James Madison Papers
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From James Madison to Richard Rush, 20 [ca. 26] August 1815

To Richard Rush

Montpelier Aug. 20. [ca. 26]1 1815

Dear Sir

I return the Ed: Review with my thanks for the opportunity of perusing the chapter on France, which has all the interest which you attach to it: notwithstanding the occurrences subsequent to its date.2 On casting an eye over the Chapter on corn laws, I was surprized to see so acute & learned a Critic puzzled in a case which appeared so plain & familiar. I have noted it in the margin of page 503: and with a pencil only that it may be removed before the return of the Vol: to the owner.3

Mr. Crawford left me this morning on his way to his family. Mr. Monroe has not returned from the Mineral Springs to which a visit was recommended by the tardy return of vigorous health.

I have this moment recd. in the Newspapers, the termination of the short & bloody struggle in France.4 The same comments probably occur to all of us. Affece. respects

James Madison

RC (MWiW-C). Docketed by Rush.

1It seems unlikely that JM actually wrote this and the following letter to Rush in their entirety on 20 Aug. 1815, the date he gave them. Foremost among the discrepancies supporting this conclusion is that William Harris Crawford, whose departure from Montpelier JM mentions here, did not leave Washington for the president’s Orange County estate until 22 Aug. 1815 (Daily National Intelligencer, 25 Aug. 1815; see also George Graham to JM, 22 Aug. 1815). For additional details suggesting that JM wrote or concluded the letters up to six days later, see n. 4 below, and JM to Rush, ca. 26 Aug. 1815 (second letter), n. and n. 7.

2See Rush to JM, 12 Aug. 1815, and n. 1.

3JM referred to article thirteen of the forty-eighth number of the Edinburgh Review, which took up Thomas R. Malthus’s Observations on the Effects of the Corn Laws, and of a Rise or Fall in the Price of Corn on the Agriculture and General Wealth of the Country and Grounds of an Opinion on the Policy of Restricting the Importation of Foreign Corn; Intended as an Appendix to “Observations on the Corn Laws.” In the passage indicated by JM, the reviewer challenged “the connexion supposed to subsist between the money price of corn and the wages of labour.” Workers’ pay should not necessarily rise in proportion to price increases when supplies of basic commodities like grain diminished, the reviewer argued, because general consumption must necessarily decline with scarcity. Assuming that the privations of a short supply must be borne proportionately by all segments of society, he commented that price increases served “the purpose of putting the labourer on shorter allowance” and that “no rise of wages will enable him to consume the same quantity of a scarcer commodity.” The reviewer would be happy, he wrote, to receive “an explanation of the difficulty here stated” from anyone who disagreed with his conclusions (Edinburgh Review 24 [1815]: 491, 502–3).

4JM probably referred to reports of Louis XVIII’s 8 July 1815 return to Paris, which first appeared in the New York Evening Post on 22 Aug. and in the Daily National Intelligencer on 26 Aug. 1815.

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