James Madison Papers
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To James Madison from Thomas Jefferson, 31 December 1811

From Thomas Jefferson

Monticello Dec. 31. 11

Dear Sir

It is long since I have had occasion to address a line to you, and the present is an irksome one. With all the discouragements I can oppose to those who wish to make me the channel of their wishes for office, some will force themselves on me. I inclose you the letters of several merely to be placed on the file of candidates & to stand on their own ground, for I do not know one of them personally. Gerna indeed, the recommender of Arata, I once saw at Paris. He was a bookseller from Dublin, and I got him to send me some books from thence, & that is all I know of him.1 Le Compte despinville I never saw nor heard of before; nor have I ever seen de Neufville his recommender; but he brot. me a letter of introduction from the Countess d’Houdeton, an old lady from whom I recieved many civilities & much hospitality while in France. She was the intimate friend of Dr. Franklin, and I should feel myself obliged to render any civilities or personal services in my power to one of her recommendation. De la Croix I never saw. But he is a very able military man as far as I can judge from many excellent pamphlets & essays in the newspapers written by him, and Genl. Dearborne thought him a valuable man.2 I write to him & to de Neufville that they must send certificates of character to the Secretary at war, and I pray you to consider me only as the postrider bearing their letters to you.

The prospect of the death of George III. still keeps up a hope of avoiding war. We have had a bad fall for our wheat. I never saw it look worse. We have had but ¾ I. of rain in the last 8. weeks. Your message had all the qualities it should possess, firm, rational and dignified, and the report of the Commee. of foreign relations was excellent.3 They carry conviction to every mind. Heaven help you through all your difficulties.

Th: Jefferson

RC (DLC); FC (DLC: Jefferson Papers). RC docketed by JM. For surviving enclosures, see n. 1.

1Anthony Gerna’s 10 June 1811 letter to Jefferson was accompanied by an undated, unaddressed letter by Teophane Arata seeking a consular appointment at Civitavecchia. Gerna endorsed the request (DNA: RG 59, LAR, 1809–17, filed under “Gerna”; both letters docketed by Jefferson as received 22 Dec. 1811).

2Irenée Amelot de Lacroix had written at least three letters to Jefferson between 29 Sept. 1807 and 12 Mar. 1808 seeking a military appointment (DLC: Jefferson Papers).

3Peter B. Porter had presented the report of the House select committee on foreign relations on 29 Nov. 1811. The report reinforced JM’s 5 Nov. message to Congress in making the case for war against Great Britain and concluded with six resolutions. These called for filling up the ranks in the existing military establishments; creating an additional force of 10,000 regular troops; organizing volunteer forces up to 50,000 in number, to be placed at the disposition of the president; authorizing the president to call out militia detachments; repairing naval vessels; and arming merchantmen (see Annals of Congress description begins Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States … (42 vols.; Washington, 1834–56). description ends , 12th Cong., 1st sess., 373–77).

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