James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Edmund Randolph, 27 March 1787

From Edmund Randolph

Richmond March 27. 1787.

My dear friend

I have turned my mind somewhat to the business of may next: but am hourly interrupted. At present I conceive

  • 1. that the alterations shd. be grafted on the old confederation
  • 2. that what is best in itself, not merely what can be obtained from the assemblies, be adopted.
  • 3. that the points of power to be granted be so detached from each other, as to permit a state to reject one part, without mutilating the whole.

With these objects, ought not some general propositions to be prepared for feeling the pulse of the convention on the subject at large? Ought not an address to accompany the new constitution?

I was informed, that Colo. R. H. Lee attended at Northumberland court house a few days ago at a meeting of the patriotic society. This renders it probable, that he has not yet quitted the field of politicks.1

Perjury has lately increased to an alarming degree here, as well as in England. I suspect, that its enormous magnitude will soon be displayed in a very conspicuous instance, and in a conspicuous prosecution.2

Oster, the consul, insists that Frenchmen cannot marry here without the royal permission. Mr. Latill has lately married Miss Lucy Randolph, and I wish you could obtain a hint from Otto or some other jurispente.3 Adieu. Yrs sincerely

E. R.

RC (DLC). Docketed by JM.

1See Randolph to JM, 22 Mar. 1787 and n. 4. Randolph must have believed that Lee would accept his appointment as a delegate to the Philadelphia convention. He had not yet seen Lee’s letter of 26 Mar. declining the appointment.

2The allusion to “a conspicuous prosecution” was too obscure even for JM (JM to Randolph, 8 Apr. 1787). No further written exchange on the subject occurred after JM’s reply of 8 Apr.

3On Oster, see J. Rives Childs, “French Consul Martin Oster Reports on Virginia, 1784–1796,” VMHB description begins Virginia Magazine of History and Biography. description ends , LXXVI (1968), 27–40. Joseph Latil was an agent of Beaumarchais in settling the latter’s claim against the state of Virginia (JCSV description begins H. R. McIlwaine et al., eds., Journals of the Council of the State of Virginia (4 vols. to date; Richmond, 1931——). description ends , IV, 33; Cal. of Va. State Papers description begins William P. Palmer et al., eds., Calendar of Virginia State Papers and Other Manuscripts (11 vols.; Richmond, 1875–93). description ends , IV, 503). Lucy Randolph Latil, a second cousin of Edmund Randolph, died in 1790 (Fredericksburg Va. Herald, 28 Jan. 1790).

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