Thomas Jefferson Papers
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To Thomas Jefferson from James Madison, 18 April 1796

From James Madison

Philada. Apl. 18. 1796

Dear Sir

My last requested your orders relating to Dohrman’s payment to Me for Mazzei; and I impatiently wait for them.

Resolutions have passed for carrying into effect, the Spanish, Indian and Algerine Treaties. The British is now depending. I inclose the proposition in which the opponents of it, will unite. According to present calculation, this proposition will be carryed by nearly the same majority as prevailed in the vote asserting the Rights of the House on the subject of Treaties. The debate is but just commenced. Those who at first were for a silent question, will probably now spin out time for the purpose of calling in the mercantile interference in behalf. You will see the expedient on foot in this City. The petition of the Merchants &c. will be signed by 7 or 800 as is said. An adverse petition will be signed by 3 or 4 times that number. In N.Y. and Boston it is hoped the counter petitioners will equally preponderate. Baltimore which was at first most opposed to the Treaty is become most generally reconciled to the execution. The hope of endimnification for past losses, and the fears for their floating speculations, which have been arranged on the idea that the Treaty would go into effect, bear down with that class all attention to the general and permanent good of the Country, and perhaps their own real and comprehensive interest. The Country also is under an operation for obtaining petitions for the Treaty. The Western Counties, have yielded a number; being dextrously alarmed for the Spanish Treaty as involved in the fate of the British. I expected to have sent you my observations on the Presidents Message, which the Printer told me should certainly be out this morning. He thought Mr. Iredell’s charge and the eccho of the G. Jurey, entitled to priority.

RC (DLC: Madison Papers); unsigned; endorsed by TJ as received 30 Apr. 1796 and so recorded in SJL. Enclosure: Mr. Maclay’s Motion. 14th April 1796, Referred to a Committee of the whole House, on the state of the union (Philadelphia, 1796), being a motion made in the House of Representatives by Samuel Maclay of Pennsylvania declaring that, with the information the House possessed, it was not “expedient at this time to concur in passing the laws necessary for carrying the said Treaty into effect” (see Evans, description begins Charles Evans, Clifford K. Shipton, and Roger P. Bristol, comps., American Bibliography: A Chronological Dictionary of all Books, Pamphlets and Periodical Publications Printed in the United States of America from … 1639 … to … 1820, Chicago and Worcester, Mass., 1903–59, 14 vols. description ends No. 31361).

On 14 and 15 Apr. 1796, the House of Representatives passed resolutions for executing the spanish, indian and algerine treaties and began considering appropriations for the British treaty, as provided in the resolution introduced by Connecticut Congressman James Hillhouse (JHR description begins Journal of the House of Representatives of the United States, Washington, D.C., 1826, 9 vols. description ends , ii, 511–14; Annals description begins Annals of the Congress of the United States: The Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States … Compiled from Authentic Materials Washington, D.C., Gales & Seaton, 1834–56, 42 vols. All editions are undependable and pagination varies from one printing to another. The first two volumes of the set cited here have “Compiled … by Joseph Gales, Senior” on the title page and bear the caption “Gales & Seatons History” on verso and “of Debates in Congress” on recto pages. The remaining volumes bear the caption “History of Congress” on both recto and verso pages. Those using the first two volumes with the latter caption will need to employ the date of the debate or the indexes of debates and speakers. description ends , v, 951–76). Descriptions of the campaign of treaty advocates in April 1796 are included in Combs, Jay Treaty description begins Jerald A. Combs, The Jay Treaty, Berkeley, 1970 description ends , 178–87; Young, Democratic Republicans of New York, 464–5; and Kurtz, Presidency of John Adams description begins Stephen G. Kurtz, The Presidency of John Adams: The Collapse of Federalism, 1795–1800, Philadelphia, 1957 description ends , 51–67. The prediction of some Federalist senators that failure to appropriate funds to execute the Jay Treaty would lead to a dissolution of the government is recalled in Notes on a Conversation with Henry Tazewell, [1 Mch. 1798].

Madison’s observations on Washington’s refusal to submit documents relating to the Jay Treaty, given in his speech before the House on 6 Apr. 1796, were printed in Andrew Brown’s Philadelphia Gazette on 19 Apr. 1796, the same day Justice James Iredell’s charge to the Philadelphia grand jury of the United States Circuit Court of 12 Apr. 1796 and the grand jury’s response of the same date were published in a supplement to Brown’s newspaper. Iredell referred briefly to “the present momentous crisis” but declined to comment upon it. The grand jury declared that a great majority of the people in the Pennsylvania district wanted the British treaty to be carried into effect without delay and hoped that “no impediment may be thrown in its way by our representatives.”

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