James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Hubbard Taylor, 13 January 1794

From Hubbard Taylor

Kentucky 13th. January 1794

Dear Sir

Inclosed you will receive some papers1 of a public nature that has very lately made their appearance; considerable exertions will be made by many to carry the design into effect. As the navigation of the Mississippi is held up as the primary object it will avail much. That we have some cause of complaint on that head is very clear to me, but wheather the present plan2 is the most proper and secure to obtain our ends remains a doubt in my mind. A Resolution3 will come forward from this State Legislature for that purpose, founded on petitions from the State at large. The Society from which those publications spring is held at Lexington once a month, and there is one or two others4 in the State that keeps up a corispondence with them.

The circumstance of Genl. Clark’s having reced. an appointment under the French is a matter much talked of here, and its generally thought that the French Genl. in this Country has Money to raise troops in the spring to go against the Spanish Settlements on the Mississippi which of course if it takes place will bring on some further disturbances from some quarter, how those things will be likely to terminate time must develope; but I fear not untill our little infant State wades through many difficulties that are unseen as yet.

The Assembly of this State adjourned the 21st. Decr. but little business of a general nature was done. An alteration in the Revenue for the present year5 was made by a discrimination in the tax on Lands its divided into three Classes the first to pay 3/ the second 1/6 and the third 9d. per 100 Acres—& a sale of so much of the Lands as will pay the taxs in stead of a forfeiture of the whole—also a fine on all persons who do not give in the whole of their Lands [to] the Comissr. of the district in which he resides. The time of payment for all except such as is settled stands as before untill the 4th. Feby. 95. Tax on Negroes remains @ 2/ each Horses reduced to 6d. & Cattle to 1½d per head.

The Iron Works in this State has got in blast at last, the Ore is good, & plenty, they have reduced the price of Castings from 9d. to 6d. This together with the Fulling Mills of which we have a great many is very servic⟨ea⟩ble to us and is a great saving to the State. So is the paper & Oil Mills. From this mode of proceeding our State would be likely to flourish if we could get the Navigation of the Mississippi without any quarrelling or heard blows—but I fear so great an object is not to be had without one or the other of those, or perhaps both.

Salt has within these three or four weaks been from 24/ to 32/ per bushell any distance from the works—which has been very alarming when 12/– has been the usual price for some time past. A Lick has been lately worked near the Ohio about 15 Miles above Limestone & found to be very good some say b[e]tter that [sic] the best heretofore worked; but should it be inferior it is a great thing for us.

The Groth of Cotten on the Cumberland & Green Rivers low down exceeds almost all discription from 12 to 1500 lbs. from One Acres badley tended is thought to be a moderate Crop. This article if properly incouraged wd. be a great saving to this State—if no exports was made of its Manufactories. The Merchants drains us of nearly all our Money twice a year which never more returns.

I shall wait with anxious expectation for the end of this session of Congress, or for their determinations on War opperations. The people here have generally forfieted all patience with the Secratery of the Treausery & the Secratery of War—and it appears that not a man in the whole State could be found a friend to either of them & enmity with the Eastern States daily encreases.

As I expect I have tired your patience already I shall only add my best Wishes for your health and a pleasent session & Subscribe myself Dr. Sir with great regard yrs. affe. huble set.

H. Taylor

RC (DLC). Docketed by JM. Enclosures not found, but see nn. 1 and 2.

1One of Taylor’s enclosures was evidently a broadside published by the Democratic Society of Kentucky: To the President and Congress of the United States of America. The Remonstrance of the Citizens West of the Alleghany Mountains (Lexington, Ky., 1793; Evans supp. description begins Charles Evans, ed., American Bibliography … 1639 … 1820 (12 vols.; Chicago, 1903–34). Roger P. Bristol, ed., Supplement to Charles Evans’ American Bibliography (Charlottesville, Va., 1970). description ends 46731), which asserted “that Your Remonstrants are entitled by Nature and by stipulation, to the undisturbed Navigation of the river Mississippi.” John Breckinridge was the society’s chairman and author of the Remonstrance (Harrison, John Breckinridge, pp. 54–55).

2Taylor probably enclosed another broadside, Fellow-Citizens. The Democratic Society of Kentucky Have Directed Us … (Lexington, Ky., 1793; Evans supp. description begins Charles Evans, ed., American Bibliography … 1639 … 1820 (12 vols.; Chicago, 1903–34). Roger P. Bristol, ed., Supplement to Charles Evans’ American Bibliography (Charlottesville, Va., 1970). description ends 46729). This handbill published the society’s resolution “to make an attempt in a peaceable manner, to go with an American bottom properly registered and cleared, into the sea through the channel of the Mississippi” in order to force the navigation issue on the Spanish and American governments. JM probably also received copies of this broadside and that cited in n. 1 from John Lee (Lee to James Madison, Sr., 8 Feb. 1794 [PHi]).

3On 21 Dec. 1793 the Kentucky General Assembly passed a joint resolution asserting Mississippi navigation was “not only the natural unalienable right of the citizens of this Commonwealth, but that it has been acknowledged to be by solemn treaty” and instructing the state’s U.S. senators “to assert that right to the General Government” (Acts Passed at the First Session of the Second General Assembly [Lexington, Ky., (1793); Evans supp. description begins Charles Evans, ed., American Bibliography … 1639 … 1820 (12 vols.; Chicago, 1903–34). Roger P. Bristol, ed., Supplement to Charles Evans’ American Bibliography (Charlottesville, Va., 1970). description ends 46799], p. 54).

4The Democratic Society of Kentucky had branches at Paris in Bourbon County and Georgetown in Scott County (E. Merton Coulter, “The Efforts of the Democratic Societies of the West to Open the Navigation of the Mississippi,” Mississippi Valley Historical Review, 11 [1924–25]: 378).

5“An Act to amend an act entitled ‘An Act establishing a permanent revenue’” passed on 21 Dec. 1793 (Acts Passed at the First Session of the Second General Assembly, p. 19).

Index Entries