To Edmund Randolph
RC (LC: Madison Papers). Unsigned but in JM’s hand. Cover franked by “J. Madison Jr.” and addressed by him to “Edmund Randolph Esqr. Richmond.” Docketed by Randolph, “J. Madison Aug: 12, 1783.”
Philada. Aug: 12. 1783.
The arrival of yesterday’s mail has not enabled me to acknowledge the rect. of a favor. perhaps the post office may be again in fault.1
Our2 late belief of the arrival of the Defin: Treaty at N. York has become utterly extinct. From the tenor of the Newspapers the delay seems to be the effect of discussions with the Dutch.3 The inclosed letter from our friend Hawkins provides for the article of Russian intelligence. I understand from Mr. Mercer who is here on [b]usiness as well as myself that Mr. Dana’s despatches were in part undecypher’d when Mr. Hawkin’s transcript was made.4 The Legislature of Masts. have sent a Memorial to Congress wearing a very unpropitious aspect on the grant of 1/2 pay to the army and in other respects breathing a penurious spirit which if indulged will be fatal to every establishment that requires expence. They profess great poverty, and have declined any decision on the Revenue propositions of Congs.5 Rhode Island did not even bestow a consideration on them. Mr. H——l from the latter State after being informed of the course taken by Va. said that her backwardness very much emboldened the States that were disinclined to a Genl. Revenue.6 Congs. have voted Genl. W. an elegant Bronze Statue.7 He has been invited to Princeton as well to relieve him from the tedium which he suffers on the North River as to make use of his Counsel in digesting a peace Establishmt.8 We shall probably be reinforced by Mr. Jones in a few days.9 I shall give you notice when my departure will make it proper for your correspondence to be discontinued.10
1. Being in Baltimore as a representative of Virginia in an effort on 10 August to arbitrate the claims of Simon Nathan against that state, Randolph did not write to JM between 26 July and 22 August, both inclusive (JM to Randolph, 5 Aug., n. 2; Randolph to JM, 23 Aug.). See also Randolph to JM, 28 June 1783, and nn. 7, 8.
2. JM or someone by his direction placed a bracket at the opening of this paragraph and another after “Establishmt” near the close of the letter, thus signifying the passage to be included in the first edition of his writings. See Madison, Papers (Gilpin ed.) description begins Henry D. Gilpin, ed., The Papers of James Madison (3 vols.; Washington, 1840). description ends , I, 562–63.
4. Hawkins to JM, 9 Aug.; JM to Jefferson, 11 Aug. 1783, and n. 9. Hawkins’ letter included a summary of Francis Dana’s dispatches rather than a “transcript” of them. John Francis Mercer’s “business” in Philadelphia may have included the procuring of credit for the further operation of his unprosperous Virginia plantations (Va. Mag. of Hist. and Biog., LIX , 190–91; Robert Mercer to John Francis Mercer, 9 Sept. 1783, MS in Va. Historical Society). For at least a portion of JM’s business, see JM to Randolph, 28 July, and n. 11; to Jefferson, 11 Aug. 1783, and n. 3.
6. The Virginia General Assembly at its session of May 1783 declined to approve the plan for establishing public credit (Pendleton to JM, 26 May, n. 11; Jones to JM, 8 June, n. 5; JM to Jefferson, 11 Aug., and n. 14). On 30 June 1783 David Howell presented to Congress his credentials as a delegate from Rhode Island (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XXIV, 411; Burnett, Letters description begins Edmund C. Burnett, ed., Letters of Members of the Continental Congress (8 vols.; Washington, 1921–36). description ends , VII, 279).
7. On 6 May Congress, upon adopting Arthur Lee’s motion “to prepare a plan for an Equestrian Statue of his Excellency George Washington, Esqr. to be erected where Congress shall fix their residence,” named Lee, Oliver Ellsworth, and Thomas Mifflin a committee to recommend a method of achieving the purpose of the resolution (JM Notes, 6 May; JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XXIV, 330, and n. 1). Among the committee’s proposals, first made on 8 May and unanimously adopted after amendment on 7 August 1783, was that Benjamin Franklin, upon being furnished with “the best resemblance of the face and person of General Washington that can be procured,” should commission the “best artist” in Europe to execute a bronze statue. On a marble pedestal bearing representations in bas-relief of his principal military successes, Washington should be portrayed “in a Roman dress” with a laurel wreath encircling his head and “holding a truncheon in his right hand” (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XXIV, 494–95; Burnett, Letters description begins Edmund C. Burnett, ed., Letters of Members of the Continental Congress (8 vols.; Washington, 1921–36). description ends , VII, 260).