George Washington Papers

To George Washington from James Madison, 21 October 1788

From James Madison

N. York Ocr 21.88

Dear Sir

I send you the inclosed paper chiefly for the sake of the Edict which fixes on May for the meeting of the States general in France.1 Letters from Mr Jefferson authenticate this document. They mention also the disgrace as it is called of the Marquis.2 The struggle at present in that Kingdom seems to be entirely between the Monarchy & aristocracy, and the hopes of the people merely in the competition of their enemies for their favor. It is probable however that both the parties contain real friends to liberty who will make events subservient to their object.

The Count Moutier & the Marchioness Brehan are to set out this day for Mount Vernon. I take it for granted you are not only apprized of the intended visit, but of the time at which the guests may be expected.3

The State of Connecticut has made choice of Docr Johnson and Mr Elseworth for its Senators, and have referred that of its representatives to the people at large, every individual Citizen to vote for every Representative.4

I have not heretofore acknowledged your last favor, nothing material having turned up for some time, and the purpose of Col. Carrington to see you on his way to Virginia superseding all the ordinary communications through the epistolary channel.5 It gives me much pleasure to find that both the opposition at first and finally the accession to the vote fixing N. york for the first meeting of the new Congress has your approbation. My fears that the measure would be made a handle of by the opposition are confirmed in some degree by my late information from Virga. Mr Pendleton the Chancellor tells me he has already met taunts from that quarter on this specimen of Eastern equity & impartiality. Whether much noise will [be] made will depend on the policy which Mr Henry may find it convenient to adopt.6 As N. York is at the head of his party, he may be induced by that circumstance not to make irritating reflections; though the fact is that the party in this which is with him are supposed to be indifferent & even secretly averse to the residence of Congress here. This however may not be known to him. I am Dear Sir yours most respectfully & Affectly

Js Madison Jr

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

1Madison’s enclosure undoubtedly contained a copy of the Arrêt du Conseil d’Etat du Roi, qui fixe au premier Mai prochain la tenue des Etats-Généraux du Royaume, & suspend, jusqu’à cette époque, le rétablissement de la Cour Plénière, 8 Aug. 1788 (broadside, DNA:PCC, item 87). Jefferson enclosed a copy of the arrêt in a letter to John Jay, 11 Aug. 1788, together with several newspaper clippings from French and English newspapers concerning the arrêt (ibid.).

4William Samuel Johnson (1727–1819), a prominent Connecticut jurist, was a member of the Continental Congress from 1784 until 1787 when he became president of Columbia University. His colleague in the United States Senate, Oliver Ellsworth (1745–1807), served in the Continental Congress from 1777 to 1784. Both Johnson and Ellsworth were members of the Philadelphia Constitutional Convention and the Connecticut Ratifying Convention. Johnson remained in the Senate until 1791 when his position as president of Columbia prevented his moving to Philadelphia. Ellsworth represented Connecticut in the Senate until his resignation in 1796 to become chief justice of the United States Supreme Court.

5Edward Carrington (1749–1810) of Cumberland County, Va., was a lieutenant colonel in the Continental artillery during the Revolution and a member of the Continental Congress 1785–86. GW appointed him United States marshal for Virginia in 1789 and supervisor of the revenue for the state in 1791. An occasional visitor to Mount Vernon, Carrington arrived on 15 Oct. 1788 and stayed until 17 Oct. (Diaries description begins Donald Jackson and Dorothy Twohig, eds. The Diaries of George Washington. 6 vols. Charlottesville, Va., 1976–79. description ends , 5:407–8). Writing Madison on 19 Oct. Carrington noted that during his stay at Mount Vernon “I had much conversation with the General upon the probable politics of the Assembly with respect to the Constitution. He is fully persuaded that anti-federalism will be the actuating principle, and that great circumspection is necessary to prevent very mischeivous effects from a Co-operation in the insidious proposition of N. York. He is particularly alarmed from a prospect of an election for the Senate intirely Antifederal” (Rutland, Madison Papers, description begins William T. Hutchinson et al., eds. The Papers of James Madison, Congressional Series. 17 vols. Chicago and Charlottesville, Va., 1962–91. description ends 11:305–6).

6Edmund Pendleton (1721–1803) presided over the Virginia supreme court of appeals and also acted as president of the Virginia Ratifying Convention. Regarding the congressional resolutions to establish New York as the capital (JCC, description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. 34 vols. Washington, D.C., 1904–37. description ends 34:416–17, 456–57), Pendleton wrote Madison on 6 Oct.: “I have already met taunts on the occasion, as the first instance of Eastern Partiality and influence, which Opposition foresaw would pervade and wholly direct the new Government. In vain did I observe that the measure had a Southern Vote. The answer was that they would by one Artifice or other, always find means to engage such assistance” (Mays, Pendleton Letters, description begins David John Mays, ed. The Letters and Papers of Edmund Pendleton, 1734–1803. 2 vols. Charlottesville, Va., 1967. description ends 2:546–47). Patrick Henry, of course, was the most influential opponent of the Constitution in Virginia.

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