Thomas Jefferson Papers

From Thomas Jefferson to James Madison, 15 February 1794

To James Madison

Monticello Feb. 15. 1794.

Dear Sir

We are here in a state of great quiet, having no public news to agitate us. I have never seen a Philadelphia paper since I left that place, nor learnt any thing of later date except some successes of the French the account of which seemed to have come by our vessel from Havre. It was said yesterday at our court that Genet was to be recalled: however nobody could tell how the information came. We have been told that Mr. Smith’s speech and your’s also on your propositions have got into Davis’s papers, but none of them have reached us. I could not have supposed, when at Philadelphia, that so little of what was passing there could be known even at Kentuckey, as is the case here. Judging from this of the rest of the Union, it is evident to me that the people are not in a condition either to approve or disapprove of their government, nor consequently to influence it.—I have been1 occupied closely with my own affairs, and have therefore never been from home since my arrival here. I hear nothing yet of the second person whom I had engaged as an overseer from the head of Elk, and the first I fear will prove a poor acquisition. Consequently I am likely to lose a year in the reformation of my plantations.—The winter has been remarkeably mild. No demand for produce of any kind, at any market of James river. Tobacco and wheat may be bartered at low prices for goods at high. But neither can be sold for cash. This was the state of things at Richmond when business was stopped by the smallpox. Here we can get tea at 2½ Dollars, white sugar at 38 Cents, coffee @ 25. cents &c for wheat @ 66 ⅔. Accept for yourself, Colo. & Mrs. Monroe my affectionate respects

Th: Jefferson

RC (DLC: Madison Papers); at foot of text: “Mr. Madison.” PrC (DLC).

William Loughton Smith’s speech in the House of Representatives on 13 Jan. 1794 opened the Federalist attack on the propositions introduced by Madison ten days earlier to implement the proposals in TJ’s Report on Commerce of December 1793. Madison replied in support of the resolutions on 14, 30, and 31 Jan. 1794. Beginning in late January, Smith’s and Madison’s addresses appeared in Augustine Davis’s Virginia Gazette, and General Advertiser and in the Virginia Gazette, and Richmond and Manchester Advertiser, both Richmond newspapers. Davis took the reports from Andrew Brown’s Philadelphia Gazette, which began coverage of the debates on 15 Jan. 1794. For TJ’s reaction to the more extensive account of Smith’s address, which appeared in the Philadelphia Gazette on 24 and 27 Jan. 1794, see TJ to Madison, 3 Apr. 1794. Madison prepared his key speeches for publication in Brown’s paper, the first two appearing on 27 and 28 Feb. 1794 respectively, and the last running in the issues of 3–5 and 7 Mch. 1794. For the failure of Madison’s resolutions, see Editorial Note on Report on Commerce, 16 Dec. 1793.

Second person: Eli Alexander. Poor acquisition: Samuel Biddle.

1TJ here canceled “immensely.”

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