James Madison Papers

From James Madison to Edmund Pendleton, 1 October 1782

To Edmund Pendleton

RC (New York Public Library). Unsigned letter in JM’s hand. Docketed by Pendleton, “James Madison jr. Esqr. Octr. 1. 1782.”

Philada. Ocr. 1. 1782.

Dr Sir

We have red. no addition since to my last to the intelligence from Europe:1 except an anecdote mentioned in a letter from the Marquis de la Fayette, which exemplifies the tergiversation of Mr. Grenville. On his interview with the Ct. de Vergennes he said that the unconditional acknowledgment of American Independence was a preliminary point to which the King had agreed. The Ct. de Vergennes in order to proceed with certainty & precision wrote down this declaration & requested Mr. G. to put his name to it. The latter immediately deserted his position & refused to abide by any thing more than that the King was disposed to grant the Independence of America.2

It is said with great confidence that a fleet is gone from N. Y. to Charlestown to remove the Garrison, & the evacuation of the former place continues to be a subject of conjecture & conversation. Some naval preparations at N. Y. are thought to indicate a projected expedition agst. the French Ships at Boston or Portsmouth.3

Genl W. has sent to Congress intelligence red. from Canada of the following tenor: that despaches have arrived informing the Govr. that a reinforcemt. of 3 or 4000 troops may be expected from Europe & 1500 foreign troops from N. York—that the upper Country will be strengthened by a reinforcement of its posts—& the fortifications of the lower put into the most defensible state, that it was in contemplation of the Cabinet to point the whole force of the Nation agst. the French & Spanish settlements in the W. Indies, that indian incursions are no longer to be permitted into our Frontiers—that Cambell4 had given notice of this to the Indians, assigning as the motive,5 that the compassion of the King to his American subjects had been excited by their professions of sorrow for what they had done. A Seneca Sachem replied that the American & French had beat the English, that the latter cd. no longer carry on the war—that the Indians knew it well & must now be sacrificed or submit to the Americans—that it was time to attend to their own concerns & listen no more to his lies. Ample presents, the salve always applied to Indian discontents were administered, but the Indians went home little satisfied with their condition.” The Genl. thinks this intelligence bears strong marks of authenticity.6

In haste adieu

1See JM to Pendleton, 24 September 1782, and nn. 4 and 7.

4Colonel John Campbell (1721–1795), a native of Argyllshire, Scotland. In 1775, after serving for eleven years as inspector of Indian affairs, he was appointed commandant of Indians in the province of Quebec. Two years later he led the Indian contingent of Burgoyne’s army during its unsuccessful invasion of New York. Subsequently Campbell became superintendent of Indian affairs for Lower Canada. His efficient administration won for him the liking and respect of both his British colleagues and the Indians (Report of the Canadian Archives, 1910 [Ottawa, 1911], p. 13; Burke’s Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Landed Gentry, including American Families with British Ancestry [London, 1939], p. 332; Gentleman’s Magazine, LXV, Part 2 [London, 1795], p. 703). For assistance in preparing this note, the editors are indebted to Messrs. W. I. Smith and R. Wood of the Public Archives of Canada.

5After this comma, JM may have intended to place a quotation mark to match its counterpart near the close of the letter. By referring to Washington’s letter of 26 September 1782 to Congress (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, 208–9), it becomes clear that JM was giving a précis of more in that dispatch than only the purported remarks of the “Seneca Sachem,” mentioned in the next sentence of the present letter.

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