Notes on Debates
MS (LC: Madison Papers). See Notes on Debates, 4 November 1782, ed. n.
Mr. Livingston Secy. of F. Affairs called upon me & mentioned his intention to resign in a short time his office;2 observing that as he ultimately was decided to prefer his place of Chancellor in N. York to the other, and the two had become incompatible by the increase of Business in the former, he thought it expedient not to return to Phila. after a visit to N. Y. which was required by this increase.3 In the course of conversation he took notice that the expence of his appointt. under Congress had exceeded his salary abt. 3000 Dollrs. per annum.4 He asked me whether it was probable Mr. Jefferson would accept the vacancy, or whether he would accept Mr. Jay’s place in Spain, and leave the vacancy to the latter. I told him I thought5 Mr. J. wd. not accept it himself & doubted whether he would concur in the latter arrangement, as well as whether Congress would be willing to part with Mr. Jay’s services in the Negociations of peace; but promised to sound Mr. J. on these points by the first opportunity6
1. This is one of the few entries in JM’s notes which deal with public business other than the debates in Congress.
2. For Robert R. Livingston’s friendship with JM and his discontent because Congress left little of importance in foreign affairs to his discretion, see Papers of Madison description begins William T. Hutchinson, William M. E. Rachal, et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison (5 vols. to date; Chicago, 1962——). description ends , III, 202, n. 1; IV, 84, n. 1; 189, ed. n.; 213, n. 7. By November, moreover, Livingston had become the target of a cross fire of criticism. His opponents in Philadelphia complained that he was absent too often from the office of the secretary for foreign affairs; those in New York, that his obligations to Congress caused him to neglect his duties as state chancellor and member of the Council of Revision (Burnett, Letters description begins Edmund C. Burnett, ed., Letters of Members of the Continental Congress (8 vols.; Washington, 1921–36). description ends , VI, 529; Hugh Hastings and J. A. Holden, eds., Public Papers of George Clinton, VIII, 53–54; George Dangerfield, Chancellor Robert R. Livingston, pp. 177, 477, n. 28). See also Notes on Debates, 2 December, and 3 December 1782, n. 8.
3. After “Chancellor,” JM interlineated “in N. York”; after “become,” he deleted “no longer” and changed “compatible” to “incompatible”; and after “visit,” he interlineated “to N. Y. which.” For Livingston’s “short visit to the State of N. Y. in the month of Jany,” see Report on Conference with Livingston, 21 December 1782, and n. 3.
4. Livingston’s salary as secretary for foreign affairs was $4,000 a year (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XXII, 91–92). In his letter of resignation, dated 2 December 1782, Livingston stated that the $3,000 extra expense did not take into account the depreciation and maintenance cost of the horses, carriages, and household furniture which he had brought to Philadelphia (NA: PCC, No. 79, fols. 395–98).
5. JM interlineated “thought” above a deleted “believed.”