James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Archibald Stuart, 9 November 1787

From Archibald Stuart

Richmond Novr. 9th. 1787

Dr Sir

Yrs of the 30th. Octr. came to hand yesterday & has afforded me infinite satisfaction to hear that the probability is that most of the Northern States will adopt the fœderal Govt. I have been for some time uncommonly Anxious on this subject lest the weakness & inefficacy of the State Governments should become so notorious & so disgusting to the people as to drive them into concessions of liberty much beyond that point which is actually necessary for Good Government. Should it however fail in the first instance I hope it will prove a Rock of Salvation on which we may rest in our career to that fatal extreme.

The Paper inclosed contained a piece signed Publius with which I am extremely pleased, from his introduction I have the highest expectations from him.1 If it would not impose too great a task upon you I would request that his subsequent papers may be sent to me, the Nos. written by an American Citizen have had good effects & with some Other pieces of Merit have been printed in a small pamphlet for the information of the people.2

Inclosed are some Resolutions which were Occasioned by three or four petitions for paper money from the southern Counties, they were drawn by Mason & supported in a Masterly Manner, Upon many Other Occasions however Our friend is not what he has been.3

Yesterday the Doctrine of installments Came on were said to be the Child of Necessity & a price for a Speedy & uniform administration of Justice. Henry, Nichs. Ronald & Thruston Pro Mason, Corbin, Bushd: Washington Turberville & yr. H Sevt Con. Henry movd the Committee should rise as time did not allow him to reply & some other Gent. who he said would favor us with their sentiments. We accordingly adjourned the debate for two Days, what will be the Result, God knows.4 Henry is loud on the distresses of the People & makes us tremble with the Apprehensions of a Rebellion if they are driven to dispair. He has also in a Decided tone opposed the payment of British Debts charged the Congress with neglecting the Interests of this State & Asserts that their Circular letter is sophistical & ought not to be regarded.5 He sais if we do our best to comply we or some other State shall fail in some tittle & that will be a pretext for the british to continue their Open Violation of it that if we comply at all we must fulfill Lord Carmarthens requisitions on that subject, Stated in a conversation with Mr Adams.6 He ask why we should go before the british in this Business, is it because they are more honest? or wear a Royal diadem &c.

Some of our young Country men who have come forward have done them selves & their country much honor. They speak & think for them selves but cannot give impulse to the Mass of our body.

On the subject of Installments I feel like a man Whose Character cannot be worsted, it will the sooner fill up the Measure of inequity & convince the people of the Necessity of a Change of Govt & Perhaps bring some good out of the Evil.

We have done nothing finally of any consequence, you shall hear of it when it happens. From yr Most Obt H Sevt

Archd Stuart.

RC (DLC). Addressed by Stuart and franked. Postmarked, “Richmond Nov 12.” Docketed by JM. Enclosure not found.

1The first number of The Federalist originally appeared in the N.Y. Independent Journal, 27 Oct. 1787.

2The first three numbers of “An American Citizen” (Tench Coxe) were printed in the Va. Independent Chronicle description begins Virginia Independent Chronicle (Richmond: Augustine Davis, 1786–90). Beginning on 13 May 1789 entitled, Virginia Independent Chronicle, and General Advertiser. description ends of 7 Nov. 1787. See Coxe to JM, 27 Sept. 1787 and n. 1. These pieces were included in Various Extracts on the Fœderal Government, Proposed by the Convention Held at Philadelphia (Richmond, 1787; Evans description begins Charles Evans, ed., American Bibliography … 1639 … 1820 (12 vols.; Chicago, 1903–34). description ends 20824). This pamphlet was apparently set as the various items included became available. The “small pamphlet” was probably an early issue of the first part of the whole, which was published in early December (Burnley to JM, 15 Dec. 1787 and n. 2).

3Petitions for an emission of paper money from the counties of Albemarle, Pittsylvania, and Washington were read before the House of Delegates on 3 Nov. The same day the House adopted Mason’s resolutions condemning the use of paper money as “ruinous to Trade and Commerce” and “contrary to every Principle of sound Policy as well as Justice” (JHDV description begins Journal of the House of Delegates of the Commonwealth of Virginia; Begun and Held at the Capitol, in the City of Williamsburg. Beginning in 1780, the portion after the semicolon reads, Begun and Held in the Town of Richmond, In the County of Henrico. The journal for each session has its own title page and is individually paginated. The edition used is the one in which the journals for 1777–1790 are brought together in three volumes, with each journal published in Richmond in either 1827 or 1828 and often called the “Thomas W. White reprint.” description ends , Oct. 1787, pp. 28, 29–30; Rutland, Papers of George Mason, III, 1008–9, 1011).

4After more than a month of debate the installment plan for the payment of private debts was dropped in favor of a bill to amend the execution laws. Its passage was made dependent on the passage of the district court bill, “a kind of barter between the Creditor & Debtor” (Burnley to JM, 15 Dec. 1787 and n. 1). See also George Mason to Washington, 27 Nov. 1787, Rutland, Papers of George Mason, III, 1019–22.

5The circular letter of 13 Apr. 1787 urging the states to repeal all laws contrary to the peace treaty of 1783 (JCC description begins Worthington C. Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XXXII, 177–84).

6The reference is to Lord Carmarthen’s letter of 28 Feb. 1786 to John Adams, enclosed in Adams to John Jay, 4 Mar. 1786 (Diplomatic Correspondence of the U.S., II, 580–82). Copies of the letter were forwarded to the states in John Jay’s circular letter of 6 July 1786 (Vi: Continental Congress Papers; Burnett, Letters description begins Edmund C. Burnett, ed., Letters of Members of the Continental Congress (8 vols.; Washington, 1921–36). description ends , VIII, 402 n. 2). See also PJM description begins William T. Hutchinson et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison (10 vols. to date; Chicago, 1962——). description ends , IX, 271, 273 n. 2.

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