James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Thomas Jefferson, 27 March 1796

From Thomas Jefferson

Mar. 27. 96.

Yours of the 13th. is recieved. I am enchanted with mr. Gallatin’s speech in Bache’s paper of Mar. 14.1 It is worthy of being printed at the end of the Federalist, as the only rational commentary on the part of the constitution to which it relates. Not that there may not be objections, and difficult ones, to it, and which I shall be glad to see his answers to: but if they are never answered, they are more easily to be gulped down than those which lie to the doctrines of his opponents, which do in fact annihilate the whole of the powers given by the constitution to the legislature. According to the rule established by usage & common sense of construing one part of the instrument by another, the objects on which the P. & S. may exclusively act by treaty are much reduced, but the field on which they may act, with the sanction of the legislature, is large enough: and I see no harm in rendering their sanction necessary, and not much harm in annihilating the whole treaty making power, except as to making peace. If you decide in favor of your right to refuse cooperation in any case of treaty, I should wonder on what occasion it is to be used, if not on one where the rights, the interest, the honor & faith of our nation are so grossly sacrificed, where a faction has entered into conspiracy with the enemies of their country to chain down the legislature at the feet of both; where the whole mass of your constituents have condemned this work in the most unequivocal manner, and are looking to you as their last hope to save them from the effects of the avarice & corruption of the first agent, the revolutionary machinations of others, and the incomprehensible acquiescensce of the only honest man who has assented to it. I wish that his honesty and his political errors may not furnish a second occasion to exclaim ‘curse on his virtues, they’ve undone his country.’2 Cold weather. Mercury 26. in the morning. Corn fallen at Richmond to 20/—stationary here. Nicholas sure of his election. R. Jouett & Jo. Monroe in competition for the other vote of the county.3 Affections to mrs. M. & yourself. Adieu.

RC (DLC); FC (DLC: Jefferson Papers). Unsigned. RC addressed by Jefferson to JM at Philadelphia.

1On 14 Mar. Benjamin Franklin Bache’s Philadelphia Aurora General Advertiser printed Gallatin’s 9 Mar. speech in favor of Edward Livingston’s resolution calling for Washington to submit to the House the documents relating to the Jay treaty (reprinted in 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., 464–74).

2Addison, Cato, 4.4.38.

3In the 4 Apr. Virginia House of Delegates election, Albemarle County reelected Wilson Cary Nicholas, and Joseph Jones Monroe defeated Robert Jouett. A Revolutionary veteran, Jouett was probably a Republican, for he subscribed to Philip Freneau’s Philadelphia National Gazette. Joseph Jones Monroe (b. 1771), James Monroe’s younger brother, studied at the University of Edinburgh, 1783–89. The elder Monroe financially supported his orphaned brother’s education but was disappointed by his indolence and irresponsibility. Joseph Jones Monroe served in the House of Delegates for one term and as James Monroe’s private secretary during his brother’s presidency. He moved to Missouri in 1820 (Swem and Williams, Register description begins Earl G. Swem and John W. Williams, eds., A Register of the General Assembly of Virginia, 1776–1918, and of the Constitutional Conventions (Richmond, 1918). description ends , pp. 408, 412; Heitman, Historical Register Continental, p. 246; James Monroe to Jefferson, 16 Jan. 1790, Jefferson to Thomas Bell, 16 Mar. 1792, Boyd, Papers of Jefferson description begins Julian P. Boyd et al., eds., The Papers of Thomas Jefferson (22 vols. to date; Princeton, N.J., 1950—). description ends , 16:110, 20:759; Ammon, James Monroe, pp. 3, 85, 405).

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