James Madison Papers
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From James Madison to Thomas Jefferson, 18 March 1811

To Thomas Jefferson

Washington Mar. 18. 1811

Dear Sir

I have recd. yours inclosing two letters improperly addressed to you.

A sketch in manuscript was brought by yesterday’s Mail from N. York, saying that a vessel just arrived, stated that the Prince Regent had appointed his Cabinet; that Lord Holland1 was prime Minister, Grenville Secretary of State, Moira2 Commander in Chief &c. and that a new Parliament was to be called. Whether these details be correct or not, it is highly probable that some material change in the general policy of the Government, in relation to this Country as well as in other respects, will result from the change of the Men in power. Nor is it improbable that a repeal of the orders in Council, will be accompanied by a removal in some form or other, of the other condition required by the Act of May last. Still the attachment to maritime usurpations on public law, and the jealousy of our growing commerce, are sources from which serious difficulties must continue to flow, unless controuled by the distress of the Nation, or by a magnanimity not to be expected even from the personification of Fox in Lord Holland. Grenville is known to be very high in his notions of British rights on the Ocean; but he has never contended for more, on the subject of blockades, than that cruising squadrons, creating a manifest danger in entering particular ports, was equivalent to a stationary force, having the same effect. His principle however tho’ construable into an important restriction of the modern practice, may be expanded so as to cover this abuse. It is, as you remark difficult to understand the meaning of Bonaparte towards us. There is little doubt, that his want of money, and his ignorance of commerce, have had a material influence. He has also distrusted the stability & efficacy of our pledge to renew the non-intercourse agst. G. B. and has wished to execute his in a manner that would keep pace only with the execution of ours; and at the same time leave no interval for the operation of the British orders, without a counter operation in either his or our measures. In all this, his folly is obvious. Distrust on one side produces & authorizes it on the other; and must defeat every arrangement between parties at a distance from each other or which is to have a future or a continued execution. On the whole our prospects are far from being very flattering; yet a better chance seems to exist than, with the exception of the adjustment with Erskine, has presented itself, for closing the scene of rivalship in plundering & insulting us, & turning it into a competition for our commerce & friendship.

In the midst of other preplexities [sic], foreign & internal, a source has been opened very near me, and where co-operation agst. them was to have been rightfully expected, from personal obligations, as well as public duty. I find also that the appointment of Warden, is to draw forth the keenest resentments of Armstrong. I have no doubt however that the ground on which we stand is sufficiently firm to support us with the Nation, agst. individual efforts of any sort or from any quarter. Be assured always of my highest esteem and sincerest attachment

James Madison

RC (DLC). Docketed erroneously by Jefferson, “recd Mar. 2,” but listed in Jefferson’s Epistolary Record (DLC: Jefferson Papers) as received on 20 Mar.

1Henry Richard Vassall Fox, third Baron Holland (1773–1840), was a nephew of Charles James Fox and a prominent Whig advocate of liberal causes. Together with Lord Auckland he had negotiated the Monroe-Pinkney treaty of 1806, an agreement rejected by Jefferson and JM on the grounds that it did not provide adequate guarantees against the Royal Navy’s practice of impressing American seamen.

2Francis Rawdon Hastings, first marquis of Hastings and second earl of Moira (1754–1826), was an army officer who had served in America during the War for Independence. As a prominent Irish peer, he was a leading advocate of Catholic emancipation. It was widely expected that as a close friend of the Prince of Wales he would be a member of any ministry formed by the Prince Regent.

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