James Madison Papers

To James Madison from George W. Erving, 13 August 1801

From George W. Erving


New York. Augt. 13t 1801

Dear Sir—

I had taken my passage & actually Embarked for England on board a merchant ship from this Port but I found the accommodations so uncomfortable, & the decks so dangerously lumbered with Cotton, that I thought it best to return & take passage in the English Packet which sails without fail to morrow morning; in this mode of conveyance I am subject to a probability of some delay, but taking all circumstances into consideration I do not calculate upon being in England more than ten days later than the vessel in which I had at first intended to sail; & I trust that in Case of capture your passport will be a sufficient protection for me & for the dispatches with which I am charged; to make myself however more secure upon this point I have written to Mr Wagner to procure another passport from Pichon which will arrive by to morrow mornings mail. The Boston papers which arrived here yesterday & to day, contain several peices abusive scurrilous & false with respect to me & my appointment:1 the removal of Williams a favorite child of the Essex tribe has called forth all that rancorous venom which distinguishes them; every thing is at the same time said complimentary to Williams both as a private man & public agent.2 All this I expected; & the more so as the federal printers in Boston have been particularly indebted to him for his correspondence, & for his anticipating the public intelligence sent to government thro’ the regular channels. I have thought it however proper to write some things in defence of myself which I have forwarded for publication: I have discovered the author of these calumnies to be John Lowell Junr3 & almost every word contained in the paragraphs alluded to is false, as Falstaff says of Justice Shallow “Every third word a lie, as duly paid as the Turks tribute.”4 In that part of the Union there will be an unceasing clamour against Every appointment which the President may make however unobjectionable, the spirit of federalism there is malignant, inveterate, irreconcileable; directed by no sentiments of moderation or justice; to be conciliated by no measures of mildness or forbearance; in this case as in many others, the only effectual method of stopping their clamours is by an exposure of the delinquencies of those who are removed: the purpose of my now troubling you is to request that you woud permit the publication of your letter to Mr Williams or of such parts of it as you may see fit; that this man “who woud do honor to any Country” & “who has conducted himself so much to the satisfaction of those interested” may stand properly exposed; & that his removal & my appointment in his place may stand justified in the minds of those who may be otherwise misled; for myself I defy the most scrutinizing severity to find one point in which I am assailable, these scurrilities are made up only of the old cant of “jacobin” [“]Frenchman” [“]Englishman” [“]English Agent[”] [“]democratical preacher” & such worn out terms. If you shoud think proper to suffer the publication of the letter in question or of any part of it, & will be so obliging as to direct Mr Wagner to forward it to Jacob Lewis5 at N. York—he will be good Enough (as I am going) to attend to it. I am sorry to trouble you in this matter which is almost wholly personal, but I think a check of this sort may have a good Effect in future appointments. I am Dear Sir With the highest respect your very obliged & obt St

George W Erving.

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