Thomas Jefferson Papers
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From Thomas Jefferson to James Madison, 26 November 1795

To James Madison

Nov. 26. 95.

Your favor from Fredericksburg came safe to hand. I inclose you the extract of a letter I recieved from Mr. R. now in Richmond. Tho you will have been informed of the facts before this reaches you, yet you will see more of the subject by having different views of it presented to you. Though Marshall will be able to embarras the Republican party in the assembly a good deal, yet upon the whole, his having gone into it will be of service. He has been hitherto able to do more mischief, acting under the mask of republicanism than he will be able to do after throwing it plainly off. His lax lounging manners have made him popular with the bulk of the people of Richmond, and a profound hypocrisy with many thinking men in our country. But having come forth in the plenitude of his English principles, the latter will see that it is high time to make him known. His doctrine that the whole commercial part of the treaty (and he might have added the whole unconstitutional part of it) rests in the power of the H. of R. is certainly the true doctrine; and as the articles which stipulate what requires the consent of the three branches of the legislature, must be referred to the H. of R. for their concurrence, so they, being free agents, may approve or reject them, either by a vote1 declaring that, or by refusing to pass acts. I should think the former mode the most safe and honorable. The people in this part of the country continue very firmly disposed against the treaty. I imagine the 50 negative votes comprehend the whole force of the Alexandrian party and the bigots and passive obedience men of the whole state who have got themselves into the legislature. I observe an expression in Randolph’s printed secret intimating that the President, tho’ an honest man himself, may be circumvented by snares and artifices, and is in fact surrounded by men who wish to clothe the Executive with more than constitutional powers. This when public, will make great impression. It is not only a truth, but a truth levelled to every capacity, and will justify to themselves2 the most zealous votaries, for ceasing to repose the unlimited confidence they have done in the measures which have been pursued.—Communicate the inclosed paper, if you please, to Mr. Giles.—Our autumn is fine. The weather mild, and intermixed with moderate rains at proper intervals. No ice yet, and not much frost. Adieu affectionately.

RC (DLC: Madison Papers, Rives Collection); unsigned. PrC (DLC). Enclosure: Thomas Mann Randolph to TJ, 22 Nov. 1795.

TJ’s observations on Edmund Randolph’s printed secret indicate that he was one of several persons who saw, before its publication by Samuel H. Smith in mid-December, at least part of A Vindication of Mr. Randolph’s Resignation (Philadelphia, 1795), the former Secretary of State’s rebuttal of charges that he had made improper disclosures to and solicited money from Jean Antoine Joseph Fauchet (see Sowerby, description begins E. Millicent Sowerby, comp., Catalogue of the Library of Thomas Jefferson, Washington, D.C., 1952–59, 5 vols. description ends No. 3180; for Randolph’s resignation as Secretary of State, see note to TJ to James Monroe, 6 Sep. 1795). The pamphlet contained a “Statement of Facts,” a narrative history of the events surrounding his resignation; pertinent letters and documents, including correspondence between Randolph and Washington and translations of excerpts from Fauchet’s dispatches No. 3 (4 June 1794), No. 6 (5 Sep. 1794), and all of No. 10 (31 Oct. 1794); the certificate Randolph obtained from Fauchet before his return to France, which described the circumstances surrounding the dispatches and confirmed that Randolph had never divulged government secrets or sought bribes; and Randolph’s open letter of 8 Oct. 1795 to the President in which he argued that Washington had prejudged his case and been taken in by a plot masterminded by British minister George Hammond to gain the President’s signature on the Jay Treaty by estranging him from the only member of the Cabinet who discouraged him from signing the treaty until conditions were met by the British—a letter in which Randolph asserted that “the immediate ratification of the treaty with Great Britain can be traced to no other source, than a surrender of yourself to the first impressions” from Fauchet’s dispatch No. 10 (Randolph, Vindication, 49–53).

The concept that the President, tho’ an honest man himself, was surrounded by snares and artifices set by those who wish to clothe the executive with more than constitutional powers, was the theme of a conversation between Randolph and Fauchet in April 1794 depicted in Dispatch No. 3, reiterated by Fauchet in his certificate in behalf of Randolph, and examined again by Randolph in his open letter to the President (same, 15, 17–18, 75–6).

After submitting his manuscript to the press in early November, Randolph left Philadelphia and settled in Richmond. It is likely that he received signatures from the press as they were produced (Reardon, Randolph, description begins John J. Reardon, Edmund Randolph: A Biography, New York, 1974 description ends 331–2). TJ’s reference to Randolph’s revelations indicates that at this time he had access at least through page 15 (signature C) and probably through page 76 (signature K) of the pamphlet. William Branch Giles later informed TJ that he had been “favored with its perusal as far as page 84,” or through signature L (Giles to TJ, 9 Dec. 1795). TJ received a copy of the published pamphlet ca. 29 Dec. 1795 and commented on it two days later (Giles to TJ, 15 Dec. 1795; TJ to Giles, 31 Dec. 1795). For TJ’s notes on the pamphlet, see Notes on Edmund Randolph’s Vindication, [after 29 Dec. 1795].

1Preceding two words interlined in place of an illegible cancellation.

2Preceding two words interlined.

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