Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from James Madison, 6 August 1795

From James Madison

Augst. 6. 95.

Dear Sir

I return the paper covered by your favor of the third, which was handed me by a gentleman who picked it up in Charlottesville. I find that the meeting in N. York was not exactly as represented to you. The Republicans were never outnumbered; and the vote of a very full meeting was finally unanimous in remonstrating against the Treaty. The Chamber of Commerce has had a separate meeting and has passed some counteracting Resolutions. In Portsmouth, Boston and Philada. unanimous Remonstrances have also issued from Town Meetings and been sent by express to the P. The silence of the disaffected minorities is easily explained. I understand that Mr. Wythe presided at the Richmond Meeting, a circumstance which will not be without its weight; especially as he presided at the former Meeting in support of the Proclamation. A gentleman who was present says he was told two individuals only in the City, (Hopkins and one of the Marshalls) openly espoused the Treaty. Even Andrews joins in the general denunciation of it. I have a letter from the Bishop which is a Philippic on the subject. In short from all quarters the public voice seems to proclaim the same detestation; except from Alexandria and its neighbourhood where there is some division. Docr. Stuart and the Lees take the side of the Treaty. I have a letter from Chancellor Livingston which tells me he has taken the liberty of writing a free letter to the P. with a view to impress on him the public sentiment and the consequences of ratifying an act so hostile to the opinions and interests of the people, and to the good understanding with France. The inclosed papers contain some remarks on the Treaty from a hand which will claim attention. They are borrowed, and you may therefore return them by Mr. Jones or any other convenient opportunity. Yrs. affecly.

Js. M. Jr.

RC (DLC: Madison Papers); with several slips of the pen silently corrected; endorsed by TJ as received 8 Aug. 1795 and so recorded in SJL, where TJ mistakenly listed it as a letter of 8 Aug. 1795. Enclosures not found.

The very full meeting at New York occurred on 20 July 1795 and that of the chamber of commerce took place the following day. Both sets of resolutions were sent to the President (Syrett, Hamilton description begins Harold C. Syrett and others, eds., The Papers of Alexander Hamilton, New York, 1961–87, 27 vols. description ends , xviii, 485–8n; Young, Democratic Republicans, 449–54.

Remonstrances … sent by express to the P.: Washington received resolutions against the Jay Treaty from Boston, Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and Philadelphia dated 13, 17, and 26 July, 1795, respectively (Selectmen of the Town of Boston to Washington, 13 July 1795, Jonathan Warren to Washington, 17 July 1795, and William Shippen, Jr., to Washington, 26 July 1795, all in DLC: Washington Papers).

Madison applauded George Wythe’s role as chair of the Richmond meeting held on 29 and 30 July, which resulted in resolutions and an address against the Jay Treaty that were sent to the President by Andrew Dunscomb, mayor of Richmond, because two years earlier Wythe had chaired an extensively publicized meeting organized by Federalists to defend Washington’s Proclamation of Neutrality and indirectly criticize Edmond Charles Genet (Dunscomb to Washington, 31 July 1795, in same; George Wythe to TJ and Edmund Randolph, 17 Aug. 1793, and note; Madison to TJ, 27 Aug. 1793, and note).

Letter from the Bishop: the Reverend James Madison to Madison, 25 July 1795, in Madison, Papers description begins William T. Hutchinson, Robert A. Rutland, J. C. A. Stagg, and others, eds., The Papers of James Madison, Chicago and Charlottesville, 1962–, 24 vols. description ends , xvi, 40–41. Letter from Chancellor Livingston: Robert R. Livingston to Madison, 6 July 1795, in which—with respect to TJ’s letter to George Hammond of 5 Sep. 1793, annexed to the Jay treaty to clarify Article 7—he lamented: “You see my apprehentions on the score of Mr. Jeffersons sentiments relative to the rights of neutral vessels fully verified they have as I predicted furnished arguments to our enemies and are here considered as the most powerful appology for Mr. Jay” (same, 34–5). Livingston tried to counteract the use of TJ’s letter by supporters of the treaty in the fifteenth of the sixteen anti-treaty essays he penned under the pseudonym of “Cato,” a series first published in the New York Argus, or Greenleaf’s New Daily Advertiser between 15 July and 30 Sep. 1795 (The American Remembrancer; Or, an Impartial Collection of Essays, Resolves, Speeches, &c. Relative, or Having Affinity, to the Treaty with Great Britain, 3 vols. [Philadelphia, 1795–96], ii, 8–10; George Dangerfield, Chancellor Robert R. Livingston of New York, 1746–1813 [New York, 1960], 272, 495n). Letter to the P.: Livingston to Washington, 8 July 1795, urging the President to place the national interest above party conflict and reject the Jay treaty—a decision that would “procure to yourself a second time, by the common consent of America the endearing appallation of the savior of your country”—and expressing dread that ratification of the treaty would provoke “an immediate rupture with France,” an event that he feared would be “the signal for a civil war at home” (DLC: Washington Papers).

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