James Madison Papers

To James Madison from John Beckley, 10 September 1795

From John Beckley

Philadelphia, 10th: September 1795.

Dear Sir,

I have purposely delayed answering your favor of the 10th: Ulto.1 until now, because of some political events here of a nature the most extraordinary, and in which you, as well as others, stand particularly involved and named;2 they stand connected with the causes of Mr: Randolphs resignation, and will be fully explained to you by Mr: Nicholas. To that Gentleman I must also refer you for all other news foreign & domestic, and he will hand you a packet containing Smiths pamphlet in favor of the treaty3 and three numbers of Cary’s remembrancer.4 I have been and am still much occupied in a removal from my late residence to a new house in 8th: Street South of Walnut, which I have purchased, besides I am at this moment confined to my room by a tumour on the leg. I do not however omit any endeavor to assist the common cause of republicanism & our country as endangered by the impending treaty. A select few, move in concert with friends at New York;5 a regular correspondence and union of effort is maintained and we have already dispersed in Circular letters, all over the States, a petition to the H. of Represents.6 without, as yet, the smallest suspicion from our opponents: All our movements are kept secret until they have reached their ultimate destination, and we now meditate an address to the people7 in the same mode, developeing, as far as may be proper, the insidious plan that effected a ratification of the treaty. Dallas the reputed author & actual penman of the Features, we do not confide in, neither in swanwick—the former, since the ratification has manifested a disposition to trim. You can have no idea, how deeply the public confidence is withdrawing itself from the president, and with what avidity Strictures on his conduct are received; sensible of this, his friends are redoubling their efforts to exalt his name and exaggerate his past services. But all in vain, the vital blow aimed at the Independence & best Interests of his country, by the impending treaty, mark him in indelible character as the head of a British faction, and gratitude no longer blinds the public mind. I have not yet rescued the calm observer8 from the negligence of Melancton smith, but have written to Dewit Clinton to do it for me. Dohrman seems determined to maintain silence, notwithstanding a triplicate of my last letter put into his own hand by my friend Mr. shippey.9 Would it not be advisable for you to write him?

Maria, joins me in best regards to Mrs. Madison & the Ladies and I remain, Dear Sir, Yrs. sincerely,

John Beckley.

RC (NN). Addressee not indicated.

1Letter not found.

3[William Loughton Smith], A Candid Examination of the Objections to the Treaty of Amity, Commerce, and Navigation, between the United States and Great Britain, as Stated in the Report of the Committee, Appointed by the Citizens of the United States, in Charleston, South-Carolina (Charleston, 1795; Evans description begins Charles Evans, ed., American Bibliography … 1639 … 1820 (12 vols.; Chicago, 1903–34). description ends 29534).

4Mathew Carey published the first three numbers of volume 1 of the American Remembrancer on 20 Aug., 27 Aug., and 4 Sept. 1795.

5Notably DeWitt Clinton, who sent petitions to local political leaders and newspapers throughout New York (Alfred F. Young, The Democratic Republicans of New York: The Origins, 1763–1797 [Chapel Hill, N.C., 1967], p. 458).

6Possibly Beckley was referring to the broadside entitled: To the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress Assembled: The Representation and Petition of the Subscribers([Philadelphia? 1795]; Evans description begins Charles Evans, ed., American Bibliography … 1639 … 1820 (12 vols.; Chicago, 1903–34). description ends 29647). This memorial opposed the Jay treaty and urged the House to “adopt such measures, touching the said Treaty, as shall most effectually secure, free from encroachment, the Constitutional delegated powers of Congress.” It may also have been one of many petitions concerning the implementation of the treaty that the House received in April 1796 (Annals of Congress description begins Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States … (42 vols.; Washington, 1834–56). description ends , 4th Cong., 1st sess., 1114, 1171, 1228, 1264).

7An undated “Address to the Citizens of New York” urged its readers to support the above-mentioned petition (American Remembrancer, 3:233–36).

8It is uncertain whether Beckley was referring to the “Calm Observer” essay he wrote in March 1795 or to that published on 14 July 1795 in the N.Y. American Minerva (see Beckley to JM, 25 May 1795, and n. 3; and JM to an unidentified correspondent, 23 Aug. 1795, Editorial Note).

9Josiah Shippey was a New York merchant with a store at 44 Front Street. Beckley’s brother-in-law Isaac Prince lived at Shippey’s house at 47 Stone Street, 1797–99 (William Duncan, The New-York Directory, and Register, for the Year 1795 [New York, 1795; Evans description begins Charles Evans, ed., American Bibliography … 1639 … 1820 (12 vols.; Chicago, 1903–34). description ends 28598], p. 192; Berkeley and Berkeley, John Beckley, pp. 174, 183, 190).

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