James Madison Papers

To James Madison from George Joy, 17 June 1817

From George Joy

New England Coffee House
17 June 1817

Dear Sir,

I have already sent you original and duplicate of the enclosed;1 and I am sorry to say that my Correspondence with Dr. Eustis leaves the question of the appointment to the Consul Generalship of Holland under considerable doubt, which is by no means removed by a Letter he has written Mr: Adams—“Had Mr: Joy been at Rotterdam” he says “he would have had strong Claims; but under the necessity of immediate arrangements I desired Mr Parker,2 who had acted for Mr. Bourne to proceed in the business, and wrote immediately to the Govt: and shall act as they may advise or Circumstances may require”—I don’t think I have the precise words; but this is the substance as read to me by Mr: Adams; who first considered it as conclusive, but, on my reference to the last words, agreed with me that it was not entirely so. I had written an intermediary Letter to Doctor Eustis; the reply to which I hoped to receive before the Departure of Mr: Adams. I waited a post after he had left town, and then proposed to follow him to the Wight,3 where the Wind appeared likely to detain him; and make a proposal in person similar to that in my Letter to him of the 14th of which I shall cover a Copy in this,4 or send it via Liverpool tomorrow, open to your perusal. You will see in it, that I have had occasion to recur to my Letter to him of the 8th May of which I now hand you Copy for your own amusement5—a measure that I intended at the time it was written to adopt as soon as I should be apprized of Erving being fairly away from Copenhagen;6 and which I should have done, had not Jonathan Russell7 assured me that it was a settled point that Erving was to be employed no more. I find that he is now sent, and by your nomination, on a mission, that a Child might indeed accomplish; but which may fail in such hands as his.

It is by no means probable that it would be convenient to me to remain long in the Consul Generalship of Holland; but it would be useful to me to pass through that office, if I left it the very next year for a private Station; and this in a way that I have not time to explain, but far from prejudicial to the Country!

I hope, my dear Sir, now that you are withdrawn from the Vortex of public business that you will find time without inconvenience, in an early answer to this letter, to inform me whether what I have proposed so far meets your approbation as to be recommended by you; and what may be your opinion of the result.

You are apprized of my aversion from diminishing the pittance of poor Bourne;8 who, I am advised, has fallen a sacrifice to his inability, from poverty, to change the Climate. But I believe I did not tell you, which is however the fact, that Mr Curtis9 called on me about 2 years ago, and offered to continue the performance of the Duty, paying over the emoluments to me; which I declined in favour of Bourne. The Consulship of Rotterdam has cost me several pounds; but I never derived one shilling of benefit from it in any shape or way. I cordially detest these occult emoluments; and if I should ever have a Seat in the Legislature, I will set my face against the base practice of smuggling into appropriation acts, what the Dignity of the Country requires should be paid in the open face of day if duly earned, and not be paid at all if not so.

I have a message from Mr: Adams thro’ the Secry. of Legation dated Sunday Morning, that he was just stepping on board—the wind has been since for the most part fair, and the weather very fine. I rest always very faithfully Dr sr, Your friend & Servt.

Geo: Joy

RC and enclosure (DLC). Addressed by Joy to JM at Montpelier. Docketed by JM. For the surviving enclosure, see n. 4.

2John W. Parker acted as U.S. consul at Amsterdam for the years 1818 and 1819, despite the appointment of Alexander McRae to that post. After McRae resigned, Parker was nominated for the post on 21 Mar. 1820 and confirmed by the Senate on 12 Apr. (Parker to John Quincy Adams, 28 July 1818 and 26 Jan. 1819 [DNA: RG 59, CD, Amsterdam]; Senate Exec. Proceedings description begins Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate of the United States of America (3 vols.; Washington, 1828). description ends , 3:138, 140, 203, 207).

3At this time John Quincy Adams and his family were waiting to board ship at Cowes on the Isle of Wight for their return to the United States (Paul C. Nagel, John Quincy Adams: A Public Life, a Private Life [New York, 1997], 235).

4The enclosure (3 pp.) is a copy of Joy to John Quincy Adams, 14 Jan. [June] 1817, requesting a letter of temporary appointment to the consul generalship of Holland and expressing his willingness to leave immediately on the mission.

5Enclosure not found.

6George William Erving (1769–1850) was born in Boston and educated at Oxford in England, where his family moved to during the American Revolution. Erving returned to the United States in 1790, and Jefferson appointed him to a series of diplomatic posts—as agent for U.S. claims under article 7 of the Jay treaty and for the claims of American seamen in London in 1801, and chargé d’affaires in Madrid in 1804. JM appointed Erving special minister to Denmark in 1810 to handle U.S. mercantile claims against that nation and as minister to Spain in 1814 (PJM-SS description begins Robert J. Brugger et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison: Secretary of State Series (8 vols. to date; Charlottesville, Va., 1986—). description ends , 1:482, 8:37 n. 2; PJM-PS description begins Robert A. Rutland et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison: Presidential Series (6 vols. to date; Charlottesville, Va., 1984—). description ends , 1:46 n. 4, 2:447 n. 1, 5:52 n. 2).

7Jonathan Russell (1771–1832), a former customs collector at Bristol, Rhode Island, served briefly as chargé d’affaires in Paris and London after 1809 until JM nominated him as minister to Sweden in 1813. Although the Senate refused to confirm Russell at that time, JM renominated him to the post in 1814. Russell also served, along with Albert Gallatin, Henry Clay, John Quincy Adams, and James A. Bayard, as a negotiator of the Treaty of Ghent (PJM-PS description begins Robert A. Rutland et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison: Presidential Series (6 vols. to date; Charlottesville, Va., 1984—). description ends , 2:58 n. 1).

8For the financial situation of Sylvanus Bourne, U.S. consul at Amsterdam, see Joy to Benjamin Joy, 6 Jan. 1816, which was enclosed in Joy to JM, 9 Jan. 1816 (DLC: Rives Collection, Madison Papers).

9George Rice Curtis was U.S. consul at Rotterdam (Peter Hoekstra, Thirty-Seven Years of Holland-American Relations, 1803 to 1840 [Grand Rapids, Mich., 1916], 131 and n. 2).

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