James Madison Papers

To James Madison from John Tyler, 15 January 1810

From John Tyler

Richmond January 15 1810


I have the honor to introduce to your Notice George Wm: Smith Esqr.1 our Leiut. Govr: who having business in your City is desirous of being presented to you, whose Character he much respects. You will find him full worthy of your attention as a Patriot and Gentleman.

I greatly fear the hint you have given Congress by your advise to place our Country in a proper State of defence2 will not be much attended to. Subjects of very inferior consideration seem to engross their time. I am at a loss to know what our National Character is? Certain I am that it is not what it has been even 30 years ago. I believe it is degenerated into a system of Stock-Jobing, Extortion and Usury. I wou’d if I had the power not only interdict the trade with G. B. but I wou’d seize british goods found on Land, Lock up every Store and hold them respo[n]sible for consequences, and if another impressment shou’d take place I wou’d make prisoners of every british Subject in the States. But this wou’d greatly offend the feelings of our Modern Patriots. By the God of Heaven, if we go on in this way our Nation will sink into disgrace and Slavery. Forty Members who cou’d support Jackson,3 are fit Instruments for any Measure. Perhaps I have gone too far for the present ⟨notions?⟩ therefore will conclude by subscribing my self with considerations of high respect and esteem Yr most obt Servt

Jno: Tyler.

RC (DLC). Docketed by JM.

1George William Smith (1762–1811) represented Essex County, 1790–93, and the city of Richmond, 1801–2, in the Virginia House of Delegates. Elected to the Council of State in 1807, he twice served as acting governor (following Tyler’s and Monroe’s resignations). Shortly after he was elected governor, he died in the Richmond theater fire (WMQ description begins William and Mary Quarterly. description ends , 1st ser., 6 [1897–98]: 46; Swem and Williams, Register description begins Earl G. Swem and John W. Williams, eds., A Register of the General Assembly of Virginia, 1776-1918, and of the Constitutional Conventions (Richmond, 1918). description ends , pp. 73, 429; CVSP description begins William P. Palmer et al., eds., Calendar of Virginia State Papers and Other Manuscripts (11 vols.; Richmond, 1875-93). description ends , 9:616).

3William Branch Giles sponsored in the Senate a joint resolution pledging “to stand by and support the executive government in its refusal to receive any further communications from … Francis J. Jackson, and to call into action the whole force of the nation … to assert and maintain the rights, the honour and the interests of the United States.” On 11 Dec. the Senate passed the resolution, 20–4. From 18 Dec. the House hotly debated the resolution and after a nineteen-hour session on 4 Jan. approved it by a 72–41 vote. JM signed the resolution on 12 Jan. (Annals of Congress description begins Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States ... (42 vols.; Washington, 1834-56). description ends , 11th Cong., 2d sess., 481, 511, 747, 1151–52; U.S. Statutes at Large description begins The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America ... (17 vols.; Boston, 1848-73). description ends , 2:612).

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