James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Thomas Jefferson, 16 March 1784

From Thomas Jefferson

Annapolis Mar. 16. 1784.

Dear Sir

I received yesterday by mr. Maury your favor of Feb. 17. That which you mention to have written by post a few days before is not yet come to hand. I am induced to this quick reply to the former by an alarming paragraph in it, which is that Mazzei is coming to Annapolis. I tremble at the idea. I know he will be worse to me than a return of my double quotidian head-ach. There is a resolution reported to Congress by a Committee that they will never appoint to the office of minister, chargé des affairs, consul, agent &c (describing the foreign emploiments) any but natives. To this I think there will not be a dissenting vote: and it will be taken up among the first things. Could you not, by making him acquainted with this divert him from coming here? A consulate is his object, in which he will assuredly fail. But his coming will be attended with evil. He is the violent enemy of Franklin having been some time at Paris, from my knolege of the man I am sure he will have emploied himself in collecting on the spot facts true or false to impeach him. You know there are people here who, on the first idea of this, will take him to their bosom & turn all Congress topsy turvy. For god’s sake then save us from this confusion if you can.1

We have eight states only & 7. of these represented by two members. Delaware & S. Carolina we lost within these two days by the expiration of their powers. The other absent states are N. York, Maryland & Georgia.2 We have done nothing & can do nothing in this condition but waste our time, temper, & spirits in debating things for days or weeks & then losing them by the negative of one or two individuals.

We have letters from Franklin & the Marq. Fayette of the 24th. & 25th. of Dec.3 They inform us that North & Fox are out, Pitt & Temple coming in, that whole nation extremely indisposed towards us, & as having not lost the idea of reannexing us, the Turks & Russians likely to be kept quiet another year, the Marquis coming to America this spring, mr Laurence then about sailing for America, mr Adams leaving England for the Hague, mr Jay at Bath but about returning to Paris. Our ratification tho’ on board two different vessels at N. York in the hands of officers as early as the 20th. of Jan. did not sail thence till the 17th of Feb. on account of the ice. I will attend to your desire about the booksellers. I am considerably mended in my health & hope a favourable change in the weather which seems to be taking place will reestablish me.

I wish you would keep a diary under the following heads or columns: 1. day of the month.4 2. thermometer at sunrise. 3. barometer at sunrise. 6.5 thermom. at 4. P. M. 7. barometer at 4. P. M. 4 direction of wind at sunrise. 8. direction of wind at 4. P. M. 5. the weather viz rain, snow, fair at sunrise &c. 9. weather at 4. P. M. 10. shooting or falling of the leaves of trees, of flours, & other remarkable plants. 11. appearance or disappearance of birds, their emigrations &c. 12. Miscellanea. It will be an amusement to you & may become useful. I do not know whether you have a thermom. or barom. If you have not, those columns will be unfilled till you can supply yourself. In the miscellaneous column I have generally inserted Aurorae boreales, &, other unclassed rare things. Adieu Adieu Yours affectionately

the above columns to be arranged according to the order of the numbers as corrected.6

RC (DLC). Unsigned, but cover addressed and franked by Jefferson and committed “to the care of mr Maury Fredsbgh.” Docketed by JM. Italicized words, unless otherwise noted, are decoded by JM using the code first used by Jefferson on 14 Apr. 1783.

1The stay of Philip Mazzei “some time at Paris” was from Feb. 1780 until about 1 July in that year, and from 1 Feb. 1783 until late in May of that year. There John Adams befriended him, but Franklin discouraged his mission to Italy and neglected him in other ways. The partisans of each man had often been at odds in Congress over Franklin’s conduct as minister to the court of France. The Massachusetts delegation and Arthur Lee were leaders of the pro-Adams group in Congress. The Pennsylvania delegation, Robert Morris, and JM were among Franklin’s defenders. Although in the spring of 1784 factionalism on this score was quiescent, Jefferson obviously feared that if his voluble friend Mazzei came to Annapolis he would revive the discord by supplying Lee with new “facts true or false” to injure Franklin (Richard Cecil Garlick, Jr., Philip Mazzei, Friend of Jefferson: His Life and Letters [Baltimore, 1933], p. 83; Howard R. Marraro, ed., “Philip Mazzei, Virginia’s Agent in Europe: The Story of His Mission as Related in His Own Dispatches and Other Documents,” Bulletin of the New York Public Library, XXXVIII [1934], 546; Boyd, Papers of Jefferson description begins Julian P. Boyd et al., eds., The Papers of Thomas Jefferson (18 vols. to date; Princeton, N. J., 1950——). description ends , VII, 30, 32).

2Jefferson probably underlined “Maryland” because although Congress was meeting in Annapolis, the state was unrepresented. The absence of the Maryland delegation was the more conspicuous because its members in Oct. 1783 had worked hard to have Congress move from Princeton to Annapolis.

3Contrary to Jefferson’s statement, two of Franklin’s letters are dated 25 Dec. and two, 26 Dec. Lafayette’s letter is dated 26 Dec. 1783 (Wharton, Revol. Dipl. Corr description begins Francis Wharton, ed., The Revolutionary Diplomatic Correspondence of the United States (6 vols.; Washington, 1889). description ends ., VI, 740–48). Congress, upon receiving them on 5 Mar. 1784, referred them, along with other dispatches from overseas, to the committee (chairman, Elbridge Gerry) that included Jefferson (PCC; JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XXVI, 143–45).

4Jefferson underlined rather than encoded this phrase.

5Jefferson wrote over this and the following numbers, explaining the alteration in his postscript.

6Lacking both a barometer and a thermometer, JM was handicapped when he undertook the business of keeping a weather log and never was able to procure a barometer. JM began the entries on 1 Apr. 1784 and depended on his father and possibly other members of the family to keep records when he was away from Montpelier. The entries in JM’s hand through 31 Mar. 1786 are found in Appendix B of this volume. So many entries were made by James Madison, Sr., that JM regarded the journal as his “father’s meteorological diaries” when loaning them to Jefferson in 1817 (Jefferson to JM, 22 June 1817 [DLC: Jefferson Papers]). The records to 13 Apr. 1793 are owned by the American Philosophical Society. The Ms journal from 13 Apr. 1793 to 4 July 1796 is owned by the Presbyterian Historical Society of Philadelphia (William B. Miller, “The Weather Log of James Madison,” Journal of Presbyterian History, XL [1962], 209–12).

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