James Madison Papers

To James Madison from John Dawson, 2 January 1799

From John Dawson

Philadelphia. January 2d. 1799.

Dear Sir!

I have recievd your letter, & enclosures by Mr. Jefferson,1 to all of which I shall pay particular attention.

By the public papers you will observe the number of members who have been absent—this circumstance has prevented our attempting any thing of consequence—however many of them have lately come in, & we have reason to expect others in a few days, when we shall make an effort for the repeal of the alien & sedition laws, & for bringing forth Matthew Lyon2—I think we shall have a majority for the first in our house—at present we are engaged on the old subject of bankrupt laws, which after much time, I expect we shall postpone.

The papers give to you the late accounts from Europe, which, if true, are bad enough.3 With much Esteem Your friend & Sert

J Dawson


1Letter and enclosures not found. Jefferson arrived in Philadelphia on 25 Dec. 1798 (Jefferson to JM, 3 Jan. 1799).

2No record of any action “for bringing forth Matthew Lyon” by the House of Representatives has been found. The Vermont congressman—convicted, jailed, and fined under the Sedition Act—had his fine paid by subscription among prominent Republicans (Smith, Freedom’s Fetters, pp. 243–44).

3On 2 Jan. 1799 the Philadelphia Aurora General Advertiser reported the defeat of Bonaparte and his imminent capitulation to the beys of Egypt, the destruction of all French transports and armed ships in Alexandria harbor by Admiral Nelson, and an uprising by the Maltese against their French occupiers.

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