James Madison Papers

From James Madison to James Madison, Sr., 4 September 1787

To James Madison, Sr.

Philada. Sepr. 4. 1787.

[…] Sir

Your last favor was dated the 9th. of July. I have been long anxious to learn the re-establishment of your health, as well as to receive information concerning the family in general. The Convention has not yet broken up but its Session will probably continue but a short time longer. Its proceedings are still under the injunction of secresy. We hear that a spirit of insurrection has shewn itself in the County of Green Briar. Some other Counties have been added by Report as infected with the same spirit; but the silence of the letters from Richmond on this latter fact, gives us hopes that the Report is not well founded.1 We understand also that the upper parts of the Country have suffered extremely from the drought, and that the crops will not suffice for the subsistence of the inhabitants. I hope the account is exaggerated, and wait with some impatience for a confirmation of this hope. The crops of wheat in this quarter have been uncommonly fine, and the latter rains have been so seasonable for the corn that the prospect of that crop is tolerably good. The price of good Tobo. here at present is 40/. Virga. money. As soon as the tie of secresy shall be dissolved I will forward the proceedings of the Convention. In the mean time with my affectionate regards for all the family, I remain yr. dutiful Son

Js. Madison Jr

RC (DLC). Addressed by JM and franked. Sent “to the care of F. Maury Esqr. Fredericksburg Virginia.” Brackets indicate missing word owing to a tear in the Ms.

1JM’s colleague, Gov. Edmund Randolph, had learned from a private correspondent that “commotions” were taking place in other counties besides Greenbrier and wrote to Lt. Gov. Beverley Randolph on 2 Sept. urgently requesting details (CVSP description begins William P. Palmer et al., eds., Calendar of Virginia State Papers and Other Manuscripts (11 vols.; Richmond, 1875–93). description ends , IV, 338). The lieutenant governor replied on 8 Sept. that he had heard of no such disturbances, though “some irregularities” had occurred in Amelia County, where several “disorderly people of desperate circumstances” had threatened to prevent the court from sitting. They were immediately thrown into jail, but were rescued by friends the same evening. All was now quiet, however, and the great majority of the people “friendly to the regular administration of Government” (Executive Letter Book description begins Executive Letter Book, 1786–1788, manuscript in Virginia State Library. description ends , pp. 156–59). Beverley Randolph’s calm view of the situation in the commonwealth differed from that of another Virginian, who grumbled that the government was not doing enough to quell the insurrectionary spirit: “You have heard, no doubt, that another Court House (New Kent) with the Clerk’s office and all the Records has been burnt down. Where is the Executive? Ought not a Proclamation to have been issued by them to apprehend the offenders when King William Court House was burnt? And would not this probably have prevented the destruction of the New Kent one? But they are all Honorable men, and wise as they are Honorable—by Courtesy. Happy State with such an Executive! But oh! Happier Executive with such a State!” (Francis Corbin to Arthur Lee, 8 Aug. 1787 [ViU: Lee Family Papers, microfilm]). On the burning of the clerks’ offices and records—the courthouses in fact were not burned—see Dawson to JM, 12 June 1787 and n. 5, and McClurg to JM, 22 Aug. 1787, n. 4.

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