James Madison Papers

To James Madison from William Pinkney, 24 September 1808

London Septr. 24t. 1808


I am now enabled to ha⟨nd⟩ to you a Copy of Mr. Canning’s Answer, receiv⟨ed⟩ last night, to my Note of the 23d. of Augus⟨t.⟩

This Answer was accompanied by a ⟨Note⟩ of which also a Copy is enclosed, recapitulati⟨ng what⟩ Mr. Canning Supposes to be "the Substance ⟨of⟩ what has passed between us at our Several ⟨interviews⟩ previous to the presentation of my Official ⟨Letter."⟩

To the accompanying Paper I th⟨ought it⟩ indispensible that I should reply without ⟨Delay,⟩ Supporting with politeness but with Firmness ⟨the⟩ Statements, which I have already had ⟨the⟩ Honour to make to you, of the Conversati⟨ions in⟩ Question, and Correcting Some Errors upon ⟨points⟩ which Mr. Canning has thought fit to introduce into his Letter, but which I had not supposed it necessary to mention in Detail in my Dispatches.

I shall not detain Mr. Atwater with a view to this Reply; but will take care to forward a Copy of it by an early Conveyance. My Official Note and the Answer to it being perfectly explicit, Mr. Canning’s misapprehensions ⟨(⟩for such they are) of previous verbal Communications can scarcely be very important in a public View; but it is nevertheless of some Consequence that, whatever may be the object of his Statement, I should not make myself a party to its Inaccuracies, by even a tacit admission of them.

I do not perceive that a formal Reply to the more official Paper can now be of any advantage; but I shall probably take occasion to combine with my Reply to the one Paper Some observations upon the other.

I regret extremely that the Views which I have been instructed to lay before this Government have not been met by it as I had at first been led to expect. The overture cannot fail, however, to place in a strong Light the just and liberal Sentiments by which our Government is animated, and in other Respects to be useful and honorable to our Country. I have the Honour to be, with the highest Consideration, Sir, Your most obedient humble Servant

Wm: Pinkney

DNA: RG 59--DD-Diplomatic Despatches, Great Britain.

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