James Madison Papers

From James Madison to James Madison, Sr., 21 January 1790

To James Madison, Sr.

N. York Jany. 21. 1790

Hond Sir

An indisposition on the road retarded me so much that I was not able to take my seat in Congs. till yesterday. It began at Dumfries with a slight complaint in my bowells. On my arrival at George Town it took the form of a Dysentery and was pretty severe for some days. With the aid of my friend Docr. Stuart1 who was so good as to see me every day, I was in a condition to prosecute my journey in less than a week, but found it necessary to rest at several places afterwards, and to travel with some circumspection. At present I find myself entirely recovered from the symptoms, and have regained my flesh. The operation of the disorder and of the medicine which it rendered necessary left behind them a slight attack of the piles which I hope is also nearly over.

No business of consequence has yet been done. The budget of the Secretary of the Treasury was laid before Congs. some days ago and is in the Press. An outline of his plan is in one of the inclosed Newspapers.2 I have not been here long eno’ to collect the particulars of it, or the effect of it on the stocks. Of late the price of them has fluctuated between 8/ & 10/. in the pound. As I do not hear of any considerable rise I infer that doubts are entertained whether the plan will meet with the full concurrence of Congs. On this point however I can form no opinion, the members being generally reserved in communicating their views.

Nothing has come to hand of late date from France (except thro’ british channels), with regard to the progress of the Revolution in that Country. From a letter I recd. this day from Havre de Grace, dated Novr. 13.3 I find the distress for bread has not been fully removed. American Wheat was then selling at that Port for 10 livres that is two dollars per bushel, flour at 50 livrs. or ten dollrs. per barrel, and every article as Rye Barley &c. in great demand. Besides this proof of scarcity, the letter adds that a bounty was to take place from the 1st. Decr. to the 1st. July next, of 40 Sols or two livres per 100 lb marc on flour

30 do per do on Wheat
24 do do Rye
32 do do Rye flour
20 do do Barley.

Perhaps it may be worth while to communicate this information to Mr. Hite4 when you have an opportunity. It ⟨tends?⟩ to shew that the French Govt. does not rely on the late Harvest, and consequently that the demand for imported supplies is likely to be of some continuance.

I inclose a few seeds of the Dionæa Muscipula,5 a sensitive plant of N. Carolina. It may be well to try them in different soils, and for that purpose to let my brothers Ambrose & William if he pleases have a part of them. If I do not forget, the native soil is a moist and gravelly one.

I was in hopes on my arrival here to find a letter which would have given in ⟨full? a⟩n account of my mothers health. I have been disappointed and am extremely anxious to receive information on that subject. I shall look for it on the arrival of every mail. With the most fervent wishes that it may prove favorable, I remain your dutiful & affecte. son

Js. Madison Jr

RC (IaU). Addressed by JM. Enclosures not found.

1Dr. David Stuart (1753–ca. 1814), a Federalist politician and physician of Fairfax County, served with JM in the House of Delegates, 1785–1788, and in the 1788 ratifying convention. At Washington’s behest he arranged for the publication of The Federalist in a Richmond newspaper (PJM description begins William T. Hutchinson et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison (vols. 1–10, Chicago, 1962–77; vols. 11—, Charlottesville, Va., 1977—). description ends , X, 254–55 n. 3). Educated at William and Mary, Edinburgh, and Paris, he became a close friend and political adviser of Washington’s, and married the widow of the general’s stepson (Rutland, Papers of George Mason, I, xcix; Donald Jackson and Dorothy Twohig, eds., The Diaries of George Washington [6 vols.; Charlottesville, Va., 1976–80], IV, 72–73 n.).

2Alexander Hamilton’s “Report Relative to a Provision for the Support of Public Credit” was submitted to the House on 14 Jan. and three hundred printed copies were ordered (DHFC description begins Linda Grant De Pauw et al., eds., Documentary History of the First Federal Congress of the United States of America (3 vols. to date; Baltimore, 1972—). description ends , III, 263). For the full text and editorial commentary, see Syrett and Cooke, Papers of Hamilton description begins Harold C. Syrett and Jacob E. Cooke, eds., The Papers of Alexander Hamilton (26 vols.; New York, 1961–79). description ends , VI, 51–168. JM probably enclosed a copy of the Gazette of the U.S. of 20 Jan. 1790, which published a “Summary View of the Report of the Secretary of the Treasury.”

3Letter not found (calendared in PJM description begins William T. Hutchinson et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison (vols. 1–10, Chicago, 1962–77; vols. 11—, Charlottesville, Va., 1977—). description ends , XII, 446).

4Isaac Hite (1758–1836) of Frederick County was JM’s brother-in-law, having married Nelly Madison in 1783 (WMQ description begins William and Mary Quarterly. description ends , 1st ser., X [1901–2], 120).


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