James Madison Papers

From James Madison to Edmund Pendleton, [15 October] 1782

To Edmund Pendleton

RC (New York Public Library). Undated, but Pendleton’s docket reads, “James Madison jr. Sepr. 12. 1782.” This obviously refers not to the date of the letter but to the date of the dispatch quoted by JM in the letter. In it JM duplicated in a considerable degree his letter of 15 October 1782 to Edmund Randolph (q.v.).

[15 October 1782]

Dear Sir

Extract of a letter from Sr. Guy Carlton to Genl Washington dated Sepr. 12th. 1782.1

“Partial tho’ our suspension of hostilities may be called, I thought it sufficient to have prevented those cruelties in the Jersies (avowed)2 which I have had occasion to mention more than once, but if war was the choice I never expected this suspension should operate further than to induce them to carry it on as is practiced by men of liberal minds. I am clearly of opinion with your Excellency, that mutual agreement is necessary for a suspension of hostility, and that without this mutual agreement either3 is free to act as each may judge expedient, yet I must at the same time frankly declare to you, that being no longer able to discern the object we contend for, I disapprove of all hostilities both by land & sea,4 as they only tend to multiply the miseries of individuals, when the public can reap no advantage by success. As5 to the Savages I have the best assurances that from a certain period not very long after my arrival here,6 no parties of Indians were sent out and that Messengers were dispatched to recall those who had gone forth before that time, and I have particular assurances of disapprobation of all that happened to your party on the side of Sandusky7 except so far as was necessary for self defence.” The language of this paragraph shews that the hope of a separate truce, if not a separate peace is still cherished by our insidious enemy.

We are in hourly expectation of further intelligence from Versailles but have as yet recd. nothing more than has been transmitted to you, on the subject of a pacification. The story brought by the Ostenders mentioned in your favor of the 7th. can scarcely be true.8 The combined fleets could not have left the channel before these adventurers must have got out of the European seas.9

A letter from Mr. Carmichael of the middle of June speaks of great exertions & sanguine expectations relative to the siege of Gibralter.10 I wish it may be brought to an issue in time to prevent any interference with the pacific operations.

The talk of an evacuation of N. York this fall grows less and less prevelent. That of Charleston has probably taken place by this time, unless new arrangements from Europe have suspended it.11

An Express I am just told is come [from] Boston to the French Minister12 who brings acct. of an arrival at that Place from Amsterdam after a very short passage.13 The Minister has no letters from Europe. His correspondent14 at Boston writes that the combined fleets had proceeded from the Channel for Gibralter, that unless this Garrison sd. be speedily relieved, its fall was certain,15 that the British fleet had returnd into port, that the French Trade with the W. Indies had arrived safe and that the French affairs in the E. Indies were in general in a favorable train.16 These are all the particulars I have been able to collect with sufficient precision to be transmitted. If Despatches sd have come for Congress,17 the next post will be more satisfactory

I am Dr Sir with great regard yr obt. & hble servt.

J. Madison Jr.

1Except for differences in punctuation, spelling, and capitalization, and three other minor variations mentioned in nn. 3–5, JM accurately quoted from Carleton’s letter of 12 September to Washington. See Virginia Delegates to Harrison, 15 October 1782, n. 3.

2See 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, 415; 416, n. 6; Report on Washington-Carleton Correspondence, 12 August 1782.

3This word is followed by “Party” in the copy from which JM quoted.

4These two italicized words were underlined by JM but not by the clerk who made a copy of Carleton’s dispatch.

5“As” begins a new paragraph in the clerk’s copy.

6On 5 May 1782. 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, 216, n. 4. Carleton’s “assurances” probably had come from Lieutenant General Sir Frederick Haldimand, governor of Canada and commander of the British troops stationed there. In instructions of 17 July 1782, the Earl of Shelburne had ordered Haldimand to end Indian warfare (Thomas P. Abernethy, Western Lands and the American Revolution, p. 266, and n. 22). 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, 420, n. 17; Virginia Delegates to Harrison, 15 October 1782, n. 5. Major General Alexander Leslie was at the same time directing the cessation of Indian hostilities in the southern department (Historical Manuscripts Commission, eds., Report on American Manuscripts in the Royal Institution of Great Britain, III, 157).

7For the capture of Colonel William Crawford and his death by torture near Sandusky at the hands of Indians, see Pendleton to JM, 12 August, and n. 6; Randolph to JM, 30 August 1782, and n. 21.

8See Pendleton to JM, 14 October 1782, n. 1. Writing from Petersburg, Va., on 17 September to Governor Harrison, David Ross reported that a “Cutter,” the “Duc de Armberg,” had “just arrived from Ostend,” bringing him a thousand suits of soldiers’ uniforms and letters, dated as late as 13 July, from Europe (Calendar of Virginia State Papers description begins William P. Palmer et al., eds., Calendar of Virginia State Papers and Other Manuscripts (11 vols.; Richmond, 1875–93). description ends , III, 312; McIlwaine, Official Letters description begins H. R. McIlwaine, ed., Official Letters of the Governors of the State of Virginia (3 vols.; Richmond, 1926–29). description ends , III, 328–29).

9These adventurers were “the Ostenders.” For “the combined fleets” of France and Spain in the English Channel, see JM to Randolph, 11 September 1782, A.M., and n. 7.

10William Carmichael’s letter of 12 June from Madrid to Robert R. Livingston was read in Congress on 14 October (NA: PCC, No. 79, II, 5, 355; No. 88, I, 237–40; No. 185, III, 44). Carmichael ventured the opinion that the Spaniards were now unwilling to parley with the enemy as long as the siege of Gibraltar promised success. Carmichael did not expect maximum Franco-Spanish pressure upon the stronghold to be exerted before August, “if in all that month” (Wharton, Revolutionary Diplomatic Correspondence description begins Francis Wharton, ed., The Revolutionary Diplomatic Correspondence of the United States (6 vols.; Washington, 1889). description ends , V, 488–90).

On 8–9 and 13–14 September the few British soldiers defending Gibraltar repulsed assaults at a heavy cost to the assailants, and on 11 October a gale severely damaged the attacking fleet. By then Admiral Lord Howe, commanding a British armada, was near the entrance to the Bay of Algeciras and succeeded during the next week in breaking the siege without further bloodshed (W. M. James, British Navy in Adversity, pp. 372–77, 450–51).

11See JM to Randolph, 13 August, n. 7. Although the Pennsylvania Packet of 12 October reported that New York City residents thought the British troops “certainly” would leave Charleston, S.C., before the end of that month, the city was not evacuated until 14 December 1782.

12La Luzerne.

13Under a 10 October date line from Boston, the postscript of the Pennsylvania Packet of 15 October reported the arrival on 9 October at Boston, after a passage of thirty-four days from Amsterdam, of the ship “Apollo.”

14Probably Philippe Joseph Létombe (de l’Étombe), residing in Boston as French consul general for New England. Later he became consul general for the United States and continued in that position until 13 July 1798, when his exequatur was revoked by President John Adams (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XXI, 940–41; Charles Francis Adams, The Works of John Adams, Second President of the United States, with a Life of the Author [10 vols.; Boston, 1850–56], IX, 170–72).

Although JM derived from La Luzerne the news summarized later in this paragraph, he could have read it in the issue of the Packet, cited in n. 13, above, unless he was writing early in the morning to Pendleton. According to this newspaper, the information had been supplied not only by the “Apollo,” but also by the brig “Defence,” forty-seven days from Bilbao, Spain, to Salem, and the brig “Comet,” which had docked at Providence after a voyage of the same duration from Holland. On 16 October 1782 Congress named John Rutledge, JM, and James Duane as a committee to confer with La Luzerne (NA: PCC, No. 186, fol. 63).

15See n. 10, above.

17Among the dispatches brought by the “Apollo” (n. 13, above) was one from John Adams, dated 18 August, and read in Congress on 17 October (postscript of Pennsylvania Packet, 15 October; NA: PCC, No. 185, III, 45). See Report on Alliance with the Netherlands, 22 October 1782.

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