James Madison Papers

From James Madison to Thomas Jefferson, 15 April 1804

To Thomas Jefferson

Washington Apl. 15. 1804.

Dear Sir

Your favor of the 9th. with its inclosures has been duly recd. and will be duly attended to.

The inclosed communications from Mr. Merry1 are as satisfactory as they are important. On the return of them, it will be proper I presume to acknowledge the impression made by the promptitude of the interposition, and the evidence it affords of a disposition to cherish the amicable relations &c. of the two Countries. From Sr. E. Nepeans letter it seems that the decisions of the British Courts on the law of Nations are prescribed even by the Board of Admiralty.

The letter from Skipwith2 shews as we always supposed that the French Govt. took no particular interest in the application of the fund of 20 Mils: farther than it might affect the sum chargeable on themselves. It shews also that Mr L. had not disclosed at that date the instruction sent him, to suspend & prepare the way for remodifying the payments under the Convention.3 It appears by his correspondence with the Commissrs. heretofore recd.4 that he had notified your sanction to his choice as early as the 23 of Decr. and this sanction was conveyed in the same letter with that instruction.

The letter from Moses Young is inclosed at his request.5 He has not yet decided whether he will return to Madrid. Perhaps it may depend on the event of the settlement he makes with the public. Like all other claimants, tho’ represented as a moderate, as well as an honest man, he is for getting all he can within the limits at least of what he thinks not unfair.

Nothing has occurred, beyond the information of the newspapers, that deserves to be mentioned. The next mail will probably give the result of the Election in N. H. In Massts. the progress becomes less unfavorable to Sullivan, who will not be left so far behind as his predecessor in the competition with Strong.6 From N. Y. nothing is heard but general reports on which no dependence can be placed. You will see the indelicate introduction of your name into the contest.7 Yrs. with respectful attachment

James Madison

RC (DLC: Jefferson Papers). Docketed by Jefferson as received 20 Apr., with his notation: “Merry—Livingston—Young.”

1Merry to JM, 12 Apr. 1804 (two letters).

2Skipwith to JM, 1 Jan. 1804, PJM-SS description begins Robert J. Brugger et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison: Secretary of State Series (7 vols. to date; Charlottesville, Va., 1986–). description ends , 6:271–73.

3See JM to Livingston, 9 Nov. 1803, ibid., 6:25.

4For Livingston’s communications with the claims commissioners, see Mercer, Barnet, and Maclure to JM, 26 Dec. 1803 (second letter), ibid., 6:227 and n. 1.

5Letter not found. For Young’s case, see JM to the Senate, 8 Mar. 1804, ibid., 6:566–67 and n. 2. Congress authorized the settlement of Young’s account in 1810 (U.S. Statutes at Large description begins The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America … (17 vols.; Boston, 1848–73). description ends , 6:89–90).

6On 16 Apr. 1804 the National Intelligencer reported Federalist Caleb Strong with 10,040 votes against 7,503 for Republican James Sullivan in the Massachusetts gubernatorial election.

7JM referred to an item in the 10 Apr. 1804 New York American Citizen on the dissension caused in the Republican Party by the gubernatorial contest between Aaron Burr and Morgan Lewis, brother-in-law of Robert R. Livingston. Jefferson was quoted as saying, “I do not consider the Little Band [i.e., supporters of Burr] as making any part of the real Republican interest; nor can those who support such a paper as the Morning Chronicle, or such a Pamphlet as Aristides, expect our countenance.” For a detailed discussion of the battle over Jefferson’s endorsement in the campaign, see 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 , 2:851–54 n. 3.

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