George Washington Papers

To George Washington from James Madison, 14 January 1789

From James Madison

Orange [Va.] Jany 14th 1789.

Dear Sir

Your favor of the 2d instant with the letters attending it never came to hand till last evening. I have good reason to believe that the delay happened between Alexanda & Fredg, rather than at or from the latter place. Mr F. Maury pays particular attention to all letters which arrive there for me, and forwards them to Orange by opportunites which are frequent & safe.1 I apprehend there will be no impropriety in committing a confidential letter to that channel. As an additional precaution, I will desire him to be particularly attentive to any letter which may have your name on it.

I have heard from two only of the returns from the Electoral districts, the one in favor of Mr Gilchrist—the other of General Stephens. He succeeded agst Col: Cabel by a majority of 82 votes.2 He owes his success to the coalition between the two parties in Spotsylva. My situation is unfavorable for intellegence from the State at large, and therefore I can say little of the prospects as to the Feby election. I fear, from the vague accounts which circulate that the federal candidates are too likely to stand in the way of one another. This is not the case however in my district. The field is left entirely to Monroe & myself.3 The event of our competition will probably depend on the part to be taken by two or three descriptions of people, whose decision is not known, if not yet to be ultimately formed. I have pursued my pretensions much farther than I had premeditated; having not only made great use of epistolary means; but actually visited two Counties, Culpeper & Louisa, and publicly contradicted the erroneous reports propagated agst me. It has been very industriously incalcated that I am dogmatically attached to the Constitution in every clause, syllable & letter, and therefore not a single amendment will be promoted by my vote, either from conviction or a spirit of accomodation. This is the report most likely to affect the election, and most difficult to be combated with success, within the limited period. There are a number of others however which are auxiliaries to it. With my respectful compliments to Mrs Washington & the others of your family, I remain Dear Sir, your most obedt & affecte Servt

Js Madison Jr

Stephens Cabel
109 71—Albemarle
* 270—Amherst
 15 66—Fluvanna
268 10—Spotsylva
113 4—Orange
177 26—Culpeper
  4 157—Buckingham
686 604
82 bal: in favor of Stephens

P.S. I this moment hear that Mr Zachy Johnson is the Elector for his district.4

*The unanimity in Amherst was produced by a previous declaration as I am told, of Col: Cabel on the subject of the Presidt which satisfied the federal party. Little attention seems to have been paid any where to the vice-president. Among the bulk of the people, the choice of a President has been regarded as the sole object of the election.

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

1Fontaine Maury (1761–1824) was a merchant in Fredericksburg, Virginia. His store often served as a post office.

2The candidates for presidential electors referred to by Madison were Robert Gilchrist (c.1720–1803), a Port Royal merchant who held a number of posts in Caroline County, Va., Edward Stevens (1745–1820), who had served in the Virginia legislature since 1779, and William Cabell (1730–1798) of Union Hall, Amherst County, who had also been a member of the Virginia legislature. John Roane rather than Robert Gilchrist won the election in the King and Queen County district.

3See GW to Madison, 2 Jan. 1789. During the month preceding the election, Madison launched a vigorous campaign to defeat James Monroe for the seat in the House of Representatives representing the district comprising Orange, Fluvanna, Albemarle, Amherst, Louisa, Goochland, Culpeper, and Spotsylvania counties. Madison’s political speeches, coupled with numerous letters to local newspapers, apparently convinced voters in what was a strongly antifederal district. At the election on 2 Feb. he defeated Monroe by 1,308 to 972 votes (Virginia Herald and Fredericksburg Advertiser [Fredericksburg], 12 Feb. 1789).

4Zachariah Johnston served intermittently in the Virginia legislature and supported the Constitution in the Virginia Ratifying Convention in 1788.

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