James Madison Papers

From James Madison to Edmund Randolph, 21 August 1789

To Edmund Randolph

N. Y. Aug. 21. 89.

My Dear friend

For a week past the subject of amendts. has exclusively occupied the H. of Reps. Its progress has been exceedingly wearisome not only on account of the diversity of opinions that was to be apprehended, but of the apparent views of some to defeat by delaying a plan short of their wishes, but likely to satisfy a great part of their companions in opposition throughout the Union. It has been absolutely necessary in order to effect any thing, to abbreviate debate, and exclude every proposition of a doubtful & unimportant nature. Had it been my wish to have comprehended every amendt. recommended by Virga. I should have acted from prudence the very part to which I have been led by choice. Two or three contentious additions would even now frustrate the whole project.

The Judiciary bill was put off in favr. of the preceding subject. It was evident that a longer delay of that wd. prevent any decision on it at this Session. A push was therefore made, which did not succeed without strenuous opposition. On Monday the bill will probably be taken up & be pursued to a final question as fast as the nature of the case will allow.

I find on looking over the notes of your introductory discourse in the Convention at Philada. that it is not possible for me to do justice to the substance of it. I am anxious for particular reasons to be furnished with the means of preserving this as well as the other arguments in that body, and must beg that you will make out & forward me the scope of your reasoning. You have your notes I know & from these you can easily deduce the argument on a condensed plan. I make this request with an earnestness wch. will not permit you either to refuse or delay a compliance.1 Yr. affecly.

J. M Jr

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

1Randolph’s “introductory discourse” was his speech of 29 May 1787. Randolph sent his notes to JM on 26 Sept., declining to write out his speech in full. “Indeed I have an apprehension,” he wrote, “that were I to dilate the notes, I should mingle inadvertently much of what I have heard since, without being able to separate it from what occurred then.” JM incorporated Randolph’s notes directly into the manuscript of his Notes on Debates. He originally had made only a brief summary of the speech, which he subsequently crossed out with the notation: “(here insert [Randolph’s] speech including his resolutions).” The report of Randolph’s 29 May speech is the only part of the Notes on Debates not in JM’s hand (Farrand, Records description begins Max Farrand, ed., The Records of the Federal Convention of 1787 (4 vols.; New Haven, 1911–37). description ends , I, 18–19, 23).

Index Entries