James Madison Papers

From James Madison to James Monroe, 30 April 1787

To James Monroe

New York April 30. 1787.

Dear Sir

Seeing little chance of a direct conveyance of your furniture to Fredg. we have availed ourselves of one to Norfolk for which it embarked a few days ago under address to the care of Col. Parker.1 It was accompanied with a certificate protecting it from the duties. I inclose the charges here, which amount to £89..12. of this currency. I did not add the side board, because I wished not to obtain it from Cowdry, and the workmanship of another hand would have destroyed the uniformity of appearance; and because I think it not improbable that you will follow the hint I lately dropt of disposing of the sett in Virga. and ordering a new one; in which case a side-board can be included of a piece with the other articles. Shoud you chuse however to have one provided & sent, I shall feel great pleasure in obeying your orders in that, and every other instance. I have also omitted the windsor chairs, thinking as the charges so far exceed your estimate, it would be well to let you make a comparison with those in Virga. before you advance farther in purchases here. Correct me however in this case also, if I have mistaken your wishes.

I learn from the Assignees of Mordicai that his effects will not pay more than 5/. in the pound. No information yet as to the expected remittance from S. C.

Congs. are now reduced to seven States & do nothing.2 The Legislature here have adjourned without deciding on the act of Congs. relating to the Treaty of peace. They have done the same as to Vermont. The new elections in Massts. have shifted the Legislative power into the hands of the discontented party, and it is much feared that a grievous abuse of it will characterize the new administration.3 I shall set off in a few days for Philada. from which my future letters will be dated; and to which I beg yours to be addressed. With the sincerest affection I am Dr Sr Yr friend & servt.

Js. Madison Jr

RC (DLC). Enclosure not found.

1Probably Col. Josiah Parker, naval officer (i.e., customs collector) for the Elizabeth River district.

2Eight states (Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina, and Georgia) were present through 26 Apr. Congress did not again have a quorum until 2 May (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XXXII, 228–44; Notes on Debates, 26 Apr. 1787).

3Brant attributed JM’s willingness to believe the worst about the western Massachusetts protest movement to misinformation. JM “knew nothing of the real grievances of these new embattled farmers of Massachusetts. He knew more, in fact, about conditions in France” (Brant, Madison description begins Irving Brant, James Madison (6 vols.; Indianapolis and New York, 1941–61). description ends , II, 392). Unfamiliar with the circumstances behind the Shays uprising, JM failed to perceive the broad base of unrest in Massachusetts which the election returns revealed. Thus the healthy skepticism JM often applied to the Massachusetts delegates’ reports was lacking in his acceptance of their judgment on the nature and cause of the Shays affair. JM’s fears of a “grievous abuse” by Shays’s sympathizers centered on demands for paper money agitated in the Massachusetts legislature, but the conservatives were able to defeat a proposed paper emission (East, “Massachusetts Conservatives in the Critical Period,” in Era of the American Revolution, ed. Morris, p. 389; Ernst, Rufus King, p. 128).

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