Front Page Titles (by Subject) TO JAMES BARBOUR. mad. mss. - The Writings, vol. 9 (1819-1836)
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TO JAMES BARBOUR. 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 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.
TO THOMAS JEFFERSON.mad. mss.
Montpr., Jany 14, 1824,
I return the letters from Docr. Cooper inclosed in yours of the 7th. It is truly to be lamented that at his stage of life, and in the midst of his valuable labours, he should experience the persecutions which torment and depress him. Should he finally wish to exchange his present berth for one in our University, and make the proposition without any advances on our part, there could be no indelicacy in our receiving him. What I should dread would be that notwithstanding his pre-eminent qualifications, there might be difficulties to be overcome among ourselves in the first instance; and what is worse that the spirit which persecutes him where he is, would find a co-partner here not less active in poisoning his happiness and impairing the popularity of the Institution. We must await the contingency, and act for the best.
You have probably noticed that the manner in which the Constitution as it stands may operate in the approaching election of President, is multiplying projects for amending it. If electoral districts, and an eventual decision by joint ballot of the two Houses of Congress could be established, it would, I think, be a real improvement; and as the smaller States would approve the one, and the larger the other, a spirit of compromise might adopt both.
An appeal from an abortive ballot in the first meeting of the Electors, to a reassemblage of them, a part of the several plans, has something plausible, and in comparison with the existing arrangement, might not be inadmissible. But it is not free from material objections. It relinquishes, particularly, the policy of the Constitution in allowing as little time as possible for the Electors to be known & tampered with. And beside the opportunities for intrigue furnished by the interval between the first and second meeting, the danger of having one electoral Body played off against another, by artful misrepresentations rapidly transmitted, a danger not to be avoided, would be at least doubled. It is a fact within my own knowledge, that the equality of votes which threatened such mischief in 1801 was the result of false assurances despatched at the critical moment to the Electors of one State, that the votes of another would be different from what they proved to be.
Having received letters from certain quarters on the subject of the proposed amendments, which I could not decline answering, I have suggested for consideration, “that each Elector should give two votes, one naming his first choice, the other naming his next choice. If there be a majority for the first, he to be elected; if not, and a majority for the next, he to be elected: If there be not a majority for either, then the names having the two highest number of votes on the two lists taken together, to be referred to a joint ballot of the Legislature.” It is not probable that this modification will be relished by either of those to whom it has been suggested; both of them having in hand projects of their own. Nor am I sure that there may not be objections to it which have been overlooked. It was recommended to my reflections by its avoiding the inconvenes of a second meeting of Electors, and at the same time doubling the chance of avoiding a final resort to Congress. I have intimated to my correspondents my disinclination to be brought in any way into the public discussion of the subject; the rather as every thing having a future relation only to a Presidential Election may be misconstrued into some bearing on that now depending.
[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: