James Madison Papers

Address of the House of Representatives to the President, [ca. 14 December] 1795

Address of the House of Representatives
to the President

[ca. 14 December 1795]

As the Reps. of the people of the U. S. we can not but participate in the strongest sensibility to every blessing which they enjoy;1 and cheerfully join in the gratitude which is due to the great Source from which every national as well as personal good proceeds.

A final & formal termination of the distressing war which has ravaged our N. Western Frontier, will be an event which must afford a satisfaction proportioned to the anxiety with which it has long been sought; and in the adjustment of the terms, we perceive the true policy of making them satisfactory to the Indians as well as to the U. S. as the best basis of a durable tranquility. The disposition of such of the Southern Tribes, as had also heretofore annoyed our Frontier is another prospect in our situation so important to the2 U. S. that it is much to be lamented that any clouds shd. be thrown over it, more especially by excesses on the part of our own Citizens.

It is with very peculiar pleasure we learn, not only that a continuance of peace has been provided for with the Emperor of Morocco; but that an expectation is authorised of a peace also with Algiers, involving an adjustment that will restore to the bosom of their Country our unfortunate fellow Citizens whose grievous captivity has so long & so deeply excited our sympathies.

The favorable advices from the Envoy at the Court of Madrid, makes the full impression on us which the very great importance of the object of his negociations ought to produce. We ardently hope that no obstacle may be experienced in the prosecution of the business to a speedy & happy conclusion, & that a foundation may be laid for a lasting & perfect harmony with a Power whose friendship has always been highly valued & sincerely cultivated by the U. States.3

Among the various circumstances in our internal situation, none can be viewed with more satisfaction & exultation, than that the late scene of disorder & insurrection has been compleatly restored to the enjoyment of order & repose. Such a triumph of reason & of law is worthy of the free Govt. under which it happened, & was justly to be hoped from the enlightened & patriotic spirit which pervades & actuates the people of the U. States.4

The several interesting subjects which you recommend to our consideration will receive every degree of it5 which is due to them: And whilst we feel the obligation of temperance & mutual indulgence in all our discussion, We trust & pray that the result to the happiness & welfare of our Country may correspond with the pure affection we bear to it.

Draft (DLC: Rives Collection, Madison Papers); Ms (DNA: RG 233, Reports of Select Committees); printed copy ([Made the 14th of December, 1795.] Report from the Committee Appointed to Prepare and Report an Address to the President … [(Philadelphia, 1796); Evans description begins Charles Evans, ed., American Bibliography … 1639 … 1820 (12 vols.; Chicago, 1903–34). description ends 31368]); FC (DNA: RG 233, Journals); Tr (DLC: Washington Papers). Draft in JM’s hand; Ms, FC, and Tr in clerks’ handwriting. On 9 Dec. the House appointed JM chairman of a select committee to prepare an answer to the president’s speech of the previous day. Ms dated 14 Dec. 1795, when JM submitted the committee report, which the House ordered to be printed. FC dated 16 Dec. 1795, when the House approved the amended address. Tr dated 17 Dec. 1795, when the address was presented to the president (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., 128, 129, 134–35, 148, 154). FC headed: “To the President of the United States, / Sir.” Tr concludes: “Signed by order and in behalf of the House / Jonathan Dayton Speaker. / Attest, / John Beckley Clerk.” Differences between the report (Ms and printed copy) and JM’s draft represent the influence of the other committee members, Federalists Theodore Sedgwick of Massachusetts and Samuel Sitgreaves of Pennsylvania (see JM to Jefferson, 13 Dec. 1795, and JM to Monroe, 20 Dec. 1795).

1In the committee report (Ms and printed copy), this sentence concludes: “and cheerfully join with you in profound gratitude to the Author of all good for the numerous and extraordinary blessings which he has conferred on our favoured Country.”

2In the committee report (Ms and printed copy) an emendation here adds: “interest and happiness of the.”

3In the committee report (Ms and printed copy) there appears in the place of the preceding two paragraphs: “While our population is advancing with a celerity which exceeds the most sanguine calculations—while every part of the United States displays indications of rapid and various improvement—while we are in the enjoyment of protection and security, by mild and wholesome laws, administered by governments founded on the genuine principles of rational liberty, a secure foundation will be laid for accelerating, maturing and establishing the prosperity of our Country, if by treaty and amicable negociation, all those causes of external discord which heretofore menaced our tranquility, shall be extinguished on terms compatible with our national rights and honor, ⟨and with our constitution, and great commercial interests⟩.” According to Rufus King, the words in angle brackets were inserted at the insistence of JM (King to Alexander Hamilton, 16 Dec. 1795, C. R. King, Life and Correspondence of Rufus King, 2:37).

4An additional paragraph precedes this paragraph in the committee report and follows it in the FC and Tr. In the committee report (Ms and printed copy) the paragraph reads: “Contemplating that, probably unequalled spectacle of national happiness, which our country exhibits, to the interesting summary which, you, Sir, have been pleased to make, in justice to our own feelings, permit us to add the benefits which are derived from your presiding in our councils, resulting as well from the undiminished confidence of your fellow citizens, as from your zealous and successful labors in their service.” This paragraph gave rise to a partisan debate in the Committee of the Whole on 15 Dec. The House recommitted the address and added to the select committee Abraham Baldwin (Republican of Georgia) and Nathaniel Freeman, Jr. (Federalist of Massachusetts). On 16 Dec. JM reported an amended paragraph, which the Committee of the Whole unanimously approved (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., 144–48). In the FC and Tr (the text that the House finally approved) the paragraph reads: “In contemplating that spectacle of national happiness which our country exhibits, and of which, you, Sir, have been pleased to make an interesting summary, permit us to acknowledge and declare the very great share, which your zealous and faithful services have contributed to it, and to express the affectionate attachment, which we feel for your character.”

5In the FC and Tr this word reads “attention.” William Branch Giles proposed this alteration (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., 148).

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