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I have been induced to this delay in acknowledging your letter of the 23d, inclosing one to you from Mr. Belknap of the 2d. Ulto. by a desire to obtain from my memory all the information it might have ever possessed in relation to the error in Docr. Kippis’ life of Capt: Cook. I was not a member of Congress till March 1780. It is probable therefore that, if his directions to American...
I was too much indisposed for some time after the receipt of your favor of the 12 Octr. to comply with the request in it, and since my arrival here and recovery I have till now been without a conveyance to the post office. The supplemental funds which at present occur to me as on the whole most eligible are 1. an excise on home distilleries. If the tax can be regulated by the size of the Still...
The bearer will deliver two of your books which have been some time in my hands. I add to them a pamphlet recd. not long since from France. I can not recommend it because I have not read it. The subject tho’ a hackneyed is an interesting one, and the titles of some of the chapters promising. You will soon discover how far it may be worth your perusal. The inclosed letter to Genl. Schuyler...
It was my purpose to have dropped you a few lines from Philada but I was too much indisposed during my detention there to avail myself of that pleasure. Since my arrival here I have till now been without a fit conveyance to the post office. You will recollect the contents of a letter shewn you from Mr Innis to Mr Brown. Whilst I was in Philada I was informed by the latter who was detained...
Since my last I have been furnished with the inclosed copy of the letter from the Senators of this State to its Legislature. It is well calculated to keep alive the disaffection to the Government, and is accordingly applied to that use by the violent partizans. I understand the letter was written by the first subscriber of it, as indeed is pretty evident from the stile and strain of it. The...
After being detained 8 or 10 days beyond the intended commencement of my Journey, by the critical illness of my mother, I am now subjected to a further delay by an attack on my own health. A slight complaint in my bowels which I first felt on the day of my arrival here (friday last) very suddenly took the form of a pretty severe dysentery. With the aid of Doctr Stuart who has been good eno’ to...
“The act for establishing the temporary and permanent seats of the Government of the U. States” requires the following steps for carrying the latter into effect. 1. The appointment of three Commissioners of sufficient respectability having good will to the general object without any particular bias of private interest residing (a majority at least) so conveniently to the scene of business as...
Copy of a paper made out & sent to the President at his request, to be ready in case his judgment should finally decide agst the Bill for incorporating a National Bank, the Bill being there before him. Gentlemen of the Senate Having carefully examined and maturely considered the Bill entitled, “An Act I am compelled by the conviction of my judgment and the duty of my Station to return the Bill...
Substance of a Conversation with the President In consequence of a note this morning from the President requesting me to call on him I did so; when he opened the conversation by observing that having some time ago communicated to me his intention of retiring from public life on the expiration of his four years, he wished to advise with me on the mode and time most proper for making known that...
Having been left to myself, for some days past, I have made use of the opportunity for bestowing on your letter of the 20th Ult: handed to me on the road, the attention which its important contents claimed. The questions which it presents for consideration are 1. at what time a notification of your purpose to retire will be most convenient. 2 what mode will be most eligible. 3 whether a...
The period which will close the appointment with which my fellow citizens have honoured me, being not very distant, and the time actually arrived, at which their thoughts must be designating the citizen who is to administer the Executive Government of the United States during the ensuing term, it may conduce to a more distinct expression of the public voice, that I should apprize such of my...
Mr Madison presents his respectful compliments to the President, and informs him that Mr Johnson⟨,⟩ the candidate for the light-house appointment, having left the City yesterday morning, it cannot now be ascertained how far he is apprised of the limited provision annexed to the place. AL , DNA : RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters. For background on John Waller Johnston’s unsuccessful attempts to...
Your letter of the 14th instant did not arrive till sunday night, and being not then at home, I did not receive it till last night. I now lose not a moment in complying with its request; tho’ I foresee it cannot reach you before you will have left Mount Vernon, and before you will probably have made up a final determination on some if not on all the questions proposed. These are 1. Ought the...
Mr Madison presents his respectful compliments to the President, and begs leave to lay before him the inclosed letters, on behalf of a candidate for a vacancy in the Custom-House Department in Virginia. Mr M. being a perfect stranger to the candidate can add no information whatever of his own. He knows Mr Maury well, and considers his recommendation as respectable. AL , DLC:GW . On the reason...
Mr Madison presents his respectful compliments to the President of the United States, with a letter from Arthur Cambell Esqr. which an accompanying letter to Mr M. requests him to deliver to the President. Mr Cambell makes a further request of Mr M. to make any explanations that may be necessary. Mr M. is not sensible that he possesses any local or other knowledge that can elucidate the...
J. Madison presents his respectful compliments to the President & returns the Treatise on small Canals &c., with his acknowledgments for the perusal of it. He is not enough conversant with such subjects to decide on the merits of the various plans & machinery recommended by the Author. In general his principles appear to be both effective & practicable; but the question of their utility must...
Mr Madison presents his respectful compliments to the President, and begs to mention the wish of Joseph Nevil Esqr. (late a member of the House of Representatives) to be taken into consideration in the appointment of Surveyor, under the law for the sale of lands N. West of the Ohio. He takes the liberty also of inclosing a Letter from General Posey, expressing his wishes with respect to an...
The term had not yet been coined, but JM was ghostwriting speeches for Washington during the earliest stages of the first president’s tenure. Until Washington’s official family had been established by law and the offices filled, JM was the president’s confidential adviser. In his first dealings with Congress, Washington relied on him to give substance and tone to commonly held ideas on...
19Tonnage Duties, [4 May] 1789 (Madison Papers)
Before this day’s debate began, JM gave notice that on 25 May he would introduce the subject of amendments. “He thought it necessary thus early to mention the business, as it was weighty and important” ( Gazette of the U.S. , 6 May 1789). The postponed tonnage clauses were then taken up. Laurance moved to strike out the discrimination between countries having a commercial treaty with the...
The Representatives of the People of the United States present their congratulations on the event by which your fellow-citizens have attested the pre-eminence of your merit. You have long held the first place in their esteem: you have often received tokens of their affection. You now possess the only proof that remained of their gratitude for your services, of their reverence for your wisdom,...
21Tonnage Duties, [5 May] 1789 (Madison Papers)
Jackson moved to lower the proposed duty on vessels from nations having commercial treaties with the United States from thirty to twenty cents, pointing out the burden high tonnage duties placed on the agricultural exporting states of the South. Mr. Madison . I believe every gentleman who hears the observations from the different quarters of this house, discovers great reason for every friend...
Letter not found. 5 May 1789. Acknowledged in Hawkins to JM, 1 June 1789 . Encloses draft of the House of Representatives’ address to President Washington.
23Tonnage Duties, [7 May] 1789 (Madison Papers)
JM moved to lower the tonnage duty on ships of countries which had no alliance with the United States from fifty to forty cents until the end of 1790, when it would be raised to seventy-five cents. Mr. Madison . As there is a great diversity of sentiment respecting the policy of the duty, I am very happy to find it is not prescribed by the geographical situation of our country; this evinces...
My last was of the 29th. March. A few days ago I had the pleasure of yours of the 12. Jany. I thank you for your attention to the works of the Abbè Barthelemy and the Marquis Condorcet, And wish much that your attempts to procure me a genuine copy of the King of Prussia’s may succeed. I send you herewith the first No. of the Congressional Register, which will give you some idea of the...
25Import Duties, [9 May] 1789 (Madison Papers)
The impost bill, first read on 5 May, was under consideration by the Committee of the Whole. Tucker, seeking a general reduction of duties, moved to lower the tax on Jamaica rum to six cents a gallon. Mr. Madison . The right understanding of this subject is of great importance; the discussion has been drawn out to a very considerable length on former occasions. The chain of ideas on which the...
Whilst I thank you for your favr of the 23d. Ult: I must remind you that it does not contain the promised information on the Case of the French Consul here. I am led to it by being myself just reminded by him of the omission on my part. The plan of an immediate temporary impost was what first occurred on the subject. It is not yet abandoned, but the practicability is questionable. The plan of...
The debate concerned a title for the executive office. Should the House appoint a committee to confer with a Senate counterpart on the proper title for the president? The House had already indicated its disapproval of majestic titles to the Senate, but the senators refused to accept this decision. A Senate committee had recommended on 9 May that the president be addressed as “ His Highness the...
28Import Duties, [12 May] 1789 (Madison Papers)
The committee had resumed consideration of the impost bill. The question was whether to strike out the six-cent duty on molasses. Ames suggested that an excise on country rum was preferable to a duty on molasses. Mr. Madison Said his mind was incapable of discovering any plan that would answer the purpose the committee have in view, and not produce greater evils than the one under...
I have been favored with yours of April . The newspapers will have given you some idea of our proceedings, though in a state always mutilated, and often perverted. The Impost is still the subject of deliberation. The general quantum of duties has at some periods been a source of discussion. At others, the ratio of particular duties, have produced still more of it. The proper one between rum &...
Parker moved to fix a duty of ten dollars on each slave imported into the United States. Some congressmen who were sympathetic with Parker’s object preferred a separate bill on slave imports. Mr. Madison . I cannot concur with gentlemen who think the present an improper time or place to enter into a discussion of the proposed motion; if it is taken up in a seperate view, we shall do the same...
31Import Duties, [15 May] 1789 (Madison Papers)
JM moved to add a clause to the impost bill limiting its duration. Mr. Madison . When he offered this amendment to the bill, he thought its propriety was so obvious and striking, that it would meet no opposition. To pass a bill, not limited in duration, which was to draw revenue from the pockets of the people, appeared to be dangerous in the administration of any government; he hoped therefore...
Your favor of the 3d. instant was not recd. till two days ago. It is not certain however that the post office is chargeable with the delay, the date of its receipt stamped at Fredg. being the 16th. of the month. The progress of our revenue system continues to be slow. The bill rating the duties is still with the Senate. It is said that many alterations will be proposed, consisting of...
The House took up the establishment of executive departments. JM moved the creation of foreign affairs, treasury, and war departments. The debate centered on the clause vesting in the president alone the power to remove the officers heading these departments. Smith (South Carolina) contended that impeachment was the only constitutional means of removal. Mr. Madison Did not concur with the...
Gerry proposed to place the treasury in the hands of three commissioners. Baldwin preferred a single secretary, with subordinates serving as a check upon his authority. Mr. Madison Had intended to have given his sentiments on this subject; but he was anticipated in some things by the gentleman last up. He wished, in all cases of an executive nature, that the committee should consider the...
Your favor of the 15th. gave me the first information of Browse’s illness. I hope his recovery is by this time established, as well as that of your mamma. My letters from Virginia give me room to fear much for the situation of the same relation. She was in bad health when I came away, and I understand that she has continued to decline till her case is extremely critical. I send to the post...
36Citizenship, [22 May] 1789 (Madison Papers)
The House took up the petition of David Ramsay, who claimed that the election of William Smith of South Carolina was invalid because he had not been a citizen for seven years when elected ( Ramsay to JM, 4 Apr. 1789 and n. 2). Mr. Madison. I think the merit of the question is now to be decided, whether the gentleman is eligible to a seat in this house or not, but it will depend on the decision...
This will I expect be handed you by a young gentleman, Mr. Colden, the son of an amiable lady of that name within the circle of my acquaintance in this place. I need not apprize you that the family, of which Governour Colden is the Ancestor, is a respectable one. The young gentleman has been in Scotland for some years, pursuing his education, and with the approbation of his friends proposes to...
Since my last which was written on sunday last and included an introduction of young Mr. Colden who is to be the bearer of it from Scotland where he now resides, I have had the pleasure of yours of March 15. My former letters will have made known to you the obstacles to a licence for your visit to America. The new authority has not yet taken up your application. As soon as the auxiliary...
I have been favored with yours of the 19th. instant and thank you for the answer to Mr. St. John’s enquiries. The apprehensions of Mrs. Randolph give me unfeigned concern, but I indulge strong hopes that they proceed from an imaginary cause. There are so many symptoms which mimic the cancerous that it would be wrong to suffer appearances to prevail against the favorable chances. At the same...
Reasons urging amendts. 1. to prove fedts. friends to liberty 2. remove remaining inquietudes 3. bring in N. C. & R. Island. 4. to improve the Constitution Reasons for moderating the plan 1. No stop if door opend to theoretic amendts. 2. as likely to make worse as better till trial 3. insure passage by ⅔ of Congs. & ¾ of Sts. Objectns. of 3 kinds vs the Constn: 1. vs. the theory of its...
On 25 May, the day assigned to take up amendments, JM moved to postpone the subject for two weeks ( Gazette of the U.S. , 27 May 1789). On 8 June he moved to refer the business to a Committee of the Whole. Jackson opposed amendments at this time as premature, and suggested a postponement until March 1790. Others objected that Congress had more pressing business to complete before amendments...
The letter herewith enclosed from Col: H. Lee with the papers accompanying it fully explain themselves. Inclosed also is a letter from Mr. P. Carr, who has been here several weeks. One of his inducements to visit N. York during the present vacation, was a hope of falling in with you on your visit to America. I regret much both your disappointments. It is not yet in my power to say when the...
The inclosed paper contains the proposition made on Monday last on the subject of amendments. It is limited to points which are important in the eyes of many and can be objectionable in those of none. The structure & stamina of the Govt. are as little touched as possible. Nothing of a controvertible nature can be expected to make its way thro’ the caprice & discord of opinions which would...
The Committee of the Whole took up the bill establishing a department of foreign affairs. Smith (South Carolina) and others wished to strike out the clause declaring the secretary “to be removeable from office by the President of the United States.” Mr. Madison. If the construction of the constitution is to be left to its natural course with respect to the executive powers of this government,...
The inclosed bill relating to the Judiciary has been just introduced into the Senate. Having not yet looked it over I can say nothing of its merits. You will be a better judge, and such remarks as your leisure will permit, will be acceptable & useful. A very interesting Question is started—By whom officers appointed during pleasure by the Presidt. & Senate are to be displaced?—whether the...
Debate continued on the clause in the bill establishing a foreign affairs department that declared the secretary could be removed from office by the president. Mr. Madison. However various the opinions which exist upon the point now before us, it seems agreed on all sides, that it demands a careful investigation and full discussion. I feel the importance of the question, and know that our...
The removal clause in the bill establishing a foreign affairs department was still under consideration. Mr. Madison. The question now seems to be brought to this, whether it is proper or improper to retain these words in the clause, provided they are explanatory of the constitution. I think this branch of the legislature is as much interested in the establishment of the true meaning of the...
I lost no time in handing to the President the address inclosed in your favor of the 22 of May, and have postponed an acknowledgment of the latter in expectation of being able at the same time to cover the President’s answer. This has been and continues to be delayed by a very serious indisposition. We hope that he is not in much danger, but are by no means without our fears also. His disorder...
It was fortunate that a duplicate of your letter to Mr. Jefferson went so soon from Alexandria. The copy in My hands did not find a conveyance fit to be trusted for a very long time—it cannot have reached him yet. I was determined to await a secure opportunity, and the intermission of the French Packet left such an one extremely rare. I was compelled at last to put it into the hands of a...
The last favor for which I am to thank you is of June 9th. For some time past I have been obliged to content myself with inclosing you the Newspapers. In general they give, tho’ frequently erroneous and sometimes perverted, yet on the whole, fuller accounts of what is going forward than could be put into a letter. The papers now covered contain a sketch of a very interesting discussion which...