Front Page Titles (by Subject) 1809 - TO WILLIAM PINKNEY. d. of s. mss. instr. - The Writings, vol. 8 (1808-1819)
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1809 - TO WILLIAM PINKNEY. d. of s. mss. instr. - James Madison, The Writings, vol. 8 (1808-1819) 
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. 8.
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TO WILLIAM PINKNEY.d. of s. mss. instr.
Department of State, January 3, 1809.
Availing myself as heretofore of a British packet from New York, I forward a continuation of the proceedings of Congress, as they will be seen in the prints herewith inclosed, adding at the same time a copy of my last letter which was transmitted thro’ the favor of Mr. Erskine along with some of his dispatches by way of New Brunswick.
You will observe that in pursuance of the resolutions of the House of Representatives not to submit to the Foreign Edicts against our commerce, and to provide further for the security of the Country, a Bill is on its passage, for raising immediately a volunteer force of 50,000 men. This added to other preparations, has induced Mr. Erskine to make it the subject of conversation, in which he alluded to his duty of communicating measures of that character to his Government, and the usage of their being accompanied with such explanations as the Government here might think proper to make on the occasion. He was reminded that we had seen at different times and in different quarters, augmentations of British force in our neighbourhood, without any intimation of its object, or that it had no reference to the United States. But that there was, nevertheless, no hesitation in saying to him, that however desirous the United States might be of preserving peace, the situation in which they found themselves made it their obvious and indispensable duty to be prepared for War; that the perseverance of his Government and that of France in their respective Edicts, especially after the communications which had been made to them and the removal of the very pretexts for such aggressions indicated a spirit of hostility against which it would be the most culpable neglect not to provide; and finally that it would be frankly avowed as was indeed to be inferred from the sentiments expressed by the Legislature, that the time might not be distant when a longer adherence to those Edicts would give them the overt character, as they had long had the real effect of War, and impose on the United States the obligation of vindicating their honor and their rights by other means than had thus far been resorted to. With these observations were mingled explicit assurances of the solicitude of this Country to avoid such an extremity, and of the satisfaction that would be afforded, by any change in the conduct of the belligerent Governments and particularly of his own, which would lay the foundation for amicable adjustment. He signified that it did not lie with him to do more than to give information to his Government leaving to that the inferences and decisions proper to be formed. He expressed, however, his wishes and hopes that any hostile result might be avoided; and alluded, as he had repeatedly done on preceding occasions to the documents explaining what had passed between this Government and France, and to the effect of the proposed non intercourse Act, in sinking the non-importation Act, and the proclamation of July 1807, pointed against G Britain alone, into regulations common to her and her Enemy, as furnishing grounds to which he could not undertake to say that his Government might not be disposed to give a favorable attention.
I have given you this sketch as at once apprizing you of the communication which will of course be made to Mr. Canning, and assisting you in any conversations with him which may ensue.
The impatience under the Embargo, more particularly in Massachusetts, is becoming extremely acute under the artificial excitements given to it; and a preference of war within a very limited period is every where gaining ground. Were it not for the chance of belligerent relaxations, under the influence of the known dispositions and determinations here, and of events in Europe, it is probable that letters of Marque and reprisal would at once be issued. For the present it seems to be in view, to provide for an extra Session of Congress in the Month of May, with an understanding that War will then be the proper course, if no immediate change abroad shall render it unnecessary. What other measures, provisional or positive, may be connected with or added to this extra call of Congress, I do not venture now to anticipate; the less so as the public mind is in a state too impressible to shew in its present temper, what its bias may become in the progress of the Session. It is not improbable that a time would be immediately fixed, at which hostilities should be commenced against the persevering aggression or aggressions, but for the apprehension that the menacing alternative presented by that course might be an obstacle with pride to relaxations not otherwise inadmissible.
I have the honor to be &c
TO WILLIAM PINKNEY.d. of s. mss. instr.
Department of State, February 10th 1809.
I forward by the British Packet about to sail from New York, the printed proceedings of Congress continued from my last communications which bore date on the 3d January.
From these and the antecedent indications, you will deduce the general spirit which actuates the Legislative Councils, under the perplexities incident to the unexampled state of things forced on the United States by the injustice of the belligerent nations.
What particular course may result from the several propositions now depending, cannot with certainty be pronounced; but it may be reasonably presumed that the resolution of the House of Representatives so nearly unanimous, not to submit to the foreign Edicts against our neutral commerce, will be kept in view; and consequently that if our Commercial property be again committed to the ocean, the measure will be accompanied with such regulations as will shew that it is not meant as an acquiescence in those Edicts, but as an appeal to the interest of the aggressors, in a mode less inconvenient to our own interest.
It is equally to be presumed that if the resumed exercise of our rights of navigation on the high seas should be followed by the depredations threatened by an adherence of the belligerents to their respective Edicts, the next resort on the part of the United States will be, to an assertion of those rights by force of Arms, against the persevering aggressor or aggressors.
It may be inferred from the language held by the British Minister here, that an avowal of such a determination in the form even of an Executive opinion, would probably be regarded by his Government as a ground on which it might revoke its orders in Council, consistently with the retaliating principle on which they are alleged to be founded. It must be observed, however, 1st that no authoritative avowal could be made but by the branch of Government charged with the question of War; not to mention that the avowal itself might possibly be construed into a menace, opposing a greater obstacle to a change of policy than the Embargo was represented to be; and 2d that it appears from the condition originally required by the present Cabinet, and repeated by Mr. Canning in his last letter to you of Novemr. 22, that nothing short of an unequivocal repeal of the French decrees, and consequently no course whatever of this Government, not actually producing that effect, will render a repeal of the British orders consistent with the policy which relates to that subject.
Should a policy so destitute of even a shadow of justice or consideration, be relinquished and an expression of the opinion of the Executive branch of our Government be deemed a ground for revoking the British Orders, you will be free to declare that opinion to be, that in case these orders should be revoked, and the Decrees of France continued in force, hostilities on the part of the United States will ensue against the latter, taking care not to attach to the opinion of the Executive any weight inconsistent with the Constitutional limits of his authority.
Whilst it is thought proper to furnish you with these explanations and observations, I am instructed at the same time, to remind you that in the actual posture of things between the two countries, particularly as resulting from the nature of the answer of Mr. Canning of Sept. 23 to the reasonable, candid and conciliatory proposition conveyed in your letter to him of August NA, it evidently lies with the British Government to resume discussions on the subject of revoking the Orders in Council. It is hoped that in so plain a case, that obligation will be felt. And it is only on a contrary manifestation, that it will be eligible for you to bring the subject into conversation; in doing which, you will not fail to let it be understood as a new and irresistible proof of the desire of the United States to avoid extremities between the two Nations, and to establish that complete reconciliation, towards which an adjustment of that particular difficulty would be so important a step. It is proper to add, that as the pledge of an Executive opinion in such a case, is of an unusual and very delicate character, it will be a reasonable and indispensable preliminary to its being stated in writing, that a satisfactory assurance be given that it will not be without the expected effect.
You will notice that among the measures proposed to be combined with a repeal of the Embargo laws, is a non-intercourse with Great Britain and France, and an exclusion of all armed vessels whatever from our waters. The effect of the first will be to continue the Embargo, so far as it prohibits a direct exportation to the two principal offenders; and to discontinue the importation now permitted, of the productions and manufactures of those Countries, thereby merging for the time, the existing non-importation Act. An effect of the other will be to merge, in like manner, for the time, the exclusion of British ships of war, as a measure unfavorably distinguished between Great Britain and other belligerents. The latter effect may perhaps facilitate amicable arrangements on some of the points in question with that nation. The former will keep in force an appeal to its interest, against a perseverance in the orders in Council; inasmuch as it subjects the supplies from the United States to the expence and delay of double voyages, shuts our markets against her manufactures, and stimulates and establishes permanent substitutes of our own.
You will notice also the Message of the President communicating for publication, your correspondence with Mr. Canning on the subject of conversations preceding your letter to him of August. The message states the cause of the communication. This foreign appeal thro’ the press, to the people against their own Government, has kindled the greatest indignation everywhere; the more so, as the time and place selected, leave no doubt that the object was to foster the discontents breaking out in the State of Massachusetts. But for the difficulty of obtaining from the printer the source from which Mr. Canning’s letter was furnished, and an unwillingness to multiply topics of irritation, it is not improbable that the insult would have been taken up by Congress, in some such manner as the case of Palm, the Austrian Ambassador, in the year 17191 was treated by the British Parliament. Much animadversion also has fallen on the outrageous doctrine still maintained by him, that Great Britain has a retaliating right against our commerce, until the French Decrees, altho’ a dead letter, be unequivocally abandoned; as well as on the subterfuge which he applies to the charge of stating to the House of Commons, that no remonstrance or communication had been received from this Government against the orders in Council as if it had been possible for a single hearer to suppose, that he did not mean to affirm that no such remonstrance had been received at all, the sole question of any importance; but merely to distinguish between the receipt of it thro’ you, and thro’ Mr. Erskine, a circumstance of no importance whatever. The resort also to newspaper paragraphs and general rumors as to vessels to be dispatched from this Country with instructions to you, as an explanation of his departure from a regular course of proceeding adopted by himself, is very unworthy the dignity and candor, not to say sincerity, belonging to his station.
The Union is not yet arrived, and has not been heard of since her landing Lt. Gibbon.
I shall write again by the Pacific, a dispatch vessel which will sail from New York in a short time. Before we transmit our communications allotted for that conveyance, it is very desirable that we should receive yours by the Union; and also have the result of the existing deliberations of Congress particularly on the time for repealing the Embargo, and the measures to be connected with the repeal. A vessel, the Mentor, is also engaged at New York, for conveying dispatches to France, and will sail at the same time for L’Orient.
As Congress are to meet again as early as the 4th Monday in May, and with a view to take measures adapted to the then state of things, I need not urge on you the importance of hastening to us every information which may be useful to their deliberations.
I have the honor to remain &c.
FIRST INAUGURAL ADDRESS.
Unwilling to depart from examples of the most revered authority, I avail myself of the occasion now presented to express the profound impression made on me by the call of my country to the station to the duties of which I am about to pledge myself by the most solemn of sanctions. So distinguished a mark of confidence, proceeding from the deliberate and tranquil suffrage of a free and virtuous nation, would under any circumstances have commanded my gratitude and devotion, as well as filled me with an awful sense of the trust to be assumed. Under the various circumstances which give peculiar solemnity to the existing period, I feel that both the honor and the responsibility allotted to me are inexpressibly enhanced.
The present situation of the world is indeed without a parallel, and that of our own country full of difficulties. The pressure of these, too, is the more severely felt because they have fallen upon us at a moment when the national prosperity being at a height not before attained, the contrast resulting from the change has been rendered the more striking. Under the benign influence of our republican institutions, and the maintenance of peace with all nations whilst so many of them were engaged in bloody and wasteful wars, the fruits of a just policy were enjoyed in an unrivaled growth of our faculties and resources. Proofs of this were seen in the improvements of agriculture, in the successful enterprises of commerce, in the progress of manufactures and useful arts, in the increase of the public revenue and the use made of it in reducing the public debt, and in the valuable works and establishments everywhere multiplying over the face of our land.
It is a precious reflection that the transition from this prosperous condition of our country to the scene which has for some time been distressing us is not chargeable on any unwarrantable views, nor, as I trust, on any involuntary errors in the public councils. Indulging no passions which trespass on the rights or the repose of other nations, it has been the true glory of the United States to cultivate peace by observing justice, and to entitle themselves to the respect of the nations at war by fulfilling their neutral obligations with the most scrupulous impartiality. If there be candor in the world, the truth of these assertions will not be questioned; posterity at least will do justice to them.
This unexceptionable course could not avail against the injustice and violence of the belligerent powers. In their rage against each other, or impelled by more direct motives, principles of retaliation have been introduced equally contrary to universal reason and acknowledged law. How long their arbitrary edicts will be continued in spite of the demonstrations that not even a pretext for them has been given by the United States, and of the fair and liberal attempt to induce a revocation of them, can not be anticipated. Assuring myself that under every vicissitude the determined spirit and united councils of the nation will be safeguards to its honor and its essential interests, I repair to the post assigned me with no other discouragement than what springs from my own inadequacy to its high duties. If I do not sink under the weight of this deep conviction it is because I find some support in a consciousness of the purposes and a confidence in the principles which I bring with me into this arduous service.
To cherish peace and friendly intercourse with all nations having correspondent dispositions; to maintain sincere neutrality toward belligerent nations; to prefer in all cases amicable discussion and reasonable accommodation of differences to a decision of them by an appeal to arms; to exclude foreign intrigues and foreign partialities, so degrading to all countries and so baneful to free ones; to foster a spirit of independence too just to invade the rights of others, too proud to surrender our own, too liberal to indulge unworthy prejudices ourselves and too elevated not to look down upon them in others; to hold the union of the States as the basis of their peace and happiness; to support the Constitution, which is the cement of the Union, as well in its limitations as in its authorities; to respect the rights and authorities reserved to the States and to the people as equally incorporated with and essential to the success of the general system; to avoid the slightest interference with the rights of conscience or the functions of religion, so wisely exempted from civil jurisdiction; to preserve in their full energy the other salutary provisions in behalf of private and personal rights, and of the freedom of the press; to observe economy in public expenditures; to liberate the public resources by an honorable discharge of the public debts; to keep within the requisite limits a standing military force, always remembering that an armed and trained militia is the firmest bulwark of republics—that without standing armies their liberty can never be in danger, nor with large ones safe; to promote by authorized means improvements friendly to agriculture, to manufactures, and to external as well as internal commerce; to favor in like manner the advancement of science and the diffusion of information as the best aliment to true liberty; to carry on the benevolent plans which have been so meritoriously applied to the conversion of our aboriginal neighbors from the degradation and wretchedness of savage life to a participation of the improvements of which the human mind and manners are susceptible in a civilized state;—as far as sentiments and intentions such as these can aid the fulfillment of my duty, they will be a resource which can not fail me.
It is my good fortune, moreover, to have the path in which I am to tread lighted by examples of illustrious services successfully rendered in the most trying difficulties by those who have marched before me. Of those of my immediate predecessor it might least become me here to speak. I may, however, be pardoned for not suppressing the sympathy with which my heart is full in the rich reward he enjoys in the benedictions of a beloved country, gratefully bestowed for exalted talents zealously devoted through a long career to the advancement of its highest interest and happiness.
But the source to which I look for the aids which alone can supply my deficiencies is in the well-tried intelligence and virtue of my fellow-citizens, and in the counsels of those representing them in the other departments associated in the care of the national interests. In these my confidence will under every difficulty be best placed, next to that which we have all been encouraged to feel in the guardianship and guidance of that Almighty Being whose power regulates the destiny of nations, whose blessings have been so conspicuously dispensed to this rising Republic, and to whom we are bound to address our devout gratitude for the past, as well as our fervent supplications and best hopes for the future.
March 4, 1809.
Whereas it is provided by the eleventh section of the act of Congress entitled “An act to interdict the commercial intercourse between the United States and Great Britain and France and their dependencies, and for other purposes,” that “in case either France or Great Britain shall so revoke or modify her edicts as that they shall cease to violate the neutral commerce of the United States” the President is authorized to declare the same by proclamation, after which the trade suspended by the said act and by an act laying an embargo on all ships and vessels in the ports and harbors of the United States and the several acts supplementary thereto may be renewed with the nation so doing; and
Whereas the Honorable David Montague Erskine, His Britannic Majesty’s envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary, has, by the order and in the name of his Sovereign, declared to this Government that the British orders in council of January and November, 1807, will have been withdrawn as respects the United States on the 10th day of June next:1
Now, therefore, I, James Madison, President of the United States, do hereby proclaim that the orders in council aforesaid will have been withdrawn on the said 10th day of June next, after which day the trade of the United States with Great Britain, as suspended by the act of Congress above mentioned and an act laying an embargo on all ships and vessels in the ports and harbors of the United States and the several acts supplementary thereto, may be renewed.
Given under my hand and the seal of the United States at Washington, the 19th day of April, 1809, and of the Independence of the United States the thirty-third.
TO THOMAS JEFFERSON.mad. mss.
Washington, Apl. 24, 1809.
I have recd your favor of the 19th. You will see in the newspapers the result of the advances made by G. B. Attempts were made to give shapes to the arrangement implying inconsistency and blame on our part. They were, however, met in a proper manner, and readily abandoned, leaving these charges in their full force, as they now bear on the other side. The B. Cabinet must have changed its course under a full conviction that an adjustment with this country had become essential; and it is not improbable that this policy may direct the ensuing negociation, mingling with it, at the same time, the hope that it may embroil us with France. To this use, it may be expected, the Federalists will endeavor to turn what is already done, at the coming session of Congs. The steps deemed proper to give the proceeding a contrary turn will not be omitted. And if France be not bereft of common sense, or be not predetermined on war with us, she will certainly not play into the hand of her enemy. Besides the general motive to follow the example of G. B. she cannot be insensible of the dangerous tendency of prolonging the commercial sufferings of her Allies, particularly Russia, all of them already weary of such a state of things, after the pretext for enforcing it shall have ceased. She must be equally aware of the importance of our relations to Spanish America, which must now become the great object of Napoleon’s pride and ambition. Should he repeal his decrees with a view to this object, the most probable source of conflict will be in his extending the principle on which he required a prohibition of the Trade with St Domingo to the case of the Spanish Colonies. Nor is it improbable that he may couple such a requisition with an offer to cede the Floridas, which would present a dilemma not very pleasant.
Accept my sincerest affection & highest esteem.
TO THOMAS JEFFERSON.mad. mss.
Washington, May 1, 1809.
I am just favored with yours of the 27th. Young Gelston is here, preparing to take his passage for France as bearer and expositor of despatches, in the Syren, sloop of war, which is waiting for him at Baltimore. He leaves this to-morrow morning. Mr. Gallatin has had a conversation with Turreau at his residence, near Baltimore. He professes to be confident that his Govt. will consider England broken down by the example she has given in repealing her orders, and that the F. decrees will be repealed as a matter of course. His communications by the Syren will, if he be sincere, press the policy of an immediate repeal. No official accts. have been received from the French letters of Marque arrived at Boston. The difficulty most likely to threaten our relations with France lies in the effort she may make to render us in some way subservient to the reduction of Spanh. America; particularly by withholding our commerce. This apprehension is corroborated by the language of Turreau. He alluded to his conversations with you relating to Cuba, on which he builds jealousies which he did not conceal. Cuba will, without doubt, be a cardinal object with Napoleon.
The spirit which England will bring into the ulterior negociations must differ much from that which influenced former Treaties, if it can be moulded to our just views; and we must be prepared to meet it with a prudent adherence to our essential interests. It is possible, however, that the school of adversity may have taught her the policy of substituting for her arrogant pretensions somewhat of a conciliating moderation towards the U. S. Judging from the tone lately used, a change of that sort would be the less wonderful. If she can be brought to a fair estimate of her real interest, it seems very practicable to surmount the obstacles which have hitherto kept us at variance, and, until surmounted, must continue to do so. The case of impressments, hitherto the great obstacle, seems to admit most easily of an adjustment, on grounds mutually advantageous.
Yrs. with affectionate respects.
It is understood that the Election in the State of N. York has issued very favorably.
TO MARQUIS DE LAFAYETTE.1
Washington May 1, 1809.
My dear Sir
It is a real mortification to me that another favorable opportunity has occurred without my being able to add a word to what you know on the state of your land affairs in the hands of Mr. Duplantier. I have not recd. a line from him, since He stated the difficulty which had presented itself in the completion of a part of his locations, and the advice of Mr. Gallatin relating to it was transmitted to him. I wish he may have written to you through some other channel. As soon as I hear from him I shall endeavor to let you hear from me.
I inclose a paper containing the arrangement concluded with G. Britain on the subject of her orders in council. Genl. Armstrong is supplied with a copy of them, and will expect from France a revocation of her decrees, in conformity with the recitals on which they are founded, as well as with the considerations of justice, of friendship, and as we conceive of her true interest. It will be a source of deep regret if our dispositions to restore commercial intercourse and maintain in every respect the most fair, and friendly relations consistent with our neutral character, should be met by perseverance in a system, which must necessarily place the U. S. in a very obvious & painful dilemma. I indulge a hope that more favorable councils will prevail.
This will be handed to you by Mr. Gelston a worthy & respectable young man, son of the collector at the Port of New York, also of respectability & worth. Mr. G. was formerly in Mr. Monroe’s family at Paris. He is now charged with despatches from the Dept. of State to Genl. Armstrong.
Accept my dear Sir assurances of my sincerest friendship and best wishes.
MESSAGE TO THE SPECIAL SESSION OF CONGRESS.
Fellow-Citizens of the Senate and of the House of Representatives:
On this first occasion of meeting you it affords me much satisfaction to be able to communicate the commencement of a favorable change in our foreign relations, the critical state of which induced a session of Congress at this early period.
In consequence of the provisions of the act interdicting commercial intercourse with Great Britain and France, our ministers at London and Paris were without delay instructed to let it be understood by the French and British Governments that the authority vested in the Executive to renew commercial intercourse with their respective nations would be exercised in the case specified by that act.
Soon after these instructions were dispatched it was found that the British Government, anticipating from early proceedings of Congress at their last session the state of our laws, which has had the effect of placing the two belligerent powers on a footing of equal restrictions, and relying on the conciliatory disposition of the United States, had transmitted to their legation here provisional instructions not only to offer satisfaction for the attack on the frigate Chesapeake, and to make known the determination of His Britannic Majesty to send an envoy extraordinary with powers to conclude a treaty on all the points between the two countries, but, moreover, to signify his willingness in the meantime to withdraw his orders in council, in the persuasion that the intercourse with Great Britain would be renewed on the part of the United States.
These steps of the British Government led to the correspondence and the proclamation now laid before you, by virtue of which the commerce between the two countries will be renewable after the 10th day of June next.
Whilst I take pleasure in doing justice to the councils of His Britannic Majesty, which, no longer adhering to the policy which made an abandonment by France of her decrees a prerequisite to a revocation of the British orders, have substituted the amicable course which has issued thus happily, I can not do less than refer to the proposal heretofore made on the part of the United States, embracing a like restoration of the suspended commerce, as a proof of the spirit of accommodation which has at no time been intermitted, and to the result which now calls for our congratulations, as corroborating the principles by which the public councils have been guided during a period of the most trying embarrassments.
The discontinuance of the British orders as they respect the United States having been thus arranged, a communication of the event has been forwarded in one of our public vessels to our minister plenipotentiary at Paris, with instructions to avail himself of the important addition thereby made to the considerations which press on the justice of the French Government a revocation of its decrees or such a modification of them as that they shall cease to violate the neutral commerce of the United States.
The revision of our commercial laws proper to adapt them to the arrangement which has taken place with Great Britain will doubtless engage the early attention of Congress. It will be worthy at the same time of their just and provident care to make such further alterations in the laws as will more especially protect and foster the several branches of manufacture which have been recently instituted or extended by the laudable exertions of our citizens.
Under the existing aspect of our affairs I have thought it not inconsistent with a just precaution to have the gunboats, with the exception of those at New Orleans, placed in a situation incurring no expense beyond that requisite for their preservation and conveniency for future service, and to have the crews of those at New Orleans reduced to the number required for their navigation and safety.
I have thought also that our citizens detached in quotas of militia amounting to 100,000 under the act of March, 1808, might not improperly be relieved from the state in which they were held for immediate service. A discharge of them has been accordingly directed.
The progress made in raising and organizing the additional military force, for which provision was made by the act of April, 1808, together with the disposition of the troops, will appear by a report which the Secretary of War is preparing, and which will be laid before you.
Of the additional frigates required by an act of the last session to be fitted for actual service, two are in readiness, one nearly so, and the fourth is expected to be ready in the month of July. A report which the Secretary of the Navy is preparing on the subject, to be laid before Congress, will shew at the same time the progress made in officering and manning these ships. It will shew also the degree in which the provisions of the act relating to the other public armed ships have been carried into execution.
It will rest with the judgment of Congress to decide how far the change in our external prospects may authorize any modifications of the laws relating to the army and navy establishments.
The works of defence for our seaport towns and harbors have proceeded with as much activity as the season of the year and other circumstances would admit. It is necessary, however, to state that, the appropriations hitherto made being found to be deficient, a further provision will claim the early consideration of Congress.
The whole of the 8 per cent stock remaining due by the United States, amounting to $5,300,000, had been reimbursed on the last day of the year 1808; and on the 1st day of April last the sum in the Treasury exceeded $9,500,000. This, together with the receipts of the current year on account of former revenue bonds, will probably be nearly if not altogether sufficient to defray the expenses of the year. But the suspension of exports and the consequent decrease of importations during the last twelve months will necessarily cause a great diminution in the receipts of the year 1810. After that year, should our foreign relations be undisturbed, the revenue will again be more than commensurate to all the expenditures.
Aware of the inconveniences of a protracted session at the present season of the year, I forbear to call the attention of the Legislature to any matters not particularly urgent. It remains, therefore, only to assure you of the fidelity and alacrity with which I shall cooperate for the welfare and happiness of our country, and to pray that it may experience a continuance of the divine blessings by which it has been so signally favored.
May 23, 1809.
TO THOMAS JEFFERSON.mad. mss.
Washington, May 30, 1809.
Your favor of the 22d did not come to hand till the day before yesterday.
It will give me pleasure to take the place of Mr. Barnes in the note to the Bank; the more so as it will, it seems, be a relief to the old gentleman’s pecuniary anxieties. I will have an early communication with him on the subject. I wish the original arrangement had taken the shape now proposed, and hope that you will make free use of my services if they can at any time or in any way be made convenient to your arrangements of money, or other matters.
The new-fangled policy of the federal party, you will have noticed, has made a considerable figure in the newspapers. Some of the Editors are resuming the old cant, and the others will doubtless soon follow the example. Nothing could exceed the folly of supposing that the principles and opinions manifested in our foreign discussions were not, in the main at least, common to us; unless it be the folly of supposing that such shallow hypocrisy could deceive any one. The truth is, the sudden and unlooked-for turn of the B. Cabinet has thrown the party entirely off the centre. They have at present no settled plan. There is reason to believe that the leaders are sound towards England, and much less disposed than heretofore to render our interests subservient to hers. Expressions have been used by one, at least, of the Essex Cabinet, whether sincerely or insidiously may not be absolutely certain, from which it is inferred that a disposition exists in that quarter not even to continue the non-intercourse act agst France. Certain it is, that the desire of war with her is no longer manifested; that the deficiency of the English markets excites a keen appetite for a trade with the Continent; and that a real uneasiness is felt lest the negotiations with G. B. should end in sacrifices on our part, which they have been reproaching the Administration for not being ready to make. As one proof of their present feelings, the federal leaders shew a marked alienation from Erskine. The Elections in Massts, as well as in N. H. and N. Y., have issued unfavorably. But the smallness of the majority, and the overstrained exertions it has required, seem to depress rather than flatter the successful party. No confidence is felt in the permanency of the triumph.
Not a line has been received of late from any one of our foreign agents. All that is known is, therefore, to be gathered from the ordinary and fallacious channels.
Accept my sincerest respects & attachment.
TO THOMAS JEFFERSON.mad. mss.
Washington, June 20, 1809.
Yours of the 16th came to hand yesterday. I hope you have not made any sacrifice of any sort to the scruple which has superseded my arrangemt. with Mr. Barnes. The execution of it would have been equally accorded with my disposition and my conveniency.
The Gazette of yesterday contains the mode pursued for reanimating confidence in the pledge of the B. Govt given by Mr Erskine in his arrangement with this Govt. The puzzle created by the order of April struck every one.1 E. assures us that his Govt was under such impressions as to the views of this, that not the slightest expectation existed of our fairly meeting its overtures, and that the last order was considered as a seasonable mitigation of the tendency of a failure of the experiment. This explanation seems as extraordinary as the alternatives it shews. The fresh declarations of Mr. E. seem to have quieted the distrust, which was becoming pretty strong; but has not destroyed the effect of the ill grace stamped on the British retreat, and of the commercial rigor evinced by the new and insidious duties stated in the newspapers. It may be expected, I think, that the B. Govt will fulfil what its Minister has stipulated; and that if it means to be trickish, it will frustrate the proposed negotiation, and then say their orders were not permanently repealed, but only withdrawn, in the mean time.
The only question likely now to agitate Congs will be on the Bill which opens our ports to French as well as B. ships of war. The Senate have passed it unanimously. Whether the Feds were sincere, or wished the debate, &c., to take place in the H. of R, remains to be seen.
TO THOMAS JEFFERSON.mad. mss.
Montpellier, Aug. 3, 1809.
Herewith you will receive a packet, which being wrapt up in a large one for me, from the Dept of State, was taken out of the mail yesterday, and not observed before the rider had set out.
I find myself under the mortifying necessity of setting out to-morrow morning for Washington. The intricate state of our affairs with England, produced by the mixture of fraud and folly in her late conduct, and the important questions to be decided as to the legal effect of the failure of the arrangement of April on our commercial relations with her, are thought by the Heads of Dept to require that I should join them.1 The main question is, whether the non-intercourse act, as continued at the last session, comes into force agst England, thereby putting her on the same footing with France.
You will see by the instructions to Erskine, as published by Canning, that the latter was as much determined that there should be no adjustment as the former was that there should be one. There must, however, have been other instructions, comprehending the case of the Chesapeake, and other communications from Canning accompanying the British orders of Apl 26, as referred to in Erskine’s quieting declaration last made to Mr. Smith. I believe, also, that Erskine’s letter to Canning, not disclosed by the latter, will not warrant his ascribing to Erskine the statement of conversations with Mr. G[allatin], Mr. S[mith], and myself. Pinkney will also disavow what Canning has put into his mouth.
I presume, from letters which reached me yesterday, that Mr. Smith has communications from Paris as late as the 10 or 12 of June; whether by the return of Mr. Coles or another conveyance is uncertain. The disavowal in England reached Paris the day after the arrival of the arrangemt transmitted by Mr. Gelston. Our affairs with France had taken no decided turn; owing, as alledged, to the absence and occupation of the Emperor. The return of Gelston will probably put us in possession of a final estimate.
Accept my sincerest respect & attacht.
TO MRS. MADISON.
Washington, August (?), 1809.1
We reached the end of our journey yesterday at one o’clock, without interruption of any sort on the road. Mr. Coles had been here some time, and one, if not two, of the expected despatch vessels of England had just arrived, and Mr. Gelston, after a short passage from France, entered Washington about the moment I did. You may guess, therefore, the volumes of papers before us. I am but just dipping into them, and have seen no one as yet, except Mrs. Smith for a few minutes last evening. What number of days I may be detained here it is impossible to say. The period, you may be sure, will be shortened as much as possible. Everything around and within reminds me that you are absent, and makes me anxious to quit this solitude. I hope in my next to be able to say when I may have this gratification, perhaps also to say something of the intelligence just brought us. I send the paper of this morning, which has something on the subject, and I hope the communications of Gelston will be found more favorable than is stated. Those from England can scarcely be favorable when such men hold the reins. Mr. and Mrs. Erskine are here. His successor had not sailed on the 20th of June.
God bless you, and be assured of my constant affection.
TO THOMAS JEFFERSON.mad. mss.
Montpellier, Aug. 16, 1809.
I got home from my trip to Washington on Saturday last, having remained there three days only.1 You will have seen in the Procln issued the result of our consultation on the effect of what has passed on our commercial relation with G. B. The enforcement of the non-intercourse act agst her will probably be criticized by some friends, and generally assailed by our adversaries, on the ground that the power given to the Ex., being special, was exhausted by the first exercise of it; and that the power having put out of force the laws to which it related, could, under no possible construction, restore their operation. In opposition to this reasoning, it was considered that the act of the last session continuing the non-intercourse no otherwise excepted G. B. than by a proviso that it should not affect any trade which had been or might be permitted, in conformity with the section of the original act authorising a proclamation in favor of the nation revoking its Edicts; and that the proclamation in favor of G. B. was not conformable to that section. It was not so in substance, because the indispensable pre-requisite, a repeal of the Orders in Council, did not take place. It was not so even in form; the law requiring a past and not a future fact to be proclaimed, and the proclamation, on its face, pointing to a future, not to a past fact. This difficulty was felt at the time of issuing the first proclamation; but it yielded to the impossibility of otherwise obtaining, without great delay, the coveted trade with G. B, and an example that might be followed by France; to the idea that the mode in which the repeal, though future, of the orders and of the law, was coupled by the proclamation, might, on the occurrence of the former, give a constructive validity to the latter; and to the opportunity afforded by an intervening session of Congs for curing any defect in the proceeding. In one respect, it would have been clearly proper for Congress to have interposed its authority, as was frequently intimated to members; that is, to provide for the contingency, not so much of a disavowal by G. B, which was never suspected, as of her not receiving the act of her Minister till after the 10th of June. Congress, however, never could be brought to attend to the subject, although it was pressed by several members, I believe, certainly by Gardenier,1 on the general ground, that the Procln, however acceptable, was not in a form, nor under the circumstances, contemplated by law. In some of the instructions given by Mr. Gallatin’s circular, a liberty has been taken having no plea but manifest necessity, and as such will be before Congress.
Erskine is in a ticklish situation with his Govt. I suspect he will not be able to defend himself against the charge of exceeding his instructions, notwithstanding the appeal he makes to sundry others not published. But he will make out a strong case agst Canning, and be able to avail himself much of the absurdity and evident inadmissibility of the articles disregarded by him. He can plead, also, that the difference between his arrangemt and the spontaneous orders of Apl 26 is too slight to justify the disavowal of him. This difference seems, indeed, to limit its importance to the case of Holland, and to consist in the direct trade admitted by the arrangement, and an indirect one through the adjoining ports required by the orders. To give importance to this distinction, the Ministry must avow, what, if they were not shameless, they never wd avow, that their object is not to retaliate injury to an enemy; but to prevent the legitimate trade of the U. S. from interfering with the London smugglers of sugar and coffee.
We are looking out for Mr. and Mrs. Gallatin every day. Untill they arrive, and we learn also the periods of your being at and absent from Home, we do not venture to fix a time for our proposed visit to Monticello.
Accept my most affectionate respects.
Capt: Coles has been with us since Sunday. I refer to him for the state of our foreign affairs, with which he is especially acquainted, to say more than I cou’d well put on paper.
TO THOMAS JEFFERSON.mad. mss.
Montpellier, Septr 11, 1809.
I send herewith a few papers which have come to my hands, along with those addressed to myself.
Jackson, according to a note sent from Annapolis, to Mr. Smith, was to be in Washington on Friday evening last. The letters from Mr Pinkney, brought by him, were dated June 23, and merely rehearsed a conversation with Canning; from which it would seem that C readily admitted that his second condition (Colonial trade) had no connection with the subject, and that it was not to be expected the U. States would accede to the 3d, (G. B. to execute our laws.)1 Why, then, make them ultimata? or if not ultimata, why reject the arrangemt of E. for not including them? For as to the first article, if he does not fly from his language to P., the continuance of the non-intercourse against France cannot be denied to be a substantial fulfilment of it. From this view of the matter, it might be inferred that Jackson comes with a real olive in his hand. But besides the general slipperiness of his superior, some ideas fell from him in his conversation with P. justifying distrust of his views.
The bearer of this is Mr. Palmer, a young man, respectable I believe, of New York. He is very remarkable as a linguist, and for the most part self-taught. He is perhaps the only American, never out of his own Country, who has dipt as much into the Chinese.
The letter herewith for Capt: Coles, was to have gone by the last mail. If no earlier conveyance shd. offer I beg the favor of its being sent to the post office in time for the next. Be assured always of my affectionate respects.
As we wish not to be from home, in case any of our friends from Monticello should indulge us with a visit, be so good as to drop us notice of the time.
I have mustered up the weather journals, and wd. send them by the present oppy but that they wd. encumber too much. The fall of water I find has been noted for not more than 7 or 8 years. The other items much longer.
TO ROBERT SMITH.d. of s. mss. miscl. lets.
Montpellier, Sepr. 15, 1809.
I have recd. yours of the 11th. with the papers to which it refers. The determination of Jackson to withold even informal intimations of his authorized communications previous to the ceremony of his reception, and his apparent patience under the delay of this preliminary, are sufficient proofs that the instructions are not of a nature to produce a conciliatory effect, and much less to change the present commercial relations of the two countries. He can have no motive therefore to hasten a disclosure of them, and a very ardent one to suspend unwelcome propositions, which if not changed by his Govt. may as well be made hereafter; and which if changed under the influence of events, will not, in that case, have betrayed the temporizing policy by which it is governed. If it were not our real desire to bring about a reconciliation on just grounds, it might not be amiss, to lay him as soon as possible under the necessity of coming out with the explanation of his errand, and thereby turning the pride of his Govt. more & more agst the course which justice prescribes. But as reconciliation is our real object, it may suit us as well as the other party, to allow some opportunity for re-consideration; altho’ I am aware that in so doing, our dispositions may be misinterpreted by the ignorant, and misrepresented by the wicked. Viewing the subject in this light I think it will be most becoming, as it will certainly be most convenient to myself, not to change the intended time of my return to Washington. You may therefore, if you think proper, let Mr. Erskine understand that I shall probably be in Washington abt. the first of October; or possibly a few days sooner or later, as circumstances may induce. As Jackson has not manifested any solicitude on this point, & has no personal accomodation at stake, there is the less occasion to add any thing to what you have already signified to him, unless indeed it were in some very incidental way. From the character of the man, and the temper of his superiors, any thing beyond that politeness which explains itself, and is due to ourselves, is more likely to foster insolence than to excite liberality or good will. I return herewith the last letter from Genl. Turreau. He must know that the request relating to the disposition of the crew of the Cerbeau (?) can not be granted; and that no proceedings with respect to the vessel can take place, but in pursuance of the law of nations, or of the leges loci. Accept my affectionate respects.
TO MRS. MADISON.1
Yours of the 1st instant my dearest gives me much happiness but it cannot be complete till I have you again with me. Let me know the moment you can of the time you will set out that I may make arrangements for paying the Dr. &c. My tob has been sold in Ricd but unfortunately the bills are not yet come on & are on N. York at 60 days so that some recognition will be necessary. I did not expect you would receive much from your Tenants. Dont forget to do something as to insuring the buildings. Your question as to Spain & England is puzzling, as one gets into ill humor it is possible the other may change her countenance. If a general war takes place in Europe Spain will probably be less disposed to insult us & England less sparing of her insults whether a war will be forced by either is more than can be foreseen. It certainly will not if they consult their interest. The power of deciding questions of war & providing measures that will make or meet it is with Congress & that is always our answer to Newspapers. Madam T[urreau] is here the General not. Your friends are all well except Capt T[ingey] who has been in extreme danger but is mending. Mrs T also has been unwell. I enclose a letter from Payne & one from Mrs R. Miss P. postscript makes my mouth water. Cousin Isaac’s would too, if he had ever had the taste which I have had.