Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from James Madison, 25 May 1794

From James Madison

Philada. May 25. 1794.

Dear Sir

Your favor of the 15th. Inst: came to hand yesterday. I will procure you the “definition of parties,” and one or two other things from the press which merit a place in your archives. Osnabrigs can be had here. Negro cotton I am told can also be had; but of this I am not sure. I learn nothing yet of Blake. The inclosed paper will give you the correspondence of E.R. and Hammond on an occurrence particularly interresting. You will be as able to judge as we are of the calculations to be founded on it. The embargo expires today. A proposition some days ago for continuing it was negatived by a vast majority; all parties in the main concurring. The Republican was assured that the Embargo if continued would be considered by France as hostility: The other had probably an opposite motive. It now appears that through out the Continent the people were anxious for its continuance, and it is probable that its expiration will save the W. Inds. from famine, without affording any sensible aid to France. A motion was put on the table yesterday for re-enacting it. Measures of this sort are not the fashion. To supplicate for peace, and under the uncertainty of success, to prepare for war by taxes and troops is the policy which now triumphs under the patronage of the Executive. Every attack on G.B. thro’ her commerce is at once discomfited; and all the taxes, that is to say excises, stamps, &c. are carried by decided majorities. The plan for a large army has failed several times in the H. of Reps. It is now to be sent from the Senate, and being recomended by the Message of the P. accompanying the intelligence from the Miami, will probably succeed. The influence of the Ex. on events, the use made of them, and the public confidence in the P. are an overmatch for all the efforts Republicanism can make. The party of that sentiment in the Senate is compleatly wrecked; and in the H. of Reps. in a much worse condition than at an earlier period of the Session.

RC (DLC: Madison Papers); unsigned; endorsed by TJ as received 10 June 1794 and so recorded in SJL.

The correspondence between Secretary of State Edmund Randolph and British minister George Hammond of 20–22 May 1794, promptly submitted to Congress by the President, concerned Lord Dorchester’s provocative speech of 10 Feb. 1794 predicting to a delegation of the Western Indians that Great Britain would be at war with the United States within a year and would then enlist the assistance of Indian warriors, as well as a report received by Washington that Lieutenant Governor John Graves Simcoe and three companies of British regulars were on their way to build a fort at “the foot of the rapids of the Miami.” In responding to these grievances with his own litany of complaints about American infringements on British forts on the frontier and infractions of neutrality on the coast, Hammond admitted that he could neither confirm nor deny the report, but he promised to seek clarification from British authorities in Canada and London (Philadelphia Gazette, 26 Mch., 24 May 1794; ASP description begins American State Papers: Documents, Legislative and Executive, of the Congress of the United States, Washington, D.C., Gales & Seaton, 1832–61, 38 vols. description ends , Foreign Relations, i, 461–3; ASP description begins American State Papers: Documents, Legislative and Executive, of the Congress of the United States, Washington, D.C., Gales & Seaton, 1832–61, 38 vols. description ends , Indian Affairs, i, 477–82). The 24 May 1794 motion for re-enacting the embargo was withdrawn the same day by its author, Alexander Gillon of South Carolina, and easily defeated when he made the proposal again five days later (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, 722, 731–4).

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