James Madison Papers

From James Madison to Edmund Randolph, 30 September 1783

To Edmund Randolph

RC (LC: Madison Papers). Unsigned but in JM’s hand. Docketed by Randolph, “J. Madison. Sep: 30, 1783.”

Philada. Sept. 30. 1783.

My dear Sir

Your favor introducing Mr. Corbin and that by the last weeks post have both been recd.1 The former did not get to Princeton before Mr. C. had left it, nor did I get to this place before He was so near leaving it that I had no opportunity of manifesting my respect for your recommendations otherwise than by verbal civilities to him.2 Yesterday’s post brought me no letter from you.3 In answer to your comment in the preceding one on the reception of a Minister from the Oconomical Republic to which we are allied, it will suffice to inform you, that in pursuance of a commission from him six elegant horses are provided for his coach, as was to have been one of the best houses in the most fashionable part of this City.4 Wherever Commerce prevails there will be an inequality of wealth, and wherever the latter does a simplicity of manners must decline.5

Our foreign intelligence remains as at the date of my last6 I forget whether I mentioned to you that our Ministers unanimously express surprise at the doubt started in America as to the epoch which terminated hostilities on our Coast. They affirm that one month from the date of the instrument was meant & suppose that that exposition will not be contested.7 pray can your researches inform me 1st. whether prizes made by & from parties not subject to the power before whose maritime courts they are carried, are provisionally or finally tried? 2d. How far the rules established by the Sovereign of the Captor & those by the Sovereign of the Courts prevail in such trials? 3dly. What difference is made in cases where both the parties concerned in the capture are subject to the same power and where they are subject to different powers.8

1Randolph to JM, 13 Sept. 1783 (1st letter), and n. 1 (2d letter).

2JM probably returned from Princeton to Philadelphia on 26 September. He voted in each session of Congress between 16 and 22 September, both inclusive, and also on 25 September. The journal records no tallied polls on 23 and 24 September, but JM most likely was in Princeton on those days (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XXVI, 573, 579–80, 581–82, 586–87, 592–93, 596, 601, 613).

3Randolph’s letters of 13 September appear to be the last which he wrote to JM in 1783. He may have anticipated an early return by JM to Virginia. Randolph, furthermore, was much occupied early in the autumn with selling his country estate (Pettus’), moving to Richmond, perfecting the text of his defense of Virginia’s title to the Northwest Territory, seeking anew to reach an accommodation with his father’s creditors, and attending the sessions of the General Court at Richmond during the first four weeks in October (Randolph to JM, 23 Aug., n. 1; Harrison to Delegates, 27 Sept., and n. 1; Va. Gazette description begins Virginia Gazette, or, the American Advertiser (Richmond, James Hayes, 1781–86). description ends , 6, 13, 20, 27 Sept., 11 Oct., 1 Nov. 1783).

4For the “Oconomical Republic,” see Randolph to JM, 13 Sept. (2d letter), and n. 5; for the “Minister” thereof to the United States, see JM to Jefferson, 10 June 1783, and n. 23. The house to which van Berckel moved on 7 November was the one in the South Ward of Philadelphia that President Boudinot had occupied until Congress left for Princeton. From the time of his arrival on 11 October until 7 November, van Berckel stayed at the City Tavern on Second Street near Walnut Street (Varnum L. Collins, Continental Congress at Princeton, p. 218; Burnett, Letters description begins Edmund C. Burnett, ed., Letters of Members of the Continental Congress (8 vols.; Washington, 1921–36). description ends , VII, 229, 282–83, 352, 371; Pa. Archives description begins Samuel Hazard et al., eds., Pennsylvania Archives (9 ser.; 138 vols.; Philadelphia and Harrisburg, 1852–1949). description ends , 3d ser., XVI, 784; JM to Randolph, 30 Aug.; 13 Oct. 1783). See also Delegates to Harrison, 1 Nov. 1783 (2d letter), and n. 3.

5JM’s comment somewhat resembles that of Pendleton in his letter of 16 June 1783 to JM (q.v., and n. 10).

7In their letter of 18 July 1783, John Adams, Franklin, and Jay stated: “We are surprised to hear that any doubts have arisen in America respecting the time when the cessation of hostilities took place there. It most certainly took place at the expiration of one month after the date of that declaration in all parts of the world, whether by land or sea, that lay north of the latitude of the Canaries” (Wharton, Revol. Dipl. Corr description begins Francis Wharton, ed., The Revolutionary Diplomatic Correspondence of the United States (6 vols.; Washington, 1889). description ends ., VI, 570). By “declaration” the peace commissioners meant the proclamation of King George III on 14 February, declaring that all hostilities in the above-mentioned area should end one month after the conclusion on 3 February of the preliminary articles of peace between Great Britain and France. Although, after much debate, Congress also stipulated 3 March in the proclamation of 12 April declaring a cessation of hostilities, the time of official termination was hardly satisfactory, for British cruisers hovering off the Atlantic coast had captured many American merchant vessels during the interim between those two dates (ibid., VI, 370–72; 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, 391, and n. 4; 449; 450, and n. 3; 451, n. 4; Pendleton to JM, 10 May; JM to Randolph, 10 June 1783, and n. 6). See also JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XXV, 753–54, 757.

8Randolph’s replies, if any, to these queries may have been oral, following JM’s return to Virginia early in December 1783.

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