From Edmund Pendleton
Printed excerpt (Stan. V. Henkels Catalogue No. 694 , pp. 93–94).
About 1850 the present letter was calendared, probably by a clerk of Peter Force, as follows:
To James Madison
“More about the Soldier offence. Williamsburg the most convenient place for Congress to meet, excepting New York. The temper of an Eastern legislature. Treaty with Sweden. The Definitive treaty. 1 page folio” (LC: Madison Miscellany).
If this is a complete listing of the matters discussed, Henkels omitted from his excerpt whatever Pendleton had written about the last two topics mentioned in the calendar. See Pendleton to JM, 30 June 1783, ed. n. For the “Treaty with Sweden,” 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 , VI, 335; 338, n. 21; Report on Treaty with Sweden, 24 July, and nn. 1, 4, 6; for “The Definitive treaty,” Pendleton to JM, 4 May, and n. 6; 16 June 1783.
Virginia, July 21, 1783
… With your last fav’r of the 8th came the missing one of June 24th containing the account of the behaviour of the Soldiers in their insult to Congress.1 I wish the conspiracy may be traced to its real source, and the motives truly investigated, when I still think it will not terminate in Public good, or the redress of real injury in the Army;2 The citizens I suppose cannot be well pleased either with the company of their military Visitants,3 or reflections upon their own conduct which made such a Visit necessary, and fix’d a stigma on their public character, as wanting either inclination or courage to support the members of the great National Council, holding Session in their Metropolis, perhaps the people might want neither, and the fault was in their rulers in not calling forth their exertions, be this as it may, they do not reason badly who Counsel a return to Philad’a either to prevent unfavourable impressions abroad, or that the great question of fixing the Permanent residence of Congress may not be embarrassed, or influenced by temporary convenience.4 In your state of that question, you take no notice of poor old Williamsburg, and yet I am of opinion that except the City of New York, it is the most convenient place Congress can Assemble at.5… The temper of an Easter[n] Legislature is really astonishing & alarming, will they censure their Delegates for acceding to a confederation, which their Assembly formerly approved of & directed the assent of the State to be given to, or are they tired of the Union, the moment of its having accomplished their purpose? Did they suffer the Vote for half pay to pass unobjected to, & to operate as a Stimulus to men to continue in an Army under all the discouraging circumstances of want of pay & want of necessaries, until they have performed their severe part of the compact with compleat success to us, and will they protest against that vote?6 Well says the Psalmist
“When once the firm assurance fails
which public faith imparts
tis time for innocence to flie
from such deceitful Arts”7
1. Both of these letters are missing. Although the contents of JM’s letters on 8 July to Randolph (q.v.) and to Pendleton probably were similar, JM’s letter of 24 June to Pendleton seems to have resembled more closely the detailed account about “the behaviour of the Soldiers” sent by the Virginia delegates on that day to Governor Harrison than the brief mention by JM of that subject in his letter of 24 June 1783 to Randolph (qq.v.).
2. JM Notes, 21 June, n. 8; JM to Randolph, 30 June; 15 July; Delegates to Harrison, 5 July, and nn. 3–5. The “real injury” to the army was, of course, the furloughing or discharge of the continental officers and troops without their pay (JM to Randolph, 24 June; Pendleton to JM, 30 June 1783, and citations in nn. 1 and 2).
3. For the arrival in or near Philadelphia of General Robert Howe and the continental troops under his command, see JM Notes, 21 June, nn. 4, 8; Delegates to Harrison, 24 June; 5 July, and n. 3; JM to Randolph, 30 June, and n. 6; 8 July; to Jefferson, 17 July 1783.
5. Pendleton to JM, 30 June, and citations in n. 3; Harrison to Delegates, 4 July, and n. 5; 12 July 1783, and n. 3. By describing Williamsburg as “poor old,” Pendleton had in mind the adverse effects upon the town of the removal of the capital of Virginia from there to Richmond in 1780 and the occupation of Williamsburg by British, American, and French troops in 1781 (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, 300, n. 2; II, 292; 295, n. 9; III, 81, n. 4; 90; 159, n. 5; 182, n. 18; 210, n. 3; 253, n. 3; 263, n. 7; 276, n. 2; 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 , III, 333–34). As a potential site for the capital of the Confederation, Williamsburg’s assets included an approximately midway location between New Hampshire and Georgia, comparatively easy accessibility by water, and comfortable accommodations in vacant public buildings.
6. Pendleton probably referred to the Massachusetts General Court, although his comment would apply almost as appropriately to the general assemblies of Connecticut and of Rhode Island. See Pendleton to JM, 23 June, and citations in n. 7; JM to Randolph, 21 July. On 26 June 1783 the Massachusetts General Court protested anew to Congress against the guarantee by Congress of full pay for five years to officers of the continental army who had served for at least three years (NA: PCC, No. 65, II, 185–88; JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XXIV, 483, n. 2; XXV, 607–9; Burnett, Letters description begins Edmund C. Burnett, ed., Letters of Members of the Continental Congress (8 vols.; Washington, 1921–36). description ends , VII, 243–44; JM to Randolph, 21 July 1783, and n. 6). For further information about the position of Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut, and of their delegates in Congress on this issue, see NA: PCC, No. 65; II, 225–28; No. 66, fols. 240–42, 248–51; 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 , VI, 251, n. 5; 282–83; 284, nn. 2, 4; 298; 299, n. 2; 300–301; 324, n. 10; 348; 370; 371, n. 4; 375; 377, n. 3; Burnett, Letters description begins Edmund C. Burnett, ed., Letters of Members of the Continental Congress (8 vols.; Washington, 1921–36). description ends , VII, 164, 168.
7. Except for writing “tis” instead of “’Tis,” “flie” instead of “fly,” and “Arts” instead of “arts,” Pendleton correctly quoted from the metrical rendering of Psalm 11 in N[ahum] Tate and N[icholas] Brady, A New Version of the Psalms of David fitted to the Tunes used in Churches (ca. 75th ed.; London, 1771), p. 12. Pendleton may have accurately transcribed if his edition of this oft-printed work, first published in London in 1696, was not the one cited here. Pendleton quoted the metrical version preferred by Whigs. Tories sang the praise of God from the older version of T[homas] Sternhold and J[ohn] Hopkins. For the identification of his source, which had baffled the editors, they are much indebted to the courtesy and perseverance of Atcheson L. Hench, Professor Emeritus, University of Virginia. Following much unrewarding correspondence, he was supplied with the elusive reference by a “‘learned friend’ of a man in Oxford” University (Letters of Atcheson L. Hench, 9 Apr., 10 Apr. 1970).