Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from James Madison, 27 May 1798

From James Madison

May 27. 98

Dear Sir

I have duly recd. yours of the 17th. accompanied by the Direct tax bill which I have not yet been able to run thro’. Every thing I perceive is carried as the war party chuse. They will of course be the more responsible for consequences. The disposition to continue the Session is a proof that the operation of the irritating proceedings here on those of France is expected to furnish fresh fuel for the popular flame & to favor the success of the Executive projects in the Legislature. It is to be deplored that we have no authentic & impartial channel thro’ which the true state of things in Europe, particularly in France can reach the public mind of this Country. The present temper of the Envoys cannot fail to discolour all that passes thro’ them; and if this were not the case, the obvious policy of the Ex is a compleat bar to the disclosure of all other than inflammatory communications.

The inclosed accurate & authentic view of that “stupendous fabric of human wisdom” which Mr. A idolizes so much deserves I think the public attention at the present moment. At the request of Calander I promised several years ago to send it to him, but never could lay my hand on it, till a few days ago when it fell in my way without being sought for. If you have an oppy & think it worth while you can let the public have a sight of it; & for the reason just mentioned I could wish if there be no objection that it might pass thro’ his hands. As the paper is of some value, it may be well to preserve it in case it should not be republished, or in case a part only should be so.

There have been pretty extensive, but not universal rains since my last. This neighbourhood has been but barely touched by them. I have not heard from yours. Adieu affecly.

J M. Jr

RC (DLC: Madison Papers); addressed: “Thomas Jefferson,” with “private” written above; endorsed by TJ as received 5 June 1798 and so recorded in SJL. Enclosure not found, but see note below.

John Adams’s view of the English constitution as “the most stupendous fabric of human invention” is expressed in his Defence of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America. He observed that “Americans ought to be applauded instead of censured, for imitating it as far as they have done.” TJ described Madison’s enclosure as the “petition for the reform of the British parliament” (Adams, Works description begins Charles Francis Adams, ed., The Works of John Adams, Boston, 1850–56, 10 vols. description ends , 4:358; TJ to Madison, 7 June 1798). The editors of the Madison papers have tentatively identified the paper as a “Petition praying for a Reform in Parliament, presented to the House of Commons by Charles Grey, Esq. on Monday, 6th May, 1793; and signed only by the Members of the Society of the Friends of the People, associated for the Purpose of obtaining a Parliamentary Reform” in Annual Register … for the Year 1793 (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, 27 vols. Sec. of State Ser., 5 vols. description ends , 17:138).

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