James Madison Papers

From James Madison to Horatio Gates, 20 January 1797

To Horatio Gates

Philada. Jany. 20. 1797

Dear Sir

During my recess in Virginia Mr. Jefferson put into my hands to be forwarded to you, your Letter Book which you had been so good as to leave with him.1 Considering the deposit as a precious one, I have been more anxious for a certain than a speedy Conveyance for it. The trip Mr. E. Livingston makes to N. York, furnishes an unexceptionable one, and I accordingly avail myself of it.

We get our foreign news chiefly thro’ N. Y. and the newspapers give you from day to day our Legislative transactions. On these heads therefore I have nothing new to offer you. The President has just laid before Congress, his promised communication on our affairs with France. The House having ordered it to be printed without its being ready,2 and it being extremely voluminous, we know nothing more of its contents or its scope than what may be inferred from the short accompanying note to the two Houses, which you will see in the Newspapers.3 With my respectful compliments to Mrs. Gates, and the sincerest esteem I remain Dear Sir Your Mo: Obedt friend & servt.

Js. Madison Jr

RC (NHi). Docketed by Gates.

1In March 1793, Jefferson had requested access to Gates’s papers in order to copy executive correspondence that had been destroyed during the British invasion of Virginia in 1780–81. Escaping from Philadelphia during the yellow fever epidemic, Jefferson took Gates’s letterbook back to Monticello (see Jefferson to Gates, 12 and 21 Mar. 1793 and 3 Feb. 1794 [DLC: Jefferson Papers]).

2JM probably meant to write “read” (see JM to Jefferson, 22 Jan. 1797).

3Washington sent the long-awaited message on relations with France to Congress on 19 Jan. 1797. It was accompanied by a collection of documents that was subsequently reprinted on several occasions in pamphlet form (Evans description begins Charles Evans, ed., American Bibliography … 1639 … 1820 (12 vols.; Chicago, 1903–34). description ends 33048–50, 33064–65). These began with Pickering’s letter to Charles Cotesworth Pinckney of 16 Jan. 1797 and then reviewed Franco-American relations since 1793 at great length (Annals of Congress description begins Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States … (42 vols.; Washington, 1834–56). description ends , 4th Cong., 2d sess., 1914; the documents are printed in ASP description begins American State Papers: Documents, Legislative and Executive, of the Congress of the United States … (38 vols.; Washington, 1832–61). description ends , Foreign Relations, 1:559–747).

Index Entries