James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Andrew Ellicott, 9 March 1811

From Andrew Ellicott

Lancaster March 9th. 1811.

Dear Sir,

If a messenger should be wanted to carry despatches to France, after my friend, and connexion Mr. Barlow goes to that country,1 I take the liberty of offering myself for that service. I have several reasons, independent of mere curiosity for making this application.

On my return to this place,2 I found a considerable degree of sensibility excited by the appointment of Mr. Barlow; nothing has been left undone on my part to shew that in the present situation of our affairs, it was the best thing that could be done. The federalists will be more easily reconciled to the measure than another section of our citizens, who are, perhaps from the want of proper information attached to an ambitious, and artful faction. If I should in a future communication be more lengthy, and explicit on the ambitious views of the party just mentioned, I wish you to attribute it to two motives, first friendship for yourself, and secondly, a desire to serve our common country which is the only ambition I have ever felt.

So long as I believe, as now do, that your views are patriotic, you will receive the feeble support of myself and pen, but affected patriotism has so often been used as the most certain road to power, that I am sometimes almost induced to suspect myself.

My best compliments to Mrs. Madison, and believe me to be with due regard, and esteem, Your sincere friend, and Hbl. servt.

Andw. Ellicott.


1JM nominated Joel Barlow to be minister to France on 26 Feb. 1811 and issued his commission the next day. The Senate confirmed the nomination on 28 Feb. by a 21 to 11 vote (JM to Barlow, 27 Feb. 1811 [DNA: RG 84, France, Despatches to the Department of State]; 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 , 2:168, 172).

2Ellicott had recently returned from Washington where, as he complained, he had been compelled to spend “a considerable portion” of the winter “on Wilkinson’s business.” For this he received “two dollars pr diem, when the best economist could not in that place exist upon less than three,” and he thus considered himself “robbed of one dollar pr diem.” While in the capital, Ellicott visited JM whom, he stated, “treated me with the greatest respect, and attention, and consulted me confidentially on some very important points.” Ellicott was convinced that JM would have liked to help him with his difficulties in obtaining employment, but he suspected the president was deterred from doing so by “the fear of offending the present ruling power in this state, whose animosity appears to know no bounds” (see Mathews, Andrew Ellicott, p. 218).

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