Front Page Titles (by Subject) TO AMBROSE MADISON. 1 - The Writings, vol. 2 (1783-1787)
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TO AMBROSE MADISON. 1 - 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 AMBROSE MADISON.1
Richmond, Decr. 15, 1785.
I wrote to my father a day or two ago by Col: Burnley to which I refer. The principal step since taken by the H. of Delegates has been the rejection of a bill on which the assize scheme depended. The majority consisted of 63 agst. 49. Yesterday the vote of the Speaker decided in the affirmative a resolution to repeal the act which permits masters to free their slaves.2 I hope the bill which must follow on the subject may be less successful. Many who concurred in the Resolution will probably be content finally with some amendment of the law in favor of creditors. Should it prove otherwise this retrograde step with regard to an emancipation will not only dishonor us extremely but hasten the event which is dreaded by stimulating the efforts of the friends to it. The residue of the Revisal from No. 65 will be put off, except the Religious Bill and a few others. Leave was given yesterday for a bill in favor of British Creditors, but not without proofs that it will be opposed in every stage of its progress thro’ the House. The price of Tobo. is not much, if at all changed. . . .
[1 ]From the New York Public Library (Lenox) MSS. A copy of the letter was printed in the Nation July 19, 1894.
[2 ]The act was passed at the May session, 1782, of the General Assembly: “Whereas application hath been made to this present general assembly, that those persons who are disposed to emancipate their slaves may be empowered so to do, and the same hath been judged expedient under certain restrictions: Be it therefore enacted, That it shall hereafter be lawful for any person, by his or her last will and testament, or by any other instrument in writing, under his or her hand and seal, attested and proved in the county court by two witnesses, . . . to emancipate and set free, his or her slaves, or any of them, who shall thereupon be entirely and freely discharged from the performance of any contract entered into during servitude, and enjoy as full freedom as if they had been particularly named and freed by this act.”—Hening’s Statutes at Large, xi, 39.