Thomas Jefferson Papers
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James Madison to Thomas Jefferson, 7 June 1811

From James Madison

Washington June 7. 1811

Dear Sir

I return the letter from you to D.1 on the subject of Mr G.2 he seems to be incorrigible. If I am not misinformed, his eyes are opening to the conduct & character of Mr S, with respect to both of which he has suffered himself to be misled partly by his own passions, partly by those who took advantage of them. You see the new shapes our foreign relations are taking. The occurrence between Rogers & the British ship of war, not unlikely to bring on repetitions, will probably end in an open rupture, or a better understanding as the calculations of the B. Govt may prompt or dissuade from war. Among the items in these will be the temper here, as reported by its partizans. The state of parties in Massts is in this view important, especially as it will attract particular notice by its effect in degrading3 Pickering who has made himself so conspicuous in the British service. On the other hand much impatience is shewing itself in the Eastn States, under the non-importation. The little embarrassment felt4 which occurs in procuring returns for the apples5 & onions sent from Connecticut to the W. Indies, is generating remonstrances as in the case of the Embargo. I have been obliged to answer one from N. Haven headed by Hillhouse, which they have not yet published. The protracted delay of the Essex still leaves us a prey to the ignorance & interested falsehoods which fill our newspapers. It would seem that G.B. is determined agst repealing her orders, and that Bonaparte is equally so on6 the destruction of her commerce, to which he readily sacrifices his own commerce with the U.S. As to the blockade of England (the decree to which alone the Act of Congs & the Proclamation have reference) there is no evidence of its being continued in force. All the Official evidence is on the other side. And yet by a confusion of ideas or artifice of language, the appearance is kept up that the ground of the non-importation has failed, and that it is consequently a wrong to G.B. After all, we must remain somewhat in the dark till we have more on the subject; probably till the return of the vessel that carried to France, the Act of Congs putting in force the non-importation, for wch Bonap. seems to be waiting. After a severe drought, we have had a copious rain. I hope you have shared it & that it will have aided the wheatfields in their conflict with the Hessian fly.

Be assured of my constant & truest affection

James Madison

RC (DLC: Madison Papers); endorsed by TJ as received 9 June 1811 and so recorded in SJL. Enclosure: TJ to William Duane, 30 Apr. 1811.

mr s.: Robert Smith. Commodore John Rodgers in command of USS President exchanged shots and inflicted casualties on a british ship of war, the Lille Belt, in an encounter with disputed causes off the Virginia coast on 16 May 1811. massts voters had recently sent a Republican majority to the state legislature (Washington National Intelligencer, 13 Apr., 23 May 1811; Madison, Papers description begins William T. Hutchinson, Robert A. Rutland, John C. A. Stagg, and others, eds., The Papers of James Madison, 1962– , 29 vols.: Congress. Ser., 17 vols.; Pres. Ser., 5 vols.; Sec. of State Ser., 7 vols description ends , Pres. Ser., 3:342). Madison replied on 24 May 1811 to an 11 Mar. petition from James hillhouse and other New Haven residents opposed to the Non-Importation Act that cut off trade with the British West Indies (Madison, Papers description begins William T. Hutchinson, Robert A. Rutland, John C. A. Stagg, and others, eds., The Papers of James Madison, 1962– , 29 vols.: Congress. Ser., 17 vols.; Pres. Ser., 5 vols.; Sec. of State Ser., 7 vols description ends , Pres. Ser., 3:216–7, 316–8).

1At a later date Madison expanded this to “Duane.”

2At a later date Madison expanded this to “Gallatin.”

3Reworked from “expelling.”

4Word reworked from illegible word.

5At a later date Madison wrote “articles” above this word.

6Word interlined in place of “agst,” possibly by Madison at a later date.

Index Entries

  • Connecticut; and embargo search
  • Embargo Act (1807); J. Madison on search
  • Hessian fly search
  • Hillhouse, James; opposes Embargo search
  • Lille Belt,HMS; encounter with USSPresident search
  • Madison, James; and W. Duane search
  • Madison, James; letters from search
  • Madison, James; on British government search
  • Massachusetts; elections in search
  • Pickering, Timothy; as secretary of state search
  • President, USS (frigate); encounter with HMS Lille Belt search
  • Rodgers, John; American naval commander search
  • Smith, Robert; dismissed as secretary of state search
  • West Indies; and non-importation search