James Madison Papers

Motion on Exchange of Cornwallis, [22 November] 1782

Motion on Exchange of Cornwallis

MS (NA: PCC, No. 19, III, 459). In JM’s hand. Immediately below the motion, he wrote: “Mr. Madison & Osgood’s Motion Novr 22. 1782 Taken up on Monday 25 Nov. & ordd. to lay over.”

[22 November 1782]

That the Committee in the case of the exchange of Ld. Cornwallis1 be instructed to report a proper act for the ratification of the sd. exchange2

1See JM to Randolph, 3 September, n. 8; Comments and Motion in re Laurens, 19 September, n. 1; Report on Cornwallis-Laurens Exchange, 25 September 1782, and headnote, ed. n., and n. 7. On 26 September, after James Duane had introduced resolutions opposing the recommendation made the day before by the JM-Rutledge-Montgomery committee (Rutledge disagreeing), that Benjamin Franklin’s release of Cornwallis from parole in exchange for the prior liberation of Henry Laurens by the British be ratified, Congress returned the report to the committee together with Duane’s demurrer. Joseph Montgomery probably left Congress about 1 November (Burnett, Letters description begins Edmund C. Burnett, ed., Letters of Members of the Continental Congress (8 vols.; Washington, 1921–36). description ends , VI, 1). On 22 November unnamed members of Congress, aware that the committee had made no report for nearly two months, “called for” its recommendation (Notes on Debates, 22 November 1782, and n. 6). In view of the brevity of JM’s motion, he may have penned it on the spot. Samuel Osgood of Massachusetts, a member of the Adams-Lee-Laurens faction, seconded the motion, probably for the purpose of bringing it to debate.

2For the debate on the motion and the outcome, see headnote above; also Notes on Debates, 22 November 1782, and n. 26.

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