James Madison Papers
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To James Madison from Richard Rush, 18 April 1817

From Richard Rush

Washington April 18. 1817.

Dear Sir

I beg leave to send you, enclosed, a few English newspapers. I have not been able to look over them myself, but perhaps you may be able to glean an hours amusement from them. They are the latest we have in the office. I shall have great pleasure in sending you others that arrive.

Our last letters from Mr Adams are to the 29th of January. He takes no notice of the report of 19 ships of war being ordered to sea. We infer, of course, that there is no foundation for it. He admits the reality of the distresses in England, in an extent much greater than he has ever seemed willing to do before, no longer ascribing them to “plethora.” He admits it to be now settled, that they cannot by taxation raise a revenue, in time of peace, to keep down the interest upon the debt; says the reformers gain ground upon both whigs and tories, and that Cobbett1 is at length the most popular writer in Britain.

We were made happy in hearing of your safe arrival at Orange. Mrs Rush desires her affectionate remembrance to Mrs Madison, and, with prayers for your happiness, I beg you, Sir, to accept the assurances of my respectful and constant attachment.

Richard Rush.2

RC (PHi: Richard Rush Papers). Docketed by JM.

1British political writer William Cobbett (1762–1835) was a strong defender of British and Federalist policy as a pamphleteer and owner of the Philadelphia newspaper, Porcupine’s Gazette, in the years 1797–99. After two prosecutions for libel and the removal of his business to New York, he returned to Great Britain in 1800, where he was welcomed by the government party. By 1804, however, he was taking more popular and reformist positions, and in 1810 he was convicted of libel and imprisoned for two years. By 1816 his newspaper, Cobbett’s Weekly Political Register, had a large circulation and participated fully in the agitation for parliamentary reform. Fearing another prosecution for his writing, Cobbett returned to the United States in March 1817 but remained there only two years before returning to England.

2Richard Rush (1780–1859), a lawyer educated at the College of New Jersey, was the son of American revolutionary Benjamin Rush. An ardent Republican, he was attorney general of Pennsylvania when JM appointed him comptroller of the U.S. Treasury in November 1811. In February 1814 JM appointed Rush attorney general, and he served in that post until the end of JM’s administration. From March through September 1817, Rush served as acting secretary of state. He became minister to Great Britain in October 1817 and served there until 1824. He was secretary of the treasury during the administration of John Quincy Adams and ran unsuccessfully as Adams’s vice-president in the election of 1828. Rush served as minister to France, 1847–49.

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