Thomas Jefferson Papers

From Thomas Jefferson to James Madison, 7 May 1784

To James Madison

Annapolis May 7. 1784.

Dear Sir

The inclosed resolutions on the subject of commerce are the only things of consequence passed since my last. You will be surprised to receive another pair of spectacles. The paper with them will explain the error. If you can dispose of the supernumerary pair do so, and I will remit the money to Dudley; if you cannot, return them by the next post and I will return them to him.

Congress is now on1 foreign treaties. Mercer has devised new expedients for baffling the measure. He has put it into Read’s head to think of being appointed a foreign minister and has by his intrigues defeated every proposition which did not proceed on that ground. He is very mischievous. He is under no moral restraint. If he avoids shame he avoids wrong according to his system. His fondness for Machiavel is genuine and founded on a true harmony of principle.

RC (DLC: Rives Papers); unsigned and without name of addressee; partly in code. Internal evidence (the reference to spectacles) and following entry in SJL prove that it was addressed to Madison: “Madison. Inclosed resolutions about commerce—2d. pr. spectacles. To sell supernumerary or return—800.758 [Mercer].” Neither enclosure has been found (the second must have been a memorandum or note from Dudley that TJ did not bother to record in SJL).

On 13 May 1784 Madison wrote to his father: “The spectacles herewith enclosed came to my hands yesterday with information that the pair first sent were forwarded by mistake. It will however give my mother a double chance of suiting herself. I wish the pair which may not be preferred to be sent down to me by the earliest opportunity, unless they should suit yourself and you chuse to keep them, as I am desir’d by the Maker to return them in case they should not be wanted” (DLC: Madison Papers).

1This and subsequent words in italics are written in code and have been decoded by the editors, employing Code No. 3.

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