James Madison Papers

William Cabell Rives to James Madison, 8 July 1829

Washington July 8th 1829.

My dear sir

Since my arrival here, I have endeavoured to obtain all information respecting the character, designs & claims of Mr. Cooley, (whose letter & papers are herewith returned), that I thought likely to be interesting or useful to you. The impression here is very far from being favorable to him, in any of these regards. The Government is thoroughly possessed with the conviction that his claim is fraudulent & unfounded, & that the parade of suing &c. is a simulated contrivance, for the purpose of bringing the commanding influence of the parties threatened to bear upon Congress in aid of his demands. I enclose you a copy of the Report of the Committee, from which you will perceive that the Bill reported for his benefit, instead of being a recognition of his claim, was a forced charity to get rid of his teasing. Mr. Graham called my attention to a palpable trick in the transposition of two memoranda of Mr. Gallatin, introduced at page 10 of his pamphlet. The endorsement, which stands last in the pamphlet, was nearly two years prior in time to that which is placed before it, having been made on Mr. Smith’s letter of Aug. 1811, immediately after it’s receipt, while the other was made, as it’s date shews, in March 1813. From the views entertained here of this man & the futility of his pretensions, it is hoped that neither yourself nor Gen. La Fayette will give yourselves any trouble with him, or indulge any apprehension of embarrassment from his proceedings.

Mrs. Rives & myself have to acknowledge, in addition to numerous other favors, the letters to Baron & Baroness de Neuville, & Genl La Fayette, in which Mrs. Madison & yourself have so kindly bespoken for us the friendship & benevolent attentions of these distinguished personages. Mrs. R. will take occasion to express her thanks to Mrs. Madison in a separate communication, for which she hopes to acquire materials of more interest, as we proceed farther north.

We leave here today in our progress to New-York, whence we shall probably sail about the 20th. instant. An unexpected delay, in the equipment of the vessel which is to take us out, has detained us here longer than I expected; but I have found ample employment for the interval in researches among the archives of the State Department, where I have not unfrequently had the good fortune to encounter the luminous trace of a pen, which never fails to inlighten my enquiries. While in New-York, I shall have an opportunity of deriving important light on the same subjects from another kindred source, (Mr. Gallatin), which I should be very happy to improve under the advantage of a presentation to his confidence from yourself, if I did not feel that, in asking it, I should make an unreasonable exaction on a kindness which has already been so liberally extended to me. Mrs. Rives joins me in cordial salutations to Mrs. Madison & yourself, & with anxious wishes for the speedy & entire re-establishment of your health, I remain, in a sentiment of profound & grateful respect, your faithful & obt. serv.

W C Rives

P. S. I am happy to inform you that, since my arrival here, I have received a letter from Dr. Patterson, expressing more contentment on the part of Mrs. P. & himself with the University, & relinquishing a foreign project which, I believe, I told you, he had been thinking of.


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