James Madison Papers

To James Madison from John Dawson, 15 January 1799

From John Dawson

Philadelphia January 15. 1799.

Dear Sir

We have no mail on this morning, which prevents my hearing from Virginia.

The president has not yet made the promisd communication, nor can we account for it—attempts made to cast censure on Logan for his trip to Europe have recoild on the authors, whose conduct has been wonderfully imprudent & unwise1—at present we are engagd on the old subject of a Bankrupt law, which after taking up much time, will I expect be rejected by a small majority—when this subject is done with we shall bring forward propositions for the repeal of the alien & sedition laws, tho we have still five members absent, & shall need every vote. Yrs. with much Esteem



1During the debate over “Logan’s Act,” Robert Goodloe Harper introduced in the House on 10 Jan. 1799 a memorial purported to have been presented to Talleyrand by George Logan during the latter’s sojourn in France. According to Harper, the letter advised France to make concessions to the U.S. so that the “French party” would be strengthened and the Republicans would win the upcoming presidential election. As it turned out, the memorial had been neither written nor presented by Logan, for on the next day Albert Gallatin produced proof that the letter had been penned by Richard Codman, a Boston merchant in Paris. Gallatin’s speech showed that the circumstances surrounding the production of the letter had been seriously misrepresented by Harper and Harrison Gray Otis (Annals of Congress description begins Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States … (42 vols.; Washington, 1834–56). description ends , 5th Cong., 3d sess., 2619–26, 2643–45; Logan’s categorical denial of involvement with the letter was printed in the Philadelphia Aurora General Advertiser, 16 Jan. 1799).

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