James Madison Papers

From James Madison to Arthur Lee, 25 June 1782

To Arthur Lee

RC (Harvard University Library). Cover missing. About one-third of the last four lines on the left-hand side of the first page of the manuscript, and about the same fraction of the last four lines on the right-hand side of the second page of the manuscript, are missing.

Philada. 25th. June 1782.

Dear Sir

The bill which you lately inclosed to me1 was duly honored, and the contents of it are in my hands subject to any order which you may wish to give.

A private letter from Mr. Adams of the 11th. of April, informs his correspondent that Friesland Holland, Utrecht, Zealand & Overyssel had taken decided resolutions for a treaty with the U. States; and that like resolutions might be expected in a few days from the two remaining provinces.2 A Leyden paper of posterior date, says that six provinces had concurred in this measure. This revolution3 ap[pear]s t[o have]   been exceedingly stimulated by the   [int]erest which apprehended that if th[e]   was lost, they might be excluded   tion from some of the commercial privileges which England may obtain.4 It is observed in a long memorial from the Merchants to the States General that, the importance of the American trade was experienced by them very sensibly prior to the loss of St. Eustatius,5 as it has been throughout the war by France; that the Ordinance of Congress agst. British Manufactures6 presents a precious season for substituting those of other nations, & that this season ought the rather to be improved as nothing will be so likely to open the ears of G. B. to the demands of the U. S. & to a general peace, as the prospect of being supplanted in the commercial preference, which she still expects from the habits of America.

The trafic with the Enemy’s lines, had increased to so great a degree that it was thought necessary for Congress to renew their exhortations to the States upon this subject,7 and to summ   of the people in aid of the public   Resolutions will be laid before you   tive character. We also understand   cious intercourse with the Enemy is carryed on under collusive captures preconcerted between Vessels from N.Y. & vessels fitted out on the neighbouring coasts This abuse lies more within the purview of Congress and a remedy for it is now under consideration. If the trade with N.Y. cannot be suppressed by some means or other it will very shortly steal from us all our hard money, and render our taxations abortive.8

I am Dr. Sir with much respect Yr obt friend & servt.

J Madison Jr.

3See JM to Randolph, 7 May 1782, n. 3. By “revolution,” JM apparently meant that the sudden and strong trend in the Netherlands toward recognizing the independence of the United States had come as a surprise in view of John Adams’ pessimistic comments expressed in his letter of 11 March, the latest received from him by Congress until 11 September 1782 (NA: PCC, No. 186, III, 29, 31, 35, 41).

4The purport of these fragmentary sentences is clearly the same as that of the corresponding portion of the second paragraph of the Virginia delegates’ letter of 25 June to Governor Harrison (q.v.).

5See 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, 28, n. 11. JM refers to the memorial of Dutch “merchants, manufacturers, and other inhabitants living by commerce in this country” to the “States-General of the United Provinces.” A copy of this memorial, together with copies of other petitions and letters of the same tenor, was enclosed by Adams in his dispatch of 19 March 1782 to Robert R. Livingston (Wharton, Revolutionary Diplomatic Correspondence description begins Francis Wharton, ed., The Revolutionary Diplomatic Correspondence of the United States (6 vols.; Washington, 1889). description ends , V, 251–54). Congress must have received copies of the memorial by 25 June from another correspondent, because this letter of Adams did not reach Livingston until 12 November 1782 (NA: PCC, No. 186, III, 48). Extracts from the memorial appeared in the Pennsylvania Packet of 2 July 1782.

6See 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.

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