Front Page Titles (by Subject) 1781 - TO EDMUND PENDLETON. mad. mss. - The Writings, vol. 1 (1769-1783)
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1781 - TO EDMUND PENDLETON. mad. mss. - James Madison, The Writings, vol. 1 (1769-1783) 
The Writings of James Madison, comprising his Public Papers and his Private Correspondence, including his numerous letters and documents now for the first time printed, ed. Gaillard Hunt (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1900). Vol. 1.
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TO EDMUND PENDLETON.mad. mss.
Philada, Jany 2d 1781.
Yesterday’s post was the first that has failed to bring me a line from you since our correspondence commenced. I hope it has not been owing to any cause which concerns your health.
We had it yesterday from under Genl Washingtons hand that another embarkation is actually departed from N. York, among [torn] to abt. 2500 troops. There is little & [torn] that they will steer the same course with the preceding detachment. Congress are under great anxiety for the States ags. which this accommodating force is to be directed, and the more so as the principal means of their defence is so little in their power. It is not so much the want of men as the want of subsistence arms & clothing, which results from the want of money that gives the greatest alarm. A disposition appears to do every thing practicable for their relief and defence.
Mr. Harrison writes from Cadiz that the combined fleets in that port, including 18 ships from the W. Indies under Guichen amounted to 68 Ships of the line. He offers no conjecture as to the manner in which they will be employed.
I am Dr Sir Yrs sincerely
TO AMBROSE MADISON.mad. mss.
Philada Jany 2, 1781.
I recd. yesterday yours of the 19 & my father’s of the 20 Decr. I am glad to hear of your recovery, and particularly so of my mother’s whose attack was unknown to me till the receipt of my father’s letter.
The inclosed papers will give you the late proceedings of Congs. more fully tho’ often very incorrectly, than could be done in a letter. The excise on spirits distilled in the Country will probably take place. In fact, considering the aversion to direct taxes & that the imports are already loaded, I see nothing else that can be done. Besides the duty on imported rum, requires a proportional one on Country rum, & this a duty on other spirits. The tax will I presume be so guarded as to operate on stills according to the quantity really distilled.
I have recd. a letter from Mr. Maury which says that the market of Europe is very full of Tobo. & recommends it to me to [save?] as much as possible.
On leaving home I desired my father to pay Majr. Lee the sum due from me. I shd. have left the comission in your hands if you had been in the way, being apprehensive that some delicacy might arise from unsettled transactions between him & my father. I find accordingly that this has happened & that Majr Lee refuses the paymt on yt. account. I wish you to pay him if possible as I intended & promised.
Tell Capt: Dade that Gen. Knox has not yet reported on his case & that I will let him know the event of his claim as soon as it happens. Adieu.
TO EDMUND PENDLETON.1
Philadelphia, January 9th, 1781.
I have again the pleasure to begin with acknowledging the receipt of a favor from you, that of the first having come to han yesterday.
On Thursday last, Congress was informed by General Potts and Colonel Johnston, who came expresses for the purpose, that a general mutiny had broken out on the morning of the New Year’s day, in the Pennsylvania line, which was cantoned near Morristown, apart from the rest of the army. Every effort was made by the officers to stifle it in its infancy, but without effect. Several of them fell victims to the fury of the mutineers. The next information came from General Wayne, who wrote from Princeton, whither the troops had marched in regular order on their way to Philadelphia, as they gave out, with a determination not to lay down their arms, nor to return to their obedience till a redress of grievances should be obtained. They suffered none of their officers to be among them except General Wayne and Colonels Steuart and Butler, and these they kept under close guard, but in every other respect treated with the utmost decorum. The grievances complained of were principally, the detention of many in service beyond the term of enlistment, and the sufferings of all from a deficient supply of clothing and subsistence, and the long arrearage of pay. Several propositions and replies, on the subject of redress, passed between a deputation of sergeants, in behalf of the troops, and General Wayne, but without any certain tendency to a favorable issue. The affair at length began to take a very serious countenance, and as a great proportion of that line are foreigners, and not a few deserters from the British army, and as they showed a disposition to continue at Princeton, from whence a refuge with the enemy, who, it was said, were coming out in force for the purpose, was at any moment practicable, it was thought necessary, notwithstanding the humiliation of the step, to depute a committee of Congress with powers to employ every expedient for putting a speedy end to the discontents. The President of the State, with a number of gentlemen from this place, went up to interpose their influence. By a letter from the committee, who had proceeded as far as Trenton, received the evening before last, it appears that the President, who was ahead, and had written to General Wayne, was likely to have a confidential reception. The committee write, that an emissary of Clinton, who had appeared among the soldiers with a paper setting forth the folly and danger of adhering to a cause which had already brought so much misery upon them, promising a protection under the British Government, a body of troops to cover their escape, and the payment of all arrears due from Congress, was seized and given up to General Wayne, who handed him with his guide over to the President of this State; who placed them under the custody of his light-horse. This circumstance not only presages a fortunate issue to the mutiny, but is such a proof of attachment to the country in the most trying situation, as must effectually repress the joy and encouragement which the enemy had taken from this threatening event. The late detachment from New York, which a letter from Fredericksburg says is in the Chesapeake, is about one thousand six hundred strong, and commanded by Arnold.
TO EDMUND PENDLETON.1
Philadelphia, January 16, 1781.
I was very glad at not being disappointed in my expectation of a favor from you by yesterday’s post. Several reports, in quick succession, of the arrival and progress of the predatory band under Arnold, had rendered us exceedingly anxious to hear the truth and particulars of the matter. Some letters, by the post, tell us that the Governor and Baron Steuben were wholly engaged in removing and securing the arms and ammunition. If so, he was better employed than in writing to Congress on the subject, which, from his usual punctuality, was expected. The enterprise against Richmond, at this season, was certainly an audacious one, and strongly marks the character which directed it. Having been long sensible that the security of the country, as high up as the tide-water reaches, has been owing more to the ignorance and caution of the enemy than to its own strength or inaccessibleness, I was much less astonished at the news than many others. To those who are strangers to the sparse manner in which that country is settled, and the easy penetration afforded by its long, navigable rivers, the rapid and unopposed advances of the enemy appear unaccountable, and our national character suffers imputations which are by no means due to it.
Congress have yet received no official report of the result of the conciliatory measures taken with the revolted soldiers at Trenton. From oral and circumstantial evidence, there is no doubt that they have been successful. A discharge of a part from the service, and a supply of clothing and money to the rest, is the price of their submission. This much, considered in itself, was required by justice, and is, consequently, consistent with dignity. But, considered with respect to the circumstances attending the negotiation, there is but too much ground to suspect that it will be attributed to our fears, and is, therefore, not a little mortifying. Happily, the example, as we understand by a letter from General Washington received yesterday, had not infected the other parts of the army. As the same causes, however, which engendered this malignant humour in the Pennsylvania line, are known to exist in the other lines, we cannot be sure that the same effects will not yet take place in the latter, unless they be speedily removed. As one step towards it, Congress are endeavouring to profit by the alarm which this event must have excited in the States, by calling upon them for the means of immediately furnishing some pay to the troops of their respective lines.
You ask me what I think of the Delegate Extraordinary to Congress.1 I wish you had told me what you think of such an appointment. It is pretty certain, I believe, that people in general will not consider it as a proof of confidence in the ordinary delegation. As Mr. Jones, who, I believe, possesses the confidence of his country, and, I am sure, will have as much weight in Congress as any man that will be sent on such an occasion, will come about the same time, and, having attended the Legislature, will be as well informed in every point of view, I cannot deny that the appointment appears to me to be, at least, a supernumerary one. I wish the good effects of it may show that I am mistaken.
The trade of this city has just suffered a very severe blow. No less than seven fine vessels have been taken out of an outward bound fleet, and carried into New York.
The emissary from Clinton, and his guide, were executed on Saturday morning last.
TO EDMUND PENDLETON.mad. mss.
Philada, Jany 23, 1781.
I have nothing new this week for you but two reports: the first is that very great discontents prevail in N. York among the German Troops for causes pretty similar to those which produced the eruption in the Pennsylvania line. It is further said on this head that a party of 200 have deserted from Long Island & gone to Rhode Island. The other report is that the British minister either has or proposes to carry a bill into Parliamt. authorizing the Commanding officer in America to permit & promote a trade with us in British Goods of every kind except Linens & Woollens. This change of system is said to be the advice of some notable refugees, with a view to revive an intercourse as far as possible between the two countries, & particularly to check the habit that is taking place in the consumption of French Manufactures. Whatever their public views may be it is certain that such a plan would open fine prospects to them in a private view.
We have recd. no fresh or certain information of the designs of F. and Spain in assembling so great a force at Cadiz. There does not appear to be any object in that Quarter except Gibraltar. Should the attempts be renewed agst. that place, it will prove that the former has not that absolute sway in the Cabinet of the latter which has been generally imagined. Nothing would have prevailed on the French to recall their fleets from the Islands at the time they did but the necessity of humouring Spain on the subject of her hobby horse.
I am glad to hear that Arnold has been at last fired at. It sounded a little unfavorably for us in the ears of the people here that he was likely to get off without that proof of a hostile reception. If he ventures an irruption in any other quarter I hope he will be made sensible that his impunity on James River was owing to the suddenness of his appearance & not to the want of spirit in the people. I am, etc.
TO EDMUND PENDLETON.mad. mss.
Philadr, Feby, 1781.
I have your favor of the 5th. instant by the post. Col. Harrison arrived here yesterday, and as he mentions no circumstance which indicated an intended departure of the Enemy I am afraid your intelligence on that subject was not well founded. Immediately on the receipt of your former letter relating to an exchange of C. Taylor I applied to the Admiralty department, and if such a step can be brought about with propriety, I hope he will be gratified, but considering the tenor of their treatment of naval prisoners, and the resolutions with which it has inspired Congress, I do not think it probable that exchanges will go on easily, and if this were less the case, a mere passenger, under the indulgence too of a parole, can scarcely hope to be preferred to such as are suffering the utmost hardships and even made prisoners in public service.
A vessel arrived here a few days ago from Cadiz which brings letters of as late date as the last of Decr. Those that are official tell us that England is making the most strenuous exertions for the current year, & that she is likely to be but too successful in the great article of money. The Parliament have voted 32,000 seamen, and a considerable land reinforcement for their Southern army in America is sd. to be in preparation. Private letters by the same conveyance mention that the blockage of Gibraltar is going on with alacrity, and that the garrison is in such distress as flatters the hope of a speedy capitulation.
If Mr. Pendleton your nephew is still with you be pleased to return him my compliments.
With great respect I am, etc.
TO THOMAS JEFFERSON.1
Philadelphia, April 3rd, 1781.
The letter from the Delegation, by the last post, informed you of the arrival of the stores here, which were to have been delivered in Virginia by one of the French ships. The infinite importance of them to the State, especially since the arrival of a reinforcement to Arnold,2 of which we are just apprized by the Marquis, has determined the Delegates to forward them by land, without loss of time. This will be attempted in the first instance, in the channel of the Quartermaster’s department, and, if it cannot be effected in that mode, without delay, we propose to engage private wagons for the purpose, on the credit of the State. Should the latter alternative be embraced, I find it will be necessary to stipulate instantaneous payment, from the Treasury, on the arrival of the wagons at Richmond, in specie or old continental currency to the real amount thereof. I mention this circumstance that you may be prepared for it. The expense of the transportation will be between five and six hundred pounds, Virginia money. The exchange between specie and the old paper, at present, is about one hundred and thirty-five for one.
The Delegates having understood that the refugees taken by Captain Tilley, on his return to Newport from the Chesapeake, consisted chiefly of persons who formerly lived in Virginia, some of whom were traitors who deserved exemplary punishment, and others vindictive enemies to the State, thought proper to make the inclosed application to the French Minister. By conversation I have since had with him on the subject, I doubt whether it will be deemed consistent with their general rules of conduct, to give up, to be punished as malefactors, any of the captives made by their fleet, which does not serve, like their land army, as an auxiliary to the forces of the United States. If these persons had been taken by their land forces, which serve as auxiliaries under the Commander-in-Chief, it seems there would have been no difficulty in the case. However, the application will certainly prevent the exchange or release to which it refers, if the Executive think it expedient to do so. On the least intimation, I am persuaded the apostates would be even sent over to France, and secured in the most effectual manner during the war. Perhaps this would not be amiss, as being not our prisoners, no use can be made of them in redeeming our citizens from captivity.
TO THOMAS JEFFERSON.1
Philadelphia, April 16, 1781.
The inclosed paper is a copy of a report,2 from a committee, now lying on the table of Congress for consideration. The delicacy and importance of the subject makes me wish for your judgment on it, before it undergoes the final decision of Congress.
The necessity of arming Congress with coercive powers arises from the shameful deficiency of some of the States which are most capable of yielding their apportioned supplies, and the military exactions to which others, already exhausted by the enemy and our own troops, are in consequence exposed. Without such powers, too, in the General Government, the whole confederacy may be insulted, and the most salutary measures frustrated, by the most inconsiderable State in the Union. At a time when all the other States were submitting to the loss and inconvenience of an embargo on their exports, Delaware absolutely declined coming into the measure, and not only defeated the general object of it, but enriched herself at the expense of those who did their duty.
The expediency, however, of making the proposed application to the States, will depend on the probability of their complying with it. If they should refuse, Congress will be in a worse situation than at present; for as the Confederation now stands, and according to the nature even of alliances much less intimate, there is an implied right of coercion against the delinquent party, and the exercise of it by Congress, whenever a palpable necessity occurs, will probably be acquiesced in.
It may be asked, perhaps, by what means Congress could exercise such a power, if the States were to invest them with it. As long as there is a regular army on foot, a small detachment from it, acting under civil authority, would at any time render a voluntary contribution of supplies due from a State, an eligible alternative. But there is a still more easy and efficacious mode. The situation of most of the States is such, that two or three vessels of force employed against their trade will make it their interest to yield prompt obedience to all just requisitions on them. With respect to those States that have little or no foreign trade of their own, it is provided that all inland trade with such States as supply them with foreign merchandize may be interdicted, and the concurrence of the latter may be enforced, in case of refusal, by operations on their foreign trade.
There is a collateral reason which interests the States who are feeble in maritime resources, in such a plan. If a naval armament was considered as the proper instrument of general government, it would be, both preserved in a respectable state in time of peace, and it would be an object to man it with citizens, taken in due proportions, from every State. A navy so formed, and under the orders of the General Council of the State, would not only be a guard against aggressions and insults from abroad, but, without it, what is to protect the Southern States, for many years to come, against the insults and aggressions of their northern brethren?
TO EDMUND RANDOLPH.1
Philadelphia, May 1, 1781.
A letter which I received a few days ago from Mr. Jefferson gives me a hope that he will lend his succor in defending the title of Virginia. He professes ignorance of the ground on which the report of the committee places the controversy. I have exhorted him not to drop his purpose, and referred him to you as a source of copious information on the subject. I wish much you and he could unite your ideas on it. Since you left us I have picked up several pamphlets which had escaped our researches. Among them are the examination of the Connecticut claim, and the charter of Georgia, bound up with that of Maryland and four others. Presuming that a better use will be made of them, I will send them by Mr. Jones, requesting, however, that they may be returned by the hands of him, Dr. Lee, or yourself, as the case may be.
TO EDMUND RANDOLPH.1
Philadelphia, May 1, 1781.
The case of the vessel captured within North Carolina was some time since remitted to Congress by Governor Harrison. I am glad to find your ideas correspond so exactly with those I had advanced on the subject. The legislative power over captures, and the judiciary in the last resort, are clearly vested in Congress by the Confederation. But the judiciary power in the first instance, not being delegated, is as clearly reserved to the Admiralty Courts of the particular States within which the captures are made. Captures made on the high seas must fall within the jurisdiction of the State into which it shall please the captor to carry them. It will be sufficient, I believe, to insert in the instructions to privateers, a clause for preventing the grievance complained of by North Carolina. The anger of Mr. Burke was erroneous in its principle, as well as intemperate in its degree. The offender being an officer of Congress, and not of Virginia, Congress, and not Virginia, should have been resorted to for redress.
1 On a consultation before Doctor Lee left us, it was determined that we ought to renew our attempts to obtain from Congress a decision on the cession of Virginia, before the meeting of the Legislature. The attempt was accordingly made, and produced all the perplexing and dilatory objections which its adversaries could devise. An indisposition of the President, which suspended the vote of Maryland, furnished an argument for postponing, which it was prudent to yield to, but which is now removed by the arrival of Mr. Wright, a new Delegate from that State. We shall call again on Congress for a simple answer in the affirmative or the negative, without going into any unnecessary discussions on the point of right; and should the decision be postponed sine die, we hope the State will consider itself at liberty to take any course which its interest shall suggest. It happens very unluckily that Virginia will only have two Representatives present during the interesting business. Mr. Jones cannot be prevailed on to wait the event. Colonel Bland thinks the validity of characters unimportant to the title of Virginia, and that the title of the natives militates against the claims of the companies. Is not my situation an enviable one?
A further communication from the French Minister informs us, that the Court of France laments the weakness of our army; insinuates the idea of co-operation in expelling the enemy from the United States; apprehends attempts to seduce the States into separate negotiations, and hopes measures will be taken to frustrate such views. I believe, from this and other circumstances, that the Court of France begins to have serious suspicions of some latent danger. It is extremely probable, that as the enemy relax in their military exertions against this country, they will redouble the means of seduction and division. This consideration is an additional argument in favor of a full representation of the States. In a multitude of counsellors there is the best chance for honesty, if not of wisdom.
The subject of Vermont has not yet been called up. Their agents and those of the land-mongers are playing with great adroitness into each others’ hands. Mr. Jones will explain this game to you. Colonel Bland is still schismatical on this point. I flatter myself, however, that he will so far respect the united opinion of his brethren as to be silent. Mr. Lee entered fully into the policy of keeping the vote of Vermont out of Congress.
The refugees from New York have lately perpetrated one of the most daring and flagrant acts that has occurred in the course of the war. A captain of militia of New Jersey, who unfortunately fell a captive into their hands, was carried to New York, confined successively in different prisons, and treated with every mark of insult and cruelty; and finally brought over to the Jerseys, and in cold blood hanged. A label was left on his breast, charging him with having murdered one of their fraternity, and denouncing a like fate to others. The charge has been disproved by unexceptionable testimony. A number of respectable people of New Jersey have, by a memorial, called aloud on the Commander-in-Chief for retaliation; in consequence of which he has, in the most decisive terms, claimed of Sir Henry Clinton a delivery of the offenders up to justice, as the only means of averting the stroke of vengeance from the innocent head of a captive officer of equal rank to the Jersey captain. The answer of Clinton was not received when General Washington despatched a state of the transaction to Congress.
TO EDMUND PENDLETON.1
Philadelphia, May 29, 1781.
The two circumstances relating to the proposed duty on trade, mentioned in your favor of the first instant, were subjects of discussion when the measure was on the anvil. It was evident that the disposition of the States to invest Congress with such a power would be influenced by the length of the term assigned for the exercise of it. It was equally evident that no provision would satisfy the present creditors of the United States, or obtain future loans, that was not commensurate to all the public engagements. In order to reconcile these points, the duration of the impost was limited, but limited in so indefinite a manner as not to defeat the object of it. Should the increase of trade render the duty more productive than was estimated, it must the sooner extinguish the public debts, and cease. The application of Congress for such a power supposes, indeed, a confidence in them, on the part of the States, greater perhaps than many may think consistent with republican jealousy; but if the States will not enable their Representatives to fulfil their engagements, it is not to be expected that individuals either in Europe or America will confide in them. The second objection you mention was also a subject of much discussion in Congress. On one side it was contended that the powers incident to the collection of a duty on trade were in their nature so municipal, and in their operation so irritative, that it was improbable that the States could be prevailed on to part with them; and that, consequently, it would be most prudent to ask from the States nothing more than the duty itself, to be collected by State officers, and paid to a Continental Receiver; and not the right of collecting it by officers of Congress. On the opposite side it was urged, that as Congress would be held responsible for the public debts, it was necessary, and would be expected, that the fund granted for discharging them should be exclusively and independently in their hands; that if the collectors were under the control of the States, the urgency of their wants would be constantly diverting the revenue from its proper destination; that if the States were willing to give up the thing itself, it was not likely they would cavil at any form that would be most effectual; that the term proposed might be reconciled with their internal jurisdictions, by annexing to the office of collector all the powers incident thereto, and leaving to Congress the right of appointing the officer. How far it may be best to appoint the established naval officer, I am not prepared to say; but should that be found to be the case, they will exercise their new functions, not as naval officers of the State, but as invested with a separate commission by Congress, in such manner that in the former respect they are wholly exempt from the jurisdiction of Congress, and in the latter from that of the State. Such a junction of powers, derived from different sources, in the same person, certainly has its inconveniences, but there will be many instances of it in our complex government. I have met with so many interruptions this morning, that I fear I may have not done justice to the subject in my explanation of it. Another consequence is, that I must be very brief on the head of intelligence to make sure of the post.
TO PHILIP MAZZEI.1
Philadelphia, July 7, 1781.2
My Dear Friend,—
I have received two copies of your favor of the 7th of December last, and three of that of the 30th of November preceding. Having neglected to bring with me from Virginia the cypher concerted between you and the Executive, I still remain ignorant of the paragraph in your last which I suppose the best worth knowing.
The state of our affairs has undergone so many vicissitudes since you embarked for Europe, and I can so little judge how far you may have had intelligence of them, that I am at a loss where I ought to begin my narrative. As the present posture of them is the most interesting, I shall aim at nothing further at present than to give you some idea of that, referring to past events so far only as may be necessary to explain it.
The insuperable difficulties which opposed a general conquest of America seemed as early as the year 1779 to have been felt by the enemy, and to have led them into the scheme of directing their operations and views against the Southern States only. Clinton accordingly removed with the principal part of his force from New York to South Carolina, and laid siege to Charleston, which, after an honorable resistance, was compelled to surrender to a superiority of force. Our loss in men, besides the inhabitants of the town, was not less than two thousand. Clinton returned to New York. Cornwallis was left with about five thousand troops to pursue his conquests. General Gates was appointed to the command of the Southern department, in place of Lincoln, who commanded in Charleston at the time of its capitulation. He met Cornwallis on the 16th of August, 1780, near Camden, in the upper part of South Carolina and on the border of North Carolina. A general action ensued, in which the American troops were defeated with considerable loss, though not without making the enemy pay a good price for their victory. Cornwallis continued his progress into North Carolina, but afterwards retreated to Camden. The defeat of Gates was followed by so general a clamor against him, that it was judged expedient to recall him. Greene was sent to succeed in command. About the time of his arrival at the army, Cornwallis, having been reinforced from New York, resumed his enterprise into North Carolina. A detachment of his best troops was totally defeated by Morgan with an inferior number, and consisting of a major part of militia detached from Greene’s army. Five hundred were made prisoners, between two and three hundred killed and wounded, and about the like number escaped. This disaster, instead of checking the ardor of Cornwallis, afforded a new incentive to a rapid advance, in the hope of recovering his prisoners. The vigilance and activity, however, of Morgan, secured them. Cornwallis continued his pursuit as far as the Dan river, which divides North Carolina from Virginia. Greene, whose inferior force obliged him to recede this far before the enemy, received such succors of militia on his entering Virginia that the chase was reversed. Cornwallis, in his turn, retreated precipitately. Greene overtook him on his way to Wilmington, and attacked him. Although the ground was lost on our side, the British army was so much weakened by the loss of five or six hundred of their best troops, that their retreat towards Wilmington suffered little interruption. Greene pursued as long as any chance of reaching his prey remained, and then, leaving Cornwallis on his left, took an oblique direction towards Camden, which, with all the other posts in South Carolina except Charleston and Ninety-Six, have, in consequence, fallen again into our possession. His army lay before the latter when we last heard from him. It contained seven or eight hundred men and large quantities of stores. It is nearly two hundred miles from Charleston, and, without some untoward accident, cannot fail of being taken. Greene has detachments all over South Carolina, some of them within a little distance of Charleston; and the resentments of the people against their late insolent masters ensure him all the aids they can give in re-establishing the American Government there. Great progress is also making in the redemption of Georgia.
As soon as Cornwallis had refreshed his troops at Wilmington, abandoning his Southern conquests to their fate, he pushed forward into Virginia. The parricide Arnold had a detachment at Portsmouth when he lay on the Dan; Philips had reinforced him so powerfully from New York, that the juncture of the two armies at Petersburg could not be prevented. The whole force amounted to about six thousand men. The force under the Marquis De La Fayette, who commanded in Virginia, being greatly inferior, did not oppose them, but retreated into Orange and Culpeper in order to meet General Wayne, who was on his way from Pennsylvania to join him. Cornwallis advanced northward as far as Chesterfield, in the county of Caroline, having parties at the same time at Page’s warehouse and other places in its vicinity. A party of horse, commanded by Tarleton, was sent with all the secrecy and celerity possible to surprise and take the General Assembly and Executive who had retreated from Richmond to Charlottesville. The vigilance of a young gentleman who discovered the design and rode express to Charlottsville prevented a complete surprise. As it was, several Delegates were caught, and the rest were within an hour of sharing the same fate. Among the captives was Colonel Lyon of Hanover. Mr. Kinlock, a member of Congress from South Carolina, was also caught at Mr. John Walker’s, whose daughter he had married some time before. Governor Jefferson had a very narrow escape. The members of the Government rendezvoused at Stanton, where they soon made a House. Mr. Jefferson’s year having expired, he declined a re-election, and General Nelson has taken his place. Tarleton’s party retreated with as much celerity as it had advanced. On the junction of Wayne with the Marquis and the arrival of militia, the latter faced about and advanced rapidly on Cornwallis, who retreated to Richmond, and thence precipitately to Williamsburg, where he lay on the 27th ultimo. The Marquis pursued, and was at the same time within twenty miles of that place. One of his advanced parties had had a successful skirmish within six miles of Williamsburg. Bellini has, I understand, abided patiently in the college the dangers and inconveniences of such a situation. I do not hear that the consequences have condemned the experiment. Such is the present state of the war in the Southern Department. In the Northern, operations have been for a considerable time in a manner suspended. At present, a vigorous siege of New York by General Washington’s army, aided by five or six thousand French troops under Count De Rochambeau, is in contemplation, and will soon commence. As the English have the command of the water, the result of such an enterprise must be very uncertain. It is supposed, however, that it will certainly oblige the enemy to withdraw their force from the Southern States, which may be a more convenient mode of relieving them than by marching the troops from New York at this season of the year to the southward. On the whole, the probable conclusion of this campaign is, at this juncture, very flattering, the enemy being on the defensive in every quarter.
The vicissitudes which our finances have undergone are as great as those of the war, the depreciation of the old continental bills having arrived at forty, fifty, and sixty for one. Congress, on the 18th of March, 1780, resolved to displace them entirely from circulation, and substitute another currency, to be issued on better funds, and redeemable at a shorter period. For this purpose, they fixed the relative value of paper and specie at forty for one; directed the States to sink by taxes the whole two hundred millions in one year, and to provide proper funds for sinking in six years a new currency which was not to exceed ten millions of dollars, which was redeemable within that period, and to bear an interest of five per cent., payable in bills of exchange on Europe or hard money. The loan-office certificates granted by Congress are to be discharged at the value of the money at the time of the loan; a scale of depreciation being fixed by Congress for that purpose. This scheme has not yet been carried into full execution. The old bills are still unredeemed, in part, in some of the States, where they have depreciated to two, three, and four hundred for one. The new bills, which were to be issued only as the old ones were taken in, are consequently in a great degree still unissued; and the depreciation which they have already suffered has determined Congress and the States to issue as few more of them as possible. We seem to have pursued our paper projects as far as prudence will warrant. Our medium in future will be principally specie. The States are already levying taxes in it. As the paper disappears, the hard money comes forward into circulation. This revolution will also be greatly facilitated by the influx of Spanish dollars from the Havannah, where the Spanish forces employed against the Floridas* consume immense quantities of our flour, and remit their dollars in payment. We also receive considerable assistance from the direct aids of our ally, and from the money expended among us by his auxiliary troops. These advantages, as they have been and are likely to be improved by the skill of Mr. Robert Morris, whom we have constituted minister of our finances, afford a more flattering prospect in this department of our affairs than has existed at any period of the war.
The great advantage the enemy have over us lies in the superiority of their navy, which enables them continually to shift the war into defenceless places, and to weary out our troops by long marches. The squadron sent by our ally to our support did not arrive till a reinforcement on the part of the enemy had counteracted their views. They have been almost constantly blocked up at Rhode Island by the British fleet. The effects of a hurricane in the last spring on the latter gave a temporary advantage to the former, but circumstances delayed the improvement of it till the critical season was past. Mr. Destouches, who commanded the French fleet, nevertheless hazarded an expedition into Chesapeake bay. The object of it was to co-operate with the Marquis de la Fayette in an attack against Arnold, who lay at Portsmouth with about fifteen hundred British troops. Had he got into the bay, and taken a favorable station, the event would certainly have been adequate to our hopes. Unfortunately, the British fleet, which followed the French immediately from Rhode Island, reached the capes of Virginia first. On the arrival of the latter, a regular and fair combat took place. It lasted for several hours, and ended rather in favor of of our allies. As the enemy, however, were nearest the capes, and one of the French ships had lost her rudder, and was otherwise much damaged, the commander thought it best to relinquish his object, and return to his former station. The damage sustained by the enemy, according to their own representation, exceeded that of the French; and as their number of ships and weight of metal were both superior, it does great honor to the gallantry and good conduct of Mr. Destouches. Congress, and indeed the public at large, were so sensible of this, that their particular thanks were given him on this occasion.
No description can give you an adequate idea of the barbarity with which the enemy have conducted the war in the Southern States. Every outrage which humanity could suffer has been committed by them. Desolation rather than conquest seems to have been their object. They have acted more like desperate bands of robbers or buccaneers than like a nation making war for dominion. Negroes, horses, tobacco, &c., not the standards and arms of their antagonists, are the trophies which display their success. Rapes, murders, and the whole catalogue of individual cruelties, not protection and the distribution of justice, are the acts which characterize the sphere of their usurped jurisdiction. The advantage we derive from such proceedings would, if it were purchased on other terms than the distresses of our citizens, fully compensate for the injury accruing to the public. They are a daily lesson to the people of the United States of the necessity of perseverance in the contest; and wherever the pressure of their local tyranny is removed, the subjects of it rise up as one man to avenge their wrongs and prevent a repetition of them. Those who have possessed a latent partiality for them, as their resentment is embittered by their disappointment, generally feel most sensibly their injuries and insults, and are the foremost in retaliating them. It is much to be regretted that these things are so little known in Europe. Were they published to the world in their true colors, the British nation would be hated by all nations as much as they have heretofore been feared by any, and all nations would be sensible of the policy of abridging a power which nothing else can prevent the abuse of.
TO EDMUND PENDLETON.mad. mss.
Philada July 31st 1781.
I have the pleasure of your’s of the 23d. I congratulate you on your return to Caroline and on the safety of your estate from the ravages of the Enemy.
The mail of last week having been intercepted near Wilmington has kept back the post a day later than his usual arrival, and I have now but a few moments for the discharge of my epistolary duty. The only certain information we have lately had from Europe is that the mediation tendered by Russia in the dispute between England & Holland has been referred by the former to the General pacification in which the mediation of the Emperor will be joined with it. As this step is not very respectful to Russia, it can only proceed from a distrust of her friendship, & their hopes of a favorable issue to the campaign which an intercepted letter from Ld. G. Germain shews to be extravagantly sanguine. There has been nothing from the W Indies for several weeks. General Washington is continuing his preparations & progress agt. N. York. I shall hazard no prediction with regard to the event of them. Col. Willet we understand has lately given a decisive defeat to a party from Canada or the Frontiers of N. York. With very sincere regard I am Dr Sir
Your obt friend & servant,
TO JAMES MADISON.mad. mss.
Philadelphia, August 1, 1781.1
. . . . . .
We have heard little of late from Europe, except that the Mediation proffered by Russia in the dispute between England & Holland has been referred by the former to the general pacification in which the mediation of the Emperor will be joined with that of Russia. As this step is not very respectful to Russia it can only proceed from a distrust of her friendship and the hopes entertained by Britain as to the issue of the Campaign, which as you will see in an intercepted letter from Germaine to Clinton were extravagantly sanguine. We have no late intelligence from the W. Indies. Genl Washington is going on with his preparations & operations agst N. York. What the result will be can be decided by time alone. We hope they will at least withdraw some of the invaders from Virginia. The French fleet is still at Rhode Island. The British it is reported has lately left the Hook.
Augst. 2d—Information has been recd from N. York thro’ a channel that is thought a good one, that orders are gone to Virginia for a large part of the troops under Cornwallis immediately to sail for that place. Should this be well founded the execution of the orders will announce it to you. Among other advantages attending an evacuation of Virga. it will not be the least that the communication with this place by the Bay will supply the State with many necessary articles wch. are now transported by land at so much expense & will enable you to pay for them easier by raising the price of your commodities. It gives me pain to hear that so many of the people have incautiously sold or rather given away their Tobo. to speculators when it was in no danger from the Enemy. The destruction of that article, which alarmed them, was an obvious cause of its future rise, and a reason for their retaining it till the alarm should be over. Goods of all kinds, particularly dry goods are rising here already. Salt in particular has risen within a few days from two dollars to a guinea per bushel.
I send you by this opportunity five English Grammars1 for Mr. W. Maury agreeably to his request. This is the first that has offered although I have had them on hand for some months. The price of the whole is a guinea. The price of Dr Collins medical book published here is also one guinea. If you would choose a copy on that condition I can send you one by a future opportunity. With my most affectionate regards to the family.
TO EDMUND PENDLETON.2
Philadelphia, August 14, 1781.
The controversy relating to the district called Vermont, the inhabitants of which have for several years claimed and exercised the jurisdiction of an independent State, is at length put into a train of speedy decision. Notwithstanding the objections to such an event, there is no question but they will soon be established into a separate and Federal State. A relinquishment made by Massachusetts of her claims; a despair of finally obtaining theirs on the part of New York and New Hampshire, the other claimants, on whom these enterprising adventures were making fresh encroachments; the latent support afforded them by the leading people of the New England States in general, from which they emigrated; the just ground of apprehension that their rulers were engaging in clandestine negotations with the enemy; and lastly, perhaps, the jealous policy of some of the little States, which hope that such a precedent may engender a division of some of the large ones, are the circumstances which will determine the concurrence of Congress in this affair.
TO EDMUND PENDLETON.1
Philadelphia, September 3, 1781.
I am favored with yours of the 27th ultimo. This letter will be the most agreeable of any I have long had the pleasure of writing. I begin with informing you that the Commander-in-Chief and the Count Rochambeau,—the former with a part of the American army, and the latter with the whole of the French,—are thus far on their way for the Southern Department. The American troops passed through the town yesterday. The first division of the French army to-day. The second will pass to-morrow. Nothing can exceed the appearance of this specimen which our Ally has sent us of his army, whether we regard the figure of the men, or the exactness of their discipline.
Yesterday also arrived, from his special mission to the Court of France, Colonel John Laurens. Although his success has not been fully commensurate to our wishes, he has brought with him very substantial proofs of the determination of that Court to support us. Besides a considerable quantity of clothing and other valuable articles, there are upwards of sixteen thousand stand of arms. It is rather unlucky that they found it expedient to put into Boston, instead of this place, from whence the distribution of them would have been so much more easy.
I wish I could have concluded the intelligence without adding that Admiral Hood, with thirteen sail of the line from the West Indies, lately arrived at New York, and after being joined by Graves with eight ships, put again immediately to sea. The French squadron under De Barras had previously sailed from Newport. As the expected arrival of De Grasse from the West Indies could not be unknown to Hood, there is little doubt that his activity is directed against the junction of the two French fleets.
TO EDMUND PENDLETON.mad. mass.
Philada, Sepr 18th 1781.
I was yesterday favored with yours of the 10th instant. The various reports arrived of late from the Chesapeake prepared us for a confirmation from our correspondents of a fortunate rencontre between the 2 fleets. A continuation of these reports although unsupported by any authentic evidence still keeps up the public anxiety. We have not heard a word of de Barras. The arrival of Digby is far from being certain, and the circulating reports have reduced his force to six ships of the line. The preparations at New York for some movement are pretty well attested. The conjectures of many are directing it against this City, as the most practicable & important object within the reach of Clinton. The successful blow struck by the parricide Arnold against the Town of New London is described, as far as the particulars are known here in the enclosed Gazette. There have been several arrivals of late from Europe with very little intelligence of any kind & with none from official sources. It all relates to the junction of the French & Spanish fleets, for the purpose of renewing the investiture of Gibraltar, and enterprising something against Minorca. Thus the selfish projects of Spain not only withholds from us the co-operation of their armaments, but divert in part that of our allies, & yet we are to reward her with a cession of what constitutes the value of the finest part of America.
Genl. Washington & the Count de Rochambeau, with the forces under them have I presume by this time got within Virginia. This revolution in our military plan cannot fail to produce great advantages to the Southern department and particularly to Virginia, even if the immediate object of it should be unexpectedly frustrated. The presence of the Commander in chief with the proportion of our forces which will always attend him, will better protect the country against the depredations of the Enemy although he should be followed by troops from N. Y. which wd. otherwise remain there, than it has hitherto been, will leave the militia more at leisure to pursue their occupations at the same time that the demands of the armies will afford a sure market for the surplus provisions of the country, will diffuse among them a share of the gold & silver of our ally & I may now say of our own of wch. their Northern Brethren have hitherto had a monopoly which will be peculiarly grateful to them after having been so long gorged with depreciating paper; and as we may suppose that the ships of our ally allotted for our service will so long as his troops remain in the U. States be kept in the Chesapeake, it will revive the trade thro’ that channel, reduce the price of imported necessaries & raise the staple of the Country once more to its proper value. I am, etc.
TO EDMUND PENDLETON.mad. mss.
Phila, October 2, 1781.
Yours of the 24th ulto. came safe by yesterday’s post. In addition to the paper of this day I enclose you two of the preceding week in one of which you will find a very entertaining & interesting speech of Mr. Fox, and in the other a handsome forensic discussion of a case important in itself and which has some relation to the State of Virginia.
Our intelligence from N. Y. through several channels confirms the sufferings of the B. fleet from their rash visit to the Capes of Chesapeak. The troops which were kept in Transports to await that event have since the return of the fleet been put on shore on Staten Island. This circumstance has been construed into a preliminary to any expedition to this City, which had revived, till within a few days the preparation for a militia opposition, but is better explained by the raging of a malignant fever in the City of N Y. Digby we hear is now certainly arrived but with three ships of the line only. It is given out that three more with a large number of Transports came with him and that they only lay back till it was known whether they could proceed to N. Y. with safety. This is not improbably suspected to be a trick to palliate the disappointment and to buoy up the sinking hopes of their adherents, the most staunch of whom give up Lord Cornwallis as irretrievably lost.
We have received some communications from Europe relative to the general state of its affairs. They all center in three important points; the first is the obstinacy of G. B, the second the fidelity of our ally, and the third the absolute necessity of vigorous & systematic preparations for war on our part in order to ensure a speedy as well as favorable peace. The wisdom of the Legislature of Virginia will I flatter myself, not only prevent an illusion from the present brilliant prospects, but take advantage of the military ardor and sanguine hopes of the people to recruit their line for the war. The introduction of specie will also I hope be made subservient to some salutary operations in their finances. Another great object which in my opinion claims an immediate attention from them, is some liberal provision for extending the benefits of Government to the distant parts of the State. I am not able to see why this cannot be done, so as fully to satisfy the exigencies of the people and at the same time preserve the idea of Unity in the State. Any plan which divides in any manner the Sovereignty may be dangerous & precipitate an evil which ought & may at least be long procrastinated. The administration of justice which is the capital branch may certainly be diffused sufficiently and kept in due subordination in every part to one supreme tribunal. Separate boards for auditing accounts may also be admitted with safety & propriety. The same as to a separate depository for the taxes &c., and as to a land office. The military powers of the Executive, may well be intrusted to militia officers of Rank, as far as the defence of the country & the custody of military stores make it necessary. A complete organization of the militia, in which Genl. officers would be erected would greatly facilitate this part of the plan. Such an one with a council of Field officers, might exercise without encroaching on the Constitutional powers of the Supreme Executive, all the powers over the militia which any emergency could demand.
I am, etc.
TO EDMUND PENDLETON.mad. mss.
Philada. Octr 9th, 1781.
Having sent you the arguments on one side of the judiciary question relating to the property of Virga. seized by Mr. Nathan, it is but reasonable that you should see what was contended on the other side. With this view, although I in some measure usurp the task of Mr. Jones, I enclose the paper of Wednesday last. As it may escape Mr. Jones I also enclose a copy of Mr. Adams memorial to the States General. I wish I could have informed you of its being lodged in the archives of their High Mightinesses instead of presenting it to you in print.
I am, Dr Sir, etc.
TO EDMUND PENDLETON.mad. mss.
Philada Oct 16th, 1781.
When you get a sight of the Resolution of the Gen. Ass. referred to in your favor of the 8th, you will readily judge from the tenor of it what steps would be taken by the Delegates.1 It necessarily submitted the fate of the object in question to the discretion and prospects of the Gentleman2 whom reports it seems have arraigned to you, but who I am bound in justice to testify has entirely supported the character which he formerly held with you. I am somewhat surprised that you never had before known of the Resolution just mentioned, especially as, what is indeed more surprising, it was both debated & passed with open doors and a full gallery. This circumstance alone must have defeated any reservations attached to it.
The N. York papers and the intelligence from thence make it evident that they have no hope of relieving Cornwallis, unless it can be effected by some desperate naval experiment and that such an one will be made. Their force will probably amount to 26 sail of the line, and if we are not misinformed as to the late arrival of three ships of the line to 29 sail. The superiority still remaining on the part of our Allies and the repeated proofs given of their skill & bravery on the water forbid any apprehension of danger. At the same time we cannot help calculating that every addition to the British force proportionally diminishes the certainty of success. A fleet of provisions amounting to about 40 sail convoyed by a 44 & 2 frigates have arrived at N. York within the week past.
Having sent all the papers containing the proceedings on the case of Mr. N. agst. V. as they came out, I shall to complete your view of it add the last effort in his favor published in the enclosed No. of the Freemans Journal. I am told however that the publisher ought to have subjoined that the privy Council interposed & directed restitution of the King of Spain’s effects. I am, etc.
TO EDMUND PENDLETON.1
Philadelphia, October 30, 1781.
I return you my fervent congratulations on the glorious success of the combined arms at York and Gloucester. We have had from the Commander-in-Chief an official report of the fact, with a copy of the capitulation, and a general intimation that the number of prisoners, excluding seamen, &c., would exceed five thousand; but no detail of our gains. If these severe doses of ill fortune do not cool the phrenzy and relax the pride of Britain, it would seem as if Heaven had in reality abandoned her to her folly and her fate. This campaign was grounded on the most intense exertion of her pecuniary resources. Upwards of twenty millions were voted by the Parliament. The King acknowledged that it was all he asked, and all that was necessary. A fair trial has been made of her strength; and what is the result? They have lost another army, another colony, another island, and another fleet of her trade; their possessions in the East Indies, which were so rich a source of their commerce and credit, have been severed from them, perhaps for ever; their naval armaments, the bulwarks of their safety, and the idols of their vanity, have in every contest felt the rising superiority of their enemies. In no points have they succeeded, except in the predatory conquest of Eustatia, of which they have lost the greatest part of every thing except the infamy, and in the relief of Gibraltar, which was merely a negative advantage. With what hope or with what view can they try the fortune of another campaign? Unless they can draw succour from the compassion or jealousy of other powers, of which it does not yet appear that they have any well-founded expectation, it seems scarcely possible for them much longer to shut their ears against the voice of peace.
I am sorry to find that the practice of impressing is still kept up with you. It is partial and oppressive with respect to individuals, and I wish it may not eventually prove so with respect to the State. The zeal and liberality of those States which make undue advances, may not find an equal disposition to re-imburse them, in others which have had more caution, or less occasion for such exertions.
You are not mistaken in your apprehensions for our Western interests. An agrarian law is as much coveted by the little members of the Union, as ever it was by the indigent citizens of Rome. The conditions annexed by Virginia to her territorial cession have furnished a committee of Congress a handle for taking up questions of right, both with respect to the ceding States, and the great Land Companies, which they have not before ventured to touch. We have made every opposition and remonstrance to the conduct of the committee which the forms of proceedings will admit. When a report is made, we shall renew our efforts upon more eligible ground, but with little hope of arresting any aggression upon Virginia which depends solely on the inclination of Congress. Since the close of the Confederation, however, it has been understood, that seven votes are necessary to carry every question. This rule, in proportion to the thinness of Congress, opposes a difficulty to those who attack. It will therefore, I believe, be impossible for the enemies of Virginia to obtain any positive injury to her rights. My greatest anxiety at present is, lest the attempts for that purpose may exasperate the Assembly into measures which will furnish new hopes to the British Court to persevere in the war, and new baits for the credulity of the British nation. The good sense of the Assembly will, however, I flatter myself, temper every expression of their displeasure with due respect to this consideration. It would be particularly unhappy, if any symptoms of disunion among ourselves should blast the golden prospects which the events of the campaign have opened to us.
TO EDMUND PENDLETON.1
Philadelphia, November 13, 1781.
Nothing definitive has taken place on the territorial cessions. That of Virginia will not, I believe, be accepted with the conditions annexed to it. The opinion seems to be, that an acceptance of the cession of New York will give Congress a title which will be maintainable against all the other claimants. In this, however, they will certainly be deceived; and even if it were otherwise, it would be their true interest, as well as conformable to the plan on which the cessions were recommended, to bury all further contentions by covering the territory with the titles of as many of the claimants as possible. We are very anxious to bring the matter to issue, that the State may know what course their honor and security require them to take. The present thinness of Congress makes it but too uncertain when we shall be able to accomplish it.
Will not the Assembly pay some handsome compliments to the Marquis, for his judicious and zealous services whilst the protection of the country was entrusted to him? His having baffled, and finally reduced to the defensive, so powerful an army as we now know he had to contend with, and with so disproportionate a force, would have done honor to the most veteran officer, added to his other merits and services, constitutes a claim on their gratitude which I hope will not be unattended to.
TO THOMAS JEFFERSON.1
Philadelphia, November 18, 1781.
By the conveyance through which you will receive this, the Delegates have communicated to the State the proceedings in Congress to which the territorial cessions have given birth. The complexion of them will, I suppose, be somewhat unexpected, and produce no small irritation. They clearly speak the hostile machinations of some of the States against our territorial claims, and afford suspicions that the predominant temper of Congress may coincide with them. It is proper to recollect, however, that the report of the Committee having not yet been taken into consideration, no certain inference can be drawn as to its issue; and that the report itself is not founded on the obnoxious doctrine of an inherent right in the United States to the territory in question, but on the expediency of clothing them with the title of New York, which is supposed to be maintainable against all others. It is proper also to be considered, that the proceedings of the Committee, which we labored in vain to arrest, were vindicated not by the pretext of a jurisdiction belonging to Congress in such cases, but alleged to have been made necessary by the conditions annexed to the cession of Virginia. Although the cession of Virginia will probably be rejected, on the whole, I do not think it probable that all the principles and positions contained in the report of the Committee will be ratified. The Committee was composed of a member from Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Rhode Island and New Hampshire; all of which States, except the last, are systematically and notoriously adverse to the claims of Western Territory, and particularly those of Virginia. The opinion of the Committee is therefore no just index of the opinion of Congress; and it is a rule observed since the Confederation was completed, that seven States are requisite in any question, and there are seldom more than seven, eight, nine or ten States present; even the opinion of a majority of Congress is a very different thing from a constitutional vote. I mention these particulars, that you may be the better able to counteract any intemperate measures that may be urged in the Legislature. If the State wishes any particular steps to be pursued by the Delegates, it would be well for particular instructions to that effect to be given. These will not only be a guide to us, but will give greater weight to whatever is urged by us.
I enclose you a paper containing two of the many letters lately published in New York, with the subscription of Mr. Deane’s name. The genuineness of some of them, and particularly that to Mr. Morris, is generally doubted. There are some who think the whole of them spurious. However this may be, there is, through another channel, indubitable proof that no injustice is done in ascribing to him the sentiments advanced in these letters. Either from pique, interested projects of trade, or a traitorous correspondence with the enemy, he has certainly apostatized from his first principles.
TO EDMUND PENDLETON.mad. mss.
Phila, Nov. 27th, 1781.
Your favor of the 19th. instant came to hand yesterday. On the same evening arrived our illustrious General returning to his position on the North river. We shall probably however have his company here for some days at least, where he will be able to give Congress very seasonable aid in settling the military establishment for the next year, about which there is some diversity of opinion. Whatever the total requisition of men may be on the States, I cannot but wish that Virginia may take effectual measures for bringing into the field her proportion of them. One reason for this wish is the calumnies which her enemies ground on her present deficiency, but the principal one is the influence that such an exertion may have in preventing insults & aggressions from whatever quarter they may be meditated, by shewing that we are able to defy them.
The Delegates have lately transmitted to the Govr for the Assembly all the proceedings which have taken place on the Subject of the territorial cessions. The tenor of them & the reception given them by the assembly will I doubt not be communicated to you by some of your correspondents in it.
There is pretty good reason to believe that a descent on Minorca has actually taken place. It is a little problematical with me whether successes against G. B. in any other quarter except America tend much to hasten a peace. If they increase her general distress they at the same time increase those demands against her which are likely to impede negotiations, & her hopes from the sympathy of other powers. They are favorable to us however in making it more the interest of all the belligerent powers to reject the uti possidetis as the basis of a pacification.
The report of Rodney’s capture never deserved the attention it seems which was given to it.
I am, etc.
TO EDMUND PENDLETON.mad. mss.
Phil., Dr 11th, 1781.
I am favored with yours of the 3d instant. Other letters by the same conveyance confirm your report of the election of Mr. Harrison to the chief magistracy. Several other appointments are mentioned which I make no doubt are all well known to you.
On whichever side Mr. Deanes letters are viewed they present mysteries. Whether they be supposed genuine or spurious or a mixture of both difficulties which cannot well be answered may be started. There are however passages in some of them which can scarcely be imputed to any other hand. But it is unnecessary to rely on these publications for the real character of the man. There is evidence of his obliquity which has for a considerable time been conclusive.
Congress have not resumed their proceedings on the Western business. They have agreed on a requisition on the States for 8,000,000 of Dollars & a completion of their lines according to the last establishment of the army. We endeavored, tho’ with very little effect to obtain deductions in the first article from the quota of Virginia but we did not oppose the aggregate of the demand in either. If we do not obtain a sufficiency of men & money from the States by regular & duly appointed calls we know by experience that the burden of the war will fall on the resources of the States wch. happen to be subject of it.
Mr. Moore late Vice Presidt. has been elected Presidt. of this State in place of Mr. Reed whose period of eligibility was out. I am, etc.
TO EDMUND PENDLETON.mad. mss.
Philada Dec. 25th, 1781.
You only do me justice in ascribing your disappointment in the part of the week preceding your favor of the 16th. instant, to some other cause than my neglect. If I were less disposed to punctuality your example wd preserve me from transgressing it. As the last letter went to the post office here & you did not receive it from the post in Virga., the delinquency must have happened in that line. It is however I believe of little consequence, as I do not recollect that any thing material has been contained in my letters for several weeks, any more than there will be in this in which I have little else to say than to tender you the compliments of the day. Perhaps indeed it will be new to you what appeared here in a paper several days ago, that the success of Comodore Johnstone in taking 5 Duch E. India men homeward bound & destroying a 6th is confirmed. Whatever may be thought of this stroke of fortune by him & his rapacious crew, the Ministry will hardly think it a compensation to the public for the danger to which the remains of their possessions in the East will be exposed by the failure of his Expedition.
It gives me great pleasure to hear of the honorable acquittal of Mr. Jefferson. I know his abilities, & I think I know his fidelity & zeal for his Country so well, that I am persuaded it was a just one. We are impatient to know whether he will undertake the new service to which he is called. I am, etc.
[1 ]From the Madison Papers (1840).
[1 ]From the Madison Papers (1840).
[1 ]The father of the proposition to send such a delegate was Patrick Henry. There was a ballot for the delegate and the House evenly divided between the Speaker, Benjamin Harrison, and R. H. Lee. The casting vote being with the Speaker, who could not vote for himself, an embarrassing situation was presented, which Lee relieved by withdrawing from the contest, “so that Harrison stood elected. Braxton says the old fellow was so disgusted with the vote that he believed he would resign the appointment.” Jones to Madison, January 2, 1781, Letters of Joseph Jones, 65, 66. The object of the appointment was “to lay before Congress a clear state of the war in this quarter, the resources of this State in men, money, provisions,” etc., and to concert measures “necessary in the present conjuncture of affairs in the South.”—Journal of House of Delegates, 35; Rives, i., 269, 270.
[1 ]From the Madison Papers (1840).
[2 ]The sufferings in Virginia from the invasion of the enemy called forth the following peculiar proposition from George Mason. It was addressed to the Virginia delegates in Congress
Virginia, Gunston-Hall, April 3d., 1781.
. . . . . . . . .
Whoever considers the Importance of the Trade of these States to Great Britain, and her Expectations of great part of it returning into British Channels, upon a peace, may readily conceive that She will be alarmed at any Measures which may affect it hereafter, by imposing such Burdens upon it, as will give a lasting Preference to other Nations. If therefore Congress were to recommend to the Legislatures of the different States immediately to enact Laws, declaring that all private property, which hath been, or shall be plundered or destroyed, by the British Troops, or others acting under the authority of the King of Great Britain, beyond high water mark, from a certain Day, shall be hereafter reimbursed & made good to the individual Sufferers, & their Heirs, by Dutys to be imposed upon all Imports from Great Britain into the respective States, after a peace, and to be continued until full Reparation shall be accordingly made; and for this purpose, directing Valuations, upon oath, to be made of all private property so plundered or destroyed, to be returned, with the names & places of abode of the owners, to some certain public office within each State, & there duly registered, it is more than probable it wou’d produce good effects.—Mad. MSS.
[1 ]From the Madison Papers (1840).
[2 ]“Whereas it is stipulated and declared in the 13th Article of the Confederation, ‘that every State shall abide by the determinations of the United States in Congress assembled, on all questions which by this Confederation are submitted to them: And that the Articles of this Confederation shall be inviolably observed by every State;’ by which Article a general and implied power is vested in the United States in Congress assembled, to enforce and carry into effect all the Articles of the said Confederation against any of the States which shall refuse or neglect to abide by such their determinations, or shall otherwise violate any of the articles; but no determinate and particular provision is made for that purpose. And whereas the want of such provision may be a pretext to call into question the legality of such measures as may be necessary for preserving the authority of the Confederation, and for doing justice to the States which shall duly fulfil their federal engagements; and it is, moreover, most consonant to the spirit of a free Constitution, that, on the one hand, all exercise of power should be explicitly and precisely warranted, and, on the other, that the penal consequences of a violation of duty should be clearly promulged and understood: And whereas it is further declared by the said 13th Article of the Confederation, that no addition shall be made to the articles thereof, unless the same shall be agreed to in a Congress of the United States, and be afterwards confirmed by the Legislatures of every State: The United States in Congress assembled, having seriously and maturely deliberated on these considerations, and being desirous as far as possible to cement and invigorate the Federal Union, that it may be both established on the most immutable basis, and be the more effectual for securing the immediate object of it, do hereby agree and recommend to the Legislatures of every State, to confirm and to authorize their Delegates in Congress to subscribe the following clause as an additional article to the thirteen Articles of Confederation and perpetual union:
[1 ]From Madison’s Works.
[1 ]From the Madison Papers (1840).
[1 ]Also a delegate from Maryland.
[1 ]From the Madison Papers (1840).
[1 ]From Madison’s Works.
[2 ]Mazzei was an Italian who had come to Virginia to introduce the planting of olives and grapes. He was an ardent revolutionist at this time and held a commission from Virginia to purchase supplies for the army. He had a scheme for borrowing money in Italy, but insisted that the purchases should be made where it might be borrowed. Before leaving America he wrote to Madison from Hob’s Hole, Va., June 13, 1779:
[* ]They have lately taken West Florida with a garrison of 1,500 troops. [Note probably in MS.]
[1 ]The first two paragraphs relate to the purchases of family supplies and the sending of newspapers containing the latest news.
[1 ]In a postscript he corrects this statement, saying he sends six grammars and the price is 42/. Pennsylvania equal to about 33/6 Virginia currency.
[2 ]From the Madison Papers (1840).
[1 ]From the Madison Papers (1840).
[1 ]The Legislature of Virginia instructed her delegates November 5, 1779, to use their utmost endeavors to maintain the freedom of the Mississippi. On January 2, 1781, these instructions were modified, the navigation to be claimed only co-extensively with our territory and “every further or other demand of the said navigation be ceded, if insisting on the same is deemed an impediment to a treaty with Spain.”—Rives, i., 247, 248.
[2 ]John Jay, Minister to Spain.
[1 ]From the Madison Papers (1840.)
[1 ]From the Madison Papers (1840).
[1 ]From the Madison papers (1840).