James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Anonymous, 14 March 1806

March 14th. 1806


if the following proposal proves acceptable to the Government I shall make my self known to you on your causing an advertisment to be published in Lang’s General Advertisor of New York during the present or the following month in these words "the person who wrote to a Gentleman under date of March the 14th. is desired to make himself known"

A Sum of one hundred and fifty thousand Dollars has been granted by Congress for the fortifications of the Seaports of the United States. all engineers will pronounce that the protection of one Single port on the Common principles for the Defence of harbors will take more than that. Nevertheless, Sir, I can devise you a Generall plan where by your object shall be much better and much easier attained than by any other method what ever, and a respectable protection Secured. this plan is very economical. knowing not however the number of Ports intented to be fortified and their nature I can not say how far the sum allowed might prove adequate.

but, Sir, when I render to the United States a service which must be called unvaluable I am unquestionably intitled to such a Reward that would, at Least, Secure a Small independent fortune. knowing the incalculable extent and magnitude of my ideas on this Subject I always considered them as a kind of property that could not fail to fetch me some Day or another Some considerable advantage; and being noways hurried about it have long matured them in silence, waiting for some great occurance which might afford me an oportunity to secure to them their due reward. I shall continue to keep them secret and beg that you likewise let this Communication drop altogether unless the Government agrees to the following conditions

the Government will name some persons I shall on my part name as many others who will form a board and meat at a given place and after hearing my self and a person Acting for the Government on the subject will, under oath, answer by yeas or noes a question nearly of the following tenour.

"to the best of your judgment and According to what ideas you may have on the Subject, has Mr. —— Communicated to this board a plan far the best calculated in your opinion, which you heard or think of, to answer at once both the proposed object of protecting the sea ports of the United States and the smallness of the sums provided or to be provided for it.

On the answer of any majority of the board being positive the sum of —— shall be instantly handed to me by one of the members comissioned for that purpose.

I shall accede to any other stipulation you may wish for agreeable to the meaning of this proposal. I am with respect,

DLC: Papers of Thomas Jefferson.

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