James Madison Papers

From James Madison to Edmund Randolph, 23 November 1788

To Edmund Randolph

Philada. Novr. 23. 1788

My dear friend

Your two favors of the 5th. & 10th instant have been duly recd. The appointments for the Senate communicated in the latter, answer to the calculations I had formed, notwithstanding the contrary appearances on which the former was founded. My only surprize is that in the present temper and disproportionate number of the antifederal part of the Assembly, my name should have been honored with so great a vote as it received. When this circumstance is combined with that of the characters which I have reason to believe concurred in it, I should be justly chargeable with a very mistaken ambition, if I did not consider the event in the light which you anticipated. I shall not be surprized if the attempt should be equally successful to shut the door of the other House agst. me, which was the real object of my preference as well for the reason formerly suggested to you, as for the additional one that it will less require a stile of life with which my circumstances do not square, & for which an inadequate provision only will probably be made by the public. Being not yet acquainted with the allotment of Orange in the districts, I can form no estimate of the reception that will be given to an offer of my services. The district in which I am told it is likely to be thrown, for the choice of an Elector, is a very monitory sample of what may & probably will be done in that way.

My present situation embarrasses me somewhat. When I left N. York, I not only expected that the Choice for the Senate would be as it is, but was apprehensive that the spirit of party might chuse to add the supposed mortification of dropping my name from the deputation to Congress for the fraction of a year remaining. I accordingly left that place under arrangements which did not require my return. At the same time, I had it in view, if left entirely to my option, to pass the Winter or part of it there; being desirous of employing some of the time in matters which need access to the papers of Congress, & supposing moreover that I should be there master more of my time than in Virginia. The opportunity of executing my plan is given me I find by one of the votes of the Assembly.1 On the other hand I am now pressed by some of my friends to repair to Virginia as a requisite expedient for counteracting the machinations agst. my election into the H. of Reps. To this again I am extremely disinclined for reasons additional to the one above mentioned. It will have an electioneering appearance which I always despised and wish to shun. And as I should shew myself in Orange only, where there will probably be little difficulty, my presence could have no very favorable effect: Whilst it is very possible that such a mark of solicitude strengthened by my not declining a reappointment to Congress, and now declining to serve in it, might by a dextrous misinterpretation, be made to operate on the other side. These considerations are strong inducements to join my colleagues at N. York, and leave things to their own course in Virginia. If Orange should fall into a federal district it is probable I shall not be opposed; if otherwise a successful opposition seems unavoidable. My decision however is not finally taken.

Mr. Dawson arrived here this morning. He took Anapolis in his way, where he tells me the disputed election of Baltimore engages the whole attention at present.2

Will you be good eno’ to enable me to answer the inclosed paper. I do not chuse to trust my recollection of the law on the subject. The enquiry comes from the French Consul at N. York.3

You may continue to address yr. letters to N. York till I give other notice as they will not be lost whatever direction I may take, and will be highly grateful if I should return thither. Yrs. most affectly.

Js. Madison Jr

RC (DLC). Addressed by JM. Enclosure not found.

1JM was reelected to the Confederation Congress on 31 Oct, (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. 1788, p. 18). The task JM hoped to carry out during the winter in New York, which he also alluded to in his letters to Washington of 2 Dec. and Jefferson of 8 Dec., can only be conjectured. He may have intended to consult the papers of Congress in order to prepare notes and memorandums to accompany his Notes on Debates at the Federal Convention. Or he may have wished to consult these papers for the purpose of digesting a plan to fund the foreign debt, as Jefferson had suggested in his letter to JM of 3 May and again in his letter of 18 Nov. (which JM had not yet received).

2JM referred to the recent election of delegates to the Maryland legislature. In Baltimore, Federalist candidates James McHenry and John Coulter won a hotly contested race against Samuel Chase and David McMechen (McHenry to JM, 26 July 1788 and n. 2; Baltimore Md. Journal, 10 Oct. 1788). A correspondent in the Annapolis Md. Gazette of 16 Oct. 1788 charged that McHenry and Coulter won the election by fraud and intimidation. He was answered by “A Baltimorean” in the same paper on 30 Oct.

3Crèvecoeur’s inquiry concerned the Virginia law regulating deeds of conveyance (JM to Crèvecoeur, 30 Nov. 1788; JM to Randolph, 1 Mar. 1789; Randolph to JM, 19 May 1789 [DLC]; 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, 155).

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