James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Edward Carrington, 27 December 1786

From Edward Carrington

New York Decr. 27. 1786

Dr Sir,

My going to Virginia this winter is indispensible. It is probable, from the state in which events has placed the delegation, that I shall not have an opportunity of going after the session commences without leaving the state unrepresented. Upon these considerations I have determined to seize the present moment and shall set out early in the next week. In the mean time I think it proper to give you notice of the circumstance, that you not rely upon my being present. I shall leave Colo Grayson here, who will be well enough to form with yourself a representation, but he is far from being recovered. My absence will not exceed six or eight weeks. We have as yet no Congress nor do I see a near prospect of one, but it will be well for you to get on the floor as early as you can. Inclosed is a paper containing a letter from Mr. Calonne Comptroller General of the Finances of France to Mr. Jefferson which is truly interesting to the U. S.1 I am dr Sir Yrs. Sincerely

Ed. Carrington

RC (DLC). Enclosure not found.

1The missing enclosure was almost certainly a New York newspaper containing a copy of Calonne’s letter to Jefferson, 22 Oct. 1786, concerning a general code of trade regulations for commerce between the U.S. and France. Jefferson immediately relayed the letter to Jay (Boyd, Papers of Jefferson description begins Julian P. Boyd et al., eds., The Papers of Thomas Jefferson (19 vols. to date; Princeton, N. J., 1950——). description ends , X, 474–78). Americans were eager for full-scale trade with France as a means of replacing the pre-Revolutionary commerce with Great Britain. What Americans hoped was that France could use as much sperm oil, naval stores, tobacco, lumber, and other American raw materials as the English had consumed up to 1775, and that French manufacturers could supply clothing and hardware “upon equal Terms with Great Britain.” The great deterrent to such trade, as one Virginian observed after receiving French goods, was the knowledge that he “cou’d have imported better at the same Prices from London” (Rutland, Papers of George Mason, III, 1125–29).

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