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Thomas Jefferson to James Madison, 26 November 1809

To James Madison

Monticello Nov. 26. 09.

Dear Sir

Your letter of the 6th was recieved from our post office on the 24th after my return from Bedford. I now re-inclose the letters of Mr Short & Romanzoff, and with them a letter from Armstrong for your perusal, as there may be some matters in it not otherwise communicated. the infatuation of the British government & nation is beyond every thing immaginable. a thousand circumstances announce that they are on the point of being blown up, & they still proceed with the same madness & increased wickedness. with respect to Jackson I hear of but one sentiment, except that some think he should have been sent off. the more moderate step was certainly more advisable. there seems to be a perfect acquiescence in the opinion of the Government respecting Onis. the public interest certainly made his rejection expedient; and as that is a motive which it is not pleasant always to avow, I think it fortunate that the contending claims of Charles & Ferdinand furnished such plausible embarrasment to the question of right: for, on our principles, I presume, the right of the Junta to send a minister could not be denied.  La Fayette, in a letter to me expresses great anxiety to recieve his formal titles to the lands in Louisiana. indeed I know not why the proper officers have not sooner sent on the papers on which the grants might issue. it will be in your power to forward the grants or copies of them by some safe conveyance, as La Fayette says that no negociation can be effected without them.

I inclose you a letter from Majr Neely, Chickasaw agent, stating that he is in possession of 2. trunks of the unfortunate Governor Lewis, containing public vouchers, the manuscripts of his Western journey, & probably some private papers. as he desired they should be sent to the president, as the public vouchers render it interesting to the public that they should be safely recieved, and they would probably come most safely if addressed to you, would it not be advisable that Major Neely should recieve an order on your part to forward them to Washington addressed to you, by the stage, & if possible under the care of some person coming on? when at Washington, I presume, the papers may be opened & distributed, that is to say, the Vouchers to the proper offices where they are cognisable; the manuscript voyage Etc to Genl Clarke who is interested in it, and is believed to be now on his way to Washington; and his private papers if any1 to his administrator, who is John Marks, his half brother. it is impossible you should have time to examine & distribute them; but if mr Coles could find time to do it the family would have entire confidence in his distribution. the other two trunks which are in the care of Capt Russel at the Chickasaw bluffs, & which Pernier ( Govr Lewis’s servt) says contain his private property, I write to Capt Russel, at the request of mr Marks, to forward to mr Brown at N. Orleans to be sent on to Richmond under my address. Pernier says that Governor Lewis owes him 240.D. for his wages. he has received2 money from Neely to bring him on here, & I furnish him to Washington, where he will arrive pennyless, and will ask for some money to be placed to the Governor’s account. he rides a horse of the Governor’s, which with the approbation of the Administrator I tell him to dispose of & give credit for the amount in his account against the Governor. he is the bearer of this letter and of my assurances of constant & affectionate esteem & respect3

Th: Jefferson

RC (DLC: Madison Papers). PoC (DLC); at foot of first page: “the Presidt of the US.” Enclosures: (1) John Armstrong to TJ, 19 Sept. 1809. (2) James Neelly to TJ, 18 Oct. 1809. (3) Madison to TJ, 6 Nov. 1809, enclosures one and three.

Francis James jackson presented his credentials as British minister plenipotentiary to the United States on 3 Oct. 1809. After several unproductive conversations, Secretary of State Robert Smith, at Madison’s behest, required that all future exchanges between the two men be made in writing. Following this change of procedure, Jackson wrote that both Smith and Madison had always known that British minister David Erskine had exceeded his instructions, an assertion that led the administration to cut off all contact with Jackson and request his recall in November 1809. Jackson made matters worse by issuing an exculpatory circular that found its way into a number of Federalist newspapers. Congressional and public outrage rose even higher with the publication of the entire Smith-Jackson correspondence soon thereafter. Jackson left Washington in November and, after touring New York and Canada, departed for home in September 1810 (Madison, Papers description begins William T. Hutchinson, Robert A. Rutland, John C. A. Stagg, and others, eds., The Papers of James Madison, 1962– , 29 vols.: Congress. Ser., 17 vols.; Pres. Ser., 5 vols.; Sec. of State Ser., 7 vols description ends , Pres. Ser., 2:3, 8–11, 22, 52, 65, 94–5n, 606n).

In 1808 Napoleon forced King Charles IV and his eldest son ferdinand to abdicate the Spanish throne in favor of his brother Joseph Bonaparte. The Supreme junta was created in Madrid in September 1808 to organize resistance to Bonapartist rule and bring about the restoration of Ferdinand VII, whom it crowned in absentia (Chandler, Campaigns of Napoleon description begins David G. Chandler, The Campaigns of Napoleon, 1966 description ends , 611; Connelly, Napoleonic France description begins Owen Connelly and others, eds., Historical Dictionary of Napoleonic France, 1985 description ends , 106–7, 175–6).

TJ’s request that Gilbert C. Russell forward the other two trunks to William Brown, collector at New Orleans, is not recorded in SJL and has not been found. On this day TJ gave John pernier $10 for travel expenses to Washington (MB description begins James A. Bear Jr. and Lucia C. Stanton, eds., Jefferson’s Memorandum Books: Accounts, with Legal Records and Miscellany, 1767–1826, 1997, The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, Second Series description ends , 2:1250).

1Preceding two words interlined.

2Manuscript: “recived.”

3Preceding two words omitted in PoC.

Index Entries

  • Bonaparte, Joseph, king of Spain search
  • Brown, William; collector at New Orleans search
  • Charles IV, king of Spain; royal claims of search
  • Clark (Clarke), William; and journals of Lewis and Clark Expedition search
  • Coles, Isaac A.; and M. Lewis’s papers search
  • Erskine, David M.; agreement with U.S. search
  • Ferdinand VII, king of Spain; royal claims of search
  • Jackson, Francis James; recall of search
  • Lafayette, Marie Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert du Motier, marquis de; land of, in La. search
  • Lewis, Meriwether; and J. Neelly search
  • Lewis, Meriwether; J. Pernier’s claim against estate of search
  • Lewis, Meriwether; Lewis and Clark Expedition search
  • Lewis, Meriwether; papers of search
  • Lewis, Meriwether; personal belongings of search
  • Lewis and Clark Expedition; journals of search
  • Madison, James; and foreign affairs search
  • Madison, James; and W. Short search
  • Madison, James; letters to search
  • Madison, James; M. Lewis’s papers sent to search
  • Marks, John search
  • Neelly, James; and M. Lewis’s effects search
  • New Orleans; collector at search
  • Onís y González Vara López y Gómez, Luis de; minister plenipotentiary of Spain search
  • Pernier (Purney), John; account with M. Lewis search
  • Pernier (Purney), John; travel expenses paid search
  • Poplar Forest (TJ’s Bedford Co. estate); TJ returns from search
  • Romanzoff, Nicolas de; Russian foreign minister search
  • Russell, Gilbert Christian; and M. Lewis’s belongings search
  • Russell, Gilbert Christian; letters to accounted for search
  • Short, William; and J. Madison search
  • Smith, Robert; and F. J. Jackson search
  • Spain; Supreme Junta search
  • United States; and Great Britain search