Thomas Jefferson Papers

Roberts to James Madison, 1 September 1822, with Postscript to Thomas Jefferson

“Roberts” to James Madison, with Postscript to Thomas Jefferson

[Ed. Note: “Roberts,” who wrote under an apparent pseudonym and claimed to be a Revolutionary War veteran, composed a letter to former president James Madison dated Pennsylvania, 1 Sept. 1822. Although Madison’s copy has not been found, a transcription of it was later sent to TJ. In a five-page document received at Monticello in the summer of 1824, the author blamed Madison for both the War of 1812 and “the deplorable condition of our common Country” since that time; accused Madison of bringing on the conflict in order to secure his reelection as president and thus obtain “one hundred thousand dollars (4 years salary)”; excused the British policy of impressing American seamen; stated that the war had led to thousands of deaths and the wasting of “hundreds of millions of our money”; and lamented that, due to “the just vengeance of an angry & offended Diety,” the United States had suffered droughts, disease, bankruptcies, and depressed economic conditions. Beneath his signature, “Roberts” appended a postscript evidently intended for TJ and referencing his refusal while president to submit the 1806 Monroe-Pinkney commercial treaty with Great Britain to Congress, which reads as follows:]

“☞ NB. The act of rejecting a treaty without laying it before the Senate is also a distinguished link in the Chain of causes and effects that brought the Country to the present miserable condition. Independent of Embargo’s, non Intercourse & non importation laws: when fortune and good policy, in combination offered to throw into our nation’s lap, the benefit of Trade & commerce, enable us by Duty on imports & tonage to throw off the burthen of the revolutionary debt, and become what we contended for, realy & truly free and independent!” (Tr in DLC; adjacent to signature: “James Madison Esq.”; above postscript, in parentheses: “Copy”; addressed: “Thomas Jefferson Esquire. Monticillo Virginia” by “mail”; endorsed by TJ as received 24 Aug. 1824 from [parentheses editorially changed to brackets] “Anonymous. [Roberts] Angloman” and so recorded [with last word rendered as “Anglomany”] in SJL). Printed in full in Madison, Papers, Retirement Ser., 2:565–70.

Index Entries

  • anonymous authors; letters from search
  • Congress, U.S.; and Monroe-Pinkney Treaty (1806) search
  • Embargo Act (1807); mentioned search
  • Great Britain; and U.S. search
  • impressment; of American seamen search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Correspondence; anonymous letters to search
  • Madison, James (1751–1836); and outbreak of War of1812 search
  • Madison, James (1751–1836); anonymous letter to search
  • Monroe-Pinkney Treaty (1806) search
  • Non-Intercourse Act (1809); mentioned search
  • Revolutionary War; debts from search
  • Senate, U.S.; and Monroe-Pinkney Treaty (1806) search
  • taxes; customs search
  • United States; and Great Britain search
  • War of1812; and economy search
  • War of1812; U.S. declaration of search