James Madison Papers

From James Madison to Edmund Pendleton, 24 September 1782

To Edmund Pendleton

RC (New York Public Library). Docketed by Pendleton, “James Madison Esqr. Oct 1. 1782.” In his letter of 14 October to JM (q.v.), Pendleton implied that the present communication and that of 1 October reached him simultaneously, and he probably docketed both as though they had been written on the same day.

Philada. Sepr. 24th. 1782.

Dear Sir

I am very glad to find that the recovery of Mr. Pendleton’s slave hath at length been accomplished.1 I shall immediately relieve Col: Jameson from the task I had consigned to him.2

The sum of the intelligence recd. by the French frigates3 is that Mr. Grenvilles visit & propositions looked for a while very auspicious, but that the hopes inspired by the naval success of the English in the W. Indies4 had reversed the prospect; and it was expected that tergiversations on the part of the Ct. of London would spin out the negociations till the chances of the campaign should be tried. Whilst Shelburne guides the helm, nothing but some dreadful calamity, or some national commotion, or the fear of one or other of them, can secure us peace. His obstinacy of temper & notorious aversion to our independence, abetted by the same sentiments in the King, will protract the war as long as means & pretexts can be found for it.5

The Frigate which my last informed you had been run aground in this Bay has been got off by the Enemy & carried to N. York. Among other articles of Prize, nearly 50,000 Dollars fell into the hands of the Captors.6

Our generous Ally has given us a fresh token of friendship by remitting to us all the interest due or which wd. accrue during the war on the advances he has made to us; together with the expence of the loan obtained for us last year in Holland. He has also agreed to accept the principal in 12 annual payments commencing one year after peace. According to the stipulations of Dr. Franklin the whole was to have been paid in the year 1788.7

Mr. Jones commenced his alternate correspondence with you last week. It will go on hereafter according to the former roatation.8

I am Sir with sincere esteem yrs &ca.

J. Madison Jr.

2JM probably had asked Lieutenant Colonel John Jameson, stationed with Washington’s army along the lower Hudson River, to ascertain whether the French army, garrisoned nearby, was harboring the runaway slave. 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, 201, n. 1; IV, 118, n. 7; 444, n. 14; JM to Pendleton, 3 September 1782, and n. 13.

3See JM to Randolph, 16–17 September 1782, and nn. 16, 19, 20.

4For the informal negotiations of Thomas Grenville with the Comte de Vergennes and Benjamin Franklin, see JM to Randolph, 5–6 August, n. 9; 13 August, n. 5; Virginia Delegates to Harrison, 9 August, and n. 1; Randolph to JM, 24 August; Conversation between Livingston and La Luzerne, 23 September 1782. The “naval success” was the Battle of the Saints, 9–12 April 1782. See Randolph to JM, 6 August 1782, n. 21.

6Here JM’s memory probably was at fault. His letter of 16–17 September (q.v., and n. 19), telling about the “Frigate,” had been to Randolph, not to Pendleton. As JM stated later in the present letter, Joseph Jones had taken his turn by writing to Pendleton “last week.”

7Several Dutch bankers in 1781 had loaned the United States $10,000,000. In his letter of 25 June 1782, Franklin informed Robert Morris that King Louis XVI had been “pleased to remit” the large “charges of commission and banque on this loan” (Wharton, Revolutionary Diplomatic Correspondence description begins Francis Wharton, ed., The Revolutionary Diplomatic Correspondence of the United States (6 vols.; Washington, 1889). description ends , V, 515).

8That is, Joseph Jones and JM alternated in writing to Pendleton each week. Jones had been ill. Although he resumed his seat in Congress on 5 September, his frequent absence at roll calls during the next twelve days suggests that he had not fully recovered his health. See Randolph to JM, 24 August 1782, and n. 17; 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, 551, 553, 565–71, 576, 578, 585.

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