James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Edmund Randolph, 7 September 1782

From Edmund Randolph

RC (LC: Madison Papers). Lacks complimentary close and signature, but the text, in Randolph’s hand, seems to be complete. The cover was addressed by him to “The honble. James Madison jr. esq of congress Philadelphia.” Docketed by JM, “Sepr. 7. 1782.”

Richmond Sepr. 7. 1782.

Dear sir

I waited upon Mr. Ambler to shew him your letter by yesterday’s post,1 but he was too much indisposed to have communication with any person. Mr. Morris’s agent has not been in town for some days past, which makes his interposition impracticable at present.2 I have been told that specie comes in in decent quantities.3 If so Mr. A’s attention will no doubt secure you this preemption and mine shall keep him in constant remembrance of your difficulties. Let me suggest another expedient. Tobacco is certainly the object of Philadelphia Merchants, and remittances are daily made of money for the purchase.4 Draw a bill on the treasury at 10 days sight, or if suitable to the buyer, at a longer sight, and assure him, as you may assure yourself, that if the amount is not discharged by the public I will do it in three days afterwards.5

It is said, but with what authority I cannot discover, that a british fleet is now in our bay, consisting of between 20 and 30 ships of the line. Of this report, if it be true, the governor will no doubt apprize you.6

At the visitation on Monday last little was done or to be done but the discussion of Mr. Bracken’s proposals to accept the professorship for Brafferton on certain conditions. But he having receded from his original overtures, and the visitors seeming to abhor a composition on their part, notice was given to him to abandon the house, which is one of the appendages of the Brafferton school. Thus far our reformation continues to receive support. But some of the gentlemen, who scrupled at the deposition of the grammar school, appear to doubt our power to establish the new professorships. I fear, that the next meeting will have a stroke at law and physick.7 The Dr.8 has however liberated them from this embarrassment by being on the point of residing in Phila. Should the law-school be overturned, the college will be reduced to a desart.

Nothing of consequence or certainty from any source of intelligence.

1Jacquelin Ambler, treasurer of Virginia. See JM to Randolph, 27 August 1782.

2See ibid., and n. 19.

5In other words, Randolph promised to honor JM’s draft on the treasury of Virginia, if Ambler, the treasurer, lacked sufficient public funds to cash the draft within ten days after presentation.

6The origin of this false rumor has not been determined. Perhaps someone saw the fleet of Admiral Pigot off the Chesapeake capes, proceeding northward. See Virginia Delegates to Harrison, 10 September, n. 8. Governor Harrison had not mentioned the matter in his letter of 6 September 1782 to the delegates (q.v.).

7See Randolph to JM, 30 August 1782, and nn. 10, 13, and 15. The grammar school was sometimes called the “Brafferton,” after an English manor from which, beginning in 1692, the College of William and Mary had derived income for the education of Indian boys. Brafferton Hall was erected in 1723. Randolph used the word “composition” in the sense of an agreement or compromise. In referring to a “strike at law and physick,” he was expressing uneasiness that an attempt might be made to abolish the schools of law and medicine, established in 1779.

8For Dr. James McClurg, 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, 296, n. 3; Reverend James Madison to JM, 18 September 1782, and n. 13.

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