James Madison Papers
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To James Madison from Tench Coxe, [ca. 12 September 1814]

From Tench Coxe

[ca. 12 September 1814]

The inclosed view of the British population is most respectfully submitted, at this crisis.1 Physical strength, except as to recruits to serve in the Atlantic, tho less than among the whites is a fair item, in relation to estimates of the value of even the E. Indian population. Seapoys, sailors, cutters of ship timber &ca are commonly derived from that country. But if we consider all the growers of colonial produce in all the South American & west India Colonies of Spain, Britain, France &ca. at 15 or 20 millions, the British E. I. population can produce more, by a vast overproportion, than the whole. The revenue, plunder, exactions, private fair profits &c &ca. derived from 60 millions of subjected people, thro various channels, to Great Britain enable her to obtain subscriptions, loans, taxes, purchasers of stocks, new buildings & improvements &c &c. in Europe, the aggregate value of which is immense. It appears to me (with perfect deference) that this view, excluding the popular ⟨ext⟩ourings, is a fair & prudent matter of guarded suggestion to every foreign Government in Europe, which is concerned in the balance of maritime power.

This population of India explains the steady labours of the enemies of our freedom to extinguish the Slave trade on the Atlantic, in the ardor for which they have violated the independence of France—and interfered with the notions of interest of various gover⟨n⟩ments of Europe.

The most immediate interest to us, in this exhibition of the number & location of the British population is its character as a fountain of various public resources in this crisis.

RC and enclosures (DLC). RC unsigned; undated; postmarked at Philadelphia “12 Se.” JM docketed the handwritten enclosure: “Coxe Tench Brit: Ind: possessions Augst. 1814” and the cover sheet: “Aug. 1814.” Writer identified as Coxe based on his known hand and JM’s docket. Dated September 1814 in the Index to the James Madison Papers; conjectural date assigned here based on the postmark. For enclosures, see n. 1.

1The enclosed clipping from the Philadelphia Democratic Press, 16 Aug. 1814, was an anonymously published précis of the British population, entitled “A Picture of the British Nation.” The writer, who was probably Coxe, asserted that of a total of 76,635,000 inhabitants of the British dominions, only 15,000 were “free persons, royal, aristocratical or having effectual votes for the members of the house of commons.” The remaining 76,626,000 consisted of 60,520,000 “black and colored persons, none free,” 60,000,000 of whom were East Indians; and 16,100,000 whites in the British Isles and Great Britain’s Canadian and West Indian colonies, who either “elect[ed] the minority of the commons” or had no parliamentary representation whatsoever. Regarding the first group, the writer noted that “these 15,000 men now endeavor to reduce the people of the United States to regulations of trade and impressments, as base and abject as the government of the boroughs, to which the counties of Britain and Ireland bow down.” Coxe also enclosed an essay (4 pp.), written in his hand and evidently intended to cover the above-described précis. Headed “British India population & ca.,” it argued that British leaders intended to use an “Asiatic continental System” to maintain and increase their nation’s economic and military dominance, suggested that they would pursue this goal at the Congress of Vienna, and emphasized the hypocrisy and self-serving nature of their antislavery campaign.

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