Thomas Jefferson Papers

James Madison to Thomas Jefferson, 25 May 1812

From James Madison

Washington May 25. 1812

Dear Sir

The inclosed letters came under cover to me, by the Hornet. France has done nothing towards adjusting our differences with her. It is understood that the B. & M. Decrees are not in force agst the U. S. and no contravention of them can be established agst her. On the contrary positive cases rebut the allegation. Still the manner of the F. Govt betrays the design of leaving G. B.1 a pretext for enforcing her O. in C. And in all2 other respects the grounds of our complaints3 remain the same. The utmost address has been played off on Mr Barlow’s wishes & hopes; inasmuch that at the Departure of the Hornet which had been so long detained for a final answer, without its being obtained, he looked to the return of the4 Wasp which had just arrived, without despair of making her the Bearer of some satisfactory arrangement. Our calculations differ widely. In the mean time, the business is become more than ever puzzling. To go to war with Engd and not with France arms the federalists with new matter, and divides the Republicans Some of whom with the Quids make a display of impartiality. To go to war agst both, presents a thousand difficulties; above all that of shutting all the ports of the Continent of Europe agst our Cruisers who can do little without the use of them. It is pretty certain also, that it would not gain over the Federalists, who wd turn all those difficulties agst the Administration. The only consideration of weight in favor of this triangular war as it is called, is that it might hasten, thro’ a peace with G. B., or F:5 a termination, for a while at least, of6 the obstinate questions now depending with both.7 But even this advantage is not certain. For a prolongation of such a war might be viewed by both Belligts as desireable, with as little reason for the opinion, as has prevailed in the past conduct of both. affectionate respects

James Madison

RC (DLC: Madison Papers); endorsed by TJ as received 27 May 1812 and so recorded in SJL.

For the inclosed letters, see John Graham to TJ, 23 May 1812, and note. b. & m. decrees: Berlin and Milan Decrees. o. in c.: Orders in Council.

1Madison here canceled “under.”

2Word interlined.

3Manuscript: “complants.”

4Preceding three words interlined.

5Preceding two words interlined.

6Word interlined in place of “after.”

7Preceding two words interlined.

Index Entries

  • Barlow, Joel; and treaty negotiations in Paris search
  • Berlin and Milan decrees; revocation of search
  • France; Berlin and Milan decrees search
  • Great Britain; J. Madison on war with search
  • Great Britain; Orders in Council (1807) search
  • Hornet, USS (sloop) search
  • Madison, James; and war with Great Britain search
  • Madison, James; letters from search
  • Madison, James; on British government search
  • Tertium Quids search
  • Wasp (brig); carries letters to and from Europe search