James Madison Papers

To James Madison from John Browne Cutting, 26 January 1796

From John Browne Cutting

98 South Second St 26th Jany. —96

Dear Sir,

I ought perhaps to apologize to You for the liberty I take and have taken. But in a matter so highly interesting to my personal character—I have venturd to obtrude myself—I fear abruptly, upon your valuable hours—desirous to be indulged in consulting you upon this occasion both as a man of honor and a republican statesman.

For however confident I am of the merits of my claim I shall disdain to enforce it—if any intelligent and ingenuous mind—acquainted with the proofs that support it—can entertain a doubt of its reality. Your answer to two questions—will materially influence my future proceedings relevant to it.

1. Is the claim considered by You, agreably to its peculiar circumstances so establish’d as to entitle me to a relaxation of the ordinary rules of evidence for the purpose of doing substantial justice between the public and the claimant?

2dly. Is the claim considered by You as a matter of State so establishd as to become obligatory upon the honor & faith of the Government?

Having thus determin’d respectfully to solicit your candid opinion as the best guide for my future conduct in this matter—I remain with sentiments of attachment and the most perfect respect Your Obedt and Very Humble Sert.

John Browne Cutting1

RC (DLC). Docketed by JM.

1Cutting had studied at the Inner Temple in London and met Jefferson in Paris in 1787. JM voted with a majority of one in 1792 when the House passed a private bill granting a $2,000 advance to cover expenses that Cutting had incurred in 1790 as a private citizen aiding American seamen impressed by Great Britain. The bill also authorized the secretary of state to examine the claim and report to Congress on what further sums were owed to Cutting. Secretary Pickering disallowed his claim in 1799 (Malone, Jefferson and His Time description begins Dumas Malone, Jefferson and His Time (6 vols.; Boston, 1948–81). description ends , 2:145; Annals of Congress description begins Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States … (42 vols.; Washington, 1834–56). description ends , 2d Cong., 1st sess., 598; U.S. Statutes at Large description begins The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America … (17 vols.; Boston, 1848–73). description ends , 6:10; Cutting, Facts and Observations, Justifying the Claims of John Browne Cutting [(Philadelphia, 1795); Evans description begins Charles Evans, ed., American Bibliography … 1639 … 1820 (12 vols.; Chicago, 1903–34). description ends 28522]; Letter from the Secretary of State, Accompanying His Report on the Claim of John Brown Cutting … [(Philadelphia, 1799); Evans description begins Charles Evans, ed., American Bibliography … 1639 … 1820 (12 vols.; Chicago, 1903–34). description ends 36531]).

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