James Madison Papers

From James Madison to Thomas Jefferson, 6 December 1795

To Thomas Jefferson

Philada. Decr. 6. 1795.

Dear Sir

The inclosed letter with a pamphlet under the same cover came to me a few days ago from the post Office with a charge of a dollar postage. I have delayed to forward it till further expence cd. be avoided. The pamphlet I will send by the first good oppy. I have your favor of the 26th. Ult, corroborating the view I had before recd. of matters at Richmond. There is likely to be a Quorum of both Houses of Congress tomorrow. Muhlenberg & Dayton will probably be the candidates for the Chair in the H. of Reps. I can say nothing yet of the complexion of the body, more than has been known from general accts. long ago. With respect to the Cabinet, I am without the least information. It does not appear that any final step has been taken for filling the vacant Departments. The offer of the Secretaryship of State to P. Henry is a circumstance which I should not have believed without the most unquestionable testimony.1 Col. Coles tells me Mr. Henry read the letter to him on that subject. It appears that there have been some agitations in Paris produced by the decree of two thirds, tacked to the Constitution;2 but as the Jacobins united with the Convention in crushing them, the crisis was probably the expiring struggle of the Counter revolutionists. From the nature of the Decree, it is not wonderful that it should not have been swallowed without some resistance. Randolph’s pamphlet is not yet out. I am told it will appear in a few days. As soon as I can send you a copy you shall have one. Yrs. Affey.

Js. Madison Jr

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

1Washington had to fill vacancies created by the death of Attorney General William Bradford and the resignations of Secretary of State Edmund Randolph, Chief Justice John Jay, and Associate Justice John Blair. Charles Cotesworth Pinckney and Associate Justices William Paterson and Thomas Johnson declined appointment as secretary of state. After seeking the advice of Virginia Federalists Edward Carrington, John Marshall, and Henry Lee, the president offered the secretaryship of state to Patrick Henry, who declined. Henry, who had become a Federalist, later also declined the chief justiceship. During the recess of the Senate, Washington appointed John Rutledge as chief justice. He nominated Timothy Pickering as secretary of state and Charles Lee as attorney general on 9 Dec. and James McHenry as secretary of war and Samuel Chase as associate justice on 26 Jan. The Federalist-dominated Senate confirmed all the nominations except that of Rutledge, who had publicly denounced the Jay treaty in Charleston. After William Cushing declined appointment, Oliver Ellsworth was confirmed as chief justice on 4 Mar. 1796 (W. W. Henry, Patrick Henry, 2:552–65; 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 , 1:193, 194, 195–96, 198, 203).

2The Convention, on 22 and 30 Aug. 1795, had decided that two-thirds of the Five Hundred to be elected under the Constitution of 1795 should be chosen from its own membership (Lefebvre, French Revolution, 2:156–57).

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