James Madison Papers

James Madison to James Maury, 5 April 1828

Montpr. Apl. 5. 1828

Dr Sir

Your favor of Jany 29-30. with the interesting Gazettes then & afterwards kindly sent, have been duly recd. Your friend Mr Hagarty has not yet afforded me an opportunity for the welcome I shall feel a pleasure in giving him, over my threshold.

Your advice to the Tobacco Planters is very good but it will not be followed for 3 reasons: 1. because good advice it apt to be disregarded. 2. because it is difficult to find a substitute. 3. because the fitness of western climates for that article and the fall in the price of Cotton would defeat the plan of a Stint cultivation in Virginia. The present hope of relief from the bad market for our agricultural products, seems to be founded on attempts at manufactories, for which several charters of incorporation are already granted by the General assembly. The idea is perhaps sound eno’ that slave labor is well adapted to them, and the material of Cotton is particularly convenient The want of capital & managing habits, are the great obstacles. Should these requisites be tempted hither from the Northern States, the experiment is not unpromising. It is much stimulated by the actual state of the market for the 2 Staples of Flour & Tobo wch. are very low: the former crop also short, & the quality of the latter inferior, unless G. B. should favor these articles more than is probable we must be driven to a change of some sort that will have the effect of reducing our imports from her, within our means to pay for them. It is to be regretted that 2 nations having such a mutual interest in fostering liberal intercourse should have it thwarted by a narrow policy on either side. It is in some respects lucky for G. B. that her commercial rivals imitate rather than take advantage of her restrictive laws. I observe that the silk manufactures are a favorite & a successful branch at present, & next in amount to the Cotton. What would be the effect, if France & the other competitors were to say to the U. S., favor our Silk fabrics in your market by reducing the duty on them below that on the Silks of our Rival, and we will give an Equivalent encouragement to your great staples in our Markets. There is probably no regulation countervailing the British laws, that would excite so little objection in the U. S.; Silks being an article of luxury, & fashion, & the use of them not materially different in the several States. The existing Treaty with G. B. may create a difficulty in such a discrimination, but it provides for its own repeal on a years previous notice, by either party. I wish rather than expect that the New administration in England would fully meet the friendly & reciprocal policy of the U. S. and give an earnest of it by putting an end to the Colonial question. If they chuse to prohibit all foreign trade to their colonies according to the monopolizing code, of nations having Colonies, they have a right to do so and we none to complain. But if departing themselves from that code, they open colonial ports for foreign trade, the rule of reciprocity, is as applicable to the navigation in that case, as in the case of ports elsewhere. And the fact seems, not to have been sufficiently noticed that the British Govt. is the only one that has ever attempted to monopolize the navigation when permitted at all, between her Colonies & foreign ports. It has not been unusual for France & Spain to open their Colonial ports for supplies from the U. S. but in all such cases the navigation was reciprocally free.

Your letter of Feby. 24. 1827. referring to remarks in the Liverpool Mercury came to hand in due time, and it was my intention to have answered it; but unluckily the Newspapers were taken away & not recovered. You were very safe, I have no doubt, in the ground you took in vindication of Virg as to the Slave trade.

I do not touch on our political agitations. The Presidential Canvas, & the Tariff policy, the two chief causes of them find their way to you thro’ newspapers, which I take for granted you have abundant opportunities of looking into.

I am sorry I can not give you a satisfactory account of the prospects for the Monticello family. The examples of S. Carolina & Louisiana have been followed by no other States, not even by Virga. The scheme of a lottery fell thro’ entirely. The personal Estate excepting a few articles of ornamental furniture [was sold] better than was expected; leaving however a balance of debts, which a sale of the landed, at this time wd probably not meet. It is proposed to publish at an early day, 3 or 4 vols. of Mr. Jefferson’s manuscripts, which may prove a considerable resource, if circumstances shd. do justice to their intrinsic value.

I congratulate you on the vigour of your health at the advanced age you hail from. But if you select a precedent for your longevity, I recommend, instead of Mr. Carroll’s that of your old friend my mother, now in her ninetyseventh year, which allows you therefore a certainty of 15 years to come, with a promise of still more; her health at present being quite good. She always receives with pleasure, & directs a return of your kind recollections. With that accept every wish for your happiness from Mrs. Madison and myself.


Draft (DLC).

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