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Anthony Morris to Dolley Madison, 3 June 1823

Anthony Morris to Dolley Madison

Washingn. June 3d. 1823

Dr. Madam

I had made up my Mind on my return from Spain never to trouble Mr. Madison even with the mention of any disappointmt in which the Mission his partiality conferd on Me had resulted from unforeseen circumstances;

I kept my resolution, untill the acceptance of my modest position here,1 and I should invariably have adherd to it had not an intimation from the President to the Secy of State first suggested its propriety. A repetition of the suggestion has been made by the Presidt in my conversation with him yesterday, which is in substance I find detaild in my Daughters letter,2 & which therefore I dont repeat. Thus have I been painfully perplexd between a most sincere delicacy for Mr. Madison’s scruples, and a duty to those most dear to Me, from which perplexity my only relief is, in this communication to you, that I do not find in this reference by the Prest to Mr. Madisons determination, and in his acceding to it, any thing that will on reflexion wound his feelings, or involve any principle of which he would disapprove, If I could, my unlimited respect for you both would, I am sure prevent any allusion to it from any considerations of interest.

In this view of the subject I know I shall be Excusd by You both for renewing the Presidents suggestion in my last conversation “that if Mr. Madison would say in writing that in his Opinion my Acct should be balancd, He would direct that to be done.” This leaves out of view what might be considerd compensatory and deducts from the ball [sic] stated in my former Acct $3074.17.

It limits the allowances to three items of actual Expenditures incurd in the duties of my Mission, in all which I can truly say, I never overstepd the boundaries within which the habits of a private Gentleman, entrusted with confidential communications from the U.S. to the Spanish Court could with decorum be confind. To these Expenditures only, I refer in the three contingent items in my Acct wh would ballance it, & I enclose at the same time the proof of such parts as admits of proof—(Mr Murrays recpt)3 the others carry with them their own Evidence.4 What remains of the Acct is admitted, or depends on questions of Exchange & Comm., which must be adjusted by the Accounting officers;

I address this letter to You my Friend, only because I do not wish to impose on Mr Madison any reply, and I trust you will Excuse the liberty I have taken. That my views may be presented to Mr. M. as briefly as possible, I annex to this letter such a form of Note, as with his Signature undersignd in the Acot would I am sure be satisfacy. No future similar case can occurr—but I refer the form as well as substance entirely to Mr. M’s better judgmt.

I will only add, that the Sums which I ask to have credit for, have been, as I beleive I stated to Mr. Madison, actually receivd by Me, so that there is no new claim on the Treasury, & no Money to be drawn from it. The result of refusing such a Credit, is, that I am left indebted that Amount to the Treasury, to be workd out, by duties at the Desk, before I can receive any part of the Salary annexd to my very modest appointt. a penance which I can never think I have deservd. I am Dr. Madam With Every Sentiment of Esteem & Friendship. Yrs &c

A Morris

Suggested form to be, if approvd, by Mr. Madison, undersigned in the Acct herewith

The Change in Mr. Morris’s destination from Cadiz to Madrid, the increasd Expences of that change, & the circumstances submitted to me by him, induce Me to say at his request, that if my Judgt. could have any influence in the settlemt of his Acct, it wd be in favor of the same being ballancd by the allowance of the items chargd by him in the above Acct.

P.S. That no doubt may Exist of my actual Expendts as stated I add that besides the Sum paid by me to Mr. Murray as Clk hire, his whole maintenance was paid by me, wh at only $1 ⅌ day wd be $1030.
Interest at 12 ⅌ Cent on all the Sums advancd to me in Spain, besides Comms &c, wh & parts of prin. remg due Exceed 2500
Presents; Postage & Stationy. &c &c not chargd 350

RC (DLC: Dolley Madison Papers); enclosures (DLC). RC docketed by JM. For surviving enclosures, see n. 4.

1Morris was a clerk in the register’s office of the Treasury Department (Peter Force, The National Calendar, and Annals of the United States; for MDCCCXXIII [Washington, 1823], 29).

2On 2 June 1823 Phoebe P. Morris wrote to Dolley Madison (DLC: Dolley Madison Papers): “As you had made me promise to detail the result of my Fathers affairs here I must begin with the interview he had this morning with the Pres. The greatest men are not always in the greatest good humor, & a President has certainly many apologies for being sometimes a little sour; Papa thought that even Mr Monroe was this morning not in his best manner. He said after the usual compliments, that he w[o]uld not be pressed & that the account must take its usual course, & go back to the Secretary of State as he had already declined positively from motives of delicacy. Papa resisted this re-reference. The President then renewed his suggestion of Mr. Madison, and said expressly, ‘if He would say in writing, that he thought the account should be balanced, that should be done.’ Much more was said of references of the whole subject to the other Secretaries—to Mr Irving—to Mr Forsyth—to most of whom no particular objection could be made but new delays. Those who have felt that sickness of heart which arises from ‘hope deferred’ can only conceive disappointments thus unnecessarily created. My Father has already waited seven years—& the President talks of griping. I shall leave Washington in a few days with a very heavy heart, in which I am sure you will sympathize.”

3The enclosure has not been found, but in one of the accounts (see n. 4 below), Morris was credited with “salary paid to Jas. W. Murray Clerk hire & Exps. three years (see his recpt) 1450.”

4The enclosures are a statement of Morris’s general and contingent accounts with the United States for his agency in Spain, 1813–16 (1 p.; in Morris’s hand), in which Morris is charged with $18,490.01 on the books of the U.S. Treasury and credited with $17,316.67 for salary and contingent expenses; and an itemization of Morris’s contingent expenses (1 p.; in Morris’s hand) broken down into six categories, including various journeys, clerk hire, and postage and stationery, amounting to $6,925.

5Morris wrote in the left margin: “besides many other Expences omitted entirely in this Acct.”

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