James Madison Papers
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To James Madison from Thomas Jefferson, 21 June 1792

From Thomas Jefferson

No. 4.

Philadelphia June 21. 1792.

Dear Sir

Your No. 1. came to hand two days ago. When I inclosed you the papers of the last week I was too much hurried to write. I now therefore write earlier, & inclose only one of Fenno’s papers. The residue of the New York election was as follows

Clinton Jay
Albany 444. 1178
Montgomy. 306. 424
Herkimer. 247. 401
Ontario.    28.    92
Total. 8,457. 8,315
difference 142

The Otsego votes were rejected, about 1000. in number, of which Jay had about 850. say a majority of 700. so that he was really governor by a majority of 500. votes,1 according to his friends. The Clintonians again tell strange tales about these votes of Otsego. I inclose you two New York papers which will put you fully in possession of the whole affair (take care of them if you please, as they make part of a collection). It does not seem possible to defend Clinton as a just or disinterested man if he does not decline the office, of which there is no symptom; and I really apprehend that the cause of republicanism will suffer, and it’s votaries be thrown into schism by embarking it in support of this man, and for what? To draw over the Antifederalists, who are not numerous enough to be worth drawing over. I have lately seen a letter from ——— to ——— on receiving his appointment.2 He pleads guilty to the charge of indiscretion hitherto, and promises for the future the most measured circumspection, and in terms which mark him properly & gratefully impressed with the counsel which had been given him pretty strongly as you know. I have made out my table; but instead of settling the proportion of the debt of each country to it’s population, I have done it to it’s revenue. It is as follows.

Date Country Public debt Annual revenue Proportion
of debt to
U. S. of Amer.
1786. Gr. Britain £ sterl.
£ sterl.
16:1 Zimmerm. 224.3
1785. France livres
8:1 265.
1772. Sweden silver dollrs.
11,089,122 5.4:1 59.
Austria. florins.
2.1:1 157
1765. Russia. rubles
2:1 40
1774. Portugal £ sterl.
£ sterl.
2:1 336
1785. Spain piastres
1.5:1 317
1769 Denmark dollars
0.22:1 79.
Prussia. * dollars.

I have not yet examined into the debt of the U. S. but I suppose it to be about 20. years revenue, and consequently that tho the youngest nation in the world we are the most indebted nation also. I did not go into the debts & revenues of the United Netherlands, because they are so jumbled between General & provincial, & because a great deal of their debt, is made by borrowing at low interest & lending it at high, & consequently not only this part is to be struck off from the amount of their debt, but so much of the residue of it also as has it’s interest paid by this means. Brandt, the famous Indian is arrived here; he dined with the P. yesterday, will dine with Knox to-day, Hammond on Sunday, the Presidt. on Monday &c. Adieu my dear Sir. Your’s affectionately

Th: Jefferson

RC (DLC); FC, Tr (DLC: Jefferson Papers).

1John Jay had received the majority of votes cast in the New York gubernatorial election of 1792, but a joint committee of the legislature disqualified the ballots from three counties, thus awarding the governorship to George Clinton.

2On 6 Apr. Gouverneur Morris wrote to Washington from London, thanking him for his appointment as minister to France: “I now promise you that Circumspection of Conduct which has hitherto I acknowlege formed no Part of my Character. And I make the Promise that my Sense of Integrity may enforce what my Sense of Propriety dictates” (DLC: Washington Papers).

3Eberhard August Wilhelm von Zimmermann, A Political Survey of the Present State of Europe (London, 1787).

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