James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Lafayette, 3 August 1805

From Lafayette

Mont d’or 15h Therm. 3d August 1805

My dear friend

Mr. David parish,1 now a french Citizen, and Inhabitant of Antwerpt is Going to Visit America. The Character of His House, His family, and Himself will Sufficiently Introduce Him. But I am Happy in this Instance to Indulge a lively Sentiment of friendship, and a deep Sense of Obligations to Him and His Worthy parents. Mr. John parish His father, during our Captivity of olmütz, Was the American Consul at Hamburgh, and towards the End of it returned to His private Station of an Eminent Merchant at that place—in Both Capacities He Acquired an Everlasting Title to my Gratitude and that of Every friend Who is pleased to Have Some Concern for me. His local and personal Situation Gave Additional merit to those Acts of kindness fully and Affectionately Confered. They Have Been Continued as long as We Have Remained in a foreign land. My Wife; family, and Myself Have often Wished for Opportunities to Express the Grateful feelings of our Hearts. David parish His Son Has Been an Affectionate partaker in those Cares, of h[i]s. Let me Hope this Idea May With My American Friends, and particularly With You, My dear Madison, Contribute to the Good Reception to Which He is, in Every other Respect, fully Entitled.

I am Indebted to His father for a Sum of forty five thousand francs. He is Endeavouring to Make a Loan for me in Holland. Permit me to Refer Myself to the Letters of Which Mr. Livingston and Colonel touzard Have Been the Bearers.2 My debt to Mr. John parish forms a part of the plan for a General Clearance Which the Munificence of Congress Has Enabled me to Submit to You. Perhaps While I am writing His Son david is Rendering me the Additional Service to increase their Claim Upon me By doing, Himself or through His friends, What Had Been Expected from Mess: Willink and Staphorst. That You Will Know When He Gets to Washington. But in all Events I must make Known to You My Original debt to the family.

I am Returned to the Hot Waters of Montd’or from Which My Broken Limb Has, Last Year, derived Great Benefit.3 I shall from Here pay a Visit to My Aunt and Return to la Grange By the fi[r]st Vendemiair or Rather the 22d. September, for they Say our New Calendar will not Last Long. I am the More desirous to Be Nearer paris as My Son is in the Active Army of Holland. No Answer from the president and You Has Yet Come to Hand, Except A Very kind one to a short Letter from me dated 1st July Last Year.4 I am Very Anxious to Hear of the Arrival of Mr. Livingston and Col Touzard.5 May My Conduct, and My Motives, Have Met With Your Approbation. I Want it More than Words Can Express. As to pecuniary Interest I am Very Sure You are doing for the Best, and from an Affectionate Confidence in Your friendship I forbear Apologizing for the trouble I Give You.

Adieu, My dear friend, present My Affectionate Respects to our Worthy president to Whom I Have a few Weeks Ago Writen By Mr. parish. With Every Sentiment of tender and Grateful Regard I am Your old Constant friend


RC (PHi: Dreer Collection; Lafayette Letters). Docketed by JM.

1Antwerp merchant David Parish (d. 1826) arrived in New York in January 1806 to superintend the interests of a syndicate consisting of Europe an financiers Gabriel-Julien Ouvrard, Hope & Co., and himself, with the aid of Baring Brothers & Co., in a plan to transfer Spanish gold and silver bullion in neutral vessels from Vera Cruz, Mexico, to Europe via the United States. The syndicate also received permission from the Spanish government to carry on trade with Mexico that had formerly been forbidden to foreigners. By November 1806 Parish, who had moved to Philadelphia, had received $1,250,000 in bullion that he transferred to Hope & Co. After the passage of the 1807 Embargo Act, Parish received permission from Treasury secretary Albert Gallatin for the syndicate’s chartered American vessels to continue this exchange. By the fall of 1808 all the Spanish bullion had been transferred from Mexico, and operations ceased. Parish lived in the United States until 1816, buying and developing property along the St. Lawrence River in New York. He also played a principal role in raising funds to finance the War of 1812 (Walters and Walters, “The American Career of David Parish,” Journal of Economic History 4 [1944]: 149, 151–54, 156–61, 165).

2For Lafayette’s 22 Apr. 1805 letter carried by Anne-Louis de Tousard, a copy of which was probably also carried by Robert R. Livingston, see PJM-SS, 9:276–79.

3In February 1803 Lafayette slipped on the ice in Paris and broke his thigh. He submitted to treatment by a new machine for bone-setting that a friend had invented, which caused him to be in extreme pain for forty days and left him with stiffness “and a permanent limp” (Olivier Bernier, Lafayette: Hero of Two Worlds [New York, 1983], 275).

4No letter of 1 July 1804 from Lafayette to JM has been found, but Lafayette wrote to Jefferson on that date. Jefferson received the letter on 24 Oct.; he replied on 10 Mar. 1805 with information about locating Lafayette’s lands near New Orleans (DLC: Jefferson Papers).

5For Robert R. Livingston’s arrival in the United States, see Livingston to JM, 29 June 1805, PJM-SS, 9:501–2. For Tousard’s arrival, see Tousard to JM, 10 July 1805.

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