From James Madison, Sr.
May. 11. 1791.
I have recd. yours of the 23d. Ulto. in which you say you think I should have done well if I had sent a few Hhds. Tobo. to Mr Leiper: if Tobo. does not take a rise here; will it be too late to send it to him in June or July; if it will not, I probably may send him 12 or 13 Hhds. I have at Richmond; and 3 or 4 at Fredg if he will give the price you mention’d to me. I intend to send this letter by Mr. Chs. Beale1 if it gets to him in time, & shall direct him to leave the Loan Office certificates with one of the persons you mention’d in your last. I do not see the necessity of giving him a Power of Attorney to subscribe to the loan, as I suppose he may give them in in my name.2 I expect Col Edwd. Carrington (who lodged last night at Orange Court House, where he met Genl Edwd Stevens & Mr. Edwd Smith, about the Excise business,)3 to dine with me to day. I will take his opinion about it; & if it is necessary, I will send a power of Attorney to Mr. Beale next Week, & if he should be gone to Phila. before it gets to him, I will send one to Col Jefferson which I suppose will answer the end.
I have recd. the Plaister of Paris & seeds you sent me, but the spring continues so dry, for we have had but two small showers of Rain, for more than 6 Weeks past, that I expect I shall make no satisfactory experiments from the Plaister, nor raise any thing from the seeds. I had rather you would put off buying Sugar till the new crop arrives as it will probably be cheaper then: and when you send any, I wish you to send with it about 80 lb. of double & abt. 20 lb. of single refined with it, also 25 lb. Salt Peter & a Jar of Raisons & a small pot of Tamarinds & the Coffee; the latter we shall not be in want of soon. If it is not convenient to advance the money for the above articles, I will try to get a Bill drawn on some person in Phila. & send it by the Post to you if you will let me know it in time. We wish to know when you expect to be in Orange.
Your mother, & the rest of the family are as usual as to health. By the Census there is better than 22,000 in Culpeper; 14,000 of which are Whites; and there are not quite 10,000 in Orange, 4500 of which are Negros; I have nothing farther to add but am, Your affectionate Father
P. S. Thomas Barbour & Isaac Davis jr. are electd. for Orange.4
N. B. Mr. Jno. Taylor says Genl. Mathews told him that it was reported in Georgia that you was a Partnr. in the Yazoo Company in a Grant for Lands, which is lookt on there as being obtained in a dishonest manner; but he, the Genl., did not believe you was concerned in it, & if you was not, he wished y⟨ou⟩ to write to him and authorize him to contradict the report.5
The opportunity of sending this letter to Majr. Hite at the time it was wrote, I now make this addition to it, & inform you that we have had but two small showers of Rain sufficient to wet the ground above an inch, for 7½ Weeks past, & it now looks very much like the drought continuing; it appears as if there will be very little Flax or Rye made in these parts & the Wheat is very low, & if there does not come Rain soon, it must make very little. The drought is very general.
Col. Carrington dined with me agreable to his promise & lodged with us—he thought it necessary I should send a power of Attorney to subscribe for me to the Loan; but I shall defer it till I see you. We are as well as usual. Your mother’s complaint not mended.
RC (DLC). Addressed by James Madison, Sr., with a notation: “Hond. by Mr. Charles Beale.” Docketed by JM.
2. JM had advised his father to have the loan office certificates converted into the new U.S. treasury notes (JM to James Madison, Sr., 13 Feb. 1791, 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 , XIII, 389). The transaction apparently was made but the interest left uncollected and not claimed until 1827 (Anthony Morris to JM, 31 Jan., 20 Sept. 1826, and JM to Morris, 25 Jan. 1827 [DLC]).
3. In March 1792 Edward Stevens and Edward Smith were appointed excise inspectors for the Virginia district, of which Carrington was supervisor (Senate Exec. Proceedings description begins Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate of the United States of America (3 vols.; Washington, 1828). description ends , I, 102, 111).
4. Thomas Barbour, the Madisons’ neighbor, and Isaac Davis, Jr., represented Orange County in the October 1791 session of the Virginia House of Delegates (Swem and Williams, Register description begins Earl G. Swem and John W. Williams, eds., A Register of the General Assembly of Virginia, 1776–1918, and of the Constitutional Conventions (Richmond, 1918). description ends , p. 35). Davis (1732–d. post 1805) was a veteran of the Revolution and active in Piedmont politics for two decades (DAR Patriot Index, p. 179; 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, 175).
5. At least one Virginian, Patrick Henry, was speculating in the Yazoo lands, but JM was quick to deny any interest in the scheme (Brant, Madison, III, 194; JM to James Madison, Sr., 2 July 1791). In fact, JM was a critic of the Yazoo land-grab and might have been a more active opponent had he not been counseled to let matters take their own course. “I feel confident, that neither the voice nor vote of a Maddison, will be engaged on the side of avarice and aristocracy,” the resigning senator James Jackson of Georgia wrote, adding that he thought “it will be prudent in Congress, not to touch on the right of Georgia, to the land sold—the Act will be repealed, and all matters stand as they were” (Jackson to JM, 17 Nov. 1795 [DLC]). This expectation that the fraudulent grants made by the Georgia legislature would not survive a court test proved unfounded, of course, when the Supreme Court upheld the resulting contracts in Fletcher v. Peck (1810).