Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from James Madison, 8 January 1797

From James Madison

Philada. Jany. 8. 1797

Dear Sir

I have received your favor of the 17 ult. The election is not likely to terminate in the equilibrium of votes for which the Constitution has not provided. If the Vermont votes should be valid as is now generally supposed, Mr. Adams will have 71. and you 68. Pinkney being in the rear of both. It is to be hoped that the nicety and in truth the unpropitious casualty, of the choice of Mr. A. will lessen the evil of such an ostensible protest by this Country against Republicanism. Your acceptance of a share in the administration will not fail to aid this tendency. It is suggested to me that it will be necessary for you to be here before the adjournment of Congs. in order to be qualified. I have not examined the Constitution and the law on this subject. You will have the means of doing both and of deciding on the question. Altho’ I am sensible of the inconveniency of such a trip at this season of the year, yet I see so many advantages likely to result from it that I can not help wishing it may be found necessary. If you can not qualify elsewhere, you must come of course, that the danger of an interregnum may be provided against. The expence would be no objection; and is besides balanced by the effect of the qualification in settling the date of the compensation.

The special communication from the President, on our affairs with France is not yet made. The gloom over them is in no respect diminished. Not a word from Monroe, or any other quarter, relating to his recall; or enabling us to judge on the question whether Pinkney will be received. We wait with anxiety for the light that will probably be thrown on the first point, by the expected communication.

The inclosed paper will give you the foreign news as it has first made its appearance here. A comparison of paragraphs renders the Italian part of it unfavorable to the French very improbable. There may nevertheless be some foundation for it. The French operations against our Trade seem to be better authenticated, as well as the renewal of the Algerine warfare. The abortive result of Lord Malmsbury’s errand is also highly probable. I just understand that Spain declared war against G.B. on the 8th. of Ocr. Adieu

Gallatin’s work is a book—and the letter of Payne to Genl. W. is not within the compass of our privilege. I sent it some time ago in parcels to Mr. Jones, and requested him to forward them to you.

RC (DLC: Madison Papers); unsigned; endorsed by TJ as received 21 Jan. 1797 and so recorded in SJL. Enclosure not found, but see note below.

Vermont votes: see note to Madison to TJ, 25 Dec. 1796.

Special communication from the president: see Madison to TJ, 22 Jan. 1797.

The paper enclosed by Madison was probably the Philadelphia Gazette of 7 Jan. 1797, which included news by way of Hamburg, Germany, which had first been translated and reported in the New York Daily Advertiser on 5 and 6 Jan. 1797. The Philadelphia Gazette included Italian reports on the suspension of the truces the French Republic held with the Papacy and the Duke of Modena, and the commencement of an alliance between Pope Pius VI and the king of Naples. News from Paris, however, indicated that the Council of Five Hundred had approved a treaty with Naples. This newspaper also carried news from Joseph Yznardi, the United States consul at Cadiz, that French operations had commenced against American trade and a report from Baltimore which described the capture of American vessels indicating a renewal of the Algerine warfare. Finally, the Philadelphia Gazette carried word of the failure of Malmsbury’s Errand. This mission began in October 1796 when the noted diplomat James Harris, Lord Malmesbury, left for Paris with instructions from William Pitt to negotiate a peace settlement with France, with the condition that the Austrian Netherlands be restored to Emperor Francis II. The Directory refused to accept the condition and on 19 Dec. 1796 ordered the British dignitary to leave Paris. Malmesbury returned to France in July 1797 to resume negotiations at Lille, this time without the condition that had previously stalled negotiations, but the coup of 18 Fructidor (4 Sep. 1797) interrupted the proceedings and once again the British diplomat had to leave France without accomplishing his goal (DNB description begins Leslie Stephen and Sidney Lee, eds., Dictionary of National Biography, 2d ed., New York, 1908–09, 22 vols. description ends ; Diaries and Correspondence of James Harris, First Earl of Malmesbury, ed. James Howard Harris, 2d. ed., 4 vols. [London: 1845], iii, 336–52, 355; Emsley, British Society and the French Wars, description begins Clive Emsley, British Society and the French Wars 1793–1815, London, 1979 description ends 63–4; Philadelphia Gazette, 7, 10 Jan. 1797).

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