Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from James Madison, 14 March 1794

From James Madison

Philada. March 14. 1794.

Dear Sir

The paper of yesterday inclosed, will give you a clue to the designs of the faction which has used Sedgwick for its organ. His immediate prompter will be seen both in his speech and in his propositions. Whether more be seriously aimed at than to embarrass the others which have been long depending, is by some doubted. Perhaps this may be one of the objects; but you understand the game behind the Curtain too well not to perceive the old trick of turning every contingency into a resource for accumulating force in the Government. It would seem however that less subtlety has prevailed in this than in some other instances. The ostensible reason for the provisional army is not only absurd; but remote from the present sensations of the public; and at the same time disarms the projectors of the cavil and calumny used with most success against the commercial propositions, towit, that they tended to provoke war by an unnecessary alarm and irritation to G. Britain. The commercial propositions were the subject of yesterday and will probably be resumed today. We admit that the change of appearances may require something further, but we contend that they ought to make part of our Code until the end be obtained; and that they will be proper whether we are to be at peace or war. In the former case they will have their intended operation: In the latter they will put our Extive. on the right ground for negocia[tion.]

RC (DLC: Madison Papers); unsigned; last word partly illegible; endorsed by TJ as received 31 Mch. 1794 and so recorded in SJL.

In the House of Representatives on 12 Mch. 1794 Theodore Sedgwick, a Massachusetts Federalist, introduced and spoke on behalf of resolutions intended to deter further injuries from Great Britain by authorizing creation of an auxiliary army of 15,000 men and empowering the President to embargo ships in, and prohibit exports from, American harbors for up to forty days at a time (Gazette of the United States, 13 Mch. 1794; see also Annals description begins Annals of the Congress of the United States: The Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States … Compiled from Authentic Materials, Washington, D.C., Gales & Seaton, 1834–56, 42 vols. All editions are undependable and pagination varies from one printing to another. The first two volumes of the set cited here have “Compiled … by Joseph Gales, Senior” on the title page and bear the caption “Gales & Seatons History” on verso and “of Debates in Congress” on recto pages. The remaining volumes bear the caption “History of Congress” on both recto and verso pages. Those using the first two volumes with the latter caption will need to employ the date of the debate or the indexes of debates and speakers. description ends , iv, 500–4).

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