James Madison Papers

James Madison to Fletcher and Toler, 10 October 1827

Montpellier Ocr. 10. 1827


I have just seen in another Gazette, the following paragraph, noted as an extract from the "Lynchburg Virginian" viz

Without being aware of the ground on which the Statement is alledged to be within the personal knowledge of the Editor, it is proper to observe that, as often happens in the report of conversations, there must have been some degree of misapprehension or misrecollection.

It is true that I have not approved the proceedings of the General Assembly of the State, which would* [limit the power of Congress over trade to regulations having revenue alone for their object;] that I have in occasional Conversations, been led to observe that a contrary doctrine has been entertained and acted on, from the commencement of the Constitution of the U. States, by the several Branches of every Administration under it; and that I regretted the course pursued by the General Assembly, as tending to impair the confidence & cordiality of other parts of the Union, agreeing with Virginia in her exposition of the Constitution on other points. In expressing these ideas, however, more respect has been felt for the patriotic sensibilities of the Legislative Body, and for the talents & good intentions of Members, personally or otherwise known to me to be particularly entitled to it, than might be inferred from the tone of the publication. I must observe also, that though it is true, that I have spoken of the power of Congress over Commerce in its enlarged sense, as a primary & known object in forming the Constitution, the language of the statement is inaccurate at least, as being susceptible of a construction, embracing indefinite powers over the entire resources of the Country.

I must presume that the expressions which refer by name to the Governor of the State, were not meant to be ascribed to me; being very sure that I could never have so far forgotten, what I owed to myself, or the respect due to him.

It is with much reluctance, Sir, that I have had recourse to these explanatory remarks, withdrawn as I am from scenes of political agitation, by my age & pursuits more congenial with it. It is the single instance of a communication from me to the press, on any subject connected with the existing State of parties. With respects

James Madison

*corrected into "exclude from the power of Congress &ca. as in the letter of 14th. Oct. attached to this. See also the further explanatory note of J. M. of Oct. 31. also attached to this.

Draft (DLC).

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