Thomas Jefferson Papers
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James Madison to Thomas Jefferson, 6 November 1809

From James Madison

Washington Novr 6. 1809

Dear Sir

I recd your letter from Eppington. I had not heard that either the Attorney Genl or the Govr of Illinois meant to resign.

Inclosed are several letters for you recd from France by the return of the Wasp. You will see the propriety of my adding one to myself from Mr Short; to be returned after perusal. Our information from Paris, of the 19th of Sepr gives no countenance to the rumoured 1 renewal of hostilities in Austria. The delay of peace in form, alone keeps alive such rumours. But why should such an event flatter the hopes of G.B? According to all the lessons of experience, it would quickly be followed by a more compleat prostration of her Ally. Armstrong had forwarded to the French Court the measure taken here in consequence of the disavowal of Erskine’s arrangement, but there had not been time for an answer. The answer to the previous communication, had been, let England annul her illegal blockade of France, & the Berlin decree will be revoked; let her then revoke her Orders of Novr & the Milan decree falls of course. This State of the question between the two Powers, would promise some good; if it were ascertained that by the Blockade of F. previous to the Berlin decree was meant that of May, extending from the Elb to Brest, or any other specific Act. It is to be feared, that there is an intentional obscurity, or that an express & general2 renunciation of the British practice is made the Condition. From G.B. we have only Newspaper intelligence. The change in the Ministry seems likely to make bad worse; unless we are to look for some favorable change, in the extremity to which things must rapidly proceed under the quackeries & corruptions of an administration headed by such a Being as Percival. Jackson is proving himself a worthy instrument of his Patron Canning. We shall proceed with a circumspect attention to all3 the circumstances mingled in our affairs; but with a confidence at the same time, in a just Sensibility of the Nation, to the respect due to it.

RC (DLC: Madison Papers, Rives Collection); closing and signature clipped; endorsed by TJ as received 24 Nov. 1809 and so recorded in SJL. Enclosures: (1) Count Nicolas de Romanzoff to William Short, Saint Petersburg, 12 June 1809, expressing his and Emperor Alexander I’s regret that Short’s nomination as minister has not been confirmed; reiterating Russia’s friendship for the United States and intention to send Count Pahlen as minister plenipotentiary even if the United States does not reciprocate, provided only that assurances are made that he will be officially received; and stating that Alexander had been moved by Short’s reference to the friendly allusion to him in TJ’s letter of credence and would like to have that letter, now without official value, as a keepsake of someone so virtuous, talented, and devoted to the betterment of mankind as TJ (Tr in DLC; entirely in TJ’s hand; in French; at head of text: “Copy of the letter of Count Romanzoff to W. Short in answer to one informing him of the end put to his mission by the negative of the Senate”; Dft in RuAVPR [microfilm at DLC], dated 7 [19] June 1809; English translation in Bashkina, United States and Russia description begins Nina N. Bashkina and others, eds., The United States and Russia: The Beginning of Relations, 1765–1815, 1980 description ends , 564–5). (2) Short to TJ, Paris, 15 Sept. 1809, abstracted by Short: “inclose to P.—letter of Romanz. to be communicated to him—to recieve Taylors letters for me—Mle Bouti [i.e. Botidoux] & Mrs Rs letter—inclose one now for Taylor—p.s. as to the articles agaist [against] him—as to my coming by France” (FC in DLC: Short Papers, 34:6184–5; from a portion of his epistolary record containing entries from 6 June 1808 to 16 Oct. written on sheets folded to make narrow pages; recorded in SJL as received 24 Nov. 1809). (3) Short to Madison, Paris, 15 Sept. 1809, enclosing no. 1, stating that he had immediately replied to Romanzoff that Pahlen would be received, requesting that no. 1 be sent to TJ so that he could be aware of the emperor’s favorable opinion, reporting that he had sent the letter of credence to Romanzoff as requested, and asking that he forward no. 2 to TJ (RC in DLC: Madison Papers; printed in Madison, Papers description begins William T. Hutchinson, Robert A. Rutland, John C. A. Stagg, and others, eds., The Papers of James Madison, 1962– , 31 vols.: Congress. Ser., 17 vols.; Pres. Ser., 5 vols.; Sec. of State Ser., 6 vols description ends , Pres. Ser., 1:379–80). (4) Lafayette to TJ, 16 Sept. 1809. (5) John Armstrong to TJ, 19 Sept. 1809.

The change in the British ministry occurred on 2 Oct. 1809, when Spencer Perceval replaced the duke of Portland as prime minister (Denis Gray, Spencer Perceval: The Evangelical Prime Minister, 1762–1812 [1963], 254–5).

1Madison here canceled “delay.”

2Preceding two words interlined.

3Word interlined.

Index Entries

  • Alexander I, emperor of Russia; and U.S. search
  • Alexander I, emperor of Russia; TJ’s relationship with search
  • Armstrong, John; dispatches mentioned search
  • Berlin and Milan decrees; revocation of search
  • Botidoux, Marie Jacinthe de; correspondence with M. J. Randolph search
  • Canning, George; British foreign minister search
  • Erskine, David M.; agreement with U.S. search
  • France; Berlin and Milan decrees search
  • Great Britain; Orders in Council (1807) search
  • Jackson, Francis James; British minister to U.S. search
  • Madison, James; letters from search
  • Pahlen, Théodore, Count; Russian minister to U.S. search
  • Perceval, Spencer; British prime minister search
  • Randolph, Martha Jefferson (Patsy; TJ’s daughter; Thomas Mann Randolph’s wife); correspondence of search
  • Rodney, Caesar Augustus; rumor of resignation search
  • Romanzoff, Nicolas de; Russian foreign minister search
  • Russia; U.S. minister to search
  • Short, William; letter of credence for search
  • Short, William; nomination of, rejected search
  • State Department, U.S.; letter of credence for W. Short search
  • United States; and Alexander I search
  • Wasp (brig); carries letters to and from Europe search