James Madison Papers

To James Madison from George Washington, 29 October 1785

From George Washington

Mount Vernon 29th. Octor. 1785

My Dr Sir,

Receive my thanks for your obliging favor of the 20th.1—with its enclosure—of the latter I now avail myself in a letter to the Governor, for the General Assembly.2 Your delicate sensibility deserves my particular acknowledgements: both your requests are complied with—the first, by congeniality of sentiment; the second because I would fulfil your desire.

Conceiving it would be better to suggest a wish, than to propose an absolute condition of acceptance, I have so expressed myself to the Assembly and shall be obliged to you, not only for information of the result but (if there is an acquiesence on the part of the Country) for your sentiments respecting the appropriations—from what may be said upon the occasion, you will learn what would be most pleasing, & of the greatest utility to the Public.

By Colo. Henry Lee I sent you the Reports of the Secretary for Foreign affairs on the Consular Department.3 I hope you have received them. With every sentiment of esteem & regard I am Dr. Sir &c. &c.

Geo: Washington

FC (DLC: Washington Papers).

1JM’s letter of 20 Oct. has not been found. In it JM apparently alluded to Washington’s sensitivity regarding the General Assembly’s gift of canal shares in the Oct. 1784 session. Washington wanted to convey the shares to some public foundation, and JM became the liaison between Mount Vernon and Richmond on the matter (JM to Jefferson, 3 Oct. 1785; Amendments to the Act Conveying Canal Shares to George Washington, 16 Nov. 1785).

2JM probably had suggested that Washington avoid an outright refusal of the shares but appropriate their proceeds to some objects of public good. Washington’s “letter to the Governor” (Henry) of 29 Oct. carries this intention (Fitzpatrick, Writings of Washington description begins John C. Fitzpatrick, ed., The Writings of George Washington, from the Original Sources, 1745–1799 (39 vols.; Washington, 1931–44). description ends , XXVIII, 303–4).

3Jay submitted a report “respecting the number of Consuls necessary to be appointed and for what foreign Ports” on 19 Sept. 1785 (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XXIX, 722–24). The report was printed in broadside form a short time later (Evans description begins Charles Evans, ed., American Bibliography … 1639 … 1820 (12 vols.; Chicago, 1903–34). description ends 19320).

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