From the Reverend James Madison
RC (LC: Madison Papers). Cover missing. Docketed, “Rev. J. Madison (Wmsburg.) to J M. Jr. Apl. 15. 1783.”
April 15. 1783.
By a Letter from Mr. Jefferson 31. March.1 he has the Expression, speaking of Peace, “tho there can scarcely be a Doubt.” I hope by this Time you have official Accts of its Certainty: for tho’ no one indeed can scarcely doubt, yet every one wants the fullest Confirmation.2 I am sorry to find that he will not probably go to Europe as a Resident, from what he says, tho’ the Conclusion is rather indirect.3 But it is certain we shall want Men of Abilities on this Side the Atlantic as well as the other. I wished to mention to you, that it is generally expected a Convention for the Purpose of reforming our [State]4 Constitution will be proposed to the People, as soon as the assembly meets.5 Your Stay at Congress must be nearly at an End.6 Suppose therefore you return in Time for this Business.
Do you not intend to get the Encyclopedia Methodique.9 I hope we shall import it by the first oppy. It must be in itself a compleat scientific Library.
1. Not found.
3. JM Notes, 1 Apr., n. 13. Unofficial but well-authenticated news of the signing of preliminary articles of peace by Great Britain with France and Spain was current in Philadelphia by 31 March. Writing that day to the Reverend James Madison, Jefferson probably anticipated the resolution of Congress on 1 April canceling his mission to Paris as a peace commissioner.
4. The bracketed word appears to have been interlineated at a later date by someone now unknown.
5. The Virginia General Assembly at the May 1783 session did not undertake to fulfill this expectation. See JM to Randolph, 8 Apr., and n. 10; Jefferson to JM, 7 May 1783 (LC: Madison Papers; Boyd, Papers of Jefferson description begins Julian P. Boyd et al., eds., The Papers of Thomas Jefferson (18 vols. to date; Princeton, N.J., 1950——). description ends , VI, 266).
6. Article V of the Articles of Confederation stipulated that “no person shall be capable of being a delegate for more than three years in any term of six years” (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XIX, 215). Having been thrice re-elected by the Virginia General Assembly, with each annual term expiring on the first Monday in November, JM at about the end of October 1783 would become ineligible to serve in Congress until three years from that time had elapsed (Papers of Madison description begins William T. Hutchinson, William M. E. Rachal, et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison (6 vols. to date; Chicago, 1962——). description ends , II, 40; III, 161; IV, 336; 358, n. 5; 365; 367, n. 8). Even though the Articles of Confederation, which had become effective on 1 March 1781, appeared to permit JM, if reappointed for “a fraction of a year” by the Virginia General Assembly, to serve in Congress until 29 February 1784, he soon concluded that an extension of term would not accord with his “private conveniency” (Boyd, Papers of Jefferson description begins Julian P. Boyd et al., eds., The Papers of Thomas Jefferson (18 vols. to date; Princeton, N.J., 1950——). description ends , VI, 270–71).
7. Not found.
8. Dr. James McClurg (Papers of Madison description begins William T. Hutchinson, William M. E. Rachal, et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison (6 vols. to date; Chicago, 1962——). description ends , V, 201, n. 5; Randolph to JM, 22 Feb. 1783, and n. 9).