Thomas Jefferson Papers
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From Thomas Jefferson to James Madison, 29 June 1797

To James Madison

Philadelphia June 29, 97.

The day of adjournment walks before us like our shadow. We shall rise on the 3d. or 4th. of July. Consequently I shall be with you about the 8th. or 9th. The two houses have jointly given up the 9. small vessels. The Senate have rejected at the 3d reading their own bill authorizing the President to lay embargoes. They will probably reject a very unequal tax passed by the Repr. on the venders of wines and spirituous liquors (not in retail). They have past a bill for postponing their next meeting to the constitutional day; but whether the Repr. will concur is uncertain. The Repr. are cooking up a stamp tax which it is thought themselves will reject. The fate of the bill for private armaments is yet undecided in the Senate. The expences of the session are estimated at 80,000 Doll.—Monroe and family arrived here the day before yesterday, well. They will make a short visit to N. York and then set their faces homewards. My affectionate respects to Mrs. Madison, and salutations to yourself. Adieu.

RC (DLC: Madison Papers); unsigned. PrC (DLC); endorsed in ink by TJ on verso.

On 24 June, Senator Jacob Read introduced a bill authorizing the President to lay embargoes during the congressional recess. It was defeated by a vote of 12 to 15 three days later (JS description begins Journal of the Senate of the United States, Washington, D.C., 1820–21, 5 vols. description ends , ii, 376, 379). The very unequal tax on wines and spirits was passed by the House and sent to the Senate on the 27th in a bill entitled “An act laying duties on licenses for selling foreign wines and foreign distilled spirituous liquors by retail.” On 5 July, after several days of debate, the Senate passed the bill with amendments and sent it back to the House. After some discussion the next day, the House voted to postpone further action on the legislation until the fall session of Congress (JS description begins Journal of the Senate of the United States, Washington, D.C., 1820–21, 5 vols. description ends ii, 378–84, 386; JHR description begins Journal of the House of Representatives of the United States, Washington, D.C., 1826, 9 vols. description ends , iii, 70–1).

On 28 June, the Senate passed a bill for postponing their next meeting to the first Monday in December rather than the first Monday in November as approved in the previous session of Congress. After debate in the House the next day, the date was set for the second Monday in November, to which the Senate concurred (JS description begins Journal of the Senate of the United States, Washington, D.C., 1820–21, 5 vols. description ends , ii, 378–81; Annals, description begins Annals of the Congress of the United States: The Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States … Compiled from Authentic Materials Washington, D.C., Gales & Seaton, 1834–56, 42 vols. All editions are undependable and pagination varies from one printing to another. The first two volumes of the set cited here have “Compiled … by Joseph Gales, Senior” on the title page and bear the caption “Gales & Seatons History” on verso and “of Debates in Congress” on recto pages. The remaining volumes bear the caption “History of Congress” on both recto and verso pages. Those using the first two volumes with the latter caption will need to employ the date of the debate or the indexes of debates and speakers. description ends vii, 408; U.S. Statutes at Large description begins Richard Peters, ed., The Public Statutes at Large of the United States … 1789 to March 3, 1845, Boston, 1855–56, 8 vols. description ends , i, 507, 525).

The stamp tax, a “bill laying duties on stamped vellum, parchment, and paper,” was introduced by William L. Smith, as chairman of the House ways and means committee, on 17 June. Following lengthy debates between 26 June and 3 July, the bill was passed by a 47 to 41 vote and sent to the Senate where it quickly passed without amendment, by a 20 to 7 vote. During the next session of Congress, the commencement date of this tax was postponed from 1 Jan. to 1 July 1798 (JS description begins Journal of the Senate of the United States, Washington, D.C., 1820–21, 5 vols. description ends ii, 382, 385; JHR description begins Journal of the House of Representatives of the United States, Washington, D.C., 1826, 9 vols. description ends , iii, 36, 60–5; Annals description begins Annals of the Congress of the United States: The Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States … Compiled from Authentic Materials Washington, D.C., Gales & Seaton, 1834–56, 42 vols. All editions are undependable and pagination varies from one printing to another. The first two volumes of the set cited here have “Compiled … by Joseph Gales, Senior” on the title page and bear the caption “Gales & Seatons History” on verso and “of Debates in Congress” on recto pages. The remaining volumes bear the caption “History of Congress” on both recto and verso pages. Those using the first two volumes with the latter caption will need to employ the date of the debate or the indexes of debates and speakers. description ends , vii, 386–433; U.S. Statutes at Large description begins Richard Peters, ed., The Public Statutes at Large of the United States … 1789 to March 3, 1845, Boston, 1855–56, 8 vols. description ends , i, 527, 536).

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