James Madison Papers

From James Madison to John Armstrong, 19 June 1814

To John Armstrong

June 19. 1814

The apparent objections to the proposed establishment of a post, so distant, are very strong. Much weight however is due to the concurring opinions of Govr. Clarke and General Howard; both men of Judgment and possessed of many advantages for a correct exercise of it in such a case.1


RC (PHi: Daniel Parker Papers); draft (DLC); Tr (DLC, series 3). Draft includes JM’s heading: “Note on a note* of the Secy of war on Letters from Govr. Clarke & Genl. Howard proposing the estabt. of a post at Prairie du Chien,” and a corresponding footnote transcription of Armstrong’s note: “*‘I cannot believe in the wisdom of establishing a post 600 miles in the Enemy’s Country. Once estabd. it must be supported & at an enormous expence’ J. Armstrong.” Tr includes nearly identical material.

1JM referred to Brig. Gen. Benjamin Howard’s 15 May 1814 letter to Armstrong, enclosing copies of 5 and 8 May 1814 letters to Howard from Missouri Territory governor William Clark (DNA: RG 107, LRRS, H-23:8). In the first, Clark requested an additional force to defend Prairie du Chien after he took possession of it; in the second, he noted that he could probably raise volunteers if Howard could not furnish the men. Howard supported the plan to establish the post, but having no troops to send, asked for “full instructions” from Armstrong regarding the proposal. On 14 July 1814 Armstrong replied that Clark would have to use volunteers, as no regular troops were available to maintain the new post (DNA: RG 107, LSMA).

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