James Madison Papers
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To James Madison from Richard Rush, 17 September 1815

From Richard Rush

Washington September 17. 1815.

Dear sir.

Mr Duvall returned yesterday, but too late to drop a line by the mail. He brings however nothing material in addition to what my last letter stated.1 The party2 after returning to Baltimore, all went off by the way of York and Lancaster, and Commodore Lewis speaks of this as in part their first intention. The return from the mills he ascribed to having there first learned with certainty that not merely the President, but all the heads of department were absent from Washington. These excuses must all originate with himself, and be the price of his own indiscretion. From me he had no hint to make them. The measure he embarked in was abrupt and indecorous in a very high degree, and I confess it will sometimes cross my suspicions that it may have been propelled by other machinery than the ostensible, and that too without the ostensible agents themselves having been fully or rightly aware of it. It is not probable that such a personage would have been a week in new york without fixing the eye, and perhaps engaging the reflections, of more principal men than those who figured as his avowed patrons. But of this I have no right to do more than think. To have come, at any time, to the seat of your public residence with the ulterior view of a personal visit, without a previous sanction derived through the usual channel, might have been thought not entirely respectful, if prudent. But so to invade the sanctity of your domestick retreat, really, sir, looks to me, independent of all other considerations, as scarcely less than an outrage.

The beguiled stranger moves, I understand, with a retinue of cooks, servants, and secretaries.

Considering the quarter in which Mr Dallas is, I thought it might be as well to let him in to what had transpired. Accordingly I wrote him a short and confidential letter yesterday imparting an outline of it.

I remember that when Talleyrand was in Philadelphia, as ex-bishop of autun, general Washington declined being visited by him, although he made known a wish to wait on him.3 What may have been the motive I do not know; but if I mistake not such was the fact.

I have been informed through Mr Dallas of his final opinion relative to a special call of congress. I tender the usual assurances of my entire respect,

R. Rush.

RC (DLC: Monroe Papers).

2“(Joseph Bonaparte)” is interlined here in an unidentified hand.

3As a political exile in the United States in 1794, Charles-Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord requested an interview with George Washington through the medium of Alexander Hamilton. Washington replied that while he wished to be civil to Talleyrand, he could not admit him or other French émigrés to “the public Rooms” or grant any of them a “particular introduction” for fear of offending the French minister (Hamilton to Washington, 5 May 1794 [second letter], and Washington to Hamilton, 6 May 1794, Syrett and Cooke, Papers of Alexander Hamilton, 16:379–80 and n. 1, 386–87).

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