James Madison Papers
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From James Madison to John G. Jackson, 17 May 1812

To John G. Jackson

Washington May 17. 1812

My Dear Sir

Your favor of Mar. 30. came safe tho’ rather slowly to hand. It is much to be regretted that in the military appts. any errors shd. be committed, which may damp the spirits of those who feeling most the wrongs of their Country would be most ardent in avenging them. The course adopted was, in a general view, mo⟨st⟩ likely to avoid the errors incident to casual & irresponsible recommendations. It was indeed the only one practicable on such an emergency, and in the extent given to appointments. It was however carried into execution in a manner, not precisely contemplated, and devolved too decisive an influence on the result into the hands of the respective members of Congs. Your remark⟨s⟩ on the incurable spirit of opposition to the will of the Majority is far from being restricted to particular spots of our Country. It seems to have gained strength, in the Eastern States under circumstances which ought to have extinguished ⟨it,⟩ and to be indulged in ways, which mark a readiness to sacrifice every duty of the Citizen, to the fury of the partizan. I am glad to find however, that the patriotic spirit contrasted with it, seems to rise with the occasion, and I trust will carry us triumphantly thro’ our difficulties. We remain without the definitive information so long expected from France. The latest from England, as you will gather from the Newspapers, denotes more & more, the profligate character of the Administration,1 and a wicked obstinacy that ⟨n⟩othing will controul, unless it be some disastrous events without or some actual or threatened convulsions within. Accept my affectionate respects

J. Madison

RC (InU: Jackson Collection). Damaged at margin.

1The National Intelligencer had been printing news of the parliamentary proceedings in Great Britain on the developing groundswell of public opinion against the orders in council, but JM’s remarks to Jackson were very likely provoked by his reading of an account of a debate, occurring sometime in the third week of April, on the expediency of exporting rice from Great Britain to Europe under the license system. The opposition member Samuel Whitbread had requested information from Spencer Perceval about reports that rice was being exported under license at a time “when the appearance of scarcity was so alarming.” Perceval was reluctant to address the issue, but when pressed he conceded that the reports were substantially correct, then added that he would oppose any regulation preventing the export of rice, particularly if it would have the effect of discouraging the importation of that article from America. Whitbread was clearly disgusted by this response and chided the prime minister for his gratuitous reference to the U.S. (see National Intelligencer, 16 May 1812).

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