James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Edward Carrington, 24 December 1790

From Edward Carrington

Richmond Decr. 24. 1790

My dear Sir

The uncertainty of a letters getting to hand occasioned me not to write you while in Virginia. Yours of the 29th. of August last,1 I recd. in the Post Office, and immediately applied to Mr. Davis in order to comply with your request respecting him, but your Brother had, a few days before, anticipated me in the business. This circumstance leaves me your debtor for 7 Dols. & ¼—which, being reducible to a small compass, I now inclose. The busts have arrived here in very good order and I will take some good opportunity by a returning Orange Waggon to send yours up.

You have doubtless seen the resolutions of our Assembly upon the subject of assumption2—it was a business upon which a calm & deliberate body might have said much, and with some effect, but the intemperance marked in every sentence of this proceeding, takes from it, even amongst the people of the Country, much of its weight, and perhaps places Congress on the least unpopular side of the question. As to the constitutionality of this business there never existed in my mind a doubt, nor have I ever considered the measure ineligible on a just plan. The States were how[e]ver so unequally situated with respect to it, that such a plan could not be formed without more special accommodations than could be embraced in a general system.

The Assembly have agreed to pay another years Interest on the Military debt, but it is likely that so great a reduction of Taxes will be made, as to leave an insufficiency for the purpose.

I suppose the Judiciary system reported by the Attorney Genl will be printed for the perusal of the members, should this be the case I will thank you to inclose me a Copy,3 and I shall be happy in your Continuing to inclose me the papers and to Write when convenient, being with great sincerity & Truth yr Affe. Freind & Hl St.

Ed Carrington

pd. Capt. Bunyan 14/. Stg. 3 dols.
pd. Freight of the Bust 5 ¼
8 ¼
pd. by E. C. for Frt. of
Bust from N. Y—J. Ms. pt. 1.  
due J. M. 7 ¼ which is here inclosed.

RC (DLC); Tr (NN).

1Letter not found.

2The memorial of the Virginia General Assembly, which passed the House on 16 Dec. and the Senate on 23 Dec., denounced assumption as “a measure which … must in the course of human events, produce one or other of two evils, the prostration of agriculture at the feet of commerce, or a change in the present form of fœderal government, fatal to the existence of American liberty” (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 , XIII, 237–39). Francis Corbin was chairman of the committee (which also included Patrick Henry and Henry Lee) that drafted the memorial (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. 1790, pp. 44, 80–81, 140–41).

3Edmund Randolph’s Report of the Attorney-General. Read in the House of Representatives, December 31, 1790 (Philadelphia, 1791; Evans description begins Charles Evans, ed., American Bibliography … 1639 … 1820 (12 vols.; Chicago, 1903–34). Roger P. Bristol, ed., Supplement to Charles Evans’ American Bibliography (Charlottesville, Va., 1970). description ends 23908), reprinted in ASP description begins American State Papers: Documents, Legislative and Executive, of the Congress of the United States … (38 vols.; Washington, 1832–61). description ends , Miscellaneous, I, 21–36.

Index Entries