James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Edmund Pendleton, 11 March 1782

From Edmund Pendleton

Tr (LC: Force Transcripts). Addressed to “The Honble James Madison junr Esqr Philadelphia.” Another copy of the original manuscript is printed in the Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society, 2d ser., XIX (1905), 148–49.

Virga March 11. 1782

Dear Sir

I am to thank you for yr favr of the 25th past, in which you have removed by Objection1 to the Bank scheme by proving that it was founded in error. The King of Britain’s Speech and its doubted Echo, do not breathe the spirit of Peace with America, yet I think they tread that ground very tenderly & suddenly fly off at a tangent to the East Indies in search of a subject of Consolation.2 If your Intelligence be true respecting the present state & prospect of their affairs in the West Indies,3 I think no success they can have in the East will save them from the Necessity of peace.

I have a letter of the 24th January from Genl Green’s Camp at Jacksonborough 36 Miles West of Chas Town—all was quiet, & no reinforcement to the Enemy: What gave rise to the report of such, was the return of some convalescents who had been to New York to better their Health.4 The Assembly was then sitting & had pass’d a law for confiscating British Property, and that of the Torys who had joined & remain’d with the Enemy;5 most of those of note who had taken protection, have joined Us—& some of the refugees to Charles Town have ship’d themselves and property to Britain, an Omen that they at least have small hopes of being relieved. 30 sail of ships under convoy of a Frigate had just sailed with that sort of Cargoe.6

I have no doubt but the debates on the Speech and Addresses must be entertaining, the event at York was too good a subject for the Opposition to gall Administration with, for them to let slip, and no doubt they shone in it though they cut no figure in the vote.7 I have nothing to add worth turning over so will only say that I am

Dr Sr Yr very affe friend

Edmd Pendleton

1In the Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society version, “by Objection” appears as “my objections.” Pendleton probably wrote, or intended to write, “my.”

2The version mentioned in n. 1 also has “doubted”; hence Pendleton must have written the word inadvertently instead of “undoubted.” In all likelihood, his remark was prompted by JM’s mention, in his letter to Pendleton on 25 February 1782 (q.v., and n. 7), of the king’s speech of 27 November 1781. The “Humble Address” of each House of Parliament, in reply to this speech, echoed its comment about the “favourable appearance” of the situation in India contrasting happily with the state of affairs in the American colonies. Excerpts from the debate in Parliament, occasioned by the king’s speech, are in the 2 March issues of both the Pennsylvania Packet and Pennsylvania Journal. See Mazzei to JM, 13 March 1782, n. 15.

3See JM to Pendleton, 25 February 1782, and nn. 4 and 6.

4See Jameson to JM, 26 January 1782, n. 1. Jacksonboro was only nineteen miles west of Charleston. The reinforcements were the troops ordered in December 1781 to return from New York to their southern commands (Virginia Delegates to Harrison, 1 January 1782, n. 4). Although the letter to which Pendleton refers has not been identified, it may have been from his nephew, Judge Henry Pendleton, who had returned to South Carolina and would be reimprisoned on 26 March by the British for violating his parole (Papers of Madison description begins William T. Hutchinson, William M. E. Rachal, et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison (4 vols. to date; Chicago, 1962——). description ends , II, 105, n. 5; Pennsylvania Packet, 18 and 25 April 1782). On 16 January Greene established his headquarters at Pon Pon, a plantation on the east bank of the Edisto River near Jacksonboro, where the General Assembly of South Carolina convened two days later. Although “all was quiet” in regard to military operations in the Charleston neighborhood, the expression inaccurately described Greene’s state of mind. In a dispatch to Congress, written on the date of the present letter, he commented at length upon the “deplorable situation of our troops,” who, he feared, must soon face a new British offensive (NA: PCC, No. 155, fols. 433–38).

5An “Act for Disposing of Certain Estates and Banishing Certain Persons” was passed by the General Assembly on 26 February (A. S. Salley, Jr., ed., Journal of the House of Representatives of South Carolina: January 8, 1782–February 26, 1782 [Columbia, S.C., 1916], pp. 112, 121). Pendleton’s informant was obviously misinformed about the date when this bill became a law.

6An account from Camden, S.C., dated 5 February, told of many Tories leaving Charleston to go behind American lines, and of “daily and great” British desertions (Pennsylvania Packet, 14 March 1782). The convoy and the frigate may have been the homeward-bound Cork fleet and its escort of either the 28-gun frigate “Grana” or the 32-gun “Quebec” (ibid., 2 and 7 February 1782).

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