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Pendleton, Edmund (1721-1803) Collection of letters, documents & briefs to the Madisons [decimalized]

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Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC00099 Author/Creator: Pendleton, Edmund (1721-1803) Place Written: [mostly Edmundsbury] Type: Header Record Date: 1765-1790 Pagination:

Summary of Content: This is a collection of letters from Edmund Pendleton, one of the leading figures of Revolutionary Virginia, to James Madison, Sr., and James Madison, Jr., later fourth President of the United States. The papers consist of documents and letters written by Edmund Pendleton: 156 autograph items (plus one by his nephew Edmund Pendleton, Jr.), consisting of 104 letters from Pendleton to James Madison, Jr., 34 letters from Pendleton to James Madison, Sr., 3 other letters by Pendleton, 11 legal documents, 2 briefs of legal cases by Pendleton, and one letter by Edmund Pendleton, Jr. Various places, but mostly Caroline County, Virginia, 1752-1795. The letters and documents in the Pendleton-Madison correspondence constitute about 20% of all the extant material surviving written by Edmund Pendleton. The collection includes the account of the important constitutional case Caton v. Commonwealth. The bulk of the Pendleton-Madison papers is the correspondence from Pendleton in Virginia to James Madison, Jr., during the period in which the latter served as a Virginia delegate to the Continental Congress in Philadelphia, eighty letters in all from August 27, 1780 until Oct. 20, 1783. Virtually all of Pendleton's side of the exchange is present here. This spans the period of the climax of the Revolution, with the British invasion of Virginia in the spring of 1781, after harassing raids the previous fall, the Yorktown campaign, the uncertain period of quasi-peace which followed, with war still flaring in the Carolinas, the negotiations for peace, and finally the resolution of the war and evacuation of the British from their last strongholds. Not until 1787 and the Constitutional Convention did the correspondence begin again in earnest. Twelve letters date from this critical period of 1787-89, centering around Pendleton's ideas of government and the role of the Constitution. By far the most important of these is Pendleton's long letter of Oct. 8, 1787. It was Pendleton's work as President of the Constitutional Convention in Virginia which brought about the narrow passage of the Constitution there, and clinched the document's acceptance as the Supreme Law of the Land. Washington, writing to Madison, said that Pendleton's support was vital, "there being few better judges of such subjects." Only a few fragments of this tremendously important Constitutional correspondence have been published prior to 1992. The Revolutionary and Constitutional letters have been published in Pendleton's correspondence (Mays, Ed.) and the Papers of James Madison, various vols. and vol. 17, p. 481 ff. Word processed inventory with background available.

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Historical Era: American Revolution, 1763-1783

Subjects: US ConstitutionPresidentsLawContinental CongressRevolutionary WarUS Constitutional Convention

Sub Era: Road to Revolution

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