Front Page Titles (by Subject) 1784 - TO EDMUND RANDOLPH. mad. mss. - The Writings, vol. 2 (1783-1787)
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1784 - 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.
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.
TO THOMAS JEFFERSON.mad. mss.
Orange, March 16, 1784.
Your favour of the 20. ult. came duly to hand a few days ago. I cannot apprehend that any difficulties can ensue in Europe from the involuntary & immaterial delay of the ratification of the peace, or if there should that any imputations can be devised which will not be repelled by the collective force of the reasons in the intended protest; some of which singly taken are unanswerable. As you no doubt had recourse to authorities which I have no opportunity of consulting, I probably err in supposing the right of the Sovereign to reject the act of his plenipotentiary to be more circumscribed than you lay it down. I recollect well that an implied condition is annexed by the usage of nations to a Plenipotentiary Coission, but should not have extended the implication beyond cases where some palpable & material default in the Minister could be alledged by the Sovereign. Waving some such plea, the language both of the Coission and of reason seems to fix on the latter as clear an engagement to fulfil his promise to ratify a treaty, as to fulfil the promises of a treaty which he has ratified. In both cases one would pronounce the obligation equally personal to the Sovereign, and a failure on his part without some absolving circumstance equally a breach of faith. The project of affixing the Seal of the U. S. by 7 States to an act which had been just admitted to require nine, must have stood self-condemned; and tho’ it might have produced a temporary deception abroad, must have been immediately detected at home, and have finally dishonored the fœderal counsels everywhere. The competency of 7 States to a Treaty of Peace has often been a subject of debate in Congress and has sometimes been admitted into their practice, at least so far as to issue fresh instructions. The reasoning employed in defence of the doctrine has been “that the cases which require 9 States, being exceptions to the general authority of 7 States ought to be taken strictly; that in the enumeration of the powers of Congress in the first clause of art: 9 of the Confederation, the power of entering into treaties and alliances is contradistinguished from that of determining on peace & war & even separated by the intervening power of sending & receiving ambassadors; that the excepting clause therefore in which ‘Treaties & alliances’ ought to be taken in the same confined sense, and in which the power of detering on peace is omitted, cannot be extended by construction to the latter power; that under such a construction 5 States might continue a war which it required nine to commence, though where the object of the war has been obtained, a continuance must in every view be equipollent to a commencement of it; and that the very means provided for preserving a state of peace might thus become the means of preventing its restoration.” The answer to these arguments has been that the construction of the fœderal articles which they maintain is a nicety which reason disclaims, and that if it be dangerous on one side to leave it in the breast of 5 States to protract a war, it is equally necessary on the other to restrain 7 States from saddling the Union with any stipulations which they may please to interweave with a Treaty of peace. I was once led by this question to search the files of Congs. for such lights as the history of the Confederation might furnish, and on a review now of my papers I find the evidence from that source to consist of the following circumstances: In Doctr. Franklin’s “Sketch of Articles of Confederation” laid before Congs. on 21 day of July 1775, no number beyond a majority is required in any cases. In the plan reported to Congress by the Committee appointed 11. June 1776, the general enumeration of the powers of Congs. in art. 18. is expressed in a similar manner with the first clause in the present 9th. art., as are the exceptions in a subsequent clause of the 18 art. of the report, with the excepting clause as it now stands: and yet in the margin of the Report and I believe in the same hand writing, there is a “Qu.: If so large a majority is necessary in concluding a Treaty of peace.” There are sundry other marginal queries in the report from the same pen. Hence it would seem that notwithstanding the preceding discrimination between the powers of “determining on peace” and “entering into Treaties,” the latter was meant by the Come. to comprise the former. The next form in which the articles appear, is a printed copy of the Report as it had been previously amended, with sundry amendments, erasures, & notes on the printed copy itself in the hand of Mr. Thomson. In the printed text of this paper art: 14 the phraseology which defines the general powers of Congress is the same with that in art: 18 of the manuscript report. In the subsequent clause requiring nine States, the text as printed ran thus: “The United States in Congs. assembled shall never engage in a war nor grant letters of marque & reprisal in time of peace, nor enter into any Treaties or alliances except for peace,” the words except for peace being erased, but sufficiently legible through the erasure. The fair inference from this passage seems to be 1. that without those words 9 States were held to be required for concluding peace. 2. that an attempt had been made to render 7 States competent to such an act, which attempt must have succeeded either on a preceding discussion in Congress or in a Come. of the whole, or a special come.. 3. that on fuller deliberation the power of making Treaties of peace was meant to be left on the same footing with that of making all other Treaties. The remaining papers on the files have no reference to this question. Another question which several times during my service in Congs. exercised their deliberations was whether 7 States could revoke a Commission for a Treaty issued by nine States, at any time before the faith of the Confederacy should be pledged under it. In the instance of a proposition in 1781 to revoke a Commission which had been granted under peculiar circumstances in 1779 to Adams1 to form a treaty of commerce with G. B., the competency of 7 States was resolved on (by 7 States indeed) and a revocation took place accordingly. It was however effected with much difficulty, and some members of the minority even contested the validity of the proceeding. My own opinion then was and still is that the proceeding was equally valid & expedient. The circumstances which had given birth to the coission had given place to others totally different; not a single step had been taken under the commission which could affect the honour or faith of the U. S. and it surely can never be said that either the letter or spirit of the Confederation, requires the same majority to decline as to engage in foreign treaties. The safest method of guarding agst. the execution of those great powers after the circumstances which dictated them have changed, is to limit their duration, trusting to renewals as they expire, if the original reasons continue. My experience of the uncertainty of getting an affirmative vote even of 7 States had determined me before I left Congress, always to contend for such limitations.
I thought the sense of the term “appropriation” had been settled by the latter practice of Congs. to be the same as you take it to be. I always understood that to be the true, the parliamentary and the only rational sense. If no distinction be admitted between the “appropriation of money to general uses” and “expenditures in detail” the Secretary of Congs. could not buy quills or wafers without a vote of nine States entered on record, and the Secretary to the Co of the States could not do it at all. In short unless one vote of appropriation can extend to a class of objects, there must be a physical impossibility of providing for them; & the extent & generality of such classes can only be determined by discretion & conveniency. It is observable that in the specification of the powers which require 9 States, the single technical word “appropriate” is retained. In the general recital which precedes, the word “apply” as well as “appropriate” is used.—You were not mistaken in supposing I had in conversation restrained the authority of the fœderal Court to territorial disputes, but I was egregiously so in the opinion I had formed. Whence I got it I am utterly at a loss to account. It could not be from the Confederation itself, for words could not be more explicit. I detected the error a few days ago in consulting the articles on another subject, & had noted it for my next letter to you.—I am not sure that I comprehend your idea of a cession of the territory beyond the Kenhaway and on this side of the Ohio. As all the soil of value has been granted out to individuals a cession in that view would be improper, and a cession of the jurisdiction to Congs. can be proper only where the Country is vacant of settlers. I presume your meaning therefore to be no more than a separation of that country from this and an incorporation of it into ye. Union; a work to which all three must be parties. I have no reason to believe there will be any repugnance on the part of Virga.—The effort of Pena. for the Western commerce does credit to her public councils. The commercial genius of this State is too much in its infancy I fear to rival the example. Were this less the case, the confusion of its affairs must stifle all enterprize. I shall be better able however to judge of the practicability of your hint when I know more of them.—The declension of George Town does not surprise me tho’ it gives me regret. If the competition should lie between Trenton & Philada. & depend on the vote of New York1 it is not difficult to foresee into which scale it will be thrown, nor the probable effect of such decision on our Southern hopes.—I have long regarded the council as a grave of useful talents, as well as objectionable in point of expence, yet I see not how such a reform as you suggest can be brought about. The Constitution, tho’ readily overleaped by the Legislature on the spur of an occasion, would probably be made a bar to such an innovation. It directs that 8 members be kept up, and requires the sanction of 4 to almost every act of the Governor. Is it not to be feared too, that these little meliorations of the Government may turn the edge of some of the arguments which ought to be laid to its root? I grow every day more & more solicitous to see this essential work begun. Every days delay settles the Govt. deeper into the habits of the people, and strengthens the prop which their acquiescence gives it. My field of observation is too small to warrant any conjecture of the public disposition towards the measure; but all with whom I converse lend a ready ear to it. Much will depend on the politics of Mr. Henry, wch. are wholly unknown to me. Should they be adverse, and G. Mason not in the Assembly hazardous as delay is, the experiment must be put off to a more auspicious conjuncture.
The charter granted in 1732 to Lord Baltimore makes, if I mistake not, the Southern shore of the Potowmac, the boundary of Maryland on that side. The constitution of Virginia cedes to that State “all the territories contained within its charter with all the rights of property, jurisdiction and Government and all other rights whatsoever, which might at any time have been claimed by Virginia, excepting only the free navigation & use of the Rivers Potowmac and Pohomoque, &c.”1 Is it not to be apprehended that this language will be construed into an entire relinquishment of the Jurisdiction of these rivers, and will not such a construction be fatal to our port regulations on that side, & otherwise highly inconvenient? I was told on my journey along the Potowmac of several flagrant evasions which had been practiced with impunity & success, by foreign vessels which had loaded at Alexandria. The jurisdiction of half the rivers ought to have been expressly reserved. The terms of the surrender are the more extraordinary, as the patents of the N. neck place the whole river potowmac within the Government of Virginia; so that we were armed with a title both of prior & posterior date, to that of Maryland. What will be the best course to repair the error?—to extend our laws upon the River, making Maryland the plaintiff if she chooses to contest their authority—to state the case to her at once and propose a settlement by negociation—or to propose a mutual appointment of Coissioners for the general purpose of preserving a harmony and efficacy in the regulations on both sides? The last mode squares best with my present ideas. It can give no irritation to Maryld.; it can weaken no plea of Virga.; it will give Maryland an opportunity of stirring the question if she chooses, and will not be fruitless if Maryland should admit our jurisdiction. If I see the subject in its true light no time should be lost in fixing the interest of Virginia. The good humour into which the cession of the back lands must have put Maryland, forms an apt crisis for any negociations which may be necessary. You will be able probably to look into her charter & her laws, and to collect the leading sentiments relative to the matter.
The winter has been so severe that I have never renewed my call on the library of Monticello, and the time is now drawing so near when I may pass for a while into a different scene, that I shall await at least the return to my studies. Mr. L. Grymes told me a few days ago that a few of your Books which had been borrowed by Mr. W. Maury, and ordered by him to be sent to his brother’s, the clergyman, on their way to Monticello, were still at the place which Mr. M. removed from. I desired Mr. Grymes to send them to me instead of the Parson, supposing, as the distance is less, the books will probably be sooner out of danger from accidents, and that a conveyance from hence will not be less convenient. I calculated also on the use of such of them as may fall within my plan. I lately got home the Trunk which contained my Buffon, but have barely entered upon him. My time begins already to be much less my own than during the winter blockade. I must leave to your discretion the occasional purchase of rare and valuable books, disregarding the risk of duplicates, you know tolerably well the objects of my curiosity. I will only particularize my wish of whatever may throw light on the general constitution & droit public of the several confederacies which have existed. I observe in Boinaud’s catalogue several pieces on the Duch, the German, & the Helvetic. The operations of our own must render all such lights of consequence. Books on the Law of N. & N. fall within a similar remark. The tracts of Bynkershoek, which you mention I must trouble you to get for me & in french if to be had rather than in latin. Should the body of his works come nearly as cheap as these select publications, perhaps it may [be] worth considering whether the whole would not be preferable. Is not Wolfius also worth having? I recollect to have seen at Pritchard’s a copy of Hawkin’s abridget. of Co: Litt: I would willingly take it if it be still there & you have an opportunity. A copy of Deane’s letters which were printed in New York & which I failed to get before I left Phila. I should also be glad of. I use this freedom in confidence that you will be equally free in consulting your own conveniency whenever I encroach upon it. I hope you will do so particularly in the request I have to add. One of my parents would be considerably gratified with a pair of good Spectacles which are not to be got here. The particular readiness of Dudley to serve you inclines me to think that an order from you would be well executed. Will you therefore be so good as to get from him one of his best pebble & double jointed pair, for the age of fifty-five or thereabouts, with a good case; and forward them by the first safe conveyance to me in Orange or at Richmond as the case may be. If I had thought of this matter before Mr. Maury set out, I might have lessened your trouble. It is not material whether I be repayed at the bank of Philada. or the Treasy. of Virginia, but I beg it may be at neither till you are made secure by public remittances. It will be necessary at any rate for £20 or 30 to be left in your hands or in the bank for little expenditures which your kindness is likely to bring upon you.
The Executive of S. Carolina, as I am informed by the Attorney have demanded of Virginia the surrender of a citizen of Virga charged on the affidavit of Jonas Beard Esqr. whom the Executive of S. C. represent to be a “Justice of the peace, a member of the Legislature, and a valuable, good man,” as follows: that “three days before the 25th. day of Octr. 1783 he (Mr. Beard) was violently assaulted by G. H. during the sitting of the Court of General Sessions, without any provocation thereto given, who beat him (Mr. B.) with his fist & switch over the face head and mouth, from which beating he was obliged to keep his room until the said 25th. day of Octr. 1783, and call in the assistance of a physician.” Such is the case as collected by Mr. Randolph from the letter of the Executive of S. C. The questions which arise upon it are 1. whether it be a charge of high misdemesnor within the meaning of the 4 art: of Confederation. 2. whether in expounding the terms high misdemesnor, the law of S. Carolina, or the British law as in force in the U. S. before the Revolution ought to be the standard. 3. if it be not a casus fœderis what the law of nations exacts of Virginia? 4. if the law of nations contains no adequate provision for such occurrences, whether the intimacy of the Union among the States, the relative position of some, and the common interest of all of them in guarding against impunity for offences which can be punished only by the jurisdiction within which they are committed, do not call for some supplemental regulations on this subject? Mr. R. thinks Virginia not bound to surrender the fugitive untill she be convinced of the facts, by more substantial information, & of its amounting to a high misdemesnor, by inspection of the law of S. C. which & not the British law ought to be the criterion. His reasons are too long to be rehearsed.
I know not my dear sir what to reply to the affectionate invitation which closes your letter.1 I subscribe to the justness of your general reflections I feel the attractions of the particular situation you point out to me. I cannot altogether renounce the prospect: still less can I as yet embrace it. It is very far from being improbable that a few years more may prepare me for giving such a destiny to my future life; in which case the same or some equally convenient spot may be commanded by a little augmentation of price. But wherever my final lot may fix me be assured that I shall ever remain, with the sincerest affection & esteem,
Yr. friend and servant.
TO THOMAS JEFFERSON.mad. mss.
Orange April 25th 1784.
Your favor of the 16th. of March came to hand a few days2before Mazzei called on me. His plan was to have proceeded hence directly to Annapolis. My conversation led him to premise a visit to Mr. Henry, from whence he proposed to repair to Richmond,and close his affairs with the Executive. Contrary to my expectation he returned hither on thursday last, proposing to continue his circuit through Gloucester, York, and Williamsburg, recommended by Mr. Henry, for obtaining from the former members of the Council certain facts relating to his appointment, of which the vouchers have been lost. This delay, with the expectation of your adjournment, will probably prevent his visit to Congress. Your letter gave me the first information both of his views towards a Consulate and of his enmity towards Franklin. The first was not betrayed to me by any conversation either before or after I made known to him the determination of Congress to confine such appointments to natives of America. As to the second he was unreserved alledging at the same time that the exquisite cunning of the old fox has so enveloped his iniquity, that its reality cannot be proved by those who are thoroughly satisfied of it. It is evident, from several circumstances stated by himself that his enmity has been embittered if not wholly occasioned by incidents of a personal nature. Mr. Adams is the only public man whom he thinks favourably of, or seems to have associated with, a circumstance which their mutual characters may perhaps account for. Notwithstanding these sentiments towards Franklin & Adams his hatred of England remains unabated, & does not exceed his partiality to France, which with many other considerations which need not be pointed out, persuade me that however dreadful an actual visit from him might be to you in a personalview, it would not produce the public mischiefs you apprehend from it. By his interview with Mr. Henry, I learn that the present politics of the latter comprehend very friendly views towards the confederacy, a wish tempered with much caution for an amendment of our constitution, a patronage of the payment of British debts, and of a scheme of general assessment.
The want of both a Thermometer & Baror. had determined me to defer a meteorological diary till I could procure these instruments. Since the rect. of your letter I have attended to the other columns.
I hope the letter which had not reached you at the date of your last, did not altogether miscarry. On the 16 of March I wrote you fully on sundry points. Among others I suggested to your attention the case of the Potowmac, having in my eye the river below the head of navigation. It will be well I think to sound the ideas of Maryland also, as to the upper parts of the N. branch of it. The policy of Baltimore will probably thwart as far as possible, the opening of it; & without a very favorable construction of the right of Virginia, and even the privilege of using the Maryland Bank, it would seem that the necessary works could not be accomplished.
Will it not be good policy to suspend further Treaties of Commerce, till measures shall have taken place in America which may correct the idea in Europe of impotency in the fœderal Govt. in matters of Commerce? Has Virginia been seconded by any other State in her proposition for arming Congress with power to frustrate the unfriendly regulations of G. B. with regard to her W. India islands? It is reported here that the late change of her ministers has revived the former liberality which seemed to prevail on that subject. Is the Impost gaining or losing ground among the States? Do any considerable payments come into the Continl. Treasury? Does the settlement of the public accts. make any comfortable progress? Has any resolution been taken by Congress touching the old Contl. currency? Has Maryland foreborne to take any steps in favour of George Town? Can you tell me whether any question in the Court of Appeals, has yet determined whether the war ceased on our coast on the 3d of March or the 3d of April? The books which I was told were still at the place left by Mr. W. Maury, had been sent away at [the] time Mr. L. Grymes informed of them.
Mr. Mazzei tells me that a subterraneous city has been discovered in Siberia, which appears to have been once populous & magnificent. Among other curiosities it contains an equestrian Statue around the neck of which was a golden chain 200 feet in length, so exquisitely wrought that Buffon inferred from a specimen of 6 feet sent him by the Empress of Russia, that no artist in Paris could equal the workmanship. Mr. Mazzei saw the specimen in the hands of Buffon & heard him give this opinion of it. He heard read at the same time a letter from the Empress to Buffon in which she desired the present to be considered as a tribute to the man to whom Nat: Hist: was so much indebted. Monsr. Faujas de St. Fond thought the city was between 72 & 74° N. L. the son of Buffon between 62 & 64° Mr. M. being on the point of departure had no opportunity of ascertaining the fact. If you should have had no better account of the discovery this will not be unacceptable to you & will lead you to obtain one.
I propose to set off for Richmond towards the end of this week. The election in this County was on Thursday last. My colleague is Mr. Charles Porter
I am, &c.
TO JAMES MADISON.mad. mss.
Richmond May 13, 1784.
The Spectacles herewith inclosed came to my hands yesterday with information that the pr. first sent were forwarded by mistake. It will however give my mother a double chance of suiting herself. I wish the pr. which may not be preferred to be sent down to me by the earliest opportunity unless they should suit yourself & you choose to keep them, as I am desired by the maker to return them in case they shd. not be wanted. We did not make a House till Wednesday & of course are but just beginning the business of the Session. Mr. Jefferson has been appd. an associate with Dr. F. & Mr. Adams in forming coercial Treaties and will proceed immediately to Europe. He takes the place of Mr. Jay who is returning to America & who is to be the Secretary of F. affairs if he will accept the office. I do not find that S. Jones is as yet here, & I suspend the sale of the Tobo. with a hope of its further rise. 38/. I believe may now be got, but 40/. is generally expected. I am your
TO THOMAS JEFFERSON.mad. mss.
Richmond, May 15, 1784.
Your favor of the 7th. inst. with another pr. of spectacles inclosed came safe to hand on thursday last. I shall have the person for whose use they were intended take choice of the most suitable & will return the other pr. to Mr. Dudley by the first conveyance, unless I meet with a purchaser which I do not expect. The arrangement which is to carry you to Europe has been made known to me by Mr. Short who tells me he means to accompany or follow you. With the many reasons which make this event agreeable, I cannot but mix some regret that your aid towards a revisal of our State Constitution will be removed. I hope however for your licence to make use of the ideas you were so good as to confide to me, so far as they may be necessary to forward the object. Whether any experiment will be made this session is uncertain. Several members with whom I have casually conversed give me more encouragemt. than I had indulged. As Col: Mason remains in private life, the expediency of starting the idea will depend much on the part to be expected from R. H. L. & P. H. The former is not yet come to this place, nor can I determine any thing as to his politics on this point. The latter arrived yesterday, & from a short conversation I find him strenuous for invigorating the federal Govt though without any precise plan, but have got no explanations from him as to our internal Govt. The general train of his thoughts seemed to suggest favorable expectations. We did not make a house till Wednesday last, & have done nothing yet but arrange ye committees & receive petitions. The former Speaker was re-elected without opposition. If you will either before or after your leaving America point out the channel of communication with you in Europe, I will take the pleasure of supplying you from time [to time] with our internal transactions, as far as they may deserve your attention, & expect that you will command every other service during yr absence which it may be in my power to render. Wishing you every success & happiness, I am, Dr sir,
Your affecte. friend
TO JAMES MADISON.mad. mss.
Richmond June 5th. 1784.
I have disposed of the tobacco entrusted to me for 40/ per ct. but receive in hand no more than will be delivered by Mr. Craig. The residue will be paid before I leave this place. I inclose a draught on S. J. from Col. Harvey, for £200 for which I have credited Mr. Anderson on his bond. Mr. Anderson could not pay the balance now, but expects to do it shortly. The draught & the remittance, will I hope with such addition as you will be able to make, redeem your bond out of the hands of Mr. Jones. I have applied to Genl. Wood for Majr. Hite’s warrant. He promises to get it if possible, before Mr. Craig sets out. If he does it will be forwarded. I have laid Majr. Lee’s case before the House, and it has been referred to the committee of propositions. The mass of business before this Committee & my avocations from it to other Committees have delayed it hitherto. Having but a moment to write this I must refer to Mr. Craig for the news of the session. The House of Delegates have agreed to postpone the June tax till Jany.. It is not improbable that the Senate may require ½ to be collected at an earlier period. Mr. Winslow will probably be glad to be apprized of these circumstances. Remember me affecty. to the family & accept of the dutiful respects of your son.
TO JAMES MADISON.mad. mss.
Richmond June 24, 84.
Your letter by Capt: Cowherd with that of my brother’s have been just put into my hand. I shall leave to him the sale of the Tobo belonging to Capt. Conway & Ambrose; not being at leisure myself to do it before he proposes to set out. I think it will be well to accept of Mr. Lawson’s offer of the Madeira. I shall do the best I can towards satisfying the Treasury on acct. of Mr. Winslow. Majr. Lee’s warrant has been ordered by the assembly, but Mr. Harvey being a little puzzled by the peculiarity of the case, could not make it out immediately on my first application, & I have not time now to repeat it. I hope the delay will not be inconvenient to Majr Lee. Much time has been lately spent by the assembly in abortive efforts for amendment of the constitution,1 and fulfilling the Treaty of peace in the article of British debts.1 The residue of the business will not be completed till next week. If my brother W. is at leisure as before, I beg him to bring down the chair for me to be here by Wednesday next.
I am your dutiful son.
TO THOMAS JEFFERSON.mad. mss.
Richmond, July 3d, 1784.
The Assembly adjourned the day before yesterday. I have been obliged to remain here since on private business for my Countrymen with the Auditor’s and other departments. I had allotted towards the close of the Session to undertake a narration for you of the proceedings, but the hurry on which I did not sufficiently calculate, rendered it impossible, and I now find myself so abridged in time that I cannot fulfil my intentions. It will however be the less material, as Mr. Short by whom this goes, will be possessed of almost every thing I could say. I inclose you a list of the acts passed excepting a few which had not received the last Solemnity when the list went to press. Among the latter is an Act under which 1 per Ct. of the land tax will be collected this fall and will be for Congress. This with the 1½ per Ct. added to the impost on trade, will be all that Congress will obtain on their last requisition for this year. It will be much short of what they need, & of what might be expected from the declarations with which we introduced the business of the Session. These declarations will be seen in the Journal, copy of which I take for granted will be carried by Mr. Short. Another act not on the list lays duties on law proceedings, on alienations of land, on probats of Wills, administration & some other transactions which pass through official hands. This tax may be considered as the basis of a stamp-tax; it will probably yield £15 or 20,000 at present, which is set apart for the foreign Creditors of this State.
We made a warm struggle for the establishmt. of Norfolk & Alexandria as our only ports; but were obliged to add York, Tappahannock & Bermuda hundred, in order to gain any thing & to restrain to these ports foreigners only. The footing on which British debts are put will appear from the Journal noting only that a law is now in force which forbids suits for them. The minority in the Senate have protested on the subject. Having not seen the protest I must refer to Mr. Short who will no doubt charge himself with it.
A trial was made for a Convention, but in a form not the most lucky. The adverse temper of the House & particularly of Mr. Henry had determined me to be silent on the subject. But a Petition from Augusta having among other things touched on a Reform of the Govt. and R. H. L. arriving with favorable sentiments, we thought it might not be amiss to stir the matter. Mr. Stuart from Augusta accordingly proposed to the Coittee of propositions the Resolutions reported to the House as per Journal. Unluckily R. H. L. was obliged by sickness to leave us the day before the question came on in Coittee of the whole, and Mr. Henry shewed a more violent opposition than we expected. The consequence was that after two days Debate the Report was negatived, and the majority not content with stopping the measure for the present availed themselves of their strength to put a supposed bar on the Journal against a future possibility of carrying it. The members for a Convention with full powers, was not considerable for number, but included most of the young men of education & talents. A great many would have concurred in a Convention for specified amendments, but they were not disposed to be active even for such a qualified plan.
Several Petitions came forward in behalf of a genl Assessmt which was reported by the Come of Religion to be reasonable.1 The friends of the measure did not chuse to try their strength in the House. The Episcopal Clergy introduced a notable project for reestablishing their independence of the laity. The foundation of it was that the whole body should be legally incorporated, invested with the present property of the Church, made capable of acquiring indefinitely—empowered to make canons & bye-laws not contrary to the laws of the land, and incumbents when once chosen by vestries, to be immovable otherwise than by sentence of the Convocation. Extraordinary as such a project was, it was preserved from a dishonorable death by the talents of Mr. Henry. It lies over for another Session.
The public lands at Richmond not wanted for public use are ordered to be sold & the money, aided by subscriptions, to be applied to the erection of buildings on the Hill as formerly planned. This fixes the Govt, which was near being made as vagrant as that of the U. S., by a coalition between the friends of Williamsbg & Stanton. The point was carried by a small majority only.
The lands about Williamsbg are given to the University, and are worth, Mr. Tazewell thinks £10,000 to it. For the encouragement of Mr. Maury’s School, licence is granted for a lottery to raise not more than £2000.
The revisal is ordered to be printed. A frivolous œconomy restrained the no. of copies to 500. I shall secure the no you want & forward them by the first opportunity. The three Revisors’ labour was recollected on this occasion, and £500 voted for each. I have taken out your warrant in five parts, that it may be the more easily converted to use. It is to be paid out of the first unappropriated money in the Treasury, which renders its value very precarious unless the Treasurer sd be willing to endorse it “receivable-in-taxes,” which he is not obliged to do. I shall await your orders as to the disposition of it.
An effort was made for Paine & the prospect once flattering. But a sudden opposition was brewed up which put a negative on every form which could be given to the proposed remuneration. Mr. Short will give you particulars.
Col: Mason the Attorney Mr. Henderson & myself are to negociate with Maryland if she will appt Comissrs to establish regulations for the Potowmac.1
Since the receipt of yours of May 8, I have made diligent enquiry concerning the several schools most likely to answer for the education of your Nephews.1 My information has determined me finally to prefer that of Mr. W. Maury as least exceptionable. I have accordingly recommended it to Mrs. Carr, & on receiving her answer shall write to Mr. Maury pointing out your wishes as to the course of study proper for Master Carr. I have not yet made up any opinion as to the disposition of your younger nephew but shall continue my enquiries till I can do so. I find a greater deficiency of proper schools than I could have supposed, low as my expectations were on the subject. All that I can assure [you] of is that I shall pursue your wishes with equal pleasure & faithfulness.
Your hint for appropriating the slave tax to Congress fell in precisely with the opinion I had formed and suggested to those who are most attentive to our finances. The existing appropriation of half of it however to the Military debt was deemed a bar to such a measure. I wished for it because the slave holders are Tobo makers, and will generally have hard money wch alone will serve for Congress. Nothing can exceed the confusion which reigns throughout our Revenue department. We attempted but in vain to ascertain the amount of our debts, and of our resources, as a basis for something like a system. Perhaps by the next Session the information may be prepared. This confusion indeed runs through all our public affairs, and must continue as long as the present mode of legislating continues. If we cannot amend the constitution, we must at least call in the aid of accurate penmen for extending Resolutions into bills, which at present are drawn in [a] manner that must soon bring our laws and our Legislature into contempt among all orders of Citizens.
I have communicated your request from Philada. May 25, to Mr. Lane. He writes by Mr. Short & tells me he is possessed of the observations which he promised you. I found no opportunity of broaching a scheme for opening the navigation of the Potowmac under the auspices of Genl Washington, or of providing for such occurrences as the case of Marbois. With the aid of ye Attorney perhaps something may be done on the latter point next Session.
Adieu My dear friend.
TO GENERAL WASHINGTON.wash. mss.
Orange Augst 12, 1784.
I had the honor of receiving your favor of the 12th. of June during my attendance on the Legislature, and of answering it a few days, before I left Richmond. Since my return home I have been informed that the gentleman into whose hands the answer was put has mislaid or lost it, and that I cannot rely on its ever finding its way to you. I have therefore to repeat, Sir, that the sanction which your judgment gave to the propriety of rewarding the literary services of Mr. Payne,1 led to an attempt in the House of Delegates for that purpose. The proposition first made was, that he should be invested with a moity of a tract of public land known by the name of the Secretary’s lying on the Eastern Shore. The kind reception given to this proposition induced some gentlemen to urge that the whole tract containing about 500 acres might be included in the donation, as more becoming the dignity of the State, and not exceeding the merits of the object. The proposition thus enlarged passed through two readings without apprehension on the part of its friends.—On the third, a sudden attack grounded on considerations of economy and suggestions unfavourable to Mr. Payne threw the Bill out of the house. The next idea proposed was that the land in question should be sold and £2000 of the proceeds allotted to Mr. Payne to be laid out in the purchase of a farm if he should think fit. This was lost by a single vote. Whether a succeeding Session may resume the matter, and view it in a different light, is not for me to say. Should exertions of genius which have been everywhere admired, and in America unanimously acknowledged, not save the author from indigence & distress, the loss of national character will hardly be balanced by the savings at the Treasury.
With the highest respect &c.
TO THOMAS JEFFERSON.mad. mss.
Orange Aug 20, 1784.
Your favor of the 1st. July written on the eve of your embarcation from Boston was safely delivered by your servant Bob about the 20th. of the same month. Along with it I recd. the pamphlet on the W. India trade, and a copy of Deane’s letters. My last was written from Richmond on the adjournment of the Genl. Assembly & put into the hands of Mr. Short. It contained a cursory view of legislative proceedings, referring to the bearer for a more circumstancial one. Since the adjournment I have been so little abroad that I am unable to say with certainty how far those proceedings harmonize with the vox populi. The opinion of some who have better means of information is that a large majority of the people either from a sense of private justice or of national faith, dislike the footing on which British debts are placed. The proceedings relative to an amendment of the State Constitution seem to interest the public much less than a friend to the scheme would wish. The act which produces most agitation and discussion is that which restrains foreign trade to enumerated ports. Those who meditate a renewal of the old plan of British Monopoly & diffusive credit, or whose mercantile arrangements might be disturbed by the innovation, with those whose local situations give them, or are thought to give them an advantage in large vessels coming up the rivers to their usual stations, are busy in decoying the people into a belief that trade ought in all cases to be left to regulate itself, that to confine it to particular ports is to renounce the boon with which Nature has favored our country, and if one sett of men are to be importers & exporters, another set to be carryers between the mouths & heads of the rivers & a third retailers, trade, as it must pass through so many hands all taking a profit, must in the end come dearer to the people than if the simple plan should be continued which unites these several branches in the same heads. These & other objections, tho’ unsound, are not altogether unplausible, and being propagated with more zeal and pains by those who have a particular interest to serve than proper answers are by those who regard the general interest only, make it very probable that the measure may be rescinded before it is to take effect. Should it escape such a fate, it will be owing to a few striking and undeniable facts, namely, that goods are much dearer in Virginia, than in the States where trade is drawn to a general mart, that even goods brought from Philada. and Baltimore to Winchester & other W. & S. W. parts of Virginia are retailed cheaper than those imported directly from Europe are sold on tide water; that generous as the present price of our Tobo. appears, the same article has currently sold 15 or 20 per Ct. at least higher in Philada. where being as far from the ultimate market it cannot be intrinsically worth more; that scarce a single vessel from any part of Europe, other than the British Dominions, comes into our ports, whilst vessels from so many other parts of Europe, resort to other ports of America, almost all of them too in pursuit of the Staple of Virginia. The exemption of our own citizens from the restriction is another circumstance that helps to parry attacks on the policy of it. The warmest friends to the law were averse to this discrimination which not only departs from its principle, but gives it an illiberal aspect to foreigners, but it was a necessary concession to prevailing sentiments. The like discrimination between our own citizens & those of other States contrary to the fœderal articles is an erratum which was omitted to be rectified, but will no doubt be so. Notwithstanding the languor of our direct trade with Europe, this Country has indirectly tasted some of the fruits of Independence. The price of our last crop of Tobo. has been on James River from 36/ to 42/6 per Ct. & has brought more specie into the Country than it ever before contained at one time. The price of hemp however has been reduced as much by the peace as that of Tobo. has been raised, being sold I am told as low as 20/ per Ct. beyond the mountains. Our crops of wheat have been rather scanty, owing partly to the rigors of the winter, partly to an insect,1 which in many places has destroyed whole fields of that grain. The same insect has since the harvest fallen upon the Corn with considerable damage; but without some very unusual disaster to that article the crop will be exuberant, & will afford plentiful supplies for the W. India Islands if their European Masters will no longer deny themselves the benefit of such a trade with us. The crop of the Tobacco now on the ground will if the weather continues favorable be tolerably good, though much shortened on the whole by the want of early seasons for transplanting & an uncommon number of the insects which prey upon it in its different stages. It will be politic I think for the people here to push the culture of this article whilst the price keeps up, it becoming more apparent every day that the richness of soil & fitness of climate on the Western waters will in a few years, both reduce the price & engross the culture of it. This event begins to be generally foreseen & increases the demand greatly for land on the Ohio. What think you of a guinea an acre being already the price for choice tracts with sure titles?
Nothing can delay such a revolution with regard to our staple, but an impolitic & perverse attempt in Spain to shut the mouth of the Mississippi against the inhabitants above. I say delay, because she can no more finally stop the current of trade down the river than she can that of the river itself. The importance of this matter is in almost every mouth. I am frequently asked what progress has been made towards a treaty with Spain & what may be expected from her liberality on this point, the querists all counting on an early ability in the western settlements to apply to other motives if necessary.1 My answers have both from ignorance & prudence been evasive. I have not thought fit however to cherish unfavorable impressions, being more & more led by revolving the subject, to conclude that Spain will never be so mad as to persist in her present ideas. For want of better matter for correspondence, I will state the grounds on which I build my expectations.
First. 1Apt as the policy of nations is to disregard justice and the general rights of mankind I deem it no small advantage that these considerations are in our favour. They must be felt in some degree by the most corrupt councils on a question whether the interest of millions shall be sacrificed to views concerning a distant and paltry settlement; they are every day acquiring weight from the progress of philosophy and civilization and they must operate on those nations of Europe who have given us a title to their friendly offices or who may wish to gain a title to ours.
Secondly. May not something be hoped from the respect which Spain may feel for consistency of character on an appeal to the doctrine maintained by herself in the year 1609, touching the scheld, or at least from the use which may be made of that fact by the powers disposed to favor our views.
Thirdly. The interest of Spain at least ought to claim her attention. (1) A free trade down the Mississippi would make new Orleans one of the most flourishing emporiums in the world and deriving its happiness from the benevolence of Spain would feel a firm loyalty to her government. At present it is an expensive establishment settled chiefly by French, who hate the government which oppresses them, who already covet a trade with the upper country, will become every day more sensible of the rigor which denies it to them and will join in any attempt which may be made against their master. (2) A generous policy on the part of Spain towards the U. S. will be the cement of friendship & lasting peace with them. A contrary one will produce immediate heart burnings and sow the seeds of inevitable hostility. The U. S. are already a power not to be despised by Spain the time cannot be distant when, in spite of al precautions the safety of her possessions in this quarter of the globe must depend more on our peaceableness than her own power. (3) In another view it is against the interest of Spain to throw obstacles in the way of our Western settlements. The part she took during the late war shews that she apprehended less from the power growing up in her neighborhood in a state of independence than as an instrument in the hands of Great Britain. If in this shecalculated on the impotence of the U. S. when dismembered from the British empire she saw but little way into futurity; if on the pacific temper of republics unjust irritations on her part will soon prove to her that these have like passions with other governments.—her permanent security seems to lie in the complexity of our federal government and the diversity of interests among the members of it which render offensive measures improbable in council and difficult in execution. If such be the case when thirteen States compose the system ought she not to wish to see the number enlarged to three and twenty? A source of temporary security to her is our want of naval strength; ought she not, then, to favor those emigrations to the Western land which, as long as they continue will leave no supernumerary hands for the sea.
Fourthly. Should none of these circumstances affect her councils she cannot surely so far disregard the usage of nations as to contend that her possessions at the mouth of the Mississippi justify a total denial of the use of it to the inhabitants above when possessions much less disproportionate at the mouth of other rivers have been admitted only as a title to a moderate toll. The case of the Rhine the Maese & the Scheld, as of Elbe and Oder are if I mistake not in point here. How far other rivers may afford parallel cases I cannot say. That of the Mississippi is probably the strongest in the world.
Fifthly. Must not the general interest of Europe in all cases influence the determinations of any particular nation in Europe and does not that interest in the present case clearly lie on our side. (1) All the principal powers have, in a general view more to gain than to lose by denying a right of those who hold the mouths of rivers to intercept a communication with those above. France Gr Brit and Sweden have no opportunity of exerting such a right, and must wish a free passage for their merchandize in every country Spain herself has no such opportunity and has besides three of her principal rivers one of them the seat of her metropolis running thro’ Portugal. Russia can have nothing to lose by denying this pretension and is bound to do so in favor of her great rivers the Neiper, the Niester and the Don which mouth in the black sea, and of the passage thro’ the Dardanelles which she extorted from the Turks. The Emperor in common with the inland States of Germany and moreover by his possessions on the Maese and the Scheld, has a similar interest. The possessions of the King of Prussia on the Rhine, the Elbe, and the Oder, are pledges for his orthodoxy. The U. Ps. hold it is true, the mouths of the Maese the Rhine and the Scheld but a general freedom of trade is so much their policy and they now carry on so much of it through the channel of rivers flowing thro’ different dominions that their weight can hardly be thrown into the wrong scale. The only powers that can have an interest in opposing the American doctrine are the Ottoman which has already given up the point to Russia, Denmark which is suffered to retain the entrance of the Baltic Portugal whose principal rivers head in Spain, Venice which holds the mouth of the Po; and Dantzick which commands that of the Vistula if it is yet to be considered as a sovereign City. The prevailing disposition of Europe on this point once frustrated an attempt of Denmark to exact a toll at the mouth of the Elbe by means of a fort on the holstein side, which commands it. The fact is mentioned in Salmon’s gazetteer, under the head of Cluestadt. I have no opportunity of ascertaining the circumstances of the case, or of discovering like cases. (2) In a more important view, the settlement of the Western country which will much depend on the free use of the Mississippi, will be beneficial to all nations who either directly or indirectly trade with the U. S. By a free expansion of our people the establishment of internal manufactures will not only be long delayed but the consumption of foreign manufactures long continue increasing; and at the same time, all the productions of the American soil required by Europe in return for her manufactures, will proportionably increase. The vacant land of the United States lying on the waters of the Mississippi is perhaps equal in extent to the land actually settled. If no check be given to emigrations from the latter to the former, they will probably keep pace at least with the increase of our people, till the population of both becomes nearly equal. For twenty or twenty-five years we shall consequently have as few internal manufactures in proportion to our numbers as at present and at the end of that period our imported manufactures will be doubled. It may be observed too, that as the market for these manufactures will first increase, and the provision for supplying it will follow the price of supplies will naturally rise in favor of those who manufacture them. On the other hand as the demand for the tobacco indigo rice corn &c produced by America for exportation will neither precede nor keep pace with their increase the price must naturally sink in favor also of those who consume them. Reverse the case by supposing the use of the Mississippi denied to us and the consequence is that many of our supernumerary hands who in the former case would be husbandmen on the waters of the Mississippi, will on the latter supposition be manufacturers on those of the Atlantic and even those who may not be discouraged from seating the vacant lands will be obliged by the want of vent for the produce of the soil and of the means of purchasing foreign manufactures to manufacture in a great measure for themselves. Should Spain yield the point of the navigation of the Mississippi, but at the same time refuse us the use of her shores, the benefit will be ideal only. I have conversed with several persons who have a practical knowledge of the subject, all of whom assure me that not only the right of fastening to the Spanish shore, but that of holding an entrepot in our own, or of using New Orleans as a free port, is essential to a trade thro’ that channel. It has been said that sea vessels can get up as high as latitude thirty-two to meet the river craft, but it will be with so much difficulty and disadvantage as to amount to a prohibition. The idea has also been suggested of large magazines constructed for floating; but if this expedient were otherwise admissible the hurricanes which in that quarter frequently demolish edifices on land forbid the least confidence in those which would have no foundation but water. Some territorial privileges therefore seem to be as indispensable to the use of the river as this is to the prosperity of the western country. A place called “The Englishman’s turn,” on the island of about six leagues below the town of New O., is I am told the fittest for our purpose, & that the lower side of the peninsula is the best. Batonrouge is also mentioned as a convenient station and point coupé as the highest to which vessels can ascend with tolerable ease. Information however of this from men who judge from a general and superficial view only can never be received as accurate. If Spain be sincerely disposed to gratify us, I hope she will be sensible it cannot be done effectually without allowing a previous survey and deliberate choice. Should it be impossible to obtain from her a portion of ground by other means, would it be unadvisable to attempt it by purchase. The price demanded could not well exceed the benefit to be obtained, and a reimbursement of the public advance might easily be provided for by the sale to individuals, and the conditions which might be annexed to their tenures. Such a spot could not fail in a little time to equal in value the same extent in London or Amsterdam. The most intelligent of those with whom I have conversed think that on whatever footing our trade may be allowed very judicious provision will be necessary for a fair adjustment of disputes between the Spaniards and the Americans disputes which must be not only noxious to trade but tend to embroil the two nations. Perhaps a joint tribunal, under some modification or other might answer the purpose. There is a precedent I see for such anestablishment in the twenty-first article of the treaty of Munster in 1648, between Spain and the U. N. I am informed that, sometime after New O. passed into the hands of Spain her Governor forbid all British vessels navigating under the treaty of Paris to fasten to the shore and caused such as did so to be cut loose. In consequence of this practice a British frigate went up near the town fastened to the shore and set out guards to fire on any who might attempt to cut her loose. The Governor after trying in vain to remove the frigate by menaces acquiesced after which British vessels indiscriminately used the shore and even the residence of British Merchants in the town of New O., trading clandestinely with the Spaniards as well as openly with their own people, [was] winked at. The treaty of 1763 stipulated to British subjects as well as I recollect no more than the right of navigating the river and if that of using was admitted under that stipulation, the latter right must have been admitted to be included in the former.
When you were about leaving America as a Coissr for peace you intimated to me that a report was in circulation of your being a party to jobs for Kentucky lands and authorized me to contradict the report. I have some reason to believe that the credit of your name has been made use of by some who are making purchases or locations in that quarter. If they have done it without sanction it may not be amiss to renew my authority.1
In consequence of my letter to Mrs. Carr I have been called on by your elder Nephew, who is well satisfied with the choice made of Williamsbg for his future studies. I have furnished him with letters to my acquaintance there & with a draught on your Steward for £12. He will be down by the opening of Mr. Maury’s school at the close of the vacation, which lasts from the beginning of Augst to the end of Septr. I have the greater hopes that the preference of this School will turn out a proper one, as it has recd. the approbation of the literary gentlemen of Williamsbg & will be periodically examined by Mr. Wythe & others. Your younger Nephew is with Majr Callis, who will keep [school?] some time longer, I am at a loss as yet where to fix him, but will guard as much as possible agst any idle interval. I am, very affectly, dear Sir, y friend and servt,
TO JAMES MADISON.mad. mss.
Philada. Sepr 6, 1784.
I arrived at this place the night before last only, having declined starting from Fredg. at the time I proposed when I parted with you, & having staid at Baltimore one day, at the latter place I fell in with the Marquis & had his company thus far. He is proceeding Northwd. as far as Boston from whence he goes to the Moran Treaty at Fort Stanwix and from thence returns to Virga. about the same time that I must be there. He presses me much to fall into his plan, and I am not sure that I shall decline it. It will carry me farther than I had proposed, but I shall be rewarded by the pleasure of his company and the further opportunity of gratifying my curiosity. I have nothing to add at present but that I am your affec son
TO THOMAS JEFFERSON.mad. mss.
Philada. Sepr 7th, 1784.
Some business, the need of exercise after a very sedentary period, and the view of extending my ramble into the Eastern States which I have long had a curiosity to see have brought me to this place. The letter herewith enclosed was written before I left Virginia, & brought with me for the sake of a conveyance hence. Since the date of it I have learned that Mr Short who was to be the bearer of the letter to which it refers has not yet left Richmond. The causes of his delay are unknown to me. At Baltimore I fell in with the Marquis de la Fayette returning from a visit to Mount Vernon. Wherever he passes he receives the most flattering tokens of sincere affection from all ranks. He did not propose to have left Virginia so soon but Genl Washington was about setting out on a trip to the Ohio, and cod not then accompany him on some visits as he wished to do. The present plan of the Marquis is to proceed immediately to New York, thence by Rhode Island to Boston, thence thro’ Albany to Fort Stanwix, where a treaty with the Indians is to be held the latter end of this month, thence to Virginia so as to meet the Legislature at Richmond. I have some thoughts of making this tour with him, but suspend my final resolution till I get to N. Y. whither I shall follow him in a day or two.
The relation in1 which the Marquis stands to France and America has induced me to enter into a free conversañ with him on the subject of the Mississippi. I have endeavored emphatically to impress on him that the ideas of America and of Spain irreconcileably clash that unless the mediation of France be effectually exerted, an actual rupture is near at hand that in such an event the connection between France and Spain will give the enemies of the former in America the fairest opportunity of involving her in our resentmtsagainst the latter, and of introducing Great Brit. as a party with us as against both that America cannot possibly be diverted from her object, and therefore France is bound to set every engine at work to divert Spain from hers; and that France has besides a great interest in a trade with the western country thro’ the Mississippi. I thought it not amiss also to suggest to him some of the considerations which seem to appeal to the produce of Spain. He admitted the force of everything I said told me he would write in the most [favorable] terms to the Count de Vergennes by the packet which will probably carry this and let me see his letter at N. York before he sends it. He thinks that Spain is bent on excluding us from the Mississippi and mentioned several anecdotes which happened while he was at Madrid in proof of it.
The Committee of the States have dispersed. Several of the Eastern members havg by quitting it reduced the number below a quorum, the impotent remnant thought it needless to keep together. It is not probable they will be reassembled before Novr, so that there will be an entire interregnum of the fœderal Government for some time, against the intention of Congs I apprehend, as well as against every rule of decorum.
The Marquis this moment stepped into my room & seeing my cyphers before me dropped some questions which obliged me in order to avoid reserve to let him know that I was writing to you. I said nothing on the subject but he will probably infer from our conversatn that the Mississippi is most in my thoughts.
Mrs. House charges me with a thousand compliments & kind wishes for you and Miss Patsy. We hear nothing of Mrs. Trist since her arrival at the Falls of the Ohio, on her way to N. Orleans. There is no doubt that she proceeded down the river thence, unapprized of her loss. When & how she will be able to get back since the Spaniards have shut all their ports agst the U. S., is uncertain & gives much anxiety to her friends. Browze has a windfall from his grand mother of £1000 sterling. Present my regards to Miss Patsy and to Mr. Short if he should be with you, and accept yourself Dear Sir, the sincerest affection of your friend & servant.
TO THOMAS JEFFERSON.
N. York, Octr 11, 1784.
My last dated from this place on the 14 ult: informed you of my projected trip to Fort Schuyler. I am this moment arrived so far on my return to Virginia. My past delay requires so much hurry now that I can only drop a few lines for the packet which is to sail on the 15th inst. The Marquis & myself were overtaken at Albany by Mr. de Marbois, on the same errand with ourselves. We reached Fort S. on the 29, & on the next day paid a visit to the Oneida Nation 18 miles distant. The Coissrs did not get up till the saturday following. We found a small portion only of the six nations assembled; nor was the number much increased when we quitted the scene of business. Accts however had come of deputies from more distant tribes being on the way. The Marquis was recd by the Indians with equal proofs of attachment as have been shewn him elsewhere in America. This personal attachment with their supposed predilection for his nation, and the reports propagated among them that the Alliance between F. & U. S. was transient only, led him with the sanction of the Comissrs to deliver a Speech to the Indian Chiefs coinciding with the object of the Treaty. The answers were very favorable in their general tenor. Copies of both will be sent to Mons. de Vergennes & the [n] M. de Castries by Mr. Marbois & be within the reach of your curiosity. The originals were so much appropriated to this use during my stay with the Marquis that I had no opportunity of providing copies for you. What the upshot of the Treaty will be is uncertain. The possession of the posts of Niagara &c by the British is a very inauspicious circumstance. Another is that we are not likely to make a figure otherwise that will impress a high idea of our power or opulence. These obstacles will be rendered much more embarrassing by the instructions to the Coissrs which I am told leave no space for negociation or concession, & will consequently oblige them in case of refusal in the Indians to yield the ultimate hopes of Congress to break up the Treaty. But what will be the consequence of such an emergency? Can they grant a peace without cessions of territory—or if they do must not some other price hereafter purchase them. A Truce has never I believe been introduced with the Savages nor do I suppose that any provision has been made by Congress for such a contingency. The perseverance of the British in retaining the posts1 produces various conjectures. Some suppose it is meant to enforce a fulfilment of the Treaty of peace on our part. This interpretation is said to have been thrown out on the other side. Others that it is a salve for the wound given the Savages who are made to believe the posts will not be given up till good terms shall be granted them by Congress. Others that it is the effect merely of omission by the B. Govt to send orders. Others that it is meant to fix the fur trade in the B. channel & it is even said that the Govt of Canada has a personal interest in securing a monopoly of at least the crop of this Season. I am informed by a person just from Michilimackinac that this will be greater than it has been for several seasons past, or perhaps any preceding season, & that no part of it is allowed by the British Commanders to be brought thro’ the U. S. From the same quarter I learn that the posts have been lately well provisioned for the winter, & that reliefs if not reinforcements of the garrisons will take place. Col: Monroe had passed Oswego when last heard of & was likely to execute his plan. If I have time & opportunity I will write again from Philada. for which I set out immediately; if not from Richmond. The Marqs proceeded from Albany to Boston from whence he will go via R. Island, to Virga., and be at the Assembly. Thence he returns into the N. States to embark for Europe.
I am Yrs affecly.
TO THOMAS JEFFERSON.mad. mss.
Philada. Octr. 17 1784.
On my arrival here I found that Mr. Short had passed through on his way to N. York & was there at the date of my last. I regret much that I missed the pleasure of seeing him. The inclosed was put into my hands by Mrs. House, who recdd. it after he left Philada. My two last, neither of which were in cypher, were written as will be all future ones in the same situation,1in expectation of their being read by postmasters. I am well assured that this is the fate of all letters at least to and from public persons not only in France but all the other Countries of Europe. Having now the use of my cypher I can write without restraint. In my last I gave you a sketch of what passed at Fort Schuyler during my stay there, mentioning in particular that the Marquis had made a speech to the Indians with the sanction of the Commissrs. Wolcott, Lee, Butler.1 The question will probably occur how a foreigner and a private one, could appear on the theatre of a public treaty between the U. S. & the Indian nations and how the Commissioners could lend a sanction to it. Instead of offering an opinion of the measure I will state the manner in which it was brought about. It seems that most of the Indian tribes particularly those of the Iroquois retain a strong predilection for the French and most of the latter an enthusiastic idea of the Marquis. This idea has resulted from his being a Frenchman the figure he has made during the war and the arrival of several important events which he foretold to them soon after he came to this country. Before he went to fort Schuyler it had been suggested, either in compliment or sincerity that his presence & influence might be of material service to the treaty. At albany the same thing had been said to him by general Wolcot. On his arrival at Fort S. Mr. Kirkland recommended an exertion of his influence as of essential conseqce. to the treaty, painting in the strongest colours the attachment of the Indians to his person, which seemed indeed to be verified by their caresses and the artifices employed by the British partizans to frustrate the objects of the treaty among which was a pretext that the alliance between the U. S. and France was insincere and transitory and consequently the respect of the Indians for the latter ought to be no motive for their respecting the former. Upon these circumstances the M. grounded a written message to the Commissrs. before they got up intimating his disposition to render the U. S. any service his small influence over the Indians might put in his power and desiring to know what the Commissioners would chuse him to say. The answer in Mr. Lee’s hand consisted of polite acknowledgments and information that the Commissrs. would be happy in affording him an opportunity of saying whatever he might wish forbearing to advise or suggest wt. it would be best for him to say. the M. perceived the caution but imputed it to Lee alone. As his stay was to be very short it was necessary for him to take provisional measures before the arrival of the Commissrs and particularly for calling in the Oneida Chiefs who were at their town. It fell to my lot to be consulted in his dilemma. My advice was that he should invite the chief in such a way as would give him an opportunity of addressing them publicly, if on a personal interview with the Commissioners it should be judged expedient; or of satisfying their expectations with a friendly entertainment in return for the civilities his visit to their town had met with. This advice was approved; but the Indians brought with them such ideas of his importance as no private reception would probably have been equal to. When the Commissioners arrived theM. consulted them in person. They were reserved, he was embarrassed. Finally they changed their plan and concurred explicitly in his making a Speech in form. He accordingly prepared one communicated it to the Commrs. and publicly pronounced it the Commrs. premising such an one as was thought proper to introduce his. The answer of the sachems, as well as the circumstances of the audience denoted the highest reverence for the orator. The chief of the Oneidas said that the word which he had spoken to them early in the war had prevented them from being misled to the wrong side of it. During this scene and even during the whole stay of the M. he was the only conspicuous figure. The Commissioners were eclipsed. All of them probably felt it. Lee complained to me of the immoderate stress laid on the influence of the M., and evidently promoted his departure. The M. was not insensible of it, but consoled himself with the service which he thought the Indian Speech would witness that he had rendered to the U. S. I am persuaded that the transaction is also pleasing to him in another view as it will form a bright column in the Gazettes of Europe. As it is blended with the proceedgs. of the Commrs., it will probably not be published in America very soon. The time I have lately passed with the M. has given me a pretty thorough insight into his character. With great natural frankness of temper he unites much address and very considerable talents. In his politics he says his three hobby-horses are the alliance between France and the U. S., the union of the latter and the manumission of the slaves. The two former are the dearer to him, as they are connected with his personal glory. The last does him real honor, as it is a proof of his humanity. In a word, I take him to be as amiable a man as can be imagined and as sincere an American as any Frenchman can be; one whose past services gratitude obliges us to acknowledge and whose future friendship prudence requires us to cultivate.
The Committee of the States have never reassembled. The case of Longchamps has been left both by the Legislature & Executive of this State to its Judiciary course. He is sentenced to a fine of 100 Crowns, to 2 years’ imprisonment, and Security for good behaviour for 7 years. On teusday morning I set off for Richmond, where I ought to be tomorrow, but some delays have put it out of my power. The ramble I have taken has rather inflamed than extinguished my curiosity to see the Northern and N. W. Country. If circumstances be favorable I may probably resume it next Summer. Present my compliments to Miss Patsy, for whom as well as yourself Mrs. House charges me with hers. She has lately recd. a letter from poor Mrs. Trist, every syllable of which is the language of affection itself. She had arrived safe at the habitation of her decd. Husband, but will not be able to leave that Country till the Spring at the nearest. The only happiness she says she is capable of there, is to receive proofs that her friends have not forgotten her. I do not learn what is likely to be the amount of the effects left by Mr. T. former accounts varied from 6 to 10,000 dollars.
I am my Dear Sir, Yrs very affect.
TO JAMES MONROE.mad. mss.
Richmond, Nov.—, 1784.
Your favor without date was brought by thursday’s post. It inclosed a Cypher for which I thank you & which I shall make use of as occasion may require, though from the nature of our respective situations, its chief value will be derived from your use of it. Gel Washington arrived here on sunday last, and the Marquis on thursday. The latter came from Boston in a French frigate. They have both been addressed & entertained in the best manner that circumstances would admit. These attentions and the balloting for public offices have consumed the greatest part of the past week. Mr. Jones is put into the place of Mr. Short, Mr. Roane and Mr. M. Selden are to go into those of Mr. M. Smith & Col. Christian who are the victims to that part of the Constitution which directs a triennial purgation of the Council. The vote is not to take effect till the Spring, but was made now in consequence of the discontinuance of the Spring Session. The rejected Candidates were Col. Bland, Cys Griffin, G. Webb, W. C. Nicholas, Mr. Breckenridge, Col. Carrington. The latter was within one vote of Mr. Selden, Col. B. Mr. N., & Mr. B., had as nearly as I recollect between 20 & 30 votes, Mr. G. & Mr. W. very few. Mr. H. Innes late Judge of the Kentucky Court is to succeed W[alker] D[aniel], late Attorney General in that District. His competitor was Mr. Stewart who was about 15 votes behind.
I am Dr Sir Yrs sincerely.
NOTES OF SPEECH AGAINST ASSESSMENTS FOR SUPPORT OF RELIGION. NOVEMBER — 1784.mad. mss.
Tendency of estabg Xnty—1. to project of Uniformity. 2. to penal laws for supportg it.
Progress of Gen. Assest proves this tendency.
Difference between estabg. and tolerating errour.
“True question—not Is Rel. necessy,—but
II. are Religs. Estabts necesy. for Religion? No.
1. propensity of man to Religion.
2. Experience shews Relig. corrupted by Estabts.
3. Downfall of States mentioned by Mr. H.—happened where there was estabt
4. Experience gives no model of Genl Asst
5. Case of Pa. explained—not solitary. N. J. See const. of it. R. I. N. Y. D. factions greater in S. C.
6. Case of primitive Xnty.
of Dissenters formerly.
7. Progress of Religious liberty.
1. promote emigrations from State.
2. prevent immig. into it, as asylum.
IV. Necessity of Estabt inferred from state of coy.
True causes of disease.
1. war } common to other States & produce same complts in N. E.
2. bad laws }
3. pretext from taxes.
4. state of administration of Justice.
5. transition from old to new plan.
6. policy and hopes of friends to G. Asst.
True remedies not Estabt.—but, being out of war,
1. laws to cherish virtue.
2. administration of justice.
3. personal example—associations for R.
4. By present vote, cut off hope of G. asst.
5. Education of youth.
V. Probable defects of Bill,
2. in particular.
3. What is Xnty? Courts of law to Judge.
4. What edition: Hebrew, Septuagint, or Vulgate? What copy what translation?
5. What books canonical, what apocryphal? the papists holding to be the former what protestants the latter, the Lutherans the latter what the protestants & papists ye former.
6. In what light are they to be viewed, as dictated every letter by inspiration, or the essential parts only? Or the matter in general not the words?
7. What sense the true one for if some doctrines be essential to Xnty those who reject these, whatever name they take are no Xn Society?
8. Is it Trinitarianism, Arianism, Socinianism? Is it salvation by faith or works also, by free grace or by will, &c., &c.
9. What clue is to guide [a] Judge thro’ this labyrinth when ye question comes before them whether any particular society is a Xn society?
10. Ends in what is orthodoxy, what heresy.
panegyric on it, on our side.
TO JAMES MONROE.mad. mss.
Richmond, Novr 14th, 1784.
Dear Sir,1 —
* * * The Indians begin to be unquiet we hear both on the N. W. & S. E. sides of the Ohio. The Spaniards are charged with spurring on the latter. As means of obviating the dangers, the H. of D. have resolved to authorize the Executive to Suspend the surveying of land within the unpurchased limits, & to instruct the Delegation to urge in Congs. Treaties with the Southern Indians and negociations with Spain touching the Mississipi. They also propose to set on foot surveys of Potowmac & James Rivers from their falls to their sources. But their principal attention has been & is still occupied with a scheme proposed for a Genl Asset; 47 have carried it agst 32.1 In its present form it excludes all but Xn Sects. The Presbyterian Clergy have remonstrated agst any narrow principles, but indirectly favor a more comprehensive establisht. I think the bottom will be enlarged & that a trial will be made of the practicability of the project. The Successor to Mr. H[arrison] is not yet appointed or nominated. It is in the option of Mr. H[enry], and I fancy he will not decline the service. There will be three vacancies in the Council, for which no nominations have been made. Mr. C. Griffith will probably be named, & Mr. W. Nicholas. Mr. Roane is also spoken of.
I am, Dr Sir, Yrs sincerely.
TO JAMES MONROE.mad. mss.
Richmond, Novr 27, 1784.
Your favor of the 15th inst: came to hand by thursday’s post. Mine by the last post acknowledged your preceding one. The umbrage given to the Comsrs. of the U. S. by the negociations of N. Y. with the Indians was not altogether unknown to me, though I am less acquainted with the circumstances of it than your letter supposes. The Idea which I at present have of the affair leads me to say that as far as N. Y. may claim a right of treating with Indians for the purchase of lands within her limits, she has the confederation on her side; as far as she may have exerted that right in contravention of the Genl Treaty, or even unconfidentially with the Comsrs of Congs, she has violated both duty & decorum. The fœderal articles give Congs the exclusive right of managing all affairs with the Indians not members of any State, under a proviso, that the Legislative authority of the State within its own limits be not violated. By Indians not members of a State, must be meant those, I conceive who do not live within the body of the Society, or whose Persons or property form no objects of its laws. In the case of Indians of this description the only restraint on Congress is imposed by the Legislative authority of the State.
If this proviso be taken in its full latitude, it must destroy the authority of Congress altogether, since no act of Congs. within the limits of a State can be conceived which will not in some way or other encroach upon the authority [of the] State. In order then to give some meaning to both parts of the sentence as a known rule of interpretation requires, we must restrain this proviso to some particular view of the parties. What was this view? My answer is that it was to save to the States their right of preemption of lands from the Indians. My reasons are. 1. That this was the principal right formerly exerted by the Colonies with regard to the Indians. 2. that it was a right asserted by the laws as well as the proceedings of all of them, and therefore being most familiar, wd be most likely to be in contemplation of the parties. 3. that being of most consequence to the States individually, and least inconsistent with the general powers of Congress, it was most likely to be made a ground of Compromise. 4. it has been always said that the proviso came from the Virga Delegates, who wd naturally be most vigilant over the territorial rights of their Constituents. But whatever may be the true boundary between the authority of Congs & that of N. Y., or however indiscreet the latter may have been I join entirely with you in thinking that temperance on the part of the former will be the wisest policy. I concur with you equally with regard to the ignominious secession at Annapolis. As Congs are too impotent to punish such offences, the task must finally be left to the States and experience has shewn in the case of Howel that the interposition of Congs. agst an offender instead of promoting his chastisement, may give him a significancy wch. he otherwise wd never arrive at and may induce a State to patronize an act which of their own accord they would have punished. I am sorry to find the affair of Mr. de Marb—s. taking so serious a face. As the insult was committed within the jurisdiction of Pena, I think you are right in supposing the offender could not be transferred to another jurisdiction for punishment. The proper questions therefore are 1. whether the existing law was fully put in force agst him by Pa? 2. whether due provision has been made by that State agst like contingencies? Nothing seems to be more difficult under our new Governments than to impress on the attention of our Legislatures a due sense of those duties which spring from our relations to foreign nations. Several of us have been labouring much of late in the G. Assembly here to provide for a case with which we are every day threaten’d by the eagerness of our disorderly Citizens for Spanish plunder & Spanish blood. It has been proposed to authorize Congs Whenever satisfactory proof shall be given to them by a foreign power of such a crime being committed by our Citizens within its jurisdiction as by the law of Nations call for a surrender of the Offender, & the foreign power shall actually make the demand, that the Executive may at the instance of Congs apprehend & deliver up the offender. That there are offences of that class is clearly stated by Vattel in particular, & that the business ought to pass through Congs. is equally clear. The proposition was a few days ago rejected in Coittee of the whole. To-day on the report of the Come it has been agreed to by a small majority. This is the most material question that has agitated us during the week past. The Bill for a Religious Assest has not been yet brought in. Mr. Henry the father of the scheme is gone up to his Seat for his family & will no more sit in the H. of Delegates a circumstance very inauspicious to his offspring. An attempt will be made for circuit Courts, & Mr. Jones has it in contemplation to try whether any change has taken place in the sentiments of the H. of D. on the subject of the Treaty. He will write to you by this post & I refer to him for what I may have omitted.
With sincere regard & esteem I am Dr Sir
Yr friend & servt.
TO JAMES MADISON.mad. mss.
Richd, Novr 27, 1784.
Having a moment’s time to drop you a line I inform you that the Bill for confirming surveys agst subsequent entries has been negatived by a large majority, rather on the principle that it was unnecessary & retrospective, than that it was unjust in itself. On the contrary all the principal gentlemen were of opinion that it was just, but already provided for by the law. Mr. Innes the late Judge of the Kentucky Court, in particular told me he thought such surveys could not be overset. You will have heard of the vote in favor of the Genl. Assesst. The bill is not yet brought in & I question whether it will, or if so whether it will pass. This day a vote passed without a dissent for Circuit Courts. What opposition may be made to its passage I know not. I have not yet found time to do your business at the Land Office. I expected before this to have seen my brother A. & Majr. Moore. I have been a little indisposed for a few days with a bad cold which still continues, otherwise I am well. Mr. Joseph will tell you the price of Tobo. I think it will rise.
With regards to the family
I am Dr Sir Your Affecte son.
TO JAMES MADISON.mad. mss.
Richmond, Decr. 3, 1784.
My last informed you that a vote had passed in favor of Circuit Courts. A bill has since been brought in and will shortly be considered. The difficulty of suiting it to every palate, & the many latent objections of a selfish & private nature which will shelter themselves under some plausible objections of a public nature to which every innovation is liable render the event extremely uncertain. In the Course of this week The H. of D. have agreed to pay the British debts by annual portions for 7 years disallowing interest between the 19th. of Apl. 1775 & 3d. of March 1783, the period of hostilities. It is not unlikely that the same observations above made on the Circuit Court bill may be applicable to this case. The bill for Genl.. Asst. was brought in yesterday. Its fate is equally uncertain. I inclose a copy of Treaty at Fort Stanwix which I recd. by yesterdays post. The Comissrs. were proceeding to Fort Pitt to hold another Treaty: No Congs. had been formed on the 20th. of Novr. nor much prospect of a speedy one. The British hold the N. Western Post yet & assign in justification the breach of Peace in Virga. & N. York. I am much better than at ye date of my last & with affece. respect to family remain
Yr Dutiful Son.
TO JAMES MONROE.mad. mss.
Richmond, Decr. 4. 1784.
On Saturday last a proposition was agreed to for establishing Circuit Courts throughout this Commonwealth, and yesterday a bill for that purpose was reported. On wednesday next it will undergo a discussion of the Come of the Whole. The circumstances under which it has passed thus far seem to promise a favorable issue, but the dangers which it is yet to go thro’ are formidable. They proceed from latent & interested objections which have on several former occasions proved fatal to similar attempts. The plan is pretty analogous to the Nisi prius establishmt. in England. On Tuesday sundry propositions were made by Mr. Jones in favor of the 4 art: of the Treaty of peace. They passed by a large majority with blanks as to the length of time to be given for the payment of the principal and for disallowing the interest. The former was filled up with seven years, in preference to 10, 8, 6, & 5 which were contended for on different sides. The latter with the period between Apl 19, 1775, & March 3, 1783, in preference to the period between the first date & May 1784, the date of the exchange of Ratifications. The bill will probably pass but not I fear without some improper ingredients, & particularly some conditions relative to the N. W. Posts, or the Negroes which lye without our province. The bill for the Religious Asst. was reported yesterday and will be taken up in a Come. of the whole next week. Its friends are much disheartened at the loss of Mr. Henry. Its fate is I think very uncertain. Another Act of the H. of D. during the prest. week is a direction to the Executive to carry into effect the vote of a Bust to the Marquis de la fayette, to be presented to the City of Paris, & to cause another to be procured to be set up in this Country. These resolutions are so contrived as to hide as much as possible the circumstance in the original vote of the bust being to be presented to the Marquis himself. I find by a Letter from Gl Washington that he was on the 28th Ult: just setting out to accompany the Marquis to Annapolis & thence to Baltimore. The latter may therefore soon be expected at Trenton. He has been much caressed here as well as everywhere else in his Tour, and I make no doubt he will leave Congs. with equal reason to be pleased with his visit. I meant to have sent you a copy of the Resolutions touching the Busts, but have been disappointed in getting one. They were offered by Mr. Jones & agreed to unanimously, as they no doubt will also be in the Senate. Wishing you all happiness, I am