James Madison Papers

From James Madison to Edmund Randolph, 27 August 1782

To Edmund Randolph

RC (LC: Madison Papers). Unsigned but in JM’s hand. The cover is franked “J Madison Jr.” and addressed by him to “The honble Edmund Randolph Richmond.” Docketed by Randolph, “J. Madison jr. Aug: 27, 1782.” Unless otherwise noted, the italicized words are those encoded by JM in the official cipher.

Philada. Aug. 27th. 1782.

Dear Sir

Your favor of the 16th.1 came duly to hand yesterday. The hints which it gives with regard to merchandises imported in returning flags, and the intrusion of obnoxious aliens through other States, merit attention. The latter subject has on several occasions been mentioned in Congress, but I believe no Committee has ever reported a remedy for the abuse.2 A uniform rule of naturalization ought certainly to be recommended to the States.3 Their individual authority4 seems[,] if properly exerted, to be competent to the case of their own Citizens.

The report touching the unpopularity of general G5 was perfectly new to me. It may nevertheless be true. The letter recd. yesterday from the Govr. is silent as to the appointment of Commissrs. to treat with the Southern Indians.6

We are still left without information concerning negociations in Europe. So long a silence of our Ministers at so interesting a crisis grows equally distressing & inexplicible.7 The French fleet has gone into Boston Harbor.8 The arrival of a British fleet on this coast is reported but disbelieved by many.9 The French Army is on its way Northward from Baltimore. It is to proceed in five divisions; the 1st. of which is to be here about friday next.10

Congress red. yesterday a letter from Genl. Washington enclosing one to him from Carlton with the proceedings of the Ct. Martial in the case of Lippencut. It appears that this Culprit did not deny the fact charged upon him but undertook to justify it as a necessary retaliation, and as warranted by verbal11 orders from the Board of Refugees. The Ct. decided this warrant to be insufficient, but acquitted him on the pretext that no malicious intention appeared. Carlton explicitly acknowledges & reprobates the crime, & promises to pursue it in other modes; complaining at the same time of irregularity in the step taken by Genl W. of selecting & devoting to execution an innocent & even a capitulant officer, before satisfaction had been formally demanded & refused. Genl W. seems to lean to the side of compassion but asks the direction of Congress12 What that will be may perhaps be communicated in my next.13

The consideration of your territorial report has been resumed The expedient which was meant to conciliate both sides proved, as often happens, a means of widening the breach. The Jealousies announced on the side mentioned in my last were answered with reciprocal jealousies from the other, & the report between the two was falling to the ground when a committment as a lesser evil was proposed & agreed to.14

Mr. Jones & his family arrived on sunday15 at Germantown without halting in this City. Himself, his lady & little son were all extremely sick during the whole journey.16 Mrs. Jones is still very much indisposed, & Mr. Jones considerably so. They do not propose to come into the City till the salubrity of Germantown shall have enabled them to encounter its noise & polluted atmosphere.17

I cannot in any way make you more sensible of the importance of your kind attention to pecuniary remittances for me than by informing you that I have for some time past been a pensioner on the favor of H. S. Haym Solomon a Jew Broker18 Will not the Agent of Mr. Morris19 give a draught payable to me for notes payable to the bearer? Or may not the Notes be so endorsed as in case of accident to prevent payment to another? In either of these cases a remittance of notes (if they can be procured for me) by the post will be safe. But my present situation renders such a conveyance preferable to delay, even if neither of the foregoing expedients be practicable. Shew this paragraph to Mr. Ambler20 if you please.

As I do not find that any of my letters in which Mr. L——s Cypher was used have miscarried, I inclose you a Key exactly copied from mine.21 If it arrives safe, and unlocks the past letters it may be of future use b[y?] us[.] observe & inform me whether the seal of [this letter?]22 obviates all suspicion of its having been opened.

Mr. H. & Mr. T.23 present their very affecte. regard to Mrs. Randolph & yourself. The arrival of every post is succeded by immediate & anxious inquiries concerning the number24 of your little family to which I hope Mrs. R. is by this time able to furnish a satisfactory answer.25

1Q.v. A bracket at the beginning of this paragraph and another bracket at the close of the seventh paragraph designated the portion of this letter which JM wished to be included in the first edition of his writings. 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, 161–63.

2See Randolph to JM, 16 August 1782, and nn. 6, 9, 10, 11.

3In accordance with the authority conferred by Article I, section 8, of the Federal Constitution, the Congress of the United States adopted the first “uniform rule of naturalization,” and President Washington signed it into law in March 1790 (Frank George Franklin, The Legislative History of Naturalization in the United States from the Revolutionary War to 1861 [Chicago, 1906], pp. 18, 33, 48).

4After this word, JM wrote and deleted “of the States individually.” He then interlineated “individual” between “Their” and “authority.”

5Instead of using 544, the cipher for “general,” JM wrote 554, signifying “next.” For the alleged unpopularity of General Nathanael Greene, see Randolph to JM, 16 August 1782, and n. 16.

11This word and the words “malicious” and “refused,” appearing later in the paragraph, were underlined rather than encoded by JM.

12For the Captain Richard Lippincott—Captain Joshua Huddy—Captain Charles Asgill affair, 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 , IV, 199, nn. 17, 18. At his court-martial, Lippincott contended that he had executed Huddy in obedience to the orders of his superior, William Franklin, royal governor of New Jersey and president of the Board of Associated Loyalists, who believed that the many atrocities committed against the Tories of the state by its rebels warranted retaliation in kind. Although Carleton assured Washington in a letter of 13 August that he would continue his investigation for the purpose of apprehending and punishing the guilty person or persons, he apparently did not try to prevent, and may even have encouraged, Franklin’s departure for England one week later (Pennsylvania Packet, 29 August 1782).

In this same dispatch, Carleton reminded Washington that, by selecting Asgill, a prisoner of war, by lot to hang for Huddy’s murder before ascertaining whether the British would punish those who were responsible for the crime, he had broken “the Law & practice of polished Nations.” Carleton urged Washington to release Asgill “as a Debt due to Humanity, to say nothing of the requirements of Honor & policy, and of the principles of all Laws, civil & moral.” In his letter of 19 August to Congress, Washington stated that he had been impressed by Carleton’s reprobation of the crime “in unequivocal terms” and by his “assurances of prosecuting a further enquiry.” In view of the resolve by the British commander-in-chief to have justice done, the Asgill matter had been placed, according to Washington, upon “an extremely delicate footing” and was of “great national concern.” For this reason he asked Congress to make the decision, although he did not conceal his own opinion that an “impartial and unprejudiced World” would condemn “an act of retaliation upon an innocent person” (NA: PCC, No. 152, X, 653–55, 679–82, 693–700; Fitzpatrick, Writings of Washington description begins John C. Fitzpatrick, ed., The Writings of George Washington, from the Original Sources, 1745–1799 (39 vols.; Washington, 1931–44). description ends , XXV, 39–41).

On 26 August Congress referred the Carleton-Washington correspondence and a copy of Lippincott’s court-martial proceedings to a committee comprising John Rutledge as chairman and Thomas McKean and James Duane as the other members (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XXIII, 531, n. 1). Although the Pennsylvania Journal of 25 August reported that Lippincott had been released by the British from custody nine days before, he was “not set at liberty till the close of the war” ([Adolphus] Egerton Ryerson, The Loyalists of America and Their Times: From 1620 to 1816 [2 vols.; Toronto, 1880], II, 195).

13JM apparently did not mention this matter again in a letter to Randolph until 29 October 1782 (q.v.).

1525 August 1782.

16From Spring Hill, Jones’s estate in King George County, Va. 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 , IV, 367, n. 14.

17Germantown, about six miles northwest of the center of Philadelphia, was outside that city’s limits in 1782. Jones resumed his seat in Congress on 5 September 1782 (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XXIII, 547).

18See JM to Randolph, 5–6 and 20 August 1782. JM interlineated this identification of “H. S.” perhaps many years later after recovering his letters to Randolph. See JM to Randolph, 13 August 1782, headnote; 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, 108, n. 2.

19Daniel Clark. See Randolph to JM, 16 August 1782, and n. 21.

20Jacquelin Ambler, treasurer of Virginia.

21Not found. For Lovell’s cipher and the key thereto, see Randolph to JM, 6 August 1782, and n. 13.

22These two words may have been the ones eliminated by Randolph in breaking the seal of the letter.

23Probably Samuel House and Nicholas Trist. 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 , II, 92, n. 8; IV, 251, n. 28.

24Underlined rather than encoded by JM.

25Randolph’s eldest daughter, Susan Beverley Randolph, was born about 11 October 1782 (Randolph to JM, 18 October 1782). She died on 12 October 1846 (Charles Randolph Hughes, “Old Chapel,” Clarke County, Virginia [Berryville, Va., 1906], p. 36).

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