James Madison Papers

From James Madison to Thomas Jefferson, 31 March 1794

To Thomas Jefferson

Philada. Mar. 31. 1794.

Dear Sir

I have written of late by almost every mail, that is, three times a week. From your letter to Monroe I fear the small pox has stopped them at Richmond.1 I shall continue however to inclose you the newspapers as often as they are worth it. It is impossible to say what will be the issue of the proposition discussed in those of today.2 I forgot to mention in my last that the question whether the ways & means should be referred to the Secy. of T. as heretofore, or to a Come. lately came on & decided the sense of the House to be degenerated on that point.3 The fiscal party, perceiving their danger, offered a sort of compromise which took in Mercer & with him sundry others in principle agst. them. Notwithstanding the success of the strategem, the point was carried by 49 agst. 46. If the question had divided the House fairly there would have been a majority of ten or a dozen at least.

RC (DLC). Unsigned. Docketed by Jefferson, “recd. Apr. 16.”

1Jefferson observed that “the small pox at Richmond has cut off the communication by post to or through that place…. I have never received a letter from Philadelphia since I left it except a line or two once from E. R.” (Jefferson to Monroe, 11 Mar. 1794, Ford, Writings of Jefferson description begins Paul Leicester Ford, ed., The Writings of Thomas Jefferson (10 vols.; New York, 1892–99). description ends , 6:500).

2JM probably referred to Jonathan Dayton’s 27 Mar. motion in the House of Representatives. Dayton, a New Jersey Federalist, proposed that debts owed by American citizens to British creditors be sequestered and paid into the federal treasury, “there to be held as a pledge for the indemnification” of citizens for losses inflicted by “persons acting under the commission or authority of the British King.” His resolutions were referred to the Committee of the Whole, where after two days of debate they were abandoned (Philadelphia Dunlap and Claypoole’s Am. Daily Advertiser, 31 Mar. 1794; Annals of Congress description begins Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States … (42 vols.; Washington, 1834–56). description ends , 3d Cong., 1st sess., 535–56; see also Madison in the Third Congress, 2 Dec. 1793–3 Mar. 1795).

3On the appointment of the House select committee on ways and means on 26 Mar., see Madison in the Third Congress, 2 Dec. 1793–3 Mar. 1795.

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