James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Edmund Pendleton, 8 October 1780

From Edmund Pendleton

Tr (LC: Force Transcripts).

Virga. Octobr 8. 1780

Dr Sir:

I have yr obliging favr of the 26th past, I know not when my first letter, after you kindly accepted my proposed correspondence, should have reached you, but be assured I have not miss’d a week since, nor shall I unless sickness prevents me, being a very Punctual tho’ not an entertaining correspondent; at this time I have not a word of foreign or domestic Intelligence to communicate, except that we had a report on Thursday last of a large fleet of British Ships arrived in Our Bay & that they were landing their Men at Portsmouth. But as I have heard nothing further of it & the Govr had no Account of such an Invasion on Fryday, I take it for granted the story is without foundation.1 I might indeed fill my paper if I was to trace Graves & Rodney thro’ the Various excursions my fancy has framed for them, but blank paper will give you as much Satisfaction as such a Reverie would.

What do you think of Government having advertised the time & place for the Execution of each condemn’d Rioter in Britain?2 It is a challenge to the Mob to come forth, & confirms me in a former opinion, that the despotism adopted at the commencement of the present Reign had a much more extensive Object than America & was intended to reach the whole Empire. I think I forse[e] it begun in Britain & that it will be prosecuted there whatever is the fate of America. And considering the number of Crown officers & Pensioners with the Creditors of Government & all their various Connections, It seems to me they will have a better chance of Succeeding there than here; so we can keep clear of their horid Tyrany, they may settle the other point amongst themselves. I am

Dr. Sr Yr Affe & Obt Servt

Edmd. Pendleton

1Pendleton’s information was premature. The invading force of General Alexander Leslie appeared in the Chesapeake on 20 October rather than on the fifth (Boyd, Papers of Jefferson description begins Julian P. Boyd et al., eds., The Papers of Thomas Jefferson (16 vols. to date; Princeton, N.J., 1950——). description ends , IV, 54; JM to Jones, 19 September 1780, n. 2).

2During the anti-Catholic riots in London headed by Lord George Gordon, in early June 1780, about 450 people were killed or wounded and much property was destroyed. Pendleton probably derived his information about this disorder from the Virginia Gazette (Richmond, Dixon and Nicolson) of 4 October 1780.

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