Writings of James Madison, Volume 1

Author: James Madison

To Edmund Pendleton.

NEW YORK, October 2Sth, 1787.

DEAR SIR,—I have received, and acknowledge with great pleasure, your favor of the 8th inst. The remarks which you make on the act of the Convention appear to me to be in general extremely well rounded. Your criticism on the clause exempting vessels bound to and from a State from being obliged to enter, de., in another, is particularly so. This provision was dictated by the jealousy of some particular States, and was inserted pretty late in the Session. The object of it was what you conjecture. The expression is certainly not accurate. Is not a religious test, as far as it is necessary, or would operate, involved in the oath itself? If the person swearing believes in the Supreme Being, who is invoked, and in the penal consequences of offending him, either in this or a future world, or both, he will be under the same restraint. from perjury as if he had previously subscribed a test requiring this belief. If the person in question be an unbeliever in these points, and would, notwithstanding, take the oath, a previous test could have no effect. He would subscribe it as he would take the oath, without any principle that could be affected by either.

I find, by a letter from Mr. Dawson, that the proposed Constitution is received by the Assembly with a more prompt and general approbation than could well have been expected. The example of Virginia will have great weight, and the more so, as the disagreement of the deputation will give it more the appearance of being the unbiassed expression of the public mind. It would be truly mortifying if anything should occur to prevent or retard the concurrence of a State which has generally taken the lead on great occasions. And it would be the more so in this case, as it is generally believed that nine of the States at least will embrace the plan, and, consequently, that the tardy remainder must be reduced to the dilemma of either shifting for themselves, or coming in without any credit for it.

There is reason to believe that the Eastern States, Rhode Island excepted, will be among the foremost in adopting the system. No particular information is yet received from New Hampshire. The presumptive evidence of its good disposition, however, is satisfactory. The Legislature of Massachusetts is now sitting, and letters from good authority say that everything goes well. Connecticut has unanimously called a Convention, and left no room to doubt her favorable disposition. This State has long lind the character of being anti-federal. Whether she will purge herself of it on this occasion, or not, is yet to be ascertained. Most of the respectable characters are zealous on the right side. The party in power is suspected, on good grounds, to be on the wrong one. New Jersey adopts eagerly the Constitution. Pennsylvania is considerably divided; but the majority are, as yet, clearly with the Convention. I have no very late information from Maryland. The reports are, that the opposition will make no great figure. Not a word has been heard from the States South of Virginia, except from the lower parts of North Carolina, where the Constitution was well received. There can be little doubt, I think, that the three Southern States will go right, unless the conduct of Virginia were to mislead them. I enclose two of the last newspapers of this place, to which I add one of Philada, containing the report of a late important decision of the Supreme Court there. If the report be faithful, I suspect it will not give you a high idea of the chancery knowledge of the Chief Justice.

I am, dear sir, with sincere affection, your obt friend and servt.


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Chicago: James Madison Jr., "To Edmund Pendleton.," Writings of James Madison, Volume 1 in James Madison, Letters and Other Writings of James Madison, 4 Vols. (Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott & Co.), Pp.358-359 Original Sources, accessed July 14, 2024, http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=DBQ5M11UUFEZRQZ.

MLA: Madison, James, Jr. "To Edmund Pendleton." Writings of James Madison, Volume 1, in James Madison, Letters and Other Writings of James Madison, 4 Vols. (Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott & Co.), Pp.358-359, Original Sources. 14 Jul. 2024. http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=DBQ5M11UUFEZRQZ.

Harvard: Madison, J, 'To Edmund Pendleton.' in Writings of James Madison, Volume 1. cited in , James Madison, Letters and Other Writings of James Madison, 4 Vols. (Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott & Co.), Pp.358-359. Original Sources, retrieved 14 July 2024, from http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=DBQ5M11UUFEZRQZ.