James Madison Papers

To James Madison from John Dawson, 20 January 1794

From John Dawson

Rich: Januy 20. 94.

Dear Sir!

On my return to this place on saturday evening I haves [sic] favourd with your letter of the 31. of the last month, with its enclosure, for which I thank you.

By the en[c]losd paper1 you will find that the situation of the republic of France is very flattering. I was in Suffolk when the sloop arrivd, & think that the accounts which she brings may be depended on—but presume you will by this have all the particulars, as the despatches to the minister have, no doubt, gone on.

I think with you on the subject of the Algerine business, and highly approve the resolutions which you have offerd to the Committee—they will no doubt be opposd by a certain party, tho I trust without success.

I wrote Colo Monroe & yourself some time ago fully relative to the British frigate the Dædalus. I will now only observe, inter nos, that the French Consul, Oster,2 at Norfolk, is one about whom many suspicions are entertaind at Norfolk—that he & the B. Consul, are frequently together, and in no case has he appeard to have exerted himself in behalf of his nation.

We shall be in a very disagreeable situation for some months the citizens having this day determind on a general innoculation for the small pox.3 With real regard Yr. friend & Sert

J Dawson


1On 8 Jan. the Richmond Va. Gazette, and General Advertiser published reports that the French government had recaptured Lyons after a counterrevolutionary insurrection and had recalled Genet.

2Martin Oster served as French vice-consul at Philadelphia, 1781–83, and Richmond and Norfolk, 1783–92. Though he took a loyalty oath, the revolutionary government recalled him. He evidently remained at Norfolk but held no diplomatic post at the time Dawson was writing. During the Napoleonic regime, he became French vice-commissary for commercial relations at Norfolk (Nasatir and Monell, French Consuls, pp. 566–67, 550–51; Childs, “French Consul Martin Oster,” VMHB description begins Virginia Magazine of History and Biography. description ends , 76 [1968]: 39).

3The mayor and corporation of Richmond authorized smallpox inoculations from 25 Jan. to 27 Feb. (Richmond Va. Gazette, and General Advertiser, 15 and 29 Jan. 1794).

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