James Madison Papers
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From James Madison to James Monroe, 13 August 1823

To James Monroe

Montpellier Aug. 13. 1823

Dr. Sir

I have recd. your favor of the 1inclosing papers from the war office.2 The path I am endeavouring to trace is so dark & tortuous and the official lights left by the Ex-functionary behind him so scanty, that I find it difficult to do justice to the subject. It may be of some use perhaps to understand precisely in what cases usage may have sanctioned “letters of appointment,” instead of regular Commissions, and whether it has extended to the higher, as well as inferior grades of office, and without distinction between Brevet appts. & those in the line. If your own recollection can decide, it may be as well not to call on the Dept. for the information.

Do you recollect the amount of the votes in the Senate agst. the appt. of Armstrong to the war Dept?3

You did not answer my enquiry whether & when you take another trip to Albemarle. It would aid your health, which I am sorry to learn has been interrupted tho’ but slightly. When you have fixed the time let me know.4 Respectfully & affecty.

James Madison

RC (DLC: Monroe Papers); draft (DLC). RC docketed by Monroe. Minor differences between the copies have not been noted.

1Left blank in RC; in the draft the blank follows “Aug.” For the conjectural date of the letter, see Monroe to JM, ca. 9 Aug. 1823.

2The enclosures, filed at 1 Aug. 1823 (DLC), corresponding to JM’s reference, are three documents from the War Department: (1) “It appears from the records in this office that Andrew Jackson was appointed a Major General on the 1s: May 1814. accepted on the 20. June 1814. Confirmed by the Senate on the 12. November 1814. The Commission of Major General was dated 18: December 1814. to rank from 1s: May 1814. & sent to him at New Orleans on the 24: December 1814. E. Kirby A. D. Camp Adj: G’l. office 1: August 1823” (1 p.; in a clerk’s hand, signed by Kirby); (2) “Extract of a General order dated Adj: Genl. office Nashville June 15. 1814. & signed Robert Butler Adj: Gl: ‘General Andrew Jackson announces to the troops of the 7: military District, his appointment of Brigr: & Brevet Major General in the service of the United States, & pursuant to instructions from the War Department, assumes the command of said district.’” (1 p.; in a clerk’s hand, signed: “A true Extract from the original on file in this office Adjt. Genls. office Washington Augt. 1st. 1823 E. Kirby A.D. Camp”); and (3) “After a careful examination, there appears no evidence, that a letter of appointment was enclosed to Genl. Jackson in the letter of the Secretary of war to him of the 28th. of May, 1814. If any, there is not, it is believed, any copy, or record of it in the Department. The only commission of Major General sent to him of which there is any knowledge, was dated 18th. Decr., 1814, to rank from 1st. May, 1814, as appears from the accompanying information from the Adj.t. General’s office. Department of War 1 Aug.st 1823.” (1 p.; in a clerk’s hand).

3In the draft this paragraph has been omitted; in its place JM wrote then canceled: “I sd. like to know how far letters instr⟨uc⟩tions & endorsed remarks from me to the ex. Scy. wer⟨e⟩ left by him in the Dept. or retained by him. Instead of a full search occasioning trouble, and involving perhaps declicacy [sic], I shall be content for the Presidnt. to know whether an animadverting paper dated abt Aug. 7 be in the Dept; provided it can be ascertained in a confidential way.”

4In the draft JM added, then canceled, another paragraph here: “I do not expect much from your project of bringing Engd. to a proper code of neutral rights. She ought to regard our consistency now as entitled to every prac⟨tice?⟩ being manifest that the time is not distant when we might feel the temptation of ⟨maritime?⟩ power to adopt her maxims. As She h⟨as⟩ opened her eyes to the change of policy required by the change of commercial circumstances, she may perhaps be equally sagacious in abandoning her belligerant policy.”

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