James Madison Papers
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From James Madison to the House of Representatives, 27 March 1810

To the House of Representatives

March 27th 1810

In consequence of your Resolution of the 26th instant,1 an enquiry has been made into the correspondence of our Minister at the Court of London with the Department of State; from which it appears that no official communication has been received from him, since his receipt of the letter of November 23d last, from the Secretary of State. A letter of Jany. 4th 1810,2 has been received from that Minister by Mr. Smith; but being stated to be private and unofficial, and involving moreover personal considerations of a delicate nature, a copy is considered as not within the purview of the call made by the House.

James Madison

RC (DNA: RG 233, President’s Messages). In a clerk’s hand, signed by JM. Received on 27 Mar., read and tabled on 28 Mar.

1On 26 Mar. Federalist Edward Livermore (New York) proposed a resolution requesting the president to send to the House any letters or dispatches written by William Pinkney in London since Pinkney’s receipt of Secretary of State Robert Smith’s 23 Nov. 1809 letter justifying the dismissal of Francis James Jackson from Washington. Livermore declared that his purpose was to ascertain whether the British government had disapproved of Jackson’s conduct and whether it would send a new minister to the U.S. After some debate, the House passed the resolution by 109 to 14, and Livermore and Erastus Root (New York) were appointed to wait on the president (Annals of Congress description begins Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States ... (42 vols.; Washington, 1834-56). description ends , 11th Cong., 2d sess., 1622–25).

2Pinkney’s private letter to Robert Smith of 4 Jan. 1810 has not been found, but on 12 Mar. the National Intelligencer mentioned that its contents had “explicitly” stated that “the British minister [Lord Wellesley] did not attempt to vindicate Mr. Jackson; on the contrary, he admitted that he was in the wrong, that he must return, and that a successor would be sent out to the United States.” Upon receiving the letter, Robert Smith drafted a note of acknowledgment. Mentioning that he was “really anxious that the U. S. should avoid the vortex of the present war,” Smith declared his “peculiar pleasure” in learning that the “Marquis Wellesley had so cordially conferred with you and especially that he had not vindicated Mr. Jackson. This very agreeable intelligence contained in your letter, came most seasonably. It was of course mentioned in conversation by the President & myself to some of our friends (Members of Congress). They communicated it to others and, as you will perceive, it has found its way to the press in various forms. It, however, had administered great & general consolation inasmuch as it has been considered an indication of a disposition on the part of the Br. Govt. to accommodate amicably the existing points of difference between the two countries. And we are at this moment indulging the pleasing expectation of receiving from you the result of your conferences with Lord Wellesley. An arrangement formal or informal be assured will be highly acceptable” (Bernard C. Steiner, ed., “Some Papers of Robert Smith, Secretary of the Navy 1801–1809 and of State 1809–1811,” Md. Historical Magazine, 20 [1925]: 145).

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