James Madison Papers

From James Madison to Thomas Jefferson, 14 April 1794

To Thomas Jefferson

Philada. Apl. 14. 1794.

Dear Sir

Having recd. one letter only from you, and that of very old date, I conclude that mine which have been numerous do not pass thro’ the obstructions thrown in the way of the Mail by the small pox. I continue however to write, hoping that the channel will have been reopened by the time each letter may get to Richmond. I have also written a request to Mr. Dawson to have my letters to you taken out of the post office and forwarded from Richmond by private hands if necessary.

Three propositions levelled at G. B. have latterly occupied the H. of Reps. 1. to sequester British debts. 2. to establish a lien on British merchandize or the value of it, as it arrives. 3. to suspend imports from G. B. & Ireland till the spoliations be redressed & the Treaty of peace be executed. The last has taken the pas1 in discussion. A majority are apparently in favor. Delay is consequently one of the arts of opposition. It is uncertain therefore when a vote will be obtained. It is probable also that much will depend on the state of foreign intelligence which is hourly changing in some of its circumstances. The Executive is said to meditate an envoy Extraordy. to G. B.2 as preferring further negociation to any legislative operation of a coercive nature. Hamilton is talked of, is much pressed by those attached to his politics, and will probably be appointed unless overruled by an apprehension from the disgust to Republicanism and to France. His trial is not yet concluded. You will see the issue it will have in the inclosed papers. The letter from the P. is inexpressibly mortifying to his friends,3 and marks his situation to be precisely what you always described it to be. The committee on ways & means was unfortunately composed of a majority infected by the fiscal errors which threaten so ignominious and vexatious a system to our country. A land tax will be reported, but along with it excises on articles imported, and manufactured at home, a stamp tax pervading almost all the transactions of life, and a tax on carriages as an indirect tax. The embargo will soon be a subject of deliberation again, as its continuance if proper ought to be decided some time before its expiration. Whether this will be the case cannot now he foretold. The French continue to triumph over their Enemies on the Rhine. We learn nothing from the W. Inds. except that Martinique had not surrendered on the 25th. Ult.

I put into the hands of your Cabinet workman here the Editn: of Milton sent you from France. He was packing up things for you which afforded a commodious berth for it. Yrs. always & Affy

Js. Madison Jr.

Fauchet has informally intimated the distaste to Gour. M.4 whose recall will follow of course.

RC (DLC). Docketed by Jefferson, “recd. Apr. 23.”

1Pas: right of precedence.

2By early April Washington and his cabinet began to consider sending an envoy extraordinary to resolve outstanding differences with Great Britain. Federalist leaders wanted Hamilton to be appointed. Virginia Republicans John Nicholas and Monroe, in letters to the president, remonstrated against sending any envoy and were explicitly against appointing Hamilton. On 14 Apr. the secretary of the treasury withdrew himself from consideration, but Washington had already ruled out Hamilton and on 16 Apr. nominated John Jay. The envoy’s powers and instructions were not divulged to the Senate, which nevertheless confirmed Jay’s appointment on 19 Apr. after much partisan maneuvering (Syrett and Cooke, Papers of Hamilton description begins Harold C. Syrett and Jacob E. Cooke, eds., The Papers of Alexander Hamilton (26 vols.; New York, 1961–79). description ends , 16:261–65; Senate Exec. Proceedings description begins Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate of the United States of America (3 vols.; Washington, 1828). description ends , 1:150–52).

3The House select committee appointed to examine the Treasury Department asked Hamilton to present to Washington the treasury secretary’s account of presidential verbal and written authorization of foreign loan transactions and to “obtain from him, such declaration concerning the same, as the President may think proper to make.” Washington declared to Hamilton that approval of those transactions was “upon the condition, that what was to be done by you, should be agreeable to the Laws.” The treasury secretary was dissatisfied with this qualified testimonial (Abraham Baldwin to Hamilton, 5 Apr. 1794, Washington to Hamilton, 8 Apr. 1794 [second letter], Hamilton to Washington, 8 Apr. 1794, Syrett and Cooke, Papers of Hamilton description begins Harold C. Syrett and Jacob E. Cooke, eds., The Papers of Alexander Hamilton (26 vols.; New York, 1961–79). description ends , 16:241, 249, 250–53; see also JM to Jefferson, 26 Mar. 1794, n. 4).

4At a later time someone here added the remaining letters of “Morris.”

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