James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Alexander White, 1 March 1794

From Alexander White

Woodville 1st. March 1794

Dear Sir

I am favd. with yours of 17th Ulo.1 with the enclosures. I have never seen a fair discussion in support of your resolutions—only desultory observations of several Members. Smith’s Speach has arrived I have had a cursory reading of it only. I am not sufficiently informed to give a decided opinion with respect to equipping a Fleet to check the Algerines. I am rather inclined in favor of it—but my great object is our internal defence—Security to our Coasts and Harbours with a Militia well regulated and well armed. I am just now informed that there is in Winchester an address from General Clarke to the People encouraging them to enlist under his Banners, in the address he styles himself General of the Revolutionary Legions of Kentucky Also General St Clairs Counter Proclamation, they will be in the Winchesters paper of Monday.2 During the Night of the 22d a heavy Snow fell. Sunday was mild—but Monday Tuesday and Wednesday were the severest days we have had this winter, the weather has since moderated and the snow wasted but yet covers the ground. Electioneering has taken deep root in this County no less than six Candidates. Our Friend Zane has been brought into trouble. Some falsehoods were propagated with regard to Mr. Pages3 conduct in the last Assembly. Zane was mentioned as the Author. Page wrote to Zane for explanation or denial. Zane resented the insinuation, and wrote an irritating answer. Page sent a Message by General Morgan, which procured a letter from Zane disavowing his being the author of the report. Page expected some further acknowledgement, which Zane refusing to give Page published the letter above mentioned with an introduction in which he said Zane was constrained to write it4—to a paper war succeeded challenges, Seconds chosen times & places appointed, but at length a Quaker Alderman of Winchester (after several of the County Magestrates had refused to interfere) granted a peace Warrant. The Gentlemen were both bound to their good behaviour, and thus ended the great affair. Zane you no doubt have heard is a general.5 If I had had anything more interesting I should not have blotted Paper with this silly Tale. Adieu, and believe me Yours sincerely

Alexr White

RC (DLC). Docketed by JM.

1Letter not found.

2On 3 Mar. 1794 Bowen’s Va. Centinel and Gazette; or, The Winchester Repository summarized the 8 Feb. Lexington Ky. Gazette report of George Rogers Clark’s 25 Jan. “proposals … for raising volunteers for the reduction of the Spanish Posts on the Mississippi, for opening the trade of said river” and the 7 Dec. 1793 proclamation of Arthur St. Clair, governor of the Northwest Territory, forbidding inhabitants to join or aid, and ordering civil and military officers to prevent, such French-inspired expeditions.

3Matthew Page (b. 1762) was a cousin of Congressman John Page. He moved from Hanover County to Frederick County circa 1780 and served in the House of Delegates, 1790–94 (Page, Genealogy of the Page Family, pp. 140–41; Cartmell, Shenandoah Valley Pioneers, p. 458; 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. 414).

4On 17 Feb. 1794 Bowen’s Va. Centinel and Gazette; or, The Winchester Repository published Page’s announcement to the “Fellow-Citizens, Freeholders of Frederick County” of 15 Feb. and Isaac Zane’s letter to Page of 6 Feb. The dispute concerned allegations that Page had sponsored a bill for the relief of delinquent sheriffs.

5Zane was appointed a brigadier general, commanding the Twelfth Virginia Militia Division (Va. Herald, and Fredericksburg Advertiser, 12 Dec. 1793).

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