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Madison, James (1751-1836) to Arthur Lee

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Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC03930 Author/Creator: Madison, James (1751-1836) Place Written: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Type: Autograph letter signed Date: 28 May 1782 Pagination: 4 p. ; 22.5 x 19 cm.

Summary of Content: Reports on intelligence received from the arrival of USS Alliance and a French cutter ship, commenting on British attempts to weaken the American-French alliance. Discusses the diplomatic efforts of John Adams, Francis Dana, Robert Livingston, and John Jay in Europe. Mentions the capitulation of Yorktown and the good acquired. Comments on conflicting reports of activities in the West Indies. Ventures the opinion that "every triumph of enemy on the ocean is rather a new argument to all of Europe in favor of our independence." Closes with comments about the need for greater representation in Congress. There is a long note written horizontally on the bottom of page four concerning congressional and financial matters.

Background Information: Signer of the U.S. Constitution.

Full Transcript: Philadelphia May 28th 1782
Dear Sir

I received your favor of the 16th instant between 9 & 10 o'clock last night. The post having been delayed by [illegible]. I shall pursue your commands with ...respect to the bill inclosed in it.
The arrival of the Alliance Frigate at Blood Island and the subsequent arrival of a French Cutter at Salem have furnished Congress & the Minister of France with pretty late intelligence from Europe. The latter has not yet communicated the contents of his dispatches. Those from our ministers at Versailles & the Hague inform us that British influences had been practicing every address on each of them to feel the pulse of their constituents and debauch them from their engagements with France. At the same time very tempting concessions were held out to the latter for a similar purpose. Proper answers were given to each of those insidious applications. These circumstances afford a seasonable admonition to the credulous of the wickedness of Mr. Caitlon's Mission. We have heard nothing from this gentleman since the refusal of a passport for his Secretary to visit Congress.
[2] Mr. Adams seems to be making considerable progress in Holland towards an acknowledgment of [illegible] his public character. He says the Prince had declared his inability to visit the [illegible] in favor of a connection with the U. States.
We have rec'd [received] no letters from Mr. Dana very lately. If I do not forget some have been red. (received) since you left us which contained little more than a [illegible] of that he had not become sensible of the error which his preceding letter displayed. Dispatches from Mr. Jay transmitted by Col. Livingston have been lost to us by the capture of this gentleman by a [illegible] from N. York. They were not however gained by the Enemy. Col. Livingston is not here but restrained by his people from suggesting the contents of the dispatches, or giving any other intelligence from that quarter.
I have written more fully in cypher to Mr. Randolph on foreign subjects & some others than [illegible] time or prudence will permit me to repeat here. For what is omitted I must therefore by law to refer you to him.
The reasons which recommend [illegible] interference of the assembly in the case of the Flags do not I confess occur to me. [3] If the goods included in the capitulation of York were sold and are to paid for, it would seem that a mode of payment which afforded to Virginia a cent for her staple and prevented the exportation of her [illegible] cannot be complained of by her.
The inclosed gazette contains the several obscure & contradictory advices of the action in the W. Indies, which have of late agitated our hopes & fears. The acknowledged inferiority of the fleet of our ally gives some credibility to the articles which are in favor of the Enemy. Should the event however have been ever so disastrous it can only affect the duration of the war, the face of it is fixed by causes which are superior to every particular event. Every triumph of the Enemy on the ocean is rather a new argument to all Europe in favor of our Independence, and I am [illegible] somewhat of Mr. Adam's opinion that if America were to betray a disposition to relapse under the dominion of G. B. all the maritime powers would interfere to prevent it. The tyranny which they have experienced would under any alternative preferable to a reestablishment of the superiority of power which gave birth to it.
[4] Notwithstanding the importance of the present crisis the number of the states in congress does not exceed 8, sometimes 7 only, and most of those represented by two members. The President is directed to write to the unrepresented States on the subject & urge them to supply the deficiency [deficiency] I wish much for a reinforcement to the Delegation of Virginia & have pressed Mr. Randolph to undertake that service ^ immediately. I calculate your return as soon as your other undertaking [illegible]. In the present moment it is of consequence that every delegation should be tolerably full, as well as every state represented. With great respect & regard I am
[illegible] J. Madison Jr.

[illegible] A. Lee Esq.
Requisite for the notes
what fund there is to support
how such fund is securd [secured]
What security is there that no more
nobs will [illegible]
Than [illegible] to the amount of the funds
What security there is [illegible]
Forgery in these notes
Whether Congress have pledged
themselves to reissue them
As our quota or what
obligation they are under to do so
If they should depreciate
how will they assure the public
use, then can Congress reissue
must not this state abide
this risque.
if they should get currency
in this state [illegible]
gold, silver will not
a lender in payment of debts
be demanded for these notes
there being no [illegible]
I beseech you what alternative
have we but these notes?
and how are we to get these notes
but with our property
and why not [illegible]
the same way.
See More

People: Madison, James, 1751-1836
Lee, Arthur, 1740-1792
Jay, John, 1745-1829

Historical Era: American Revolution, 1763-1783

Subjects: Global History and US Foreign PolicyPresidentRevolutionary WarMilitary HistoryGlobal History and CivicsForeign AffairsFranceNavyDiplomacyGovernment and CivicsCaribbeanBattleBattle (Siege, Surrender) of YorktownMaritimeCongressFinanceTreaty

Sub Era: The War for Independence

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