Front Page Titles (by Subject) 1814 - TO GEORGE W. CAMPBELL. 1 - The Writings, vol. 8 (1808-1819)
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1814 - TO GEORGE W. CAMPBELL. 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.
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TO GEORGE W. CAMPBELL.1
Montpelier, May 7, 1814.
I have had the pleasure of receiving yours of the 4th. inst.2 Altho’ a just estimate by the lenders ought to have afforded us better terms, yet under all circumstances of the moment, the loan has been obtained on terms equal to the public expectation, and will have a favorable influence on our affairs. I hope no difficulty will grow out of the individual case you mention. The fulfilment of his former contract, & the effect of his present offer in improving the general terms of the loan were both in favor of receiving his subscription. I do not see however why he might not have disclosed spontaneously his connections in the business. If there were grounds, which I know of no facts to presume, for suspecting a defect of responsibility, the danger would be that an individual under such circumstances might take the chance of a rise of Stock, without incurring more than a failure otherwise hanging over him, in the event of a fall of Stock. Having secured a livelihood for the war for a few months, we shall have time to deliberate on a further experiment, and with a prospect of receiving from abroad imformation that may enlighten our calculations.
Mrs. Madison returns her best wishes to Mrs. Campbell who will please to accept mine also. We accomplished our journey within the time allotted, but thro’ roads which made the utmost exertions necessary. A very seasonable spring has given a fine countenance to the country. I fear an exception is about to take place in our Wheat fields which abound with the Hessian fly.
Accept assurances of my esteem and friendly regards.
TO GEORGE W. CAMPBELL.1
Montpelier, May 25, 1814.
I have just rec’d your favor of the 23d. inclosing two letters from Mr. Astor. As the resource of loans to a considerable amount in addition to taxes is necessary to our Treasury, and as money is cheaper in Europe than here, especially whilst disaffection withholds the greater part of the capital from Market, it is obviously desirable that we should avail ourselves of the foreign market, now become the more practicable in consequence of the repeal of the Non. Imp. law and of the Independence of Holland. The question is as to the mode, and the choice lies between the appt. of an agency to bargain abroad for the public, and a bargain here with individuals who will act for themselves abroad. Each mode has its pros. & its cons. which I need not suggest. I lean at present to the latter mode as least difficult under all circumstances, but I leave myself open to the lights I may receive at Washington, where I expect to be by the first of next month. I propose to set out thither the day after tomorrow (friday). The weather however which is unsettled may prevent it. I shall then be able to speak with you also on the subject of Gen. Jackson & the Treaty with the Creeks. It will be matter of regret, if either the State of Tennessee or that distinguished officer should be finally dissatisfied. The enumerations to you on the subject, have not taken into view the relation of Georgia as well as Tennessee to the case, or the advantage in a general view from the circumstances, but of neither State having too much share in the demarkation of the Territory to be ceded, a part of the Union having a jealous eye on the particular interest they, Western States, take in Indian Affairs.
It is difficult to say what may be the effect of this feature of things in Europe, on our affairs, should it be truly represented by the late arrivals, and undergo no new changes. Much will ultimately depend on the disposition of Russia & the other great powers of the Continent towards us. Their interests evidently coincide with ours, in bringing England to peace with us, unless Eng. should let them carry on her trade with us as well as their own which is too contrary to her favorite maxims to be presumed. The danger is that her temporary ascendancy and her success in propagating false impressions of the principles & views of the U. S. may induce them to acquiesce in her measures agst. us.
Accept assurances of my esteem & regard.
CABINET MEMORANDUM.chic. hist. soc. mss.
In cabinet June 7, 1814—present J. Monroe, G. W. Campbell, Genl Armstrong, W. Jones, R. Rush. The subject, the opening of the campaign.
1. determined, nem-con: on an expedition into L. Huron, of 4 or 5 vessels, and 800 or 1000 troops—the first objects to occupy. Machadash & St Josephs—leaving abt 500 to hold at least the former.
2. do. nem-con. (except Mr. Monroe who did not positively oppose but thought the measure hazardous) on an expedition, with the forces under Genl. Brown, from L. Erie, near long Point, to Burlington Heights, preparatory to further operations for reducing the Peninsula, & proceding towards York, &c; the expedition to depend on Comodore Chauncey’s getting the command of the L. without wch supplies could not be secured, and with which they might be conveyed safely by water from Depots on the S. side of L. Ontario.
3. do. nem-con. 14 or 15 armed Boats to be built at Sacket’s Harbour to command the St. Lawrence and on protection of posts to be supplied by detachments from Izard’s command, so as to intercept the water communication between Montreal & Kingston.
4. do. nem: con: the main force under Izard, to make demonstrations towards Montreal, as a diversion of the Eny. from operations westward & affording a chance of compelling Prescott to fight disadvantageously, or break up his connection with L. Champlain.
CABINET MEMORANDUM.1mad. mss.
1. Shall the surrender by Great Britain of the practice of impressment, in a treaty limited to a certain period, be an ultimatum? Monroe, Campbell, Armstrong, Jones—No—Rush inclining but not insisting otherwise.
2. Shall a treaty of peace, silent on the subject of impressment be authorized? All no; but Armstrong and Jones, who were aye.
3. Shall a treaty be authorized comprising an article, referring the subject of impressment along with that of commerce to a separate negotiation? Monroe, Campbell, Armstrong & Jones Aye—Rush for awaiting further information from Europe.
June 27, 1814.
In consequence of the letters from Messrs. Bayard & Gallatin of May 6—7 and of other accounts from Europe, as to the ascendency & views of Great Britain and the dispositions of the great Continental powers, the preceding question No. 2, was put to the Cabinet, and agreed to by Monroe, Campbell, Armstrong & Jones; Rush being absent: our ministers to be instructed, besides trying the other conditions to make a previous trial to insert or annex some declaration or protest against any inference from the silence of the Treaty on the subject of impressment, that the British claim was admitted or that of the United States abandoned.
TO JOHN ARMSTRONG.mad. mss.
July 2, 1814.
In analogy to the arrangement yesterday decided on in1 reference to this City and Baltimore, and with a view to a systematic provision against invading armaments, the Secretary of War will digest and report to the President corresponding precautionary means of defence in reference to the other more important & exposed places along the Atlantic frontier; particularly Boston, New York, Wilmington, Norfolk, Charleston, Savannah and New Orleans. In addition to the distribution at suitable Depots, of arms and other necessaries, the Secretary will report, a circular communication to the Governors of the several States, calculated to obtain from them convenient designations of adequate portions of their Militia, with every other arrangement depending on the State Executives for having them in the best readiness for actual service in cases of emergency.
TO C. J. INGERSOLL.mad. mss.
Washington July 28th 1814.
I have received your favor of the 18th instant, and delivered into the hands of Mr. Rush the interesting extract inclosed in it. The armed neutrality in 1780 forms an Epoch in the history of maritime law, which makes it more than a point of mere curiosity, to trace it to its real source. You know perhaps that there is an American pretension to a share at least in bringing about that measure. The fact may not improperly enter into a general research.
On the question of “free ships, free goods,” it has always appeared to me very clear, that the principle was right in itself, and friendly to the general interest of Nations. It is perhaps less clear, that the United States have a special interest in it; unless combined with another principle, of which an example is found in our Treaty with Prussia, and probably in no other; namely, that unarmed merchant vessels, like wagons or ploughs, the property of one belligerent, should be unmolested by the other. This principle has, I believe, an undisputed American Father in Doctor Franklin.
On the question, whether under the law of Nations, as it stands de facto, “free ships make free Cargoes,” the United States at an early day, took the negative side1 ; and although the acknowledgment of it has been shunned as much as possible since, it seems to have been generally understood, that the British doctrine was practically admitted.
Were the question to be regarded as unsettled, and open to fair discussion, I am persuaded, that the weight of authority furnished by reason, public good, treaties, and the luminaries of public law, preponderates in favor of the principle “free ships free goods.”
The ablest defence of the opposite principle which I have seen, is in a treatise by Croker the present Vice Admiralty Judge, at Halifax, in answer to Schlegel. I am sorry I neither possess a Copy, nor can refer you to any convenient depository of one.
On the side of “free ships, free goods” may be urged not only the intrinsic merit of the rule, and the number and character of distinguished Jurists, but the predominant authority of Treaties, even of Treaties to which Great Britain is a party. Prior to the Treaty of Utrecht, her treaties, particularly with the Dutch, carefully inserted the stipulation. Sir W. Temple, her Ambassador, claimed great merit, on one occasion for his success in obtaining from them, an article to that effect. In the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713, to which the several great maritime powers were parties, the principle is stipulated in the most explicit form. In the successive Treaties, to which the great maritime powers were also parties in 1748, 1763 & 1783, the Treaty of Utrecht is renewed and made a part thereof. Perhaps no article in maritime law, can be found which at one time rested on such broad and solid evidence of that general consent of Nations, which constitutes the positive law among them. To those Treaties, embracing so many parties, may be added the Treaty of 1786, between the two most important of them, Great Britain & France. In the negotiations at Amiens, at a still later date, the British Government was desirous of again re-enacting the Treaty, tho’ probably with a view rather to the political balance, than to the maritime principles contained in it.
It has been unfortunate, that all the efforts of the Baltic Powers to secure the interests of neutrals have been frustrated by the want of a united and determined perseverance. Their leagues have been broken to pieces; and to finish the catastrophe, each of the parties has separately deserted itself. The latter Treaties of Russia, of Sweden, and of Denmark, with Great Britain, have all, in some form or other, let in the British doctrines, and become authorities against the claims of neutrals.
If a purification of the Maritime Code ever take place, the task seems to be reserved for the United States. They cannot fail to acquire rapidly more and more of respect from other Nations, and of influence on those having a common interest with themselves. They will soon become, in the Canvas they spread, and in all the means of power, on the Ocean, rivals of the Nation which has in fact legislated on that element. Under such auspices, truth, justice, humanity, and universal good, will be inculcated with an advantage which must gradually and peaceably enlist the civilized world, against a Code which violates all those obligations; a code as noxious by the wars and calamities it produces to its overbearing patron, as to the Nations protesting against it.
As a preparation for such a result, it is of great moment that the subject of maritime law should appear in our public debates, in the judicial proceedings, and in individual disquisitions, to have been profoundly studied and understood; so as to attract favorable attention elsewhere; and by inspiring respect for the lights and the character of the Nation, increase that for its power and importance. The Law of Nations has been made by the powerful nations; and these having been warlike in their dispositions and institutions, the law has been moulded to suit belligerent rather than peaceable nations. With the faculties for war, it is to be hoped, our country will continue friendly to peace, and exert the influence belonging to it, in promoting a system favorable to Nations cherishing peace and justice, rather than to those devoted to ambition and conquest.
The questions claiming more particular research and elucidation seem to be, those relating to Contraband of war, blockades, the Colonial and Coasting trades, and the great question of “free ships, free goods.”
TO JOHN ARMSTRONG.chic. hist. soc. mss.
August 13, 1814.
For the Department of War.
On viewing the course which the proceedings of the War Department have not unfrequently taken, I find that I owe it to my own responsibility as well as to other considerations, to make some remarks on the relations in which the Head of the Department stands to the President, and to lay down some rules for conducting the business of the Department, which are dictated by the nature of those relations.
In general the Secretary of War, like the Heads of the other Depts. as well by express statute as by the structure of the constitution, acts under the authority & subject to the decisions & instructions of the President; with the exception of cases where the law may vest special & independent powers in the head of the Department.
From the great number & variety of subjects, however, embraced by that Department and the subordinate & routine character of a great portion of them, it cannot be either necessary or convenient that proceedings relative to every subject should receive a previous & positive sanction of the Executive. In cases of that minor sort it is requisite only that they be subsequently communicated as far and as soon as a knowledge of them can be useful or satisfactory.
In cases of a higher character & importance, involving necessarily, and in the public understanding, a just responsibility of the President, the acts of the Department ought to be either prescribed by him, or preceded by his sanction.
It is not easy to define in theory the cases falling within these different classes, or in practice to discriminate them with uniform exactness. But substantial observance of the distinction is not difficult, and will be facilitated by the confidence between the Executive & the Head of the Department.
This distinction has not been sufficiently kept in view.
I need not repeat the notice heretofore taken of the measure consolidating certain regiments; a measure highly important under more than one aspect; and which was adopted & executed without the knowledge or sanction of the President; nor was it subsequently made known to him otherwise than through the publication of the act in the newspapers.
The like may be said of certain rules & regulations, particularly a Body of them for the Hospital & Medical Depts. of which the law expressly required the approbation of the President, and which comprise a rule to be observed by the P. himself in future appointments. The first knowledge of these latter regulations was derived from the newspapers.
A very remarkable instance is a late general order prohibiting Duels and challenges, on pain of dismission from the army. However proper such an order may be in itself, it would never be supposed to have been issued without the deliberate sanction of the President, the more particularly as it pledged an exercise of one of the most responsible of the Executive functions, that of summarily dismissing from military offices without the intervention of the military Tribunal provided by law. This order was adopted & promulgated without the previous knowledge of the P. nor was it ever made known to him otherwise than by its promulgation. Instructions to military Comanders relating to important plans & operations have been issued without any previous or even any subsequent communication thereof to the Executive; and letters expressly intended & proper for the knowledge & decision of the Ex. have been recd. & acted on without being previously communicated or the measures taken being made known to him.
Other illustrations might be drawn from instances of other sorts, leading to the result of these remarks. The above may suffice, with the addition of one which with the circumstances attending it will be explained by a reference to the letter of resignation from Genl. Harrison, to the letter of the P. to the Secretary of War of May 24, to the issuing of the commission of Major General to General Jackson, and the letter of the Secretary of War accompanying it.
The following course will be observed in future:
To be previously communicated to the President:
1. Orders from the Dept. of War establishing general or permanent regulations.
2. Orders for Courts of Enquiry or Courts Martial, on general officers; or designating the numbers or members of the Courts.
3. Commissions or notifications of appointment to officers other than regular promotions, in uncontested cases.
4. Dismissions of officers from the service.
5. Consolidations of Corps or parts of Corps & translations of Fd. officers from one Regiment to another.
6. Acceptances & refusals of resignations from officers above the rank of Captains.
7. Requisitions & receptions of militia into the service & pay of the U. S.
8. Instructions relating to Treaties with Indians.
9. Instructions to officers commanding military Districts, or Corps or Stations, relative to military movements or operations.
10. Changes in the boundaries of military Districts, or the establishmt of separate commands therein; or the transfer of General officers from one District or command to another District or command.
In the absence of the P. from the seat of Govt previous communications to him may be waived in urgent cases, but to be subsequently made without delay.
All letters giving military intelligence or containing other matters intended or proper for the knowledge of the P. will of course be immediately communicated to him.
These rules may omit cases falling within, and embrace cases not entirely within, the reason of them. Experience therefore may improve the rules. In the meantime, they will give a more suitable order & course to the business of the Dept. will conduce to a more certain harmony & cooperation in the proceedings of the several Departments, and will furnish the proper opportunity for the advantage of cabinet consultations on cases of a nature to render them expedient.
TO JAMES MONROE.1monroe mss.
[August 21, 1814.]
I recd yours of 11 P. M. about 20 minutes ago. You will hear from Genl. A. or myself by other express who will leave this about 9 or 10 o’C. If the force of the Enemy be not greater than yet appears, & he be without Cavalry, it seems extraordinary that he shd venture on an enterprize to this distance from his shipping. He may however count on the effect of boldness & celerity on his side, and the want of precaution on ours. He may be bound also to do something, & therefore to risk everything. We know little of what is passing in the Potowmac. A company of regular recruits from Va arrived here last evening. Nothing new from the North or from abroad.
TO JAMES MONROE.monroe mss.
[August 22, 1814.]
Since mine of this morning Tatham has come and speaks of reinforcements to the first Column of the Enemy at Notingham. Taylor, I understand is also here just from Parker, with a report that the Enemy have 3000 in the Potowmac. This must be a great exaggeration, if there be not more shipping than we know of. It wd. seem not improbable that if they have land force of any sensible importance, that it would be equal to some distinct object, otherwise it wd. not be taken from the real operative force. It is sd. Parker is moving up parallel with the frigates; but at what point they were I do not learn. I take for granted that there are arrangements where you are for quick intelligence from every important point. The papers of all the Officers are under way to retired places.1 I fear not much can be done more than has been done to strengthen the hands of Genl. W[inder]. As fast as succorers arrive here they will be hastened on, but the crisis I presume will be of such short duration, that but few Even from the neighboring Country will be on the ground before it is over. Genl Douglas’s Brigade will receive another spur, so will the Militia who are to rendevouz at a Church in Fairfax near this. Wadsworth is taking measures for defensive works on the road about Blandensbg.
It appears that the reinforcements in Canada, amount to 8 or 10,000.
TO MRS. MADISON.1
Mr Williams about 6 or 7 miles from Washington
We reached our quarters last evening at the Camp between 8 & 9 oC. and made out very well. I have passed the forenoon among the troops who are in high spirits & make a good appearance. The reports as to the enemy have varied every hour. The last & probably truest information is that they are not very strong, and are without cavalry or artillery; and of course that they are not in a condition to strike at Washington. It is believed also that they are not about to move from Marlbro’, unless it be from an apprehension of our gathering force, and on a retreat to their ships. It is possible however they may have a greater force or expect one, than has been represented or that their temerity may be greater than their strength. I sent you a message last night by Col. M. and one to-day by a messenger of Gen! Winder who set out at a moment when it was impossible to write. I have detained Shorter, that I might give you by him some final & certain information. We expect any how to learn something further from the camp concerning the enemy. If it should be [of] a nature to make it advisable to return to the camp, you will not see me this evening; otherwise I hope I shall be with you in the course tho’ perhaps later in the evening
Your devoted husband
I met Mr Cutts between this & the camp, & he returned with us to dinner here when we were offered it by the hospitality of Mr Williams.
MEMORANDUM—AUG. 24, 1814.1mad. mss.
In the morning, a note, by an express from General Winder was handed me. It was addressed to the Secretary of War. Not doubting the urgency of the occasion, I opened and read it, and it went on immediately by the Express to Genl Armstrong who lodged in the Seven Buildings. Finding by the note that the General requested the speediest counsel, I proceeded to his Head Quarters on the Eastern Branch, trusting for notice to the Secretary of War to follow, to the note from Winder. On my reaching his quarters, we were successively joined by the Secretary of State [who soon with our approbation repaired to Bladensburg] the Secretary of the Navy, and Mr. Rush, the Attorney General. After an hour or so, the Secretary of the Treasury arrived, and quickly after the Secretary of War. The latter had been impatiently expected, and surprize at his delay manifested. Gen. Winder was, at the moment setting off to hurry on the troops to Bladensburg in consequence of certain intelligence that the Enemy had taken that direction. Barney’s corps was also ordered thither, leaving the Bridge to be blown up if necessary. On Gen. Armstrong’s coming into the room, he was informed of the certain march of the enemy for Bladensburg, and of what had passed before his arrival; and he was asked whether he had any arrangement or advice to offer in the emergency. He said he had not; adding, that as the battle would be between Militia and regular troops, the former would be beaten.
On coming out of the house and mounting our horses, the Secretary of the Treasury, who though in a very languid state of health had turned out to join us, observed to me privately that he was grieved to see the great reserve of the Secretary of War, [he lodged in the same house with him] who was taking no part on so critical an occasion; that he found him under the impression, that as the means of defending the District had been committed to Genl. Winder, it might not be delicate to intrude his opinions without the approbation of the President; tho’ with that approbation he was ready to give any aid he could. Mr. Campbell said that notwithstanding his just confidence in Genl Winder, he thought, in the present state of things which called for all the military skill possible, the Military knowledge and experience of the Secretary of War ought to be availed of, and that no considerations of delicacy ought to jeopard the public safety. With these impressions he said, he had thought it his duty to make this communication, and was very anxious, that I should take some proper steps in the case. I told him I could scarcely conceive it possible that Genl. Armstrong could have so misconstrued his functions and duty as Secretary of war; that he could not but know that any proper directions from him would receive any sanction that might be necessary from the Executive; nor doubt that any suggestions or advice from him to Genl. Winder would be duly attended to [in this case it had been requested in writing] I told Mr C. that I would speak to the Secretary of War explicitly on the subject; and accordingly turning my horse to him, expressed to him my concern and surprise at the reserve he shewed at the present crisis, and at the scruples I understood he had at offering his advice or opinions; that I hoped he had not construed the paper of instructions given him some time before, [see the paper of Augt. 13, 1814] so as to restrain him in any respect from the exercise of functions belonging to his office; that at such a juncture it was to be expected that he should omit nothing within the proper agency of Secretary of War, towards the public defence; and that I thought it proper particularly that he should proceed to Bladensburg and give any aid to Genl. Winder that he could; observing that if any difficulty on the score of authority should arise, which was not likely, I should be near at hand to remove it [it was my purpose in case there should be time, to have the members of the Cabinet together in Bladensburg, where it was expected Genl Winder would be, and in consultation with him to decide on the arrangements suited to the posture of things.] He said in reply that he had put no such construction on the paper of instructions as was alluded to; and that as I thought it proper, he would proceed to Bladensburg, and be of any service to Genl Winder he could. The purport of this conversation I communicated to Mr. Campbell who remained near us. The Secretary of War set off without delay to Bladensburg.
After a short turn to the Marine barracks whither the Secretary of the Navy had gone, I mentioned to Mr. Rush who was with me my purpose of going to Bladensburg and my object in so doing. He readily accompanied me. On approaching the Town, we learned from William Simmons, that Winder was not there, and that the enemy were entering it. We rode up to him [Winder] instantly. The Secretaries of State and War were with him. I asked the latter whether he had spoken with Genl Winder on the subject of his arrangements and views. He said he had not. I remarked that tho’ there was so little time for it, it was possible he might offer some advice or suggestion that might not be too late, to be turned to account; on which he rode up to the General as I did myself. The unruliness of my horse prevented me from joining in the short conversation that took place. When it was over, I asked Genl Armstrong whether he had seen occasion to suggest any improvement in any part of the arrangements. He said that he had not; that from his view of them they appeared to be as good as circumstances admitted.
When the Battle had decidedly commenced, I observed to the Secretary of War and Secretary of State that it would be proper to withdraw to a position in the rear, where we could act according to circumstances; leaving military movements now to the military functionaries who were responsible for them. This we did, Mr. Rush soon joining us. When it became manifest that the battle was lost; Mr. Rush accompanying me, I fell down into the road leading to the city and returned to it.
It had been previously settled that in the event of the enemy’s taking possession of the city, and the necessity of Executive consultations elsewhere, Fredericktown would be the proper place for the assembling of the Cabinet.1
TO JAMES MONROE.1
Brookville, Aug. 26, 1814, 10 o’clock, p.m.
I expected this morning to have reached General W. and yourself before your departure from Mongtomery C. H., but was delayed so that I did not arrive there till six o’clock, partly to obtain quarters, partly to be within communication with you. I have proceeded thus far, in company with Mr. Rush, General Mason,1 &c., and avail myself of the bearer to inform you, that I will either wait here till you join me, or follow and join you, as you may think best. Let me know your idea on the subject by the bearer. If you decide on coming hither, the sooner the better. Mr. Rush will remain here also. Mr. Jones is with my family and his own on the other side of the Potomac, but will come to the city the moment he hears of its evacuation. General Armstrong and Mr. Campbell are, I understand, at Fredericktown. I shall give them immediate notice of the change in the state of things, and desire them to conform to it. A letter from General Smith (of Winchester) to General A. was put in my hands, by an express at Montgomery C. H., stating that a brigade of militia could come on or not, as might be desired. I have sent it open to Gen. W., who can judge best of the answer proper to be given, and will act on the letter accordingly.
Accept my best wishes and great esteem.
James Monroe, Esq.,
Secretary of State.
To be opened by Gen. Winder.
TO MRS. MADISON.1
Brookville Aug. 27th 10 oclock.
Finding that our army has left Montgomery C. H. we pushed on to this place, with a view to join it, or proceed to the City, as further information might prescribe. I have just recd. a line from Col Monroe saying that the enemy were out of Washington & on the retreat to their ships, & advising our immediate return to Washington. We shall accordingly set out thither immediately, you will all of course take the same resolution. I know not where we are in the first instance, to hide our heads; but shall look for a place on my arrival Mr Rush offers his house in the six buildings & the offer claims attention. Perhaps I may fall in with Mr Cutts & have the aid of his advice. I saw Mr Bradley at Montgomery C. H. who told me that Mr. Cutts was well. Jamey will give you some particulars truly yours.
P.S. I have not time to write, since the above it is found necessary to detain Jamey & send a trooper.
[August 29, 1814.]
In the evening of the 29th of August, 1814, Being on horseback, I stopped at General Armstrong’s lodgings for the purpose of communicating with him on the state of things in the District, then under apprehensions of an immediate visit from the force of the enemy at Alexandria.
I observed to him that he could not be unaware of the great excitement in the District produced by the unfortunate event which had taken place in the city; that violent prejudices were known to exist against the administration, as having failed in its duty to protect it, particularly against me and himself as head of the War Department; that threats of personal violence had, it was said, been thrown out against us both, but more especially against him; that it had been sufficiently known for several days, and before his return1 to the city (which was about one o’clock P.M. of the 29th) that the temper of the troops was such as made it expedient, if possible, that he should have nothing to do with them; that I had within a few hours received a message from the commanding General of the Militia informing me that every officer would tear off his epauletts if Genl Armstrong was to have anything to do with them; that before his arrival there was less difficulty, as Mr. Monroe who was very acceptable to them, had, as on preceding occasions of his absence, though very reluctantly on this, been the medium for the functions of Secretary of War, but that since his return and presence, the expedient could not be continued, and the question was, what was best to be done. Any convulsion at so critical a moment could not but have the worst consequences.
He said he had been aware of the excitement against him; that it was altogether artificial, and that he knew the sources of it, and the intrigues by which it had been effected, which this was not the proper time for examining; that the excitement was founded on the most palpable falsehoods, and was limited to this spot; that it was evident he could not remain here, and the functions belonging to him divided or exercised by any one else, without forgetting what he owed to his station, and to himself; that he had come into his office with the sole view of serving the public, and was willing to resign it when he could no longer do so with honor and effect; that if it was thought best therefore that he should adopt this course, he was ready to give up his appointment; or he could, with my permission, retire from the scene, by setting out immediately on a visit to his family in the State of New York.
I observed that a resignation was an extent which had not been contemplated; that if made under such circumstances, it might receive constructions which could not be desirable, either in a public or a personal view; that a temporary retirement, as he suggested, tho’ also subject to be viewed in some lights not agreeable, was on the whole less objectionable, and would avoid the existing embarrassment, without precluding any future course which might be deemed most fit.
He dwelt on the groundless nature of the charges which had produced the excitement, and on the limits within which they had and would operate; affirming that his conduct in relation to the defence of the city &c. had proved that there had been no deficiency on his part.
I told him that I well knew that some of the particular charges brought against him were destitute of foundation, and that as far as they produced the discontents, these would be limited both as to time and space; but that I suspected the discontents to be in a great measure rooted in the belief that he had not taken a sufficient interest in the defence of the city, nor promoted the measures for it; and considering the heavy calamity which had fallen on the place and on its inhabitants, it was natural that strong feelings would be excited on the spot; and as the place was the Capital of the nation every where else also. I added that it would not be easy to satisfy the nation that the event was without blame somewhere, and I could not in candour say that all that ought to have been done had been done & in proper time.
He returned to an exculpation of himself, and remarked that he had omitted no preparations or steps whatever for the safety of the place which had been enjoined on him.
I replied that as the conversation was a frank one, I could not admit this justification; that it was the duty of the Secretary of War not only to execute plans, or orders committed to him, but to devise and propose such as would in his opinion be necessary and proper; that it was an obvious and essential part of his charge, and that in what related to military plans and proceedings elsewhere, he had never been scrupulous or backward in taking this course; that on the contrary he well knew from what on another occasion1 had passed between us, he had taken a latitude in this respect which I was not satisfied with, that it was due to truth and to myself to say, that he had never appeared to enter into a just view either of the danger to the city which was to be apprehended, or of the consequences of its falling into the hands of the Enemy; that he had never himself proposed or suggested a single precaution or arrangement for its safety, everything done on that subject having been brought forward by myself, and that the apparent difference of his views on that subject from mine had naturally induced a reduction of my arrangements to the minimum, in order to obtrude the less on a reluctant execution. I reminded him also that he had fallen short of the preparations even decided on in the Cabinet, in some respects; particularly in not having arms and equipments brought to convenient depôts from distant ones, some of the militia, when called on for the defence of the City, being obliged to get arms first at Harper’s ferry.
I remarked that it was not agreeable thus to speak, nor on an occasion less urgent would it be done; that I had selected him for the office he filled from a respect to his talents, and a confidence that he would exert them for the public good; that I had always treated him with friendliness and confidence and that as there was but a short distance before me to the end of my public career, my great wish, next to leaving my country in a state of peace and prosperity, was to have preserved harmony and avoid changes, and that I had accordingly as he well knew acquiesced in many things, to which no other consideration would have reconciled me.
He said he was very sensible of my friendly conduct towards him, and always had, and always should respect me for it.
The conversation was closed by my referring to the idea of his setting out in the Morning on a visit to his family; and observing that he would of course revolve it further, and if he continued to think of it as he then did, he would consider me as opposing no restraint. We parted as usual in a friendly manner. On the next morning he sent me word by Mr. Parker that he should proceed immediately to visit his family; and on his arrival at Baltimore, transmitted his resignation.
Whereas the enemy by a sudden incursion have succeeded in invading the capital of the nation, defended at the moment by troops less numerous than their own and almost entirely of the militia, during their possession of which, though for a single day only, they wantonly destroyed the public edifices, having no relation in their structure to operations of war nor used at the time for military annoyance, some of these edifices being also costly monuments of taste and of the arts, and others depositories of the public archives, not only precious to the nation as the memorials of its origin and its early transactions, but interesting to all nations as contributions to the general stock of historical instruction and political science; and
Whereas advantage has been taken of the loss of a fort more immediately guarding the neighboring town of Alexandria to place the town within the range of a naval force too long and too much in the habit of abusing its superiority wherever it can be applied to require as the alternative of a general conflagration an undisturbed plunder of private property, which has been executed in a manner peculiarly distressing to the inhabitants, who had inconsiderately cast themselves upon the justice and generosity of the victor; and
Whereas it now appears by a direct communication from the British commander on the American station to be his avowed purpose to employ the force under his direction “in destroying and laying waste such towns and districts upon the coast as may be found assailable,” adding to this declaration the insulting pretext that it is in retaliation for a wanton destruction committed by the army of the United States in Upper Canada, when it is notorious that no destruction has been committed, which, notwithstanding the multiplied outrages previously committed by the enemy was not unauthorized, and promptly shown to be so and that the United States have been as constant in their endeavors to reclaim the enemy from such outrages by the contrast of their own example as they have been ready to terminate on reasonable conditions the war itself; and
Whereas these proceedings and declared purposes, which exhibit a deliberate disregard of the principles of humanity and the rules of civilized warfare, and which must give to the existing war a character of extended devastation and barbarism at the very moment of negotiations for peace, invited by the enemy himself, leave no prospect of safety to anything within the reach of his predatory and incendiary operations but in manful and universal determination to chastise and expel the invader:
Now, therefore, I, James Madison, President of the United States, do issue this my proclamation, exhorting all the good people thereof to unite their hearts and hands in giving effect to the ample means possessed for that purpose. I enjoin it on all officers, civil and military, to exert themselves in executing the duties with which they are respectively charged; and more especially I require the officers commanding the respective military districts to be vigilant and alert in providing for the defense thereof, for the more effectual accomplishment of which they are authorized to call to the defense of exposed and threatened places portions of the militia most convenient thereto, whether they be or be not parts of the quotas detached for the service of the United States under requisitions of the General Government.
On an occasion which appeals so forcibly to the proud feelings and patriotic devotion of the American people none will forget what they owe to themselves, what they owe to their country and the high destinies which await it, what to the glory acquired by their fathers in establishing the independence which is now to be maintained by their sons with the augmented strength and resources with which time and Heaven had blessed them.
In testimony whereof &c. (September 1, 1814.)
SIXTH ANNUAL MESSAGE.
Fellow-Citizens of the Senate and of the House of Representatives:
Washington, September 20, 1814.
Notwithstanding the early day which had been fixed for your session of the present year, I was induced to call you together still sooner, as well that any inadequacy in the existing provisions for the wants of the Treasury might be supplied as that no delay might happen in providing for the result of the negotiations on foot with Great Britain, whether it should require arrangements adapted to a return of peace or further and more effective provisions for prosecuting the war.
That result is not yet known. If, on the one hand, the repeal of the orders in council and the general pacification in Europe, which withdrew the occasion on which impressments from American vessels were practiced, suggest expectations that peace and amity may be reestablished, we are compelled, on the other hand, by the refusal of the British Government to accept the offered mediation of the Emperor of Russia, by the delays in giving effect to its own proposal of a direct negotiation, and, above all, by the principles and manner in which the war is now avowedly carried on to infer that a spirit of hostility is indulged more violent than ever against the rights and prosperity of this country.
This increased violence is best explained by the two important circumstances that the great contest in Europe for an equilibrium guaranteeing all its States against the ambition of any has been closed without any check on the overbearing power of Great Britain on the ocean, and it has left in her hands disposable armaments, with which, forgetting the difficulties of a remote war with a free people, and yielding to the intoxication of success, with the example of a great victim of it before her eyes, she cherishes hopes of still further aggrandizing a power already formidable in its abuses to the tranquillity of the civilized and commercial world.
But whatever may have inspired the enemy with these more violent purposes, the public councils of a nation more able to maintain than it was to acquire its independence, and with a devotion to it rendered more ardent by the experience of its blessings, can never deliberate but on the means most effectual for defeating the extravagant views or unwarrantable passions with which alone the war can now be pursued against us.
In the events of the present campaign the enemy, with all his augmented means and wanton use of them, has little ground for exultation, unless he can feel it in the success of his recent enterprises against this metropolis and the neighboring town of Alexandria, from both of which his retreats were as precipitate as his attempts were bold and fortunate. In his other incursions on our Atlantic frontier his progress, often checked and chastised by the martial spirit of the neighboring citizens, has had more effect in distressing individuals and in dishonoring his arms than in promoting any object of legitimate warfare; and in the two instances mentioned, however deeply to be regretted on our part, he will find in his transient success, which interrupted for a moment only the ordinary public business at the seat of Government, no compensation for the loss of character with the world by his violations of private property and by his destruction of public edifices protected as monuments of the arts by the laws of civilized warfare.
On our side we can appeal to a series of achievements which have given new luster to the American arms. Besides the brilliant incidents in the minor operations of the campaign, the splendid victories gained on the Canadian side of the Niagara by the American forces under Major-General Brown and Brigadiers Scott and Gaines have gained for these heroes and their emulating companions the most unfading laurels, and, having triumphantly tested the progressive discipline of the American soldiery, have taught the enemy that the longer he protracts his hostile efforts the more certain and decisive will be his final discomfiture.
On our southern border victory has continued also to follow the American standard. The bold and skillful operations of Major-General Jackson, conducting troops drawn from the militia of the States least distant, particularly of Tennessee, have subdued the principal tribes of hostile savages, and, by establishing a peace with them, preceded by recent and exemplary chastisement, has best guarded against the mischief of their co-operation with the British enterprises which may be planned against that quarter of our country. Important tribes of Indians on our north-western frontier have also acceded to stipulations which bind them to the interests of the United States and to consider our enemy as theirs also.
In the recent attempt of the enemy on the city of Baltimore, defended by militia and volunteers, aided by a small body of regulars and seamen, he was received with a spirit which produced a rapid retreat to his ships, whilst a concurrent attack by a large fleet was successfully resisted by the steady and well-directed fire of the fort and batteries opposed to it.
In another recent attack by a powerful force on our troops at Plattsburg, of which regulars made a part only, the enemy, after a perseverance for many hours, was finally compelled to seek safety in a hasty retreat, with our gallant bands pressing upon him.
On the Lakes, so much contested throughout the war, the great exertions for the command made on our part have been well repaid. On Lake Ontario our squadron is now and has been for some time in a condition to confine that of the enemy to his own port, and to favor the operations of our land forces on that frontier.
A part of the squadron on Lake Erie has been extended into Lake Huron, and has produced the advantage of displaying our command on that lake also. One object of the expedition was the reduction of Mackinaw, which failed with the loss of a few brave men, among whom was an officer justly distinguished for his gallant exploits. The expedition, ably conducted by both the land and the naval commanders, was otherwise highly valuable in its effects.
On Lake Champlain, where our superiority had for some time been undisputed, the British squadron lately came into action with the American, commanded by Captain Macdonough. It issued in the capture of the whole of the enemy’s ships. The best praise for this officer and his intrepid comrades is in the likeness of his triumph to the illustrious victory which immortalized another officer and established at a critical moment our command of another lake.
On the ocean the pride of our naval arms has been amply supported. A second frigate has indeed fallen into the hands of the enemy, but the loss is hidden in the blaze of heroism with which she was defended. Captain Porter, who commanded her, and whose previous career had been distinguished by daring enterprise and by fertility of genius, maintained a sanguinary contest against two ships, one of them superior to his own, and under other severe disadvantages, till humanity tore down the colors which valor had nailed to the mast. This officer and his brave comrades have added much to the rising glory of the American flag, and have merited all the effusions of gratitude which their country is ever ready to bestow on the champions of its rights and of its safety.
Two smaller vessels of war have also become prizes to the enemy, but by a superiority of force which sufficiently vindicates the reputation of their commanders, whilst two others, one commanded by Captain Warrington, the other by Captain Blakely, have captured British ships of the same class with a gallantry and good conduct which entitle them and their companions to a just share in the praise of their country.
In spite of the naval force of the enemy accumulated on our coasts, our private cruisers also have not ceased to annoy his commerce and to bring their rich prizes into our ports, contributing thus, with other proofs, to demonstrate the incompetency and illegality of a blockade the proclamation of which is made the pretext for vexing and discouraging the commerce of neutral powers with the United States.
To meet the extended and diversified warfare adopted by the enemy, great bodies of militia have been taken into service for the public defense, and great expenses incurred. That the defense everywhere may be both more convenient and more economical, Congress will see the necessity of immediate measures for filling the ranks of the Regular Army and of enlarging the provision for special corps, mounted and unmounted, to be engaged for longer periods of service than are due from the militia. I earnestly renew, at the same time, a recommendation of such changes in the system of the militia as, by classing and disciplining for the most prompt and active service the portions most capable of it, will give to that great resource for the public safety all the requisite energy and efficiency.
The moneys received into the Treasury during the nine months ending on the 30th day of June last amounted to $32,000,000, of which near eleven millions were the proceeds of the public revenue and the remainder derived from loans. The disbursements for public expenditures during the same period exceeded $34,000,000, and left in the Treasury on the 1st day of July near $5,000,000. The demands during the remainder of the present year already authorized by Congress and the expenses incident to an extension of the operations of the war will render it necessary that large sums should be provided to meet them.
From this view of the national affairs Congress will be urged to take up without delay as well the subject of pecuniary supplies as that of military force, and on a scale commensurate with the extent and the character which the war has assumed. It is not to be disguised that the situation of our country calls for its greatest efforts. Our enemy is powerful in men and in money, on the land and on the water. Availing himself of fortuitous advantages, he is aiming with his undivided force a deadly blow at our growing prosperity, perhaps at our national existence. He has avowed his purpose of trampling on the usages of civilized warfare, and given earnest of it in the plunder and wanton destruction of private property. In his pride of maritime dominion and in his thirst of commercial monopoly he strikes with peculiar animosity at the progress of our navigation and of our manufactures. His barbarous policy has not even spared those monuments of the arts and models of taste with which our country had enriched and embellished its infant metropolis. From such an adversary hostility in its greatest force and in its worst forms may be looked for. The American people will face it with the undaunted spirit which in their revolutionary struggle defeated his unrighteous projects. His threats and his barbarities, instead of dismay, will kindle in every bosom an indignation not to be extinguished but in the disaster and expulsion of such cruel invaders. In providing the means necessary the National Legislature will not distrust the heroic and enlightened patriotism of its constituents. They will cheerfully and proudly bear every burden of every kind which the safety and honor of the nation demand. We have seen them everywhere paying their taxes, direct and indirect, with the greatest promptness and alacrity. We see them rushing with enthusiasm to the scenes where danger and duty call. In offering their blood they give the surest pledge that no other tribute will be withheld.
Having forborne to declare war until to other aggressions had been added the capture of nearly a thousand American vessels and the impressment of thousands of American seafaring citizens, and until a final declaration had been made by the Government of Great Britain that her hostile orders against our commerce would not be revoked but on conditions as impossible as unjust, whilst it was known that these orders would not otherwise cease but with a war which had lasted nearly twenty years, and which, according to appearances at that time, might last as many more; having manifested on every occasion and in every proper mode a sincere desire to arrest the effusion of blood and meet our enemy on the ground of justice and reconciliation, our beloved country, in still opposing to his persevering hostility all its energies, with an undiminished disposition toward peace and friendship on honorable terms, must carry with it the good wishes of the impartial world and the best hopes of support from an omnipotent and kind Providence.
TO DANIEL D. TOMPKINS.1mad. mss.
Sepr 28, 1814.
Mr. Monroe having just been appointed Secy. of War it is necessary to provide for the vacancy resulting in the Dept. of State. Wishing to avail the U. S. of yr. talents & services, I take the liberty of requesting permission to name you to the Senate as his successor. I am aware of the very important station, from which their concurrence will withdraw you; but I justify my personal wish to see you a member of the Ex. family, by my persuasion, that the one contemplated will afford still greater scope for the benefits wch. you have given so many proofs of your disposition to render to our Country. I need not suggest that as early an answer as you can make convenient will be acceptable.
TO THOMAS JEFFERSON.mad. mss.
Washington, Ocr 10, 1814.
Your favor of the 24th Ult: came duly to hand. I learn that the Library Come. will report favorably on your proposition to supply the loss of books by Congs. It will prove a gain to them, if they have the wisdom to replace it by such a Collection as yours. Mr. Smith will doubtless write you on the subject.1
I have not yet read your last communication to Mr. Monroe on the subject of finance.2 It seems clear, according to your reasoning in the preceding one, that a circulating medium, to take the place of a bank or metallic medium, may be created by law and made to answer the purpose of a loan, or rather anticipation of a tax; but as the resource cannot be extended beyond the amount of a sufficient medium, and of course cannot be continued but by successive re-emissions & redemptions by taxes, resort must eventually be had to loans of the usual sort, or an augmentation of taxes, according to the public exigencies: I say augmentations of taxes, because these absorbing a larger sum into circulation, will admit an enlargement of the medium employed for the purpose. In England where the paper medium, is a legal tender in paying a hundred millions of taxes, thirty millions of interest to the public creditors &c &c, and in private debts, so as to stay a final recovery, we have seen what a mass of paper has been kept afloat, with little if any depreciation. That the difference in value between the circulating notes and the metals proceeded rather from the rise in the latter than from the depreciation of the former, is now proved by the fact, that the notes are, notwithstanding a late increase of their quantity, rising towards a par with the metals, in consequence of a favorable balance of trade which diminishes the demand of them for foreign markets.
We have just received despatches from Ghent, which I shall lay before Congs. to-day.1 The British sine qua non, excluded us from fishing within the sovereignty attached to her shores, and from using these in curing fish; required a Cession of as much of Maine as wd remove the obstruction to a direct communication between Quebec & Halifax, confirmed to her the Passamaquoddy Islands as always hers of right; included in the pacification the Indian Allies, with a boundary for them (such as that of the Treaty of Greenville) agst the U. S. mutually guarantied, and the Indians restrained from selling their lands to either party, but free to sell them to a third party; prohibited the U. S. from having an armed force on the Lakes or forts on their shores, the British prohibited as to neither; and substituted for the present N. W. limit of the U. S. a line running direct from the W. end of L. Superior to the Mississippi, with a right of G. B. to the navigation of this river. Our ministers were all present, & in perfect harmony of opinion on the arrogance of such demands. They wd. probably leave Ghent shortly after the sailing of the vessel just arrived. Nothing can prevent it, but a sudden change in the B. Cabinet not likely to happen, tho’ it might be somewhat favored by an indignant rupture of the negotiation, as well as by the intelligence from this Country, and the fermentations taking place in Europe.
I intended to have said something on the changes in the Cabinet, involving in one instance, circumstances of which the public can as yet very little judge, but cannot do it now.
The situation of Sacketts Harbour is very critical. I hope for the best, but have serious apprehensions.
With truest affection always yrs.
TO GEORGE W. CAMPBELL.1
Washington, Novr. 2, 1814.
The Committee appointed by the H. of Reps.2 to enquire into the causes of the late military events in this District have called for information on the members of the Cabinet, and the call will embrace you. That you may be under no restraint whatever from official or personal confidence, I think it proper to intimate to you, that in relation to myself, I hope no information you may be able to give will be withheld, from either of those considerations.
I am so far from wishing to circumscribe the range of enquiry, on the subject, that I am anxious that every circumstance may be reached that can throw light on it. I am the more anxious, because I understand that a statement furnished by the late Secretary of War, implicates me in two particulars, 1. that I committed to him, the direction of the military operations on the field of battle, which I could not even legally do, 2. that at a critical moment I interposed & prevented it.
On the latter point, I am aware that as you were not on the ground, you can have no direct knowledge & may be without a knowledge of any circumstances indirectly bearing on it. It is a point however which I believe can be disproved by evidence as decisive as can be required to establish the negative.
On the first point your memory may furnish circumstances not unimportant, as the statement in question has doubtless reference to the conversation with Genl. Armstrong on the morning of Aug. 24, to which I was led by the regret you expressed at his apparent reserve on so momentous a crisis, & your suggestion that he might be kept back by some feeling of delicacy in relation to Genl. Winder.
The conversation was held very near to you, but no part of it might be within your hearing. Your recollection of my reply to your remarks, & of my communication of what passed between me & Genl. Armstrong may, in connection with recollections of others, aid in elucidating truth.
I have heard with pleasure that you were far advanced on your journey to Nashville, and that your health was improving. With my sincere wishes for its perfect restoration, accept assurances of my great esteem & my friendly respects.
TO WILSON CARY NICHOLAS.1
Washington, Novr 26, 1814.
I did not receive your favor of the 11th instant till a few days ago, and I have till now been too much indisposed to acknowledge it.
You are not mistaken in viewing the conduct of the Eastern States as the source of our greatest difficulties in carrying on the war, as it certainly is the greatest, if not the sole, inducement with the enemy to persevere in it. The greater part of the people in that quarter have been brought by their leaders, aided by their priests, under a delusion scarcely exceeded by that recorded in the period of witchcraft; and the leaders are becoming daily more desperate in the use they make of it. Their object is power. If they could obtain it by menaces, their efforts would stop there. These failing, they are ready to go every length for which they can train their followers. Without foreign co-operation, revolts & separation will be hardly risked; and what the effect of so profligate an experiment may be, first on deluded partizans, and next on those remaining faithful to the nation who are respectable for their consistency, and even for their numbers, is for conjecture only. The best may be hoped, but the worst ought to be kept in view. In the mean time the course to be taken by the Govt is full of delicacy & perplexity; and the more so under the pinch which exists in our fiscal affairs, & the lamentable tardiness of the Legislature in applying some relief.
At such a moment the vigorous support of the well disposed States is peculiarly important to the General Govt; and it would be impossible for me to doubt that Virga, under your administration of its Executive Govt, will continue to be among the foremost in zealous exertions for the national rights and success.
Be pleased to accept assurances of my esteem & respect.
TO BENJAMIN W. CROWNINSHIELD.1mad. mss.
Wash. Decr. 15, 1814.
Mr. Jones having retired from the Secretaryship of the Navy, my thoughts have been turned to you as a desirable Successor; and I have this day sent in your name to the Senate for the appointment. I hope you will excuse my doing it without your consent which would have been asked, if the business of that Dept. had less urged an avoidance of delay. The same consideration will apologize for my hoping that it will not be inconsistent with your views to aid your Country in that Station, nor with your conveniency to be prepared to repair to it as soon as you may receive notice that the Senate have given effect to the nomination.
Accept Sir assurances of my esteem and of my friendly respects.
TO JOHN ADAMS.mad. mss.
Washington, Decr 17th 1814.
Your favor of the 28th Ulto. was duly received, though with more delay, than usually attends the mail. I return the interesting letter from your son, with my thanks for the opportunity of perusing it.
I have caused the archives of the Department of State to be searched with an eye to what passed during the negotiation for peace on the subject of the fisheries. The search has not furnished a precise answer to the enquiry of Mr. Adams. It appears from one of your letters referring to the instructions accompanying the commission to make a Treaty of commerce with Great Britain, that the original views of Congress did not carry their Ultimatum, beyond the common right to fish in waters distant three leagues from the British shores. The negotiations therefore, and not the instructions, if no subsequent change of them took place, have the merit of the terms actually obtained. That other instructions, founded on the Resolutions of Congress, issued at subsequent periods cannot be doubted, though as yet they do not appear. But how far they distinguished between the common use of the sea, and the use, then common also, of the shores, in carrying on the fisheries, I have no recollection.
The view of the discussions at Ghent presented by the private letters of all our Ministers there, as well as by their official despatches, leaves no doubt of the policy of the British Cabinet, so forcibly illustrated by the letter of Mr. Adams to you.1 Our Enemy knowing that he has peace in his own hands, speculates on the fortune of events. Should these be unfavorable, he can at any moment, as he supposes, come to our terms. Should they correspond with his hopes, his demands may be insisted on, or even extended. The point to be decided by our Ministers is, whether during the uncertainty of events, a categorical alternative of immediate peace, or a rupture of the negotiation, would not be preferable to a longer acquiescence in the gambling procrastinations of the other party. It may be presumed that they will before this, have pushed the negotiations to this point.
It is very agreeable to find that the superior ability which distinguishes the notes of our Envoys, extorts commendation from the most obdurate of their political Enemies. And we have the further satisfaction to learn that the cause they are pleading, is beginning to overcome the prejudice which misrepresentations had spread over the continent of Europe against it. The British Government is neither inattentive to this approaching revolution in the public opinion there, nor blind to its tendency. If it does not find in it a motive to immediate peace, it will infer the necessity of shortening the war by bringing upon us, the ensuing Campaign, what it will consider as a force not to be resisted by us.
It were to be wished that this consideration had more effect in quickening the preparatory measures of Congress. I am unwilling to say how much distress in every branch of our affairs is the fruit of their tardiness; nor would it be necessary to you, who will discern the extent of the evil, in the symptoms from which it is to be inferred.
I pray you Sir to accept assurances of my distinguished esteem and best regards.
SPECIAL MESSAGE TO CONGRESS.
[1 ]From a copy kindly furnished by Mrs. Susan P. Brown, of Spring Hill, Tenn.
[2 ]By the act of March 24, Congress authorized a loan of $25,000,000. Campbell wrote to Madison, May 4, saying he had disposed of $10,000,000 of the loan “at $88 in money for $100 in 6 per cent. stocks: the government agreeing that if any part of the 25 millions authorized to be borrowed for the present year should be given on terms more favorable to the lenders, the benefit of such terms should be extended to the persons then holding the stock issued for the present year. . . . A considerable portion of it has been offered by public institutions and individuals of whose ability there is no reason to doubt. There is, however, a large sum (5 millions) taken by or in the name of one man, Mr. Barker; who at an early day put in his proposal for that amount on the foregoing terms. It is presumed he acts in conjunction with others, or is supported by some public institutions which will enable him to comply with his proposal.”—Mad. MSS.
[1 ]From a copy kindly furnished by Mrs. Susan P. Brown, of Spring Hill, Tenn.
[1 ]From the copy made by Madison’s direction for the statement he prepared in 1824 in reply to General Armstrong’s communication printed in 1821 in the Literary and Scientific Repository. (See Post, January, 1824.)
[1 ]The plan of defense of Washington and Baltimore was decided upon in Cabinet July 1st and the following estimate of force was made. It is found among the copies made by Madison’s direction for the statement he prepared in 1824 in reply to General Armstrong’s communication printed in 1821 in the Literary and Scientific Repository. The letter is from the same source.
10,000 militia to be designated & held in readiness 10,000 Arms and Camp equipage to be brought forward for use. Survey of the grounds &c.
[1 ]See Jefferson’s correspondence with Genet. Madison’s Note.
[1 ]Monroe went on a reconnoissance August 20, but August 21 reported that he had been unable to discover anything of consequence.—Writings of Monroe v., 290.
[1 ]The papers of the State Department had been moved the day before, Monroe having notified the clerks in his office to make the best disposition possible of them. They were taken first to a grist mill belonging to Edgar Patterson on the Virginia side of the Potomac a short distance from the Chain Bridge; but this place being deemed unsafe were moved to Leesburg and placed in an empty house, where they remained for some weeks, until the British fleet had left the Chesapeake. See letter of S. Pleasanton, August 7, 1848, to W. H. Winder in A Sketch of the Events which Preceded the Capture of Washington, by E. D. Ingraham.
[1 ]From the original kindly loaned by Fred’k D. McGuire, Esq., of Washington.
[1 ]The memorandum was evidently written contemporaneously with the events it describes. It was copied by Madison’s direction in 1824 for the Armstrong statement (see ante p. 280 n.), the portions in brackets being then inserted.
[1 ]It was about two o’clock in the afternoon, when the President and Rush started for Washington. As they rode along slowly, the stream of flying militiamen and civilians poured past them, and they realized what had happened. The President reached the White House about three o’clock, and at six crossed the river in a boat, taking a carriage on the Virginia shore, accompanied by Secretary Jones and Attorney General Rush, and drove to a house a few miles above the Little Falls of the Potomac, where he passed the night. The next morning, August 25th, he went on further for six miles to an inn, where he found Mrs. Madison awaiting him. There he remained all day and part of the night, and was insulted by some of the refugees, who held him responsible for their misfortunes. In the dead of night a report came that the enemy was approaching, and the President left the inn, going to a hovel deeper in the woods, where he spent the rest of the night. The next day he crossed the river and went to Montgomery Court House, Maryland, and then on to Brookville, a Quaker settlement, whence he sent notes to his Cabinet to rejoin him at Washington, the enemy having left the city. He himself reached the city at five o’clock, having been absent three days. The White House having been burned and partially destroyed by the enemy, he went to his sister-in-law, Mrs. Anna Cutts’s, house on F street about a block from the Treasury Department, where he remained for a month, when he moved into the Octagon House belonging to Col. John Tayloe, at the corner of New York Avenue and Nineteenth Street.—Hunt’s Life of Madison, 331 et seq.
[1 ]From A Sketch of the Events which preceded the Capture of Washington, by Edward D. Ingraham, Philadelphia, 1849. Ingraham probably obtained the letter from William H. Winder, of Philadelphia, General Winder’s son.
[1 ]John Mason of Analostan Island. He and Rush were continuously with the President from the time of the flight.—The First Forty Years of Washington Society, p. 105.
[1 ]From the family papers of the late J. Henley Smith, Esq., of Washington.
[2 ]See ante, p. 280 n.
[1 ]He had repaired to Fredericktown, the place appointed for the rendezvous of the Executive in the event of their being driven from the city. The turn which things took after his departure prevented the other members from joining him. (Madison’s note.)
[1 ]See the instructions to him on the 13th day of August 1814. (Madison’s note.)
[1 ]Tompkins was at that time Governor of New York. Upon Armstrong’s dismissal Monroe became Secretary of War ad interim from August 30th to September 30th. He was nominated for the office of Secretary of War September 26th, confirmed September 27th, qualified October 1st, 1814, and served to February 28th, 1815, when he was again commissioned Secretary of State. Mosher’s Executive Register of the United States, 83, 84. Tompkins declined on the ground that he was more useful in his present situation. Madison to Tompkins, October 18, 1814.—Mad. MSS.
[1 ]The library was bought for $23,950 by act of January 30, 1815.—History of the Library of Congress, i., 68, et seq.
[2 ]September 24th. See also his letter of October 15th (Writings, 14, 488, 489), to which Madison replied October 23d: “I find that the variance in our ideas relates 1. to the probable quantity of circulating medium. 2 to the effect of an annual augmentation of it. I cannot persuade myself that in the present stagnation of private dealings, & the proposed limitation of taxes, the two great absorbents of money, the circulating sum would amount even to 20 mills. But be this amount what it may, every emission beyond it, must either enter into circulation and depreciate the whole mass; or it must be locked up. If it bear an interest it may be locked up for the sake of the interest, in which case it is a loan, both in substance & in form, and implies a capacity to lend, in other words a disposable capital, in the Country. If it does not bear an interest, it could not be locked up, but on the supposition that the terms on which it is recd are such as to promise indemnity at least for the intermediate loss of interest, by its value at a future day; but this both involves the substance of a loan, to the amount of the value locked up, and implies a depreciation differing only from the career of the old continental currency, by a gradual return from a certain point of depression to its original level. If this view of the subject be in any measure correct, I am aware of the gloomy inferences from it. I trust however that our case is not altogether without remedy. To a certain extent paper in some form or other, will as a circulating medium, answer the purpose your plan contemplates. The increase of taxes will have the double operation of widening the channel of circulation, and of pumping the medium out of it. And I cannot but think that a domestic capital existing under various shapes, and disposable to the public, may still be obtained on terms tho’ hard, not intolerable; and that it will not be very long before the money market abroad, will not be entirely shut agst us; a market however ineligible in some respects, not to be declined under our circumstances.”—Mad. MSS.
[1 ]See State Papers, vol. iii., Foreign Relations, p. 695.
[1 ]From a copy kindly furnished by Mrs. Susan P. Brown, of Spring Hill, Tenn. Campbell wrote to Madison September 26th that his health was so bad it was imperative for him to retire from public life for a time.—Mad. MSS.
[2 ]The committee was appointed September 23d and reported November 29th. The full report may be found in Annals of Cong., 13th Cong., vol. 3, p. 1518.
[1 ]From Mass. Hist. Collections, 7th Series, vol. i., p. 212. The Jefferson Papers, Coolidge Collection. Nicholas was then serving as Governor of Virginia.
[1 ]On April 25th, 1814, Jones wrote to Madison that he must resign, as peace had come and he had only expected to serve during the war. On September 11th, alluding to this letter, he asked to be relieved on December 1st. He must go to work to make money, he said, as he had debts to meet.—Mad. MSS. On November 24th Madison wrote to Commodore John Rodgers asking him to be Secretary of the Navy; but, having been advised by the Attorney-General that a naval officer could not lawfully serve, he withdrew the offer December 4th.—Chicago Hist. Soc. MSS. On December 26th Crowninshield replied declining Madison’s offer, but December 28th wrote accepting “at the special request of my political friends & the permission of my family.”—Mad. MSS. He entered upon his duties January 16th, 1815.—Ex. Reg. U. S., 85.
[1 ]Extract of a letter from J. Q. Adams to his father, dated Ghent, October 27th, 1814: