James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Edmund Pendleton, 1 September 1783

From Edmund Pendleton

Summary (LC: Madison Miscellany). The summary is in a calendar, probably prepared about 1850 by Peter Force’s clerk. He noted that the letter was addressed “To James Madison” and that the manuscript consisted of “1 page folio.”

1783. September 1 Virginia

Congress declines to return to Philadelphia.1 The question of the protection of Congress and foreign ministers. Congress should control the territory where it sits.2 But to make Congress the legislature for a people who are not concerned in their election is a violation of fundamental rights, and introduces despotism.3

1In his letter of 18 August to Randolph (q.v.), JM commented upon the decision of Congress on 14 August against “returning to Philada.” Being accustomed to write to Pendleton and to Randolph on the same day, JM may have also informed Pendleton of this decision in a letter, now missing. If JM did so, Pendleton would naturally resume his discussion of a subject which had much interested him. See Pendleton to JM, 14 July; 21 July; 28 July; 11 Aug.; 18 Aug. 1783.

2JM to Pendleton, 28 July, and nn. 1, 3; JM to James Madison, Sr., 30 Aug., and n. 9; to Randolph, 30 Aug. For an indication of the nature of Pendleton’s comments on “control,” see JM to Pendleton, 8 Sept. 1783.

3Pendleton stated forthrightly a viewpoint earlier expressed more indirectly by the citizens of Williamsburg (Harrison to Delegates, 12 July, and n. 3; Motion in re Permanent Site, 22 Sept. 1783).

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