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To James Madison from Thomas Jefferson, 25 May 1812

From Thomas Jefferson

Monticello May 25. 1812

Dear Sir

The difference between a communication & sollicitation is too obvious to need suggestion. While the latter adds to embarrasments, the former only enlarges the field of choice. The inclosed letters are merely communications. Of Stewart I know nothing. Price who recommends him is I believe a good man, not otherwise known to me than as a partner of B. Morgan of N. O. and as having several times communicated to me useful information, while I was in the government.1 Timothy Matlack I have known well since the first Congress to which he was an assistant secretary. He has been always a good whig, & being an active one has been abused by his opponents, but I have ever thought him an honest man. I think he must be known to yourself.2

Flour, depressed under the first panic of the embargo has been rising by degrees to 8½ D. This enables the upper country to get theirs to a good market. Tobacco (except of favorite qualities) is nothing. It’s culture is very much abandoned. In this county what little ground had been destined for it is mostly put into corn. Crops of wheat are become very promising, altho’ deluged with rain, of which 10. Inches fell in 10. days, and closed with a very destructive hail. I am just returned from Bedford. I believe every county South of James river, from Buckingham to the Blue ridge (the limits of my information) furnished it’s quota of volunteers. Your declaration of war is expected with perfect calmness; and if those in the North mean systematically to govern the majority it is as good a time for trying them as we can expect. Affectionately Adieu

Th: Jefferson

RC (DLC: Rives Collection, Madison Papers); FC (DLC: Jefferson Papers). RC docketed by JM. For enclosures, see nn.

1Jefferson enclosed a 13 May letter (2 pp.) he had received from Chandler Price of Philadelphia requesting that the former president use his influence with JM to obtain the appointment of Alexander Stewart as consul in Kingston, Jamaica. Price described Stewart as a merchant who had been residing in Jamaica for two years and who did “business of considerable magnitude” with the merchants of Philadelphia. Price conceded that Stewart had not been born in the U.S. but added that he was “legally and in Principle truely American,” a result Price attributed to Stewart’s having received his apprenticeship in the countinghouse of Morgan and Price, where his democratic principles had become fixed. Price regarded the incumbent consul in Kingston, William Savage, as having vacated the post since he had retired to a country plantation, heavily in debt. The business of the post, he claimed, was now “totally neglected” (DNA: RG 59, LAR, 1809–17, filed under “Stewart”; docketed by Jefferson).

2Caspar Wistar’s 9 May letter to Jefferson urged Timothy Matlack’s appointment to the office of commissioner of loans for Pennsylvania, recently vacated by the death of Blair McClenachan (3 pp.). Wistar briefly outlined Matlack’s military service during the Revolutionary War to support the argument that Matlack had a just “claim upon his country for some provision in the advance of life.” Matlack’s faculties, Wistar added, were still “uncommonly bright,” and he hinted that political divisions in Pennsylvania were the reason Matlack had been left without provision for his declining years (DNA: RG 59, LAR, 1809–17, filed under “Matlack”; docketed by Jefferson). Wistar had written to JM about Matlack’s plight in May 1809, but without success (see PJM-PS description begins Robert A. Rutland et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison: Presidential Series (4 vols. to date; Charlottesville, Va., 1984–). description ends , 1:199).

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