James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Thomas Newton, 4 April 1812

From Thomas Newton

House of Representatives April 4th. 1812


I do myself the honor of enclosing an extract—which, speaks for itself.1 It shews that the opinion which I expressed to you a few days ago on the subject of erecting fortifications on Craney Island, is supported by a great Military Character. Genl. Lee’s expressions are strong, and, from the knowledge I have of the spot alluded to, no less correct. You will pardon me for attracting your attention again to this Subject. I am conscious that my Constituents share equally with their fellow Citizens in other Sections of the Union your solicitude for their welfare. Nothing but an apprehension, that my opinion, if it be not strengthened by authority, might be considered rather as the effusion of a laudible zeal for the safety of my constituents, than as one standing on matters of fact for a basis, could induce me to make this trespass on your time & patience. I remain with sentiments of great respect and esteem Yr. Obt. Servt

Tho Newton

RC and enclosure (DNA: RG 107, LRRS, N-20:6). Docketed as received in the War Department on 7 Apr. 1812. For enclosure, see n. 1.

1Newton enclosed a two-page extract from a letter written by Charles Lee in Williamsburg on 5 Apr. 1776, describing the disposition and value of the naval vessels and other military stores under the control of Lord Dunmore at Norfolk, Virginia, and suggesting that the American naval forces under the command of Commodore Esek Hopkins attempt to capture them. Lee wished Hopkins to undertake this measure as “a glorious conclusion” before Royal Navy forces arrived in strength off the American coast, adding that “if it should be necessary afterwards to keep in a safe harbour, by erecting a battery at the mouth of the River (Craney Island) leading to Norfolk the Navy of Great Britain might be, from the nature of the navigation prevented from getting up” (Lee’s letter was written to the president of the Council of Safety of North Carolina and is reprinted in full in The Lee Papers, Collections of the New York Historical Society Publication Fund Series, vols. 4–7 [4 vols.; New York, 1872–75], 1:374–75).

Index Entries