James Madison Papers
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To James Madison from Tobias Lear, 17 July 1814

From Tobias Lear

Plattsburg, July 17t: 1814.

Dear Sir,

On my reaching this place at noon, I had the honor to meet your kind and friendly letter of the 9t instant; and feel highly gratified with the new mark of confidence which you shew, in the offer of the place of accountant of the War Department. But as I do not consider myself as competent to that place, for the want of sufficient practical knowledge of accounts, I must beg leave to decline the friendly offer contained in your letter; altho’ I feel the attention not less than if I could have profited by it.

I have written to the Secretary of state, and enclosed the modification of the Convention, as ex[e]cuted between the B. Commissioners and myself on the exchange of prisoners &c.1

I pray you will have the goodness to excuse this scrawl, as I have scarcely slept for 30 hours, and the express which carries the letter to the Secretary, to Albany, is now ready.

Please to accept the sincere assurances of my highest respect & attachment.

Tobias Lear.

RC (DLC). Docketed by JM.

1Lear to James Monroe, 17 July 1814, DNA: RG 45, Subject File RE, box 592, Correspondence Relating to Exchange and Release of Prisoners, American and British. Lear had been deputed to seek revisions to the terms of the prisoner exchange convention concluded by Brig. Gen. William H. Winder on 15 Apr. 1814 (for the convention and the roots of the retaliation controversy it was meant to resolve, see JM to John Armstrong, 15 Nov. 1813, and Monroe to JM, 30 Apr. 1814, PJM-PS, description begins Robert A. Rutland et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison: Presidential Series (8 vols. to date; Charlottesville, Va., 1984–). description ends 7:34, 35 n. 2, 443–45 and n. 1). The modified agreement, which Lear signed on 16 July 1814, released the twenty-three hostages still held by the United States and the forty-six held by the British in retaliation; JM’s administration agreed to these terms because reports had been received in the meantime suggesting that the original twenty-three American prisoners taken to England would not be tried for treason (Robinson, “Retaliation for the Treatment of Prisoners in the War of 1812,” American Historical Review 49 [1943]: 69).

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