James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Alexander J. Dallas, 29 May 1815

29 May 1815.

Dr. Sir.

I inclose a report upon the expediency of selling a part of the Gun-powder, to which you will be so good as to subjoin your approbation.

My friend Col. Johnstone spares no one, on the subject of Ward and Taylors contract. The truth is that by his assiduity, during the Session of Congress, they fared much better than any other Contractors. They have actually received near 500,000 Dollars on their old Contract; and I have just given them a Warrant for 10,000 Dollars on their new Contract, in advance. Their Accounts are not settled; and the apparent balance of their account for their old Contract is about 50,000 Dollars; liable, however, to an augmentation, upon additional vouchers. One of the New-York Contractor has a balance of more than 500,000 Dollars due to him. But, in point of fact, Mr. Ward himself was with me a day, or two, ago; and was perfectly satisfied with my arrangements: And, in point of law, the appropriation for Subsistence is exhausted, and unless we can reemit it from the Ordnance fund, we shall be obligd to suspend all payments until Congress meets.

I sent a copy of Genl. McArthur’s letter to Genl. Brown as soon as I received it; and I will write to the Commanding Officer at Fort Wayne, to make himself secure at that place. I think you will find it necesssary to hold a different Treaty with the Indians, to whom the General’s letter relates. Govr. Clarkes commission is to treat with the Indians west of the Illinois and Lake Michigan, merely for peace in pursuance of our Treaty with England. But the Indians of whom Genl McArthur speaks inhabit east of the Illinois river and Lake Michigan, in Michigan territory &c &c. and are principally the very Indians with whom Govr. Cass & Genl. Harrison concluded the Treaty of the 2d. July 1814. As a Treaty is certainly better than a war, I submit to you the appointment of Gov. Worthington, Genl. Wilkinson, and Mr. John Graham (who, in a letter to his Brother from Chilicothe expresses a willingness to serve) as the pacific negotiators. In the meantime, I will write to Gov. Worthington merely to draw his attention to the subject; and to request his good offices in preserving harmony. Gov. Cass will, also, be instructed to use his best endeavours to prevent, or to repel, hostilities.

As it is probable that I shall see you in a few days, the important objects connected with our Indian country, the posts at Malden and Mackinaw, and the arbitration articles of our Treaty, will be reviewed. But do you not think it would be advisable to appoint, at once, our Arbitrators under each Article of the Treaty, and to notify the appointment to the British Government? The English interest is all on the side of delay; our interest is all on the side of decision; and the moment is favorable to enforce a settlement. I am always afraid of allowing rights, or claims, to assume the character of being obsolete. I am, Dear Sir, most respectfully & faithfully, Yrs.

A. J. Dallas

I inclose Mr. Graham’s letter. Provision had been long ago made to pay the Troops, which he mentions, as wanting their pay

I have just received a letter from Mr. Stickney, dated at St. Marys. It contains very unpleasant accounts; and, I am afraid, our White men provoke much of the hostility manifested by the Indians. Perhaps, you will think it right to send an admonitory Proclamation into the several regions of new settlements.


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