James Madison Papers

To James Madison from James Taylor, 28 November 1810

From James Taylor

Belle Vue New Port
28th. Novr 1810


The enclosed pamphlet1 was this day given to me by Genl. James Findlay2 of Cincinnati. I endeavored to Obtain his opinion as to the effect it would have, he appeared unable to answer me, and said he could not make up his mind fully on the subject as he had just got hold of it; That he was of opinion it could not rise into a Matter of great mischief, but found there were men supporting it of more influence and standing than he had supposed would have medled with a thing of the kind.

Upon the whole I am of opinion he thinks the thing may do some mischief. He is of opinion it has not been printed in Pensylva., at any rate it was forwarded to the state of Ohio in Manuscript.

We were both of opinion that it would not be amiss to forward these papers to you and if you deemed them of any notice we would from time to time give you such information as might come to our knowledge, upon your signifeing that it was your wish that either of us should do so.

I can scarcely think the good sense of any quarter of the Union could be influenced to take an active part in a business of this kind, except it may be among that description of people who are immediately interested, but the language of the association appears well calculated to allure and mislead the poor and ignorant.

There is greater complaint of a scarcity of money in this part of the Western country than I have known for many years, and I find more lands of persons who have bought of the U. S. advertised for sale than had ever been since the Offices were opened, all those whose lands may be sold, and all those who are unable to purchase lands might be led away by a Mistaken interest.

I expect to be a good deal thro’ the State of Ohio in Course of this Winter & shall take some pains to ascertain whether it is likely to do any mischief.

I have it in contemplation to be at the Seat of Goverment in course of two weeks & there I shall have a good opportunity of satisfying my self on the subject. I have the honor to be with great respect Sir your obedt servt

James Taylor


1The enclosed pamphlet has not been found, but the contents of this and other letters from James Taylor to JM suggest that it may have dealt with the question of relief for those who had purchased public lands on credit and whose lands were at risk of being forfeited if they failed to meet their payments. In January 1811 the Ohio General Assembly instructed the state’s congressional delegation to seek an extension of time for the payment for public lands, including the granting of preemption rights to those who had forfeited lands for failure to make payments. These changes, it was claimed, “would perhaps, enable many good citizens to provide in a decent manner for a young and rising family” (Taylor to JM, 10 Jan. and 20 Feb. 1811; ASP description begins American State Papers: Documents, Legislative and Executive, of the Congress of the United States … (38 vols.; Washington, 1832–61). description ends , Public Lands, 2:252).

2James Findlay (1770–1835) had migrated from Pennsylvania to Ohio where he had served on the legislative council for the Northwest Territory. In 1810 he was mayor of Cincinnati, and he later became a colonel and brigadier general of a regiment of Ohio Volunteers during the War of 1812 (Senate Exec. Proceedings description begins Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate of the United States of America (3 vols.; Washington, 1828). description ends , 1:323; William T. Utter, The Frontier State, 1803–1825, vol. 2 of The History of the State of Ohio, ed. Carl Wittke [Columbus, Ohio, 1942], pp. 68, 88).

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