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TO THOMAS JEFFERSON. 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 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.
TO EDMUND RANDOLPH.mad. mss.
Orange, March 10th., 1784.
My dear friend,—
Your favor of the 27th. Jany. was safely delivered to me about a fortnight ago, and was recd. with the greater pleasure, as it promises a continuance of your friendly attention. I am sorry that my situation enables me to stipulate no other return than sincere & thankful acknowledgments.—On my arrival here which happened early in Decr. I entered as soon as the necessary attentions to my friends admitted, on the course of reading which I have long meditated. Co: Litt: in consequence & a few others from the same shelf have been my chief society during the Winter. My progress, which in so short a period could not have been great under the most favorable circumstances, has been much retarded by the want of some important books, and still more by that of some living oracle for occasional consultation. But what will be most noxious to my project, I am to incur the interruptions wch. will result from attendance in the Legislature, if the suffrage of my County should destine me for that service, which I am made to expect will be the case. Among the circumstances which reconcile me to this destination, you need not be assured that the opportunity of being in your neighborhood has its full influence.
I have perused with both pleasure and edification your observations on the demand made by the Executive of S. C. of a citizen of this State.1 If I were to hazard an opinion after yours, it would be that the respect due to the chief magistracy of a confederate State, enforced as it is by the articles of Union, requires an admission of the fact as it has been represented. If the representation be judged incomplete or ambiguous, explanations may certainly be called for, and if on a final view of the charge, Virginia should hold it to be not a casus fœderis, she will be at liberty to withhold her citizen, (at least upon that ground,) as S. C. will be to appeal to the Tribunal provided for all controversies among the States. Should the Law of S. C. happen to vary from the British Law, the most difficult point of discussion I apprehend will be, whether the terms “Treason &c.” are to be referred to those determinate offences so denominated in the latter code, or to all those to which the policy of the several States may annex the same titles and penalties. Much may be urged I think both in favor of and agst. each of these expositions. The two first of those terms coupled with “breach of the peace” are used in the 5 Art: of the Confederation, but in a way that does not clear the ambiguity. The truth perhaps in this as in many other instances, is, that if the compilers of the text had severally declared their meanings, these would have been as diverse as the comments which will be made upon it.
Waving the doctrine of the confederation, my present view of the subject would admit few exceptions to the propriety of surrendering fugitive offenders. My reasons are these. 1. By the express terms of the Union the citizens of every State are naturalized within all the others, and being entitled to the same privileges, may with the more justice be subjected to the same penalties. This circumstance materially distinguishes the citizens of the U. S. from the subjects of other nations not so incorporated. 2. The analogy of the laws throughout the States, and particularly the uniformity of trial by Juries of the vicinage, seem to obviate the capital objections agst. removal to the State where the offence is charged. In the instance of contiguous States a removal of the party accused from one to the other must often be a less grievance, than what happens within the same State when the place of residence & the place where the offence is laid are at distant extremities. The transportation to G. B. seems to have been reprobated on very different grounds: it would have deprived the accused of the privilege of trial by jury of the vicinage as well as of the use of his witnesses, and have exposed him to trial in a place where he was not even alledged to have ever made himself obnoxious to it; not to mention the danger of unfairness arising from the circumstances which produced the regulation. 3. Unless citizens of one State transgressing within the pale of another be given up to be punished by the latter, they cannot be punished at all; and it seems to be a common interest of the States that a few hours or at most a few days should not be sufficient to gain a sanctuary for the authors of the numerous offences below “high misdemesnors.” In a word, experience will shew if I mistake not that the relative situation of the U. S. calls for a “Droit Public” much more minute than that comprized in the fœderal articles, and which presupposes much greater mutual confidence and amity among the societies which are to obey it, than the law which has grown out of the transactions & intercourse of jealous & hostile nations.
Present my respectful compliments to your amiable lady & accept the sincerest wishes for your joint happiness of
Your affc. friend & obt. servt..
P. S. By my brother who is charged with this I send Chastellaux’s work, de la Felicité public which you may perhaps find leisure to run through before May—also a notable work of one of the Representatives of the U. S. in Europe.
Cypher represented by italics.
See letter of Feby. 17, , shewing Buffon who had been read to have been misconceived. Note in MSS.
[1 ]George Hancock, a citizen of Virginia, assaulted Jonas Beard, a justice of the peace and member of the legislature of South Carolina. The Governor of South Carolina demanded Hancock’s surrender from the Governor of Virginia, under the fourth article of the confederation, charging the assault as a high misdemeanor. Randolph, as Attorney General of Virginia, thought that Virginia had a right to insist upon proof of Hancock’s guilt before taking action, but that South Carolina’s definition of a misdemeanor must be admitted by Virginia, and that flight ought not to secure one from punishment. Randolph to Jefferson, January 30, 1784, Conway’s Randolph, 51.