Front Page Titles (by Subject) 1823 - TO THOMAS JEFFERSON. mad. mss. - The Writings, vol. 9 (1819-1836)
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1823 - TO THOMAS JEFFERSON. mad. mss. - James Madison, The Writings, vol. 9 (1819-1836) 
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. 9.
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TO THOMAS JEFFERSON.mad. mss.
Montpellier, Jany 15, 1823.
I have duly received yours of the 6th, with the letters of Mr. Cabell, Mr. Gerry, and Judge Johnson. The letter from Mr. C. proposing an Extra Meeting of the Visitors, & referred to in yours was not sent, and of course is not among those returned.
The friends of the University in the Assembly seem to have a delicate task on their hands. They have the best means of knowing what is best to be done, and I have entire confidence in their judgment as well as their good intentions. The idea of Mr. Cabell, if successful will close the business handsomely. One of the most popular objections to the Institution, I find is the expence added by what is called the ornamental style of the Architecture. Were this additional expence as great as is supposed, the objection ought the less to be regarded as it is short of the sum saved to the public by the private subscribers who approve of such an application of their subscriptions. I shall not fail to join you on receiving the expected notice from Mr. Cabell, if the weather & my health will permit; but I am persuaded it will be a supernumerary attendance, if the money be obtained, and the sole question be on its application to the new Edifice.
The two letters from Mr. Gerry are valuable documents on a subject that will fill some interesting pages in our history. The disposition of a party among us to find a cause of rupture with France, and to kindle a popular flame for the occasion, will go to posterity with too many proofs to leave a doubt with them. I have not looked over Mr. Gerry’s letters to me which are very numerous, but may be of dates not connected with the period in question.1 No resort has been had to them for materials for his biography, perhaps from the idea that his correspondence with me may contain nothing of importance or possibly from a displeasure in the family at my disappointing the expectations of two of them. Mr. Austen the son in law, was anxious to be made Comptroller instead of Anderson, who had been a Revolutionary officer, a Judge in Tennessee, and a Senator from that State in Congress; and with equal pretentions only had in his scale the turning weight of being from the West, which considers itself without a fair proportion of National appointments. Mr. Austen I believe a man of very respectable talents, & had erroneously inferred from Mr. Gerry’s communications, that I was under a pledge to name him for the vacancy when it should happen. Thinking himself thus doubly entitled to the office, his alienation has been the more decided. With every predisposition in favor of young Gerry, he was represented to me from the most friendly quarters as such a dolt, that if his youth could have been got over, it was impossible to prefer him to the place (in the Customs) to which he aspired. I believe that some peculiarities in his manner led to an exaggeration of his deficiencies and that he acquits himself well eno’ in the subordinate place he now holds.
Judge Johnson’s letter was well entitled to the perusal you recommended. I am glad you have put him in possession of such just views of the course that ought to be pursued by the Court in delivering its opinions.1 I have taken frequent occasions to impress the necessity of the seriatim mode; but the contrary practice is too deeply rooted to be changed without the injunction of a law, or some very cogent manifestation of the public discontent. I have long thought with the Judge also that the Supreme Court ought to be relieved from its circuit duties, by some such organization as he suggests. The necessity of it is now rendered obvious by the impossibility, in the same individual, of being a circuit Judge in Missouri &c, and a Judge of the supreme Court at the seat of Government. He is under a mistake in charging, on the Executive at least, an inattention to this point. Before I left Washington I recommended to Congress the importance of establishing the Supreme Court at the seat of Govt., which would at once enable the Judges to go thro’ the business, & to qualify themselves by the necessary studies for doing so, with justice to themselves & credit to the Nation. The reduction of the number of Judges would also be an improvement & might be conveniently effected in the way pointed out. It cannot be denied that there are advantages in uniting the local & general functions in the same persons if permitted by the extent of the Country. But if this were ever the case, our expanding settlements put an end to it. The organization of the Judiciary Department over the extent which a Federal system can reach involves peculiar difficulties. There is scarcely a limit to the distance which Turnpikes & steamboats may, at the public expence, convey the members of the Govt. & distribute the laws. But the delays & expence of suits brought from the extremities of the Empire, must be a severe burden on individuals. And in proportion as this is diminished by giving to local Tribunals a final jurisdiction, the evil is incurred of destroying the uniformity of the law.
I hope you will find an occasion for correcting the error of the Judge in supposing that I am at work on the same ground as will be occupied by his historical view of parties, and for animating him to the completion of what he has begun on that subject. Nothing less than full-length likenesses of the two great parties which have figured in the National politics will sufficiently expose the deceptive colours under which they have been painted. It appears that he has already collected materials, & I infer from your acct. of his biography of Green which I have not yet seen, that he is capable of making the proper use of them.1 A good work on the side of truth, from his pen will be an apt & effective antidote to that of his Colleague which has been poisoning the Public mind, & gaining a passport to posterity.
I was afraid the Docr. was too sanguine in promising so early a cure of the fracture in your arm. The milder weather soon to be looked for, will doubtless favor the vis medicatrix which nature employs in repairing the injuries done her.
Health & every happiness.
TO EDWARD EVERETT.mad. mss.
Montr., Feby 18, 1823.
I have recd., your favor of the 9th, and with it the little pamphlet forwarded at the request of your Brother, for which you will please to accept & to make my acknowledgments.2
The pamphlet appears to have very ably & successfully vindicated the construction in the Book on “Europe,” to the provision[al] article in Mr. Jay’s Treaty. History, if it shd. notice the subject, will assuredly view it in the light in which the “Notes” have placed it; and as affording to England a ground for intercepting American supplies of provisions to her Enemy, and to her Enemy a ground for charging on America a collusion with England for the purpose. That the B. Govt. meant to surrender gratuitously a maritime right of confiscation & to encourage a neutral in illegal supplies of provisions to an Enemy, by adding to their chance of gain an insurance agst. loss, will never be believed. The necessary comment will be that Mr. Jay tho’ a man of great ability & perfect rectitude was diverted by a zeal for the object of his Mission, from a critical attention to the terms on which it was accomplished. The Treaty was fortunate in the sanction it obtained, and in the turn which circumstances gave to its fate.
Nor was this the only instance of its good fortune. In two others it was saved from mortifying results: in one by the Integrity of the British Courts of Justice, in the other by a cast of the die.
The value of the Article opening our trade with India, depended much on the question whether it authorized an indirect trade thither. The question was carried into the Court of King’s Bench, where it was decided in our favor; the Judges stating at the same time that the decision was forced upon them by the particular structure of the article against their private conviction as to what was intended. And this decision of that Court was confirmed by the 12 Judges.
In the other instance the question was, whether the Board of Commissioners for deciding on spoliations could take cognizance of American claims, which had been rejected by the British Tribunal in the last resort. The two British Comrs. contended that G. B. could never be understood to submit to any extraneous Tribunal a revision of cases decided by the highest of her own. The American Comrs. Mr. Pinkney & Mr. Gore, argued with great & just force against a construction, which as the Treaty confined the Jurisdiction of the Board to cases where redress was unattainable in the ordinary course of Judicial proceedings would have been fatal not only to the claims which had been rejected by the Tribunal in the last resort but to the residue, which it would be necessary to carry thither through the ordinary course of Justice. The four Comrs. being equally divided; the lot for the 5th., provided by the Treaty for such a contingency, fell on Mr. Trumbull whose casting vote obtained for the American sufferers the large indemnity at stake.
I speak on these points from Memory alone. There may be therefore if no substantial error, inaccuracies which a sight of the Archives at Washington, or the reports of adjudged Cases in England, would have prevented.
The remarks on the principle, “free ships, free Goods,” I take to be fair & well considered. The extravagance of Genet drove our Secy. of State to the ground of the British doctrine. And the Govt. finding it could not depart from that ground without a collision or rather war with G. B. and doubting at least whether the old law of Nations on that subject did not remain in force, never contested the practice under it. The U. S. however in their Treaties have sufficiently thrown their weight into the opposite scale. And such is the number & character of like weights now in it from other powers, that it must preponderate; unless it be admitted that no authority of that kind, tho’ coinciding with the dictates of reason, the feelings of humanity & the interest of the civilized world can make or expound a Law of Nations.
With regard to the rule of 1756, it is to be recollected that its original import was very different from the subsequent extensions & adaptations given to it by the belligerent policy of its parent. The rule commenced with confiscating neutral vessels trading between another Belligerent nation & its colonies, on the inference that they were hostile vessels in neutral disguise; and it ended in spoliations on neutrals trading to any ports or in any productions, of belligerents, who had not permitted such a trade in time of peace. The Author of the “Notes” is not wrong in stating that the U. S. did in some sort acquiesce in the exercise of the rule agst. them, that they did not make it a cause of war, and that they were willing on considerations of expediency, to accede to a compromise on the subject. To judge correctly of the Course taken by the Govt. a historical view of the whole of it would be necessary. In a glancing search over the State papers, for the document from which the extract in the pamphlet was made, (it is referred to in a wrong vol: & page, being found in Vol. VI p. 240, & the extract itself not being one free from typographical change of phrase,) my eye caught a short letter of intructions to Mr. Monroe, (vol. VI, p. 180-1,) in which the stand taken by the Government is distinctly marked out. The illegality of the British principle is there asserted, nothing declaratory in its favor as applied even agst. a neutral trade direct between a belligerent Country & its colonies, is permitted; and a stipulated concession on the basis of compromise, is limited by a reference to a former instruction of Jany., 1804, to that of the Russian Treaty of 1781 which protects all colonial produce converted into neutral property. This was in practice all that was essential; the American Capital being then adequate and actually applied to the purchase of the colonial produce transported in American vessels.
“The Examination of the subject &c” referred to in the letter of instruction as being forwarded to Mr Monroe, was a stout pamphlet drawn up by the Secretary of State.1 It was undertaken in consequence of the heavy losses & complaints of Merchants in all our large sea ports under the predatory operation of the extended Rule of 1756. The pamphlet went into a pretty ample & minute investigation of the subject, wch. terminated in a confirmed conviction both of the heresy of the doctrine, and of the enormity of the practice growing out of it. I must add that it detracted much also from the admiration I had been led to bestow on the distinguished Judge of the High Court of Admiralty; not from any discovery of defect in his intellectual Powers, or Judicial Eloquence; but on account of his shifting decisions and abandonment of his independent principles. After setting out wth. the lofty profession of abiding by the same rules of Pub: Law when sitting in London as if a Judge at Stockholm, he was not ashamed to acknowledge that, in expounding that law he shd. regard the Orders in Council of his own Govt. as his Authoritative Guide. These are not his words but do him I believe no injustice. The acknowledgment ought to banish him as “Authority” from every Prize Court in the World.
I ought to have premised to any remarks on the controversy into which your brother has been drawn, that I have never seen either the Review in wch. his book is criticised, or the pamphlet in wch. it is combated. Having just directed the British Quarterly Review now sent me, to be discontinued, and the N. Amer: Review substituted with the back Nos. for the last year, I may soon be able to do a fuller justice to his reply.
On adverting to the length of this letter, I fear that my pen has recd. an impulse from awakened recollections which I ought more to have controuled. The best now to be done is to add not a word, more than an assurance of my cordial respect & esteem.
TO EDWARD EVERETT.mad. mss
Montpellier, March 19, 1823
I received, on the 15th, your favour of the 2d inst:, with the little pamphlet of remarks on your brother’s “Europe.”1
The pamphlet wd. have been much improved by softer words and harder arguments. To support its construction of Art. 18, of the Treaty of 1794, the writer ought to have shewn that there are cases in which provisions become contraband according to the Law of Nations; and that the cases are of such recurrence and importance as to make them a probable object of such an article. He does not point at a single one.
If he be not right in contending that the U. S. always resisted the Rule of 1756 he is still more astray in saying that G. B. relinquished it. The indemnities for violations of the Rule allowed by the Joint Commissioners can be no evidence of the fact. This award might be the result of the casting vote on the American side; or the concurrence of the British side, the result of the individual opinions of honest Umpires. That the British Govt. made no such relinquishment is demonstrated by the reasonings & adjudications of Sir Wm Scott, whether he be regarded as the Organ, or as the Oracle of his Govt., There is no question of public law, on which he exerts his talents with more pertinacity than he does in giving effect to the rule of, 56, in all its ductile applications to emerging cases. His testimony on this point admits no reply. The payment of the awards of the Board of Com. by the British Govt. is an evidence merely of its good faith; the more to its credit, the more they disappointed its calculations & wishes.
Our University has lately recd a further loan from the Legislature which will prepare the Buildings for ten Professors and about 200 Students. Should all the loans be converted into donations, at the next Session, as is generally expected, but for which no pledge has been given, the Visitors, with an annuity of $15,000 settled on the Institution, will turn their thoughts towards opening it, and to the preliminary engagement of Professors.
I am not surprised at the dilemma produced at your University by making theological professorships an integral part of the System. The anticipation of such an one led to the omission in ours; the Visitors being merely authorized to open a public Hall for religious occasions, under impartial regulations; with the opportunity to the different sects to establish Theological schools so near that the Students of the University may respectively attend the religious exercises in them. The village of Charlottesville also, where different religious worships will be held, is also so near, that resort may conveniently be had to them.
A University with sectarian professorships, becomes, of course, a Sectarian Monopoly: with professorships of rival sects, it would be an Arena of Theological Gladiators. Without any such professorships, it may incur for a time at least, the imputation of irreligious tendencies, if not designs. The last difficulty was thought more manageable than either of the others.
On this view of the subject, there seems to be no alternative but between a public University without a theological professorship, and sectarian Seminaries without a University.
I recollect to have seen, many years ago, a project of a prayer, by Govr. Livingston father of the present Judge, intended to comprehend & conciliate College Students of every Xn denomination, by a Form composed wholly of texts & phrases of scripture. If a trial of the expedient was ever made, it must have failed, notwithstanding its winning aspect from the single cause that many sects reject all set forms of Worship.
The difficulty of reconciling the Xn mind to the absence of a religious tuition from a University established by law and at the common expence, is probably less with us than with you. The settled opinion here is that religion is essentially distinct from Civil Govt. and exempt from its cognizance; that a connexion between them is injurious to both; that there are causes in the human breast, which ensure the perpetuity of religion without the aid of the law; that rival sects, with equal rights, exercise mutual censorships in favor of good morals; that if new sects arise with absurd opinions or overheated maginations, the proper remedies lie in time, forbearance and example; that a legal establishment of religion without a toleration could not be thought of, and with a toleration, is no security for public quiet & harmony, but rather a source itself of discord & animosity; and finally that these opinions are supported by experience, which has shewn that every relaxation of the alliance between Law & religion, from the partial example of Holland, to its consummation in Pennsylvania Delaware N. J., &c, has been found as safe in practice as it is sound in theory. Prior to the Revolution, the Episcopal Church was established by law in this State. On the Declaration of independence it was left with all other sects, to a self-support. And no doubt exists that there is much more of religion among us now than there ever was before the change; and particularly in the Sect which enjoyed the legal patronage. This proves rather more than, that the law is not necessary to the support of religion.
With such a public opinion, it may be expected that a University with the feature peculiar to ours will succeed here if anywhere. Some of the Clergy did not fail to arraign the peculiarity; but it is not improbable that they had an eye to the chance of introducing their own creed into the professor’s chair. A late resolution for establishing an Episcopal school within the College of William & Mary, tho’ in a very guarded manner, drew immediate animadversions from the press, which if they have not put an end to the project, are a proof of what would follow such an experiment in the University of the State, endowed and supported as this will be, altogether by the Public authority and at the common expence.
I know not whence the rumour sprang of my being engaged in a Poll History of our Country. Such a task, cd I presume on a capacity for it, belongs to those who have more time before them than the remnant to wch. mine is limited.
On reviewing my political papers & correspondence, I find much that may deserve to be put into a proper state for preservation; and some things that may not in equal amplitude be found elsewhere. The case is doubtless the same with other individuals whose public lives have extended thro’ the same long & pregnant period. It has been the misfortune of history, that a personal knowledge and an impartial judgment of things rarely meet in the historian. The best history of our Country therefore must be the fruit of contributions bequeathed by cotemporary actors & witnesses, to successors who will make an unbiassed use of them. And if the abundance & authenticity of the materials which still exist in the private as well as public repositories among us shd descend to hands capable of doing justice to them, the American History may be expected to contain more truth, and lessons, certainly not less valuable, than those of any Country or age.
I have been so unlucky as not yet to have received the Nos. of the N. Amn Review written for the NA. I expect them every moment, but the delay has deprived me as yet of the criticism in that work on Your Brother’s Book.
The difference to wch. you allude between the profits of authorship in England & in the U. S. is very striking. It proceeds, mainly, no doubt from the difference of the area over wch. the population is spread, and of the manner in wch. the aggregate wealth is distributed in the 2 Countries. The number of people in this is perhaps equal to that in England, and the number of readers of popular works at least, probably not less, if not greater. But in their scattered situation here, they are with more difficulty supplied with new publications than when they are condensed within an easy reach of them, and where indeed a vast proportion, being in the Metropolis, are on the same spot with the printing offices. But the unequal division of wealth in Engd. enters much into the advantage given there to Authors & Editors. With us there are more readers than buyers of books. In England there are more buyers than readers. Hence those Gorgeous Editions, which are destined to sleep in the private libraries of the Rich whose vanity aspires to that species of furniture, or who give that turn to their public spirit & patronage of letters.
Whatever may be the present obstacles to the diffusion of literature in our Country, it is a consolation that its growing improvements are daily diminishing them, and that in the meantime individuals are seen making generous efforts to overcome them. With my wishes for the success of yours, I repeat assurances of my esteem & cordial respect.
ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS CONCERNING SLAVERY.1 .mad. mss.
2. Employs an overseer for that number of slaves with few exceptions
4. Not uncommonly the land, sometimes the slaves, very rarely both together
5. The common law as in England governs the relation between land & debts; Slaves are often sold under execution for debt; the proportion to the whole, cannot be great within a year, and varies of course, with the amount of debts, and the urgency of creditors.
7-10. Instances are rare where the Tobacco planters do not raise their own provisions.
11. The proper comparison not between the culture of Tobo. & that of Sugar and Cotton, but between each of these cultures & that of provisions. The Tobo planter finds it cheaper to make them a part of his crop than to buy them. The Cotton & Sugar planters to buy them, where this is the case, than to raise them. The term cheaper embraces the comparative facility & certainty, of procuring the supplies.
12. Generally best cloathed, when from the household manufactures, which are increasing.
14, 15. Slaves seldom employed in regular task work. They prefer it only when rewarded with the surplus time gained by their industry.
16. Not the practice to substitute an allowance of time for the allowance of provisions.
17. Very many & increasing with the progressive subdivisions of property; the proportion cannot be stated.
18, 19. The fewer the slaves & the fewer the holders of slaves, the greater the indulgence & familiarity. In districts comprising large masses of slaves; there is no difference in their condition whether held in small or large numbers, beyond the difference in the dispositions of the owners, and the greater strictness of attention where the number is greater.
20. There is no general system of religious instruction. There are few spots where religious worship is not within reach, and to which they do not resort. Many are regular members of Congregations chiefly Baptist; and some Preachers also, tho’ rarely able to read.
21. Not common; but the instances are increasing.
22. The accommodation not unfrequent where the plantations are very distant. The slaves prefer wives on a different plantation; as affording occasions & pretexts for going abroad, and exempting them on holidays from a share of the little calls to which those at home are liable.
23. The remarkable increase of slaves, as shewn by the Census, results from the comparative defect of moral and prudential restraint on the Sexual connexion; and from the absence at the same time, of that counteracting licentiousness of intercourse, of which the worst examples are to be traced where the African trade as in the W. Indies keeps the number of females, less than of the males.
24. The annual expense of food & raiment in rearing a child, may be stated at about 8, 9, or 10 dollars; and the age at which it begins to be gainful to its owner, about 9 or 10 years.
25. The practice here does not furnish data for a comparison of cheapness, between these two modes of cultivation.
26. They are sometimes hired for field labour in time of harvest, and on other particular occasions.
27. The examples are too few to have established any such relative prices.
28. See the Census.
29. Rather increases.
31. More closely with the slaves, and more likely to side with them in a case of insurrection.
32. Generally idle and depraved; appearing to retain the bad qualities of the slaves with whom they continue to associate, without acquiring any of the good ones of the whites, from whom [they] continue separated by prejudices agst. their colour & other peculiarities.
33. There are occasional instances in the present legal condition of leaving the State.
J. M. presents his respects to Dr. Morse, with the annexed answers to the Queries accompanying his letter of the 14th inst: so far as they were applicable to this State. The answers c. not conveniently be extended as much as might perhaps be desired. Their brevity and inadequacy will be an apology for requesting, that if any use be made of them, it may be done without a reference to the source furnishing them.
Montpr., Mar. 28, 1823.
TO WILLIAM EUSTIS.mad. mss.
Montpr, May 22, 1823.
I recd by the last mail, your welcome favr of the 10th instant. The newspapers had prepared me for the triumphant vote which restores a prodigal sister to the bosom of the Republican family, and evinces a return of grateful feelings for a revolutionary worthy.1 I congratulate you very sincerely on this event, with every wish that your administration may be as happy to yourself as I am confident it will be propitious to the welfare of those who have called you into it; & I may add of those who resisted the call. The people are now able every where to compare the principles & policy of those who have borne the name of Republicans or Democrats, with the career of the adverse party; and to see & feel that the former are as much in harmony with the spirit of the nation & the genius of the Govt as the latter was at variance with both.
A great effort has been made by the fallen party to proclaim & eulogize an amalgamation of political sentiments & views. Who could be duped by it, when unmasked by the electioneering violence of the party where strong, and intrigues where weak?
The effort has been carried even farther. It has been asserted that the Republicans have abandoned their Cause, and gone over to the policy of their opponents. Here the effort equally fails. It is true that under a great change of foreign circumstances, and with a doubled population, & more than doubled resources, the Republican party has been reconciled to certain measures & arrangements which may be as proper now as they were premature and suspicious when urged by the Champions of federalism. But they overlook, the overbearing & vindictive spirit, the apocryphal doctrines, & rash projects, which stamped on federalism its distinctive character; and which are so much in contrast with the unassuming & unavenging spirit which has marked the Republican Ascendency.
There has been in fact a deep distinction between the two parties or rather, between the mass of the Nation, and the part of it which for a time got possession of the Govt.. The distinction has its origin in the confidence of the former, in the capacity of mankind for self Govt. and in a distrust of it by the other or by its leaders; and is the key to many of the phenomena presented by our political History. In all free Countries somewhat of this distinction must be looked for; but it can never be dangerous in a well informed Community and a well constructed Govt. both of which I trust will be found to be the happy lot of the U. S. The wrong paths into which the fathers may stray will warn the sons into the right one; according to the example under your own eye, which has touched your heart with such appropriate feelings.
As you say nothing of the state of your health I flatter myself it has undergone no unfavorable change, and that it will more than suffice for the labors thrown on your hands. Mrs. M. who shares largely in the gratification afforded by your letter, joins in this, and in every other wish that can express an affectionate esteem for yourself & Mrs. Eustis.
TO THOMAS JEFFERSON.mad. mss.
Montpellier, June 27, 1823.
I return the copy of your letter to Judge Johnson inclosed in your favor of the — instant.1 Your statement relating to the farewell Address of Genl. Washington is substantially correct. If there be any circumstantial inaccuracy, it is in imputing to him more agency in composing the document than he probably had. Taking for granted that it was drawn up by Hamilton, the best conjecture is that the General put into his hands his own letter to me suggesting his general ideas, with the paper prepared by me in conformity with them; and if he varied the draught of Hamilton at all, it was by a few verbal or qualifying amendments only.2 It is very inconsiderate in the friends of Genl Washington to make the merit of the Address a question between him & Col: Hamilton, & somewhat extraordinary, if countenanced by those who possess the files of the General where it is presumed the truth might be traced. They ought to claim for him the merit only of cherishing the principles & views addressed to his Country, & for the Address itself the weight given to it by his sanction; leaving the literary merit whatever it be to the friendly pen employed on the occasion, the rather as it was never understood that Washington valued himself on his writing talent, and no secret to some that he occasionally availed himself of the friendship of others whom he supposed more practised than himself in studied composition. In a general view it is to be regretted that the Address is likely to be presented to the public not as the pure legacy of the Father of his Country, as has been all along believed, but as the performance of another held in different estimation. It will not only lose the charm of the name subscribed to it; but it will not be surprizing if particular passages be understood in new senses, & with applications derived from the political doctrines and party feelings of the discovered Author.
At some future day it may be an object with the curious to compare the two draughts made at different epochs with each other, and the letter of Genl W. with both. The comparison will shew a greater conformity in the first with the tenor & tone of the letter, than in the other; and the difference will be more remarkable perhaps in what is omitted, than in what is added in the Address as it stands.
If the solicitude of Genl. Washington’s connexions be such as is represented, I foresee that I shall share their displeasure, if public use be made of what passed between him & me at the approaching expiration of his first term. Altho’ it be impossible to question the facts, I may be charged with indelicacy, if not breach of confidence, in making them known; and the irritation will be the greater, if the Authorship of the Address continue to be claimed for the signer of it; since the call on me on one occasion, will favor the allegation of a call on another occasion. I hope therefore that the Judge will not understand your communication as intended for the new work he has in hand. I do not know that your statement would justify all the complaint its public appearance might bring on me; but there certainly was a species of confidence at the time in what passed, forbidding publicity, at least till the lapse of time should wear out the seal on it, & the truth of history should put in a fair claim to such disclosures.
I wish the rather that the Judge may be put on his guard, because with all his good qualities, he has been betrayed into errors which shew that his discretion is not always awake. A remarkable instance is his ascribing to Gouverneur Morris the Newburg letters written by Armstrong, which has drawn from the latter a corrosive attack which must pain his feelings, if it should not affect his standing with the Public. Another appears in a stroke at Judge Cooper in a letter to the Education Committee in Kentucky, which has plunged him into an envenomed dispute with an antagonist, the force of whose mind & pen you well know. And what is worse than all, I perceive from one of Cooper’s publications casually falling within my notice, that, among the effects of Judge Johnson’s excitement, he has stooped to invoke the religious prejudices circulated agst. Cooper.
Johnson is much indebted to you for your remarks on the definition of parties. The radical distinction between them has always been a confidence of one, and distrust of the other, as to the capacity of Mankind for self Government. He expected far too much, in requesting a precise demarkation of the boundary between the Federal & the State Authorities. The answer would have required a critical commentary on the whole text of the Constitution. The two general Canons you lay down would be of much use in such a task; particularly that which refers to the sense of the State Conventions, whose ratifications alone made the Constitution what it is. In exemplifying the other Canon, there are more exceptions than occurred to you, of cases in which the federal jurisdiction is extended to controversies between Citizens of the same State. To mention one only: In cases arising under a Bankrupt law, there is no distinction between those to which Citizens of the same & of different States are parties.
But after surmounting the difficulty in tracing the boundary between the General & State Govts. the problem remains for maintaining it in practice; particularly in cases of Judicial cognizance. To refer every point of disagreement to the people in Conventions would be a process too tardy, too troublesome, & too expensive; besides its tendency to lessen a salutary veneration for an instrument so often calling for such explanatory interpositions. A paramount or even a definitive Authority in the individual States, would soon make the Constitution & laws different in different States, and thus destroy that equality & uniformity of rights & duties which form the essence of the Compact; to say nothing of the opportunity given to the States individually of involving by their decisions the whole Union in foreign Contests. To leave conflicting decisions to be settled between the Judicial parties could not promise a happy result. The end must be a trial of strength between the Posse headed by the Marshal and the Posse headed by the Sheriff. Nor would the issue be safe if left to a compromise between the two Govts. the case of a disagreement between different Govts. being essentially different from a disagreement between branches of the same Govt. In the latter case neither party being able to consummate its will without the concurrence of the other, there is a necessity on both to consult and to accommodate. Not so, with different Govts. each possessing every branch of power necessary to carry its purpose into compleat effect. It here becomes a question between Independent Nations, with no other dernier resort than physical force. Negotiation might indeed in some instances avoid this extremity; but how often would it happen, among so many States, that an unaccommodating spirit in some would render that resource unavailing.
We arrive at the agitated question whether the Judicial Authority of the U. S. be the constitutional resort for determining the line between the federal & State jurisdictions. Believing as I do that the General Convention regarded a provision within the Constitution for deciding in a peaceable & regular mode all cases arising in the course of its operation, as essential to an adequate System of Govt. that it intended the Authority vested in the Judicial Department as a final resort in relation to the States, for cases resulting to it in the exercise of its functions, (the concurrence of the Senate chosen by the State Legislatures, in appointing the Judges, and the oaths & official tenures of these, with the surveillance of public Opinion, being relied on as guarantying their impartiality); and that this intention is expressed by the articles declaring that the federal Constitution & laws shall be the supreme law of the land, and that the Judicial Power of the U. S. shall extend to all cases arising under them: Believing moreover that this was the prevailing view of the subject when the Constitution was adopted & put into execution; that it has so continued thro’ the long period which has elapsed; and that even at this time an appeal to a national decision would prove that no general change has taken place: thus believing I have never yielded my original opinion indicated in the “Federalist” No 39 to the ingenious reasonings of Col: Taylor agst. this construction of the Constitution.1
I am not unaware that the Judiciary career has not corresponded with what was anticipated. At one period the Judges perverted the Bench of Justice into a rostrum for partizan harangues. And latterly the Court, by some of its decisions, still more by extrajudicial reasonings & dicta, has manifested a propensity to enlarge the general authority in derogation of the local, and to amplify its own jurisdiction, which has justly incurred the public censure. But the abuse of a trust does not disprove its existence. And if no remedy of the abuse be practicable under the forms of the Constitution, I should prefer a resort to the Nation for an amendment of the Tribunal itself, to continual appeals from its controverted decisions to that Ultimate Arbiter.
In the year 1821, I was engaged in a correspondence with Judge Roane, which grew out of the proceedings of the Supreme Court of the U. S.1 Having said so much here I will send you a copy of my letters to him as soon as I can have a legible one made, that a fuller view of my ideas with respect to them may be before you.
I agree entirely with you on the subject of seriatim opinions by the Judges, which you have placed in so strong a light in your letter to Judge Johnson, whose example it seems is in favor of the practice. An argument addressed to others, all of whose dislikes to it are not known, may be a delicate experiment. My particular connexion with Judge Todd, whom I expect to see, may tempt me to touch on the subject; and, if encouraged, to present views of it wch. thro’ him may find the way to his intimates.
In turning over some bundles of Pamphlets, I met with several Copies of a very small one which at the desire of my political associates I threw out in 1795. As it relates to the state of parties I inclose a Copy. It had the advantage of being written with the subject full & fresh in my mind, and the disadvantage of being hurried, at the close of a fatiguing session of Congs. by an impatience to return home, from which I was detained by that Job only. The temper of the pamphlet is explained if not excused by the excitements of the period.
Always & Affectionately yours.
TO JAMES MONROE.chic. hist. soc. mss.
I am giving you more trouble & of a more disagreeable sort than I cd wish, but an enquiry into the case of Jackson’s appt. in May 1814 involves circumstances not to be fully elucidated without a resort which you have kindly permitted.1
The Secy. of War proposed on the 14th May in my absence from Washington to make him a Brigr. with a brevet of Majr Genl till Hampton’s vacancy cd be filled by the Senate. I answered on the 17th send me the Comn.. On the 20th He mentioned nakedly among other things that Harrison had resigned and enclosed one Comn witht alluding to any enclosure. My answr. on the 24 shews that I understood it to be for the brevet, as it intimated the omission of the preliminary one of Brigr.. The Secy was silent & no other Comission sent.
What then was the identical Comn. of Majr. Genl. sent to J—n by the Sey on the 28th of May?
Was it the Comn. enclosed to me on the 20 and understood to be for the Brevet: and if so was it a blank one or filled up with the Brevet appt if the former it was used for a purpose contrary to the known intention of the Pt..: if the latter there must have been an erasure wch cd only be ascertained by the Comn. itself in the hands of J—n.
Cd it have been a blank Comn signed & left in the Dept for ordinary contingencies & inferior grades? This is rendered the more improbable by the apparent necessity of my calling for Com. to be signed—and by the one actually enclosed to me the 20th. If any lights can be properly obtained on this point I sd. be glad of them. The point itself is more than of mere curiosity.
When do you make your next visit to Albemarle?
TO GEORGE HAY.mad. mss.
Montpellier, August 23, 1823.
I have received your letter of the 11th, with the Newspapers containing your remarks on the present mode of electing a President, and your proposed remedy for its defects. I am glad to find you have not abandoned your attention to great Constitutional topics.
The difficulty of finding an unexceptionable process for appointing the Executive Organ of a Government such as that of the U. S. was deeply felt by the Convention; and as the final arrangement of it took place in the latter stage of the Session, it was not exempt from a degree of the hurrying influence produced by fatigue and impatience in all such Bodies, tho’ the degree was much less than usually prevails in them.1
The part of the arrangement which casts the eventual appointment on the House of Reps voting by States, was, as you presume, an accommodation to the anxiety of the smaller States for their sovereign equality, and to the jealousy of the larger towards the cumulative functions of the Senate. The agency of the H. of Reps was thought safer also than that of the Senate, on account of the greater number of its members. It might indeed happen that the event would turn on one or two States having one or two Reps. only; but even in that case, the representations of most of the States being numerous, the House would present greater obstacles to corruption than the Senate with its paucity of Members. It may be observed also, that altho’ for a certain period the evil of State votes given by one or two individuals, would be extended by the introduction of new States, it would be rapidly diminished by growing populations within extensive territories. At the present period, the evil is at its maximum. Another Census will leave none of the States existing or in Embryo, in the numerical rank of R. I. & Del, nor is it impossible, that the progressive assimilation of local Institutions, laws & manners, may overcome the prejudices of those particular States against an incorporation with their neighbours.
But with all possible abatements, the present rule of voting for President by the H. of Reps. is so great a departure from the Republican principle of numerical equality, and even from the federal rule which qualifies the numerical by a State equality, and is so pregnant also with a mischievous tendency in practice, that an amendment of the Constitution on this point is justly called for by all its considerate & best friends.
I agree entirely with you in thinking that the election of Presidential Electors by districts, is an amendment very proper to be brought forward at the same time with that relating to the eventual choice of President by the H. of Reps. The district mode was mostly, if not exclusively in view when the Constitution was framed and adopted; & was exchanged for the general ticket & the legislative election, as the only expedient for baffling the policy of the particular States which had set the example. A constitutional establishment of that mode will doubtless aid in reconciling the smaller States to the other change which they will regard as a concession on their part. And it may not be without a value in another important respect. The States when voting for President by general tickets or by their Legislatures, are a string of beads; when they make their elections by districts, some of these differing in sentiment from others, and sympathizing with that of districts in other States, they are so knit together as to break the force of those geographical and other noxious parties which might render the repulsive too strong for the cohesive tendencies within the Political System.
It may be worthy of consideration whether in requiring elections by districts, a discretion might not be conveniently left with the States to allot two members to a single district. It would manifestly be an important proviso, that no new arrangement of districts should be made within a certain period previous to an ensuing election of President.
Of the different remedies you propose for the failure of a majority of Electoral votes for any one Candidate, I like best that which refers the final choice, to a joint vote of the two Houses of Congress, restricted to the two highest names on the Electoral lists. It might be a question, whether the three instead of the two highest names might not be put within the choice of Congress, inasmuch as it not unfrequently happens, that the Candidate third on the list of votes would in a question with either of the two first outvote him, and, consequently be the real preference of the voters. But this advantage of opening a wider door & a better chance to merit, may be outweighed by an increased difficulty in obtaining a prompt & quiet decision by Congress with three candidates before them, supported by three parties, no one of them making a majority of the whole.
The mode which you seem to approve, of making a plurality of Electoral votes a definitive appointment would have the merit of avoiding the Legislative agency in appointing the Executive; but might it not, by multiplying hopes and chances, stimulate intrigue & exertion, as well as incur too great a risk of success to a very inferior candidate? Next to the propriety of having a President the real choice of a majority of his Constituents, it is desirable that he should inspire respect & acquiescence by qualifications not suffering too much by comparison.
I cannot but think also that there is a strong objection to undistinguishing votes for President & Vice President; the highest number appointing the former the next the latter. To say nothing of the different services (except in a rare contingency) which are to be performed by them, occasional transpositions would take place, violating equally the mutual consciousness of the individuals, & the public estimate of their comparative fitness.
Having thus made the remarks to which your communication led, with a frankness which I am sure you will not disapprove, whatever errors you may find in them, I will sketch for your consideration a substitute which has occurred to myself for the faulty part of the Constitution in question
“The Electors to be chosen in districts, not more than two in any one district, and the arrangement of the districts not to be alterable within the period of — previous to the election of President. Each Elector to give two votes, one naming his first choice, the other his next choice. If there be a majority of all the votes on the first list for the same person, he of course to be President; if not, and there be a majority, (which may well happen) on the other list for the same person, he then to be the final choice; if there be no such majority on either list, then a choice to be made by joint ballot of the two Houses of Congress, from the two names having the greatest number of votes on the two lists taken together.” Such a process would avoid the inconvenience of a second resort to the Electors; and furnish a double chance of avoiding an eventual resort to Congress. The same process might be observed in electing the Vice President.
Your letter found me under some engagements which have retarded a compliance with its request, and may have also rendered my view of the subject presented in it more superficial than I have been aware. This consideration alone would justify my wish not to be brought into the public discussion. But there is another in the propensity of the Moment, to view everything, however abstract from the Presidential election in prospect, thro’ a medium connecting it with that question; a propensity the less to be excused as no previous change of the Constitution can be contemplated, and the more to be regretted, as opinions and commitments formed under its influence, may become settled obstacles at a practicable season.
Be pleased to accept the expression of my esteem and my friendly respects.
TO THOMAS JEFFERSON.mad. mss.
Montpr, Septr 6, 1823.
I return the two communications from the President inclosed in your letter of Aug. 30.
I am afraid the people of Spain as well as of Portugal need still further light & heat too from the American example before they will be a Match for the armies, the intrigues & the bribes of their Enemies, the treachery of their leaders, and what is most of all to be dreaded, their Priests & their Prejudices. Still their cause is so just, that whilst there is life in it, hope ought not to be abandoned.
I am glad you have put on paper a correction of the Apocryphal tradition, furnished by Pickering, of the Draught of the Declaration of Independence. If he derived it from the misrecollections of Mr. Adams, it is well that the alterations of the original paper proposed by the latter in his own handwriting attest the fallibility of his Aged Memory. Nothing can be more absurd than the cavil that the Declaration contains known & not new truths. The object was to assert not to discover truths, and to make them the basis of the Revolutionary Act. The merit of the Draught could only consist in a lucid communication of human Rights, a condensed enumeration of the reasons for such an exercise of them, and in a style & tone appropriate to the great occasion, & to the spirit of the American people.
The friends of R. H. Lee have shewn not only injustice in underrating the Draught, but much weakness in overrating the Motion in Congs preceding it; all the merit of which belongs to the Convention of Virga. which gave a positive instruction to her Deputies to make the Motion. It was made by him as next in the list to P. Randolph then deceased. Had Mr. Lee been absent the task would have devolved on you. As this measure of Virga. makes a link in the history of our National birth, it is but right that every circumstance attending it, should be ascertained & preserved. You probably can best tell where the instruction had its origin & by whose pen it was prepared. The impression at the time was, that it was communicated in a letter from you to (Mr. Wythe) a member of the Convention.
TO JAMES MONROE.mad. mss.
Oct. 30, 1823
I have just received from Mr. Jefferson your letter to him, with the correspondence between Mr. Canning & Mr. Rush, sent for his & my perusal and our opinions on the subject of it.1
From the disclosures of Mr. Canning it appears, as was otherwise to be inferred, that the success of France agst Spain would be followed by an attempt of the Holy Allies to reduce the Revolutionized Colonies of the latter to their former dependence.
The professions we have made to these neighbours, our sympathies with their liberties & independence, the deep interest we have in the most friendly relations with them, and the consequences threatened by a command of their resources by the Great Powers confederated agst. the rights & reforms, of which we have given so conspicuous & persuasive an example, all unite in calling for our efforts to defeat the meditated crusade. It is particularly fortunate that the policy of G. Britain, tho’ guided by calculations different from ours, has presented a co-operation for an object the same with ours. With that co-operation we have nothing to fear from the rest of Europe, and with it the best assurance of success to our laudable views. There ought not, therefore, to be any backwardness, I think, in meeting her in the way she has proposed; keeping in view of course, the spirit & forms of the Constitution in every step taken in the road to war, which must be the last step if those short of war should be without avail.
It cannot be doubted that Mr. Canning’s proposal thõ made with the air of consultation, as well as concert, was founded on a predetermination to take the course marked out, whatever might be the reception given here to his invitation. But this consideration ought not to divert us from what is just & proper in itself. Our co-operation is due to ourselves & to the world; and whilst it must ensure success, in the event of an appeal to force, it doubles the chance of success without that appeal. It is not improbable that G. Britain would like best to have the merit of being the sole Champion of her new friends, notwithstanding the greater difficulty to be encountered, but for the dilemma in which she would be placed. She must in that case, either leave us as neutrals to extend our commerce & navigation at the expence of hers, or make us enemies, by renewing her paper blockades & other arbitrary proceedings on the Ocean. It may be hoped that such a dilemma will not be without a permanent tendency to check her proneness to unnecessary wars.
Why the B. Cabinet should have scrupled to arrest the calamity it now apprehends, by applying to the threats of France agst. Spain, “the small effort” which it scruples not to employ in behalf of Spanish America, is best known to itself. It is difficult to find any other explanation than that interest in the one case has more weight in its casuistry, than principle had in the other.
Will it not be honorable to our Country, & possibly not altogether in vain to invite the British Govt. to extend the “avowed disapprobation” of the project agst. the Spanish Colonies, to the enterprise of France agst. Spain herself, and even to join in some declaratory Act in behalf of the Greeks. On the supposition that no form could be given to the Act clearing it of a pledge to follow it up by war, we ought to compare the good to be done with the little injury to be apprehended to the U. S., shielded as their interests would be by the power and the fleets of G. Britain united with their own. These are questions however which may require more information than I possess, and more reflection than I can now give them.
What is the extent of Mr. Canning’s disclaimer as to “the remaining possessions of Spain in America?” Does it exclude future views of acquiring Porto Rico &c, as well as Cuba? It leaves G. Britain free as I understand it in relation to other Quarters of the Globe.
I return the correspondence of Mr. Rush & Mr. Canning, with assurances, &c.
TO RICHARD RUSHmad. mss.
Montpr Novr. 13, 1823
I have recd. your favor of Sepr 10, with a Copy of the printed documents on the subject of the slave trade. The mask of humane professions covering an indifference in some & a repugnance in others to its effectual abolition, is as obvious as it is disgusting. G. B. alone, whatever may be her motives, seems to have the object really at heart. It is curious at the same time to observe her experiment for bringing about a change in the law of Nations by denominating the trade Piracy, without the universal consent, wch. she held essential to the Code of the armed neutrality dissented from solely by herself. Her Cabinet is chargeable with a like inconsistency, in its readiness to interpose between the Allied Powers & Spanish Ama & its scruples to do so agst the invasion of Spain herself. Nor is it easy to reconcile the advances made to you in behalf of our Southern neighbors, with a disrelish of your proposition that their Independence be immediately acknowledged, a right to do which appears to have been publicly asserted. In point of mere policy, it excites surprize, that if the Brit. Govt. dreads the foreseen extension of the views of the Holy Alliance to Span. Ama. in the event of success in the invasion of Spain, it did not arrest the invasion, as it might have done, by a like interposition with that which is to stifle the projected resubjugation of her former Colonies. It can excite no surprize, indeed, that our co-operation should be courted in measures that may lead to war; it being manifest that in such an issue G. B. would be under the dilemma, of seeing our neutral commerce & navigation aggrandized at the expence of hers, or of adding us to her enemies by renewing her Paper blockades, and other maritime provocations. May it not be hoped that a foresight of this dilemma will be a permanent check to her warlike propensity?
But whatever may be the motives or the management of the B. Govt. I cannot pause on the question whether we ought to join her in defeating the efforts of the Holy Alliance to restore our Independent neighbors to the condition of Spanish Provinces. Our principles & our sympathies,—the stand we have taken in their behalf, the deep interest we have in friendly relations with them, and even our security agst. the Great Powers, who having conspired agst. national rights & reforms must point their most envenomed wrath agst. the U. S. who have given the most formidable example of them; all concur in enjoining on us a prompt acceptance of the invitation to a communion of counsels, and if necessary of arms in so righteous & glorious a cause.1 Instead of holding back, I should be disposed rather to invite, in turn, the B. Govt to apply at least “the small effort” of Mr. Canning to the case of the French Invasion of Spain, and even to extend it to that of the Greeks. The good that wd result to the World from such an invitation if accepted, and the honor to our Country even if declined, outweigh the sacrifices that would be required, or the risks that wd. be incurred. With the British fleets & fiscal resources associated with our own we should be safe agst. the rest of the World, and at liberty to pursue whatever course might be prescribed by a just estimate of our moral & political obligations.
You ask my view of the claim of the U. S. to the navigation of the St Lawrence thro’ the Brit. territory, and my recollection of the grounds on which they claimed that of the Mississippi thro’ Spanish territory. On the latter point I may refer to a Report of a Committee of the Revolutionary Congress in 17801 in which among other things the right of the U. S. is argumentatively touched on; and to the extract now inclosed from a letter I wrote to Mr. Jefferson then at Paris in the year 1784, in which there is a glance at the cases having more or less of analogy to that of the Mississippi. It being more easy to obtain by another hand the extract as it stands than to separate the irrelevant matter by my own, I must trust to that apology for obtruding a perusal of the latter. At the dates referred to the navigation of the Mississippi was a cardinal object of national policy; and Virga. feeling a particular interest in it, thro’ Kentucky then a part of the State, the claim was warmly espoused by her Public Councils of which I was a member at the last date and one of her Delegates to Congress at the first.
As a question turning on Natural right & Public law I think the navigation of the St. Lawrence a fair claim for the U. S.
Rivers were given for the use of those inhabiting the Country of which they make a part; and a primary use of the navigable ones is that of external commerce. Again, the public good of Nations is the object of the Law of Nations, as that of inṽiduals composing the same nation, is of municipal law. This principle limits the rights of ownership in the one case as well as in the other; and all that can be required in either is that compensation be made for individual sacrifices for the general benefit. This is what is done in the case of roads & the right of way under a municipal jurisdiction, and is admitted to be reasonable, in the form of tolls, where a foreign passage takes place thro’ a channel protected & kept in repair by those holding its shores. Vattel allows a right even in Armies marching for the destructive purposes of war, to pass thro’ a neutral Country with due precautions. How much stronger the claim for the beneficial privileges of commerce?
In applying these principles it is doubtless proper to compare the general advantage with the particular inconvenience and to require a sufficient preponderance of the former. But was there ever a case in which the preponderance was greater than that of the Mississippi; and the view of it might be strengthened by supposing an occupancy of its mouth limited to a few acres only, and by adding to the former territory of the U. S. the vast acquisition lately made on the waters of that River. The case of the St. Lawrence is not equally striking, but it is only in comparison with the most striking of all cases, that its magnitude is diminished to the eye. The portion of the U. S. connected with the River & the inland seas, through which it communicates with the Ocean, forms a world of itself, and after every deduction suggested by the artificial channels which may be substituted for the natural, they will have a sufficient interest in the natural to justify their claim and merit their attention. It will be a question with some perhaps whether the use of the River by citizens of the U. States will not be attended with facilities for smuggling, and a danger of collisions with a friendly power, which render its attainment little desirable. But if any considerable body of Citizens feel a material interest in trading thro’ that channel, and there be a public right to it, the Govt. will feel much delicacy in forbearing to contend for it.
How far it may be expedient to appeal from the transitory calculations to the permanent policy of G. B. in relation to Canada, as was done with respect to Spain & Louisiana, you can best judge. I have noticed allusions in Parliament to the considerations recommending an alienation of the Province; and it is very possible that they may be felt by the Govt But it may well be expected that the solid interest of the Nation will be overruled by the respect for popular prejudices, & by the colonial pasturage for hungry favorites. It is very certain that Canada is not desirable to the U. S. as an enlargement of Domain. It could be useful to them only, as shutting a wide door to smuggling, as cutting off a pernicious influence on our savage neighbours, and as removing a serious danger of collisions with a friendly power.
Having made these observations as due to your request I must not decline saying, that whatever just bearing any of them may have on the point of right, in the case of the St. Lawrence I consider the moment for asserting it not the most propitious, if a harmony of views be attainable with the B. Govt. on the great subject of Spanish America, to say nothing of other subjects in principle akin to it. I doubt not however that eno’ will be left to your discretion, and that there will be more than eno’ of that to so manage the discussion as to prevent an interference of one object with another.
Just as the above was closed, the fall of Cadiz & the Cortes are confirmed to us. What next is the question. Every great event in the present state of the world may be pregnant with a greater. As the Holy Alliance will premise negotiation & terror to force agst. the new States South of us, it is to be hoped they will not be left in the dark as to the Ultimate views of G. B. in their favor. To conceal these wd. be to betray them as Spain has been betrayed.
TO WILLIAM TAYLOR.chic. hist. soc. mss.
Montpr. Nov. 22 1823.
I have recd. your favor of the 15th inst. which affords me an oppy. of thanking you at the same time for your letter from Mexico, valuable both for the facts stated in it, & for the prophetic remarks which events confirmed.
Mexico must always have been made interesting by its original history, by its physical peculiarities, and by the form & weight of its colonial yoke. The scenes thro’ which it has latterly passed, and those of which it is now the Theatre, have given a new force to the public feeling, and this is still further enlivened by the prospect before it, whether left to itself or doomed as it probably is to encounter the interference of the powerful Govts. confederated agst. the rights of man and the reforms of nations. With the U. S. Mexico is now connected not only by the ties of neighbourhood & of commercial interests but of political affinities & prudential calculations. We necessarily therefore turn an anxious eye to everything that can effect its career and its destiny.
These observations make it needless to say that the communications you offer, whilst stationed in that country will be recd. with a due sense of your kindness. I feel some scruple nevertheless in saying so of a correspondence which on one side must be passive only. The scruple would be decisive if I did not trust to your keeping in mind that the mere gratification of a private friend is lighter than a feather when weighed agst. your private business or your official attentions.
Your friends in this quarter wd. have recd. much pleasure from a visit if you cd have conveniently made it. They are all, I believe, in good health, with the exception of Mrs J. Taylor, who has laboured under a tedious complaint which appears to have very nearly finished its fatal task.
I am glad to learn that the President has given you so acceptable a proof of the value he sets on your services. It augurs a continuance of his friendly attention as far as may consist with his estimates of other public obligations. In whatever circumstances you may be placed I wish you health & success; in which Mrs. M. joins, as she does in the esteem & regard of which I beg you to be assured.
TO EDWARD EVERETT.mad. mss.
Montpellier, Novr 26th, 1823.
I recd. several weeks ago your favor of Ocr. 30, accompanied by the little Treatise on population analyzing & combating the Theory of Malthus, which Till within a few days I have been deprived of the pleasure of reading.1 Its reasoning is well entitled to the commendation you bestow on its ingenuity which must at least contribute to a more accurate view of the subject; and on its style, which is characterized by the artless neatness always pleasing to the purest tastes. Be so obliging as to convey my debt of thanks to the Author, and to accept the share of them due to yourself.
Notwithstanding the adverse aspects under which the two Authors present the question discussed, the one probably with an eye altogether to the case of Europe, the other chiefly to that of Ama, I should suppose that a thorough understanding of each other ought to narrow not a little the space which divides them.
The American admits the capacity of the prolific principle in the human race to exceed the sources of attainable food; as is exemplified by the occasions for colonization. And the European could not deny that as long as an increase of the hands and skill in procuring food should keep pace with the increase of mouths, the evils proceeding from a disproportion could not happen.
It may be presumed also that Mr. Malthus would not deny that political institutions and social habits, as good or bad, would have a degree of influence on the exertion & success of labour in procuring food: Whilst his opponent seems not unaware of the tendency of a scanty or precarious supply of it, to check the prolific principle by discouraging marriages, with a consequent increase of the moral evils of licentious intercourse among the unmarried, & to produce the physical evils of want & disease, with the moral evils engendered by the first.
An essential distinction between the U. S. and the more crowded parts of Europe lies in the greater number of early marriages here than there, proceeding from the greater facility of providing subsistence; this facility excluding a certain portion of the Physical evils of Society, as the marriages do a certain portion of the moral one. But that the rate of increase in the population of the U. S. is influenced at the same time by their political & social condition is proved by the slower increase under the vicious institutions of Spanish America where Nature was not less bountiful. Nor can it be doubted that the actual population of Europe wd. be augmented by such reforms in the systems as would enlighten & animate the efforts to render the funds of subsistence more productive. We see everywhere in that quarter of the Globe, the people increasing in number as the ancient burdens & abuses have yielded to the progress of light & civilization.
The Theory of Mr. Godwin, if it deserves the name, is answered by the barefaced errors both of fact and of inference which meet the eye on every page.
Mr. Malthus has certainly shewn much ability in his illustrations & applications of the principle he assumes, however much he may have erred in some of his positions. But he has not all the merit of originality which has been allowed him. The principle was adverted to & reasoned upon, long before him, tho’ with views & applications not the same with his. The principle is indeed inherent in all the organized beings on the Globe, as well of the animal as the vegetable classes; all & each of which when left to themselves, multiply till checked by the limited fund of their pabulum, or by the mortality generated by an excess of their numbers. A productive power beyond a mere continuance of the existing Stock was in all cases necessary to guard agst. the extinction which successive casualties would otherwise effect; and the checks to an indefinite multiplication in any case, were equally necessary to guard agst. too great a disturbance of the general symmetry & economy of nature. This is a speculation however, diverging too much from the object of a letter chiefly intended to offer the acknowledgments & thanks which I beg leave to repeat with assurances of my continued esteem and respect.
TO JAMES BARBOUR.mad. mss.
Decr 5, 1823
Your favor of the 2d was duly recd the evening before the last. I thank you for it and return as desired the Pamphlet of Cunningham, your remarks on which appear very just.
You ask my views of a Resolution to be proposed to the Senate advising a Treaty of Co-operation with G. B. agst. an interference of the Allied powers for resubjugating S. America.1 You will take them for what they are worth, which can be but little with my imperfect knowledge of the facts & circumstances that may be known to yourself.
The Message of the Presidt. which arrived by an earlier mail than usual, has I observe distinctly indicated the sentiments of the U. S. with respect to such an interference.2 But in a case of such peculiarity & magnitude, a fuller manifestation of the National will may be expedient, as well to bear out the Executive in measures within his Department, as to make the desirable impressions abroad. The mode you have thought of would certainly be of great avail for the first purpose, and if promulged for the second also; But would not declaratory Resolutions by the two Houses of Congress be of still greater avail for both? They would be felt by the Executive as the highest sanction to his views, would inspire G. B. with the fullest confidence in the policy & determination of the U. S. and would have all the preventive effect on the Allied powers of which they are susceptible from a monitory measure from this quarter.
It can hardly be doubted that G. B. will readily co-operate with this Country, or rather that she wishes our co-operation with her agst. a foreign interference for subverting the Independence of Spanish America. If the attempt can be prevented by remonstrance she will probably unite with us in a proper one. If she begins with that, she will not hesitate, to proceed, if necessary, to the last resort, with us fighting by her side. If any consideration were to restrain her from that resort even without our co-operation, it would be the dilemma of seeing our neutral commerce & navigation flourishing at the expence of hers; or of throwing us into a war agst. her by renewing her maritime provocations.
On the whole I think we ought to move hand in hand with G. B. in the experiment of awing the Confederated Powers into forbearance; and if that fail in following it by means which cannot fail, and that we cannot be too prompt or too decisive in coming to an understanding & concert with her on the subject. This hemisphere must be protected agst. the doctrines & despotisms which degrade the other. No part of it can be as secure as it ought to be, if the whole be not so. And if the whole be sound & safe, the example of its principles will triumph gradually every where.
How much is it to be regretted that the Brit. Govt. shrunk from even remonstrance agst. the invasion of old Spain and that it has not the magñimity to interpose, late as it is in behalf of the Greeks. No nation ever held in its hand in the same degree the destiny of so great a part of the civilized world, and I cannot but believe that a glorious use would be made of the opportunity, if the head of the Nation was worthy of its heart.
[1 ]On February 14, 1815, James T. Austin applied to Madison for the appointment of Comptroller of the Treasury.—Mad. MSS. Austin’s Life of Elbridge Gerry appeared in 1828-’29. January 22, 1832, he wrote to Madison for information concerning Gerry’s services in the Constitutional Convention for use in a revised edition of his book, which, however, never was published. Elbridge Gerry, Jr., wrote to Madison December 4, 1814, saying his father had impoverished himself and his family by his public services, and asked for an office.—Mad. MSS.
[1 ]See Jefferson’s letter in Writings (P. L. Ford), xii., p. 274. Judge William Johnson wrote to Jefferson Dec. 10, 1822, from Charleston. “When I was on our State bench I was accustomed to delivering seriatim opinions in our appellate Court, and was not a little surprised to find our Chief-Justice in the Supreme Court delivering all the opinions in cases in which he sat, even in some Instances when contrary to his own Judgment & vote. But I remonstrated in vain; the answer was, he is willing to take the Trouble, & it is a Mark of Respect to him. I soon, however, found out the real cause. Cushing was incompetent, Chase could not be got to think or write, Patterson was a slow man & willingly declined the Trouble, & the other two Judges [Marshall and Bushrod Washington] you know are commonly estimated as one Judge.” He had succeeded in getting the court to appoint some one to deliver the opinion of the majority and leave it to the minority’s discretion to record its opinion or not. The real trouble was that the court was too numerous. “Among seven men,” he said, “you will always find at least one intriguer, and probably more than one who may be acted upon only by intrigue.” Four judges were enough. He would have the country divided into a Southern, a Western, a Middle, and an Eastern division and a judge appointed from each.—Jefferson MSS.
[1 ]The Life and Correspondence of Nathaniel Greene, Charleston, 1822.
[2 ]Alexander Hill Everett’s Europe: or a General Survey of the Present Situation of the Principal Powers; with Conjectures on their future Prospects. By a Citizen of the United States. Boston, 1822.
[1 ]Ante, Vol. VII., p. 204.
[1 ]Christopher Gore printed a reply to Everett’s Europe in Remarks on the Censures of the Government of the United States contained in the Ninth Chapter of “Europe,” etc. Boston, 1822.
[1 ]Jedediah Morse wrote to Madison from New Haven March 14, 1823, sending a printed list of questions “from a respectable Correspondent in Liverpool, deeply engaged in the Abolition of the Slave Trade, and the Amelioration of the condition of Slaves,” and asking Madison to furnish brief answers. The questions follow:
[1 ]Eustis had just been elected governor of Massachusetts.
[1 ]See Jefferson to William Johnson, Oct. 27, 1822, and June 12, 1823.—Jefferson’s Writings (P. L. Ford), xii., 246, 252, n.
[2 ]See ante, VI., No. 106, n.; also Writings of Washington (W. C. Ford), xii., 123; xiii., 194, 277.
[1 ]Construction Construed, by John Taylor, of Caroline. Richmond 1820.
[1 ]Ante, pp. 25, 65.
[1 ]On February 5, 1824, Madison wrote to Monroe again saying he wished information obtained from Jackson to show what was the form and date of the appointment of Major General accepted by him in his letter of June 20, 1814, to the Secretary of War, and when the appointment was to take effect. The reason for his questions is explained in his statement prepared in 1824 (but never printed) entitled: “Review of a statement attributed to Genl. John Armstrong, with an appendix of illustrative documents.” The review said that in the Literary and Scientific Repository, October, 1821, a statement appeared stating that early in May, 1814, Armstrong had proposed that Jackson be appointed a Brigadier with the brevet rank of Major General, until a vacancy should permit his appointment as Major General, and that Madison had approved the arrangement. A communication was, accordingly, made to Jackson, but when Harrison’s resignation was received and reported to Madison he was undecided. Armstrong, however, acted on the President’s first approval and sent a commission to Jackson. The letters gathered by Madison showed that on May 14, 1814, Armstrong had proposed that Jackson be made a Brigadier with the brevet of Major General; that the President ordered Armstrong on May 17 to send a commission for that rank; that on May 20 Armstrong reported Harrison’s resignation without any suggestion concerning Jackson; that on May 24 the President wrote Armstrong that Harrison’s resignation opened the way for a Major General’s commission for Jackson, but he would suspend a final decision. In the meantime he returned the commission of Brevet Major General because he had not received the preliminary one of Brigadier. On May 22 Armstrong wrote to Jackson that commissions would be prepared appointing him Brigadier and Brevet Major General. On June 8 Jackson replied accepting this appointment. On May 28 Armstrong informed Jackson of his appointment as Major General to succeed Harrison. It was evident, according to Madison, that Armstrong was endeavoring to convey the false impression that he, and not Madison, really made the appointment. Madison’s statement proceeds.
[1 ]On January 3, 1824, Madison wrote to George McDuffie who had introduced a joint resolution in Congress December 22 (Annals of Cong., 18 Cong., 1st Sess., Vol. I, p. 851) for amending the provision of the Constitution relative to the election of President and Vice-President:
[1 ]See Monroe’s Writings (Hamilton), VI., 323, et seq. On Nov. 1, Madison wrote to Jefferson:
[1 ]April 13, 1824, Madison wrote to Monroe.
[1 ](See Vol. II., p. 326 of the Secret Journals now in print which I presume you have)—Madison’s note. See for the report ante Vol. I., p. 82; for the letter, Vol. II., p. 64. On Feb. 27, 1824, Madison wrote Rush:
[1 ]Alexander Hill Everett’s New Ideas on Population, with Remarks on the Theories and Godwin of Malthus. London and Boston, 1822. See Madison to Jefferson, ante, Vol. II., p. 246.
[1 ]Barbour was then a Senator from Virginia. He said in his letter: “The most important part [of the President’s message] will refer, but remotely however, to the probable interference of the Allied Powers in the internal concerns of the Spanish provinces. The information received furnishes too much ground to believe that a design of that sort is seriously meditated. I have a serious thought of proposing a resolution advising the President to co-operate by treaty with Great Britain to prevent it. If it be not asking too much of you I should be very much gratified with your views on this interesting subject.”—Mad. MSS.
[2 ]Madison wrote to Monroe, December 6:
[1 ](See Vol. II., p. 326 of the Secret Journals now in print which I presume you have)—Madison’s note. See for the report ante Vol. I., p. 82; for the letter, Vol. II., p. 64. On Feb. 27, 1824, Madison wrote Rush:
[2 ]Linquet, “Observations sur l’ouverture de l’Escant.”—Madison’s note.