George Washington Papers

To George Washington from James Madison, 13 June 1788

From James Madison

Richmond June 13th 1788.

Dear Sir

Your favour of [ ] came to hand by the mail of Wednesday. I did not write by several late returns for two reasons; one the improbability of [your] having got back to Mount Vernon; the other a bilious indisposition which confined me for some days.1 I am again tolerably well recovered.

Appearances at present are less favorable than at the date of my last. Our progress is slow and every advantage is taken of the delay, to work on the local prejudices of particular setts of members. British debts, the Indiana claim,2 and the Mississippi are the principal topics of private discussion & intrigue, as well as of public declamation. The members who have served in Congress have been dragged into communications on the first which would not be justifiable on any other occasion if on the present. There is reason to believe that the event may depend on the Kentucky members; who seem to lean more agst than in favor of the Constitution. The business is in the most ticklish state that can be imagined. The majority will certainly be very small on whatever side it may finally lie; and I dare not encourage much expectation that it will be on the favorable side.

Oswald of Philada has been here with letters for the antifederal leaders from N. York and probably Philada. He staid a very short time here during which he was occasionally closeted with H——y Ma—s—n &c.3 I learn from N. York that the elections have proved adverse to the Constitution. Yours Affectly

Js Madison Jr

ALS, DLC:GW; copy, DLC: Madison Papers.

1GW wrote Madison on 8 June, but he does not mention in that letter his intention to go to Fredericksburg on Wednesday, 10 June, to visit his mother. GW got back to Mount Vernon on 16 June (Diaries description begins Donald Jackson and Dorothy Twohig, eds. The Diaries of George Washington. 6 vols. Charlottesville, Va., 1976–79. description ends , 5:343). The “your” in square brackets is taken from the copy at DLC.

2The Indiana Company, formed of traders and others who had suffered losses in Pontiac’s War, was granted a tract of land between the southern boundary of Pennsylvania and the Little Kanawha River by the Six Nations at the Treaty of Stanwix in 1786. Their claim, however, was swallowed up by the Grand Ohio Company. After the Revolution broke out, the Indiana Company was reorganized and began selling land. The Virginia legislature claimed the land lay in Virginia and refused to approve the Indian grant. In 1789 after the Constitution was in effect, the company brought suit against the state of Virginia, which the U.S. Supreme Court finally dismissed.

3Eleazer Oswald, printer of the Philadelphia Independent Gazetteer, arrived in Richmond on 7 June with letters from New York Antifederalist leaders addressed to members of the Virginia Ratifying Convention, Patrick Henry, George Mason, and William Grayson, each of whom sent letters back to New York when Oswald left Richmond two or three days later. For a full account of Oswald’s mission, see Kaminski and Saladino, Documentary History of the Ratification of the Constitution, description begins John P. Kaminski et al., eds. The Documentary History of the Ratification of the Constitution. 26 vols. to date. Madison, Wis., 1976–. description ends 9:811–13.

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