James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Cowles Mead, 20 November 1811

From Cowles Mead

Washington. M. T. Nov. 20th. 1811.


I am instructed by a Resolution of the House of Representatives of the Mississippi Territory, to forward to you, the enclosed copy of a presentment by the Grand Jury for the County of Baldwin, against Harry Toulmin Esqr. Judge of the Superior Court for the District of Washington. The House over which I have the honor to preside, has deemed the charges therein contained worthy of further investigation, it has therefore required me to transmit another copy to the Delegate of this Territory to be laid before the House of Representatives of th⟨e⟩ U. S. for the consideration thereof; accompanied with a transcript of the Resolution, which gives me the honor of this Communication.1 With high respect, & consideration I have the Honor to be Yr. Vry Hble Sert.

Cowles Mead
Speaker of the House of Representatives.

RC and enclosure (DLC). RC docketed by JM. For enclosure, see n. n. 1.

1The enclosed presentment (4 pp.) levied nine charges of maladministration against Toulmin. These alleged that Toulmin conducted himself improperly as a presiding judge, that he denied a prisoner the right of counsel, that he ordered capital charges against a citizen in an unconstitutional manner, that he had attempted to reverse a jury verdict, and that he engaged in verbal and written communications with Spanish officials in West Florida in order to defeat the policies of the U.S. government (copy printed in Carter, Territorial Papers, Mississippi, 6:245–46). The Speaker of the House of Representatives presented a copy of Mead’s letter and its accompanying charges to the House on 16 Dec. 1811. Five days later the House referred them to a select committee. On 22 May 1812 the committee reported back to the effect that the charges against Toulmin were without foundation and that no further action was necessary (Annals of Congress description begins Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States … (42 vols.; Washington, 1834–56). description ends , 12th Cong., 1st sess., 522–23, 559, 567, 764–65, 1436). For Toulmin’s response to the charges, see his letters of 13 and 17 Feb. 1812 to JM.

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