Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from James Madison, 18 October 1795

From James Madison

Orange Octr. 18. 1795

Dear Sir

On opening the letter forwarded by Pickering, which I omitted at Monticello, because I took for granted that it merely covered, like yours, a copy of the French Constitution, I found a letter from Monroe, of the 30 June, from which the following is an extract. “You will be surprised to hear that the only Americans1 whom I found here, were a set of New Engld. men connected with Britain and who upon British capital were trading to this country, that they are hostile to the French revolution is what you well know: but that they should be thriving upon the credit which the efforts of others in other quarters gain the American name here you could not expect, that as such they should be in possession of the little confidence we had and give a tone to characters on our side of the Atlantic was still less to be expected. But such was the fact. With a few exceptions the other Merchants are new made citizens from scotland. Swan who is a corrupt unprincipled rascal had by virtue of being the agent of France and as we had no minister and he being tho (of the latter description) the only or most creditable resident American here had a monopoly of the trade of both countries. Indeed it is believed that he was connected with the agents on one side, and the minister on the other. I mention this as a trait worthy your attention. You will confide this view to Mr. J—ferson2 only. But good may come from it, and especially if the allurement here will draw them off from the other side of the channel.” The remainder of the letter is little more than you have probably seen from him.

I have seen Philada. papers down to the 12 inst: one of them contains another letter from E.R. to the P. dated the 8th.3 and sent to the press on the 10th applying for a paper refused him by Pickering, intimating that the want of this alone delayed his final statement and notifying the P. that his consent would be expected to a publication of it. It appears that the State elections in Pena. will be very warm, and are hinged on the distinction of Treaty and anti Treaty candidates. In Delaware they are over, and have given a Triumph to the Anti Treaty party. The French Constitution has been unanimously concluded by the Convention. It is not yet authenticated that war has taken place between England and Spain, but reports and circumstances continue to point at it. Yrs. affectionately

Js. Madison Jr

RC (DLC: Madison Papers); with extract in first paragraph written partly in code, being transcribed by Madison from James Monroe’s letter to him of 30 June 1795 (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, 32–4), but containing minor coding anomalies including those originally introduced by Monroe, ten words encoded by Monroe that Madison copied en clair, and one omission of code by Madison (see note 2 below), with interlinear decipherment by TJ incorporating his correction of encoding errors (see note 1 below); endorsed by TJ as received 20 Oct. 1795 and so recorded in SJL.

Letter from E.R. to the P.: Andrew Brown’s Philadelphia Gazette of 10 Oct. 1795 contained an extract of a letter from Edmund Randolph to George Washington, 8 Oct. 1795, stating that his vindication required “the discussion of many confidential and delicate points”; that he could with confidence immediately appeal to the American people, “who can be of no party,” but that he would wait for the President to supply the one document that was preventing him from completing his “general letter” to the President (the document requested was Washington’s letter to him of 22 July 1795, which Timothy Pickering, his successor as Secretary of State, had refused to turn over); and that he expected the President to communicate to him any factual errors in the general letter and to “consent to the whole of the affair, howsoever confidential and delicate, being exhibited to the world.” Brown printed the extract at Randolph’s request, along with a covering letter of 10 Oct. 1795 in which Randolph declared his intention only to show the public “what is the state of my vindication.” The full text of Randolph’s letter to the President is in DLC: Washington Papers. Washington agreed to make the document in question available to Randolph, and in a private letter of 21 Oct. 1795 informed him that he was “at full liberty to publish, without reserve, any, and every private and confidential letter I ever wrote you; nay more, every word I ever uttered to, or in your presence, from whence you can derive any advantage in your vindication,” his only condition being that “this letter may be inserted in the compilation you are now making” (Fitzpatrick, Writings, xxxiv, 339–42; Reardon, Randolph description begins John J. Reardon, Edmund Randolph: A Biography, New York, 1974 description ends , 321–2). For Randolph’s resignation, see TJ to James Monroe, 6 Sep. 1795; on his Vindication, which included his general or open letter to Washington alluded to above, see TJ to Madison, 26 Nov. 1795, and note.

1This and subsequent italicized words in the present paragraph are written in code, the text being supplied from TJ’s decipherment and verified by the Editors against Code No. 9.

2Deciphered thus by TJ, reflecting Madison’s error in copying a code from Monroe’s letter.

3Passage from this point through “10th” interlined.

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