James Madison Papers
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To James Madison from Albert Gallatin, 5 January 1811

From Albert Gallatin

Saturday 5 Jany. 1811

Dear Sir

At request of Mr Astor, I beg to be informed whether his son in law Mr Bentson can be permitted to have a passage on board the public vessel which is to take Mr Erving to Europe. I told Mr B. that I would try to ascertain the fact before Monday. I have thrown some notes on the back of Mr Astor’s letter;1 be pleased to return his English passport.

Mr Astor sent me a verbal message that in case of non renewal of the charter of the Bank U. S., all his funds & those of his friends to the amount of two millions of dollars would be at the command of Government, either in importing specie, circulating any Governt. paper, or in any other way best calculated to prevent any injury arising from the dissolution of the Bank. Mr Bentson told me that in this instance profit was not his object, and that he would go great lengths, partly from pride & partly from wish to see the Bank down. As there will be no time to be lost, I think that I had better open a correspondence with him on the Subject.

My cold has prevented my calling on you on both subjects. Respectfully Your obt. Servt.

Albert Gallatin

RC (DLC). Docketed by JM.

1Gallatin evidently enclosed a letter he had received from John Jacob Astor, dated 27 Dec. 1810 (Papers of Gallatin [microfilm ed.], reel 22), in which Astor had requested a passage on the John Adams for his son-in-law, Adrian Benjamin Bentzon. Bentzon was bound for Russia on business for Astor’s American Fur Company, but Astor believed that his son-in-law, who was a Danish national, could also provide George W. Erving with useful information for his mission to Denmark (see Gallatin to JM, 5 Sept. 1810, JM to Gallatin, 12 Sept. 1810, PJM-PS description begins Robert A. Rutland et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison: Presidential Series (3 vols. to date; Charlottesville, Va., 1984—). description ends , 2:526, 527 n. 1, 536 and n. 2). On the cover of Astor’s letter, Gallatin summarized his request and raised the following questions: “Is it proper at all to grant this? Is it eligible that he should go; the object of his voyage being Russia on Mr Astor’s business? Will the granting a passage be as a piece of civility to a Danish officer or of any use to Erving? If he goes, will it be better to apprize Mr Adams of his views. If we do not want him to go, I think that Astor will abstain from sending him.” JM’s response has not been recorded, but Bentzon not only obtained a passage on the John Adams but also deprived Erving of the only spare cabin on the vessel (Astor to Gallatin, 17 Jan. 1811, Papers of Gallatin [microfilm ed.], reel 22; James Ronda, Astoria and Empire [Lincoln, Nebr., 1990], pp. 76–81).

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