James Madison Papers

To James Madison from David Gelston, 8 October 1800

From David Gelston

New York Octr. 8th. 1800

Dear Sir

The extreme anxiety we feel on account of the approaching election must be my apology (if any is necessary) for writing to you on the important subject, can we, may we rely on the integrity of the southern States?1 We have lately had some reports that have alarmed us from Tennessee, will you let me know how many votes we may certainly calculate upon for Messrs. Jefferson & Burr? We depend on the integrity of Virginia & the southern States as we shall be faithfull & honest in New York, we have strong assurances that Rhode Island will give us three Votes—both sides claim the Victory in Jersey—the 14th Inst. will decide, but if our calculations may be relied upon we shall we will succeed without Jersey, Pennsylvania having no vote.

It would be presuming in me even to suggest to you the immense the infinite importance of the final Issue—rely upon it no exertions will be wanting, no pains will be spared by the republicans in this quarter to save our Constitution to save our Country or in other words to secure the election of Jefferson & Burr—this is by a confidential Friend Mr Alston2 of So. Carolina—pray let me hear from you—I believe there can be no doubts of your letters coming safe by the Post. I am with the highest esteem most respectfully yours

David Gelston3

RC (DLC: Rives Collection, Madison Papers). Docketed by JM.

1New York Republicans were anxious that the southern states, and especially Virginia, cast all their electoral votes for Aaron Burr as well as for Jefferson, in order to prevent the possibility of John Adams’s being elected vice president (see JM to Jefferson, 21 Oct. 1800).

2Joseph Alston (1779–1816), soon to become Aaron Burr’s son-in-law, was a lawyer and scion of a wealthy South Carolina family (Kline, Papers of Burr description begins Mary-Jo Kline, ed., Political Correspondence and Public Papers of Aaron Burr (2 vols.; Princeton, N.J., 1983). description ends , 1:443 and n. 1).

3David Gelston (1744–1828) began his career in politics in 1775 in the New York provincial congress and emerged in the 1790s as an outspoken Republican leader. His efforts in the election of 1800 were rewarded when Jefferson appointed him collector of the port of New York in 1801, a post he held until 1820. Gelston and JM corresponded fairly regularly in the period 1801–24, with Gelston undertaking various business errands for JM in New York City (ibid., 1:225–26 n. 1; Malone, Jefferson and His Time description begins Dumas Malone, Jefferson and His Time (6 vols.; Boston, 1948–81). description ends , 4:80).

Index Entries