Thomas Jefferson Papers

James Madison to Thomas Jefferson, 9 April 1809

From James Madison

Apl 9. 1809

Dear Sir

I return the letter of Mazzei, without however having ascertained the fact as to the remittance by the Sculptor. Latrobe I presume, will give the information in his answer to the letter which I have forwarded to him. He is now in Philada.

A Secretary of Legation with a sort of Extra establishment has just arrived from England, with despatches for Erskine. I have a private letter only from Pinkney. The Ministry of G.B. are pretty certainly shaken with respect to this Country. The Catastrophe in Spain, and the new policy to which it leads, have doubtless contributed towards it. But it is unquestionable that the documents cmunicated to Congs and the countenance presented by their earlier resolutions, afford the true explanation. Erskine has not yet opened much of his budget to Mr Smith. The contents of it were not disclosed to Pinkney; perhaps from an unwillingness to risk a discovery by France, or a use of them by Armstrong. Private letters from individuals in England, leave no doubt that a great dread prevailed of our perseverence in the Embargo.

Among the faux pas of Erving,1 he has brought about an arrangement between Iznardi, & Hackley, much to be regretted on acct of the latter. It is a sort of simoniacal contract, by which H. gives Iz 600 dolrs a year, and receives from him the appt of vice Consul; Iz: retaining the title without the responsibility of Consul. The contract, with sundry details, apportioning the functions & formalities, is executed in due form, with the sanction of Erving as a witness, and transmitted hither for that of the Govt. Erving (who appears to have become a little aware of the folly committed) was to have applied to the Spanish Authorities, for an exequatur to the Vice Consulate; but has suspended the application till he hears from us. In the mean time, the contract is in operation. No time was lost by the Dept of State, in giving notice of the nullity & impropriety of such a transaction. I am persuaded from what appears that Mr H. has been betrayed into it by his confidence in the judgmt & experience of others. Erving remarks particularly that his conduct was unexceptionably delicate. It becomes a serious question nevertheless whether the contemplated appointment of him at Cadiz, would not leave suspicions that the bargain with Iznardi, was secretly in fulfilment, and of course furnish a handle to a disappd Candidate for injurious attacks on the Govt as well as Mr H. If it were certain that Jarvis wd not remain at Lisbon, it wd mitigate the difficulty by transferring H. thither. It is not probable that Jarvis wd be willing to remove to Cadiz, which I believe is not rated as high as Lisbon, as a Consular birth. I recollect no other vacancy that would bear a comparison with Cadiz.

Yrs Affectly

James Madison

RC (DLC: Madison Papers); at foot of text: “Mr Jefferson”; endorsed by TJ as received 14 Apr. 1809 and so recorded in SJL.

For the enclosed letter of mazzei and the letter from Philip Mazzei forwarded to Benjamin Henry Latrobe by Madison, see TJ to Madison, 24 Mar. 1809, and note.

In 1806 TJ appointed Richard S. hackley, the husband of Thomas Mann Randolph’s sister Harriet, consul to San Lúcar, Spain (JEP description begins Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate of the United States description ends , 2:45 [15, 17 Dec. 1806]). George Erving described the contract between Hackley and Josef Yznardy for the vice-consulship at Cádiz in a private letter to Madison of 12 Jan. 1809 (MHi: Winthrop Family Papers). Hackley did not receive a new government appointment.

1Below TJ’s endorsement to this letter, at a later date Madison wrote: “see if any thing further explains the faux pas of E.”

Index Entries

  • Armstrong, John; dispatches mentioned search
  • Cádiz; U.S. consul at search
  • Erskine, David M.; dispatches for search
  • Erving, George William; and Cádiz consulate search
  • Franzoni, Giuseppe Antonio; wages of search
  • Hackley, Harriet Randolph (Richard S. Hackley’s wife); family of search
  • Hackley, Richard Shippey; dispute over vice-consulship at Cádiz search
  • Jarvis, William; consul at Lisbon search
  • Latrobe, Benjamin Henry; and payment for Italian sculptors search
  • Lisbon; U.S. consulship at search
  • Madison, James; letters from search
  • Mazzei, Philip; and sculptors for U.S. Capitol search
  • Pinkney, William; as U.S. minister to Great Britain search
  • Smith, Robert; secretary of state search
  • Yznardy, Josef; dispute over vice-consulship at Cádiz search