Front Page Titles (by Subject) 1783 - TO EDMUND RANDOLPH. mad. mss. - The Writings, vol. 2 (1783-1787)
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1783 - TO EDMUND RANDOLPH. mad. mss. - James Madison, The Writings, vol. 2 (1783-1787) 
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. 2.
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TO EDMUND RANDOLPH.mad. mss.
Philada., July 8, 1783.
My dear friend,—
Yours of the 28 of June like the preceding one found me at this place, where my preparations for leaving Congs. will keep me much of the remainder of my time. The footing on which the Impost is placed by the Assembly is not an eligible one, but preferable to a total rejection. It is to be regretted that immediate use was not made of the impression of the letter from Genl. W. The interval preceding the next Session will give full scope to malignant insinuations. The reversal of the award in the case of Nathan may possibly be just in itself; but it will require all your eloquence I fear to shield the honor of the State from its effects. The Agency which the Delegation had in the affair will impart no small share of the mortification to them. I suppose the feelings of Mr. Jefferson & Mr. Harrison also will not be much delighted by it.
Genl. How is here with a corps of N. England troops detached by Gl. W. for the purpose of quelling the Mutiny. His only employment will now be to detect & punish the promoters of it. Congs. remain at Princeton. Their removal from that place will soon become an interesting question. Not a few maintain strenuously the policy of returning to this City in order to obviate suspicions abroad of any disaffection in the mass of so important a State to the federal Govt. and to restore mutual confidence with a State which has of late been so firm in adhering to federal measures. It is supposed too that a freer choice might have been made amg. the permanent seats offered by the States, than at a place where the necessity of a speedy removal wd. give undue advantage to an offer which happened to be in greatest readiness for immediate use. The Citizens here in general regret the departure of Congs., disavow the idea that they were unwilling to take arms in defence of Congs., and will probably enter into some declaration tending to invite their return.
We hear nothing from our Ministers in Europe. The evacuation of N. York, as to the time seems as problematical as ever. The sending off the negroes continues to take place under the eyes & remonstrances of the Inspectors of Embarkations.
TO EDMUND RANDOLPH.mad. mss.
Philadr., July 15, 1783.
My Dear Sir,—
Yesterday’s post brought me no letter from you. The contents of the inclosed paper make up every thing of consequence which I have for a subject at present. The enquiry into the Mutiny has not advanced far enough to bring forth any discoveries. An address is circulating & will be generally signed by the Citizens here reciting to Congress the proofs they have heretofore given of attachmt. to the fœderal Govt. professing a continuance of that attachmt. and declaring their readiness to support the dignity & privileges of Congs., in case the conveniency of this place for transacting the public affairs sd. give it a preference to others untill a final residence shall be fixed.
Mr. Lee arrived here the day before yesterday and goes to Princeton to-day. Mr. Mercer’s indisposition carries him to the Sea board of N. Jersey. My absence not producing any chasm in the representation and some private business requiring my stay here, I shall not return to Princeton for 7 or 8 days.
TO EDMUND RANDOLPH.mad. mss.
[July 28, 1783.]
My Dear Sir,—
Yesterday’s mail brought me no letter from you. The Address from the Citizens of Pa. came before Congs. on thursday and was referred to a comme. of 5 members. The answer will probably be a very civil one, but will leave open the question touching the return of Congs. This question if decided at all in the affirmative, must be preceded by despair of some of the competitors for the permanent residence, almost all of whom now make a common cause agst. Philada. It is not improbable that when the urgency of the scanty accommodations at Princeton comes to be more fully felt, with the difficulty of selecting a final seat among the numerous offers, N. Y. in case of its evacuation may be brought into rivalship with Philada. for the temporary residence of Congress. My own opinion is that it would be less eligible as removing every thing connected with Congs., not only farther from the South but farther from the Center, and making a removal to a Southern position finally more difficult than it would be from Philada.. Williamsbg. seems to have a very slender chance as far as I can discover. Annapolis I apprehend wd. have a greater number of advocates. But the best chance both for Maryland & Virga, will be to unite in offering a double jurisdiction on the Potowmack. The only dangerous rival in that case will be a like offer from N. J. & Pa. on the Delaware; unless indeed Congs. sd. be carried to N. York before a final choice be made in which case it would be difficult to get them out of the State.
In order to prepare the way to their permanent residence Congs. have appd. a Come. to define the jurisdiction proper for them to be invested with. Williamsbg. has asked an explanation on this point. The nearer the subject is viewed the less easy it is found to mark the just boundary between the authority of Congs. & that of the State on one side & on the other between the former & the privileges of the inhabitants. May it not also be made a question whether in constitutional strictness the gift of any State, without the Concurrence of all the rest, can authorize Congs. to exercise any power not delegated by the Confederation? As Congs. it would seem are incompetent to every act not warranted by that instrument or some other flowing from the same source. I wish you could spare a little attention to this subject & transmit your ideas on it. Contrary to my intention I shall be detained here several weeks yet, by a disappointmt. in some circumstances which must precede my setting out for Virga..
There is considerable ground to believe that Carleton is possessed of the definitive Treaty. He has lately sent Congs. several depositions relative to forgeries of Mr. Morris’ Notes, the authors of which he has confined in N. York, & has requested that persons may be sent in to attend the examination.
The Court Martial is still proceeding in the investigation of the Mutiny, but have disclosed no result.
TO THOMAS JEFFERSON.
Philada., Aug. 11th. 1783.
My Dear Sir,—
At the date of my letter in April I expected to have had the pleasure by this time of being with you in Virginia. My disappointment has proceeded from several dilatory circumstances on which I had not calculated. My journey to Virga. tho’ still somewhat contingent in point of time cannot now be very long postponed. I need not I trust renew my assurance that it will not finally stop on this side of Monticello.
The reserve of our foreign Ministers still leaves us the sport of misinformations concerning the def: Treaty. We all thought a little time ago that it had certainly arrived at N. York. This opinion however has become extinct, and we are thrown back on the newspaper evidence which as usual is full of contradictions. The probability seems to be that the delay arises from discussions with the Dutch. Mr. Dana has been sorely disappointed in the event of his announcing himself to the Court of Russia. His written communications obtain verbal answers only & these hold up the Mediation to which the Empress, with the Emperor of G[erman]y have been invited as a bar to any overt transaction with the U. S. and even suggest the necessity of new powers from the latter of a date subsequent to the acknowledgment of their Sovereignty by G. B. Having not seen the letters from Mr. Dana myself, I give this idea of them at second hand, remarking at the same time that it has been taken from such passages only as were not in Cypher; the latter being not yet translated. Congs. remain at Princeton utterly undecided both as to their ultimate seat and their intermediate residence. Very little business of moment has been yet done at the new Metropolis, except a ratification of the Treaty with Sweden. In particular nothing has been done as to a foreign establishment. With regard to an internal peace establishment, though it has been treated with less inattention, it has undergone little discussion. The Commander-in-Chief has been invited to Princeton with a view to obtain his advice and sanction to the military branches of it, and is every day expected there. The Budget of Congs. is likely to have the fate of many of their other propositions to the States. Delaware is the only one among those which have bestowed a consideration on it that has acceded in toto. Several Legislatures have adjourned without giving even that mark of their condescension. In the Southern States a jealousy of Congressional usurpations is likely to be the bane of the system: in the Eastern an aversion to the half-pay provided for by it. New Jersey & Maryland have adopted the impost, the other funds recommended being passed for one year only by one of these States, and postponed by the other. Pa. has hitherto been friendly to liberal and fœderal ideas and will continue so, unless the late jar with Congs. sd give a wrong bias of which there is some danger. Massts. has in the election of Delegates for the ensuing year stigmatized the concurrence of those now in place, in the provision for half-pay, by substituting a new representation; and has sent a Memorial to Congs. which I am told is pregnant with the most penurious ideas not only on that subject but on several others which concern the national honor & dignity. This picture of our affairs is not a flattering one; but we have been witnesses of so many cases in which evils & errors have been the parents of their own remedy, that we cannot but view it with consolations of hope. Remind Miss Patsy of my affection for her & be assured that I am Dr. Sir
Yr. Sincere friend
TO EDMUND RANDOLPH.
Philada., Aug: 12, 1783.
The arrival of yesterday’s mail has not enabled me to acknowledge the rect. of a favor. Perhaps the post office may be again in fault.
Our late belief of the arrival of the Defin: Treaty at N. York has become utterly extinct. From the tenor of the Newspapers the delay seems to be the effect of discussions with the Dutch. The inclosed letter from our friend Hawkins provides for the article of Russian intelligence. I understand from Mr. Mercer who is here on business as well as myself that Mr. Dana’s despatches were in part undecyphered when Mr. Hawkins’ transcript was made. The Legislature of Mats have sent a memorial to Congress wearing a very unpropitious aspect on the grant of ½ to the army and in other respects breathing a penurious spirit which if indulged will be fatal to every establishment that requires expence. They profess great poverty, and have declined any decision on the Revenue propositions of Congs. Rhode Island did not even bestow a consideration on them. Mr. H[owel]l from the latter State after being informed of the course taken by Va. said that her backwardness very much emboldened the States that were disinclined to a Genl. Revenue. Congs. have voted Genl W. an elegant Bronze Statue. He has been invited to Princeton as well to relieve him from the tedium which he suffers on the North River as to make use of his Counsel in digesting a peace Establishmt. We shall probably be reinforced by Mr. Jones in a few days. I shall give you notice when my departure will make it proper for your correspondence to be discontinued.
TO EDMUND RANDOLPH.mad. mss.
Philada. Aug 18, 1783.
I have not this week any more than the last the pleasure of acknowledging a favor from you. Perhaps I may find one at Princeton when I get there. On thursday a question for returning to Philada was put and decided in the Negative by a large majority. The friends of the measure foreseeing its fate, and supposing that a negative declaration cd. answer no good purpose and might an ill one, withdrew it. The more moderate opponents concurred in the inexpediency of proclaiming unnecessarily an aversion in Congs to Philada. But some of this class were so keen in their hostility, that a motion was made by two of them to return, who on the question voted agst their own motion. The public will not I believe fix on this proceeding as one of the brightest pages of the Journals? The abuses to which such an artifice may be extended are palpable. The merit of it in this application belongs to Mr. Howel of R. I. and Mr. B[lan]d of V. The motion was first made by Mr. L[ee] but in the course of the transaction devolved on Mr. Howel. I know of none that will read with pleasure this affair unless it be the Executive of Pa and those who wish to refer the removal of Congs to other motives than the national dignity & welfare.
Congs have letters from Mr. Laurens of the 17th June but they decide nothing as to the definitive Treaty. We have no reason, how, to impute the delay to any cause which renders the event suspicious. It is said that the British Councils grow more & more wary on the subject of a Coerl Treaty with the U. S. and that the spirit of the Navigation act is likely to prevail over a more liberal system.
S. Carolina we learn has agreed to the Impost on condition only that the revenue be collected by her own officers, & be credited to her own quota. It is supposed that she will agree to exchange the valuation of land for the proposed rule of numbers. But on this point R. I. was more inflexible than on that of the Impost. I pity from my heart the officers of the Eastern line who are threatened by these prospects with disappointments which the Southern officers have no Idea of. From much conversation which I have lately had with some of the former, and from other information, there appears great reason to believe that if no continental provision be made for them they will not only be docked of their half-pay, but will run great hazard of being put off with regard to a great share of their other pay on the pretence of their States that they have already advanced beyond their proportion.
I expect Mr. Jones every moment.
TO EDMUND RANDOLPH.mad. mss.
Philada. Aug 24, 1783.
My dear Sir,—
Mr. Jones who arrived the beginning of the week acquainted me with your abortive mission to Maryland which I had not before heard of. To this absence from Richmond I impute your silence by the late mails. I hope for the pleasure of a line by the mail now on its way, which will not however be acknowledged till the ensuing week as I am about returning to Princeton when it will find me too late for the post of this week. All that I have now to tell you is that Sr G. Carleton has notified to Congs his having received orders for the evacuation of N. York but he specifies no time fixed either by the orders or by his own plans. He repeats his lamentations touching the Loyalists and insinuates that the proceedings of the people agst them are a proof that little or no govt exists in the U. States.
With great affection I am yr frd & Svt
TO EDMUND RANDOLPH.mad. mss.
Princeton, Aug 30, 1783.
My dear Sir,—
We hear nothing from Europe that can be depended on relative to the definitive Treaty, nor any thing from N. York as to the time it will be evacuated. A Pamphlet has lately come over from G. Britain which appears to be well adapted to retard if not prevent a commercial Treaty, & which is said to be much attended to. It urges an adherence to the principle of the Navigation Act by which American Vessels will be excluded from the trade between the separate parts of the Empire, and from all intercourse with the dependent territories. It undertakes to shew from an enumeration of the produce of the U. S. & the manufactures consumed by them, that those of G. B. recommended by the superior credit which her Merchants can give, will be sufficiently sure of a preference in the American Market. And lastly it maintains that the interests of the States are so opposite in matters of Commerce, & the authority of Congs so feeble that no defensive precautions need be feared on the part of the U.S. and threatens that in case they should refuse to let British Vessels exclusively carry on a Commerce between the U. S. and the W. Indies as far as the interest of the Islands may require, the vessels of one State shall not be permitted to carry the product of another to any British Port. The Whole tenor of the reasoning supposes that France will not permit Vessels of the U. S. to trade with their Islands in which there is good reason to believe they are not mistaken. The object of the French Administration is said to be to allow a direct trade between the U. S. & their W. India possessions, but to confine it to French Bottoms.
The Legislature of Penna have unanimously adopted the Recoendations of Congs both as to Revenue & a change of the fœderal rule for apportioning the common burdens. They will also present an invitation to Congs. we understand, to resume their Sessions at Philada, if that place be judged most fit for the despatch of public business, untill a permanent seat be chosen & prepared; giving at the same time explicit assurances of support in case it should on any occasion be needed. What effect this conciliatory proposition may have on the temper of Congs is precarious. With some the complaisance shewn to the late recommendations of Congs. will be far from softening the dislike. With others Philada will ever be obnoxious while it contains and respects an obnoxious Character. Annapolis has seized the present occasion to forward her views with respect to Congs., and has courted their presence in the most flattering terms. During this contest among the rival seats, we are kept in the most awkward situation that can be imagined; and it is the more so as we every moment expect the Dutch Ambassador. We are crowded too much either to be comfortable ourselves or to be able to carry on the business with advantage. Mr. Jones & myself on our arrival were extremely put to it to get any quarters at all, and are at length put into one bed in a room not more than 10 feet square.
TO JAMES MADISON.mad. mss.
Princeton Aug: 30, 1783.
I recd. great pleasure from your’s recd. by the last post which removed the apprehensions excited by your preceding one regarding the state of my mother’s health. I hope this will find her still further recovered. The time of my setting out for Virga. is still somewhat precarious: several matters being before Congs. which I wish to see first decided. An answer to this if not delayed will probably find me here.
The definitive Treaty is not yet come over. Sr. G. Carlton has notified to Congs. his receipt of final orders for the evacuation of N. York, but fixes no time at which they are to be carried into execution. Genl. Washington has been here some days at the invitation of Congs. & will be consulted on the provision necessary in time of peace for the security of this country. I inclose you one of the latest papers containing the address of the Presidt. to the assembly of Pena. The latter have unanimously acceded to the late recoendations of Congs. with respect to revenue, and a change of the rule for apportioning the common burdens. It is said they are also about to address Congs. on the event which occasioned their removal, & to provide expressly for the protection of Congs. in case they sd. deem Philada. the fittest place for the transaction of business untill a final residence shall be chosen. What effect this may have is uncertain. We are exceedingly crowded in this place; too much so both for our own comfort & for the despatch of business. Mr. Jones & myself are in one room scarcely ten feet square & in one bed. With the best regards for all the family
I am yr. dutiful son
TO JAMES MADISON.mad. mss.
Philada. Sepr. 8. 1783.
Mr Jones & myself being here transacting some private business which brought us from Princeton the end of last week, I here receive your letter of the 22d. ult. The favorable turn of my mother’s state of health is a source of great satisfaction to me, and will render any delay in my setting out for Virga. the less irksome to me. I shall return to Princeton tomorrow; my final leaving of which will depend on events, but can not now be at any very great distance. On a view of all circumstances I have judged it most prudent not to force Billey back to Va. even if [it] could be done; and have accordingly taken measures for his final separation from me. I am persuaded his mind is too thoroughly tainted to be a fit companion for fellow slaves in Virga. The laws here do not admit of his being sold for more than 7 years. I do not expect to get near the worth of him; but cannot think of punishing him by transportation merely for coveting that liberty for which we have paid the price of so much blood, and have proclaimed so often to be the right, & worthy the pursuit, of every human being.
We have no later advices from Europe than when I wrote by Merry Walker.
TO EDMUND RANDOLPH.mad. mss.
Philada. Sept. 8 1783.
My dear Sir,—
Mr. Jones & myself having come down to this city the end of the past week for the purpose of negociating some pecuniary matters I am here to date my acknowledgment of your favor of the 30th. ulto. We return again tomorrow.
The delay of the definitive Treaty although not fully explained to Congress, excites less disquietude here than I find it does in Virginia. Our latest official advices were from Mr. Laurens, of the [seventeenth] of June. The Conduct of the British administration was far from explicit, according to his state of it, but probably proceeded more from the discordant materials of which it is composed & doubts as to the commercial footing on which America ought to be placed, than from any insidious views. Why indeed a Commercial Treaty should be made to clog the Treaty of peace is left to conjecture. Perhaps the fact may not be true & the delay of the latter may be owing still to the old cause, to wit, a discussion of the intricate points with the Dutch. The situation of G. B. is such that nothing but some signal change in the aspect of things in this hemisphere can inspire a fresh disposition for war; notwithstanding the menacing tone of Sr. G. Carleton.
The Legislature of Pa. have taken every possible step to expiate the default of the Executive short of an impeachment of its members, which the rigor of some members of Congs. included among the terms of reconciliation with the State. They have expressly invited Congs. back, assured them of honorable protection, and given up the State-House with the appendages for their temporary use. They have also made German Town a competitor for the permanent abode of Congress.
The opposition in the N. England States to the grant of half-pay instead of subsiding has increased to such a degree as to produce almost a general anarchy. In what shape it will issue is altogether uncertain. Those who are interested in the event look forward with very poignant apprehensions. Nothing but some continental provision can obtain for them this part of their reward. * * *
Why did not the Assembly stop the sale of land warrants? They bring no profit to the public Treasury, are a source of constant speculation on the ignorant, and will finally arm numbers of Citizens of other States & even foreigners with claims & clamors against the faith of Virginia. Immense quantities have from time to time been vended in this place at immense profit, and in no small proportion to the subjects of our Ally. The credulity here being exhausted I am told the land Jobbers are going on with their commodity to Boston & other places.
TO EDMUND RANDOLPH.mad. mss.
Princeton, Sepr. 13, 1783.
My dear Sir,—
Our Ministers in Europe have made some amends for ye long silence by voluminous despatches brought down to 27th. July. They were recd. yesterday by Congress. No definitive treaty had then been signed by any of the parties, though all had been ready except Holland & America. The former is said to have settled her difficulties. The American Ministers have been endeavouring to incorporate some important commercial stipulations, but in vain; and in case of emergency must come forward with the provisional articles to be signed as ye. definitive Treaty. The conduct of G. B. in the negociation with America has shewn great unsteadiness if not insidiousness on the subject of commerce; and the inclosed proclamation of the 2d. of July is a proof that some experiment is intended on the wisdom firmness & union of the States before they will enter into a Treaty in derogation of her Navigation Act. Congress will probably recoend some defensive plan to the States. If it sd. meet with the fate of former recommendations, it will not probably be owing to Rhode Island whose staple interest more than that of any others lies in carrying between the U. S. & the West Indies. If it fails at all it will prove such an inefficacy in the Union as will extinguish all respect for it & reliance on it. My situation here for writing is so incommodious that you must excuse my brevity.
TO EDMUND RANDOLPH.mad. mss.
Princeton, Sepr 20, 1783.
I have nothing to add to my last on the subject of foreign affairs, further than that the Court of France has fixed on L’Orient as a free port for the U. S. The Virga Cession underwent a decision of Congs a day or two after my last. The form which they have given it may be seen in the hands of the Executive. I sincerely hope it may meet the ultimatum of Virga. The circumstances which produced brevity in my last as strongly recommended it at present. Adieu.
TO THOMAS JEFFERSON.mad. mss.
Princeton, Sepr. 20, 1783.
Your favor of the 31 ult: came to hand yesterday. As the reason which chiefly urged my departure for Virga has ceased I have been led to protract my attendance on Congress by the interest I felt in some measures on foot, and the particular interest which my Constituents have in them. Two of these were the territorial Cession and the permanent seat of Congress. The former was a few days ago put into a form which I hope will meet the ultimatum of Virginia. The first monday in next month is fixed for a decision of the latter; after which it may still be necessary to choose a temporary residence until the permanent one can be made ready. I am utterly unable to foretell how either of these points will be determined. It is not impossible that an effective vote may be found attainable on neither; in which case the Winter must be spent in this village where the public business can neither be conveniently done, the members of Congress be decently provided for, nor those connected with Congress provided for at all. I shall lose no time in looking out for quarters for you & entering into provisional engagements in your favor. Your other request relative to Miss Patsy shall be equally attended to as soon as I go to Philada, which will probably be towards the end of the present week.
It will give me real concern if we should miss one another altogether in the journies before us; and yet I foresee the danger of it. Mr. Jones & myself will probably be on the road by the middle of next month or a few days later. This is the time about which you expect to commence your journey. Unless therefore we travel the same road a disappointment of more [than] an interview will be unavoidable. At present our plan is to proceed thro’ Baltimore & Alexandria & Fredericksbg and we may possibly be at the races of the second place. I am at a loss by what regulation I can obey your wishes with regard to the notes I have on hand; having not yet made any copy of them, having no time now for that purpose, and being unwilling for several reasons to leave them all behind me. A disappointment however will be of the less consequence as they have been much briefer & more interrupted since the period at which you run them over, and have been altogether discontinued since the arrival of Congs here.
My plan of spending this winter in Philada. in close reading was not entirely abandoned untill Congress left that City and shewed an utter disinclination to return to it. The prospect of agreeable and even instructive society was an original consideration with me; and the subsequent one having yours added to it would have confirmed my intention after the abortive issue of another plan,1 had not the solicitude of a tender & infirm parent exacted a visit to Virga and an uncertainty of returning been thereby incurred. Even at present if Congs. sd. make Philaa their seat this winter & I can decline a visit to Virga. or speedily get away from it, my anxiety on the subject will be renewed.
Our last information from Europe is dated the 27th July. France & Spain were then ready for the definitive signing of the Peace. Holland was on the point of being so. The American Plenipos. had done nothing on the subject and in case of emergency could only sign the provisional Treaty as final. Their negotiations had been spent chiefly on commercial stipulations from which G. B. after very different professions & appearances, altogether drew back. The ready admission she found into our commerce without paying any price for it has suggested the policy of aiming at the entire benefit of it, and at the same time saving the carriage of the W. India trade the price she at first bid for it. The supposed contrariety of interests among the States and the impotence of the fœderal Govt, are urged by the ministerial pamphleteers as a safeguard agst. retaliation. The other nations of Europe seem to have more honorable views towards our commerce, sundry advances having been made to our Ministers on that subject.
Congress have come to no decision even as yet on any of the great branches of the peace establishment. The military branch is supported and quickened by the presence of the Commander in Chief, but without any prospect of a hasty issue. The department of foreign Affairs both internal & external remains as it has long done. The election of a Secy. has been an order of the day for many months without a vote being taken. The importance of the marine department has been diminished by the sale of almost all the Vessels belonging to the U. S. The department of Finance is an object of almost daily attack and will be reduced to its crisis on the final resignation of Mr. M., which will take place in a few months. The War Office is connected with the Military establishment & will be regulated I suppose in conformity to what that may be. Among other subjects which divide Congress, their Constitutional authority touching such an establishment in time of peace is one. Another still more puzzling is the precise jurisdiction proper for Congress within the limits of their permanent seat. As these points may possibly remain undecided till Novr, I mention them particularly that your aid may be prepared. The investigation of the Mutiny ended in the condemnation of several Sergeants who were stimulated to the measure without being apprized of the object by the two officers who escaped. They have all recd. a pardon from Congress. The real plan & object of the mutiny lies in profound darkness. I have written this in hopes that it may get to Monticello before you leave it. It might have been made more interesting if I had brought the Cypher from Philada., tho’ my present situation required a great effort to accomplish as much as I have. I am obliged to write in a position that scarcely admits the use of any of my limbs, Mr. Jones & myself being lodged in a room not 10 feet square and without a single accommodation for writing.
I am Dear Sir your sincere friend & Obt Servt.
TO EDMUND RANDOLPH.mad. mss.
Philada Septr 30, 1783.
My dear Sir,—
Your favor introducing Mr. Corbin and that by the last week’s post have both been receivd. The former did not get to Princeton before Mr. C. had left it, nor did I get to this place before he was so near leaving it that I had no opportunity of manifesting my respect for your recommendations otherwise than by verbal civilities to him. Yesterday’s post brought me no letter from you. In answer to your comment in the preceding one on the reception of a Minister from the Œconomical Republic to which we are allied, it will suffice to inform you, that in pursuance of a commission from him six elegant horses are provided for his coach, as was to have been one of the best houses in the most fashionable part of the City. Wherever Commerce prevails there will be an inequality of wealth, and wherever the latter does a simplicity of manners must decline.
Our foreign intelligence remains as at the date of my last. I forget whether I mentioned to you that our Ministers unanimously express surprise at the doubt started in America as to the epoch which terminated hostilities on our Coast. They affirm that one month from the date of the instrument was meant & suppose that that exposition will not be contested. Pray can your researches inform me 1st., Whether prizes made by & from parties not subject to the power before whose maritime courts they are carried, are provisionally or finally tried?—2d. How far the rules established by the Sovereign of the Captor & those by the Sovereign of the Courts prevail in such trials? 3dly, What difference is made in cases where both the parties concerned in the capture are subject to the same power and where they are subject to different powers?
TO EDMUND RANDOLPH.mad. mss.
Philada Octr 13th, 1783.
My dear Sir,—
I returned yesterday in order to be with Mr Jones before his departure and make some little arrangement with him of a private nature. The past week has been spent by Congress in deliberating on 1. their permanent seat; 2. their temporary one. The competition for the former lay between the falls of the Potowmack and those of the Delaware. We hoped at first from the apparent views of the Eastern Delegates that they would have given a preference to Potowmack. In the event they joined with Pena & the intermediate States in favor of the Delaware the consequence of which is that the vicinity of its Falls is to become the future seat of the fœderal Govt. unless a conversion of some of the Eastern States can be effected. The next point was the abode of Congs untill their permanent seat could receive them. The expediency of removing from Princeton in order to the more convenient transaction of the affairs of the U. S. and accommodation of Congs, was first determined on, Massts, Cont, & R. I. alone being opposed to it. Trenton was next proposed, on which Question the votes were divided by the River Delaware. Philada came next in order. Besides its convenient position in relation to the Permanent seat & superior temporary accommodations for the public business and for Congs, arguments in its favor were drawn from the tendency of passing by these accommodations to others inferior in themselves & more distant from the permant seat, to denote a resentment unworthy of a Sovereign authority agst a part of its Constituents which had fully expiated any offence which they might have committed; and at the same time to convert their penitential and affectionate temper into the bitterest hatred. To enforce this idea some of the proceedings of Congs expressive of resentment agst Philada were made use of. Great stress was also laid on the tendency of removing to any small or distant place, to prevent or delay business which the honor & interest of the U. S. require sd be despatched as soon as possible. On the other side objections were drawn from those sources which have produced dislikes to Philada, and wch will be easily conjectured by you. On the question N. Y, Pa, Delaware, Virga, & N. Carolina were ay; Massts, Cont, R. I., N. Jersey, no; and Maryland & S. Carolina, divided. If either of the divided States had been in the affirmative it was the purpose of N. Jersey to add a seventh vote in favor of Philada. The division of S. Carolina was owing to the absence of Mr. Rutledge & Mr. Izard both of whom would have voted for Phila. The State was represented by two members only. The division of Maryland represented by Mr Carroll & Mr McHenry was occasioned by the negative of the latter, whose zeal for Annapolis determined him to sacrifice every consideration to an experiment in its favor, before he would accede to the vote for Philada. The aversion of the Eastern States was the ground of his coalition with them. The arguments in favor of Annapolis consisted of objections agst Philada. Those agst it were chiefly the same which had been urged in favor of Philada. On the question the States were Massts, Cont, R. I., Delaware, Maryland & N. C., ay, N. Y., N. J. Pa Virga, no. S. C. divided. Virga was represented by Mr. Lee Mr. Mercer & Mr. M. The first was in the affirmative. Mr. Jones & Mr. Bland were in Philada. The vote of the latter wd have been in favor of Annapolis of the former in favor of Philada. The opinion of Mr. L & Mr. B in favr of Annapolis resulted from a dislike to Philada, & the idea that the views of Va would be promoted by it. That of their colleagues from a belief that the reasons drawn in favr of Philada, from National considerations reqd. a concession of local views, and even that a recision of the permanent vote for Trenton in favor of George Town, the object of Va, would be promoted by placing the Eastern States in Philada. They also supposed that the concurrence of the Eastern States in a temporary vote for Annapolis to take effect some weeks hence, was little to be confided in, since the arrival of a colleague to the Delegate from N. Hampshire would with the accession of Pena, who wd prefer Trenton to Annapolis & be moreover stimulated by resentment, would make up seven States to reverse the removal to Annapolis. Add to the whole that experience has verified the opinion that in any small place Congs are too dependent on courtesy & favor to be exempt either in their purses or their sensibility from degrading impositions. Upon the whole it is most probable that Philada will be [the] abode of Congs during the Winter. I must refer to Mr Jones for explanations on all these points, he will be in Richmond early in the Session. For myself I have engaged to return to Princeton to attend some interesting points before Congs. Having not yet settled my arrangements for the Winter I must for the present be silent as to my [torn out] situation. Mr. Van Berkel arrived a few days [torn out]. Congs are in a charming situation to receive him, being in an obscure village undetermined where they will spend the Winter, and without a Minister of F. A. After the rect of this you will stop your correspondence, and probably not hear further from me. I set off tomorrow morning at 3 oClock in the Flying Machine for Princeton, and it is now advancing towards the hour of sleep. In haste adieu My dear friend and be assured that I am Yrs Sincerely.
TO THOMAS JEFFERSON.mad. mss.
Orange Decemr 10th. 1783.
My journey from Annapolis was so retarded by rains and their effect on the water courses that I did not complete it till the ninth day after I left you. I took1Col. Mason in my way & had an evening’s conversation with him. I found him much less opposed to the general impost than I expected. Indeed he disclaimed all opposition to the measure itself but had taken up a vague apprehension that if adopted at this crisis it might embarrass the defence of our trade agst British machinations, he seemed upon the whole to acquiesce in the territorial cession, but dwelt much on the expediency of the guaranty. On the article of a convention for revising our form of Government he was sound and ripe and I think would not decline a participation in the work. His heterodoxy lay chiefly in being too little impressed with either the necessity or the proper means of preserving the confederacy.
The situation of the commerce of this country as far as I can learn is even more deplorable than I had conceived. It cannot pay less to Philada. & Baltimore if one may judge from a comparison of prices here & in Europe, than 30 or 40 Per Ct. on all the exports & imports, a tribute which if paid into the treasury of the State would yield a surplus above all its wants. If the Assembly should take any steps towards its emancipation you will no doubt be apprized of them as well as their other proceedings from Richmond.
I am not yet settled in the course of law reading with which I have tasked myself and find it will be impossible to guard it against frequent interruptions. I deputed one of my brothers to Monticello with the draught on your library, but Capt. Key was down at Richmond. As soon as he returns I propose to send again. My Trunk with Buffon &c. has come safe to Fredg. so that I shall be well furnished with materials for collateral reading. In conversing on this author’s Theory of central heat I recollect that we touched upon as the best means for trying its validity,1 the comparative distances from the earths center of the summits of the highest mountains and their bases or the level of the sea. Does not the oblate figure of the earth present a much more extensive and perhaps adequate field for experiments? According to the calculations of Martin grounded on the data of Manpertius &c.
The difference then of the semidiameters is 44.9, E. miles, that is of the mean semidiameter calling this difference in round numbers 45 miles, and disregarding the small variations produced by the elliptical form of the Earth, the radii will be shortened ½ of a mile by each degree from the equator to the poles. It would seem therefore that the difference of distance from the center at the Equator & at the highest latitude that may [be] visited must be sufficient to produce a discoverable difference in the degrees of any heat emitted equally in every direction from the center: and the experiment might be sufficiently diversified to guard against illusion from any difference which might be supposed in the intermediate density of different parts of the Earth. The distance even between the Equator & the polar circle produces a difference of no less than 33⅙ miles i.e. of the mean distance from the center; so that if the curiosity of two setts of French Philosophers employed in ascertaining the figure of the earth, had been directed to this question, a very little additional trouble & expence might perhaps have finally solved it. Nay the extent of the U.S. computing from the 31° of lat: to the 45° only makes a difference of 7 miles in the distance from the center of the Earth; a greater difference I suppose than is afforded by the highest mountains or the deepest mines or both put together.
On my delivering you the draught on Mr. Ambler I remember you put into my hands a note which I never looked into supposing it to relate to that circumstance. In examining my papers I perceive that I have lost it and mention it to put you on your guard in case the note sd. fall into bad hands & be capable of being abused. Present my respects to Mr. Mercer & the other gentlemen of the Delegation & be assured that I am yrs sincerely
You will be so good as to give the inclosed a safe conveyance to Mrs. House.
The allusion is to his rejection the month before by Miss Floyd, a daughter of William Floyd, of New York.
Cypher represented by italics.
See letter of Feby. 17, , shewing Buffon who had been read to have been misconceived. Note in MSS.