James Madison Papers

From James Madison to Thomas Jefferson, 18 April 1796

To Thomas Jefferson

Philada. Apl. 18. 1796

Dear Sir

My last requested your orders relating to Dohrman’s payment to Me for Mazzei; & I impatiently wait for them.

Resolutions have passed for carrying into effect, the Spanish, Indian & Algerine Treaties. The British is now depending. I inclose the proposition in which the opponents of it, will unite.1 According to present calculation, this proposition will be carryed by nearly the same majority as prevailed in the vote asserting the Rights of the House on the subject of Treaties. The debate is but just commenced. Those who at first were for a silent question, will probably now spin out time for the purpose of calling in the mercantile interference in behalf. You will see the expedient on foot in this City.2 The petition of the Merchts. &c will be signed by 7 or 800 as is said. An adverse petition will be signed by 3 or 4 times that number. In N. Y. & Boston it is hoped the counter petitioners will equally preponderate.3 Baltimore which was at first most opposed to the Treaty is become most generally reconciled to the execution.4 The hope of endimnification [sic] for past losses, & the fears for their floating speculations, which have been arranged on the idea that the Treaty would go into effect, bear down with that class all attention to the general & permanent good of the Country, and perhaps their own real & comprehe[n]sive interest. The Country also is under an operation for obtaining petitions for the Treaty. The Western Counties, have yielded a number;5 being dextrously alarmed for the Spanish Treaty as involved in the fate of the British. I expected to have Sent you my observations on the Presidents Message,6 which the Printer told me shd. certainly be out this morning. He thought Mr. Iredell’s charge & the eccho of the G. Jurey,7 entitled to priority.

RC (DLC). Unsigned. Docketed by Jefferson, “recd. Apr. 30.”

1JM probably enclosed Mr. Maclay’s Motion. 14th April 1796, Referred to a Committee of the Whole House, on the State of the Union (Philadelphia, 1796; Evans description begins Charles Evans, ed., American Bibliography … 1639 … 1820 (12 vols.; Chicago, 1903–34). description ends 31361).

2A meeting of merchants was held in Philadelphia on 15 Apr. and a memorial sent to the House of Representatives in support of the Jay treaty. A committee of ten was also established to correspond with cities throughout the nation to arouse support for the treaty (Philadelphia Gazette, 18 Apr. 1796).

3The resolutions of Hillhouse and Maclay brought to a head—both in and out of doors—deliberations on execution of the Jay treaty. From 14 to 29 Apr. the House was flooded with petitions, which were then referred to the Committee of the Whole on the State of the Union (see JHR description begins Journal of the House of Representatives of the United States (9 vols.; Washington, 1826). description ends , 2:511, 514, 515, 518, 520, 521, 523, 524, 525, 527, 528; Kurtz, The Presidency of John Adams, pp. 66–67).

4In Baltimore, protreaty petitioners outnumbered their opponents, and Samuel Smith—that city’s congressman who had supported the resolutions calling for the treaty papers and asserting the right of the House to refuse execution of a treaty—finally voted for the treaty appropriation (Frank A. Cassell, Merchant Congressman in the Young Republic: Samuel Smith of Maryland, 1752–1839 [Madison, Wis., 1971], pp. 66–70).

5On 1 Apr. in the House “several petitions were presented from the Western Country, praying the English and Spanish Treaties to be carried into effect.” Public meetings in several western Pennsylvania counties approved such petitions. That of Fayette County, passed on 29 Mar., urged “that there be no impediment to objects in which this country is so greatly interested, the Possession of the Western Posts, and the free navigation of the river Mississippi” (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., 841; Philadelphia Gazette of the U.S., 9 and 15 Apr. 1796).

6Andrew Brown printed JM’s speech of 6 Apr. in the Philadelphia Gazette on 19 Apr.

7In his 12 Apr. charge to the Philadelphia grand jury of the U.S. circuit court, Justice James Iredell briefly mentioned “the nature and effect of treaties” but forbore “any particular observations” on the subject. The grand jury’s answer urged that the Jay treaty “may without delay be carried into effect” (Supplement to the Philadelphia Gazette, 19 Apr. 1796).

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