James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Edmund Pendleton, 9 December 1791

From Edmund Pendleton

Virginia, December 9, 1791

… Having spent 6 days in Richmond in hearing two Gent’n on each side argue the great Question respecting the recovery of British debts, I have for y’r amusement thrown together what I recollect of the General head of the Argument, which may not comprehend the whole of those since I took no notes, & give it from a faulty memory. They spake well on both sides, but Mr Henry1 was truly Great, & for the first time I ever heard him, methodical & connected for 2 days & an half. Grotious, Puffendorf, Vatell & others were worried in the Service. They were still disputing on the 9th day from the commencement when I left the City.…

Printed extract (Stan. V. Henkels Catalogue No. 694 [1892]). Henkels noted: “This letter is accompanied with the arguments pro and con, which the above refers to.” The list of JM’s correspondence probably kept by Peter Force (DLC: Madison Miscellany) notes that this letter consisted of four pages and calendars it as follows: “Inclosing a discussion in the U. S. Circuit Court at Richmond on the subject of British debts.”

1Patrick Henry was counsel for the defendant, Dr. Thomas Walker of Albemarle County, in Jones v. Walker (Meade, Patrick Henry, II, 406–12).

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