James Madison Papers

William C. Rives to James Madison, 3 February 1829

Washington Feb. 3rd 1829.

My dear sir,

The heavy pressure of some public duties here recently, & the occupation of my mind, at the same time, with some painful circumstances of a private nature, have prevented me from heretofore making my acknowledgments to you for the two interesting letters, with which you favoured me in the course of the last month.

I had, previously to the receipt of your last communication, investigated the evidences, (to which you were so kind as to give me references), of Mr. Jefferson’s deliberate & responsible opinions in regard to the powers of Congress for the protection & encouragement of domestic industry. They are certainly both abundant in number & unequivocal in their character. Your remark, on the phrase used by him in his letter to Mr. Giles, shews conclusively that he did not there intend to deny a definite patronage over the interests of agriculture & manufactures, so far as it can be effectuated thro’ the instrumentality of regulations of foreign commerce, & thus reconciles his later & final opinions with those repeatedly avowed by him before, & at the same time, establishes their perfect consistency with the opinions maintained by yourself, under the express qualification, (stated some time ago in your letter to the Editors of the Lynchburg Virginian), that the power claimed is not an indefinite one. It is deeply to be regretted that we have not, in Virginia at present, some impartial press, possessing the general confidence, thro’ which the public mind might be disabused, in regard to this interesting & important question. Mr. Ritchie, you must have observed, when he does not absolutely refuse admission to articles which do not conform to his own creed, pushes them off into an obscure part of his paper, where they never attract the eye of the cursory newspaper-reader. I had seen, with pleasure, the exposure of his own inconsistency on this subject in the Register; & you will perceive, he now gives another evidence of the capricious disrespect with which he can treat the name of Mr. Jefferson, when his purposes require it, by making him the advocate even of prohibitions, (for protection), in 1808, & thus dividing with that venerable authority the odium of the imputed inconsistency. Writing in great haste, I have only time to renew to you the assurances of my profound & grateful respect, & to beg you to offer to Mrs. Madison my best salutations.

W C Rives.


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