James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Edmund Pendleton, 14 October 1782

From Edmund Pendleton

Tr (LC: Force Transcripts). At the top of the left margin of the first page of the transcription, the copyist wrote “MSS [M]cGuire’s.” 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, xxii, xxiii. The letter is also published, from the original manuscript, in the Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society, 2d ser., XIX (1905), 163–64.

Virga. Octr 14th 1782

Dr Sir

Tho’ this is Mr Jones’s turn,1 yet as you wrote last instead of him, to preserve order in the correspondence it is necessary I should acknowledge yr two favrs of the 24th past & 1st Instant, the former did not miscarry as I supposed, but by some blunder in the Post Office made a trip to Petersburg & returned to me. You know I am a stickler for order and my friend Mr Jones must excuse me. I should fear his illness prevented his writing, but as you don’t mention it, I impute it to some other Accident.2

We are told the Negotiations at Paris were still going on the latter end of July;3 Tergiv’satious conduct I should think, must alone be the cause of Spining it out to such length; the view in such delay can be only to await the events of the campaign and the annecdote respecting Mr Grenville, plainly enough designates the dilatory Power.4 Truth could not be his motive in changing his position, since I have no doubt, if no unforeseen misfortune happens, but that the King will agree to our Independence much sooner than be disposed5 to it. However their continuing the Treaty6 gives reason to conclude that if no great change is produced on either side by this Campaign, they will treat seriously at the close of it. For I think the nation as soon as the eclat of Rodney’s Victory7 shall have grown stale, will return to their demand for Peace, wch the King & his Primeir8 will not be able to silence

From a view of things compared wth yr9 last Intelligence It seems to me that N. York will be evacuated—that the 2000 Germans & 1200 British lately arrived at Halifax, with the 1500 who went there from New York, will be sent to Canada to strengthen the defence of that Countrey, & the rest of the Army go to the West Indies,10 but in this conjecture, I may wholly mistake their System. I hope the Ships to the Eastward are secure from their Attempts.11 Nothing can equal the generosity of our Ally; which is as Permanent as it is beneficial;12 one would suppose the late Instance would inspire every American breast with the Warmest gratitude, yet I am told that a letter lately written to this Countrey by Dr Lee, contain[s] sentiments very different, & makes much noise in the State, to his disadvantage, Not to that of the Alliance.13 I wish the Indian incursion into Our frontiers may be discontinued, but I agree with the Sagacious Sachem, that we have more to hope for from an opinion impress[ed] on them of our power to hurt them, than from the tender mercies of the British King.14 I fancy there has been a smart rencounter with them in the Kentucky Countrey, but the Particulars are not ascertained.15

It is said the Vessels from Ostend, mentioned in my last,16 belong to some Smuglers on the british Coast, but I don’t know the certainty of it. my Complts. to Mr Jones. I am

Dr Sr Yr very Affe Servt

Edmd Pendleton

1That is, since Pendleton was accustomed to alternate his weekly letters to Joseph Jones and JM and on 7 October had dispatched a message, now missing, to JM, Pendleton normally would have addressed the present communication to Jones. See JM to Pendleton, 15 October 1782.

2As Pendleton stated, JM had written to him on 24 September and 1 October (qq.v.), although the latter of these two communications should have been from Jones. Jones resumed the agreed-upon schedule by addressing Pendleton on 8 October (Pendleton to Jones, 21 October 1782 [LC: Force Transcripts]). See also JM to Pendleton, 24 September, and n. 8; 22 October 1782.

3Pendleton may be referring to what he had read in the Virginia Gazette description begins Virginia Gazette, or, the American Advertiser (Richmond, James Hayes, 1781–86). description ends of 5 October 1782 about the continuing negotiations in Paris.

4See JM to Pendleton, 1 October 1782. Whether Pendleton or Peter Force’s copyist misspelled “Tergiversatious,” “Spinning,” and “anecdote,” is unknown. These words are correctly spelled in the Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society. See the headnote.

5The two italicized words in this sentence were underlined by Pendleton. He here echoed JM’s letter of 1 October (q.v.), in which the same words were underlined.

6By “Treaty,” Pendleton evidently meant “negotiations.”

9The Massachusetts Historical Society’s version (see headnote) has “ye,” instead of this abbreviation for “your.”

11That is, the French ships in Rhode Island ports and in Boston Harbor. See Virginia Delegates to Harrison, 1 October 1782, n. 2.

13See Randolph to JM, 5 October, and n. 4. In his letter of 21 October to Joseph Jones (n. 2, above), Pendleton asked Jones to inform JM that “Justice to the Dr requires that I should thus early declare, I have since had a particular Account of that letter, & find the Clamour was without foundation.” By 8 November, when Pendleton again mentioned this matter in a letter to JM (q.v.), he had revised his opinion once more.

15See Ambler to JM, 5 October 1782, and n. 2.

16Pendleton’s letter of 7 October to JM is missing. JM acknowledged its receipt in his letter of 15 October 1782 to Pendleton (q.v.).

Index Entries