this letter was carried to its destination by Major William Moore. Long after the letter was written, William Cabell Rives bracketed the first, fifth, and sixth sentences, and the second paragraph of the postscript, thus indicating the portions selected by him for publication in Madison, Letters description begins (Cong. ed.). [William C. Rives and Philip R. Fendall, eds.], Letters and Other Writings of James Madison (published by order of Congress; 4 vols.; Philadelphia, 1865). description ends (Cong. ed.), I, 30–31.

Williamsburg Jany. 23d. 1778

Hond Sir

I got safe to this place on Tuesday following the day I left home,1 and at the earnest invitation of my Kinsman Mr. Madison have taken my lodgings in a Room of the Presidents house, which is a much better accom[mo]dation than I could have promised myself.2 It would be very agreeable to me if I were enabled by such rarities as our part of the Country furnishes, particularly dried fruit &tc which Mr. Madison is very fond of to make some little returns for the Culinary favours I receive. Should any opportunity for this purpose offer I hope they will be sent. You will see by the inclosed Acct. of Sales what money you have in Mr. Lee’s hands, and if you chuse to draw for it, you can transmit me your Bills for Sale.3 You will be informed in due time by Advertisement from the Governor what is proper to be done with the Shoes &tc. collected for the Army.4 You will be able to obtain so circumstantial an Acct. of public affairs from Majr. Moore that I may spare myself the trouble of anticipating it. Majr. Moore also has for my Mother 4 Oz. of Bark.5 The other Articles wanted by the family are not at present to be had. Whenever I meet with them I shall provide and transmit them. I hope you will not forget my parting request that I might hear frequently from home and whenever my brother returns from the Army6 I desire he may be informed I shall expect he will make up by letter the loss of intelligence I sustain by my removal out of his way. With the sincerest affection for yourself & all others whom I ought particularly to remember on this occasion,

I am Dear Sir Your Affecte. son

James Madison Jnr.

I find on enquiry that Mr. Benjamin Winslow is discontinued in the military appointment given him by the Governour & Council.7 I promised to let him know this by letter but my being as yet unprovided with paper makes it necessary to leave this information for him with you.

J. M jr.

Although I well know how inconvenient and disagreeable it is to you to continue to act as Lieutenant of the County I can not help informing you that a resignation at this juncture is here supposed to have a very unfriendly aspect on the execution of the Draught and consequently to betray at least a want of patriotism and pe[r]severence. This is so much the case that a recommendation of Conty Lt. this day received by the Govr., to supply the place of one who had resigned to the Court, produced a private verbal message to the old Lt. to continue to act at least as long as the present measures were in execution.8

J M jr

1JM was sworn into office on the Virginia Council of State on 14 January, the day after his arrival in Williamsburg.

2Reverend James Madison (1749–1812), an Anglican minister who was JM’s second cousin, served as professor of natural and moral philosophy at the College of William and Mary, and as its president from 1777 until his death. The American Philosophical Society recognized his interest in science by admitting him to membership in 1780. Ten years later, the Archbishop of Canterbury consecrated him as Bishop of the Episcopal Church in Virginia. Except during JM’s membership in the Council of State, he and his kinsman were not closely associated. JM, however, always held him in high regard for his “intellectual power and diversified learning,” his “benevolence,” “courtesy,” and devotion to “our Revolution, and to the purest principles of a Government founded on the rights of man” (JM to Robert Walsh, 22 August 1831, in Madison, Letters description begins (Cong. ed.). [William C. Rives and Philip R. Fendall, eds.], Letters and Other Writings of James Madison (published by order of Congress; 4 vols.; Philadelphia, 1865). description ends [Cong. ed.], IV, 194).

3Inclosure not found. William Lee (1739–1795), a younger brother of Arthur and Richard Henry Lee, acted as business agent of many Virginia planters while engaged in mercantile pursuits in Europe from 1768 to 1783. During the Revolution he was also the commercial representative of Virginia and the United States at Nantes, France, and U.S. commissioner at the courts of Prussia and the Holy Roman Empire (Cazenove G. Lee, Jr., Lee Chronicle, pp. 194–203, 230–35).

4On 13 December 1777, in accordance with a resolution of the Assembly of Virginia late in November, Governor Patrick Henry asked “the Lieutenant or Commanding Officer of the Militia of each County … to request of the Inhabitants of their County one pair of Shoes, Stockings, Gloves or Mittens for each Soldier raised by the County & now serving in the Continental Army” (H. R. McIlwaine, ed., Official Letters of Virginia Governors, I, 217–18). This was the Valley Forge winter, when Washington’s army suffered greatly from lack of sufficient clothing. The governor’s “advertisement” did not state how the articles collected were to be forwarded.

5Cinchona (quinine) bark, or a local substitute, efficacious as a remedy for malaria.

6Ambrose Madison.

7Benjamin Winslow (ca. 1737–1826), Orange County planter, and several other men were relieved of their captaincies on 17 December 1777 because they had “failed to recruit anything near their Quotas” for a state regiment of artillery, then in process of formation (John McGill, ed., The Beverley Family of Virginia: Descendants of Major Robert Beverley, 1641–1687, and Allied Families [Columbia, S.C., 1956], p. 821; Journals of the Council of State, II, 49).

8The “old Lt.” has not been identified. Possibly because of the increasing difficulties in recruiting soldiers, JM’s father yielded his position as county lieutenant to Zachariah Burnley before the close of 1778 (Brant, Madison description begins Irving Brant, James Madison (6 vols.; Indianapolis and New York, 1941–61). description ends , I, 323–24; W. W. Scott, History of Orange County, p. 72).

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