James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Henry Lee, 23 January 1794

From Henry Lee

Jany 23d. 94.

I had the pleasure my dear sir to receive your letter by Mr. Adair & shall pay every attention to that gentleman. He seems to be a man of letters & a man of worth. We hear nothing here but what must be known to you. A report has prevailed for some days past that Mr. Randolph is appointed Secretary of State, Lewis Attorney general1 & Mr Genet recalled. The conduct of the latter gentleman is so different from what I had conceived from the few moments I spent with him that I am lost in my attempts to account for it. I am very happy to find Congress proceed with temper & in evident attention to our critical situation. Your late propositions I have read & approve the principle on which they are founded but do not so far understand our connexions with forgeign [sic] nations as to say to what extent the policy should be carried or whether this moment is proper to apply it. Indeed to Judge with truth on these two points a very accurate knowledge of our foreign relationships commercial & other is an indispensible prerequisite. What is the true state of the So. Carolina attempt to embody men?2 Much is said about it but I cannot discover the situation of that matter. I see only scraps of Congressional debates generally so brief as to be unintelligible. I suppose the printers have not yet recovered from their share in the late Calamity.3

RC (DLC). Signature clipped.

1Lee was misled by rumors of the appointment of Philadelphia Federalist William Lewis. Washington in fact appointed William Bradford (whom JM had known as an undergraduate at the College of New Jersey) as attorney general (PJM description begins Robert A. Rutland et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison: Presidential Series (1 vol. to date; Charlottesville, Va., 1984—). description ends , 1:73 n. 1).

2The Democratic societies claimed the right of citizens to expatriate themselves by serving in foreign armed forces. On 7 Dec. 1793 the South Carolina General Assembly passed a joint resolution condemning efforts by members of the Republican Society of that state to recruit U.S. citizens to serve in the armed forces of France in violation of Washington’s Neutrality Proclamation (Eugene Perry Link, The Democratic-Republican Societies, 1790–1800 [New York, 1942], pp. 136–37; Acts and Resolutions of the General Assembly of the State of South Carolina, Passed in December, 1793 [Charleston, 1794; Evans 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 27718], pp. 15–16).

3Freneau suspended the National Gazette on 26 Oct. 1793, promising that he would resume publication “at the opening of the next Congress.” But he was unable to revive the newspaper, and some blame apparently fell on the devastating autumn yellow fever epidemic (James M. Lee, History of American Journalism [New York, 1917], p. 128).

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