James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Samuel Smith (Abstract), 2 March 1805

§ From Samuel Smith

2 March 1805. “The inclosed proposition of a law1 was shewn by me to a number of our friends, who highly approved, And were disposed to Support the measure, provided in Its Operation the finances would not materially be injured—my own Opinion was that It would not—however I addressed a Letter to Mr. Gallatin for his Opinion as to the injury the finances might Sustain, and as to its policy—his letter I now inclose.2 I rather should be of Opinion that we have not time this Session to Act—but I sincerely wish, if It meet your approbation & the Brittish Court shall refuse to put the United States on the Same footing as are the Nations of Europe—that we may be pressured to Act on the Subject early in the next. The Exports to the U.S. from G.B. in 1801 (Not including Ireland) amounted (agreeably to S. Cocks answer to Ld. Sheffield)3 to £7.517.400—Duty of 4 per C. thereon £300.696 Sterling or about Dolls $1.340.000—Include <t>he Exports from Ireland, and the Increase of our Imports from both and I have no Doubt but the Duty of 4 per Ct. will exceed One and a half4 of Dollars of a Tax on the U.S which with Charge Duties & Mercantile profit thereon, will I am persuaded take out of the Pocketts of the people near two Millions of Dollars, being nearly One fifth of as much as the Treasury recieves from <the? > Revenue Laws of the U.S.

“I had written thus far early in the Session, when I Concluded to Submit Resolutions on the Subject to Senate, those Resolutions have passed5—they may Aid in such negotiation, as may be had on the subject.”

RC and enclosures (DLC). RC 2 pp.; cover sheet docketed by JM. Undated; date assigned here on the basis that Smith’s resolutions were passed on 2 Mar. 1805, and Congress adjourned on 3 Mar. 1805 (Annals of Congress, description begins Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States … (42 vols.; Washington, D.C., 1834–56). description ends 8th Cong., 2d sess., 67, 73, 77). For enclosures, see nn. 1–2.

1Smith enclosed a proposal (1 p.) for a statute that would ban the importation of “Irish and All other Manufactures of Linen or of Hemp, Nails, Hatts, Shoes, Boots, Window & Looking Glasses, Plated & Glass Ware, Writing Paper, Ribbands, Salt, Patent Medicines” from Great Britain and Ireland until such time as the British acts imposing a higher duty on goods exported to the United States than on those exported to Europe were repealed.

2The enclosure is Albert Gallatin to Smith, 17 Jan. 1805 (2 pp.; docketed by JM), stating that it “is impossible for [him] to calculate the effect” of Smith’s proposal on U.S. finances, adding that “supposing the measure to be proper,” it would be difficult to select which articles should be prohibited. He suggested that “the less of an English article we consume, the less will the prohibition affect them; and the more we consume of it, the more will the prohibition affect our own finances;” he speculated that “enforcement of the navigation act in Europe & of the colonial system in the West Indies” might be more injurious to the United States. Gallatin asked if Smith had “consulted Mr Madison on the subject” and stated that he had “not sufficiently thought upon it to form an opinion satisfactory” to himself.

3See PJM-SS, description begins Robert J. Brugger et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison: Secretary of State Series (9 vols. to date; Charlottesville, Va., 1986–). description ends 8:194 n. 3.

4“Million” is crossed out here.

5For the Senate resolution requesting information from JM, see Senate to JM, 2 Mar. 1805. For the resolution requesting information from Gallatin, see Annals of Congress, description begins Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States … (42 vols.; Washington, D.C., 1834–56). description ends 8th Cong., 2d sess., 73.

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