Front Page Titles (by Subject) TO JAMES MADISON - The Works, vol. 11 (Correspondence and Papers 1808-1816)
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TO JAMES MADISON - Thomas Jefferson, The Works, vol. 11 (Correspondence and Papers 1808-1816) 
The Works of Thomas Jefferson, Federal Edition (New York and London, G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1904-5). Vol. 11.
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TO JAMES MADISON
Monticello, November 30, 1809
—I received last night yours of the 27th, and rode this morning to Col. Monroe’s. I found him preparing to set out to-morrow morning for London, from whence he will not return till Christmas. I had an hour or two’s frank conversation with him. The catastrophe of poor Lewis served to lead us to the point intended. I reminded him that in the letter I wrote to him while in Europe, proposing the Government of Orleans, I also suggested that of Louisiana, if fears for health should be opposed to the other. I said something on the importance of the post, its advantages, &c.—expressed my regret at the curtain which seemed to be drawn between him and his best friends, and my wish to see his talents and integrity engaged in the service of his country again, and that his going into any post would be a signal of reconciliation, on which the body of republicans, who lamented his absence from the public service, would again rally to him. These are the general heads of what I said to him in the course of our conversation. The sum of his answers was, that to accept of that office was incompatible with the respect he owed himself; that he never would act in any office where he should be subordinate to any body but the President himself, or which did not place his responsibility substantially with the President and the nation; that at your accession to the chair, he would have accepted a place in the cabinet, and would have exerted his endeavors most faithfully in support of your fame and measures; that he is not unready to serve the public, and especially in the case of any difficult crisis in our affairs; that he is satisfied that such is the deadly hatred of both France and England, and such their self reproach and dread at the spectacle of such a government as ours, that they will spare nothing to destroy it; that nothing but a firm union among the whole body of republicans can save it, and therefore that no schism should be indulged on any ground; that in his present situation, he is sincere in his anxieties for the success of the administration, and in his support of it as far as the limited sphere of his action or influence extends; that his influence to this end had been used with those with whom the world had ascribed to him an interest he did not possess, until, whatever it was, it was lost, (he particularly named J. Randolph, who, he said, had plans of his own, on which he took no advice;) and that he was now pursuing what he believed his properest occupation, devoting his whole time and faculties to the liberation of his pecuniary embarrassments, which, three years of close attention, he hoped, would effect. In order to know more exactly what were the kinds of employ he would accept, I adverted to the information of the papers, which came yesterday, that Gen. Hampton was dead, but observed that the military life in our present state, offered nothing which could operate on the principle of patriotism; he said he would sooner be shot than take a command under Wilkinson. In this sketch, I have given truly the substance of his ideas, but not always his own words. On the whole, I conclude he would accept a place in the cabinet, or a military command dependent on the Executive alone, and I rather suppose a diplomatic mission, because it would fall within the scope of his views, and not because he said so, for no allusion was made to anything of that kind in our conversation. Everything from him breathed the purest patriotism, involving, however, a close attention to his own honor and grade. He expressed himself with the utmost devotion to the interests of our own country, and I am satisfied he will pursue them with honor and zeal in any character in which he shall be willing to act.
I have thus gone far beyond the single view of your letter, that you may, under any circumstances, form a just estimate of what he would be disposed to do. God bless you, and carry you safely through all your difficulties.
TO JOHN WAYLES EPPES
Monticello, January 17, 1810
—Yours of the 10th came safely to hand, and I now enclose you a letter from Francis; he continues in excellent health, and employs his time well. He has written to his mamma and grandmamma. I observe that the H. of R. are sensible of the ill effects of the long speeches in their house on their proceedings. But they have a worse effect in the disgust they excite among the people, and the disposition they are producing to transfer their confidence from the legislature to the executive branch, which would soon sap our constitution. These speeches, therefore, are less and less read, and if continued will cease to be read at all. The models for that oratory which is to produce the greatest effect by securing the attention of hearers and readers, are to be found in Livy, Tacitus, Sallust, and most assuredly not in Cicero. I doubt if there is a man in the world who can now read one of his orations through but as a piece of task-work. I observe the house is endeavoring to remedy the eternal protraction of debate by setting up all night, or by the use of the Previous Question. Both will subject them to the most serious inconvenience. The latter may be turned upon themselves by a trick of their adversaries. I have thought that such a rule as the following would be more effectual and less inconvenient.
“Resolved that at [viii.] o’clock in the evening (whenever the house shall be in session at that hour) it shall be the duty of the Speaker to declare that hour arrived, whereupon all debate shall cease. If there be then before the house a main question for the reading or passing of a bill, resolution or order, such main question shall immediately be put by the Speaker, and decided by yeas and nays.
“If the question before the house be secondary, as for amendment, commitment, postponement, adjournment of the debate or question, laying on the table, reading papers, or a previous question, such secondary, [or any other which may delay the main question,] shall stand ipso facto discharged, and the main question shall then be before the house, and shall be immediately put and decided by yeas and nays. But a motion for adjournment of the house, may once and once only, take place of the main question, and if decided in the negative, the main question shall then be put as before. Should any question of order arise, it shall be decided by the Speaker instanter, and without debate or appeal; and questions of privilege arising, shall be postponed till the main question be decided. Messages from the President or Senate may be received but not acted on till after the decision of the main question. But this rule shall be suspended during the [three] last days of the session of Congress.”
No doubt this, on investigation, will be found to need amendment; but I think the principle of it better adapted to meet the evil than any other which has occurred to me. You can consider and decide upon it, however, and make what use of it you please, only keeping the source of it to yourself. Ever affectionately yours.