James Madison Papers

Martin Van Buren to James Madison, 30 August 1826

Albany August 30th 1826

Dear Sir,

At the two last sessions I submitted to the Senate resolutions proposing an amendment to the Constitution relative to the power of Congress over the Subject of internal improvements. They were not acted upon through the belief that existing circumstance were unfavourable. It is my intention to attempt something upon the Subject at the commencement of the next, & I take the liberty of saying to you, how much I would be gratified with such suggestions as your health leisure & disposition may permit, you to make. I am sensible of the unreasonableness of taxing you in this way at this time of day, & nothing but a consciousness of the deep interest you take in whatever relates to a constitution which has already engrossed so much of your Attention could induce me to make the suggestion. I know too that if circumstance prevent your compliance with my wishes, you will frankly tell me so, & that I shall have done no harm in seeking to <draw> more light from a source which has already (happily for us) shed so much upon the institutions of our Country. There is not in my opinion any other matter so threatening to the confederacy as the pretension of the Federal Government upon this subject, its past & probably future acts, & the collisions with State authorities which must unavoidably grow out of them. At this moment, the assumed power is used by the Government as a most powerful, indeed irresistable engine, to acquire the favour & secure the allegiance of portions of the union at the expense of those who having made the constitution know what it cost & what it is worth. It is supposed that an extension of the money power beyond that of Jurisdiction is practicable and indispensable to the successful operation of the Government. If agreeable it would please me to have an amendment worded by yourself; but it does not become me to be more particular. Have the goodness to make my best respects to Mrs Madison & to accept for yourself the assurance Of my perfect esteem & respect—

M. V. Buren

RC (DLC). Docketed by JM.

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