James Madison Papers

From James Madison to Thomas Jefferson, 27 January 1813

To Thomas Jefferson

Washington Jany. 27. 1813

Dear Sir

I snatch a moment to intimate that Dr. T. Ewell is under circumstances which induce him to surround himself with respectable names as far as he can.1 Yours has been already brought into print, and he is availing himself to the utmost of your alledged patronage of him. I think it probable that he will endeavor to draw from you by letter whatever may be yielded by your politeness or benevolence; and I cannot do less than put you on your guard.

Congs. proceed with their usual slowness even on the most essential subjects; and the under-current agst. us is as strong as ever. I have not time to explain the late changes in the Ex: Dept, if I were disposed to trouble you with them. Bonaparte, according to his own shewing is in serious danger; and if half the official accounts of the Russians be true, his own escape is barely possible, and that of his army impossible. The effect of such a catastrophe on his compulsory allies may once more turn the tables quite round in the case between France & Engld. You will have seen the Speech of the Regt.2 The debates on it have not reached us. Wellesley’s party attack the Ministry for not prosecuting the war more vigorously agst. us. Nothing but the difficulty of their affairs will open their ears, & that without opening their hearts to peace. In the Peninsula, the French are dr[a]wing Wellington back to Lisbon, and there now is no doubt that the late harvest is a very short one, and the quality for the most part bad. Their expenditures also are enormous, beyond former years; and their bank paper 35 per Ct. below specie. I have for you a Copy of Cooper’s Justinian,3 which I will forward by next mail. Yrs. always & affecy.


RC (DLC). Docketed by Jefferson as received 29 Jan.

1JM referred to an undated broadside published by Ewell offering “a few more remarks on the guilt of the Chief Clerk of the Navy Department.” Ewell provided further examples of Goldsborough’s practice of arranging contracts in ways that benefited him as a private citizen and expressed surprise at the chief clerk’s efforts to damage the reputation of his powder mills, “even after reading the distinguished evidence of their excellence in the public prints!” Ewell further claimed that he was moved to publish by “a sense of what he owes to the great and good Mr. Jefferson who gave him his office—and to the generous and the patriotic Mr. Hamilton, who befriended him in it.” Ewell remarked that he had “constantly remembered that the late President saved him from [the] machinations” of his enemies and that he had been warned that those same enemies, “in spite of President Jefferson,” would “yell [him] from the face of the city.” JM’s copy of this broadside is located in the Library of Congress (DLC: Madison Collection, Rare Book Division).

2Extracts relating to American affairs from the prince regent’s address to Parliament on 30 Nov. 1812 had been published in the Daily National Intelligencer on 25 Jan. 1813. They reported that the regent regretted that efforts to restore peace between Great Britain and the U.S. had not been successful; that the U.S. had attempted, without success, to invade Great Britain’s Canadian provinces and “to seduce the inhabitants of them from their allegiance” to the king; and that until peace could be restored “without sacrificing the maritime rights of Great Britain,” the regent would expect parliamentary support for “a vigorous prosecution of the war.”

3JM referred to the Institutiones, or The Institutes of Justinian, with Notes by Thomas Cooper (Philadelphia, 1812; Shaw and Shoemaker description begins R. R. Shaw and R. H. Shoemaker, comps., American Bibliography: A Preliminary Checklist for 1801–1819 (22 vols.; New York, 1958–66). description ends 25764).

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