James Madison Papers

From James Madison to Edmund Randolph, 9 August 1782

To Edmund Randolph

RC (LC: Madison Papers). Cover franked by “J. Madison Jr.” and addressed by him to “The honble Edmund Randolph Esqr. Richmond by Express.” Docketed by Randolph, “1782, Aug. 9.”

Philada. Augst. Ninth 1782.

Extract of a letter from Carlton & Digby to Gen Washington.

Augt. 2.1

“We are acquainted Sir by Authority, that negociations for a general peace have already commenced at Paris & that Mr. Grenville is invested with full powers to treat with all parties at war, & is now at paris in execution of his Commission. And we are likewise Sir further made acquainted, that his Majesty in order to remove all obstacles to that peace which he so ardently wishes to restore, has commanded his Ministers to direct Mr. Grenville, that the Independency of the thirteen Provinces should be proposed by him in the first instance, instead of making it a condition of a General2 Treaty; however not without the highest confidence that the Loyalists shall be restored to their possessions, or a full compensation made them for whatever confiscations may have taken place”

This is followed by information that transports are preparing to convey all American prisoners in England to the U. S. and a proposition for a general exchange3 in which Seamen are to be placed agst. Seamen as far as they will go, & the balance in favr. of G. B. to be redeemed by land prisoners, the former to be free,4 the latter not to serve in war agst. the 13 Provinces for one year.5 An embarcation taking place at N. Y. either6 for Charleston, either to reinforce that Garrison or replace it.7

The preceding letter was published in N. York at the same time that it was sent to Genl. Washington.8 I commit this intelligence to your discretion; making no other remark than that it clearly calls for our watchfulness at the same time that it flatter[s ou]r expectations.9

J. Madison.

The departure of the Express does not leave me [time to?]10 put this into a more decent form.

2JM crossed out “peace” between “General” and “Treaty.”

3After “exchange,” JM wrote and crossed out “of Seamen.”

5“Provinces,” rather than “States” or the “United States,” was the word Carleton and Digby used. JM omitted mention of the paragraph in their letter asking for Washington’s or Congress’ assurance that the release of Henry Laurens in England, “without any condition,” freed General John Burgoyne from his parole as a prisoner of war. See Papers of Madison description begins William T. Hutchinson, William M. E. Rachal, et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison (5 vols. to date; Chicago, 1962——). description ends , III, 233 n. Congress declined to give this assurance, and the status of Burgoyne remained ambiguous for many months (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XXIII, 852–53).

6JM probably forgot to delete this word.

9Probably many years later JM, or someone at his bidding, placed a bracket at this point in the letter. By the bracket JM evidently meant to signify that the entire letter, except its postscript, should be published in the first edition of his writings. This was done. See Madison, Papers description begins (Gilpin ed.). Henry D. Gilpin, ed., The Papers of James Madison (3 vols.; Washington, 1840). description ends (Gilpin ed.), I, 157–58.

10Whatever JM may have written in the short space between “me” and “put” has faded out.

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