James Madison Papers

To James Madison from William Nelson, Jr., 7 May 1787

From William Nelson, Jr.

Wmsburg May 7th. 1787.

Dear Sir

In consequence of your polite promise to take charge of any letters that I might wish to send to my friend Mr. Short, I take the liberty of troubling you with the inclosed, and beg the favor of you, to have it put into the mail at New York, which goes by the French-packet. Mr. Wythe and Mr. Blair sailed from York this morning for the head of Elk. May not a favorable effect be hoped from the appointments to the foederal convention being so general? Yet, I wish Rhode-Island may not again attempt to shew, how the machine may be retarded, by one of it’s most trifling wheels refusing to perform it’s office. The apprehensions of paper-money are daily diminishing in this state.1 The rejection of the measure in Maryland will no doubt have considerable weight even with those, who were favorers of it before;2 and there are various reports as to the sentiments of the people in some of the southern counties, where the warmest zeal for the plan was supposed to prevail. Some go so far as to say, that pointed instructions against it will be sent from the county, which is represented by the patron of the scheme, and that he has declared that he shall not vote for it, unless in[s]tructed to that purpose, and even then that he shall give it a silent vote.3 Of this, however, the gentlemen, whom you will meet from Richmond, will give you more exact information. With the warmest wishes for success to the deliberations of the convention, and the highest personal esteem, I am, Sir, yr. obedt. Serv

Wm Nelson jr

RC (DLC: Rives Collection, Madison Papers).

1Virginia was one of the six states that did not issue paper money following the Revolution (Jensen, New Nation, pp. 316–25).

2The paper-money issue was bitterly fought out in the Maryland legislature before hard-money advocates triumphed. Instead of an act for the emission of paper money in 1786 the Maryland assembly passed an “Act to vest certain powers in the Governor and Council,” which gave the State Council authority to deal with the state’s financial crisis (Archives of Maryland, LXXI, xviii).

3Momentum was building behind “the patron of the scheme,” Patrick Henry, to issue paper money in Virginia in 1787. The active opposition of George Mason, Richard Henry Lee, Monroe, and Ludwell Lee, along with the known views of JM and Washington, helped prevent Virginia from emitting paper money (JM to Jefferson, 23 Apr. 1787; Rutland, Papers of George Mason, III, 878, 1011).

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