From William Branch Giles
Petersburg October 29th 1795
I arrived in this place last evening, and found the memorial contained in the inclosed paper in circulation here, although I heard nothing of it in Richmond where I have spent several of the last preceeding days. Upon inquiry I find it almost impossible to get any paper respecting the treaty into the press here without some pointed remarks upon its unconstitutional feature, which is considered by the observing people the most prominent, as well as the most odious. This memorial is printed in hand bills, as well as in the newspaper, one of which I should also inclose you, but in consequence of some errors in the first impressions, it will probably undergo a reprinting in the course of a few days. I am told it will probably be subscribed in the neighbouring counties of this place almost universally, if the time should not be too short, to give the people an opportunity of doing so.
I propose to make another visit to Monticello before I go into winter quarters.
Mr. Henning to whom this letter is intrusted is about to leave this place this moment for Charlottsville, and promises to attend particularly to its delivery.
Be pleased to make my best respects to the Ladies of your family to Mr. Randolph and Mr. Carr and accept my fervant wishes for your personal happiness &c.
Wm. B. Giles
RC (DLC); at foot of text: “Mr Jefferson”; endorsed by TJ as received 3 Nov. 1795 and so recorded in SJL. Enclosure not found, but see note below.
The memorial … in circulation for signatures was a 12 Oct. 1795 petition to the Virginia General Assembly against the Jay Treaty, drafted by James Madison, which argued that the addition to the treaty of an article suspending Article 12 would require its resubmission to the “constituted authorities” for ratification, and criticized the treaty at length for failing to obtain compensation for British violations of the Treaty of Paris, making disadvantageous commercial concessions to the British, and failing to gain British recognition of basic American neutral rights, all of which made it “unworthy the voluntary acceptance of an independent people” (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, 95–104). Giles probably enclosed the first printing, now lost, that appeared in the Virginia Gazette, and Petersburg Intelligencer, sometime between 13 and 27 Oct. 1795, and TJ appears to have taken some interest in the additions Madison made to the petition (same, 66n, 68n; TJ to George Washington, 19 June 1796, and note). The origins of the petition and the evolution of the text in surviving manuscript and printed forms, as well as the General Assembly’s response to it, are discussed 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, 62–9n.