Thomas Jefferson Papers
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To Thomas Jefferson from James Madison, [on or before 9 September 1802]

From James Madison

[on or before 9 Sep. 1802]

Dear Sir

Yours of the 6th. instant was duly brought by the last mail.

I inclose under cover to Mr. Brent, the answers to the Merchts. of Boston & Philada; which if approved you will be so good as to seal & send on to him. I inclose also a letter from Mr. Brent to me, for the sake of the explanation it gives relative to the consulate at Nante. If Mr. Grant should not go, it is to be recollected that the vacancy there has been thought of for Mr. Patterson whose appointment to l’Orient interferes with the situation of Mr. Vail.

Docr. Thornton & his family are with us; and I believe mean to pay their respects to Monticello before their return. We shall ride up at the same time, if my absence from home should not be forbidden by circumstances which I am endeavoring to deprive of that tendency.

With respectful attachment I remain Yours

James Madison

RC (DLC); undated; at foot of text: “The President of the U. States”; endorsed by TJ as a letter from the State Department received from Orange on 9 Sep. and “merchts. Boston & Phila—Consulate Nantes—Sumpter,” and so recorded in SJL; also endorsed by TJ: “Dr. Thornton.” Enclosures: (1) Madison to Stephen Higginson, Sr., and other members of the committee of merchants of Boston, 6 Sep., noting that the president “feels every disposition to patronize the commercial rights of his fellow Citizens” but “sees very strong objections” to the suggestion that the United States should send a ship to make demands of Spanish colonial authorities, especially without more information about “the sanctions under which” the trading voyages to South America were made; regarding the other suggested course of action, representation to the Spanish government at Madrid, Madison states that Charles Pinckney already has instructions to bring claims before a board of commissioners; Madison advises the merchants with grievances to send “a particular statement to Mr. Pinckney of their respective cases accompanied with whatever documents in support of them may be attainable”; he recommends that the statement show “how far” the claims “rest, on general regulations or special licences from competent authorities; how far on licences reasonably presumed to be competent, though in strictness not so; how far on sudden & ensnaring repeals of general regulations, or discontinuances of special indulgences; how far on the calculation from existing circumstances, that the ordinary Colonial policy of Spain would be relaxed; and how far on fraudulent proceedings of Spanish subjects”; the claimants may also need to provide documentation “that satisfaction has been sought in vain from the regular Tribunals” in the Spanish colonies; Madison asks for a copy of the finished statement for use in preparing further instructions to Pinckney and in asking the Spanish minister to the United States to intercede with the viceroyalty of Río de la Plata (Madison, Papers, Sec. of State Ser. description begins William T. Hutchinson, Robert A. Rutland, J. C. A. Stagg, and others, eds., The Papers of James Madison, Chicago and Charlottesville, 1962–, 33 vols. Sec. of State Ser., 1986–, 9 vols.; Pres. Ser., 1984–, 6 vols.; Ret. Ser., 2009–, 1 vol. description ends , 3:549–50). (2) Madison to Thomas FitzSimons, 6 Sep., a brief letter to cover a copy of Enclosure No. 1 (same, 548–9). (3) Daniel Brent to Madison, 3 Sep., which among other subjects refers to letters to Madison from Elkanah Watson and Jeremiah Van Rensselaer pressing the appointment of Simon Lynch as commercial agent at Nantes; Brent has information that Thomas Gantt, the appointee for that position, “has not yet been in France, and that he has no intention of going thither”; Brent writes that “under these Circumstances” it appears “that some other person should be appointed without delay”; understanding that TJ “has been already Applied to on this subject” (see TJ to Madison, 10 Sep.), Brent has written to Watson advising him of Madison’s absence from Washington (Madison, Papers, Sec. of State Ser. description begins William T. Hutchinson, Robert A. Rutland, J. C. A. Stagg, and others, eds., The Papers of James Madison, Chicago and Charlottesville, 1962–, 33 vols. Sec. of State Ser., 1986–, 9 vols.; Pres. Ser., 1984–, 6 vols.; Ret. Ser., 2009–, 1 vol. description ends , 3:538–40).

MR. GRANT: Thomas T. Gantt, who had received the appointment as commercial agent at Nantes in 1801, wrote to Madison from Georgetown early in October 1802 to resign from the position. TJ named William PATTERSON, who had the support of Robert R. Livingston, to the post (Gantt to Madison, 5 Oct., RC in DNA: RG 59, RD, endorsed by TJ “Gantt declines consulship of Nantes”; Madison, Papers, Sec. of State Ser. description begins William T. Hutchinson, Robert A. Rutland, J. C. A. Stagg, and others, eds., The Papers of James Madison, Chicago and Charlottesville, 1962–, 33 vols. Sec. of State Ser., 1986–, 9 vols.; Pres. Ser., 1984–, 6 vols.; Ret. Ser., 2009–, 1 vol. description ends , 3:539n; Vol. 35:371, 664; TJ to the Senate, 2 Feb. 1803).

After TJ appointed Patterson as commercial agent at L’ORIENT, France, in 1801, Livingston was distressed that his advocacy of Patterson had resulted in the displacement of Aaron VAIL. Vail had sought the consulship at L’Orient since at least 1791, when he approached TJ about the matter. About 1793, he began to perform the duties of acting consul in the port, not with a presidential commission, but under an appointment from the consul at Bordeaux. Livingston traveled through L’Orient in the fall of 1801 and pronounced Vail “a firm republican” who had the respect of the merchants in the port. Livingston continued to remind Madison about Vail, until, finally, the opportunity to move Patterson to Nantes allowed TJ to make Vail the commercial agent at L’Orient (Madison, Papers, Sec. of State Ser. description begins William T. Hutchinson, Robert A. Rutland, J. C. A. Stagg, and others, eds., The Papers of James Madison, Chicago and Charlottesville, 1962–, 33 vols. Sec. of State Ser., 1986–, 9 vols.; Pres. Ser., 1984–, 6 vols.; Ret. Ser., 2009–, 1 vol. description ends , 2:238, 265–6, 391, 467; 3:444, 468–9; Vol. 22:272; Vol. 33:672, 677; TJ to the Senate, 14 Feb. 1803).

FORBIDDEN BY CIRCUMSTANCES: Madison was plagued by ongoing concerns in chancery court over Kentucky lands he and his late brother Ambrose once owned. Authentication of the deeds may have required his presence in county court. In September, Madison also prepared legal paperwork for the exchange of property resulting from an informal addenda to the will of his father that was challenged by other members of his family (Madison, Papers, Sec. of State Ser. description begins William T. Hutchinson, Robert A. Rutland, J. C. A. Stagg, and others, eds., The Papers of James Madison, Chicago and Charlottesville, 1962–, 33 vols. Sec. of State Ser., 1986–, 9 vols.; Pres. Ser., 1984–, 6 vols.; Ret. Ser., 2009–, 1 vol. description ends , 2:124–6, 197, 268; 3:109, 529–30, 588–9).

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