Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from James Madison, 26 March 1782

From James Madison

Philadelphia, March 26, 1782.

Dear Sir

A letter has been lately received from you by the President of Congress, accompanied by a bundle of papers procured from the Cherokees by Colonel Campbell. As it appears that these papers were transmitted at the request of the late President, it is proper to apprize you that it was made without any written or verbal sanction, and even without the knowledge of Congress; and not improbably with a view of fishing for discoveries which may be subservient to the aggressions meditated on the territorial rights of Virginia. It would have been unnecessary to trouble you with this, had it not appeared that Colonel Campbell has given a promise of other papers; which if he should fulfil, and the papers contain any thing which the adversaries of Virginia may make an ill use of, you will not suffer any respect for the acts of Congress to induce you to forward hither.

MS not found. Text printed from Papers of James Madison, Henry D. Gilpin, ed., Washington, 1840, i, 116.

The Letter … received from you by the president of congress was TJ’s letter to McKean, 20 Dec. 1781. Technically Madison was no doubt correct in stating that Huntington’s request of TJ of 27 Apr. 1781 was made without any written or verbal sanction of Congress, for there is no evidence in the Journals that Hazard’s letter, forwarded by Huntington to TJ on the date mentioned, was read or referred to in Congress; yet Huntington was certainly acting in line with if not under authority of a former action of Congress (see Vol. 1: 144–8).

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