James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Henry Lee, [8 December] 1791

From Henry Lee

[8 December 1791]

My dear sir

The enclosed please to give to our friend Frenau. It contains a list of some subscribers to his gazette.1

We are all miserable here; the late defeat of our army engrosses every mind; please to tell me of any saving circumstances in this unhappy affair should the act. to the gen govt. possess such wished for differences from the one circulating among us.2

At the same time let me beg you to recede from your decision about the great falls. I am sure your portion of the money may be raised in the course of the year & I am very unwilling that you should abandon a contract the moment it shews its value: indeed my honor forbids my agreement to your proposal.3

RC (DLC); Tr (Vi). Date and signature on RC missing (see n. 3). Date determined from JM’s docket.

1When Lee’s son, Maj. Henry Lee (1787–1837), wrote his Observations on the Writings of Thomas Jefferson (New York, 1832), he included a philippic against Jefferson for “patronising an editor [Freneau] who was abusing and insulting the President daily to his face” (1839 ed., p. 34 n.). On 5 June 1833 Lee wrote JM asking him to point out any flaws in his work, and JM replied that he was too old and infirm to engage in such a “heavy task.” But JM said he would still point out that Lee’s father had been “among the harshest censors of the policy and measures of the Federal Government during the first term of Washington’s Administration … [and] that he patronized the Gazette of Mr. Freneau, and was anxious to extend the circulation of its strictures on the Administration through another Gazette” (JM to Lee, 14 Aug. 1833, Madison, Letters [Cong. ed.] description begins [William C. Rives and Philip R. Fendall, eds.], Letters and Other Writings of James Madison (published by order of Congress; 4 vols.; Philadelphia, 1865). description ends , IV, 306).

2Troops led by Gen. Arthur St. Clair had been overwhelmed in the Northwest Territory by an equal force of Indians on 4 Nov. 1791.

3Text ends here, but late in life JM penned a notation on the RC: “the rest cut off, as an autograph.”

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