Front Page Titles (by Subject) 1786 - CHURCH ESTABLISHMENT. mad. mss. TO THE HOLE THE SPEAKER & GENTLEMEN THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF VIRGINIA. (1786.) 1 - The Writings, vol. 2 (1783-1787)
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1786 - CHURCH ESTABLISHMENT. mad. mss. TO THE HOLE THE SPEAKER & GENTLEMEN THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF VIRGINIA. (1786.) 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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CHURCH ESTABLISHMENT.mad. mss.
We the subscribers members of the protestant episcopal Church claim the attention of your honourable Body to our objections to the law passed at the last Session of Assembly for incorporating the protestant Episcopal church; and we remonstrate against the said law—
Because the law admits the power of the Legislative Body to interfere in matters of Religion which we think is not included in their jurisdiction.
Because the law was passed on the petition of some of the Clergy of the Protestant Episcopal Church without any application from the other members of that Church on whom the law is to operate, and we conceive it to be highly improper that the Legislature should regard as the sense of the whole Church the opinion of a few interested members who were in most instances originally imposed on the people without their consent & who were not authorized by even the smallest part of this community to make such a proposition.
Because the law constitutes the Clergy members of a convention who are to legislate for the laity contrary to their fundamental right of chusing their own Legislators.
Because by that law the most obnoxious & unworthy Clergyman cannot be removed from a parish except by the determination of a body, one half of whom the people have no confidence in & who will always have the same interest with the minister whose conduct they are to judge of.
Because—by that law power is given to the convention to regulate matters of faith & the obsequious vestries are to engage to change their opinions as often as the convention shall alter theirs.
Because a system so absurd and servile will drive the members of the Episcopal Church over to the Sects where there will be more consistency & liberty.
We therefore hope that the wisdom & impartiality of the present assembly will incline them to repeal a law so pregnant with mischief & injustice.
TO THOMAS JEFFERSON.mad. mss.
Richmond, Jan. 22d, 1786.
My last dated Novr 15th, from this place answered yours of May 11th, on the subject of your printed notes.1 I have since had opportunities of consulting other friends on the plan you propose, who concur in the result of the consultations which I transmitted you. Mr. Wythe’s idea seems to be generally approved, that the copies destined for the University should be dealt out by the discretion of the Professors, rather than indiscriminately and at once put into the hands of the students, which, other objections apart, would at once exhaust the Stock. A vessel from Havre de Grace brought me a few days ago two Trunks of Books, but without letter or catalogue attending them. I have forwarded them to Orange without examining much into the contents, lest I should miss a conveyance which is very precarious at this season, and be deprived of the amusement they promise me for the residue of the winter.
Our Assembly last night closed a Session of 97 days, during the whole of which except the first seven, I have shared in the confinement. It opened with a very warm struggle for the chair between Mr Harrison & Mr. Tyler which ended in the victory of the former by a majority of 6 votes. This victory was shortly afterwards nearly frustrated by an impeachment of his election in the County of Surry. Having failed in his native County of Charles City, he abdicated his residence there, removed into the County of Surry where he had an estate, took every step which the interval would admit, to constitute himself an inhabitant, and was in consequence elected a representative. A charge of non-residence was nevertheless brought against him, decided agst. him in the comittee of privileges by the casting vote of the Chairman, and reversed in the House by a very small majority. The election of Docr Lee was attacked on two grounds. 1st, of non-residence, 2dly, of holding a lucrative office under Congs, on the 1st he was acquitted, on the 2d, expelled, by a large majority. The revised Code was brought forward pretty early in the Session. It was first referred to Come of Cts of Justice, to report such of the bills as were not of a temporary nature, and on their report coitted to comtee of the whole. Some difficulties were raised as to the proper mode of proceeding, and some opposition made to the work itself. These however being surmounted, and three days in each week appropriated to the task, we went on slowly but successfully, till we arrived at the bill concerning crimes and punishments. Here the adversaries of the Code exerted their whole force, which being abetted by the impatience of its friends in an advanced stage of the Session, so far prevailed that the farther prosecution of the work was postponed till the next Session. The operation of the bills passed is suspended until the beginning of 1787 so that if the Code sd be resumed by the next Assembly and finished early in the Session, the whole system may commence at once. I found it more popular in the Assembly than I had formed any idea of, and though it was considered by paragraphs and carried through all the customary forms, it might have been finished at one Session with great ease, if the time spent on motions to put it off and other dilatory artifices had been employed on its merits. The adversaries were the Speaker, Thruston, and Mercer, who came late in the Session into a vacancy left by the death of Col. Brent, of Stafford, and contributed principally to the mischief.1 The titles in the enclosed list will point out to you such of the bills as were adopted from the Revisal. The alterations which they underwent are too numerous to be specified, but have not materially vitiated the work. The bills passed over were either temporary ones, such as being not essential as parts of the system may be adopted at any time and were likely to impede it at this, or such as have been rendered unnecessary by Acts passed since the epoch at which the revisal was prepared. After the completion of the work at this Session was despaired of it was proposed and decided that a few of the bills following the bill concerning crimes and punishments should be taken up as of peculiar importance. The only one of these which was pursued into an Act is the Bill concerning Religious freedom. The steps taken throughout the Country to defeat the Genl Assessment had produced all the effect that could have been wished. The table was loaded with petitions and remonstrances from all parts against the interposition of the Legislature in matters of Religion. A general convention of the Presbyterian church prayed expressly that the bill in the Revisal might be passed into a law, as the best safeguard short of a Constitutional one, for their religious rights. The bill was carried thro’ the H. of Delegates, without alteration. The Senate objected to the preamble, and sent down a proposed substitution of the 16th art: of the Declaration of Rights. The H. of D. disagreed. The Senate insisted, and asked a Conference. Their objections were frivolous indeed. In order to remove them as they were understood by the Managers of the H. of D. The preamble was sent up again from the H. of D. with one or two verbal alterations. As an amendment to these the Senate sent down a few others, which as they did not affect the substance though they somewhat defaced the composition, it was thought better to agree to than to run further risks, especially as it was getting late in the Session and the House growing thin. The enacting clauses past without a single alteration, and I flatter myself have in this country extinguished forever the ambitious hope of making laws for the human mind.
Acts not included in the Revisal.
For the naturalization of the Marquis de la fayette.This was brought forward by Col: Henry Lee Jr., and passed without opposition. It recites his merits towards this Country, and constitutes him a Citizen of it.
To amend the act vesting in Genl Washington certain shares in the River Companies.The donation presented to Genl W embarrassed him much, on one side, he disliked the appearance of slighting the bounty of his Country and of an ostentatious disinterestedness, on the other, an acceptance of reward in any shape was irreconcileable with the law he had imposed on himself. His answer to the Assembly declined in the most affectionate terms the emolument alloted to himself, but intimated his willingness to accept it so far as to dedicate it to some public and patriotic use. This Act recites the original act & his answer, and appropriates the future revenue from the shares to such public objects as he shall appoint. He has been pleased to ask my ideas with regard to the most proper objects. I suggest, in general only, a partition of the fund between some institution which would please the philosophical world, and some other which may be of a popular cast. If your knowledge of the several institutions in France or elsewhere should suggest models or hints, I could wish for your ideas on the case, which no less concern the good of the Commonwealth than the character of its most illustrious citizen.
An act empowering the Governor & Council to grant conditional pardons in certain cases.Some of the malefactors consigned by the Executive to labour, brought the legality of such pardons before the late Court of Appeals who adjudged them to be void. This Act gives the Executive a power in such cases for one year. It passed before the bill in the revisal on this subject was taken up, and was urged against the necessity of passing it at this Session. The expiration of this act at the next Session will become an argument on the other side.
An act giving powers to the Governor and Council in certain cases.This Act empowers the Executive to confine or send away suspicious aliens, on notice from Congs that their sovereigns have declared or commenced hostilities agst the U. S., or that ye latter have declared War such sovereigns. It was occasioned by the arrival of two or three Algerines here, who, having no apparent object, were suspected of an unfriendly one. The Executive caused them to be brought before them, but found themselves unarmed with power to proceed. These adventurers have since gone off.
Act for safe keeping land papers of the Northern Neck.Abolishes the quitrent, and removes the papers to the Register’s office.
Requires them to clear their dockets quarterly. It amounts to nothing and is chiefly the result of efforts to render Courts of Assize unnecessary.Act for reforming County Courts.
The latter act passed at the last Session required sundry supplemental regulations to fit it for operation, an attempt to provide these which involved the merits of the innovation drew forth the united exertions of its adversaries.Act to suspend the operation of the Act establishing Courts of Assize. On the question on the supplemental bill they prevailed by 63 votes agst 49. The best that could be done in this situation was to suspend instead of repealing the original act, which will give another chance to our successors for introducing the proposed reform. The various interests opposed to it, will never be conquered without considerable difficulty.
Resolution proposing a general meeting of com from the States to consider and recoend a fœderal plan for regulating coerce, and appointg as Com from Va, Ed Randolph, Js Madison, Jr., Walter Jones, St G. Tucker, M. Smith, G. Mason, & David Ross, who are to counicate the proposal & suggest time & place of meeting.The necessity of harmony in the coercial regulations of the States has been rendered every day more apparent. The local efforts to counteract the policy of G. B., instead of succeeding, have in every instance recoiled more or less on the States which ventured on the trial. Notwithstanding these lessons, the Merchts of this State, except those of Alexandria and a few of the more intelligent individuals elsewhere, were so far carried away by their jealousies of the Northern Marine as to wish for a navigation Act confined to this State alone. In opposition to those narrow ideas the printed proposition herewith inclosed was made. As printed, it went into a Comme of the whole. The alterations of the pen shew the state in which it came out. Its object was to give Congs such direct power only as would not alarm, but to limit that of the States in such manner as wd indirectly require a conformity of the plans of Congs. The renunciation of the right of laying duties on imports from other States, would amount to a prohibition of duties on imports from foreign Countries, unless similar duties existed in other States. This idea was favored by the discord produced between several States by rival and adverse regulations. The evil had proceeded so far between Connecticut and Massts that the former laid heavier duties on imports from the latter than from G. B., of which the latter sent a letter of complaint to the Executive here and I suppose to the other Executives. Without some such self-denying compact it will, I conceive be impossible to preserve harmony among the contiguous States. In the Comittee of the whole the proposition was combated at first on its general merits. This ground was however soon changed for that of its perpetual duration, which was reduced first to 25 years, then to 13 years. Its adversaries were the Speaker, Thruston, and Corbin; they were bitter and illiberal against Congress & the Northern States beyond example Thruston considered it as problematical, whether it would not be better to encourage the British than the Eastern marine Braxton and Smith were in the same sentiments, but absent at this crisis of the question. The limitation of the plan to 13 years so far destroyed its value in the judgment of its friends that they chose rather, to do nothing than to adopt it in that form. The report accordingly remained on the table uncalled for to the end of the Session. And on the last day the resolution above quoted was substituted. It had been proposed by Mr. Tyler immediately after the miscarriage of the printed proposition, but was left on the table till it was found that Several propositions for regulating our trade without regard to other States produced nothing. In this extremity The resolution was generally acceded to, not with the opposition of Corbin & Smith. The Comssrsfirst named were the Attorney, Dr Jones, and myself. In the House of D., Tucker and Smith were added, and in the Senate, Mason, Ross, and Ronald. The last does not undertake.
The port bill was attacked and nearly defeated, an amendatory bill was passed with difficulty thro’ the H. of D., and rejected in the Senate. The original one will take effect before the next Session, but will probably be repealed then. It would have been repealed at this, if its adversaries had known their strength in time and exerted it with Judgment.
A Bill was brought in for paying British debts but was rendered so inadequate to its object by alterations inserted by a Coitte of the whole that the patrons of it thought it best to let it sleep.
Several petitions (from Methodists chiefly) appeared in favor of a gradual abolition of slavery, and several from another quarter for a repeal of the law which licences private manumissions. The former were not thrown under the table, but were treated with all the indignity short of it. A proposition for bringing in a Bill conformably to the latter, was decided in the affirmative by the casting voice of the Speaker; but the bill was thrown out on the first reading by a considerable majority.
A considerable itch for paper money discovered itself, though no overt attempt was made. The partisans of the measure, among whom Mr. M. S1 may be considered as the most zealous, flatter themselves, and I fear upon too good ground, that it will be among the measures of the next session. The unfavorable balance of trade and the substitution of facilities in the taxes will have dismissed the little specie remaining among us and strengthened the common argument for a paper medium.
Act for postponing the tax of the present year and admitting facilities in payment.This tax was to have been collected in Sepr last, and had been in part actually collected in specie. Notwithstanding this and the distress of public credit, an effort was made to remit the tax altogether. The party was headed by Braxton, who was courting an appointment into the council. On the question for a third reading, the affirmative was carried by 52 agst. 42. On the final question, a vigorous effort on the negative side with a reinforcement of a few new members, threw the bill out. The victory however was not obtained, without subscribing to a postponement instead of remission, and the admission of facilities instead of Specie. The postponement too extends not only to the tax which was under collection, and which will not now come in till May, but to the tax of Sepr next which will not now be in the Treasury till the beginning of next year. The wisdom of seven Sessions will be unable to repair the mischiefs of this single act.
Act concerning the erection of Kentucky into an independent State.This was prayed for by a memorial from a Convention held in Kentucky, and passed without opposition. It contains stipulations in favor of territorial rights held under the laws of Vira, and suspends the actual separation on the decision of a Convention authorized to meet for that purpose, and on the assent of Congress. The boundary of the proposed State is to remain the same as the present boundary of the district.
Act to amend the Militia law.At the last Session of 1784 and act passed displacing all the militia officers, and providing for the appointmt of experienced men. In most counties it was carried into execution, and generally much to the advantage of ye militia. In consequence of a few petitions agst. the law as a breach of the Constitution, this act reverses all the proceedings under it, and reinstates the old officers.
Act to extend the operation of the Escheat law to the Northern Neck.From the peculiar situation of that district the Escheat law was not originally extended to it. Its extension at this time was occasioned by a bill brought in by Mr. Mercer for seizing and selling the deeded land of the late lord Fairfax on the ground of its being devised to aliens, leaving them at liberty indeed to assert their pretensions before the Court of Appeals. As the bill however stated the law & the fact, and excluded the ordinary inquest, in the face of pretensions set up even by a Citizen, (Martin,) to whom it is said the reversion is given by the will, it was opposed as exerting at least a Legislative interference in and improper influence on the Judiciary question. It was proposed to substitute the present act as an amendmt to the bill in a Committee of the whole which was disagreed to. The bill being of a popular cast went thro’ the H. of D. by a great majority. In the Senate it was rejected by a greater one, if not unanimously. The extension of the escheat law was, in consequence, taken up and passed.
“Act for punishing certain offences.”to wit, attempts to dismember the State without the consent of the Legislature. It is pointed agst the faction headed by A. C[ampbell], in the County of Washington.
Act for amending the appropriating Act.Complies with the requisition of Congs for the present year, to wit 1786. It directs 512,000 dollars, the quota of this State, to be paid before May next the time fixed by Congress, altho’ it is known that the postponement of the taxes renders the payment of a shilling impossible. Our payments last year gained us a little reputation. Our conduct this must stamp us with ignominy.
Act for regulating the Salaries of the Civil list.Reduces that of the Govrr. from £1,000 to £800, & the others some at a greater and some at a less proportion.
Meant chiefly to affect vacant land in the Northern Neck, erroneously conceived to be in great quantity and of great value.Act for disposing of waste lands on Eastern waters. The price is fixed at £25 per Hundred acres, at which not an acre will be sold.
An act imposing addl tonnage on British vessels.Amounting in the whole to 5 s. per ton.
Nothing has been yet done with N. C. towards opening a Canal thro the Dismal. The powers given to Com on our part are renewed, and some negociation will be brought about if possible. A certain interest in that State is suspected of being disinclined to promote the object, notwithstanding its manifest importance to the community at large. On Potowmack they have been at work some time. On this river they have about eighty hands ready to break ground, and have engaged a man to plan for them. I fear there is a want of skill for the undertaking that threatens a waste of labour and a discouragement to the enterprize. I do not learn that any measures have been taken to procure from Europe the aid which ought to be purchased at any price, and which might I should suppose be purchased at a moderate one.
I had an opportunity a few days ago of knowing that Mrs Carr and her family, as well as your little daughter, were well. I am apprehensive that some impediments still detain your younger nephew from his destination. Peter has been in Williamsburg, and I am told by Mr. Maury that his progress is satisfactory. He has read, under him, Horace, some of Cicero’s Orations, Greek testament, Æsop’s fables in Greek, ten books of Homer’s Iliad, & is now beginning Xenophon, Juvenal, & Livy. He has also given some attention to French.
I have paid le Maire ten guineas. He will set out in about three weeks I am told for France. Mr. Jones has promised to collect & forward by him all such papers as are in print and will explain the situation of our affairs to you. Among these will be the most important acts of the Session, & the Journal as far as it will be printed.
Mr Wm. Hays in sinking a well on the declivity of the Hill above the proposed seat of the Capitol and nearly in a line from the Capitol to Belvidere, found about seventy feet below the surface, several large bones, apparently belong to a fish not less than the Shark, and what is more singular, several fragments of potter’s ware in the stile of the Indians. Before he reached these curiosities he passed thro’ about fifty feet of soft blue clay. I have not seen the articles, having but just heard of them, & been too closely engaged; but have my information from the most unexceptionable witnesses who have. I am told by Genl Russel of Washington County, that in sinking a Salt well in that County he fell in with the hip bone of the incognitum, the socket of which was about 8 inches diameter. It was very soft in the subterraneous State, but seemed to undergo a petrefaction on being exposed to the air.
Promotions.—Edward Carrington & H. Lee, Jr., added to R. H. Lee, Js. Monroe, and Wm Grayson, in the delegation to Congress.
Carter Braxton to the Council.
Jno. Tyler to court of admiralty, in room of B. Waller, resd.
prices current.—Tobo, 23s. on James River, and proporlly elsewhere.
Wheat, 5s to 6s. per Bushel.
Corn, 18s to 20s. per Barrel.
Pork 28s to 30s pr Ct.
TO JAMES MONROE.mad. mss.
Richmond, Jany. 22d., 1786.
Your favors of the 19th. Decr and 7th Jany came both to hand by yesterdays mail. The Assembly adjourned last night after a Session of 97 days. If its importance were to be measured by a list of the laws which it has produced, all preceding Legislative merit would be eclipsed, the number in this instance amounting to 114 or 115. If we recur to the proper criterion no Session has perhaps afforded less ground for applause. Not a single member seems to be pleased with a review of what has passed. I was too hasty in informing you that an amendment of the Port bill had passed. I was led into the error by the mistake of some who told me it had passed the Senate when it had only been agreed to in a Coittee of the Senate. Instead of passing it they sent down a repeal of the old port bill by way of amendment. This was disagreed to by the H. of D. as indirectly originating. The Senate adhered & the bill was lost. An attempt was then made by the adversaries of the port measure to suspend its operation till the end of the next Session. This also was negatived so that the old bill is left as it stood without alteration. Defective as it is particularly in putting citizens of other States on the footing of foreigners, and destitute as it is of proper concomitant provisions, it was judged best to hold it fast and trust to a succeeding Assembly for amendments. The navigation System for the State after having been prepared at great length by Mr. G. Baker was procrastinated in a very singular manner, and finally died away of itself, without anything being done, except a short act passed yesterday in great hurry imposing a tonnage of 5s. on the vessels of foreigners not having treated with the U. S. This failure of local measures in the coercial line, instead of reviving the original propositions for a general plan, revived that of Mr. Tyler for the appointment of Cosrs to meet Cosrs from other States on the subject of general regulations. It went through by a very great majority, being opposed only by Mr. M. Smith and Mr. Corbin. The expedient is no doubt liable to objections and will probably miscarry. I think however it is better than nothing, and as a recommendation of additional powers to Congress is within the purview of the Coission it may possibly lead to better consequences than at first occur. The Cosrs first named were the attorney, Doctr W. Jones of the Senate and myself. The importunity of Mr. Page procured the addition of St. George Tucker who is sensible, fœderal, and skilled in coerce, to whom was added on the motion of I know not whom Mr M. Smith, who is at least exceptionable in the second quality having made unceasing war during the Session agst the idea of bracing the federal system. In the Senate a further addition was made of Col. Mason Mr. D. Ross and Mr. Ronald. The name of the latter was struck out at his desire. The others stand. It is not unlikely that this multitude of associates will stifle the thing in its birth. By some it was probably meant to do so. I am glad to find that Virginia has merit where you are and should be more so if I saw greater reason for it. The bill which is considered at N. Y. as a compliance with the requisitions of Congs, is more so in appearance than reality. It will bring no specie into the Treasy and but little Continental paper. Another act has since passed which professes to comply more regularly with the demand of Congs. but this will fail as to specie and as to punctuality. It will probably procure the indents called for, and fulfils the views of Congs. in making those of other States receivable into our Treasy. Among the acts passed since my last I must not omit an economical revision of the Civil list. The saving will amount to 5 or 6000 pounds. The Govr was reduced by the H. of D. to £800, to which the Senate objected. Which receded I really forget. The Council to £2000, the Attorney to £200, Register from £1,100 to £800, Auditors & Solicitor from £4 to 300, Speaker of H. of D. to 40s. per day including daily pay as a member & of Senate to 20s, &c.; Delegates to Congs to 6 dollars per day. The act however is not to commence till November next. I mentioned in my last the propriety of addressing your future letters to Orange.
TO THOMAS JEFFERSON.mad. mss.
VirgaOrange, March 18th, 1786.
Your two favours of the 1 & 20 Sepr, under the same cover by Mr. Fitzhugh did not come to hand till the 24th ult; and of course till it was too late for any Legislative interposition with regard to the Capitol. I have written to the Attorney on the subject. A letter which I have from him dated prior to his receipt of mine takes notice of the plan you had promised and makes no doubt that it will arrive in time for the purpose of the Commissioners. I do not gather from his expressions however that he was aware of the change which will become necessary in the foundation already laid; a change which will not be submitted to without reluctance for two reasons. 1. the appearance of caprice to which it may expose the Commissioners. 2. which is the material one, the danger of retarding the work till the next Session of Assembly can interpose a vote for its suspension, and possibly for a removal to Williamsburg. This danger is not altogether imaginary. Not a Session has passed since I became a member without one or other or both of these attempts. At the late Session a suspension was moved by the Williamsburg Interest, which was within a few votes of being agreed to. It is a great object therefore with the Richmond Interest to get the building so far advanced before the fall as to put an end to such experiments. The circumstances which will weigh in the other scale, and which it is to be hoped will preponderate, are, the fear of being reproached with sacrificing public considerations to a local policy, and a hope that the substitution of a more economical plan, may better reconcile the Assembly to a prosecution of the Undertaking.
Since I have been at home I have had leisure to review the literary cargo for which I am so much indebted to your friendship. The collection is perfectly to my mind. I must trouble you only to get two little mistakes rectified. The number of Vol. in the Encyclopedie corresponds with your list, but a duplicate has been packed up of Tom. 1ere. partie of Histoire Naturelle, Quadrupedes, premiere livraison, and there is left out the 2d part of the same Tom. which as appears by the Avis to the 1st livraison makes the 1st Tome of Histoire des oiseaux, as well as by the Histoire des oiseaux sent, which begins with Tom. II 1re partie, and with the letter F from the Avis to the sixth livraison I infer that the vol. omitted made part of the 5me livraison. The duplicate vol. seems to have been a good deal handled and possibly belongs to your own sett. Shall I keep it in my hands, or send it back? The other mistake is an omission of the 4th vol. of D’Albon sur l’interêt de plusieurs nations, &c. The binding of the three vols which are come is distinguished from that of most of the other books by the circumstance of the figure on the back numbering the vols being on a black instead of a red ground. The author’s name above is on a red ground. I mention these circumstances that the binder may supply the omitted volume in proper uniform. I annex a state of our account balanced. I had an opportunity a few days after your letters were recd. of remitting the balance to the hands of Mrs. Carr with a request that it might be made use of as you direct to prevent a loss of time to her sons from occasional disappointments in the stated funds. I have not yet heard from the Mr. Fitzhughs on the subject of your advance to them. The advance to Le Maire had been made a considerable time before I received your countermanding instructions. I have no copying press, but must postpone that conveniency to other wants which will absorb my little resources. I am fully apprized of the value of this machine and mean to get one when I can better afford it, and may have more use for it. I am led to think it wd be a very economical acquisition to all our public offices which are obliged to furnish copies of papers belonging to them.
A Quorum of the deputies appointed by the Assembly for a commercial convention had a meeting at Richmond shortly after I left it, and the Attorney tells me, it has been agreed to propose Annapolis, for the place, and the first monday in Sepr for the time of holding the Convention. It was thought prudent to avoid the neighborhood of Congress, and the large Coercial towns, in order to disarm the adversaries to the object, of insinuations of influence from either of these quarters. I have not heard what opinion is entertained of this project at New York, nor what reception it has found in any of the States. If it should come to nothing, it will, I fear confirm G. B. and all the world in the belief that we are not to be respected, nor apprehended as a nation in matters of commerce. The States are every day giving proofs that separate regulations are more likely to set them by the ears, than to attain the common object. When Massts set on foot a retaliation of the policy of G. B. Connecticut declared her ports free. N. Jersey served N. York in the same way. And Delaware I am told has lately followed the example, in opposition to the commercial plans of Penna. A miscarriage of this attempt to unite the States in some effectual plan, will have another effect of a serious nature. It will dissipate every prospect of drawing a steady revenue from our imposts either directly into the federal treasury, or indirectly thro’ the treasuries of the Commercial States, and of consequence the former must depend for supplies solely on annual requisitions, and the latter on direct taxes drawn from the property of the Country. That these dependencies are in an alarming degree fallacious is put by experience out of all question. The payments from the States under the calls of Congress have in no year borne any proportion to the public wants. During the last year, that is from Novr, 1784, to Novr 1785, the aggregate payments, as stated to the late Assembly fell short of 400,000 dollrs, a sum neither equal to the interest due on the foreign debts, nor even to the current expences of the federal Government. The greatest part of this sum too went from Virga, which will not supply a single shilling the present year. Another unhappy effect of a continuance of the present anarchy of our commerces will be a continuance of the unfavorable balance on it, which by draining us of our metals furnishes pretexts for the pernicious substitution of paper money, for indulgences to debtors, for postponements of taxes. In fact most of our political evils may be traced up to our commercial ones, as most of our moral may to our political. The lessons which the mercantile interests of Europe have received from late experience will probably check their propensity to credit us beyond our resources, and so far the evil of an unfavorable balance will correct itself. But the Merchants of G. B. if no others will continue to credit us at least as far as our remittances can be strained, and that is far enough to perpetuate our difficulties unless the luxurious propensity of our own people can be otherwise checked. This view of our situation presents the proposed Convention as a remedial experiment which ought to command every assent; but if it be a just view it is one which assuredly will not be taken by all even of those whose intentions are good. I consider the event therefore as extremely uncertain, or rather, considering that the States must first agree to the proposition for sending deputies, that these must agree in a plan to be sent back to the States, and that these again must agree unanimously in a ratification of it. I almost despair of success. It is necessary however that something should be tried & if this be not the best possible expedient, it is the best that could possibly be carried thro’ the Legislature here. And if the present crisis cannot effect unanimity, from what future concurrence of circumstances is it to be expected? Two considerations particularly remonstrate against delay. One is the danger of having the same1game played on our Confederacy by which Philip managed that of the Grecians. I saw eno’ during the late Assembly of the influenceof the desperate circumstances of individuals on their public conduct to admonish me of the possibility of finding in the council of some one of the States fit instruments of foreign machinations. The other consideration is the probability of an early increase of the confederated States, which more than proportionally impede measures which require unanimity, as the new members, may bring sentiments and interests less congenial with those of the Atlantic States than those of the latter are one with another.
The price of our staple is down at 22s. at Richmond. One argument for putting off the taxes was that it would relieve the planters from the necessity of selling, & would enable them to make a better bargain with the purchasers. The price has notwithstanding been falling ever since. How far the event may have proceeded from a change in the Market of Europe I know not. That it has in part proceeded from the practice of remitting and postponing the taxes may I think be fairly deduced. The scarcity of money must of necessity sink the price of every article, and the relaxation in collecting the taxes, increases this scarcity by diverting the money from the public Treasury to the shops of Merchandize. In the former case it would return into circulation. In the latter it goes out of the Country to balance the increased consumption. A vigorous and steady collection of taxes would make the money necessary here and would therefore be a mean of keeping it here. In our situation it would have the salutary operation of a sumptuary law. The price of Indian Corn in this part of the Country which produced the best crops is not higher than 2 dollrs. per barrl. It would have been much higher but for the peculiar mildness of the winter. December and Jany scarcely reminded us that it was winter. February, though temperate, was less unseasonable. Our deepest snow (about 7 inches) was in the present month. I observe the tops of the blue ridge still marked with its remains. My last was dated January 22, and contained a narrative of the proceedings of the Assembly. I shall write you again as soon as the subject & opportunity occur, remaining in the mean time
Yr affecte friend
TO JAMES MONROE.mad. mss.
Orange 19th March 1786.
I am just favored with yours of the 11 & 16 of Feby. A newspaper since the date of the latter has verified to me your inauguration into the mysteries of Wedlock, of which you dropped a previous hint in the former.1 You will accept my sincerest congratulations on this event, with every wish for the happiness it promises. I join you cheerfully in the purchase from Taylor, as preferably to taking it wholly to myself. The only circumstance I regret is that the first payment will rest with you alone, if the conveyance should be accelerated. A few months will elapse inevitably before I shall be able to place on the spot my half of the sum but the day shall be shortened as much as possible. I accede also fully to your idea of extending the purchase in that quarter. Perhaps we may be able to go beyond the thousand acres you have taken into view. But ought we not to explore the ground before we venture too far?2 proximity of situation is but presumptive evidence of the quality of soil. The value of land depends on a variety of little circumstances which can only be judged of from inspection, and a knowledge of which gives a seller an undue advantage over an uninformed buyer. Can we not about the last of May or June take a turn into that district, I am in a manner determined on it myself. It will separate you but for a moment from New York, and may give us lights of great consequence. I have a project in my head which if it hits your idea and can be effected may render such an excursion of decisive value to us. I reserve it for oral communication.
“The Question of policy,” you say, “is whether it will be better to correct the vices of the Confederation by recommendation gradually as it moves along, or by a Convention. If the latter should be determined on, the powers of the Virga Com are inadequate.” If all on whom the correction of these vices depends were well informed and well disposed, the mode would be of little moment. But as we have both ignorance and iniquity to combat, we must defeat the designs of the latter by humouring the prejudices of the former. The efforts for bringing about a correction thro’ the medium of Congress have miscarried. Let a Convention then, be tried. If it succeeds in the first instance, it can be repeated as other defects force themselves on the public attention, and as the public mind becomes prepared for further remedies. The Assembly here would refer nothing to Congress. They would have revolted equally against a plenipotentiary commission to their deputies for the Convention. The option therefore lay between doing what was done and doing nothing. Whether a right choice was made time only can prove. I am not in general an advocate for temporizing or partial remedies. But a rigor in this respect, if pushed too far may hazard everything. If the present paroxysm of our affairs be totally neglected our case may become desperate. If anything comes of the Convention it will probably be of a permanent not a temporary nature, which I think will be a great point. The mind feels a peculiar complacency in seeing a good thing done when it is not subject to the trouble & uncertainty of doing it over again. The commission is to be sure not filled to every man’s mind. The History of it may be a subject of some future tête a tête. You will be kind enough to forward the letter to Mr Jefferson and to be assured that I am with the sincerest affection
yr. friend & servt.
TO JAMES MONORE.mad. mss.
Orange April 9th, 1786.
I am favoured with yours of the 18th of March. My last answered your preceding one relating to your territorial speculation. I hope it has been recd. I forgot to intimate to you, though I presume it would have been superfluous, that it will be well in every purchase to ascertain by information as far as possible, the proportion of land which lies on the river and comes within the description of low grounds. The value of every tract depends much on this proportion. The contiguous upland is I believe generally of good soil, but there must be both degrees & exceptions to its quality. The low grounds are in a manner uniformly & universally good. The step taken by N. Jersey was certainly a rash one, and will furnish fresh pretexts to unwilling States for withholdg their contributions.1 In one point of view however it furnishes a salutary lesson. Is it possible with such an example before our eyes of impotency in the federal system, to remain sceptical with regard to the necessity of infusing more energy into it? A Government cannot long stand which is obliged in the ordinary course of its administration to court a compliance with its constitutional acts, from a member not of the most powerful order, situated within the immediate verge of authority, and apprised of every circumstance which should remonstrate against disobedience. The question whether it be possible and worth while to preserve the Union of the States must be speedily decided some way or other. Those who are indifferent to its preservation would do well to look forward to the consequences of its extinction. The prospect to my eye is a gloomy one indeed. I am glad to hear that the opposition to the impost is likely to be overcome. It is an encouragement to persevere in good measures. I am afraid at the same time that like other auxiliary resources it will be overrated by the States, and slacken the regular efforts of taxation. It is also materially short of the power which Congress ought to have with regard to Trade. It leaves the door unshut agst a comercial warfare among the States, our trade exposed to foreign machinations, and the distresses of an unfavorable balance very little checked. The experience of European Merchts who have speculated in our trade will probably check in a great measure, our opportunities of consuming beyond our resources; but they will continue to credit us as far as our coin in addition to our productions will extend, and our experience here teaches us that our people will extend their consumption as far as credit can be obtained.
TO THOMAS JEFFERSON.mad. mss.
Orange May 12th, 1786.
My last was of March 18, since which I have been favored with yours of the 8 and 9th of Feby. Bancroft’s application in favour of Paridise inclosed in the latter shall be attended to as far as the case will admit; though I see not how any relief can be obtained. If Mr. P stands on the list of foreign creditors his agent here may probably convert his Securities into money without any very great loss, as they rest on good funds, and the principal is in a course of payment. If he stands on the domestic list as I presume he does, the interest only is provided for, and since the postponement of the taxes even that cannot be negociated without a discount of 10 per Ct, at least. The principal cannot be turned into cash without sinking ¾ of its amount.
Your notes1 having got into print in France will inevitably be translated back & published in that form, not only in England but in America, unless you give out the original. I think therefore you owe it not only to yourself, but to the place you occupy & the subjects you have handled, to take this precaution. To say nothing of the injury which will certainly result to the diction from a translation first into French & then back into English, the ideas themselves may possibly be so perverted as to lose their propriety. The books which you have been so good as to ford to me are so well assorted to my wishes that no suggestions are necessary as to your future purchases. A copy of the old edition of the Encyclopedia is desirable for ye reasons you mention, but as I should gratify my desire in this particular at the expense of something else which I can less dispense with, I must content myself with the new Edition for the present. The watch I bought in Philada, though a pretty good one, is probably so far inferior to those of which you have a sample, that I cannot refuse your kind offer to procure me one of the same sort; and I am fancying to myself so many little gratifications from the pedometer that I cannot forego that addition. The inscription for the Statue is liable to Houdon’s criticism, and is in every respect inferior to the substitute which you have copied into your letter.1 I am apprehensive notwithstanding that no change can be effected. The Assembly will want some proper ground for resuming the matter. The devices for the other side of the pedestal are well chosen, and might I should suppose be applied without scruple as decorations of the artist. I counted myself on the addition of proper ornaments, and am persuaded that such a liberty could give offence nowhere. The execution of your hints with regard to the2Marquis & Rochambeau would be no less pleasing to me than to you. I think with you also that the setting up the busts of our own worthies would not be doing more honour to them than to ourselves. I foresee however the difficulty of overcoming the popular objection against every measure which involves expence, particularly where the importance of the measure will be felt by a few only; and an unsuccessful attempt would be worse than no attempt. I have heard nothing as to the Capitol. I mentioned to you in my last that I had written to the Attorney on the subject. I shall have an opportunity shortly of touching on it again to him.
A great many changes have taken place in the late elections. The principal acquisitions are Col. G. Mason who I am told was pressed into the service at the instigation of Genl Washington, Genl Nelson, Mann Page. In Albemarle both the old ones declined the task. Their successors are George & Jno Nicholas. Col. Carter was again an unsuccessful candidate. I have not heard how Mr. Harrison has shaped his course. It was expected that he would stand in a very awkward relation both to Charles City & to Surrey, and would probably succeed in neither. Monroe lost his election in King George by 6 votes. Mercer did his by the same number in Stafford. Neither of them were present, or they would no doubt have both been elected. Col. Bland is also to be among us. Among the many good things which may be expected from Col. Mason we may reckon perhaps an effort to review our Constitution. The loss of the Port bill will certainly be one condition on which we are to receive his valuable assistance. I am not without fears also concerning his federal ideas. The last time I saw him he seemed to have come about a good deal towards the policy of giving Congs the management of Trade. But he has been led so far out of the right way, that a thorough return can scarcely be hoped for. On all the other great points, the Revised Code, the Assize bill, taxation, paper money, &c., his abilities will be inestimable. Most if not all the States except Maryld, have appointed deputies for the proposed Convention at Annapolis. The refusal of Maryland to appoint proceeded as I am informed by Mr. Dan Carroll, from a mistaken notion, that the measure would derogate from the authority of Congress, and interfere with the Revenue system of April 1783, which they have lately recoended anew to the States. There is certainly no such interference, and instead of lessening the authority of Congress, the object of the Convention is to extend it over commerce. I have no doubt that on a reconsideration of the matter it will be viewed in a different light. The internal situation of this State is growing worse & worse. Our specie has vanished. The people are again plunged in debt to the Merchants, and these circumstances added to the fall of Tobo in Europe & a probable combination among its chief purchasers here, have reduced that article to 20s. The price of Corn is in many parts of the Country, at 20s. and upwards per barrl. In this part it is not more that 15s. Our Spring has been a cool & latterly a dry one, of course it is a backward one. The first day of april was the most remarkable ever experienced in this climate. It snowed & hailed the whole day in a storm from N. E., and the Thermr stood at 4 o’C. P. M. at 26o. If the snow had fallen in the usual way it would have been 8 or 10 inches deep at least, but consisting of small hard globules mixed with small hail, & lying on the ground so compact & firm as to bear a man, it was less than half of that depth. We hear from Kentucky that the inhabitants are still at variance with their savage neighbours. In a late skirmish several were lost on both sides. On that of the whites Col. W. Christian is mentioned. It is said the scheme of independence is growing unpopular since the Act of our Assembly has brought the question fully before them. Your Nephew, D Carr, has been some time at the Academy in Prince Edward. The President, Mr. Smith, speaks favorably of him.
With the sincerest affection, I remain, Dr Sir your friend & servant.
P. S. I have taken measures for securing the Paccan nuts & the seed of the Sugar Tree. Are there no other things here which would be acceptable on a like account? You will withhold from me a real pleasure if you do not favor me with your commands freely. Perhaps some of our animal curiosities would enable you to gratify particular characters of merit. I can without difficulty get the skins of all our coon and of some of our rarer quadrupeds, and can have them stuffed if desired. It is possible, also, that I may be able to send some of them alive. I lately had on hand a female opossum with 7 young ones, which I intended to have reared for the purpose partly of experiments myself and partly of being able to forward some of them to you in case of an opporty, and your desiring it. Unfortunately they have all died. But I find they can be got at any time almost in the Spring of the year, and if the season be too far advanced now, they may certainly be had earlier in the next Spring. I observe that in your notes you number the fallow & Roe-deer among the native quadrupeds of America. As Buffon had admitted the fact, it was whether true or erroneous, a good argument no doubt against him. But I am persuaded they are not natives of the new continent. Buffon mentions the Chevruil in particular as abounding in Louisiana. I have enquired of several credible persons who have traversed the Western woods extensively and quite down to New Orleans, all of whom affirm that no other than our common deer are any where seen. Nor can I find any written evidence to the contrary that deserves notice. You have I believe justly considered our Monax as the Marmotte of Europe. I have lately had an opportunity of examining a female one with some attention. Its weight, after it had lost a good deal of blood, was 5½ lbs. Its dimensions, shape, teeth, and structure within as far as I could judge corresponded in substance with the description given by D’Aubenton. In sundry minute circumstances a precise correspondence was also observable. The principal variations were 1, in the face, which was shorter in the Monax than in the proportions of the Marmotte, and was less arched about the root of the nose. 2, in the feet, each of the forefeet having a fifth nail, about ⅓ of an inch long growing out of the inward side of the heel, without any visible toe. From this particular it would seem to be the Marmotte of Poland, called the Bobac, rather than the Alpine Marmotte. 3, in the teats, which were 8 only. The marmotte in Buffon had 10. 4th, in several circumstances of its robe; particularly of that of the belly, which consisted of a short coarse thin hair, whereas this part of Buffon’s marmotte was covered with a thicker fur than the back, &c. A very material circumstance in the comparison remains to be ascertained. The European Marmotte is in the class of those which are dormant during the winter. No person here of whom I have enquired can decide whether this be a quality of the Monax. I infer that it is of the dormant class not only from its similitude to the Marmotte in other respects, but from the sensible coldness of the Monax I examined, compared with the human body, altho the vital heat of quadrupeds is said in general to be greater than that of man. This inferiority of heat being a characteristic of animals which become torpid from cold, I should consider it as deciding the quality of ye. Monax in this respect, were it not that the subject of my examination, tho it remained alive several days in my hands was so crippled and apparently dying the whole time that its actual heat could not fairly be taken for the degree of its natural heat. If it had recovered I had intended to have made a trial with the Thermometer. I now propose to have if I can one of their habitations discovered during the summer, and to open it on some cold day next winter. This will fix the matter. There is another circumstance which belongs to a full comparison of the two animals. The Marmotte of Europe is said to be an inhabitant of the upper region of mountains only. Whether our Monax be confined to mountainous situations or not I have not yet learnt. If it be not found as a permanent inhabitant of the level Country, it certainly descends occasionally into the plains which are in the neighborhood of mountains. I also compared a few days ago one of our moles (male) with the male one described in Buffon. It weighed 2oz 11 pents. Its length the end of its snout to the root of the tail was 5 inch 3 lines, English measure. That described in Buffon was not weighed I believe. Its length was 5 inch french measure. The external and internal correspondence seemed to be too exact for distinct species. There was a difference nevertheless in two circumstances, one of which is not unworthy of notice, and the other of material consequence in the comparison. The first difference was in the tail, that of the mole here being 10½ English lines only in the length, and naked, whereas that of Buffon’s mole was 14 French lines in length and covered with hair. If the hair was included in the latter measure, the difference in the length ought scarcely to be noted. The second difference lay in the teeth. The mole in Buffon had 44. That which I examined had but 33. One of those on the left side of the upper Jaw, and next to the principal cutters, was so small as to be scarcely visible to the natural eye, and had no corresponding tooth on the opposite side. Supposing this defect of a corresponding tooth to be accidental, a difference of ten teeth still remains. If these circumstances should not be thought to invalidate the identity of species, the mole will stand as an exception to the Theory which supposes no animal to be common to the two Continents, which cannot bear the cold of the region where they join; since according to Buffon this species of mole is not found “dans les climats froids ou la terre est gelée pendant la plus grande partie de l’annèe,” and it cannot be suspected of such a Journey during a short summer as would head the sea which separates the two Continents. I suspect that several of our quadrupeds which are not peculiar to the new Continent will be found to be exceptions to this Theory, if the mole should not. The Marmotte itself, is not an animal taken notice of very far to the North, and as it moves slowly, and is deprived of its locomotive powers altogether by cold cannot be supposed to have travelled the road which leads from the old to the New World. It is perhaps questionable whether any of the dormant animals, if any such be really coon to Europe & America, can have emigrated from one to the other. I have thought that the cuts of the Quadrupeds in Buffon, if arranged in frames, would make both an agreeable and instructive piece of wall furniture. What would be about the cost of them in such a form? I suppose they are not to be had coloured to the life, and would besides be too costly. What is the price of Buffon’s birds, colored?
Your letter of 28 October has never come to hand.
TO JAMES MONROE.mad. mss.
Orange May 13th, 1786.
I was favored a few days ago with yours of the 28th ult. I am under great obligations for your kindness in the affair with Taylor. My late letters will have informed you of my wishes that you may fully partake of the bargain entered into already, as well as every future adventure in that quarter. The encouragement you give me to expect your company has in a manner determined me to encounter a journey as soon as I can conveniently make preparation for it. I am the rather induced to do it as I shall be the more able by that means to accelerate a repayment of your kind advances, having some little resources in Philada. of wch. I must avail myself for that purpose. My next will probably tell you when I shall be able to set out.
I think, with you, that it would have an odd appearance for two Conventions to be sitting at the same time, with powers in part concurrent. The reasons you give seem also to be valid against augmenting the powers of that which is to meet at Annapolis. I am not surprized therefore at the embarrassment of Congress in the present conjuncture. Will it not be best on the whole to suspend measures for a more thorough cure of our federal system, till the partial experiment shall have been made. If the spirit of the Conventioners should be friendly to the Union, and their proceedings well conducted, their return into the Councils of their respective States will greatly facilitate any subsequent measures which may be set on foot by Congress, or by any of the States.
Great changes have taken place in the late elections. I regret much that we are not to have your aid. It will be greatly needed I am sure. Mercer it seems lost his election by the same number of votes as left you out. He was absent at the time or he would no doubt have been elected. Have you seen his pamphlet? You will have heard of the election of Col. Mason, Genl Nelson, Mann Page, G. Nicholas, Jno Nicholas, & Col. Bland. Col. Mason will be an inestimable acquisition on most of the great points. On the port bill he is to be equally dreaded. In fact I consider that measure as lost almost at any rate. There was a majority agst. it last session if it had been skilfully made use of. To force the trade to Norfolk & Alexandria, without preparations for it at those places, will be considered as injurious. And so little ground is there for confidence in the stability of the Legislature that no preparations will ever be made in consequence of a preceding law. The transition must of necessity therefore be at any time abrupt and inconvenient. I am somewhat apprehensive, likewise, that Col. Mason may not be fully cured of his anti-federal prejudices.
We hear from Kentucky that the Savages continue to disquiet them. Col. W. Christian it is said lately lost his life in pursuing a few who had made an inroad on the settlement. We are told too that the proposed separation is growing very unpopular among them.
I am Dr. Sir with great affection
|* The belette of this weight was but 6 in. 5 lines in length.|
The weight & measure of the Weasel are English those of the Belette & Roselet—french.
|Length from muzzle to root of tail||7||9||6||6||9||6|
|of the Trunk of the Tail||3||6||1||3||3||10|
|distance from muzzle to lower corner of the eye||5||5||7|
|from upper corner of eye to the ear||4½||5||7|
|from one corner to the other of the eye||3||2¼||3½|
|length of the ear perpendicularly||4½||3||4|
|width of ear horizontally||4|
|distance between the ears at bottom||10½||9||1|
|Length of the neck||1||1½||11||1||4|
|circumference of neck||2||5||2||2||6|
|of body behind forelegs||2||10||2||3||3||4|
|of head between eyes & ears||2||9||2||6||3||3|
|Length of foreleg from knee to heel||10½||9||1||2|
|from heel to the nails||9||7||1||1|
|of hindleg from knee to heel||1||4||11||1||10|
|Width of forefoot||3½||3||3½|
|Length of nails of forefoot||2||2||3|
|of hair on the body||3½||3||6|
|at end of tail||6½||short 1||3|
|distance between anus and vulva||3|
|Spleen, length of||1||3||11|
|width of in middle||3½||4|
|Tongue, long from end to the filêt||3½||2½|
|Vertebræ of tail||14||14||or 15||19|
|Palate furrows of||6||6||6|
The gall bladder was empty, the membrane of the Bladder very thin, and the two last furrows of the palate broken in the middle, in the Weasel as noted in the Belette, and the contrary not noted in the Hermine.
The spleen was of the same color on both sides in the Weasel. In the Hermine it was of a reddish brown as in the weasel, on one side, and of a very pale hue on the other. Nothing is said as to this circumstance in the description of the Belette.
The right kidney in the Weasel was advanced a little only before the left, as in the Belette, and not its whole length as in the Hermine.
The attempt to examine whether the number of false ribbs in the Weasel was 4 as in the Belette or 3 as in the Hermine, was frustrated.
On a review of the differential characters of the Belette and the Hermine, and a comparison of the weasel with both, it appears. 1. that the weasel stands between the two in point of size, but much less removed from the former than the latter, unless the individual here examined was much under the ordinary size. Its having no visible teats seems to be an indication that it was young. Another probable indication was the smallness of the hindmost teeth both in the upper & lower Jaws, those in the lower being not bigger than the head of a small pin; & those in the upper disproportionate to the contiguous tooth. 2. that it resembles the Hermine in the length of the trunk of the tail, and in the blackness of its end, — but the Belette in the number of vertebræ in the Trunk, and in the shortness of the hair at the end of the tail. 3. That it resembles the Hermine in the colour of its feet, and the Belette in that of the margin of the ears. 4. that it resembles the Belette & not the Hermine in the Relative position of the Kidneys. 5. that it differs from the Hermine in being an inhabitant of warm climates. Wheather it resembles the Belette in not being an inhabitant of cold climates remains for enquiry. 6. that it differs from both in never becoming white during the winter, if this change be well founded with regard to the Belette. Buffon asserts that there are instances of it, but it may be questioned whether they were not mere albinos of the species.
The figure of the head of the Weasel when reduced to the naked bone resembled rather that of the Belette than that of the Hermine in the skeletons represented in Buffon. In its entire state it resembled most the head in the cut of the Hermine given by Buffon. Indeed the entire cut of the Hermine was a much stronger likeness of the weasel, than the cut of the Belette.
The result of the comparison seems to be that notwithstanding the blackness of the end of the tail & whiteness of the feet, which are regarded as characteristics of the Hermine contradistinguishing it from the belette, our weasel cannot be of the former species, and is nothing more than a variety of the latter. This conclusion is the stronger, as the manners of our weasel correspond more nearly with those of the Belette, than with those of the Hermine. And if it be a just conclusion, it may possibly make one exception to Buffon’s position that no animal is common to the two continents that cannot bear the climate where they join; as it certainly contradicts his assertion that of the animals common to the two continents, those of the new are in every instance smaller than those of the old.—But he seems to have given up this point himself. Supplemt. tom. 8, p. 329. “L’imperfection de nature qu’el [M. P. l’auteur des recherches sur les Americains] reproche gratuitement a l’Amerique en general, ne doit porter que sur les animaux de la partie meridionale de ce continent, lesquels &c.”—
My next will probably be dated in Philada or rather in N. York to which I am called by some business of a private nature in which I am concerned jointly with Col. Monroe. In the meantime I remain Yrs very affectionately
TO JAMES MONROE.mad. mss.
Orange June 21st, 1786.
Your favor of the 31st ult. did not come to hand till two days ago. As I expect to see you in a short time, I will suspend the full communication of my ideas on the subject of it till I have that pleasure. I cannot however forbear in the mean time expressing my amazement that a thought should be entertained of1surrendering the Mississippi, and of guaranteing the possessions of Spain in America. In the first place has not Virga., have not Congs themselves, and the Ministers of Congs., by their orders asserted the right of those who live on the waters of the Mississippi touse it as the high road given by nature to the sea? This being the case, have Congs any more authority to say that the Western citizens of Virga. shall not pass through the capes of Mississippi than to say that her Eastern citizens shall not pass through the capes Henry & Charles. It should be remembered that the United States are not now extricating themselves from war, a crisis which often knows no law but that of necessity. The measure in question would be a voluntary barter in time of profound peace of the rights of one part of the empire to the interests of another part. What would Massachusetts say to a proposition for ceding to Britain her right of fishery as the price of some stipulations in favor of Tobacco.
Again can there be a more short-sighted or dishonorable policy than to concur with Spn in frustrating the benevolent views of nature to sell the affections of our ultra-montane brethren to depreciate the richest fund we possess to distrust an ally whom we know to be able to befriend us and to have an interest in doing it against the only nation whose enmity we can dread, and at the same time to court by the most precious sacrifices the alliance of a nation whose impotency is notorious, who has given no proof of regard for us and the genius of whose Government religion & manners unfit them of all the nations in christendom for a coalition with this country. Can anything too, as you well observe, be more unequal than a stipulation which is to open all our ports to her and some only and those the least valuable of hers to us; and which places the commercial freedom of our ports agst the fettered regulations of those in Spain. I always thought the stipulation with france & Holld of the privileges of the most favoured nation as unequal, and only to be justified by the influence which the treaties could not fail to have on the event of the war. A stipulation putting Spanish subjects on the same footing with our own citizens is carrying the evil still farther without the same pretext for it; and is the more to be dreaded, as by making her the most favored nation it would let in the other nations with whom we are now connected to the same privileges, whenever they may find it their interest to make the same compensation for them whilst we have not a reciprocal right to force them into such an arrangement in case our interest should dictate it. A guaranty is if possible still more objectionable. If it be insidious we plunge ourselves into infamy. If sincere, into obligations the extent of which cannot easily be determined. In either case we get farther into the labyrinth of european politics from which we ought religiously to keep ourselves as free as possible. And what is to be gained by ruch a rash step? Will any man in his senses pretend that our territory needs such a safeguard, or that if it were in danger, it is the arm of Spain that is to save it. Viewing the matter in this light I cannot but flatter myself, that if the attempt you apprehend should be made it will be rejected with becoming indignation. I am less sanguine as to the issue of the other matter contained in your letter.1 I know the mutual prejudices which impede every overture towards a just & final settlement of claims & accts. I persist in the opinion that a proper & speedy adjustment is unattainable from any assembly constituted as Congs is, and acting under the impulse which they must. I need not repeat to you the plan which has always appeared to me most likely to answer the purpose. In the mean time, it is mortifying to see the other States, or rather their Representatives, pursuing a course which will make the case more & more difficult, & putting arms into the hands of the Enemies to every Amendment of our federal system. God knows that they are formidable enough in this State without such an advantage. With it, their triumph will be certain & easy. But I have been led much farther already than I proposed, and will only that.
I am with the sincerest affection, your friend & servt.
The inclosed Tickets belong to a very worthy friend who knows not how to obtain a small prize which they have drawn without giving you the trouble of applying for it. He is apprehensive that the door may be already shut agst the demand. If it should not you will kind eno’ to call on the proper office and get the proper certificate. There are but 2 of the Tickets I believe which are entitled to prizes, but as they cannot be distinguished here, it must be done by the Register in the office.
TO THOMAS JEFFERSON.
Philada, Aug: 12th, 1786.
My last of the 19th of June intimated that my next would be from N. York or this place. I expected it would rather have been from the former which I left a few days ago, but my time was so taken up there with my friends and some business that I thought it best to postpone it till my return here. My ride through Virga, Maryd, and Pena, was in the midst of harvest. I found the crops of wheat in the upper parts of the two former considerably injured by the wet weather which my last described as so destructive in the lower parts of those States. The computed loss where I passed was about one third. The loss in the Rye was much greater. It was admitted however that the crops of both would have been unusually large but for this casualty. Throughout Pena the wheat was unhurt, and the Rye very little affected. As I came by the way of Winchester & crossed the Potowmac at Harper’s I had an opportunity of viewing the magnificent scene which nature here presents. I viewed it however under great disadvantages. The air was so thick that distant objects were not visible at all, and near ones not distinctly so. We ascended the mountain also at a wrong place, fatigued ourselves much in traversing it before we gained the right position, were threatened during the whole time with a thunder storm, and finally overtaken by it. Had the weather been favorable the prospect would have appeared to peculiar advantage, being enriched with the harvest in its full maturity, which filled every vale as far as the eye could reach. I had the additional pleasure here of seeing the progress of the works on the Potowmac. About 50 hands were employed at these falls or rather rapids, who seemed to have overcome the greatest difficulties. Their plan is to slope the fall by opening the bed of the river, in such a manner as to render a lock unnecessary, and, by means of ropes fastened to the rocks, to pull up & ease down the boats where the current is most rapid. At the principal falls 150 hands I was told were at work, and that the length of the canal will be reduced to less than a mile, and carried through a vale which does not require it to be deep. Locks will here be unavoidable. The undertakers are very sanguine. Some of them who are most so talk of having the entire work finished in three years.1 I can give no particular account of the progress on James River, but am told it is very flattering. I am still less informed of what is doing in North Carolina towards a Canal between her & our waters. The undertaking on the Susquehannah is said to be in such forwardness as to leave no doubt of its success. A negociation is set on foot between Pena., Maryd, & Delaware, for a canal from the head of Chesapeak to the Delaware. Maryd as I understand heretofore opposed the undertaking, and Pena means now to make her consent to it a condition on which the opening of the Susquehannah within the limits of Pena will depend. Unless this is permitted the opening undertaken within the limits of Maryland will be of little account. It is lucky that both parties are so dependent on each other as to be thus mutually forced into measures of general utility. I am told that Pena. has complied with the joint request of Virga and Maryland for a Road between the head of Potowmac and the waters of the Ohio and the secure & free use of the latter through her jurisdiction. These fruits of the Revolution do great honour to it. I wish all our proceedings merited the same character. Unhappily there are but too many belonging to the opposite side of the acct. At the head of these is to be put the general rage for paper money. Pena. & N. Carolina took the lead in this folly. In the former the sum emitted was not considerable, the funds for sinking it were good, and it was not made a legal tender. It issued into circulation partly by way of loan to individuals on landed security, partly by way of payment to the public creditors. Its present depreciation is about 10 or 12 per ct. In N. Carolina the sums issued at different times has been of greater amount, and it has constantly been a tender. It issued partly in payments to military creditors and latterly, in purchases of Tobo. on public account. The Agent I am informed was authorised to give nearly the double of the current price, and as the paper was a tender, debtors ran to him with their Tobo., and the creditors paid the expence of the farce. The depreciation is said to be 25 or 30 per Ct. in that State. S. Carolina was the next in order. Her emission was in the way of loans to individuals, and is not a legal tender. But land is there made a tender in case of suits which shuts the Courts of Justice, and is perhaps as great an evil. The friends of the emission say that it has not yet depreciated, but they admit that the price of commodities has risen, which is evidently the form in which depreciation will first shew itself. New Jersey has just issued £30,000 (dollars at 7s 6) in loans to her citizens. It is a legal tender. An addition of £100,000 is shortly to follow on the same principles. The terror of popular associations stifles as yet an overt discrimination between it & specie; but as this does not operate in Philada & N. York where all the trade of N. J. is carried on, its depreciation has already commenced in those places & must soon communicate itself to N. J. New York is striking £200,000 (dollr at 8s.) on the plan of loans to her citizens. It is made a legal tender in case of suits only. As it is but just issuing from the press, its depreciation exists only in the foresight of those who reason without prejudice on the subject. In Rhode Island £100,000 (dolr at 6s.) has lately been issued in loans to individuals. It is not only made a tender, but severe penalties annexed to the least attempt direct or indirect to give a preference to specie. Precautions dictated by distrust in the rulers soon produced it in the people. Supplies were withheld from the Market, the Shops were shut, popular meetings ensued, and the State remains in a sort of convulsion.
The Legislature of Massts. at their last Session rejected a paper emission by a large majority. Connecticut & N. Hampshire also have as yet forborne, but symptoms of danger it is said begin to appear in the latter. The Senate of Maryd has hitherto been a bar to paper in that State. The clamor for it is now universal, and as the periodical election of the Senate happens at this crisis, and the whole body is unluckily by their Constitution to be chosen at once, it is probable that a paper emission will be the result. If, in spite of the zeal exerted agst the old Senate a majority of them should be re-elected, it will require all their firmness to withstand the popular torrent. Of the affairs of Georga I know as little as of those of Kamskatska. Whether Virga is to remain exempt from the epidemic malady will depend on the ensuing Assembly. My hopes rest chiefly on the exertions of Col. Mason and the failure of the experiments elsewhere. That these must fail is morally certain; for besides the proofs of it already visible in some States, and the intrinsic defect of the paper in all, this fictitious money will rather feed than cure the spirit of extravagance which sends away the coin to pay the unfavorable balance, and will therefore soon be carried to market to buy up coin for that purpose. From that moment depreciation is inevitable. The value of money consists in the uses it will serve. Specie will serve all the uses of paper, paper will not serve one of the essential uses of specie. The paper therefore will be less valuable than specie. Among the numerous ills with which this practice is pregnant, one I find is that it is producing the same warfare & retaliation among the States as were produced by the State regulations of commerce. Massts & Connecticut have passed laws enabling their Citizens who are debtors to Citizens of States having paper money, to pay their debts in the same manner as their Citizens who are creditors to Citizens of the latter States are liable to be paid their debts. The States which have appointed deputies to Annapolis are N. Hampshire, Massts, R. Island, N. Y., N. J., Pena., Delaware, & Virga. Connecticut declined not from a dislike to the object, but to the idea of a Convention, which it seems has been rendered obnoxious by some internal Conventions, which embarrassed the Legislative Authority. Maryd., or rather her Senate negatived an appointment because they supposed the measure might interfere with the plans or prerogatives of Congs. N. Carolina has had no Legislative meeting since the proposition was communicated. S. Carolina supposed she had sufficiently signified her concurrence in a general regulation of trade by vesting the power in Congress for 15 years. Georgia — —. Many Gentlemen both within & without Congs, wish to make this Meeting subservient to a plenipotentiary Convention for amending the Confederation. Tho’ my wishes are in favor of such an event, yet I despair so much of its accomplishment at the present crisis that I do not extend my views beyond a commercial Reform. To speak the truth I almost despair even of this.1 You will find the cause in a measure now before Congress of which you will receive the detail from Col. Monroe. I content myself with hinting that it is a proposed treaty with Spain one article of which shuts up the Mississippi twenty-five or thirty years, passing by the other Southern States, figure to yourself the effect of such a stipulation on the Assembly of Virginia, already jealous of Northern politics and which will be composed of about thirty members from the Western waters, of a majority of others attached to the Western Country from interests of their own, of their friend or their constituent, and of many others who though indifferent to Mississippi, will zealously play off the disgust of its friends against federal measures. Figure to yourself its effect on the people at large on the western waters, who are impatiently waiting for a favorable result to the negociation with Gardoqui, & who will consider themselves as sold by their Atlantic brethren. Will it be an unnatural consequence if they consider themselves absolved from every federal tie and court some protection for their betrayed rights. This protection will appear more attainable from the maritime power of Britain than from any other quarter; and Britain will be more ready than any other nation to seize an opportunity of embroiling our affairs. What may be the motive with Spain to satisfy herself with a temporary occlusion of the Mississippi at the same time that she holds forth our claim to it as absolutely inadmissible is matter for conjecture only. The patrons of the measure in Congress contend that the Minister, who at present governs the Spanish councils means only to disembarrass himself at the expence of the successors. I should rather suppose he means to worka total separation of interest and affection between western & eastern settlements and to foment the jealousy between the Eastern & Southern States. By the former the population of the Western Country it may be expected, will be checked and the Mississippi so far secured; and by both the general security of Spanish America be promoted. As far as I can learn the assent of nine States in Congress will not at this time be got to the projected treaty but an unsuccessful attempt by six or seven will favor the views of Spain and be fatal I fear to an augmentation of the federal authority if not to the little now existing. My personal situation is rendered by this business particularly mortifying. Ever since I have been out of Congress I have been inculcating on our Assembly a confidence in the equal attention of Congress to the rights and interests of every part of the republic and on the Western members in particular, the necessity of making the Union respectable by new powers to Congress if they wished Congress to negociate with effect for the Mississippi. I leave to Col. Monroe the giving you a particular account of the Impost. The Acts of Penna, Delaware & N. York must be revised & amended in material points before it can be put in force, and even then the fetters put on the collection by some other States will make it a very awkward business. Your favor of 25th. of April from London found me here. My letter from Richmd at the close of the Assembly will have informed you of the situation in which British debts stand in Virga. Unless Cons say something on the subject I do not think anything will be done by the next Session. The expectations of the British Merchants coincide with the information I had recd, as your opinion of the steps proper to be taken by the Assembly do with those for which I have ineffectually contended. The merits of Mr. P[aradise] will ensure every attention from me to his claim as far as general principles will admit. I am afraid that these will insuperably bar his wishes. The Catalogues sent by Mr. Skipwith I do not expect to receive till I get back to Virga. If you meet with “Grœcorum Respublicæ ab Ubbone Emmio descriptæ,” Sugd. Batavorum, 1632, pray get it for me.
My trip to N. Y. was occasioned chiefly by a plan concerted between Col. Monroe1 & myself for a purchase of land on the Mohawk. Both of us have visited that district and were equally charmed with it. The soil is perhaps scarcely inferior to that of Kentucky, it lies within the body of the Atlantic States & at a safe distance from every frontier, it it contiguous to a branch of Hudson’s River which is navigable with trifling portages which will be temporary, to tide-water, and is not more than ten 15 or 20 miles from populous settlements, where land sells at £8 to £10 per acre. In talking of this Country some time ago with General Washington he considered it in the same light with Monroe and myself, intimating that if he had money to spare and was disposed to deal in land, this is the very Spot which his fancy had selected of all the U. S. We have made a small purchase, and nothing but the difficulty of raising a sufficient sum restrained us from making a large one. In searching for the means of overcoming this difficulty one has occurred which we have agreed that I should mention to you, and which if you should think as we do is recommended by the prospect of advantage to yourself as well as to us. We mention it freely because we trust that if it does not meet with your sanction — you will as freely tell us so.1 It is that the aid of your credit in your private capacity be used for borrowing say four or five thousand louis more or less, on the obligation of Monroe and myself with your suretyship to be laid out by Monroe and myself for our triple emolument on interest not exceeding six p. cent to be paid annually and the principle within a term not less than eight or ten years. To guard agst. accidents a private instrument might be executed among ourselves such writing specifying all necessary covenants. We have not taken the resolution of this plan without well examining the expediency of your becoming a party to it as well as the prospect of its succeeding. There can certainly be no impropriety in your taking just means of bettering your fortune, nor can we discover in your doing this on the Mokawk more than on james River. For the prospect of gain by rise of the land beyond the interest of the money we calculate on the present difference of pri[ce] between the settled & vacant land far beyond any possible difference in the real value. The former as has been noted sells for eight or ten pounds per acre. The latter distinguished only by its being a little higher up the River & its being uninhabited was bought by us for one dollar & a half and there is little doubt that by taking up a large quantity, still better bargains may be got. This comparative cheapness proceeds from causes which are accidental & temporary. The lands in question are chiefly in the hands of men who hold large quantities and who are either in debt or live in the city at an expence for which they have no other resource or are engaged in transactions that require money. The scarcity of specie which enters much into the cheapness is probably but temporary also. As it is the child of extravagance it will become the parent of economy, which will regain us our due share of the universal medium. The same vicissitude which can only be retarded by our short-lived substitutes of paper will be attended also by such a fall in the rate of exchange that money drawn by bills from Europe now and repaid a few years hence will probably save one years interest at least. I will only add that scarce an instance has happened in which purchases of new lands of good quality and in good situations have not well rewarded the adventurers. With these remarks which determine our judgments we submit to your better one the project to which they relate. Wishing you every possible happiness I remain Dr Sir your affectionate friend & Servt.
Mrs. House and Mrs. Trist desire to be particularly remembered to yourself and Miss Patsy. I left with Col Monroe letters for you both from Mrs. T. which will probably go by the same packet with this.
TO JAMES MONROE.1
Philadelphia, August 17th, 1786.
I have your favor of the 14th inst. The expedient of which you ask my opinion has received, as it deserved, all the consideration which the time and other circumstances would allow me to give. I think that, in the present state of things, such an arrangement would be beneficial, and even pleasing to those most concerned in it; and yet I doubt extremely the policy of your proposing it to Congress.2 The objections which occur to me are: 1. That if the temper and views of Congress be such as you apprehend, it is morally certain they would not enter into the accommodation. Nothing, therefore, would be gained, and you would have to combat under the disadvantage of having forsaken your first ground. 2. If Congress should adopt your expedient as a ground of negociation with Guardoqui, and the views of Spain be such as they must be apprehended to be, it is still more certain that it would be rejected on that side, especially under the flattering hopes which the spirit of concession in Congress must have raised. In this event, the patrons of the measure now before Congress would return to it with a greater eagerness and with fresh arguments, drawn from the impossibility of making better terms, and from the relaxation into which their opponents will have been betrayed. It is even possible that a foresight of this event might induce a politic concurrence in the experiment.
Your knowledge of all circumstances will make you a better judge of the solidity or fallacy of these reflections than I can be. I do not extend them because it would be superfluous, as well as because it might lead to details which could not prudently be committed to the mail without the guard of a cypher. Not foreseeing that any confidential communication on paper would happen between us during my absence from Virginia, I did not bring mine with me.
TO AMBROSE MADISON.1
Añapolis, Sept. 8th, 1786.
I came to this place a day or two ago, where I found two cosrs only. A few more have since come in, but the prospect of a sufficient no. to make the meeting respectable is not flattering. I was sorry to find in Philada. that the unpunctuality of some of the purchasers of the Tobo. had put it out of the power of Mr. H. to supply me with all the money become due under the contracts. This unpunctuality owing partly to causes which are felt everywhere, partly to the abolition of the bank, has extended itself to men who have scarcely before afforded room for complaint. The disappointment reduced me to the dilemma of either not executing the commissions for the family & failing in some of my engagements particularly in N. Y. or of leaving you still longer to parry your creditors. Disagreeable as the latter option was I could not but consider it as the lesser inconvenience. Mr. H. has promised to spare no efforts to get in the remaining payments as fast as possible, & to send or even bring them to Annapolis in case the session here should be prolonged till a sum worth while shall be collected. If the Session here should be so far shortened as to leave me time I propose to ride back to Philada. & be the bearer of it from thence myself. I shall probably write again to you from this place. I do not write now to my father because I have nothing worth the postage. You will let him know that most of the Articles on his list will probably soon be at Fredgb. perhaps sooner than this reaches you. The West Inda. articles were dear & for that reason some of them are abridged in quantity. The other articles were cheap in general, which led me to add several beyond my commission, being well assured that if not wanted they may be either disposed of or exchanged with advantage. . . .
TO JAMES MONROE.mad. mss.
Annapolis, Sepr 11, 1786.
I have two letters from you not yet acknowledged, one of the 1st. the other of the 3d. inst: nothing could be more distressing than the issue of the business stated in the latter.1 If the affirmative vote of 7 States sd. be pursued it will add the insult of trick to the injury of the thing itself. Our prospect here makes no amends for what is done with you. Delaware N. J. & Va. alone are on the ground, two Commissrs attend from N. Y. & one from Pa. Unless the sudden attendance of a much more respectable number takes place it is proposed to break up the Meeting, with a recoendation of another time & place, & an intimation of the expediency of extending the plan to other defects of the Confederation. In case of a speedy dispersion I shall find it requisite to ride back as far as Philada. before I proceed to Virga. from which place, if not from this, I will let you know the upshot here. I have heard that Col. Grayson was stopped at Trenton by indisposition on his way to the Assembly of Pena. I hope he is well again, & wd write to him but know not whither to address a letter to him.2
Adieu. Yrs affy.
TO JAMES MONROE.mad. mss.
Philada., Octr. 5th., 1786.
I recd. yesterday your favor of the 2d. inst: which makes the third for which my acknowledgments are due. The progression which a certain measure1 seems to be making is an alarming proof of the predominance of temporary and partial interests over those just & extended maxims of policy, which have been so much boasted of among us and which alone can effectuate the durable prosperity of the Union. Should the measure triumph under the patronage of 9 States or even of the whole thirteen, I shall never be convinced that it is expedient, because I cannot conceive it to be just. There is no maxim in my opinion which is more liable to be misapplied, and which therefore more needs elucidation than the current one that the interest of the majority is the political standard of right and wrong. Taking the word “interest” as synonymous with “ultimate happiness,” in which sense it is qualified with every necessary moral ingredient, the proposition is no doubt true. But taking it in the popular sense, as referring to immediate augmentation of property and wealth, nothing can be more false. In the latter sense it would be the interest of the majority in every community to despoil & enslave the minority of individuals; and in a federal community to make a similar sacrifice of the minority of the component States. In fact it is only re-establishing under another name and a more specious form, force as the measure of right; and in this light the Western settlements will infallibly view it.
I have considered with attention the paragraph in your last which relates to the further offer of Taylor. It seems to be an inviting one & probably would turn out a good one, yet there are strong objections agst. purchasing in the dark or on a vague knowledge of the situation. There would be hazard in the experiment if both parties were on a level, but there would perhaps be rashness in it where one of them proceeds on full information. Circumspection seems also more necessary in proportion to the indulgences proposed in the payments, as they suggest other motives for selling than mere pecuniary difficulties. These objections may indeed be lessened by taking information at second hand and by supposing the partial payment in hand as the ruling motive of the seller. But still they have considerable weight; and when added to two others are decisive with me agst. an immediate contract. I draw the first of these from the numerous disappointments to which I find pecuniary matters in the present state of things are liable, and the mortifications which they involve. The second I draw from a reflection that if we should at the date of future payments have in our hands the means of discharging them, they will as ready money then command as good bargains as can now be made on credit. These remarks you will observe lye agst further speculations at present. The expediency of them under favorable circumstances I view in as strong a light as ever I did, and am happy to find your attention kept up to the subject, and you are gathering information relative to it.
I fear I shall be obliged to accept of your very friendly procrastination of the repayment which ought long ago to have been made. The disappointments which have prevented it, contribute to my delay here at this time, and will together with a vicarious business which I have undertaken for a particular friend, probably spin it out a few days longer. If anything occurs before I set out or on the road I shall not fail to write. Col. Grayson is still here. For a week he has been nearly well. his symptoms of yesterday prove that he has remains of his disorder which require his attention.
Martin did not make his report from Milligan as to the lottery tickets. pray send me the information in your next. Complts to yr family Adieu
Seal & present the inclosed if you please.
TO JAMES MONROE.mad. mss.
Richmd., Octr. 30, 1786.
I drop you a few lines rather as a fulfilment of my promise than for the purpose of information, since they go by Mr. Jones who is much better acquainted with the politics here than myself. I find with pleasure that the navigation of the Misspi. will be defended by the Legislature with as much zeal as could be wished.1 Indeed the only danger is that too much resentment may be indulged by many agst. the federal councils. Paper money has not yet been tried even in any indirect mode that could bring forth the mind of the Legislature. Appearances on the subject however are rather flattering. Mr. H [enry] has declined a reappointt. to the office he holds, and Mr. Randolph1 is in nomination for his successor, and will pretty certainly be elected. R. H. L [ee] has been talked of, but is not yet proposed. The appts. to Congs. are a subject of conversation & will be made as soon as a Senate is made. Mr. Jones will be included in the New Delegation. Your presence & communications on the point of the Miss are exceedingly wished for and would in several respects be extremely useful. If Mr. Jones does not return in a day or two come without him I beseech you. I am consulted frequently on matters concerning which I cannot or ought not to speak, and refer to you as the proper source of information as far as you may be at liberty. Hasten your trip I again beseech you. I hope Mrs. Monroe continues well. My sincerest respects wait on her. In haste
TO JAMES MADISON.mad. mss.
Richmond Novr. 1. 1786.
Jno. Tucker & Joe got down this forenoon, with articles sent. I shall execute your instructions as to the advertizements, and the Revised laws, if I can get at the latter time eno’ in the morning. I will do the same as to the French Dicty for Mr Taylor if I can effect it in time; if not I will make use of the first succeeding opportunity. I can give you no account of the Key of the Trunk. I suppose it must have been dropped or taken off & not replaced, for keys in such cases are usually fastened to the Trunks. I omitted in my letter from Fredg. to mention that I had directed 2 bolts of Oznabergs to be sent along with the other articles from Philada. but as I did it on the like condition of price & quality being approved by Mr H. it is uncertain whether any of the articles will come. I intended it merely as an experiment.
Paper money was the subject of discussion this day, and was voted by a majority of 84 vs 17, to be “unjust, impolitic, destructive of public & private confidence, and1 of that virtue which is the basis of Republican Government.” Our Revenue matters have also been on the anvil, several changes in our taxes are proposed, and it is not unlikely that some will take place. Duties on imports will be urged as far as they can be guarded agst smuggling by land, as well as by water. Govr Henry declines a reappointt, but does not come into the Assembly. The Attorney or R. H. Lee, probably the former, will supply his place. We learn that great commotions are prevailing in Massts. An appeal to the Sword is exceedingly dreaded. The discontented it is said are as numerous as the friends of Govt. and more decided in their measures. Should they get uppermost, it is uncertain what may be the effect. They profess to aim only at a reform of their Constitution and of certain abuses in the public administration, but an abolition of debts public & private, and a new division of property are strongly suspected to be in contemplation. We also learn that a general combination of the Indians threatens the frontier of the U. S. Congs are planning measures for warding off the blow, one of which is an augmentation of the federal troops to upwards of 2000 men. In addition to these ills, it is pretty certain that a formidable party in Congs are bent on surrendering the Missispi. to Spain for the sake of some commercial stipulations. The project has already excited much heat within that Assembly & if pursued will not fail to alienate the Western Country & confirm the animosity & jealousy already subsisting between the Atlantic States. I fear that, altho’ it should be frustrated, the effects already produced will be a great bar to our amendment of the Confederacy which I consider as essential to its continuance. I have letters from Kentucky which inform me that the expedition agst. the Indians has prevented the meeting which was to decide the question of their Independence. It is probable the news relative to the surrender of the Misspi. will lessen the disposition to separate. If the bacon left behind by Jno. should not have been sent it need not be sent at all. Fresh butter will from time to time, continue to be very acceptable. My best regards to my mother and the family.
Your affect. & dutiful son.
SPEECH IN THE VIRGINIA HOUSE OF DELEGATES, NOVEMBER, 1786, AGAINST PAPER MONEY.1mad. mss.
Unequal to Specie. 1. being redeble at future day and not bearing interest. 2. illustrated by [obliterated] of Bank notes—Stock in funds—paper of Spain issued during late war [see Neckar on finance]. Navy bills—tallies. 3. being of less use than specie which answers externally as well as internally—must be of value which depends on the use.
Unjust. 1. to creditors if a legal tender. 2 to debtors if not legal tender, by increasing difficulty of getting specie. This it does by increasing extravagance & unfavourable balance of trade—& by destroying that confidence between man & man, by which resources of one may be coanded by another. Illustrated 1 by raising denomination of coin 2. increasing alloy of do. brass made as silver by the Romans according to Sallust.1 3 by changing weights & measures. 4. by case of creditors within who are debtors without the State.
Unconstitutional 1. Affects rights of property as much as taking away equal value in land; illustrd. by case of land pd. for down & to be conveyd. in future, & of a law permitting conveyance to be satisfied by conveying a part only—or other land of inferior quality—2. affects property without trial by Jury.
Antifederal. Right of regulating coin given to Congs. for two reasons. 1. for sake of uniformity. 2. to prevent fraud in States towards each other or foreigners. Both these reasons hold equally as to paper money.
Uñecessary. 1. produce of country will bring in specie, if not laid out in superfluities. 2. Of paper, if necessary, eno’ already in Tobo. notes, & public securities—3. the true mode of giving value to these, and bringing in specie is to enforce Justice & taxes.
Pernicious. 1. by fostering luxury, extends instead of curing scarcity of specie—2. by disabling compliance with requisition of Congs. 3. serving dissentions between States. 4. destroyg. confidence between individuals. 5. discouraging coerce—6 enrichg. collectors & sharpers—7. vitiating morals. 8. reversing end of Govt. which is to reward best & punish worst. 9. conspiring with other States to disgrace Republican Govts. in the eyes of mankind.
Objection. paper money good before the War.
Answr. 1. not true in N. Engd. nor in Va. where exchange rose to 60 per ct. nor in Maryd. see Franklyn on paper money 2. confidence then not now. 3. principles of paper credit not then understood. Such wd. not then nor now succeed in Great Britain &c.
TO GEORGE WASHINGTON.wash. mss.
Richmond, Novr. 1, 1786.
I have been here too short a time as yet to have collected fully the politics of the Session. In general appearances are favorable. On the question of a paper emission the measure was this day rejected in emphatic terms by a majority of 84 vs. 17. The Affair of the Mississippi is but imperfectly known. I find that its influence on the federal spirit will not be less than was apprehended. The Western members will not be long silent on the subject. I inculcate a hope that the views of Congress may yet be changed and that it would be rash to suffer the alarm to interfere with the policy of amending the Confederacy. The sense of the House has not yet been tried on the latter point. The Report from the Deputies to Annapolis lies on the Table, and I hope will be called for before the business of the Mississippi begins to ferment. Mr. Henry has signified his wish not to be reelected, but will not be in the Assembly. The Attorney & R. H. Lee are in nomination for his successor. The former will probably be appointed, in which case the contest for that vacancy will lie between Col. Innes & Mr. Marshal. The nominations for Congs. are as usual numerous. There being no Senate yet it is uncertain when any of these appointments will take place.
With the sincerest affection & the highest esteem
I am Dear Sir
Yr. Obedt. & humble Servt.
TO GEORGE WASHINGTON.wash. mss.
Richmd., Novr 8th., 1786.
I am just honoured with your favor of the 5th. inst: The intelligence from Genl. Knox1 is gloomy indeed, but is less so than the colours in which I had it thro’ another channel. If the lessons which it inculcates should not work the proper impressions on the American public, it will be a proof that our case is desperate. Judging from the present temper and apparent views of our Assembly, I have some ground for leaning to the side of Hope. The vote against paper money has been followed by two others of great importance. By one of them petitions for applying a scale of depreciation to the Military certificates was unanimously rejected. By the other the expediency of complying with the Recommendation from Annapolis in favour of a general revision of the federal system was unanimously agreed to. A bill for the purpose is now depending and in a form which attests the most federal spirit. As no opposition has been yet made and it is ready for the third reading, I expect it will soon be before the public. It has been thought advisable to give this subject a very solemn dress, and all the weight that could be derived from a single State. This idea will be pursued in the selection of characters to represent Virga. in the federal convention. You will infer our earnestness on this point from the liberty which will be used of placing your name at the head of them. How far this liberty may correspond with the ideas by which you ought to be governed will be best decided when it must ultimately be decided. In every event it will assist powerfully in marking the zeal of our Legislature, and its opinion of the magnitude of the occasion. Mr. Randolph has been elected successor to Mr. Henry. He had 73 votes, Col. Bland 28, & R. H. Lee 22. The delegation to Congress drops Col. H. Lee, a circumstance which gives much pain to those who attend to the mortification in which it involves a man of sensibility. I am yet to learn the ground of the extensive disapprobation which has shewn itself.
I am Dear Sir most respectfully & affectly
Yr Obedt. & hble Servt.
TO HENRY LEE.1mad. mss.
Richmond Nov. 9th 1786.
The last mail went out at a time when I was so engaged that I could not drop a line to you—the task of first conveying to you the result of the elections for Congress here has therefore probably been performed by some of your other friends—The superiority which your reflection and firmness will maintain over the vicissitudes incident to public life, forbids any suggestions which may be calculated to abate a sensibility with regard to them—I will only assure you that the indelicacy of the situation in which your country has placed you is severely felt by those whose esteem you would most value.
The enclosed paper contains all the Legislative information worth giving you—Present my respectful compliments to Mrs. Lee, and assure yourself of my sincerest wishes for your happiness—
Js. Madison Jr.
Honble. Henry Lee
- New York
TO JAMES MADISON.mad. mss.
Richmd., Novr 16, 1786.
Mr. Anderson in answer to your enquiries tells me that you shall have goods at 87½ per Ct. and that he will take Tobo. for his brother if it be ready by the 10th. of next month.
The H. of Delegates have done little since my last, and what was then done is still ineffectual for want of a Senate. A proposition for stopping the receipt of indents was made, and met with so little countenance that it was withdrawn. They will continue to be receivable as far as the law now permits, and those who have them not would do well to provide them. A bill is depending which makes Tobo. receivable in lieu of the specie part of the current tax, according to its value at the different Warehouses. Whether it will pass or not is uncertain. I think it most probable that it will pass. Nothing has yet been done as to the certificate tax. I have sent Mr. R. Taylor his French Dicty. by Mr Pannel, its price was 4s. With best regards to the family I remain
Yr. dutiful Son
I have a letter from Mr. J. Smith giving me the first information that J. W. & J. M. are not to return to the Academy, and asking for the balance. I hope my brother F. has taken steps for remitting his.
TO HENRY LEE.mad. mss.
Richmond, Nov. 23d 1786.
I have received your favor of the 11th Instant.—Having never felt an intermission of my regard for you I cannot be insensible either to the friendship which it speaks on your part or the failure of it, which it supposes on mine—That the latter sentiment should have resulted from a communication which could have no motive but one that ought to have prevented such a consequence, may well fill me with surprise—To the former, as well as to my own feelings, I owe an explanation which might perhaps be put into a more striking dress, if I were less unused to that mode of justifying my friendships—I observe in the first place, that I was not fully aware of the extent to which the event shewed that prejudices had been diffused against you—and that my intimations on that head were meant only to break the force of a disappointment which might fall upon you—This miscalculation of danger was also more natural as I had taken it for granted that one of the gentlemen elected would have been withheld or withdrawn from the nomination—2d. that my own nomination was not suffered to be a bar to any steps in your behalf, which the occasion seemed to call for, and propriety seemed to admit—That it was properly a bar to some steps which in other circumstances might have been taken will be felt by every man who shuns the imputation of arrogantly presuming on his own appointment—and still more arrogantly seeking to annex to it, that of others with whom he chuses to be associated—Whenever indeed an assent to my own nomination to office, shall proceed from no other motive but that of “supporting the temporary wishes of myself,” a possibility only of its interference with the consideration of private friendship, shall not fail to recall it—As long as I continue to be carried into public service by motives more consonant to my professions, a presumption at least of such an interference will be held a necessary apology to myself for yielding to that consideration—What share the affair of the Mississippi had in the prejudices raised against you I am not able to say exactly—As far as I could learn the subject was little talked of previous to the election, and I believe your opinions known to but few—As I perceive your suspicions strongly connect this cause with the injury you have sustained, I feel a satisfaction in declaring that in the instances which came within my knowledge, I made it a point to urge the fact that you had invariably obeyed your instructions—that any further instructions therefore might be safely confided to you, and that it would be cruel to sacrifice to possible dangers the feelings of a public servant, who was charged with no breach of duty whatever, and who in other respects had gained distinguished honor to himself and to his country—
In stating these facts I discharge a debt due to truth, to candour, and to the friendship which has subsisted between us—The full approbation which my own mind gives to the part taken by me, leaves nothing to be added, but a return of my wishes for your health and happiness—
Adieu, sincerely yrs
Js Madison Jr
Henry Lee Jun. Esq.
TO JAMES MADISON.mad. mss.
Novr. 24. 1786.
The H. of D. have just past a bill making Tobo. receivable in the tax at the market price at the several Warehouses to be fixt by the Executive. There is a proviso that the highest price shall not exceed 28s. An equality of price throughout was contended for which I disapproved. 1. because I think it would have been unjust. 2. because the bill could not have been carried in that form. I was not anxious for its success in any form, but acquiesced in it as it stands as the people may consider it in the light of an easement, and as it may prevent some worse project in the Assembly. I have in my hands about 300 dollrs. in indents the property of a friend in Philada. which may be applied to your taxes at the market value if you chuse to take them. A call of the House stops me.
TO THOMAS JEFFERSON.mad. mss.
Richmd Decr 4, 1786.
Your last favor which was of the 25th. of April, has already been acknowledged. My last inclosing a letter from Mrs Carr, was dated a few days ago only. It was put into the hands of Mosr. Chevalier who has gone to N. York, whither I shall forward this to his care. He is to embark in the packet which will sail on the 15th. inst: The recommendation from the meeting at Annapolis of a plenipotentiary Convention in Philada. in May next has been well reced. by the Assembly here. Indeed the evidence of dangerous defects in the confederation has at length proselyted the most obstinate adversaries to a reform. The unanimous sanction given by the Assembly to the inclosed compliance1 with the Recommendation marks sufficiently the revolution of sentiment which the experience of one year has effected in this Country. The deputies are not yet appointed. It is expected that Genl Washington, the present Govr. E. Randolph, Esqr. & the late one Mr. Henry, will be of the number.2
The project for bartering the Missipi to Spain was brought before the Assembly after the preceding measure had been adopted. The report of it having reached the ears of the Western Representatives, as many of them as were on the spot, backed by a number of the late officers, presented a memorial, full of consternation & complaint; in consequence of which some very pointed resolutions by way of instruction to the Delegates in Congs. were unanimously entered into by the House of Delegates. They are now before the Senate who will no doubt be also unanimous in their Concurrence.
The question of paper money was among the first with which the Session opened. It was introduced by petitions from two Counties. The discussion was faintly supported by a few obscure patrons of the measure, and on the vote it was thrown out by 85 vs 17. A petition for paying off the public securities according to a scale of their current prices, was unanimously rejected.
The consideration of the Revised Code has been resumed & prosecuted pretty far towards its conclusion. I find however that it will be impossible as well as unsafe to give an ultimate fiat to the System at this session. The expedient I have in view is to provide for a supplemental revision by a comtee who shall accommodate the bills skipped over, and the subsequent laws, to such part of the code as has been adopted, suspending the operation of the latter for one year longer. Such a work is rendered indispensable by the alterations made in some of the bills in their passage, by the change of circumstances which call for corresponding changes in sundry bills which have been laid by, and by the incoherence between the whole code & the laws in force of posterior date to the code. This business has consumed a great deal of the time of two Sessions, and has given infinite trouble to some of us. We have never been without opponents who contest at least every innovation inch by inch. The bill proportioning crimes & punishments on which we were wrecked last year, has after undergoing a number of alterations, got thro’ a Committee of the whole; but it has not yet been reported to the House, where it will meet with the most vigorous attack. I think the chance is rather against its final passage in that branch of the Assembly, and if it should not miscarry there, it will have another gauntlet to run through the Senate.
The bill on the subject of Education which could not safely be brought into discussion at all last year, has undergone a pretty indulgent consideration this. In order to obviate the objection from the inability of the Country to bear the expence, it was proposed that it should be passed into a law, but its operation suspended for three or four years. Even in this form however there would be hazard in pushing it to a final question, and I begin to think it will be best to let it lie over for the supplemental Revisors, who may perhaps be able to put it into some shape that will lessen the objection of expence. I should have no hesitation at this policy if I saw a chance of getting a Committee equal to the work of compleating the Revision. Mr. Pendleton is too far gone to take any part in it. Mr. Wythe I suppose will not decline any duty which may be imposed on him, but it seems almost cruel to tax his patriotic zeal any farther. Mr. Blair is the only remaining character in which full confidence could be placed.
The delay in the administration of Justice from the accumulation of business in the Genl Court, and despair of obtaining a reform according to the Assize plan, have led me to give up this plan in favor of district Courts; which differ from the former in being clothed with all the powers of the Genl. Court within their respective districts. The bill on the latter plan will be reported in a few days and will probably tho’ not certainly be adopted.
The fruits of the impolitic measures taken at the last Session with regard to taxes are bitterly tasted now. Our Treasury is empty, no supplies have gone to the federal treasury, and our internal embarrassments torment us exceedingly. The present Assembly have good dispositions on the subject, but some time will elapse before any of their arrangements can be productive. In one instance only the general principles of finance have been departed from. The specie part of the tax under collection is made payable in Tobo. This indulgence to the people as it is called & considered was so warmly wished for out of doors, and so strenuously pressed within that it could not be rejected without danger of exciting some worse project of a popular cast. As Tobo. alone is made commutable, there is reason to hope the public treasury will suffer little if at all. It may possibly gain.
The Repeal of the port bill has not yet been attempted. Col. Mason has been waited for as the hero of the attack. As it is become uncertain whether he will be down at all, the question will probably be brought forward in a few days. The repeal were he present would be morally certain. Under the disadvantage of his absence it is more than probable. The question of British debts has also awaited his patronage. I am unable to say what the present temper is on that subject, nothing having passed that could make trial of it. The repeated disappointments I have sustained in efforts in favor of the Treaty make me extremely averse to take the lead in the business again.
The public appointmts. have been disposed of as follows: The contest for the chair lay between Col. Bland & Mr. Prentis. The latter prevailed by a majority of near 20 votes. Mr. Harrison the late Speaker lost his election in Surry which he represented last year; and since has been equally unsuccessful in his pristine County Charles City where he made a second experiment. In the choice of a Governor Mr. E. Randolph had a considerable majority of the whole on the first ballot. His competitors were Col. Bland & R. H. Lee, each of whom had between 20 & 30 votes. The delegation to Congs. contained under the first choice Grayson, Carrington, R. H. Lee, Mr. Jones & myself. Col. H. Lee of the last delegation was dropt. The causes were different I believe & not very accurately known to me. One of them is said to have been his supposed heterodoxy touching the Missippi. Mr. Jones has since declined his appointmt., & Col. Lee has been reinstated by an almost unanimous vote. A vacancy in the Council produced by the Resignation of Mr. Roane is filled by Mr. Bolling Starke. Cyrus Griffin was a candidate but was left considerably in the rear. The Attorney Generalship has been conferred on Col. Innes. Mr Marshall had a handsome vote.
Our summer & fall have been wet beyond all imagination in some places, and much so everywhere. The crops of corn are in general plentiful. The price up the country will not exceed 8s or 10s. In this district it is scarcest & dearest, being already as high as 12s or 15s. The crop of Tobo. will fall short considerably it is calculated of the last year’s. The highest & lowest prices in the Country of the new crop are 25s & 20s. A rise is confidently expected.
My next will be from N. Y. whither I shall set out as soon as the principal business of the Session is over. Till my arrival there I postpone communications relative to our national affairs, which I shall then be able to make on better grounds, as well as some circumstances relative to the affairs of this State, which the hurry of the present opportunity restrains me from entering into.
TO GENERAL WASHINGTON.mad. mss.
Richmond, Decr 7, 1786.
Notwithstanding the communications in your favor of the 18th Ulto, which has remained till now unacknowledged, it was the opinion of every judicious friend whom I consulted, that your name could not be spared from the Deputation to the Meeting in May at Philadelphia. It was supposed in the first place, that the peculiarity of the Mission, and its acknowledged pre-eminence over every other public object, may possibly reconcile your undertaking it, with the respect which is justly due, & which you wish to pay, to the late officers of the Army; and in the second place, that although you should find that or any other consideration an obstacle to your attendance on the service, the advantage of having your name in the front of the appointment, as a mark of the earnestness of Virga, and an invitation to the most select characters from every part of the Confederacy, ought at all events to be made use of. In these sentiments I own I fully concurred, and flatter myself that they will at least apologize for my departure from those held out in your letter. I even flatter myself that they will merit a serious consideration with yourself, whether the difficulties which you enumerate ought not to give way to them.
The affair of the Mississippi which was brought before the Assembly in a long Memorial from the Western members and some of the Officers, has undergone a full consideration of both Houses. The Resolutions printed in the papers were agreed to unanimously in the House of Delegates. In the Senate, I am told, the language was objected to by some members, as too pointed. They certainly express in substance the decided sense of the country at this time on the subject, and were offered in the place of some which went much farther, and which were in other respects exceptionable. I am entirely convinced, from what I observe here, that unless the project of Congress (for ceding to Spain the Mississippi for 25 years) can be reversed, the hopes of carrying this State into a proper federal system will be demolished. Many of our most federal leading men are extremely soured with what has already passed. Mr. Henry, who has been hitherto the Champion of the federal cause has become a cold advocate, and in the event of an actual sacrifice of the Mississippi by Congress, will unquestionably go over to the opposite side. I have a letter from Col. Grayson of late date which tells me that nothing further has been done in Congress, and one from Mr A. Clarke of New Jersey, which informs me that he expected every day, instructions from his Legislature for reversing the vote given by the Delegates of that State in favor of the project.
The temper of the Assembly at the beginning of the Session augured an escape from every measure this year not consonant to the proper principles of Legislation. I fear now that the conclusion will contradict the promising outset. In admitting Tobacco for a commutable, we perhaps swerved a little from the line in which we set out. I acquiesced in the measure myself as a prudential compliance with the clamours within doors & without, and as a probable means of obviating more hurtful experiments. I find however now, that it either had no such tendency, or that schemes were in embryo which I was not aware of. A bill for establishing District Courts, has been clogged with a plan for installing all debts now due, so as to make them payable in three annual portions. What the fate of the experiment will be I know not. It seems pretty certain, that if it fails, the bill will fail with it. It is urged in support of the measure that it will be favorable to debtors and creditors both, and that, without it the bill for accelerating justice would ruin the former, and endanger the public repose. The objections are so numerous, and of such a nature, that I shall myself give up the bill rather than pay such a price for it.
With unfeigned affection, &c.
TO JAMES MADISON.mad. mss.
Richmd Decr 17th 1786.
Yours by Mr. Porter has been handed to me. I have not had an oppy of enquirg of Mr. Anderson concerning the person who is to receive Tobo. for his brother. I mentioned before that the rate of indents here was about a dollar in the pound. Whether I can get the certificates for your taxes I cannot say, nor do I know the rate at which they pass. Mr Jones has returned hither & declines his appt. to Congs. Fresh butter will be very acceptable, the supply sent being already out. No other article of provisions is wanted, as we dine at a Tavern. I propose to go from Fredg. to N. York in the Stage, & shall consequently take no horses with me. When I shall set out I can not decide, but expect to leave this before Xmas sometime. The representation of the State in Congs. during the winter will be so precarious that I shall be able to stay a day or two only in Orange.1 I have other reasons also of a public nature for wishing to hasten my journey, and a private one arising from the probable increase of the cold in case of delay. Tell my brother Ambrose, I wish him to sound Mr. Cowherd as to the possibility of his making a payment before the first of Jany instead of the time fixed. I will abate a reasonable interest, and be obliged to him into the bargain. My affections to the family. Yr. dutiful son
Js. Madison Jr.
I wish my cloathes so far as they may require little amendmts to be put in order before I get to Orange, that I may not be detained on that score.
TO JAMES MONROE.mad. mss.
Richmd, Decr 21st, 1786.
Your favor of the 16th. inst: came to hand too late the evening before last to be then answered. The payment of the 100 drs. here was perfectly convenient, and I have put that sum into the hands of Mr. Jones to be applied to the use which you have directed. This payment added to the 100 drs paid in Philada. leaves still a balance of 137½ according to my memorandm. which is subject to your further orders. We hear nothing from any of the other States on the subject of the federal Convention. The ice seems to have intercepted totally the Northern communication for a considerable time past. The Assembly have been much occupied of late with the bill for district Courts. On the final question there was a majority of one agst. it in fact, though on the count a mistake made the division equal & it fell to the Chair to decide who passed the bill. The real majority however were sensible of the mistake & refused to agree to the title, threatening a secession at the same time. The result was a compromise that the question sd. be decided anew the next morning, when the bill was lost in a full house by a single voice. It is now proposed to extend the Session of the Genl. Court so as to accelerate the business depending there. We hear that Maryland is much agitated on the score of paper money the H. of Delegates having decided in favour of an emission. Adieu. Yrs. Affy.
TO GEORGE WASHINGTON.mad. mss.
Richmond, Decr 24, 1786.
Your favor of the 16th instant came to hand too late on thursday evening to be answered by the last mail. I have considered well the circumstances which it confidentially discloses, as well as those contained in your preceding favor.1 The difficulties which they oppose to an acceptance of the appointment in which you are included can as little be denied, as they can fail to be regretted. But I still am inclined to think that the posture of our affairs, if it should continue, would prevent every criticism on the situation which the contemporary meetings would place you in; and that at least a door could be kept open for your acceptance hereafter, in case the gathering clouds became so dark & menacing as to supersede every consideration but that of our national existence & safety. A suspence of your ultimate determination would be nowise inconvenient in a public view, as the Executive are authorised to fill vacancies; and can fill them at any time; and, in any event, three out of seven deputies are authorized to represent the State. How far it may be admissible in another view, will depend perhaps in some measure on the chance of your finally undertaking the service; but principally on the correspondence which is now passing on the subject between yourself and the Governor.
Your observations on Tobacco as a commutable in the taxes are certainly just & unanswerable. My acquiescence in the measure was against every general principle which I have embraced, and was extorted by a fear that some greater evil under the name of relief to the people would be substituted. I am far from being sure however that I did right. The other evils contended for have indeed been as yet parried, but it is very questionable whether the concession in the affair of the Tobo. had much hand in it. The original object was paper money. Petitions for graduating certificates succeeded. Next came instalments. And lastly a project for making property a tender for debts at ⅘ of its value. All these have been happily got rid of by very large majorities. But the positive efforts in favor of Justice have been less successful. A plan for reforming the administration in this branch accommodated more to the general opinion than the Assize plan got as far as the third reading, and was then lost by a single vote. The Senate would have passed it readily, and would have even added amendments of the right complexion. I fear it will be some time before this necessary reform will again have a fair chance. Besides some other grounds of apprehension, it may well be supposed that the Bill which is to be printed for consideration of the public, will, instead of calling forth the sanction of the wise & virtuous, be a signal to interested men to redouble their efforts to get into the Legislature. The Revenue business is still unfinished. The present rage seems to be to draw all our income from trade. From the sample given of the temper of the House of Delegates on this subject, it is much to be feared that the duties will be augmented with so daring a hand, that we shall drive away our trade instead of making it tributary to our treasury. The only hope that can be indulged is that of moderating the fury. The Port bill was defended against a repeal by about 70 votes against about 40. The revised code is not quite finished and must receive the last hand from a succeeding assembly. Several bills of consequence being rendered unfit to be passed in their present form by a change of circumstances since they were prepared, necessarily require revision. Others as the Education bill &c are thought to be adapted only to a further degree of wealth and population. Others, as the Execution bill which subjects lands to debts, do not find yet an adequate patronage. Several bills also, and particularly the bill relating to crimes & punishments, have been rejected, and require reconsideration from another assembly. This last bill after being purged of its objectionable peculiarities, was thrown out on the third reading by a single vote. It will little elevate your idea of our Senate to be told that they negatived the bill defining the privileges of ambassadors, on the principle, as I am told, that an alien ought not to be put on better ground than a citizen. British debts have not yet been mentioned, and probably will not, unless Congress say something on the matter before the adjournment.
With every sentiment of esteem &c &c.
The petition is in Madison’s handwriting.
June 3, 1784, a memorial from the Protestant Episcopal Church in Virginia was presented in the House of Delegates stating that the church labored under disadvantages because of several laws directing the modes of worship, and requesting the repeal of such acts; “that an act may pass, to incorporate the Protestant Episcopal Church in Virginia, to enable them to regulate all the spiritual concerns of that Church, alter its form of worship, and constitute such canons, by-laws and rules for the government and good order thereof, as are suited to their religious principles; and in general that the Legislature will aid and patronize the Christian religion.” This was referred to the Committee on Religion, of which Madison was himself a member; but he was opposed to the views of the majority of his colleagues. On June 8 Carey reported that the memorial seemed to the committee to be reasonable. The bill for the incorporation of the Protestant Episcopal Church was read the second time June 16, and after modification to a less objectionable form passed at the next session of the Assembly. (See Journal of the House of Delegates.) Madison himself voted for it, as a strategic movement, to ward off action on the more important bill for religious assessments. The act contained twelve sections, providing that the “Minister and vestry of the Protestant Episcopal Church” should, under that name, constitute a body politic and corporate in the respective parishes, and should forever enjoy all glebe lands already purchased, churches, burying-grounds, etc., belonging to them, “and every other thing the property of the late established church.” In the proceedings of the ministers and vestries all matters were to be decided by a majority vote. They had full power and authority to purchase and enjoy lands, etc. In whatever parishes ministers and vestrymen wished to form a body corporate under the act, it was lawful for any two members of the church to call together the other members in the parish and elect twelve church members, to form a vestry and with the minister of the church were authorized to regulate all its religious concerns, doctrine, discipline and worship. (Hening’s Statutes at Large, 11, 532).
Beginning with the session of the Assembly in the Autumn of 1786 petitions to repeal the act began to pour in, and also a smaller number against the repeal (Journal of the House of Delegates, Oct. 31, Nov. 1, Nov. 6, Nov. 9, Nov. 10, Nov. 17, Nov. 24, Dec. 4, Dec. 5, Dec. 7.) The act of repeal was finally passed Jan. 10, 1787. (Hening’s Stats. at Large, 12, 266.)
Rev Dr John B. Smith, of Hampden-Sidney College, a Presbyterian, wrote to Madison under date June 21, 1784:
“Since my arrival at home, I have seen a part of your Journals, & by them have learned the objects of the Petition from the Episcopal Clergy, which in one or two instances, appear to me very exceptionable. The first part of their prayer is necessary & proper; & the whole of it might pass without much animadversion to its disadvantage, ’till you hear them requesting that ‘they, the Clergy, may be incorporated by law’; & then an attentive mind must revolt against it as very unjustifiable, & very insulting to the members of their communion in general. Had they requested that an incorporating act should pass, in favour of that Church as a party of Christians, whereby the people might have had a share in the direction of ecclesiastical regulations, & the appointment of Church officers for that purpose, it would have been extremely proper. But as the matter now stands, the clergy seem desirous to exclude them from any share in such a privilege & willing to oblige the members of their Churches to sit down patiently, under such regulations as an incorporated body of Clergymen, who wish to be peculiarly considered as ministers in the view of the law, shall chuse to make, without a legal right to interpose in any manner, but such as these spiritual leaders may think fit to allow. * * * * * *
“But that part of the petition, which concerns me most as well as every non-Episcopalian in the state, is, where these Clergymen pray for an act of the Assembly to enable, them to regulate all the spiritual concerns of that Church &c. This is an express attempt to draw the State into an illicit connexion & commerce with them, which is already the ground of that uneasiness which at present prevails thro’ a great part of the State. According to the spirit of that prayer, the Legislature is to consider itself as the head of that Party, & consequently they as members are to be fostered with particular care.”
[1 ]“On my return to Orange I found the copy of your Notes brought along with it by Mr. Doradour. I have looked them over carefully myself & consulted several judicious friends in confidence. We are all sensible that the freedom of your strictures on some particular measures and opinions will displease their respective abettors. But we equally concur in thinking that this consideration ought not to be weighed against the utility of your plan. We think both the facts and remarks which you have assembled too valuable not to be made known, at least to those for whom you destine them, and speak of them to one another in terms which I must not repeat to you.”—Madison to Jefferson, November 15, 1785. Mad. MSS.
[1 ]The portions of the letter printed in italics are in cypher in the original.
[1 ]Meriwether Smith.
[1 ]Cypher for italics.
[1 ]“If you visit this place shortly I will present you to a young lady who will be adopted a citizen of Virga. in the course of this week.” Monroe to Madison, February 11, 1786.—Writings of Monroe, i., 123.
[2 ]Madison and Monroe bought lands in the Mohawk Valley on a speculation. They desired Jefferson to join in the enterprise but he did not accept. Apparently no money was made in the transaction.
[1 ]“Jersey having taken into consideration the late requisition, the house of delegates resolv’d that having enter’d into the confederation upon terms highly disadvantagous to that state, from the necessity of public Affrs at the time, and a confidence that those points in which they were aggriev’d wod. be remedied and finding this was not the case and a compact founded in such unequal principles likely, by their acquiescence to be fetter’d on them, they wod. not therefore comply with the same until their grievances were redress’d.”—Monroe to Madison, March 19, 1786.—Writings of Monroe, i., 124.
[1 ]On Virginia.
[1 ]“ ‘Behold, Reader, the form of George Washington. For his worth, ask History; that will tell it, when this stone shall have yielded to the decays of time. His cuntry erects this monument. Houdon makes it.’ This for one side. On the 2d represent the evacuation of Boston with the motto ‘Hostibus primum fugatis.’ On the 3d the capture of the Hessians with ‘Hostibus iterum devictis.’ On the 4th the surrender of York, with ‘Hostibus ultimum deballatis.”’—Jefferson to Madison, February 8, 1786.—Writings of Jefferson, iv., 195. Fortunately the unpretentious inscription required by Virginia was adhered to.
[2 ]Italics for cypher.
* * * * * * * * *
“as soon as I had got clear of the town I fell in with a poor woman walking at same rate with myself & going the same course. wishing to know the condition of the labouring poor I entered into conversation with her, which I began by enquiries for the path which would lead me into the mountain: & thence proceeded to enquiries into her vocation, condition & circumstance. she told me she was a daylabourer, at 8 sous or 4d. sterling the day: that she had two children to maintain, & to pay a rent of 30 livres for her home, (which would consume the hire of 75 days) that often she could get no emploiment, and of course was without bread. as we had walked together near a mile & she had so far served me as a guide, I gave her, on parting, 24 sous. she burst into tears of a gratitude which I could perceive was unfeigned, because she was unable to utter a word. she had probably never before received so great an aid. this little attendrissement, with the solitude of my walk led me into a train of reflections on that unequal division of property which occasions the numberless instances of wretchedness which I had observed in this country & is to be observed all over Europe. the property of this country is absolutely concentered in a very few hands, having revenues of from half a million of guineas a year downwards. these employ the flower of the country as servants, some of them having as many as 200 domestics. not labouring. they employ also a great number of manufacturers, & tradesmen, & lastly the class of labouring husbandmen. but after all these comes the most numerous of all the classes, that is, the poor who cannot find work. I asked myself what could be the reason that so many should be permitted to beg who are willing to work, in a country where there is a very considerable proportion of uncultivated lands? these lands are kept idle mostly for the sake of game. it should seem then that it must be because of the enormous wealth of the proprietors which places them above attention to the increase of their revenues by permitting these lands to be laboured. I am conscious that an equal division of property is impracticable. but the consequences of this enormous inequality producing so much misery to the bulk of mankind, legislators cannot invent too many devices for sub-dividing property, only taking care to let their sub divisions go hand in hand with the natural affections of the human mind. the descent of property of every kind therefore to all the children, or to all the brothers & sisters, or other relations in equal degree is a politic measure, and a practicable one. another means of silently lessening the unequality of property is to exempt all from taxation below a certain point, & to tax the higher portions of property in geometrical progression as they rise. Whenever there is in any country, uncultivated lands and unemployed poor, it is clear that the laws of property have been so far extended as to violate natural right, the earth is given as a common stock to man to labour & live on. if, for the encouragement of industry we allow it to be appropriated, we must take care that other employment be permitted to those excluded from the appropriation. if we do not the fundamental right to labour the earth returns to the unemployed. it is too soon yet in our country to say that every man who cannot find employment but who can find uncultivated land, shall be at liberty to cultivate it, paying a moderate rent, but it is not too soon to provide by every possible means that as few as possible shall be without a little portion of land. the small land holders are the most precious part of a state.”—Jefferson to Madison, Mad. MSS.
[1 ]Malthus’ first edition of his Essay on the Principle of Population was not published till 1798.
[1 ]in enumerating the distinctions between our mole & the coon one of Europe, I find I omitted the difference of colour. You know the colour of ours, which is pretty remote from black, tho’ somewhat darkish. [Note in MS.]
[1 ]Italics for cypher.
[1 ]The claims of the State against the General Government. See Monroe’s letter. Writings, i., 135.
[1 ]The MSS. records of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Company in the office of the Company in Washington show the work referred to here of the Potomac Company.
[1 ]The portions of the letter in cypher are represented by italics.
[1 ]Monroe left the White House hopelessly broken in fortune and spent the latter part of his life in absolute poverty. Madison and Jefferson left behind them estates overburdened with debt. No one of the three possessed the talent of either making or saving money. It was this land speculation, however, which Madison believed would make him moderately wealthy.
[1 ]August 15 Madison sent the substance of this part of the letter to Monroe. Mad. MSS.
[1 ]From the Works of Madison.
[2 ]“It has occurr’d to G[rayson] & myself to propose to Congress that negotiations be carried on with Spn. upon the following principles: 1. That exports be admitted thro’ the Mississippi to some free port—perhaps N. Orleans, to pay there a toll to Spn. of abt 3 pr. centm. ad valorem & to be carried thence under the regulations of Congress. 2. That imports shall pass into the Western country thro’ the ports of the U. S. only. 3. That this sacrifice be given up to obtain in other respects a beneficial treaty. I beg of you to give me yr. opinion on it.”—Monroe to Madison, August 14, 1786, Writings of Monroe, i., 151, 152.
[1 ]New York Public Library (Lenox) MSS.
[1 ]The instructions to Jay on the subject of the Mississippi negotiations having been in part repealed, the plan of the friends of the free navigation to order the transfer of negotiations to Madrid was blocked by a newly-adopted rule of Congress “that we shall not move in form or substance any proposition which has been set aside by the previous question, unless the same number of States are present.”—Monroe to Madison, Writings of Monroe, i., 159, 160.
[2 ]The following bill is of interest as showing what Madison’s expenses were while he was attending the Annapolis convention:
|“Septr. 5||Lodging & Breakfast 3/9 Dinner 3/9||£ 0.||7.||0|
|wine 3/9 punch 2/6 porter 2/6||0.||8.||9|
|punch 1/ servt Board 12/||0.||13.||0|
|6||Lodging & Breakfast 3/9 wine 2/6||0.||6.||3|
|porter 2/6 Dinner 3/9. Servt Grog 1/||0.||7.||3|
|Board for Servt. 6/||0.||6||0|
|“Septr. 7||Lodging and Breakfast 3/9 Tea 1/10||£ 0.||5.||7|
|Servt. Board 6/||0.||6.||0|
|8||Lodging and Breakfast 3/9 Servt Board 6/||0.||9.||9|
|9||Lodging and Breakfast 3/9 Punch 1/3||0.||5.||0|
|Dinner and Club 8/9 Tea 1/10 Servt Board 6/||0.||16.||7|
|10||Lodging and Breakfast 3/9 Tea 1/10 Servt board 6/||0.||11.||7|
|11||Lodging & Breakfast 3/9 Dinner 3/9 Club 5/||0.||12.||6|
|Tea 1/10 Servt Board 6/||0.||7.||10|
|12||Lodging & Breakfast 3/9 Dinner & Club 8/9||0.||12.||6|
|Tea 1/10 Servt Board 6/||0.||7.||10|
|13||Lodging & Breakfast 3/9 Servt Board 6/||0.||9.||9|
|Stabling & hay 45/ Oats 56 Gallons @ 10d 46/8/||4.||11.||8|
|Omited the 4th Punch 2/6 Supper 3/ servt do. 2/||4.||7.||6|
|Hay and Oats 6/8||4.||6.||8|
|14||Lodging & Breakfast 3/9 Dinner & Club 10/9||0.||14.||6|
|Servts Board 6/ Hay & Oats 11. 8||0.||11.||8|
|15||Lodging 1/ Servt. 6/||1.||6|
Contents Received in full Geo Mann.” Mad. MSS.
[1 ]The prospective treaty with Spain closing the navigation of the Mississippi.
[1 ]The House of Delegates received a memorial from the delegates representing the counties of the district of Kentucky, setting forth that a report prevailed in that district that Congress proposed to cede to Spain the exclusive navigation of the Mississippi for twenty-five or thirty years, in consideration of some commercial advantages, that they conceived it their duty to represent that the prosperity of the Western country was absolutely dependent on the free navigation of that river, as without it they could not carry their produce to market; that Congress could not, without a flagrant violation of the confederation, deprive them of an advantage which nature had thus given them, and for the secure enjoyment of which the federal government was formed. Resolutions and instructions to the delegates in Congress in the sense of the memorial were passed by the House, November 29, 1786.—Journal of House of Delegates.
[1 ]Edmund Randolph was elected.
[1 ]The vote appears in the Journals of the House of Delegates as 85 to 17. The resolution was: “Resolved, that it is the opinion of this committee, [of the whole] that the petition of sundry inhabitants of the counties of Brunswick and Campbell, praying for an emission of paper money, are unreasonable and ought to be rejected; and that, in the opinion of this committee, an emission of paper money would be unjust, impolitic and destructive of public and private confidence, and of that virtue which is the basis of republican government.” Nevertheless, petitions praying for an emission of paper money were received by the House December 7.
[1 ]Notes on the back of a letter to Madison from Robt. Johnson, dated 23d September, 1786:
|Unequal to specie.||Bank notes. Stock.|
|Objectn.||navy bills. tallies|
|Spanish paper Useless|
|Unjust either to Credts. or debtrs|
|2. Weights & measures|
|3. brass made for silver by Romns.|
|4. Case of debtrs to other States|
|Unconstitutional.||1. property decd by bill of Rights|
|Antifedl.||2. trial by Jury|
|Unnecessary.||1. produce will bring specie|
|2. paper in Tobo. notes Warrts. &c|
|Hurtful||1. by luxury increase, not cure the evil of scarcity of specie|
|2. destroy confidence public & private|
|3. source of dissension between States see Confedn. as to regulation of coin|
|4. enrich collectors, speculators &—|
|5. vitiate morals|
|6. reverse the end of Govt by punishing good Citizens & rewarding bad.|
|7. discourage foreign commerce &c|
|8. dishonor our Repub [illegible] the eyes of mankind|
|Examples of other States & during war|
|Objectn.||paper good formerly|
|Answer.||1. Not true in N. E. Va. Maryd. 12 to 20 Per Ct.|
|2. Confidence then|
|3. principles of money not then understood|
|Such wd not then nor now do in Europe|
|Advantages from rejectg. paper|
|1. Distinguish the State & its credit|
|2. draw coerce & specie|
|3. Not honorable [example] to other states.|
[1 ]Shortly after Cicero’s first great speech against Catiline, Catiline’s friend, Caius Manlius, despatched deputies to the Roman general, Quintus Marcius Rex, with instructions to say, among other things: “Often have your forefathers, taking compassion on the Roman people, relieved their poverty by their decrees; and very recently, within our memory, silver was paid with brass, owing to the pressure of debt, with the approval of all good citizens.”—Sallust’s Conspiracy of Catiline, ch. 33. The payments were in pursuance of a law proposed by L. Valerius Flaccus, Consul, A. U. C. 667. Only the fourth part was paid, an as for a sestertius, and a sestertius for a denarius.
[1 ]Respecting Shay’s Rebellion.
[1 ]“Alexa. 20th. Decr. 86.
“My Dear Sir,—After the notification of my disgrace which reached me about the 20th Nov. I hastened from N York & pressed forward to my home. Every difficulty of weather and roads opposed my progress and retarded me effectually, for it took us three weeks to reach this place which I had reckoned on accomplishing in twelve days. At length we arrived on the banks of patomac, and thro our avidity to embrace our friends, were on the point of destruction for some hours, by rashly adventuring to cross in the night, thro’ bodies of floating ice. But providence, kinder to me than my beloved country rescued my family & myself, with some detriment of sense but no injury to my reputation—striking difference to be sure, and a theme for unceasing admiration of the Supreme benevolence on my part. This subject always disturbs me & excites my resentment. But cruel & ungrateful as I estimate the treatment I have received from the assembly, I am frank to declare to you that the opinion I had formed of your dereliction of the friendship which existed between us rendered my affection doubly severe. In all nations precedents are to be found demonstrative of the caprice & indelicacy of public bodys, therefore being not alone I could have procured repose to my feelings that all who knew me, would attribute my dismission to the proper cause.
“Your abandonment of a man who loved your character to excess & who esteemed your friendship among the first blessings of his life connected with the circumstance of your election to the office from which he was dismissed, together with many other considerations which are unnecessary to repeat wounded me deeply, & has given me many melancholy hours. Your letter of the 11th. affords me some relief, & as it explains your intentions which before were subject to conjecture, strengthens my hope that you regard me as I have esteemed you, & that no difference in political sentiments ever has or ever can cool the affection which commenced in our youth, and till very lately has existed in full vigor. It is my wish that we may ever be united, & I believe you cannot question my sentiments, especially, when it relates to you.”—Henry Lee to Madison, Mad. MSS. Lee was soon restored to favor in the State. Madison wrote to him again November 23d..
[1 ]“Resolved unanimously, That an act ought to pass, in conformity to the report of the Commissioners assembled at Annapolis on the 14th of September last, for appointing Commissioners on the part of this State, to meet Commissioners on the part of the other States, in Convention at Philadelphia, on the second Monday in May next, with powers to devise such further provision as shall appear to them necessary to render the constitution of the federal government adequate to the exigencies of the Union; and to report such an act for that purpose to the United States in Congress assembled, as when agreed to by them, and afterwards confirmed by the Legislature of every State, will effectually provide for the same.”
The resolution was written by Madison. The copy enclosed was contained in a newspaper clipping.
[2 ]Henry refused to serve. The full Virginia delegation consisted of Madison, Wythe, Randolph, Mason, Blair and McClurg.
[1 ]“The truth is, we have not a government to wield and correct. . . . We have only four States now on the floor.”—Carrington to Madison, from Congress, December 18, 1786. Mad. MSS.
[1 ]Washington declined re-election to the presidency of the Society of the Cincinnati, chiefly because he did not wish to participate in a contest over a proposed change in the plan of the society, which was to be discussed at the meeting to be held at Philadelphia in May. He gave, as his reasons for not attending, his occupations, his precarious health, and that he desired to live in retirement. To serve in the federal convention when the Cincinnati were in session might put him in a false position. He finally yielded, however, to the pleadings of his friends. Washington to Madison, December 16, 1786, Ford’s Writings of Washington,ii, 92, et seq.