James Madison Papers

James Madison to Daniel Drake, 12 January 1835

Montpr. Jany. 12. 1835

Dear Sir

The copy of your "Discourse on the History charac[ter] and prospects of the West", was duly received; and I have read with pleasure, the instructive views taken of its interesting and comprehensive themes Should the youth addressed and their successors follow your advice, and their example be elsewhere, in noting from period to period, the progress and changes of our country under the aspects adverted to, the materials, added to the supplies of the decennial Census improved as that may be, will form a treasure of incalculable value to the Philosopher, the Lawgiver and the Political Economist. Our history short as it is, has already disclosed great errors sanctioned by great names in political Science, and it may be expected to throw new lights on problems, still to be decided.

The "Note" at the end of the Discourse, in which the geographical relations of the States are delineated, merits particular attention. Hitherto party observers, and unfriendly prophets, have regarded the Union as too frail to last, and to be split at no distant day into the two great divisions of East and West. It is gratifying to find that the ties of interest are now felt by the latter not less than the former; ties that are daily strengthened by the improvements made by art in the facilities of beneficial intercourse. The positive advantages of the Union would alone endear it to those embraced by it; but it ought to be still more endeared by the consequences of disunion—in the jealousies & collisions of Commerce—in the border wars, pregnant with others, and soon to be engendered by animosities between the slaveholding, and other States—in the higher toned Govts. especially in the Executive branch—in the military establishments provided agst. external danger, but convertible also into instruments of domestic usurpation, in the augmentations of expence, and the abridgement, almost to exclusion of taxes on consumption (the least unacceptable to the people) by the facility of smuggling among communities locally related as would be the case. Add to all these the prospect of entangling alliances with foreign powers multiplying the evils of internal origin. But I am rambling into observations, with proof in the "Discourse" before me that however just they cannot be heeded.

With the thanks Sir which I owe to your politeness in favoring me with it I tender my respectful & cordial salutations,


Draft (DLC).

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