James Madison Papers

To James Madison from John Mason, 27 August 1812

From John Mason

Indian office 27th. August 1812


I have the honour to state that William M. Stewart appointed by you on the 10th. Inst. to be assistant Indian agent at Fort Madison, has declined the acceptance of that office because on account of the Illness of his father he is not able to leave his family, as promptly as the occasion requires. It being a matter of importance in the present state of the Indian country that the person intended to fill the vacancy now existing, should go on with the Indian Deputation now here, some of whom go to the spot. I have lost no time to look for a person proper to replace Mr. Stewart—and I beg permission to recommend Robert. B. Belt1 of Prince George County Maryland, he is a nephew of Gov: Bowies & a relation of Osborne Sprigg’s2—has been bred to business and I am assured by Doctor Kent3 member of congress from that district & others of his correct and regular habits.

As time presses and I know you are so near your departure from the City—I have used the liberty Sir, in preference to taking up your time, by asking a personal interview to submit this Gentleman in the first instance to your consideration in this way and to send the form of an appointment for him to serve if approved. I return that before made for William M Stewart cancelled it having never been in his hands. With very great Respect I have the honour to be Sir Your Obt. Servt.

J Mason S. I. Tr

RC (DLC). In a clerk’s hand, signed by Mason.

1It is not clear when Robert Belt received an appointment, but by 1816 he was assistant factor in the Indian Department at Prairie du Chien (ASP description begins American State Papers: Documents, Legislative and Executive, of the Congress of the United States … (38 vols.; Washington, 1832–61). description ends , Miscellaneous, 2:338).

2Osborn Sprigg (ca. 1741–1815) served in the lower house of the Maryland legislature in 1777 and represented Prince Georges County in the 1788 Maryland ratification convention (Papenfuse et al., Biographical Dictionary of the Maryland Legislature, 2:764–65).

3Joseph Kent (1779–1837) had practiced medicine in Maryland before his election as a Federalist representative to the Twelfth and Thirteenth Congresses. Kent was reelected to the Sixteenth and three consecutive Congresses before serving as Maryland’s governor from 1826 to 1829. He was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1833, where he served until his death.

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