Thomas Jefferson Papers

James Madison to Thomas Jefferson, 14 October 1812

From James Madison

Washington Ocr 14. 1812

Dear Sir

I recd your favor of the 2d inclosing the letter from Mr Meigs. The place he wishes, has been long allotted to Mr Mansfield, who preferred it to that of the Surveyorship held by him; and who has just obtained the exchange; and a Commission for the place vacated, has just been sent to Mr Meigs, who was long ago recommended for it; and who it was understood wished it. It is the more probable that it will be acceptable to him, as he has connections in the W. Country, particularly the present Govr of Ohio.

I see so little chance of being able to peruse the lucubrations of Faronda you were so good as to send me, that I replace them, for the present at least in your hands

The last intelligence from the Westward left a military crisis near Fort Defiance. Winchester with about half the army, was encamped within 3 miles of the encampment of about 300 British Troops with some field pieces & a body of Indians stated at 2000. or 2500. It is probable they were destined agst Fort Wayne; with the general view of finding employment for our forces on their way to Detroit untill the Season should be spent, or Brock could send troops from below. Of our affairs at Niagara & the neighborhood of Montreal, it is difficult to judge, the force of the Enemy being imperfectly known, & that under General Dearborn, depending so much on circumstances. Our best hopes for the campaign rest on Harrison; and if no disaster, always to be feared from Indian combats, befall him, there is a probability that he will regain Detroit, and perhaps do more. He has a force of 8 or 10,000 men at least, enthusiastically confiding in him, and a prospect of adequate supplies of every sort, unless it be Cannon, which tho’ on the way, may possibly encounter fatal delays. This article however he appears not to make a sine qua non; nor will it be wanted for Detroit, if it be true as is reported that every piece has been withdrawn by the British.

The latest accts from Europe are in the Newspapers. The ideas of which Foster & Russel are1 put in possession, will soon draw from the B. Govt some evidence of their views as to peace.2 From France we hear nothing; and shall probably meet Congs under the perplexity of that situation

The current Elections bring the popularity of the war or of the administration, or both,3 to the Experimentum Crucis. In this State the issue is not favorable, tho’ less otherwise than would appear. In the Congressional Districts the Republicans I believe, have not lost ground at all, notwithstanding the auxiliaries to federalism. In the State Legislature, they will be in a minority on a joint vote. Penna altho’ admitted to be shaken, is represented to be safe. New Jersey is doubtful at least. The same is the case with New Hampshire. North Carolina also is reported to be in considerable4 vibration. The other States, remain5 pretty decided on one hand or on the other.

You will be amused with the little work of the Author of several humurous publications. Irvine6 of N. York. It sinks occasionally into low & local phrases, and sometimes forgets the allegorical character. But is in general good painting on substantial Canvas.

Affece respects.

James Madison

RC (DLC: Madison Papers); endorsed by TJ as received 17 Oct. 1812 and so recorded in SJL. Enclosure: James Kirke Paulding, The Diverting History of John Bull and Brother Jonathan. By Hector Bull-us (New York, 1812). Other enclosures not found.

experimentum crucis: “crucial experiment” (OED description begins James A. H. Murray, J. A. Simpson, E. S. C. Weiner, and others, eds., The Oxford English Dictionary, 2d ed., 1989, 20 vols. description ends ). By this state Madison evidently meant Maryland, in which the recently concluded elections left the Federalists with a majority in the state House of Delegates numerically outweighing the Republican majority in the state Senate, and thus with the ability to elect Federalists for governor and the United States Senate (Washington National Intelligencer, 8, 10, 15 Oct. 1812). As Madison later noted, the enclosed humorous work was not by Washington Irving (irvine).

1Preceding three words interlined in place of “who.”

2Preceding three words interlined.

3Preceding six words interlined.

4Word interlined in place of illegible word.

5Word interlined in place of “were.”

6At foot of text at a later date, Madison wrote “‘John Bull & brother Jonathan’ rather by Paulding” and keyed it to this word with a plus sign.

Index Entries

  • A History of New York (Irving) search
  • Brock, Isaac search
  • Dearborn, Henry; and N.Y. campaign search
  • Detroit, Mich. Territory; U.S. effort to retake search
  • Federalist party; in Md. search
  • Foronda, Valentín de; letters of forwarded search
  • Fort Defiance, Ohio search
  • Fort Wayne, Ind. Territory search
  • Foster, Augustus John; and armistice proposals search
  • Harrison, William Henry; prospects for military campaign of search
  • Irving, Washington; A History of New York search
  • Madison, James; letters from search
  • Mansfield, Jared search
  • Maryland; elections in search
  • Meigs, Josiah; seeks appointment search
  • New Hampshire; elections in search
  • New Jersey; elections in search
  • North Carolina; elections in search
  • Paulding, James Kirke; The Diverting History of John Bull and Brother Jonathan search
  • Pennsylvania; elections in search
  • Russell, Jonathan; U.S. chargé at London search
  • The Diverting History of John Bull and Brother Jonathan (Paulding) search
  • Winchester, James; and command of Northwest Army search