James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Edmund Pendleton, 19 August 1782

From Edmund Pendleton

Tr (LC: Force Transcripts). Addressed to “The Honble James Madison jr Esqr Philada.” At the top of the left margin of the first page of the transcription the copyist wrote, “MSS. McGuires.” 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 , I, xxii, xxiii. Another copy of the original is printed in the Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society, 2d ser., XIX (1905), 159–60. The portion about Brigadier General Anthony Wayne, in the second paragraph, was also reproduced in Stan. V. Henkels Catalogue No. 694 (1892).

Virga Augt 19th 1782

Dear Sir

I thank you for yr favr of the 6th1 & for your promise to endeavour to reclaim my nephew’s runaway slave; the circumstance you mention will probably prevent the sale of him if recovered,2 unless any of the French officers should take a fancy to him & purchase. I am told the Pennsylvania law has guarded against runaway slaves claiming the benefit of manumission by coming into that State. Policy makes such a regulation probable as well as justice, since the latter would restrain the making their State an Asylum for their neighbours property, and the latter forbid such an increase of these people upon their hands, who I am persuaded will be found not the most desirable kind of citizens. We have heard the slave was with the French Army at Baltimore, & a man is gone thither after him; if they had removed before he reach’d that Town, he would pursue them, & I doubt not if he came to Philadelphia, and applied, but he had yr assistance.3

We have nothing from the Southward since my last but an entertaining Annecdote respecting Genl Wayne, who ’tis [said]4 suffered himself to be surprised by a body of Indians, to whom he abandon’d his Camp; the sight of the Cannon & tents standing, impressed on the minds of the Savages an Idea of Our Army’s havg gone off by stratagem & of their speedy return. In this tremor young Parker (who had rallied & march’d back 25 Infantry & 15 Cavalry) attack’d them, & they fled with Precipitation, leaving not only our Camp, Baggage, &c unhurt, but 500 horses loaded with skins & furs, their Own5 Arms & other things.6 I am impatient for your next favr. since I am told Genl. Carlton hath at length broke silence & communicated to Genl. Washington a Convention of Ministers from the Belligerent Powers at Paris, who had nearly settled the Preliminaries for a General peace, the great Outlines of which, Particularly American Independence, the restitution of places taken, and the rights of the Fishery had been adjusted & settled.7 We were no sooner Possessed of this agreable intelligence, than a Gentn8 passed Us sd to be just arrived from Europe who tels that things were indeed in the above train at Paris. When an account reach’d London of Adml. Rodney’s success, a courier was despatch’d to Paris to stop the Negotiation, & the Convention broke up—in this uncertain state rests this great & Interesting point.9 Surely the British Ministry would not suffer so good a work on the point of completion to be stopt, because in the precarious events of War they happen’d just then to have gain’d some Advantages, wch they might soon loose with high Interest. Be this as it may the crisis is important, and my Anxiety on fire ’til I know the event. May it be Peace, provided it be a just & liberal one, which may give it a long duration. I am

Dr Sr Yr mo. Affecte

Edmd. Pendleton

Can you procure for a friend10 4 yds good gold lace about 1/2 an inch wide & contrive it to me by the first good opportunity? perhaps my Letter may contain it.11 the price as soon as you let me know it, shall be sent you in a Bank note, with thanks.12

1The version in the Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society erroneously reads “16th.”

3See 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 , IV, 397, n. 7; 399; 443; 444, n. 14. The first echelon of the French army left Baltimore on 23 August 1782.

4According to the Henkels and Massachusetts Historical Society versions, Pendleton wrote “said.”

5Although the Henkels version reads “oxen,” the copy in the Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society and that in the Force transcripts read “own.”

6In his report of 24 June 1782 to General Nathanael Greene, General Anthony Wayne stated that a force of Indians and a few Loyalists had attacked his camp at Sharon, five miles from Savannah, at one o’clock that morning. Although the fury of the onslaught resulted momentarily in their capture of two cannon, Captain Alexander Parker rallied a party of infantry and, with the help of Captain James Gunn and some dragoons, speedily routed the enemy. At a cost of five men killed and eight wounded, the Americans recovered their field pieces and captured a British standard, 107 horses, and considerable baggage. Among the two Loyalists and fourteen Indians slain was “the famous Emistesego, our greatest enemy and principal warrior of the Creek Nation” (NA: PCC, No. 155, II, 491–95). Greene’s letter of 13 July to the president of Congress, enclosing a copy of Wayne’s report and casualty list, was read in Congress on or about 12 August 1782 (ibid., No. 155, II, 485–88; JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XXIII, 464 n.).

Captain Alexander Parker (ca. 1754–1821) of Springfield, Westmoreland County, Va., had enlisted as an ensign of the continental 2d Virginia Regiment in September 1775 and by 1 June 1777 had risen to the rank of captain (Westmoreland County Records, Deed and Will Book 24, p. 224, microfilm in Virginia State Library; Lawrence McRae, comp., “Descendants of George Parker and His Wife. Accomac County, Virginia, 1650” [typescript, Greensboro, N.C., 1928], pp. 10–11, in Virginia State Library). His service thereafter in the southern department until the close of the war included some months as a captive, consequent upon the surrender of Charleston to the British in May 1780. Parker had returned to Virginia by June 1783 and probably resigned his commission at that time (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. 603; Journals of the Council of State description begins H. R. McIlwaine et al., eds., Journals of the Council of the State of Virginia (3 vols. to date; Richmond, 1931——). description ends , III, 272). He was commissioned major of United States infantry on 3 June 1790 and colonel on 3 May 1808. On 31 March 1814 the United States Senate declined to approve JM’s recommendation that Parker be promoted to brigadier general (Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate of the United States, I, 46–47; II, 99, 504, 520–21).

8Possibly William Blake on his way from Philadelphia to South Carolina (JM to Randolph, 13 August 1782, and n. 4).

9See JM to Randolph, 5–6 August, and n. 9; 13 August 1782, and nn. 5 and 9.


11That is, JM perhaps would be able to enclose the lace in a letter to Pendleton. See JM to Randolph, 12 November 1782 (first letter), and n. 7.

12That is, a note issued by the Bank of North America in Philadelphia (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 , IV, 48–49; 50, n. 5; 51, nn. 9, 10; 104, n. 1; Pendleton to JM, 25 November 1782). The version of this letter in the Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society omits this postscript, stating that it is “[Unimportant].”

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