James Madison Papers

From James Madison to Edmund Randolph, 23 July 1782

To Edmund Randolph

RC (LC: Madison Papers). The letter lacks a complimentary close and signature. Words italicized in the next to last paragraph of the letter were written by JM in the Lovell cipher. The cover is franked by “J. Madison Jr.” and addressed by him to “The honble Edmund Randolph Esqr Richmond.” For a time the cover was used as a wrapper for a number of letters, because it is docketed by Randolph, “J. Madison jr Letters written in 23d of the month of July 1782.” Before “Letters,” Randolph deleted “Several.” Upon making this change he probably added “23d of” but neglected to substitute “on” for “in” and to strike the terminal “s” from “Letters.”

Philada. 23 July 1782.

Dear Sir

I have at length the pleasure of presenting you with certain tho’ not official intelligence of the recognition of our Independence by the States general.1 This event with other interesting particulars is contained in the inclosed Gazettes.2 among its salutary consequences to this country I hope the people of Virga. will not be inattentive to its influence on the value of its Staple on which it is very probable Speculations will be attempted.3

The Language & measures of the present administration will furnish you with copious matter for reflection. If we had recd. fewer lessons of caution agst. sanguine expectations, I should with confidence explain them by a scheme for a general pacification and for fathering on their predecessors4 all the obnoxious conditions which the public distresses may expose them to. If this solution were a just one it ought at the same time to be remembered that the triumph of Rodney5 may give a new turn to their politics. It appears from the paper from which the inclosed intelligence is republished that this event had reached London, that it was received with great rejoicings, but that the public were still haunted with fears for Jamaica.6 Other articles not included in the paper herewith sent, are, the capture of 1 if not 2 French 74’s with a number of Transports for the East Indies by Adml. Barrington,7 the capture of a British frigate with some transports by a Dutch ship of war,8 the capture of the valuable Island of Ceylon from the Dutch by Admiral Hughs, & of Negapatam another of their important possessions on the Coast of Coromandel, with 2 ships richly freighted with spices & other oriental productions.9 Ireland is likely to be indulged in every thing. In addition to a free trade & a free Legislation, they have obtained the assent of the Ld. Lieutt. to an act of Parliament for emancipating the Catholics from the shackles on their religious rights, & on their tenures of real property.10 Your philanthropy will be gratified by my adding as other proofs of the progress of light & freedom, the abolition of the inquisitorial jurisdiction in Sicily, the only part of the Neapolitan dominions where it was in force, and the inefficacy of the Pope’s visit to Vienna in checking the liberal innovations of the Emperor in his ecclesiastical polity.11

The12 news from Holland has much emboldened the enemies of France. [D]octor Lee declared that it ought to be considered as the epoch of our emancipation.13 Yesterday I was reminded by Izzard14 that Franklin was interested in restoring the backlands t[o] the crown. Soon after I was shewn by Lee a proposition for reconsidering the commission & instructions for peace.15 The plan is to exclude F—n & [J]y16 & to withdraw the others17 from the direction of F[r]ance. The notes of M——s18 are also to be attacked. These and some other symptoms strongly portend a revival of party heats. I earnestly wish we had your aid in repressing them.

General Washington is still here. I have nothing to add to my last on the subject of Lippencut & Asgil. It is said that a fleet of transports is just arrived at the Hook, & that it has troops on Board. This revived the idea that an evacuation of Charleston has taken place.19 I hope you will not neglect the request in my last touching pecuniary matters.20 My wants begin again to be very pressing & I hear nothing of remittances. I hope your silence by yesterday’s mail has not been the effect of ind[isposition?]

2Not found, but they probably included the Pennsylvania Packet of 20 and 23 July 1782.

3See JM to Pendleton, 9 July 1782, and n. 3.

4The ministry of Lord North. See JM to Pendleton, 23 July 1782, and n. 8.

5In the Battle of the Saints. See JM to Pendleton, 23 April 1782, n. 3.

6See JM to Randolph, 11 June 1782. The Pennsylvania Packet of 25 July 1782 published news from London under an 18 May date line, telling of the concern about the safety of Jamaica in spite of Rodney’s victory in the Battle of the Saints.

10See ibid., n. 9. William Henry Cavendish (later Cavendish Bentinck) (1738–1809), Duke of Portland, had taken the oath as Lord Lieutenant of Ireland on 14 April 1782 (Sir F[rederick] Maurice Powicke and E. B. Fryde, eds., Handbook of British Chronology [2d ed.; London, 1961], p. 166).

11The source of JM’s information about the two matters mentioned in this sentence has not been determined. He may have heard, prior to its publication in the Pennsylvania Journal of 24 July 1782, the report that Charles III of Spain planned to abolish the royal Inquisition in Spain and his dominions, including the Two Sicilies. Although the report was incorrect, the sovereign did reduce the prerogatives of the inquisitors. In March 1782 Pope Pius VI visited Vienna in an unsuccessful attempt to induce Emperor Joseph II to rescind his Patent of Tolerance (June 1781), which extended limited civil rights and freedom of worship to Protestants and Greek Catholics (Cambridge Modern History description begins A. W. Ward, G. W. Prothero, Stanley Leathes, eds., Cambridge Modern History (13 vols.; Cambridge, England, 1902–12). description ends , VI, 635–36).

12The bracketed letters in this paragraph signify errors in JM’s coding.

13Arthur Lee meant freedom from dependence upon, and obsequiousness to, the court of Versailles.

14Ralph Izard.

16Benjamin Franklin and John Jay.

17John Adams and Henry Laurens.

18Robert Morris. For his notes, see Virginia Delegates to Harrison, 19 March, n. 1; Randolph to JM, 20 June 1782, and n. 42.

19For the information mentioned in this sentence and the preceding three sentences, see JM to Pendleton, 23 July 1782, nn. 10, 11, 12.

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