James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Edmund Pendleton, [25 March 1782]

From Edmund Pendleton

[25 March 1782]

… The people of Vermont, like many other Politicians of the cunning sort, seem to have overshot their mark, & will deserve to be mortified at least, before they obtain their point. However their conduct unavoidably suggests, a very serious consideration of the consequences of their emancipation; that is, will they be a proper firm Barrier to the United States in that quarter giving intelligence of any injurious design or movement in Canada, & in the meantime endeavour to impede it, or will they on the contrary avail themselves of their situation so as by contracts with the Enemy or the appearance or threat of them, to gain unreasonable advantages to themselves? The former would be their duty as members of the Union, but their conduct indicates that the latter would be their Policy; besides the objections that their admission would Influence the political scale, adding weight to the Northern against the Southern & to the small against the great; and the probable byas they would feel to foster confusion & disorder as their parent, are in my mind unanswerable Objections at least with the large or Southern States, or any who love order & propriety; All these arguments gain additional weight when it is considered that the general Education & manner of life of those people, have not a tendency to cultivate a liberality of sentiments & conduct.…

Printed extract (Stan. V. Henkels Catalogue No. 694 [1892]). Misdated “March 25, 1789.” The correct date was determined from internal evidence relating to “the thorny subject of Vermont” (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 , IV, 38–39, 55–56 and n. 4, 130, 131 n. 1). The list probably kept by Peter Force (DLC: Madison Miscellany) has an abstract of the letter (also misdated) which reads: “Paine’s political tract. The conduct of Vermont. Her probable policy. Her admittance into the Union would influence the political scale unfavorably to the southern States.”

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