James Madison Papers

From James Madison to John Francis Mercer, 16 July 1783

To John Francis Mercer

RC (Historical Society of Pennsylvania). Cover addressed to, “The Honble J. F. Mercer. Blackpoint N. Jersey.” Docketed by Mercer, “Jas. Madison July 16. 1783.”

Philada. July 16 1783

Dr Sir

The lucky arrival of our brother Lee who is gone on to Princeton has relieved me from the necessity of obeying your summons by Mr. Hawkins.1 You will not therefore expect any Congressional news by this conveyance.

A letter by the post from Mr. Ambler repeats his request that warrants in form may be sent by all the Delegates for the amount of their respective shares of his remittances. He adds that two bills one for £500, the other for upwards of £600 Va. Curry. have unexpectedly come into the Treasy. & that the Delegates may have the benefit of the good fortune by authorizing their friends in Va. to take out warrants for such propertions of one or both as they may settle among themselves.2 This is the best and indeed the only news contained in my letters.

The Ct. Martial being not yet opened for enquir[i]ng into the Mutiny, I can say nothing on that head.3 The Address from the Philadns. to Congress is likely to meet with a very general subscription. They seem to calculate with much assurance on its efficacy.4 I send you all the Newspaper[s] of this morning.5 Those from Va. contain nothing that requires that they sd. be superadded.6 Wishing you a speedy redemption from the Muskettoes of Black point and refitment for your political functions,7 I bid you for the present adieu.

Done in bed in my Chamber in the Hotel at the Corner of Market & 5 Streets in the City of Philada. at 1/2 after 6 oClock, on the 16 of July annoque Dom: 1783.8

J. Madison Jr.

1JM to Randolph, 6 May, n. 9; 15 July 1783. Whether Benjamin Hawkins, a delegate in Congress from North Carolina, had written to JM from Princeton, as he did on 9 August 1783 (q.v.), or, coming to Philadelphia, had conveyed Mercer’s summons orally, is not known. 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, 273, n. 4; JM to Randolph, 8 July 1783, n. 2. With JM, Jones, and Lee absent, Mercer’s departure from Princeton would have reduced the Virginia delegation attending Congress to Bland only. The “lucky” arrival of Lee enabled him and Bland, provided that their positions on an issue were attuned, to cast an effective vote on behalf of their state.

2Ambler to JM, 10 May, and nn. 1, 2; 5 July 1783, and n. 9.

4The “address of the Citizens of Philadelphia and the Liberties thereof,” drafted by Thomas Paine and signed by 873 residents, was submitted on 23 July and referred by Congress on that day to a committee with Hugh Williamson as chairman and Arthur Lee among the other four members. The committee reported five days later (NA: PCC, No. 43, fols. 312–31; JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XXIV, 444, n. 1, 452; Burnett, Letters description begins Edmund C. Burnett, ed., Letters of Members of the Continental Congress (8 vols.; Washington, 1921–36). description ends , VII, 253). See also ibid., VII, 233–35, 240–41; JM to Jefferson, 17 July; Jones to JM, 21 July, n. 4; JM to Randolph, 28 July 1783, and n. 3; Varnum L. Collins, Continental Congress at Princeton, pp. 263–69.

5The newspapers of Philadelphia, published each Wednesday, including 16 July 1783, were the Pennsylvania Gazette, the Pennsylvania Journal, and the Freeman’s Journal.

6JM probably referred to the 5 July issues of the Virginia Gazette and of the Virginia Gazette, and Weekly Advertiser. He had been on the mailing lists of these newspapers for well over a year (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, 80–81).

7JM to Randolph, 15 July 1783. Black Point, on the Navesink River, near Shrewsbury, Monmouth County, N.J., had been during the Revolution a favorite landing place of Loyalist (refugee) raiders from Sandy Hook or New York City. Mercer probably was recuperating in James White’s “noted Tavern” which, judging from frequent advertisements in the Pennsylvania Packet, provided patrons with a “genteel Bathing-House” as well as “a constant supply of the best Fish, with Lobsters, Oysters, and Clams; also Liquors of the best quality” (Pa. Packet, 28 June 1783; New Jersey Archives description begins William S. Stryker et al., eds., Documents Relating to the Revolutionary History of the State of New Jersey (2d ser.; 5 vols.; Trenton, 1901–17). description ends , 1st ser., XXVII, 370, 649).

8The “Hotel” was Mrs. Mary House’s boardinghouse.

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