James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Robert Smith, 11 September 1809

From Robert Smith

Washn. Sep. 11. 09.


You will herewith receive copies of letters which I have received from Erskine & Jackson and my answers.1 I have deemed it proper to introduce into my Answer to Jackson some Civility. It may do good. It can’t do harm. Besides, the Comity of Nations, as well as good sense, requires, and especially in the beginning, a style of deportment which would not imply a latent hostility. I have informed both Gentlemen that you usually return about the 1st October and that it is your intention to return this Season about the same time. Mr Erskine, impatient to sail, is anxious about your return. Mr Jackson, very respectful in his Manner, did not allow himself to intimate a wish with respect to the time it might suit you to return. In truth it is to him quite immaterial.2 Delay suits him. I learn from Mr Erskine (without putting the question) that Mr Jackson cannot reconcile it to his ideas of propriety to have any conversations with me upon publick subjects until he will have been accredited. This Course is the most agreeable to me, as, had he been otherwise disposed, I should not have permitted myself to make any communications to him.

Mr Jackson will be fully employed in attending during this month to his establishment and in a few days I will return to Balto.

Will you have the goodness to let me know on what day you will return and whether it would be agreeable to you for me to inform Mr Erskine & Mr Jackson of that day. With great respect &c. &

R Smith

RC (DLC: Rives Collection, Madison Papers). Docketed by JM. For enclosures, see n. 1.

1The enclosures included copies of Smith to Erskine, 9 Aug. 1809, Erskine to Smith, 14 Aug. 1809 (DLC: Rives Collection, Madison Papers; printed in ASP description begins American State Papers: Documents, Legislative and Executive, of the Congress of the United States … (38 vols.; Washington, 1832–61). description ends , Foreign Relations, 3:304–6), and Jackson to Smith, 9 Sept. 1809 (DNA: RG 59, Notes from the British Legation). Smith’s reply to Jackson has not been found.

2Jackson wrote his brother that he did not expect his Washington mission to last “more than a year and a half.” Told that JM would not return until 1 Oct., Jackson raised no objection “at the apparent incivility of my being left here in the interval.… As I was not instructed to press for any particular degree of haste, I told Smith, that I should make full allowance for the President’s just solicitude for his health, and cheerfully wait the period he had named for his return for delivering my credentials” (Francis J. Jackson to George Jackson, 16 Sept. 1809, in Jackson, The Bath Archives, 1:9–10).

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