Front Page Titles (by Subject) 1811: GALLATIN TO MADISON. - The Writings of Albert Gallatin, vol. 1
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1811: GALLATIN TO MADISON. - Albert Gallatin, The Writings of Albert Gallatin, vol. 1 
The Writings of Albert Gallatin, ed. Henry Adams (Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott, 1879). 3 vols.
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GALLATIN TO MADISON.
5th January, 1811.
At request of Mr. Astor, I beg to be informed whether his son-in-law, Mr. Bentson, can be permitted to have a passage on board the public vessel which is to take Mr. Erving to Europe. I told Mr. B. that I would try to ascertain the fact before Monday. I have thrown some notes on the back of Mr. Astor’s letter; be pleased to return his English passport.
Mr. Astor sent me a verbal message that in case of non-renewal of the charter of the Bank United States all his funds and those of his friends, to the amount of two millions of dollars, would be at the command of government, either in importing specie, circulating any government paper, or in any other way best calculated to prevent any injury arising from the dissolution of the bank. Mr. Bentson told me that in this instance profit was not his object, and that he would go great lengths, partly from pride, and partly from wish to see the bank down. As there will be no time to be lost, I think that I had better open a correspondence with him on the subject.
My cold has prevented my calling on you on both subjects.
Respectfully, your obedient servant.
GALLATIN TO MADISON.
I have long and seriously reflected on the present state of things and on my personal situation. This has for some time been sufficiently unpleasant, and nothing but a sense of public duty and attachment to yourself could have induced me to retain it to this day. But I am convinced that in neither respect can I be any longer useful under existing circumstances.
In a government organized like that of the United States, a government not too strong for effecting its principal object,—the protection of national rights against foreign aggressions, and particularly under circumstances as adverse and embarrassing as those under which the United States are now placed,—it appears to me that not only capacity and talents in the Administration, but also a perfect heartfelt cordiality amongst its members, are essentially necessary to command the public confidence and to produce the requisite union of views and action between the several branches of government. In at least one of these points your present Administration is defective, and the effects, already sensibly felt, become every day more extensive and fatal. New subdivisions and personal factions, equally hostile to yourself and to the general welfare, daily acquire additional strength. Measures of vital importance have been and are defeated; every operation, even of the most simple and ordinary nature, is prevented or impeded; the embarrassments of government, great as from foreign causes they already are, are unnecessarily increased; public confidence in the public councils and in the Executive is impaired, and every day seems to increase every one of these evils. Such state of things cannot last; a radical and speedy remedy has become absolutely necessary. What that ought to be, what change would best promote the success of your Administration and the welfare of the United States, is not for me to say. I can only judge for myself, and I clearly perceive that my continuing a member of the present Administration is no longer of any public utility, invigorates the opposition against yourself, and must necessarily be attended with an increased loss of reputation to myself. Under these impressions, not without reluctance, and after having, perhaps, hesitated too long in hopes of a favorable change, I beg leave to tender you my resignation, to take place at such day, within a reasonable time, as you will think most consistent with the public service. I hope that I hardly need add any expressions of my respect and sincere personal attachment to you, of the regret I will feel on leaving you at this critical time, and the grateful sense I ever will retain of your kindness to me.
RICHARD BRENT TO GALLATIN.
Brenton,1 March 22, 1811.
In consequence of Colonel Monroe’s being in Albemarle when my letter to him reached Richmond, no answer was received from him till this moment, and I hasten without a moment’s delay to enclose it to you. I have another letter which covered the one I now send you. I have no doubt from its tenor that Colonel Monroe will accept of the office of Secretary of State; he has asked my opinion on the subject, and I shall, without hesitation or delay, press him with importunity on the subject; he seems to be extremely anxious, previous to his final decision, to have a personal interview with the President, and suggests to me, if this measure meets with the approbation of the President, that the President should without delay write to him to go on to Washington. He observes in his letter to me that the adjustment of his accounts with the Treasury may serve as the ostensible cause of his trip to Washington.
With great sincerity, respect, and affection, believe me, dear sir, your obedient servant.
MONROE TO BRENT.
Richmond, March 18, 1811.
My dear Sir,—
When your letter reached this place I was in Albemarle, so that I had not the pleasure to receive it until after my return on the 14th instant. Its contents gave me much concern, which has not been removed by the reflection which I have been able since to bestow on the subject. I have great sensibility to the proposition which seems to be made to me through you as a mutual friend, to come into the Department of State, and many strong motives prompt me to accede to it; but the appointment which I now hold presents a most serious obstacle. I feel that I owe to this State the utmost gratitude for this recent and strong proof of its confidence, and I fear that I should be thought to fail in that delicate and important duty if I relinquished the station in which it has placed me. I shall be glad to receive your further sentiments on this subject. Do you think it possible for me to withdraw from the Executive of this State without exposing myself to this painful imputation, and even lessening the weight which I might otherwise carry into the government?
You intimate that the situation of the country is such as to leave me no alternative. I am aware that our public affairs are far from being in a tranquil and secure state. I may add that there is much reason to fear that a crisis is approaching of a very dangerous tendency; one which menaces the overthrow of the whole Republican party. Is the Administration impressed with this sentiment and prepared to act on it? Are things in such a state as to allow the Administration to take the whole subject into consideration, and to provide for the safety of the country and of free government by such measures as circumstances may require and a comprehensive view of them suggest? Or are we pledged by what is already done to remain spectators of the interior movement, in the expectation of some change abroad as the ground on which we are to act? I have no doubt from my knowledge of the President and Mr. Gallatin, with the former of whom I have been long and intimately connected in friendship, and for both of whom, in great and leading points of character, I have the highest consideration and respect, that if I came into the government the utmost cordiality would subsist between us, and that any opinions which I might entertain and express respecting our public affairs would receive, so far as circumstances would permit, all the attention to which they might be entitled. But if our course is fixed, and the destiny of our country dependent on arrangements already made, on measures already taken, I do not perceive how it would be possible for me to render any service, at this time, in the general government.
My impression is that no consideration would justify my withdrawing from the Executive of this Commonwealth, unless it had sufficient force to make it a matter of duty, the obligation of which would not be felt by myself alone, but be distinctly understood by the public. Having, however, never failed to accept a trust to which my duty called me, I should not hesitate to accept that proposed if I perceived that the obligation to do so was paramount to that which I owe to this State under my present appointment.
Should there be any objection to communicate with me in this mode on these topics, and a personal interview be preferred, I would with pleasure attend at Washington for the purpose on receiving such an intimation.
I am very sincerely your friend and servant.
MADISON TO GALLATIN.
Montpelier, September 14, 1811.
The enclosed letter was brought to me by the young gentleman in whose behalf it was written. He had other respectable recommendations addressed to you, which he has doubtless forwarded. His personal appearance does not make against him. He therefore stands in fair comparison with the other candidates to be taken into view, and who are better known to you than to me.
The accounts by the John Adams fortify the ground on which we stand as to the cessation of the French decrees, but are liable to unfavorable remarks in several points of view. It is evident, however, that there is an increasing desire in the French government to be thought well disposed towards us; the policy of which, particularly at the present moment, explains itself. Mr. Foster, in pursuance of instructions by the special messenger, has put in a formal demand of disavowal and reparation of the affair of the Little Belt, accompanying it with a copy of the instructions under which Bingham cruised. The answer of Mr. Monroe refers to and repeats the explanation given at Washington, adhering to the ground on which no notice of the case, beyond disavowal of hostile orders, could be taken without the obvious preliminary on the part of the British government. The tenor of the instructions to Bingham, and the manner of the communication, afforded an apt occasion for expressing the disposition here to meet every proof of an amicable one on the other side in the way most suited to a favorable and general adjustment of differences. Late communications from Mr. Erving show that the Danish depredations have ceased, and that the loss on the whole will be so reduced as to form no essential proportion to what was threatened. The cases on which the Danish government was most inflexible were those in which our vessels had availed themselves of British convoy; most of them appeared to be desperate.
We are just setting out on a visit for two or three days to Monticello. Mr. Jefferson was with us a week or two ago, and seemed to enjoy good health, with the exception of a trouble some rheumatic affection near the hip.
Mrs. Madison offers Mrs. Gallatin her affectionate respects. Be pleased to add mine, and to accept them for yourself.
[1 ]Postmarked Dumfries, Va., 23d March.