James Madison Papers

Virginia Delegates to Benjamin Harrison, 25 June 1782

Virginia Delegates to Benjamin Harrison

RC (Virginia State Library). In JM’s hand, except for Bland’s signature. Docketed, “Lr. f’m Del. in Congress June 25 82.”

Philada. 25th. June 1782.


Your Excellency’s favor of the 15th.1 came safe to hand yesterday. The loss of the mail of the preceding week2 is the more regretted, as we understand that a packet from N. York for England which had been intercepted and carried into N. Carolina, made a part of it.

A private letter from Mr. Adams dated the 11th. of April informs his correspondent, that Friesland[,] Holland, Zealand, Overyssell and Utrecht had decided in favour of an immediate connection with the U. States and that Guelderland & Zutphen, it was expected, would follow their example in a few days. A Leyden Gazette of a posterior date says that six provinces had then concurred.3 Their public concils seem to have been greatly stimulated to this decisive conduct, by the zeal of the Merchants who profess their fears that unless a treaty be speedily concluded with America, a pacification may exclude their commerce from some of the advantages which England may obtain. They observe also that the Ordinance of Congress against British Manufactures,4 presents a favorable crisis for introducing those of other nations, and that commercial connection with the U. States, tending to supplant the commerce of Britain will be the most likely means of disposing her to an immediate acquiescence in the American Revolution & to a general peace.

The illicit trade with N. York under the encouragement of the enemy, and the obstruction of foreign trade has increased of late so far as to threaten great injury to the public finances.5 The steps which have been taken by Congress on this subject will be transmitted to your Excellency by the President.6 It is also discovered that supplies of British goods are imported under collusive captures concerted between Vessels from N. York and Vessels fitted out on the neighbouring coasts. This part of the evil is more within the jurisdiction of Congress, and a remedy for it is now under consideration.7

With great respect We have the honor to be Yr. Excelly’s obt. & hbl. servants

J. Madison Jr.

Theok. Bland8

1Not found.

3John Adams’ “private letter” of 11 April 1782 was to James Searle (Letter of Lyman H. Butterfield to William M. E. Rachal, 23 April 1964). The Pennsylvania Packet of 20 and 25 June and the Pennsylvania Journal of 22 June apparently do not mention the “Leyden Gazette,” although they furnish news similar in tenor to that of this paragraph. JM may also have seen “a letter, dated Amsterdam, March 28,” prior to the publication of an extract from it in the Journal of 26 June 1782. John Adams’ dispatch of 19[–?] April, telling of “his reception as a Minister” on 22 April by the States-General, was not received by Congress until 11 September 1782 (NA: PCC, No. 185, III, 41; Burnett, Letters description begins Edmund C. Burnett, ed., Letters of Members of the Continental Congress (8 vols.; Washington, 1921–36). description ends , VI, 471, 473; Wharton, Revolutionary Diplomatic Correspondence description begins Francis Wharton, ed., The Revolutionary Diplomatic Correspondence of the United States (6 vols.; Washington, 1889). description ends , V, 315–19). See also Report on Salaries of Representatives Abroad, 28 May, n. 11; JM to Jones, 28 May 1782, and n. 19.

4See 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 , III, 338–39.

5See JM to Randolph, 18 June 1782, and n. 9.

6See Report on Illicit Trade, 19 June 1782, and nn. 8 and 11.

7The ninth of the Articles of Confederation conferred upon Congress “the sole and exclusive right and power” of “establishing rules for deciding in all cases, what captures on land or water shall be legal” (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XIX, 217). See also Randolph to JM, 16–17 May 1782, and n. 9.

8The second and third paragraphs of this letter, unidentified as to sender or recipient, appeared in the Virginia Gazette description begins Virginia Gazette, or, the American Advertiser (Richmond, James Hayes, 1781–86). description ends of 6 July 1782. In the third paragraph, “you” was substituted for “your Excellency by the President” and “immediately” inserted before “transmitted.”

Index Entries