James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Alexander White, 9 August 1789

From Alexander White

Philada. 9th August 1789

Dear Sir

I have not been long enough in this City to pretend to a knowledge of the general Sentiments of its Inhabitants. Those I have seen exclaim against the Salaries allowed our Officers, And make a particular handle of the 730 Dollars to the Door Keeper,1 they (Miers Fisher2 excepted) deem our own Wages too high, also the Salaries of the President and Vice President. In other Matters they express great satisfaction, Say the Revenue Laws are well drawn and think the Duties in general proper—Shew almost a childish anxiety for the removal of the Congress to this place, and pretend to count Votes by States and by Poll, treat the Idea of fixing the permanent Seat of Government in Patowmack within a Century to come as too rediculous to merit consideration, resting assured that whenever the Question is put, Dalaware will be the place. Brown the Printer of the Federal Gazette waited on me3—to apologise as I conceived for a Publication in his Paper animadverting severely on the Proceedings of Congress. His Apology amounted to this, that as we had merited abuse, it was better bestowed by a Federalist than an Anti Federalist. It is possible some letters may come to me by Post. I intended to mention this to Mr Beckeley, and get him to inclose them for your direction, and Frank, but forgot it. I understand they will not come free to me when absent from Congress, must therefore request favr. of you. Present my Compliments to all the Gentlemen of our Club, It was with deep regret I left them, and the business of Congress unfinished. I am with the most sincere Regard Dear Sir Your &c

Alex White

P. S. My proper direction is at Woodville, near Winchester Virginia.4

RC (DLC). Docketed by JM.

1See the item signed “A Despiser of all Republican Trappings,” which expressed indignation over the doorkeeper’s salary (Philadelphia Federal Gazette, 8 Aug. 1789).

2Miers Fisher (1748–1819), an influential lawyer, served in the Pennsylvania General Assembly in 1791 and 1792 (Pa. Mag. Hist. and Biog., IV [1880], 427–28).

3A native of Ireland, Andrew Brown (ca. 1744–1797) came to America in 1773. He settled in Massachusetts and saw action at Lexington and Bunker Hill. After the war he moved first to Lancaster, Pennsylvania, where he established an academy for women, and then to Philadelphia, where he also started a school and entered the printing business. Senator Maclay later accused Brown of being “a spy and tool for Hamilton” (Scharf and Westcott, History of Philadelphia, III, 1977; Maclay Journal description begins The Journal of William Maclay, United States Senator from Pennsylvania, 1789–1791, Introduction by Charles A. Beard (1927; New York, 1965 reprint). description ends , p. 229).

4For the location and history of Woodville, see Garland R. Quarles, Some Old Homes in Frederick County, Virginia ([Winchester, Va.], 1971), pp. 162–64.

Index Entries