James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Edmund Pendleton, 23 December 1782

From Edmund Pendleton

Tr (LC: Force Transcripts). In the left margin at the top of the transcription, the clerk 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 second paragraph of the letter, taken also from the original, is in Stan. V. Henkels Catalogue No. 694 (1892), p. 92, and varies occasionally in spelling and punctuation from the present text.

Caroline, Decr 23d 1782

Dr Sir

I have yr favr of the 3d1 wch I am to acknowledge from wth bad materials. I have a letter from Genl Green’s Camp of the 7th of Novr. mentioning the return of the transports wch carried the Refugees to St Augustine and the Arrival of others from Halifax, events wch it was said had alone suspended the evacuation, and it was expected then to take place in a few days.2 but we have now a report, that it was countermanded, & a considerable reinforcement to the Garrison arrived, which had induced Genl Green to retreat, & to send after 2 Regiments who were on their March to the Northward, with orders to return; As I do not understand Government have any Advice of this from the Genl. or the Executive of either Carolina, I give it little credit.3

An annecdote from Charles Town shews the unfair dealing of our Enemys. Genl Lesly consented that Govr Matthews should send in Commrs to see that the Refugees carried off no property but their own. going on board the Transports on that Occasion, & prying deeper than was intended, they found upwards of 200 negroes barrelled up like Beef or Pork, some had died in the Suffocation; Lesly could not refuse the delivery of those, but in a Pet, put a stop to the progress of the Comrs.4

I find at length the relief of Gibralter is too well confirm’d & we must abide the Event of the Negotiations wthout the Posn of that Rock.5 Pennsylvania deserves to be punished with the revolt of her transmontane Inhabitants for the part she has taken in that respect agt Virga. Medlars often get their fingers burnt.6 Mr Jno F. Mercer comes to Congress in the room of Mr Attorney.7 I fear you can’t read what I have written, so will conclude wth the complts of the Seas[on]s to you, Mr Jones & his lady & am ever


Edmd Pendleton

1Not found.

2See JM to Pendleton, 3 September, and n. 4; Virginia Delegates to Harrison, 26 November. The letter of 7 November 1782 to Pendleton is missing, but his correspondent probably was his nephew Captain Nathaniel Pendleton, Jr., aide-de-camp to Greene. 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, 347, n. 6.

3See Virginia Delegates to Harrison, 29 October, and nn. 5, 6; Harrison to Virginia Delegates, 8 November, and n. 2; Pendleton to JM, 8 November, and n. 2; 25 November 1782. The Virginia Gazette description begins Virginia Gazette, or, the American Advertiser (Richmond, James Hayes, 1781–86). description ends of 14 December included a New York City item with a 19 November date line reporting that the garrison at Charleston had been reinforced by a British regiment. The same newspaper in its issue of 21 December noted that two British regiments had sailed from Charleston. The rumor about Nathanael Greene’s activities was false. Alexander Martin and John Mathews and their councils of state were the executives of North Carolina and South Carolina, respectively.

4On 10 October 1782 two commissioners acting for Governor Mathews and two others representing the Loyalists signed an agreement stating that, in exchange for returning the fugitive or captured slaves within the British lines, “the faith” of South Carolina would be pledged neither to confiscate the property of Loyalists nor to repudiate debts owed to them or to British merchants. Nine days later Governor Mathews declared this compact void when General Alexander Leslie allegedly released only 73 of 136 slaves found concealed upon a British transport.

The story about Negroes being “barrelled up like Beef” may have derived from the discovery of a “suffocated slave headed up in a rice barrel” which had drifted ashore in Charleston Harbor. In his dispatch of 19 December to Congress, reporting the British evacuation of Charleston five days before, Greene stated that the enemy had carried off “a great deal of property, and between 5 and 6,000 Negroes, the greater part of which they had once promised to deliver up.” The number may have even exceeded 6,000 (NA: PCC, No. 155, II, 599–600; Edward McCrady, The History of South Carolina in the Revolution, 1780–1783 [New York, 1902], pp. 658–62, 674–75).

5Pendleton or the copyist of this letter meant “possession” by “Posn.” See JM to Pendleton 15 October, and n. 10; Pendleton to JM, 9 December 1782, n. 8.

6See JM to Harrison, 15 November 1782, and nn. 1, 2, 4, 5, 8, 9.

7See Randolph to JM, 13 December, and n. 4; 20 December 1782, and n. 3.

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