James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Alexander B. Johnson, 13 August 1813

From Alexander B. Johnson

Newyork Augst. 13. 1813


I took the liberty of sending you, by this day’s mail a small pamphet, entitled “An Enquiry &c.”—concerning the right of expatriation.1

Should it contain any thing, to excite your approbation, I shall be pleased at having written it. With the greatest respect I am Your Most obdt. Humble Ser

Alexr. B. Johnson2

RC (DLC: Rives Collection, Madison Papers).

1Johnson referred to An Inquiry into the Natural Rights of Man, as Regards the Exercise of Expatriation (New York, 1813; 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 28814), in which he argued that individuals have a “natural right” to leave the country of their birth; that if they do so, their native government has no further power over them; and that it is neither “depraved in taste nor incorrect in principle” to dislike one’s native country or to prefer another (ibid., 19–20). He published this pamphlet under the pseudonym of “a Gentleman of the City of New-York” (Charles L. Todd and Robert Sonkin, Alexander Bryan Johnson: Philosophical Banker [Syracuse, N.Y., 1977], 77).

2Alexander Bryan Johnson (1786–1867) was born in England and in 1801 emigrated to Utica, New York, where he helped his father build a fortune in mercantile pursuits. He spent the winter of 1812–13 in Washington, where he met JM, dined with the Madisons, and attended the president’s second inauguration. Later a banker in Utica, Johnson also authored numerous works on financial, philosophical, and political topics (Todd and Sonkin, Alexander Bryan Johnson, xiii–xiv, 2, 19–22, 36–37, 43, 67–73, 101–2, 351).

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