James Madison Papers

From James Madison to Edmund Pendleton, 29 October 1782

To Edmund Pendleton

RC (New York Public Library). Unsigned but in JM’s hand. Cover missing. Docketed by Pendleton, “James Madison jr. Octr. 29. 1782.”

Philada. Octr. 29th. 1782

Dear Sir

A continuance of Mr. Jones’s indisposition has procured me the office of answering yours of the 21st. instant.1 His relapse has been more severe than I was aware, and will keep2 him a prisoner in his room for some time to come. His disorder is at present rather troublesome than alarming. Mrs. Jones luckily has got pretty well over her indisposition.3

You will find from the paper inclosed that a packet has lately arrived at N. York.4 Rivington labours to dissipate the gloom which the prospect of peace had spread over the Loyalists,5 but his publications on this head carry no marks of authenticity. It appears indeed that the Shelburne party is struggling hard against the Independence of the U. States:6 But without a naval victory or a Russian Alliance,7 neither of which are within the compass of probabilities, the ambition8 of pursuing the war will not I hope be able to withstand the parliamentary eloquence and national distresses which will be opposed to it. It is reported that immediately on the arrival of the Packet counter-orders were dispatched to Stop the evacuation of Charlestown.9 The naval victory related in the letter from the Hague of the 17th. of Aug:10 is probably a fabrication of the Stock Jobbers, several letters of subsequent dates having been recd. from Holland which report nothing of the kind.11

Some Intelligence has lately come to hand from the Frontiers of N. York which speaks a language12 less pacific with respect to that quarter than the late letter from Sr. G. Carlton.13 Which of them speaks most the language of truth must be left to the event.

The British fleet at N. York has been very industrious in preparing for sea, and will probably soon leave that place.14 Its destination can only be conjectured. The West Indies are the object which first presents itself.

1For Pendleton’s letter of 21 October to Joseph Jones, see Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society, 2d ser., XIX (1905), 164–65.

2After interlineating “will,” JM neglected to alter “keeps” to “keep.”

4JM must have enclosed either the postscript of the Pennsylvania Gazette of 28 October or the Pennsylvania Packet of the next day. See Virginia Delegates to Harrison, 29 October 1782, and n. 5.

7See 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, 386; 388, nn. 10 and 11. The issues of the newspapers cited in n. 4, above, printed reports that an Anglo-Russian alliance had been effected.

8JM substituted this word for a deleted “madness.”

10The issues of the newspapers cited in n. 4, above, include a purported “letter from the Hague” telling of a fictitious engagement off the Coromandel Coast of India on an unspecified date, subsequent to 20 March 1782, between a British fleet and a joint Franco-Dutch fleet. By the close of the battle, the British had captured three 74-gun French men-of-war, and the Dutch 70-gun flagship had blown up from an internal explosion and sunk with all hands. The British loss was only one East Indies merchantman. See Pendleton to JM, 8 November 1782, and n. 4.

11The “several letters” included Charles G. F. Dumas’ of 16–19 August and John Adams’ of 18 August. See Motion of Instruction to Secretary for Foreign Affairs, 17 October 1782, n. 4.

12JM wrote and deleted “different” between “a” and “language.”

14Ibid., and n. 6.

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