James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Edmund Randolph, 3 September 1788

From Edmund Randolph

Richmond Sep: 3. 1788.

My dear friend

I am much obliged to you for your favor of the 25th. ulto.1 Being in Wmsburg., when I received it, I imparted it to our friend, the president,2 who espouses with warmth an early convention. I sincerely wish, that the valuable parts of the constitution may suffer no ill from the temper, with which such a body will probably assemble. But is there no danger, that, if the respect, which the large minorities at present command, should be effaced by delay, the spirit of amendment will hereafter be treated as heretical? I confess to you without reserve, that I feel great distrust of some of those, who will certainly be influential agents in the government, and whom I suspect to be capable of making a wicked use of its defects. Do not charge me with undue suspicion; but indeed the management in some stages of the convention created a disgustful apprehension of the views of some particular characters. I reverence Hamilton, because he was honest and open in his views.

Perhaps the states may not concur in any particular correction of the new theory. But if dissensions in opinion should prevent an amendment, the constitution remains as it is. If on the other hand they should be in unison as to even one amendment, it will satisfy, and bear down all malcontents.

The Indians have been outrageous on the Southern frontier. I conceive, that we shall be obliged to appoint a commissioner to attend the treaty in So. Carolina, in defiance of the confederation.3

Mazzei’s book is read by some with pleasure and applause; by others, as rather preserving the good compositions of certain politicians than originating much from himself. I believe the work will sell. Yrs. mo. sincerely

E. R.

RC (DLC). Addressed by Randolph and franked. Docketed by JM.

2The Reverend James Madison, president of the College of William and Mary.

3In October 1787 Congress had authorized the states of North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia to appoint commissioners to negotiate a treaty with the southern Indians. On 4 Sept. 1788 the Virginia Council of State ordered the appointment of a commissioner to attend the treaty negotiations and deliver a “talk” to the Cherokee (JCC description begins Worthington C. Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XXXIII, 707–11; JCSV description begins H. R. McIlwaine et al., eds., Journals of the Council of the State of Virginia (4 vols. to date; Richmond, 1931—). description ends , IV, 281–82). This action was technically in defiance of the Articles of Confederation, which vested Congress with the sole power of managing relations with the Indians “not members of any of the States.” See also PJM description begins William T. Hutchinson et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison (vols. 1–10, Chicago, 1962–77; vols. 11—, Charlottesville, Va., 1977—). description ends , IX, 366, 367 n. 2.

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