James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Edmund Pendleton, 29 July 1782

From Edmund Pendleton

Tr (LC: Force Transcripts). Addressed to “The Honble James Madison Esqr Philada.” Another copy made from the manuscript is in the Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society, 2d ser., XIX (1905), 157–58.

Caroline July 29th 1782

Dear Sir

I am sorry to find by yr favr of the 16th that the Robbers of the Mail seem to be a regular train’d band, who may probably return to their Station on this side Philada1 to divert the Attention of those who may seek them; should this be the case, they will have a bad bargain in mine, not worth the trouble of reading. The report of the burning and evacuation of Charles Town2 had reached Us, before Yours came to hand, but I believe it came from the Northward,3 Accounts from No Carolina4 speak of it as a thing in Agitation rather than done. I mean the evacuation, for they say nothing of the burning, which I hope is not true.

I am sorry poor Asgil is at last likely to suffer for another’s crime; however the sacrifice is necessary, and just on our part, let them answer for the misapplication of the punishment, who alone might have saddled the right horse.5

The introduction of Genl Carlton’s maxim6 at this time probably looks forward to an important event, in which I always supposed the Interest of American Loialists7 would make a considerable point of discussion. I wish he may prove prophetic in the period in which that event will take place, tho’ perhaps we may differ widely in the grounds of his hopes. I am sorry for his proposition for exchanging Prisoners in a mode which would enable them to employ them agt our Allies, & appropriate others to the War here,8 as it betrays an Opinion on their part that they may still Insult our understandings with impunity, if not wth hopes of Success.

My Nephew Mr. Edmund Pendleton jr9 has lately lost a young negroe man about 22 yrs old, five feet eight inches high, rather thin made, is a little bow legged, and has a down look when spoke to. he run away last summer & having plunder’d a party of Troops, they whip’d him so severely that he lay up for two Months & reclaims10 the apparent Marks of it on each shoulder. He reclaim’d him twice from the French Troops as they Passed, & therefore suspects that he finally rode ahead of them to join them in Maryland & Pennsylvania, He stole a fine horse belonging to a Mr Allan11 & a valuable Mare from a Neighbour, but I can discribe neither. Will you do me the favour by application to Count Rochambeau or other French officers, to endeavour to recover him if he should have joined them, & in case you succeed, to have him confined in Goal12 ’til my nephew can send for him, unless you can sell him for £10013 specie, which tho’ much less than he would sell for here, my Nephew would rather take than be further troubled with him. The fellow’s name is Bob. I have not described his dress, as he stole variety of Cloaths from different people.14 I would not have troubled you with this request, but knew not how otherwise to get the application made.

I am as usual My Dr Sr Yr very Affe friend

Edmd Pendleton

1See JM to Pendleton, 16 July 1782, and n. 2.

2See ibid., and n. 3.

3The word “southward,” appearing in the Massachusetts Historical Society’s version, is probably an error.

4Not identified.

5See JM to Randolph, 1 May, and nn. 17, 18; 16 July 1782, and nn. 28, 29.

6See JM to Pendleton, 16 July 1782, and n. 6.

7This misspelling may be chargeable to Peter Force’s clerk, since the word is correctly spelled in the Massachusetts Historical Society version.

9After attending Donald Robertson’s Latin school and the College of William and Mary, and being tutored in law by his uncle, Edmund Pendleton, Edmund, Jr. (1744–1827), was admitted to the bar in 1765. His estate, White Plains, was near his uncle’s plantation in Caroline County. During the next decade Edmund Pendleton, Jr., became locally prominent as a practicing lawyer, as acting crown attorney, and as county attorney for the Commonwealth. A committee clerk in the House of Burgesses in 1773, he was clerk of several committees during the revolutionary conventions and was thereafter clerk of the committees of Privileges and Elections and of Propositions and Grievances in the House of Delegates for years. A member of the county Committee of Safety, 1774–1776, he was chosen by his neighbors at the outbreak of the war to lead a company of militia and had risen by 1780 to command all of the militia of Caroline County. He was the executor of Edmund Pendleton’s estate upon his uncle’s death in 1803 (Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, XLI [1933], 85; David J. Mays, Edmund Pendleton, I, 140, 141, 300, 339 n., 348 n.; II, 18, 44, 171–72, 287–88; T. E. Campbell, Colonial Caroline, pp. 235, 243, 266, 289–90, 344–45, 370, 467; Gwathmey, Historical Register of Virginians description begins John H. Gwathmey, Historical Register of Virginians in the Revolution: Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, 1775–1783 (Richmond, 1938). description ends , p. 615).

10Pendleton probably wrote “retains,” as shown in the Massachusetts Historical Society version.

11Either Erasmus (d. ca. 1812) or Thomas (d. ca. 1814) Allen, who were farmers in Caroline County (Personal-Property Tax Books, 1783–1815, Caroline County, MSS in Virginia State Library).

12“Gaol” in the Massachusetts Historical Society copy.

13“200” in the version cited in n. 12.

14Having been recovered for $20.00 from a French lieutenant in Baltimore, Bob again escaped and upon his recapture was confined in the jail of that town. Pendleton apparently informed JM later that the slave was once more at the plantation of Edmund Pendleton, Jr. (David J. Mays, Edmund Pendleton, II, 183, 383 n.; Pendleton to JM, 19 and 26 August, 2 and 9 September in Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society, 2d ser., XIX [1905], 159–63; JM to Pendleton, 24 September 1782, MS in New York Public Library). In the meantime JM had sought the aid of Barbé-Marbois and of Lieutenant Colonel John Jameson in apprehending Bob (JM to Pendleton, 3 September and 24 September 1782, MS in New York Public Library).

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