Front Page Titles (by Subject) TO JOHN ARMSTRONG. 1 - The Writings, vol. 8 (1808-1819)
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
Search this Title:
TO JOHN ARMSTRONG. 1 - 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.
About Liberty Fund:
Liberty Fund, Inc. is a private, educational foundation established to encourage the study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals.
The text is in the public domain.
Fair use statement:
This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.
TO JOHN ARMSTRONG.1
Washington Octr 29, 1810.
. . . . . . .
You will learn from the Dept. of State that altho’ no direct authentication of the repeal of the F. decrees has been recd. from you, a proclamation issues1 on the ground furnished by your correspondence with Mr. Pinkney. It is to be hoped that France will do what she is understood to be pledged for, & in a measure that will produce no jealousy or embarrassment here. We hope in particular that the sequestred property will have been restored; without which the Ex. may be charged wth. violating their own instructions to you on that point. Whether that instruction was not itself a departure from the law, & must not have been set aside in case the repeal of the decrees had arrived, with a knowledge that F. had made no satisfactory provision as to sequestrations, are questions which it wd. be well to have no occasion to decide. The course which G. B. will take, is left by Wellesley’s pledge, a matter of conjecture. It is not improbable that the orders in C. will be revoked & the sham blockade be so managed if possible, as to irritate France agst. our non-resistance, without irritating this Country to the resisting point. It seems on the whole that we shall be at issue with G. B. on the ground of such blockades, and it is for us, a strong ground.
You will see also the step that has been produced by the posture of things in W. Florida. If France is wise she will neither dislike it herself, nor promote resentment of it in any other quarter. She ought in fact, if guided by prudence & good information, to patronize at once, a general separation of S. America from Old Spain. This event is already decided, and the sole question with F. is whether it is to take place under her auspices, or those of G. B. The latter, whether with or without the privity of the expiring authority at Cadiz, is taking her measures with reference to that event; and in the mean time, is extorting commercial privileges as to the recompense of her interposition. In this particular her avarice is defeating her interest. For it not only invites F. to outbid her; but throws in seeds of discord which will take effect, the moment peace or safety is felt by the party of whom the advantage is taken. The contrary policy of the old Fr. Govt. in its commercial Treaty with the U. S. at the epoch of their Independence, was founded in a far better knowledge of human nature, and of the permanent interest of its nation. It merits the consideration of France also, that in proportion as she discourages, in any way, a free intercourse of the U. S. with their revolutionary neighbours, she favors the exclusive commerce of her rival with them; as she has hitherto favor’d it with Europe, by her decrees agst. our intercourse with it. As she seems to be recovering from the one folly, it may be hoped she will not fall into the other.
The ship sent on this occasion will afford you & your family good accommodations, if you should be decided agst. prolonging your important services at Paris, and a Winter passage should not be an insuperable objection.
Accept dear Sir assurances of my great esteem and most friendly wishes.
[1 ]The original of this letter is at Rokeby, General Armstrong’s country seat on the Hudson River.
[1 ]The proclamation was dated November 2. It recited the terms of the Act of May 1, 1810, and proceeded: “And, Whereas it has been officially made known to this Government that the edicts of France violating the neutral commerce of the United States have been so revoked as to cease to have effect on the 1st of the present month,