James Madison Papers
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To James Madison from William Harris Crawford, 28 December 1814

From William Harris Crawford

Paris 28th. Decr. 1814

My dear Sir.

On the 26th inst I recd. a note from the Duke of Wellington informing me that peace was signed on the 26th. and Congratulating me on the event.1 Yesterday evening he called upon me, as well as the Secy of legation Lord Fitzroy Somerset. I am informed he despatched a messenger immediately for Vienna. It is generally believed that nothing has been satisfactorily arranged at that place. The Conclusion of peace with the U.S will probably restore the declining influence of the English at the Congress.

The advances made by the British embassy will be met in the true spirit of Conciliation by me. Indeed, I had no right to expect them, as the first visit ought to have come from me, whenever the relations of the two countries authorized it. I had some doubts whether the signing of the peace authorized this official intercourse, but there can be no difficulty on my part after what has taken place.

I believe the French court are extremely glad of this event. They were constantly apprehensive of collision. Their pride was mortified at the idea of yielding any of their rights to the apprehension of hostilities with England. This pride however was not sufficient to overcome that apprehension. The general temper of the nation required the most rigid concealment of it.

This temper becomes every day more violent, & threatens the security of the throne. The new minister of war has kindled a flame which may burn with destructive fury and resist all the efforts which he will be able to make to extinguish it.2 Genl Excelsmans whose case you will see stated in the proceedings of the legislative body is the son in law of Marshal Oudinot one of the favorites of the family.3 He was arrested in the House of Genl Count Maison military governor of Paris whose duty it was to arrest him. His cause has been espoused in the house of peers by Maison, the Duke of Dantzic, and several other marshals & genls. Cartridges have been given out to the guards and the watch word has been changed several times in the course of one night.

Notwithstanding all this I believe it will blow over, & that the family will remain on the throne.

Mr Hughes the Secy of the Embassy a very estimable man, is desirous of going out Secy to the Embassy at London. To enable him to take his family, an addition to the salary will be necessary. This will hardly be made by law, and there are but few cases in which it can be done correctly without law. As the treaty renders the liquidation of the expences incurred in the support of prisoners necessary, I have thought that this liquidation might be properly confided to the Secy of the legation, which would make a temporary addition to the salary which would enable him to gratify his wishes in this respect. He has exerted much zeal, and considerable talent in the office which he now holds, and has something like a claim to such an indulgence in his favor. It is possible that Mr Beasley may think himself entitled to this emolument. Between the pretensions of these two gentlemen, I have no right to decide, but if I had to decide, I certainly should gratify Mr Hughes.4

I hope you will excuse this obtrusion of the private wishes of an individual upon your attention. I know your time may be much more beneficially employed.

If I had had time, I would have sent you a triplicate Copy of a long letter which5 have written to you.

I trust that peace will strengthen the republican party, which is indissolubly connected with your administration. I congratulate you most sincerely upon the conclusion of the war, under circumstances which will prevent the necessity of a speedy recurrence to arms. Most respectfully I am yours &c

Wm H Crawford

RC (DLC: Rives Collection, Madison Papers). Docketed by JM.

1The Treaty of Ghent was signed on 24 Dec. 1814 (Heidler and Heidler, Encyclopedia of the War of 1812, 208).

2Nicolas-Jean de Dieu Soult (1769–1851), a prominent Napoleonic general in the Peninsular Wars, switched loyalties and supported the Bourbons after their 1814 restoration. He was thereupon named military commander in Brittany, where he headed a committee to memorialize the emigrant French Royalist forces who fell in the unsuccessful British-backed invasion attempt of 1795 at Quiberon; he also appointed a notoriously brutal Royalist leader, Aimé Picquet du Boisguy, as a King’s commissioner in the province, provoking great popular dissatisfaction. On 3 Dec. 1814 he became minister of war, in which position he roused the wrath of Royalists and former Napoleonic officers alike as he tried to balance their competing claims. His efforts to enforce conscription also met with resistance in some parts of the country. In March 1815, as Napoleon advanced toward Paris, Soult was forced to resign (Peter Hayman, Soult: Napoleon’s Maligned Marshal [London, 1990], 17, 210–14, 219–20, 266); Scott and Rothaus, Historical Dictionary of the French Revolution, 1:184, 2:801–2, 913–14).

3Rémi Isidore Exelmans, also a general under Napoleon, had recently offered his services to his former commander, King of Naples Joachim Murat, whom Louis XVIII wished to see deposed. By the time Soult took office as minister of war, Exelmans had become a leader of the disaffected Napoleonic officers in Paris. Attempting to contain the unrest, Soult ordered Exelmans to go to his country house and had him arrested when he refused to comply. Exelmans was tried by court-martial in January 1815 on charges of insubordination, disloyalty, and espionage, and was acquitted without a dissenting vote (Hayman, Soult, 214–16; Scott and Rothaus, Historical Dictionary of the French Revolution, 2:691).

4Christopher Hughes Jr. (1786–1849), a native of Baltimore, studied at the College of New Jersey and read law. In 1811 he married Laura Smith, the daughter of Maryland senator Samuel Smith. JM appointed Hughes secretary to the peace commission in February 1814. He and Henry Carroll, Henry Clay’s private secretary, were selected to carry copies of the Treaty of Ghent to the United States by different routes. When Hughes landed in New London on 1 Mar. 1815, however, he found that Carroll had arrived more than two weeks earlier and that the treaty was already ratified. Hughes nevertheless had extensive discussions with JM and James Monroe regarding the negotiations. Despite receiving good recommendations, he was not immediately given another diplomatic appointment, so he represented Baltimore in the Maryland legislature during the 1815–16 session. In January 1816 John Adams Smith was appointed secretary to the London legation at the request of his grandmother Abigail Adams. Soon thereafter, the State Department sent Hughes on a short mission to Cartagena, and upon his return in July offered him the secretaryship of the Swedish legation. Hughes accepted, and served as secretary and as chargé d’affaires in Stockholm until 1825, when he became chargé d’affaires in the Netherlands. Narrowly missing an expected promotion to minister in 1829, Hughes returned to Sweden as chargé and served there and again in the Netherlands at that rank until 1845 (Cathal J. Nolan, ed., Notable U.S. Ambassadors Since 1775: A Biographical Dictionary [Westport, Conn., 1997], 176–82; Chester G. Dunham, “Christopher Hughes, Jr. at Ghent, 1814,” Maryland Historical Magazine 66 [1971], 298; Senate Exec. Proceedings, description begins Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate of the United States of America (3 vols.; Washington, 1828). description ends 3:20–21; Mattern and Shulman, Selected Letters of Dolley Payne Madison, 200–201).

5Crawford evidently omitted a word here.

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