James Madison Papers

From James Madison to Edmund Randolph, 21 October 1787

To Edmund Randolph

New York Ocr. 21. 1787.

My dear friend

I mentioned in a late letter that I had addressed to your care a small box of books for the University.1 I now inclose the Bill of lading. Inclosed also is a bill of lading for another Box destined for Mr. W. Hay. Will you be so good as to have it handed to him. I paid two dollars for its freight from France to this port, which he may repay to you. The money you remitted by me to Col. Carrington having somewhat exceeded the amount of his demand, the two dollars may the more properly pass into your hands.

I have recd. no letter from you since your halt at the Bolling-Green. We hear that opinions are various in Virginia on the plan of the Convention. I have recd. within a few days a letter from the Chancellor2 by which I find that he gives it his approbation; and another from the President of Willm. & Mary3 which, though it does not absolutely reject the Constitution, criticizes it pretty freely. The Newspapers in the middle & Northern States begin to teem with controversial publications. The attacks seem to be principally levelled agst. the organization of the Government, and the omission of the provisions contended for in favor of the Press, & Juries &c. A new Combatant however with considerable address & plausibility, strikes at the foundation. He represents the situation of the U.S. to be such as to render any Govt. improper & impracticable which forms the States into one nation & is to operate directly on the people.4 Judging from the News papers one wd. suppose that the adversaries were the most numerous & the most in earnest. But there is no other evidence that it is the fact. On the contrary we learn that the Assembly of N. Hamshire which recd. the constitution on the point of their adjournment, were extremely pleased with it. All the information from Massts. denotes a favorable impression there. The Legislature of Connecticut have unanimously recommended the choice of a Convention in that State. And Mr. Baldwin who is just from the spot tells me that from present appearances the opposition will be inconsiderable; that the Assembly if it depended on them would adopt the System almost unanimously; and that the Clergy and all the literary men are exerting themselves in its favor. Rho. Island is divided; The majority being violently agst. it. The temper of this State cannot yet be fully discerned. A strong party is in favor of it. But they will probably be outnumbered if those whose sentiments are not yet known, should take the opposite side. N. Jersey appears to be zealous. Meetings of the people in different counties are declaring their approbation & instructing their representatives. There will probably be a strong opposition in Penna. The other side however continue to be sanguine. Docr. Carroll5 who came hither lately from Maryland tells me, that the public voice there appears at present to be decidedly in favor of the Constitution. Notwithstanding all these circumstances, I am far from considering the public mind as fully known or finally settled on the subject. They amount only to a strong presumption that the general sentiment in the Eastern & middle States is friendly to the proposed System at this time. Present me respectfully to Mrs. R. and accept the most fervent wishes for your happiness from your Affece. friend

Js. Madison Jr.

RC (DLC). Addressed, franked, and marked “private” by JM. Docketed by Randolph. Enclosures not found.

1The College of William and Mary.

4JM’s brief description seems to fit the first number of the essays of “Brutus,” which appeared in the N.Y. Journal, and Weekly Register of 18 Oct. 1787. Paul Leicester Ford assigned the authorship of these essays to Robert Yates, an identification accepted by Cecelia Kenyon (Paul L. Ford, ed., Essays on the Constitution of the United States [Brooklyn, 1892], p. 417; Cecelia Kenyon, ed., The Antifederalists [New York, 1966], p. 323). Morton Borden, however, expresses some doubt about this attribution (The Antifederalist Papers [East Lansing, Mich., 1965], p. 42). William Jeffrey, Jr., says that “Brutus” cannot be positively identified, but his candidate is Melancton Smith (“The Letters of ‘Brutus’—A Neglected Element in the Ratification Campaign of 1787–1788,” University of Cincinnati Law Review, XL [1971], 644–46). Jeffrey reprinted all sixteen of the “Brutus” letters (ibid., XL, 665–777). The first letter is also reprinted in Debates and Proceedings in the Convention of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Held in the Year 1788 (Boston, 1856), pp. 366–78.

5The Reverend John Carroll, who later became the first Roman Catholic bishop in the U.S. He was the brother of Daniel Carroll.

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