James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Joseph Jones, 12 June 1785

From Joseph Jones

Richmond 12th. June 1785

D. Sir.

Being from Town when your order1 for the Trunk arrived was the reason it was not then sent. If an opportunity offers it shall be forwarded as you desire. In the mean time the precaution of preserving the cloaths from the moth by exposing them to the sun has been attended to and shall be repeated. I know not whether any Copy of the resolution you allude to2 has been officially communicated to Mr. Mason. Such as Beckley copied for the Executive have been so wh[ethe]r that shod have been of the number I cannot tell as we are not yet favoured with the Journals by the Printer and I cannot inform myself at the Clerks office Mr. Beckley being out of Town—he will I am told return Tomorrow. If the Attorney has not sent I will contrive you the Copies you desire. I heard but have only heard that Mason and Henderson proceeded to execute the other branch of the business committed to the Comrs. withot. the attendance or call for attendence of the other Commrs. What they have done has not come to my knowledge. I have determined to leave Richmond the first week of the next month for King George where I shall only stay a few days and then proceed towards the Berkeley Springs to return the begining of October. I think I shall pass through Orange going or returning. At one time I had a notion of going to Rhode Island being much pressed to it by Mrs. Lightfoot near Pt. Royal whose Husband is in bad health and is advised to make a water trip to that place and his wife is determined to attend him but had I gone we were to have taken our rout by land and met him there. After some reflection I declined the northern for the western trip whr. prudently I cannot tell but my little boy must accompany me and I thought the springs on that account most proper. If I pass through Orange and you are in the County I shall certainly do myself the pleasure of seeing you. H—r—n3 succeded in surrey where he offered after being disappointed in Chs. City. It is thought there will be a struggle for the Chair. What do you think of an alteration in the article of Confed: to vest the Congress with power to regalate Trade and collect imposts to be credited the respective States. The States having Staples will not I expect relish it, and yet the necessity of Congress possessing the power is at present apparent. Perhaps a Convention of Deputies from the several States for the purpose of forming Commercial regulations similar to the British Nav: act to be carryed into execution by Congress wod. be the most likely mode to obtain success to the measure as well as collecting the Wisdom of the States on the subject, which is unquestionably of the first importance.4 Yr. friend & Servt

Jos: Jones.

RC (DLC). Cover addressed by Jones. Docketed by JM.

1JM’s “order for the Trunk” has not been found.

2Undoubtedly either the resolution appointing Virginia commissioners to meet with Maryland commissioners to consider the jurisdiction and navigation of the Potomac River or the resolution directing the Virginia and Maryland commissioners to meet with ones from Pennsylvania to consider the same (Resolutions Appointing Virginia Members of a Potomac River Commission, 28 June 1784; or, the Resolutions Authorizing an Interstate Compact on Navigation and Jurisdiction of the Potomac, 28 Dec. 1784; Jones to JM, 23 June 1785; Randolph to JM, 17 July 1785; JM to Monroe, 28 July 1785). JM, although one of the commissioners, was never informed of the time and place of the meeting. It may have been the unfulfilled commission to meet with representatives from Pennsylvania that occasioned JM’s statement to Monroe that he might have to go to Philadelphia to perform a public duty (JM to Monroe, 28 July 1785, n. 2).

3Benjamin Harrison. John Tyler vied with Harrison for the chair of the speaker of the House and lost.

4JM had spoken against a convention, similar to the one Jones was suggesting, two years earlier (Papers of Madison description begins William T. Hutchinson et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison (8 vols. to date; Chicago, 1962——). description ends , VI, 425). Although JM disliked the plan of calling a revising convention, he had to accept the stubbornness of his legislative colleagues as a fact of life after the House of Delegates voted against relinquishing regulatory powers to Congress on 30 Nov. and 1 Dec. 1785. JM gave half-hearted support for the House of Delegates resolution of 21 Jan. 1786, which laid the groundwork for the abortive Annapolis convention, but he was pessimistic concerning the convention approach to ills of the Confederation. The call for such a convention had been sounded in New York as early as July 1782 (Syrett and Cooke, Papers of Hamilton description begins Harold C. Syrett and Jacob E. Cooke, eds., The Papers of Alexander Hamilton (15 vols. to date; New York, 1961——). description ends , III, 110–13).

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