James Madison Papers

To James Madison from John Swanwick, 14 June 1795

From John Swanwick

Philada. June 14. 1795.

Dear sir—

I have Received your very esteemed favour of the 7 Inst. and have in Consequence immediately applied to Mr. James Gamble1 the Proprietor of the House in Spruce Street2 which I had in View to take for you & who very kindly had Reserved it at my Request. I have Just been with him to View it—it is a Neat & good Brick three Story House with two Rooms & a Kitchen on a Floor good Yard Coach House & Stables behind & not far distant from Congress Hall being in Spruce Street between 4 & 5 Streets next door to where Mr. Anthony Butler3 formerly lived. Mr. Gamble agrees to paint Paper Whitewash & clean it so as to make it perfectly fit for a tenant & he Consents that the Rent of £200 a Year Shall Commence only from the first of August next—to December there are it is true four Months—but it is possible I may be able to find a Tenant for the Intermediate time—but if not I really do not know how you can do better than to secure this House at a time when Rents are every where Rapidly advancing and Houses in general so scarce as to be very difficult to be procured—hearing daily complaints on this Score which will probably encrease in proportion as the Winter draws nearer—& the Crowds flock more towards the Metropolis. Mr. Gamble is good enough to say he will keep for me the House Still untill I have your Answer altho he could directly Rent it to others on the same terms he asks from me. You will therefore be good enough to let me know your determination early as may be.

I am the more glad your Crops are like to be good as the demand will be Immense every where for their produce—which can not fail to procure the Independant Husbandman an Ample Recompense for his Labour. Peace it appears probable has taken place generally in Europe. England perhaps will be last in effecting it—but the Course of events seem to prepare great humiliations for her—in which it would seem the American treaty gives her great Consolation. Lord Grenville if we believe the publick Prints asserted in Parliament that it was eminently beneficial to British Commerce. Mr. Pitt asserted that the Commons would see whether Britain had made any Submissions in this Compact—when it should hereafter be laid before them.4 Mean while our Senate is deliberating in Secret on it—& it is said Rejected the Publication by a Vote of 20 to 95—what the final Issue will be I imagine must soon be known. Citizen Adet the new Minister & his Lady are arrived I have not yet seen them—he has for Secretary Mr. Dupont6 formerly acting in a similar Capacity with Mr. Ternant. It is Strongly Reported England has again Resolved to order all Neutral Ships bound with Provisions to France to be Carried into her Ports7—if this be so a very new & distressing Scene is opening on our Commerce which had become under Recent Circumstances a little more emboldened—how this is a short time will shew.

I am happy to find Mrs. Payne had got down Safe—and hope Mrs. Madison & the Miss Paynes8 enjoy perfect health. No body takes more part than I do in your & their Welfare—which the fine Air of the Country can not but promote—forming a Contrast the most Striking to the heats the Noise & busy Scenes which every where meet one in the Capital. Hoping soon to have the pleasure again to hear from you I Remain with much Esteem Dr sir Your sincere Friend & hble servt

J Swanwick

RC (DLC). Docketed by JM.

1James Gamble, a ship captain, lived at 23 Lumber Street (Hardie, Philadelphia Directory [1794 ed.], p. 54).

2The house that JM rented from Gamble during the Fourth Congress was at 115 Spruce Street (A List of the Names, and Places of Abode, of the Members of the Senate, and House [(Philadelphia, 1795); Evans description begins Charles Evans, ed., American Bibliography … 1639 … 1820 (12 vols.; Chicago, 1903–34). description ends 29726]).

3Anthony Butler, a merchant and in 1777 deputy to Quartermaster General Thomas Mifflin, lived at 109 Spruce Street in 1794 (Richard K. Showman, ed., The Papers of General Nathanael Greene [4 vols. to date; Chapel Hill, N.C., 1976—], 2:323 n. 2; Hardie, Philadelphia Directory [1794 ed.], p. 21).

4In reply to Charles James Fox’s criticism of British policy toward the U.S., Prime Minister Pitt declared on 24 Mar. that when the Jay treaty came before the House of Commons, “gentlemen would have an opportunity of judging whether there had been any dishonourable submission on the part of the latter [ministers], and whether it had not been rather dictated on both sides by a spirit of fairness and mutual accommodation.” On 30 Mar. Foreign Minister Grenville assured the House of Lords that the treaty “was fraught with mutual honour and advantage to both countries” (Hansard’s Parliamentary Debates description begins William Cobbett, ed., The Parliamentary History of England from the Earliest Period to the Year 1803 (36 vols.; London, 1806–20; continued as Hansard’s Parliamentary Debates). description ends , 31:1368, 1396, 1444).

5Swanwick’s information was accurate, the Senate having voted against publication of the treaty on 13 June (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 , 1:181).

6Victor Du Pont served for less than a month as first secretary of the French legation at Philadelphia. On 6 July Adet appointed him consul at Charleston for South Carolina, North Carolina, and Georgia (Nasatir and Monell, French Consuls, pp. 362, 550).

7A secret British order in council of 25 Apr. authorized the Royal Navy to seize neutral ships carrying French grain and provisions. The British government neither published the order nor revealed that it was based on article 17 of the Jay treaty, which recognized enemy property in neutral ships as lawful prize (Bernard Mayo, ed., Instructions to the British Ministers to the United States, 1791–1812, Annual Report of the American Historical Association for the Year 1936, vol. 3 [Washington, 1941], pp. 88 nn. 37, 38, 97 n. 67).

8Two of Dolley Madison’s three sisters, Anna and Mary, were unmarried in 1795. Mary (Polly) Payne (ca. 1781–1808) married John George Jackson of Clarksburg (now in West Virginia) in 1800 (Dorothy Davis, John George Jackson [Parsons, W.Va., 1976], genealogical chart facing p. 340).

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