James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Albert Gallatin, [ca. 12 July] 1812

From Albert Gallatin

[ca. 12 July 1812]

1. Organise regularly the encampment at Albany by marching there all the recruits, those intended for Niagara excepted1
2. Invite offers of volunteers every where, but not giving orders to march (those intended for Niagara excepted) until the number in most places be ascertained, and it be known whether the changes in England will produce immediate peace2
The inviting offers as aforesaid through letters to Gen. Dearborn & Pinkney and to several Governors.3
Preparatory steps to be taken for the march & supplies of volunteers, so that any part wanted may be ready within one month after issuing the orders to march.
3. Direct immediately a force to Niagara to take the British fort there & co-operate with Gen. Hull. That force to consist of recruits & volunteers from Kentucky, West Pennsylva. & West New York & to amount to 3000 men.4

The object of these measures is 1. to take without any delay possession of Canada from Niagara upwards. 2. to prepare for attacking Montreal late in fall or early in winter with the force consisting of all the regulars who can be collected, of the troops which shall have reduced Niagara, and of number of volunteers who, according to the amount of opposing force, may be wanted. 3. to delay immediate attack on Montreal until trial has been made of possibility of immediate peace

4. On return of our frigates, keep them on our coast, which will but protect our commerce and prevent any but properly defensive engagements with enemy.
5. Communicate immediately to British ministry our disposition for peace5 on following basis. 1. mutual restoration of territory occupied & public vessels taken. 2. repeal of orders of council & definition of blockade as agreed heretofore by them. 3. Restoration of seamen on both sides & abolition of impressments, on condition of restoration of deserters and non-employment of subjects of other nation as heretofore agreed proposed. 4 Mutual promise not to occupy Florida east of Perdido, it being understood that America may acquire it by convention
Armistice as heretofore mentioned
6. Immediate evacuation of E. Florida occupancy being now altogether illegal & calculated as cause or pretence for preventing peace (Holland to Joy)6
7. Checking un-necessary expence. This can be done only by Sec. of War & Navy. It appears for that purpose absolutely necessary that they should suspend or discontinue whatever is not actually necessary at this time—regulate themselves the amount & nature of each expence, leaving no general discretion to Generals, Quarter Masters, Commissarys, Agents, &c. to call militia, purchase, or build without special authority for each such act from Department—make no advances beyond what is strictly necessary nor unless accounts of former ones are rendered—limit most strictly the authority to draw on them—systematize as soon as possible every branch of expenditure where it is not yet done—submit to the President all measures of general nature requiring considerable expence.

Queries. 1. Effect of revocation of orders in Council on non-importation.

2. Addit. appn. defence of maritime frontier—also clause intended to forbid transfers.

RC (DLC: Rives Collection, Madison Papers). Undated; date assigned here on the basis of evidence presented in nn. 1–4 and Gallatin’s departure from Washington on 14 July 1812 (National Intelligencer, 16 July 1812). Addressee not indicated.

1On 26 June 1812 Eustis had informed Dearborn in Boston of JM’s wish that he relocate to Albany to “prepare the force to be collected at that place for actual Service.” On 15 July, Eustis repeated the request (DNA: RG 107, LSMA).

2An announcement of a new British cabinet may have been the “changes in England” to which Gallatin referred (National Intelligencer, 11 July 1812). A note in the left margin in Gallatin’s hand reads: “Acknowledge offers.”

3On 15 July 1812 Eustis informed Dearborn that in addition to giving him “the authority to require of the Governors detachments of the militia for defence, and with a view to offensive operations,” JM had authorized him “to accept Volunteers from New England, New York, & Pensylvania.” Eustis enclosed copies of the 6 Feb. and 6 July 1812 Volunteer Acts, and Dearborn was instructed to give the state governors “such notice, or invitation” as he might “deem expedient” (DNA: RG 107, LSMA).

4The forces preparing to invade the Niagara peninsula were so slow to organize that they were unable to divert the British from Detroit and in fact did not launch a full-scale attack in 1812. On 15 July, Eustis requested that upon arriving in Albany, Dearborn should direct his attention “to the Security of the Northern frontier by the Lakes,” but Dearborn did little to organize a Niagara campaign and all but refused to consider the Niagara force as under his command (ibid.). New York militia and volunteers gathered for service under Stephen Van Rensselaer throughout the summer, but local political conflicts made it difficult for him to take the field. For his part, Eustis did not request Pennsylvania volunteers from Governor Snyder until 13 Aug. (ibid.). By that time, Kentucky forces were under orders to march directly to Detroit to aid Hull (Eustis to the Governor of Kentucky, 26 July 1812 [ibid.]).

5Monroe’s instructions to Jonathan Russell of 26 June 1812 had outlined terms upon which the U.S. would agree to an armistice. Russell was advised that “If the orders in council are repealed, and no illegal blockades are substituted for them, and orders are given to discontinue the impressment of seamen from our vessels, and to restore those already impressed, there is no reason why hostilities should not immediately cease.” Monroe continued: “As an inducement to the British Government to discontinue the practice of impressments from our vessels, you may give assurance that a law will be passed (to be reciprocal) to prohibit the employment of British seamen in the public or commercial service of the United States” (extract printed in ASP description begins American State Papers: Documents, Legislative and Executive, of the Congress of the United States … (38 vols.; Washington, 1832–61). description ends , Foreign Relations, 3:585–86). On 27 July, Monroe repeated the terms of his previous letter, explaining that by authorizing Russell “to secure these objects” he had not intended to restrict Russell “to any precise form in which it should be done.” Monroe emphasized the desirability of achieving an armistice even if only an informal agreement could be reached (printed ibid., 3:586).

6For Lord Holland’s 14 May 1812 letter to George Joy, enclosed in Joy to JM, 16 May 1812, see PJM-PS description begins Robert A. Rutland et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison: Presidential Series (5 vols. to date; Charlottesville, Va., 1984–). description ends , 4:390 n. 5.

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