James Madison Papers

To James Madison from John Armstrong, [ca. 7 November] 1809

From John Armstrong


[ca. 7 November 1809]

Dear Sir,

I send by M. Auriol the post-[s]cript, of which I spoke in my last.1 It will reach it’s destination, but without any hope of it’s working the necessary conversion. Indeed I now consider this as impossible, for to public Error, is now added the whole wieght of private interest. So long as the rule lasts, a single exception to it, makes the fortunes of two or three new men, who are about starting into notice, and who must otherwise take something from the public coffers. Accordingly these exceptions, under the name of pass-ports, are as really, though not quite so publicly at market, as turnips or potatoes, and their price, about 50 per Cent, on the value of the article here. From everything I hear of your cotton-spinning & other establishments I hope that the evil of the times is beginning to work it’s correspondent good, and that what we may loose by commerce, will be eventually made up by a full & vigorous employment of the capital of the country on its own materials. I am Sir, with the truest attachment & respect Your most faithful & obedient humble servant

J Armstrong

RC (DLC). Addressee not indicated. Later docketed by JM, “Aug: 1810.” Conjectural date here assigned on the basis of internal evidence (see n. 1).

1The postscript mentioned by Armstrong has not been found. Possibly it was the postscript Armstrong mentioned that he intended to add to an “informal note” sent to the comte d’Hauterive sometime in October 1809 to protest against aspects of the French commercial system. The bearer of the document, M. Auriol, was mentioned by Armstrong on 18 Nov. as being on the point of leaving Paris for the U.S. (Armstrong to Robert Smith, 18–26 Oct., 18 Nov. 1809 [DNA: RG 59, DD, France]).

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