James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Edmund Pendleton, 16 June 1783

From Edmund Pendleton

Tr (LC: Force Transcripts). In the left margin at the top of the transcription, Peter Force’s clerk wrote “MSS. McGuire’s.” See Papers of Madison description begins William T. Hutchinson, William M. E. Rachal, et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison (7 vols. to date; Chicago, 1962——). description ends , I, xxii, xxiii.

Virga. June 16th 1783

Dear Sir

I thank you for yr very Polite concern for my health express’d in yr favour of the 3d.1 Rest has restored the decay produced by fatigue in the last term, but how shall I remove that Radical one the effect of 62? no matter, let time with all its consequences take its course.2

Your observations that the drain of Specie from this State will depend on the ballance of our trade, rather than on the mode of collecting the State’s quota of the Continental debt, are judicious, solid & indeed unanswerable.3 we have it in our power to secure a very large Ballance in commerce, and live elegantly, but whether we have virtue, industry & Œconomy enough to adopt the means, I can’t help doubting & shall be very agreably disappointed, in an eventual Solution of these doubts—of which the crowds of people to the Stores newly opened give an unfavourable prospect.4 I have yet to learn the progress of yr revenue scheme in the Assembly, as our delegates are at present absent, & I have not lately heard what they are about. you’l probably hear [from] some of yr City correspondents.5

The motive was obvious for the Gents. saying they rejoiced at the slaves having been sent away from New-York as an infraction of the treaty wch would justify the non-payment of British debts; however this was only private conversation.6 I believe the Assembly will say nothing on the subject, wch indeed seems improper until the definitive Treaty is communicated, the delay of wch. I suppose chargeable to the want of an Administration in Britain, and not to their disinclination to Peace; so that if your Intelligence be true of the formation of that body, we may now soon expect the Treaty and their American trade Act.7

I heard nothing at Richmond of the proposal concerted between you and the Maryland Delegates for removing the Seat of Congress to George Town. Mr Jefferson mentioned when here, a kind of competition for that honr. between George Town & Esopus in New York, who had severally made considerable Offers in Jurisdiction & property, to induce congress to hold their Sessions with them.8 the Assembly of Maryland were no doubt influenced in the change to Annapolis, by a respect to their Metropolis, the ready provision at that place for the Accommodation of Congress, and perhaps from an inclination to preserve the whole benefit to themselves, of which Virginia at George Town would have participated.9 For my own part I care not, since tho’ no doubt there are advantages in the great circulation of money wherever Congress sit, yet I am so old fashioned as to think that overballanced by another thing wch Circulates with it & need not be named. so that I doubt if Philadelphia would not have a good bargain to give up all advantages on this head to be restored to the Morals her citizens possessed in 1775. don’t let me be misunderstood as insinuating the smallest reflection on the Morals of the members of Congress: ’tis not from them, but the company which they draw to them, that I suppose the evil to be apprehended:10 As Maryland has thus changed her ground, I suppose Virginia will have nothing more to do in it.11

I don’t understand the effect of Furloughing the Soldiers, as a saving measure; I suppose their pay continues, and as to their provisions, tho’ it be saved to the Public, yet if I am not mastaken in my Conjecture that most of them are foreigners, without property & without relations to support them. Individuals where they go will have a bad bargain of this mode of supplying the Provisions which they must & will have. however I mean not to find fault with the measure, for which I doubt not there were reasons that Overballanced this small objection;12 I wish the British Troops were gone from the States that we might put an end to the expence of the Army altogether.13

Crad. T’s Marriage has perhaps produced one good effect in driving him to Sea, where, if at all, he may do something. You don’t say how he married, & I suppose it imprudent enough. he left considerable property in the hands of his brother T. but on what terms I know not, tho’ have heard that the latter purchased it. I have communicated C’s sailing to his mother, who wishes to know the sort of wife he has got.14 I am with the greatest esteem & regard

Dr Sir Yr Affe friend

Edmd Pendleton

1Not found.

2Pendleton to JM, 26 May 1783, and nn. 1, 2.

3In his missing letter of 3 June, JM evidently had made these “observations” in reply to Pendleton’s comments in his letter of 26 May (q.v., and n. 5) about the adverse effect upon Virginia of sending specie to the Philadelphia “Vortex” to meet the annual financial requisitions of Congress.

4Randolph to JM, 24 May; Pendleton to JM, 26 May; Jones to JM, 31 May; Harrison to Delegates, 7 June 1783, and nn. 2, 3. A comparison of the issue of the Virginia Gazette of 12 April with that of 14 June 1783 reveals how fast business activity and the variety of manufactured goods available for purchase were increasing in Richmond.

5Pendleton, who was writing from his estate of Edmundsbury in Caroline County, correctly assumed that Jones and Randolph, then in the “City” of Richmond, had informed JM about the “progress” of the “revenue scheme.” See Jones to JM, 8 June, and n. 5; 14 June, and nn. 12, 14, 17; Randolph to JM, 14 June 1783, and n. 9. The delegates from Caroline County attending the session of the Virginia General Assembly were Robert Gilchrist and John Taylor (Swem and Williams, Register description begins Earl G. Swem and John W. Williams, eds., A Register of the General Assembly of Virginia, 1776–1918, and of the Constitutional Conventions (Richmond, 1918). description ends , p. 17).

6Pendleton had mentioned these unidentified “Gents.” in his letter to JM on 26 May (q.v., and citations in n. 14). See also Jones to JM, 25 May; 31 May; JM Notes, 26 May, and n. 1; 30 May 1783, and nn. 1, 3.

8Papers of Madison description begins William T. Hutchinson, William M. E. Rachal, et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison (7 vols. to date; Chicago, 1962——). description ends , VI, 447; 448, nn. 4, 5, 7. For Jefferson’s visit at Edmundsbury about 21 April, see JM to Jefferson, 6 May 1783, and n. 2.

9Delegates to Harrison, 27 May, and n. 2; JM to Randolph, 10 June 1783, and n. 14; Burnett, Letters description begins Edmund C. Burnett, ed., Letters of Members of the Continental Congress (8 vols.; Washington, 1921–36). description ends , VII, 180, 182, and second n. 2.

10In “the company” Pendleton probably included speculators, lobbyists, and place-seekers. The presence of diplomatic representatives had encouraged, if not obligated, the entertainments of a frequency and extravagance which to his regret had displaced the laudable Quaker sobriety characterizing society in Philadelphia before the Revolution. For examples supporting Pendleton’s comment, see Burnett, Letters description begins Edmund C. Burnett, ed., Letters of Members of the Continental Congress (8 vols.; Washington, 1921–36). description ends , III, 333–34, 451–52, 535; VI, 3, 250, n. 3; William Emmett O’Donnell, The Chevalier de La Luzerne, French Minister to the United States, 1779–1784 (Bruges, 1938), pp. 180, 218–19.

12JM Notes, 23 May, nn. 1, 3. Although foreigners comprised most of the personnel in Hazen’s regiment and Armand’s partisan legion, they by no means totaled a majority of the continental troops and officers. See Papers of Madison description begins William T. Hutchinson, William M. E. Rachal, et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison (7 vols. to date; Chicago, 1962——). description ends , IV, 25, n. 5; V, 237, n. 1; VI, 443, n. 1.

14Craddock Taylor’s “brother T.” was Thornton Taylor (d. 1832). His grave may be an unmarked one in the Maysville cemetery, Mason County, Ky. (Lineage Book of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution, CXLI [1918], 202; Mrs. W. T. [Ila Earle] Fowler, comp., Kentucky Pioneers and Their Descendants [Frankfort, n.d.], p. 230). In that state Thornton had been awarded 2,666 acres of land for service as a lieutenant in the continental army, Virginia line (Gwathmey, Historical Register of Virginians description begins John H. Gwathmey, Historical Register of Virginians in the Revolution: Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, 1775–1783 (Richmond, 1938). description ends , p. 762). The Virginia records include no evidence of Craddock’s leaving “considerable property in the hands of his brother T.” or of anyone else, or, in fact, of possessing property to leave. The Taylor brothers’ mother was Alice Taylor, nee Thornton (d. ca. 1786) (Caroline County Land-Property Tax Books, 1785–1787, MSS in Va. State Library).

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