James Madison Papers

From James Madison to Edmund Pendleton, 22 October 1782

To Edmund Pendleton

RC (New York Public Library). Docketed by Pendleton, “James Madison jr. Octr. 22d. 1782.”

Philada. Ocr. 22d. 1782.

Dear Sir

The address of your favor of the 14th. instant to me1 coincides with the order which Mr. Jones & myself had settled. It would have been the more inconvenient too for him to have had his turn this week, as the dregs of his late indisposition are working themselves off to his no small disturbance. His lady seems now to be pretty well restored.2

The Vessel, whose arrival at Boston was I suppose mentioned last week by Mr. Jones, brought Congress a letter from Mr. Adams dated Hague Aug: 18th.3 Inclosed in it was a copy of a Plenipotentiary Commission issued July 24. to Mr. Fitzherbert who succeeds Mr. Grenville.4 This Gentleman has been for some time the British Minister at Brussels, and possesses I understand no talents for the management of serious & intricate negociations. His commission like the late act of Parliament is a child of Shelburne’s policy5 and will suit any events which the war may produce. It authorizes him to Treat & conclude a peace at the Court of his M. C. Majesty6 with the Plenipotentiaries as well of the High & Mighty Lords the States General of the United Provinces, as of whatsoever Princes and States it may concern, and as well singly & separately, as collectively & conjointly.7 The States General had also appointed a Plenipotentiary who was to set out for Paris shortly after the date of Mr. Adam’s letter.8 These are all the circumstances with which we are furnished relative to the business of a pacification. Unless Mr. Adams has written more fully by abortive conveyances it would seem as if the prospect was not very flattering to his expectations.

The States of Holland & West Friesland had determined on the commercial Treaty proposed to them and Mr. Adams expected to have a speedy conference with the States General in order to bring it to a conclusion9

Congress have reduced the estimate for the ensuing year to about 6 million of dollars; and the requisition on the States in the first instance to 2 million.10 A call for the residue is to be suspended untill the result of their application for loans shall be known.11

We have as yet no account of the actual evacuation of Charlestown.12 From N. York we have no intelligence that deserves credit, of any sort.

There are European papers in Town which inform us that the Combined fleet is certainly gone to support the siege of Gibralter, that the British had returned into Port,13 and that the Dutch was again in the Texel. The last it is said was according to the preconcerted arrangement to have proceeded North About, after disposing of its convoy for the Baltick,14 & have reinforced the Combined fleet, but was prevented by some accident, or more probably by the machinations of the Prince of Orange whose attachment to the enemies of the Republic renders all its decisive measures abortive. Mr. Adams says vigorous steps are likely to be pursued for circumscribing his power and bringing to light his abuse of it.15

The death of the Marquis of Rockingham draws after it a very long train of changes in the British Administration.16 In addition to those some time since made known it appears that the Duke of Portland has abandoned the Ld. Lieutenancy of Ireland and is succeeded by Earl Temple.17 Mr. Wm. Pitt is made Chancellor & Under Treasurer of the Exchequer[,]18 Mr. T. Townsend a Secretary of State,19 Sr. George Yonge Secy. at War,20 and Col: Barre paymaster general.21 He is succeeded by Dundas Ld. Advocate of Scotland22 as paymaster to the Navy. It is also said that most of the members of the Board of Admiralty attached to the Rockingham system have retired.23

I am Dr. Sir yrs affecly.

J. Madison Jr.

1Q.v., and nn. 1 and 2.

4Ibid., n. 3. For Fitzherbert’s commission, see JM to Randolph, 22 October. For Thomas Grenville, see JM to Randolph, 5–6 August, n. 9; 13 August, nn. 5 and 9; Virginia Delegates to Harrison, 9 August, and n. 1; 13 August 1782.

5See JM to Randolph, 10 September 1782, and n. 33. JM’s informant had underrated the ability and diplomatic experience of Fitzherbert, who since 1777 had been minister to the Austrian Netherlands.

6His Most Christian Majesty King Louis XVI.

7See JM to Randolph, 22 October 1782. The italicized words were underlined by JM.

8See Virginia Delegates to Harrison, 22 October 1782, and n. 4. JM interlineated “shortly” above a deleted “about a month.”

9JM is paraphrasing a sentence in John Adams’ brief dispatch of 18 August to Robert R. Livingston (Wharton, Revolutionary Diplomatic Correspondence description begins Francis Wharton, ed., The Revolutionary Diplomatic Correspondence of the United States (6 vols.; Washington, 1889). description ends , V, 665). Adams had concluded the treaty on 8 October. 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, 394, n. 24.

10See JM to Randolph, 16–17 September 1782, and n. 13. On 16 October 1782 Congress accepted the recommendation of its grand committee that $6,000,000 be “the estimate for the service of the year 1783” (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XXIII, 658–60).

11The applications for loans had been made primarily to France and to the States-General or bankers of the Netherlands and, much less hopefully, to Spain. 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, 190; 224, n. 3; 391; 392, n. 4; 393, nn. 6, 10; JM to Randolph, 5–6 August, n. 4; 11 September, P.M., n. 3; 16–17 September, and nn. 6, 8, 9, 10; Motion Concerning the “America,” 3 September 1782, ed. n.

14See JM to Randolph, 11 September, A.M., and n. 6. “North About” means to proceed around the north of Scotland.

15See 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, 291, n. 19. Adams wrote in his dispatch of 18 August (n. 9, above): “The states and the regencies are taking such measures with the Stadtholder, by demanding his orders and correspondence about naval affairs, and by reassuming their own constitutional rights in the appointment of officers, &c., as will bring all things to rights in this Republic, which we shall find an affectionate and an useful friend.”

17Following the death of the Marquis of Rockingham on 1 July 1782, the secretary of state for foreign affairs, Charles James Fox, delayed his resignation until he ascertained that neither he nor William Henry Bentinck, third Duke of Portland, would be chosen by King George III as Rockingham’s successor. The Duke of Portland, who had assumed his post in Dublin as lord lieutenant of Ireland on 14 April 1782, was succeeded five months later by George Nugent-Temple-Grenville (1753–1813), second Earl Temple and later first Marquis of Buckingham.

18William Pitt the Younger (d. 1806) was only twenty-three years of age on 28 May 1782.

19Thomas Townshend (1733–1800), later first Baron and first Viscount Sydney, secretary at war under Rockingham, was now secretary of state for the home department. See n. 20, below. Thomas Robinson (1738–1786), second Baron Grantham, who had been first lord commissioner of trade and foreign plantations, 1780–1782, served as secretary of state for foreign affairs from July 1782 to April 1783.

20Sir George Yonge (1731–1812), baronet, had been vice treasurer of Ireland for only three months before he succeeded Thomas Townshend as secretary at war in July 1782. He resigned this office in April 1783.

21After about fifteen years as an officer in the army, including service in the French and Indian War, Lieutenant Colonel Isaac Barré (1726–1802) began a tenure in 1761 of nearly twenty-nine years in the House of Commons. He exchanged his position as treasurer of the navy in the Rockingham ministry for that of paymaster general in the Shelburne ministry.

22By 1782 Robert Dundas (1713–1787), Lord Arniston, had been lord advocate of Scotland for twenty-eight years.

23Among the lord commissioners of the admiralty who resigned was the first lord, Augustus Keppel (1725–1786), Viscount Keppel. Keppel is remembered for his distinguished service of forty-five years in the navy preceding his retirement in 1780 as an admiral of the blue. Following the tenure of Admiral Howe as first lord of the admiralty under the Shelburne ministry, Keppel resumed the position briefly in 1783.

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