James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Archibald Stuart, 14 January 1788

From Archibald Stuart

Richmond Jany. 14th 1788

Dr Sir

The uncertainty of our final Decision on all publick questions has been the cause of My late silence. As the Session is now over I can venture to give you some information with certainty—for this purpose I inclose you two Acts with a Statement of Our private Debts. The Law concerning Executions is the Companion of the District Bill which passed by a Very Large Majority—four additional Genl. Court Judges are chosen for the purpose of alloting at least three Judges to each Circuit.1 The Gent in nomination for this appointment were Jos. Prentis, St Geo Tucker, Gabl. Jones, Colo. Parker of Westmoreland, Jos: Jones of K George, Edmund Winstone, Lee Massy, Cut. Bullitt Daniel Fisher & Colo. Grayson, Cyrus Griffin being Withdrawn Out of Whom the four first mentioned Were Elected. An Act has passed to subject the Lands of publick Debtors to discharge the Commonwealths Judgments, & to Authorize the removal of their property to any part of the State where the Executive shall Direct the Officer executing any process on such property.2 Several alterations have taken place in the port-Bill in favor of American Vessels & relaxing the rigor of the Law which has been so loudly complained of. I fear we have made it worse & that every Departure from its first principles will be found ruinous.

The anti-constitutional Fever which raged here some time ago begins to abate & I am not without hopes that many patients will be restored to their senses. Mr. Page of Rosewell has become a Convert. Genl. Nelson begins to view the Govt with a More favorable eye & I am told St. G: Tucker has confessed his sins.

Publius is in general estimation, his greatness is acknowledged universally. Colo. Carrington has sent me his numbers as late down as the 24th. inclusive Which Dixon has been printing for some time past.3 Should he leave New York I must rely upon Yourself & Mr. Brown to transmit the remainder of them as they shall appear. They May be Directed to Me or in my Absence to Mr. John Dixon—as I leave this place tomorrow not to return before the first of April.

Pray let nothing Divert you from Coming to the Convention. I am Dr Sir with respect & esteem Yr Very H sevt

Archd Stuart

I had almost forgotten to express my Wish that a Superintendant of Indian Affairs may be appointed as soon As possible, I verily believe it would essentially serve some of Our suffering Western Brethren.

Colo. Arthur Campbell has spoken to me in such terms as convince me he would be pleased with the appointment & I own that I am far from thinking him disqualifyed for it, he has resided among the Indians to the Age of 7 his situation is favorable & he is a man of Considerable Abilities.4 From &c

A: S:

RC (DLC). Addressed by Stuart and docketed by JM. Enclosures not found.

1See Hening, Statutes description begins William Waller Hening, ed., The Statutes at Large; Being a Collection of All the Laws of Virginia, from the First Session of the Legislature, in the Year 1619 (13 vols.; Richmond and Philadelphia, 1819–23). description ends , XII, 457–62, 532–58.

2See “An act for the more speedy recovery of debts due to this commonwealth” (ibid., XII, 558–63). The lands of sheriffs, coroners, and other public collectors were to be sold only if their “goods and chattels” were insufficient to satisfy the debt. The act further provided that if the public debtor’s property (i.e., goods and chattels) could not be sold in his county, it could be removed and sold in any adjacent county. Stuart inaccurately stated that such property could be removed “to any part of the State.”

3John Dixon published the Richmond Va. Gazette and Independent Chronicle.

4Campbell had written Governor Randolph on 31 Dec. 1787 announcing his availability for the position of Indian superintendent for the Southern Department. His hopes were disappointed, however, for on 29 Feb. 1788 Congress elected Richard Winn to succeed James White in that post (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, 375; JCC description begins Worthington C. Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XXXIV, 72; Secretary of Congress to Richard Winn, 1 Mar. 1788, Burnett, Letters description begins Edmund C. Burnett, ed., Letters of Members of the Continental Congress (8 vols.; Washington, 1921–36). description ends , VIII, 704).

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