James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Caleb Wallace, 25 September 1785

From Caleb Wallace

Lincoln County. Sep. 25th. 1785

Dear Sir,

Two Days ago I received your favour of the 23. of August. Having only an Evening’s leisure after attending a very Strong Session of our Court for three Weeks to answer several of my Eastern Correspondents I only intend a short Line at present. In my Letter by1 Mr. Elijah Craig2 I believe I omitted particularly to inform you that last December a Deputy from the Several Militia Companies in this District assembled to take under Consideration the State of the District. A Number of Grievances were then stated which cannot be redressed whilst in Connexion with Virginia; and therefore it was recommended to the People to elect another Convention to take into Consideration the propriety and Expediency of a Seperation. This Convention met in May, and unanimously resolved that a Seperation was indispensable but at the same Time it was thought expedient to recommend the election of a third finally to decide upon the Question. At this an Address to the Assembly praying for an Act of Seperation, and several Resolves expressing the Reasons on which the Prayer is founded and the Terms on which the Seperation is requested were agreed on. I must confess I am not pleased with the Splendid Dress in which they are cloathed, and wish the Substance of the Resolves had composed the Body of the Address, but hope that impropriety in form will not injure a Cause which I am anxious should be determined on the most friendly and liberal principles.3

George Muter and Harry Innes4 esquires are appointed to wait on the Assembly with our Petition, who will explain our Views more to your Satisfaction than I can do by Letter. It would be presuming in me to Name these Gentlemen by Way of Recommendation; And I am perswaded you will take Pleasure in patronizing the District by which they are sent so far as our Wishes accord with your Judgment, and further would be unreasonable for me to request. I am Dr Sir, Your friend & Servant

Caleb Wallace

RC (DLC). Cover missing. Docketed by JM.

1The version of this letter edited by James A. Pagett, “Letters of Caleb Wallace to James Madison,” Kentucky State Historical Society, Register, XXXV (1937), 211, replaces “by” with the word “to.”

2A Virginian, the Reverend Elijah Craig migrated to Kentucky in 1786. For a record of his career as a dissenting minister, see Papers of James Madison, I, 183 n. 7.

3The December meeting resulted from a previous gathering called in Danville by Gen. Benjamin Logan. Held on 27 Dec. 1784, the convention included representatives from the militia districts who discussed separation but felt the matter should be determined by a civilian convention. Twenty-five delegates met on 23 May 1785. Others besides Wallace were disappointed with the resolutions passed, and a third formal convention met on 8 Aug. 1785, adopting two resolutions stronger than the former appeal to the House of Delegates (Collins and Collins, History of Kentucky, I, 21). The August address to the delegates (Vi) is printed in James Rood Robertson, Petitions of the Early Inhabitants of Kentucky (Louisville, 1914), pp. 79–82.

4Muter became a district judge for Kentucky in 1785, and in 1786 was promoted to chief justice for Kentucky. For his previous career, see Papers of Madison description begins William T. Hutchinson et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison (8 vols. to date; Chicago, 1962——). description ends , I, 239 nn. 1 and 2.

Harry Innes became a district judge for Kentucky in 1783, and in 1785 became attorney general for Kentucky. Both Muter and Innes were later implicated in the Spanish schemes to gain Kentucky’s independence (DLC: Innes Papers, James Wilkinson Correspondence).

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