James Madison Papers

To James Madison from John Dawson, 26 February 1790

From John Dawson

Richmond Feby 26. 1790

Dear Sir.

You’ll be pleasd to accept my thanks for your favour of the 31st ulto which I recievd in due time. I am by no means astonishd at the reports of the two Secretaries given rise to a variety of opinions. The subjects to which they refer are both incricate [sic], and the interest of different persons will induce them to adopt various opinions. Mr. Hamilton’s plan, altho it discovers knowledge & investigation is not thought altogether orthodox in this place. The Ideas of 4 per cent—Tontines—& western lands are not very agreeable to gentlemen, who have set snug in their corners for these several years past and drawn their six prCent. Curious indeed have been the speculations in public securities for these last six weeks—on one day at 10/. the next at 8/. & on yesterday the Agent of the sinking fund made a very considerable1 at 6/8 in the Pound—of certificates sent from New York for sale. As the management of this fund is submitted to the executive I will thank you for any information which may Prevent Singletons being playd on by the Speculators who have always the earliest intelligence.2

We hear that the King of Prusia has declard war against Russia—if so the price of our g[r]ain will probably keep up. Wheat lately at 9/– is now at 8/– corn at 20/. and tobacco at this place 25/. What an excellent opportunity our country men have of freeing themselves from that load of debt which they contracted at the close of the late war, with a little frugality and industry. Mr. Jefferson is expected in this place in about 10 days, on his way to New York. It is said that on the receipt of a letter from the President lately he has determind to accept of the appointment of S. of S. As your papers will contain some interesting debates will you be pleasd to forward them. With respect & esteem Yr. friend

J Dawson


1Dawson here omitted “purchase.”

2Dawson was a member of the Virginia Council of State. The sinking fund had been established in December 1787. Anthony Singleton (d. 1795), the sinking fund agent, had served as a captain in the Virginia Continental line. He married Lucy Harrison Randolph, daughter of Benjamin Harrison and widow of Peyton Randolph of Wilton, on 9 Oct. 1788 (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 , X, 37–38 n. 2, 291, 292 n. 5; Heitman, Historical Register Continental description begins F. B. Heitman, Historical Register of Officers of the Continental Army during the War of the Revolution (Washington, 1914). description ends , p. 498; 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, 357; VMHB description begins Virginia Magazine of History and Biography. description ends , XXXIV [1926], 91; Richmond Va. Gazette and Weekly Advertiser, 16 Oct. 1788).

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