From Caesar A. Rodney
Wilmington May 16th. 1802.
Honored & Dear Sir,
It is of considerable importance to the cause of Republicanism, that we should be in the possession of the journals of Congress since Mr. Bayards first entrance into the house of Representatives. They will furnish a faithful record of his political transactions & exhibit a true picture of his public conduct. As the election approaches his acts will be blazoned forth in this State, with all that industry for which his supporters are so remarkable & it will be necessary for us to represent them in their proper light from authoritative documents. It is rarely to be expected that disinterested men will use the same active exertions as those who are governed generally by selfish motives or ambitious views; yet I trust Republican energy will manifest its utmost vigour in the cause of truth & virtue this season.
I have in vain endeavoured to obtain the books to which I have referred from various quarters, & this has induced me to mention the matter, to you, under an idea that you may possibly put me in the track of procuring them.
As far as I can discover the acts of the session have made many converts here, who have forsook the path of error into which they had strayed. If the gaining of our last State election does not produce an apathy in the political body similar to that felt in the human, after a great exertion (which I hope will not be the case)1 the result of the ensuing one will be as favorable as the former. Mr. Bayard it is said contrary to his former declarations & intentions will stand a poll & I do believe the struggle will be a hard one; but altho I entertain the highest opinion of his legal knowledge & talents, I am by no means one of those who over rate his political powers. I firmly believe he has, since he directed here, contributed to increase our numbers rapidly, & that it is owing to some peices of his bad policy that we have gained a State election; such as advising Mr. Basset to grant the commission of Sheriff to the person lowest on the return &c. I suspect he has been much overated this winter at Congress. I have in vain looked for some master strokes of a politician in his conduct but can find none, & I have felt a confidence ariseing from the very circumstance of his taking the lead, under an impression that he is calculated to reduce a majority to a minority & to make a minority grow every day less. We rarely find a man unite the talents of a great lawyer with those of a great statesman. Politics are as much a science as the law. One he has studied, the other he has not.
The points they will play upon here are readily seen
1. A Virginia Faction
2. Not giving us two Represen.
3. Not extinguishing State ballances
4. Continuing the act for augmenting the salaries &c.
These are the grounds they will seize & to all of them we shall be furnished with ready & apt answers. Our Congressional men have already commenced the work & are as closely watched. I have never suffered my political opinions to interfere with my personal familiarity with Mr. Bayard, nor on the other hand have I ever in single instance permitted our friendly habits, to obstruct my political course. At this crisis, at every hazzard I shall maintain the post assigned to me & relinquish it only with my life.
With great political regard & personal esteem I remain Dr. Sir Yours most Sincerely.
C. A. Rodney
P.S. Will you be good eneough to accept the enclosed which I beg leave to present you.
RC (DLC); endorsed by TJ as received 23 May and so recorded in SJL. Enclosure not identified.
James A. Bayard entered INTO THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES in 1797 as a member of the Fifth Congress (Biog. Dir. Cong. description begins Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, 1774–1989, Washington, D.C., 1989 description ends ).
While governor, Richard Bassett, Bayard’s father-in-law, granted the COMMISSION OF SHERIFF to Joseph Israel instead of Charles Anderson, the popular choice (Elizabeth Donnan, ed., Papers of James A. Bayard, 1796–1815 [Washington, D.C., 1915; repr. New York, 1971], 6; Vol. 35:427–9).
TWO REPRESEN.: for the debate on the apportionment bill and Bayard’s attempt to increase Delaware’s representation, see Rodney to TJ, 27 Dec. 1801. STATE BALLANCES: on 12 Feb., Bayard spoke in favor of a resolution to bring in a bill to extinguish the debt owed by individual states to the United States. According to the June 1793 report of the commissioners for settling the accounts with the states, Delaware owed $612,428. On 16 Mch. 1802, the bill for “extinguishing state balances” was postponed until the next session of Congress. Bayard declared himself in favor of the bill and voted against the postponement (Annals description begins Annals of the Congress of the United States: The Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States … Compiled from Authentic Materials, Washington, D.C., Gales & Seaton, 1834–56, 42 vols. All editions are undependable and pagination varies from one printing to another. The first two volumes of the set cited here have “Compiled … by Joseph Gales, Senior” on the title page and bear the caption “Gales & Seatons History” on verso and “of Debates in Congress” on recto pages. The remaining volumes bear the caption “History of Congress” on both recto and verso pages. Those using the first two volumes with the latter caption will need to employ the date of the debate or the indexes of debates and speakers. description ends , 11:498–9, 1016–17; Washington, Papers description begins W. W. Abbot, Dorothy Twohig, Philander D. Chase, Theodore J. Crackel, and others, eds., The Papers of George Washington, Charlottesville, 1983–, 53 vols. description ends , Pres. Ser., 13:154–5).
Before the House voted on 25 Mch. to continue in force the 2 Mch. 1799 act for augmenting the salaries of certain officers of the government, Bayard called for the compensation of members of the House of Representatives to be reduced from $6 to $4 a day. The Federalists argued that the reduction would be a fair way to extend the Republicans’ call for economy in government. Republicans such as Thomas Claiborne of Virginia argued that the “unavoidable effect of reducing the compensation so low that men of moderate property could not hold seats, would be that Congress would be filled with nabobs.” Republicans noted that the high cost of living in Washington, D.C. meant salaries had already been reduced (Annals description begins Annals of the Congress of the United States: The Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States … Compiled from Authentic Materials, Washington, D.C., Gales & Seaton, 1834–56, 42 vols. All editions are undependable and pagination varies from one printing to another. The first two volumes of the set cited here have “Compiled … by Joseph Gales, Senior” on the title page and bear the caption “Gales & Seatons History” on verso and “of Debates in Congress” on recto pages. The remaining volumes bear the caption “History of Congress” on both recto and verso pages. Those using the first two volumes with the latter caption will need to employ the date of the debate or the indexes of debates and speakers. description ends , 11:1077–83; Biog. Dir. Cong. description begins Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, 1774–1989, Washington, D.C., 1989 description ends ; U.S. Statutes at Large description begins Richard Peters, ed., The Public Statutes at Large of the United States … 1789 to March 3, 1845, Boston, 1855–56, 8 vols. description ends , 1:729–30; 2:152).
1. Words enclosed in parentheses interlined.