James Madison Papers
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To James Madison from William Blackledge, 20 March 1812

From William Blackledge

Capitol March 20th: 1812

Dear Sir,

I have this day received a letter from my correspondent in New York (a letter from whom I did myself the honor to send you about two months ago).1 In the letter of this day he complains of the misfortune of not having been appointed as he is really needy, but declares it as his opinion that every officer appointed (a list of which he had seen) were either federalists or Clintonians except only a single person, who this is he does not name. He fears he has been looked up as a mere Pimp, or base informer, and that in attempting to serve the administration he has done himself an injury. I hope however that in this he is deceived and that it may yet be in the power of the Government to serve him in a way which will suit him as a man of family better than in the Army. He is a man of very great industry and an excellent Baker, will it not be possible to give him employment as a baker in supplying the navy or a part of the navy or Army at New York? I have wrote him the reason of his failing in an appointment in the Army (viz) That the members from the States respectively were requested to select the most suitable characters from the list of Candidates from their States respectively. That he was not Known to any of them & that of course his pretentions could not come in competition with those of their acquaintance. And I have also stated that I would endeavor to get him something in the way of his profession as Baker, agreeably to his request. I wish it may be possible to do it. In his letter is a sentence a copy of which is on the inclosed scrap of paper. After stating as his opinion that Henrys developement ought to put us on our guard he proceeds as on the inclosed slip of paper. I ought perhaps to have Called in person, but I think it better to write as my only object is to give the information as received. The other inclosure2 may be of no importance as it is said to be the Copy of a letter from a friend of E Gray3 to him. It is evident that it is the turn which such friends of administration wish to give to Henrys Correspondence. I do not know that I should have sent it but for a promise I made last evening to Mrs M. With the highest respect I have the honor to be Your friend & Obdt Servt.

Wm Blackledge

the name of my correspondent is William Eaton. After reading the Copy of the letter or having a Copy made please inclose it back under Cover to me

RC (DLC). Docketed by JM. Enclosed “scrap of paper” reads: “But Sir in my opinion there is things going on here worse than Henry effected. There is soldiers enlisting under Scotchmen & Englishmen who are not naturalized Citizens and who furnish them with complete uniforms & uncommon exertions are made to train them in private—that since the orders in Council are known to be kept on ⟨I⟩ have [seen?] secret Committees of these men in an English porter house at all hours of the day.”

1No letter from William Eaton of New York to JM seeking an appointment in early 1812 has been found.

2Enclosure not found.

3Edward Gray, who died in December 1810, had been sheriff of the district of Montreal. John Henry, in anticipation of Gray’s demise, had sought the office but without success (Cruikshank, Political Adventures of John Henry, pp. 64, 67–68).

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