James Madison Papers

From James Madison to Edmund Pendleton, 20 August 1782

To Edmund Pendleton

RC (New York Public Library). Cover franked by “J. Madison Jr” and addressed by him to “The honble Edmund Pendleton Esqr. Caroline County Virginia.” Docketed by Pendleton, “James Madison Esqr. Augst. 20. 1782.”

Philada. Aug: 20th. 1782.

Dear Sir

At the date of my last1 I had little doubt that the post of this week would have conveyed you some further lights on the subject of negociations for peace. A continuation of the silence of our foreign Ministers has disappointed me. The extreme length of this silence is very remarkable and distressing.2 The risks to which their dispatches are exposed3 will not explain it [?] without supposing them to have been peculiarly unfortunate.

Messrs. Carlton & Digby have made no further communications nor propositions.4 A Number of the Prisoners from the Goals of England have arrived here conformably to the intimation given in their letter to Gen Washington.5

The Gazette you will find informs us that the French fleet has gone into Boston.6 It quitted its [stay?] about the Hook very unluckily a little before the arrival of the garrison &c. from Savannah.7

I am Dr Sir yrs very affectionately

J Madison Jr.

1JM’s letter of 13 August to Pendleton has not been found. See Pendleton to JM, 26 August 1782.

2See 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, 450, n. 17.

3That is, from the hazards of the sea, including interceptions by British ships.

5See Virginia Delegates to Harrison, 20 August 1782, and n. 3. JM is referring to a letter of 2 August from General Carleton and Admiral Digby to Washington (NA: PCC, No. 152, X, 669–71). A copy of this dispatch was read in Congress on 7 August 1782 (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XXII, 456, n. 1). The pronoun “their” refers to Carleton and Digby, not to “the Prisoners.”

6See Virginia Delegates to Harrison, 13 August 1782, n. 10. Although the Pennsylvania Packet of 20 August reported the arrival of the French fleet at Boston, the Pennsylvania Gazette and the Pennsylvania Journal did not do so until 28 August.

7A short word after “its” was obliterated by breaking the seal of the letter. About thirteen hundred troops, comprising all the British garrison of Savannah except two regiments used to reinforce General Alexander Leslie’s force at Charleston, had reached Sandy Hook near the entrance of New York Harbor on 10 August 1782. This was also the first of the two consecutive days on which divisions of the French fleet arrived at Boston (Pennsylvania Journal, 17 August; and Pennsylvania Packet, 21 August 1782).

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