James Madison Papers

From James Madison to James Monroe, 21 December 1786

To James Monroe

Richmd. Decr. 21. 1786.

Dear Sir

Your favor of the 16th. inst: came to hand too late the evening before last to be then answered. The payment of the 100 drs. here was perfectly convenient, and I have put that sum into the hands of Mr. Jones to be applied to the use which you have directed. This payment added to the 100 drs. paid in Philada. leaves still a balance of 137½ according to my memorandm. which is subject to your further orders. We hear nothing from any of the other States on the subject of the federal Convention. The ice seems to have intercepted totally the Northern communication for a considerable time past. The Assembly have been much occupied of late with the bill for district Courts. On the final question there was a majority of one agst. it in fact, though on the Count a mistake made the division equal & it fell to the Chair to decide who passed the bill. The real majority however were sensible of the mistake & refused to agree to the title, threatening a secession at the same time. The result was a compromise that the question sd. be decided anew the next morning, when the bill was lost in a full house by a single voice.1 It is now proposed to extend the Sessions of the Genl. Court so as to accelerate the business depending there. We hear that Maryland is much agitated on the score of paper money the H. of Delegates having decided in favor of an emission.2 Adieu Yrs Affy.

Js. Madison Jr

RC (DLC). Addressed by JM. Extract of the letter, made by JM at a later date, also in DLC.

1On 15 Nov. 1786 JM had been appointed chairman of a committee to bring in a bill to amend the act for the establishment of Courts of Assize, which he presented on 7 Dec. The bill came to a vote on 18 Dec., when the outcome was recorded as a 59–59 deadlock. The Speaker broke the tie and voted with the ayes (as had JM), but a variance was noted between the numbers as taken by the clerk and by the tellers, so that in fact there had been 61 noes. Further proceeding on the bill and its title was postponed until the next day when a motion was made to amend the title by substituting “an act, for the establishment of District Courts.” The motion was defeated 63–64; whereupon the House postponed action on the bill until next session (JHDV description begins Journal of the House of Delegates of the Commonwealth of Virginia; Begun and Held at the Capitol, in the City of Williamsburg. Beginning in 1780, the portion after the semicolon reads, Begun and Held in the Town of Richmond, In the County of Henrico. The journal for each session has its own title page and is individually paginated. The edition used is the one in which the journals for 1777–1786 are brought together in two volumes, with each journal published in Richmond in either 1827 or 1828 and often called the “Thomas W. White reprint.” description ends , Oct. 1786, pp. 41, 92, 106–7).

2Paper money was in full debate by early 1785 in Maryland as a depression gripped the state. The proposal for the emission of paper, having failed in the 1785 legislature, was revived in the 1786 session. On 1 Dec. leave was granted in the House to bring in a bill for the emission of paper currency. After a fortnight of heavy debate, the House passed the bill 37–25 on 15 Dec., but the Senate unanimously rejected it on 30 Dec. The division initiated an acrimonious quarrel between the two branches, bringing the House to a precipitate adjournment and causing the controversy to be carried to the public. Senators Thomas Stone and Charles Carroll drew up resolutions denouncing the bill, while its advocates made bitter accusations against Carroll in the newspapers. The dissension rose to fiery heights in 1787, but as it became clear that the Senate would maintain its firm stance against the bill, the issue slowly subsided (Nevins, American States during and after the Revolution, pp. 529–33; Nettels, Emergence of a National Economy, p. 86).

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