James Madison Papers

From James Madison to Thomas Jefferson, 22 April 1783

To Thomas Jefferson

RC (LC: Papers of Madison). Jefferson docketed the letter by writing “Madison Jas” above the date line. Using the JM-Jefferson Code N. 2, JM encoded the words that are italicized.

Philada. Apl. 22. 1783.

Dear Sir

Your favor of the 14. inst:1 written on the Susquehanna with the several letters inclosed were safely delivered to me. I did not fail to present as you desired your particular compliments to Miss K2 Your inference on that subject was not groundless Before you left us I had sufficiently3 ascertained her sentiments Since your departure4 the affair has been pursued Most preliminary arrangements although definitive will be postponed5 untill the end of the year in congress6 At some period of the intervail I shall probably make a visite to Virginia The interest which your friendship takes on this occasion in my happiness is a pleasing proof that the disposetions which I feel are reciprocal7

The report on funds &c. passed Congress on Saturday last with the dissent of R. Island and the division of N. York only. The latter vote was lost by the rigid adherence of Mr. Hamilton to a plan which he supposed more perfect.8 The clause providing for unauthorized expenditures, could not be reinstated, and consequently no attempt was made to link all the parts of the act inseparably together.9 As it now stands it has I fear no bait for Virga. which is not particularly interested either in the object or mode of the revenues recommended, nor in the territorial cessions, nor in the change of the constitutional rule of dividing the public burdens.10 A respect for justice, good faith & national honor is the only consideration which can obtain her compliance.11

We have recd. no intelligence from abroad which deserves to be noted, since your departure.12 The interval between the preliminary & definitive Treaties has produced several nice & interesting questions. One is whether laws prohibiting commerce with British Ports during the war, have expired with the cessation of Hostilities.13 A similar one is whether the soldiers enlisted for the war are entitled to a discharge. At least half of the army under Genl. Washington are under this description and are urgent for such a construction of their engagements.14 A third question is whether the preliminary treaty between F. & G. B. has given such effect to the provisional articles between the latter & the U. S. as to require an execution of the stipulations in the 6 & 7 artics. or whether a definitive Treaty only can produce this effect.15

The system for foreign affairs is not yet digested: and I apprehend will be long on the anvil, unless the actual return of our Ministers from Europe should stimulate Congs. on the subject.16

I am charged with many compliments from the whole family for yourself & Miss Patsy,17 which you will accept with an assurance of sincere friendship from

Yr Obt. & Hble Servt.

J. Madison Jr.

1Q.v. What letters Jefferson had inclosed to JM are not known.

2Catherine Floyd. See Jefferson to JM, 14 Apr. 1783, and the citations in n. 7.

3In encoding “ent,” JM wrote 146, but the correct cipher was 1046.

4On 12 April (JM to Randolph, 15 Apr. 1783).

5For “ne,” JM erroneously used the cipher 1096 rather than 1090.

6The congressional year began annually on the first Monday in November (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).

7Many years later, after recovering the letter from Jefferson, JM heavily canceled the encoded portion of this paragraph and wrote “Undecypherable” in the left margin. Irving Brant was the first to penetrate the cancellation and decode the “Buried Cipher.” For a facsimile of the first page of the letter and a sequential list of the ciphers used by JM, see Brant, Madison description begins Irving Brant, James Madison (6 vols.; Indianapolis and New York, 1941–61). description ends , II, opp. p. 225. See also JM Notes, 25–26 Apr. 1783, n. 2, for further evidence of his courtship.

8JM Notes, 18 Apr. 1783, and n. 7.

9JM Notes, 7 Mar., and n. 2; 21–22 Apr. 1783, and n. 1. Having been given by JM an annotated, printed copy of the committee report of 6 March on restoring public credit, Jefferson would recognize the “clause” to which JM referred. See Annotations on Report on Public Credit, 26 Mar. 1783.

10During the debates on the report, Congress had rejected the provisions for “abatements” in overdue quotas from delinquent states and for an assumption by Congress of the unauthorized war expenses of states which had been invaded by the enemy. Both of these provisions would have greatly helped Virginia. Although denied these concessions, she was urged in the report to make a more generous offer of her western lands to the United States and, along with the other states, to ratify amendments to the Articles of Confederation which would increase the purchase price of some of her imports and the amount of the annual financial quotas which would be allocated to her by Congress (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XXIV, 257–61; Amendment to Report on Public Credit, 17 Apr., and n. 1; JM Notes, 17 Apr., and nn. 4–6; 18 Apr., and nn. 2–4, 6; 21–22 Apr., and n. 1; Delegates to Harrison, 22 Apr. 1783, and n. 2).

11This “consideration” of “justice” and “good faith” to the foreign and domestic creditors of the United States, and hence of its “national honor,” had impelled the Virginia delegates to vote unanimously for the adoption of the report, even though economically it included “no bait for Virga.” (JCC, XXIV, 261; Pendleton to JM, 14 Apr., and n. 4; Delegates to Harrison, 22 Apr. 1783).

13JM Notes, 14 Apr., and n. 3; 18 Apr. 1783, and n. 1.

14JM’s sentence mildly reflects Washington’s great concern about this matter, as expressed to President Elias Boudinot in a letter of 18 April, read in Congress three days later and referred to a committee of which Samuel Osgood was chairman and JM one of the other four members. The “Temper of part of the Army,” Washington reported, had been greatly exacerbated by the “slow and dilatory manner in which the Intelligence of peace” had reached the troops, causing those who had “engaged for the War” to expect “a speedy Discharge” and to suspect that Congress had withheld the news in order to retain them “beyond the Term of their Engagements.” For this reason and because Congress had given him no instructions regarding “the discharge of this Part of the Army,” Washington feared that it could not be long “restrained from Acts of Excess.” He urged Congress to make “the most speedy Arrangements for the War men,” by sending immediately “to Camp” a committee “with plenary powers” (Fitzpatrick, Writings of Washington description begins John C. Fitzpatrick, ed., The Writings of George Washington, from the Original Sources, 1745–1799 (39 vols.; Washington, 1931–44). description ends , XXVI, 330–34; JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XXIV, 264–65, n. 1, 269–70; JM Notes, 7 Apr.; 23–24 Apr. 1783).

15JM Notes, 15 Apr., and n. 2; 16 Apr., and n. 1; JM to Randolph, 15 Apr. 1783, and n. 3.

16JM to Randolph, 11 Feb., and n. 7; 12 Mar., and nn. 12, 13; JM Notes, 1 Apr. and nn. 13–15; 4 Apr., and nn. 9, 10; 12 Apr., and n. 7. See also JM Notes, 15 May 1783, in LC: Madison Papers; Syrett and Cooke, Papers of Hamilton description begins Harold C. Syrett and Jacob E. Cooke, eds., The Papers of Alexander Hamilton (15 vols. to date; New York, 1961——). description ends , III, 351–53.

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