From James Madison
Washington Apl 24. 1812
I have just recd your favor of the 17th. The same mail brings me the “Proceedings of the Govt of the U.S. relative to the Batture” for which you will accept my thanks.
I had not supposed that so great a proportion of produce, particularly of Wheat & flour, was still in the hands of the farmers. In Penna it was known to be the case. In N.Y. almost the whole of the last crop, is in the Country, tho’ chiefly in the hands of the merchants & millers. The measure of the Embargo was made a difficult one, both as to its duration &1 its date, by the conflict of opinions here, and of local interests elsewhere; and to these causes are to be added, that invariable opposition,2 open with some, & covert with others, which have perplexed & impeded the whole course of our public measures. You will have noticed that the Embargo as recommended to Congs was limited to 603 days. Its extension to 90, proceeded from the united votes of those who wished to make it a negociating instead of a war measure, of those who wished to put off the day of war as long as possible, if ultimately to be met, & of those whose mercantile4 constituents had ships abroad, which would be favored in their chance of getting safely home. Some also who wished & hoped to anticipate the expiration of the terms, calculated on the ostensible postponement of the war question, as a ruse agst the Enemy. At present great differences of opinion exist, as to the time & form of entering into hostilities; whether at a very early or later day, or not before the end of the 90 days, and whether, by a general declaration, or by a commencement with letters of M.5 & Reprisal. The question is also to be brought forward for an adjournment for 15 or 18 days. Whatever may be the decision on all these points, it can scarcely be doubted that patience in the holders of wheat & flour at least, will secure them good prices; Such is the scarcity all over Europe, and the dependance of the W. Indies on our supplies. Mr Maury writes me, on the 21st of March that flour had suddenly risen to 16½ dollars, and a further rise looked for. And it is foreseen, that in a State of war the Spanish & Portuguese flags & papers, real or counterfiet, will afford a neutral cover, to our produce as far as wanted in ports in the favor of G.B. Licences therefore on our part will not be necessary; which tho’ in some respects mitigating the evils of war, are so pregnant with abuses of the worst sort, as to be liable in others to strong objections. As managed by the Belligerents of Europe they are sources of the most iniquitous & detestable practices.
The Hornet still loiters.A letter from Barlow to Granger, fills us with serious apprehensions, that he is burning his fingers, with matters which will work great embarrassment & mischief here; and which his instructions could not have suggested.In E. Florida, Mathews has been playing a tragi-comedy, in the face of common sense, as well as of his instructions. His extravagances place us in the most distressing dilemma.
RC (DLC: Madison Papers); at foot of text: “Mr Jefferson”; endorsed by TJ as received 29 Apr. 1812 and so recorded in SJL.
Madison’s letter from James maury was actually dated Liverpool, 20 Mar. 1812 (Madison, Papers description begins William T. Hutchinson, Robert A. Rutland, John C. A. Stagg, and others, eds., The Papers of James Madison, 1962– , 29 vols.: Congress. Ser., 17 vols.; Pres. Ser., 5 vols.; Sec. of State Ser., 7 vols description ends , Pres. Ser., 4:256–7). On 14 Apr. 1812 the New York Commercial Advertiser reported that, although the USS hornet had not yet arrived, a letter from Joel Barlow to Gideon Granger advised of “a probability, though not a certainty, of two treaties being concluded, between him and the French government, in a few days:—one a treaty of commerce—another a treaty of cession and limits, which will give us a territory from Amelia-Island to the mouth of the Columbia river on the Pacific ocean. His letter was dated the 12th of February; and afterwards a Postscript, dated the 3d March, stating, that the Hornet will be detained a few days, to carry out the treaty. The letters to the government, from Mr. Barlow, are dated the 4th of March. Nothing was then concluded.” On 23 Apr. 1812 Secretary of State James Monroe sent Barlow new instructions detailing numerous objections to a commercial treaty with France (DNA: RG 59, DI). Madison concluded that in attacking Amelia Island, George mathews had exceeded his instructions relating to the possible transfer of East Florida from Spanish to American control, and the president soon disavowed Mathews’s actions as United States agent (Madison, Papers description begins William T. Hutchinson, Robert A. Rutland, John C. A. Stagg, and others, eds., The Papers of James Madison, 1962– , 29 vols.: Congress. Ser., 17 vols.; Pres. Ser., 5 vols.; Sec. of State Ser., 7 vols description ends , Pres. Ser., 3:122–4, 4:291–6).
1. Manuscript: “& &.”
2. Madison here canceled: “to every measure.”
3. Number repeated above the line for clarity.
4. Word interlined.
5. Abbreviation for “Marque.”
- Amelia Island; and ports in E. Fla. search
- Barlow, Joel; and treaty negotiations in Paris search
- East Florida; and Amelia Island search
- Embargo Act (1812); effects of search
- flour; and Embargo search
- Granger, Gideon; and J. Barlow search
- Great Britain; and trading licenses search
- Hornet, USS (sloop) search
- Jefferson, Thomas; Writings; The Proceedings of the Government of the United States, in maintaining the Public Right to the Beach of the Missisipi, Adjacent to New-Orleans, against the Intrusion of Edward Livingston search
- Madison, James; and preparations for war search
- Madison, James; and TJ’s batture pamphlet search
- Madison, James; letters from search
- Mathews, George; as U.S. agent in E. Fla. search
- Maury, James; sends produce prices search
- Monroe, James; as secretary of state search
- Spain; and E. Fla. search
- The Proceedings of the Government of the United States, in maintaining the Public Right to the Beach of the Missisipi, Adjacent to New-Orleans, against the Intrusion of Edward Livingston (Thomas Jefferson); sent to J. Madison and his cabinet search
- West Indies; dependent on American supplies search
- wheat; effect of Embargo on search