James Madison Papers

To James Madison from John Armstrong, 5 February 1811

From John Armstrong

New York 5 feb. 1811.

Dear Sir,

I yesterday, on my return to this city, received from M. Russel a letter, from which I make the following extract.1 It’s enclosures are sent entire. It would be injustice, as well to M. Russel, as to a suggestion which fell from you when I had lately the honor of seeing you, were I to withold a testimony of his very respectable standing in the place which he now fills, & which removes every doubt of his future usefulness in a higher office, were it conferred upon him.2 This testimony comes from one of the oldest and ablest diaplomatists in France, and is sub-joined to one of the annexed papers. Permit me to assure you of the very great respect & attachment of, dear Sir, Your most Obedient, & very humble Servant,

John Armstrong.

RC (DLC). Docketed by JM. Enclosures not found, but see n. 1.

1In his 19 Feb. letter Armstrong mentioned that he had sent JM a letter about Alexander McRae, and in his 3 Mar. letter to JM Armstrong again referred to a letter he had received from Jonathan Russell containing references to McRae. On that basis it is possible to suggest that Armstrong sent the president an extract from a 6 Nov. 1810 letter he had received from Russell in Paris (RPB-JH: Russell Papers). This was a lengthy and damning indictment of McRae’s conduct in Europe. Russell accused the Virginian, among other things, of being a spy for James Monroe, of having engaged in speculation in “English licences,” and of having attempted to engage in improper negotiations with the duc de Cadore on the future of Spain’s American colonies.

2On 5 Feb. 1811 Armstrong informed Russell that in his recent meeting with JM in Washington “you were mentioned as my successor at Paris.” JM was, Armstrong continued, “much embarrassed on this, as on many other points & there is no knowing what may be the result. It does not appear to me to be his intention to take any one from this state [New York]—but as B. L. [Brockholst Livingston] is now at Washington & as his presence may revive his pretensions, even this pre-disposition may be got over. In a letter of this day to him, I have mentioned you again & have given him an extract of a letter received from france … which speaks in a very friendly & respectful way of you” (RPB-JH: Russell Papers).

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