James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Thomas Jefferson, 24 April 1796

From Thomas Jefferson

Apr. 24. 96.

Yours of the 11th. is recieved, with the letter from Bringhurst. On consideration of all circumstances, I find that the advantages of taking iron from the manufacturer will be more than countervailed by disadvantages. I give up Sharpless therefore. Lownes I must abandon. Above a month ago I wrote to him1 for an additional ton of rod, merely to furnish a decent occasion to call for nearly that quantity still unfurnished tho paid for so long ago as October last. I find it is not furnished because it was paid for before hand. I therefore conclude to open dealings with mr. Howel, to whom I have written the inclosed letter,2 which I have left open for your perusal, merely that understanding the ground of my application, you may have the goodness to call on him, and just make us as it were acquainted in the offset, which will start us with that degree of good understanding that might otherwise require a course of time & dealing to establish. This single office performed, I will give you no further trouble with the business.

With respect to Mazzei’s money, I think it safest on the whole to remit it to the Van Staphorsts & Hubbard of Amsterdam, with whom Mazzei is on the best & most confidential terms. I will therefore ask the favor of you to invest it in bills on Amsterdam; not in London bills, as in a former remittance of bills on London payable to the V. S. & H. the drawee availed himself of mr. Pitt’s law forbidding paiment.3 I will write to V. S. & H. and also to Mazzei by this or the next post, to inform them of what we do, so that you need only put the bills under cover to V. S. & H. and refer them to the explanations they will recieve from me. Nothing new in politics. We are withering under an unparraleled drought. Adieu affectionately.

P. S. I have written the letters to V. S. & H. & P. M.4 which I will pray you to have forwarded, for which purpose I inclose them.5

RC (DLC); FC (DLC: Jefferson Papers). Unsigned.

1Jefferson had written to Caleb Lownes on 17 Jan. and 27 Mar. 1796 (letters not found, but listed in Jefferson’s Epistolary Record [DLC: Jefferson Papers]).

2Jefferson to Samuel Howell, Jr., 24 Apr. 1796 (not found, but listed ibid.).

3Van Staphorst and Hubbard had advised Jefferson, on 10 Oct. 1795, that two bills he had sent to London for Mazzei in May 1795 had been protested. The bankers declared the protest was “solely owing to the British Act of Parliament relative to Dutch property,” and they assured Jefferson they could obtain a special license to pay his bills. The Batavian Republic declared war on Great Britain in May 1795, but the British government, anticipating this development, had already issued, on 6 Feb. 1795, a “Proclamation respecting Dutch Bills of Exchange.” This had warned that, by virtue of two statutes passed on 1 Mar. and 7 July 1794 to keep British and other property out of French hands, bills drawn on Holland risked being deemed unlawful “unless his majesty shall license the payment of such bills” (Van Staphorst and Hubbard to Jefferson, 10 Oct. 1795 [DLC: Jefferson Papers]; Annual Register for 1795 [1807 ed.], pp. 167–68; 34 Geo. 3, chaps. 9 and 79, Statutes at Large [1794 ed.], 16:487–89, 592–98).

4Jefferson to Van Staphorst and Hubbard, 24 Apr. 1796 (FC, DLC: Jefferson Papers), and Jefferson to Philip Mazzei, 24 Apr. 1796 (Ford, Writings of Jefferson description begins Paul Leicester Ford, ed., The Writings of Thomas Jefferson (10 vols.; New York, 1892–99). description ends , 7:72–78). In his letter to Mazzei, Jefferson discussed not only the payment of Arnold Henry Dohrman’s debt to Mazzei but also current American politics. Its publication in America in May 1797, with its reference to “men who were Samsons in the field & Solomons in the council, but who have had their heads shorn by the harlot England,” caused an embarrassing furor (Malone, Jefferson and His Time description begins Dumas Malone, Jefferson and His Time (6 vols.; Boston, 1948–81). description ends , 3:302–7).

5Postscript not on FC.

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