James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Tench Coxe, [21 September] 1804

From Tench Coxe

[21 September 1804]

It may be useful to you to be ascertained, that the first Number of the paper, signed “Graviora manent,”1 noticed in the freeman Journal of this evening,2 was carried to a press in this city for publication several days before the departure of the M. de C Y o3 from this city for Washington. The person was evidently a foreigner, who bore it and offered to pay the printer. The same person was accosted by a stranger in the street with a familiar enquiry about the health of Mr. de Feranda,4 to which he replied immedeately as a man, who had seen him that morning. How does D. Johan de Feranda to day? He is very well. The Article of Saturday in the Gaze. U. S.5 gives a preface applicable to N. 1 & N. 2, tho the first number was only before the public. It seems, that tho several foreign powers would be averse to our obtaining the country & waters West of the longitude of the Perdido, yet they would risk that, if they could make a war of it between us and Spain whom they expect to be supported by F.

You will know this hand to be that of a person, who lodge[d] in the House at N. Y. with you in May, June & July 1790.6

Particular caution is observed on accot. of the Channel of information, but the participation of a foreign interested agent seemed so certain, that this confidential Communication appeared to be a duty. It had been made to Mr. D.7 whose departure may be delayed.

RC (DLC). Unsigned and undated; date and writer assigned here on the basis of JM’s docket, “Coxe T / Sepr. 1804,” and the information contained in nn. 2 and 4.

1Graviora manent: greater afflictions await us.

2The 21 Sept. 1804 edition of William M’Corkle’s Freeman’s Journal, and Philadelphia Daily Advertiser contained, along with M’Corkle’s reasons for rejecting an opportunity offered to him of printing the “Graviora Manent” essays: (1) a statement by editor William Jackson of the Philadelphia Political and Commercial Register, reprinted from the 20 Sept. 1804 edition of that paper, describing a 6 Sept. 1804 meeting at which Yrujo allegedly stated that the Jefferson administration was bent on war with Spain, a war which the U.S. could not win, and suggested that Jackson print articles in favor of peace based on information Yrujo would supply him; (2) Jackson to Jefferson, 7 Sept. 1804, enclosing a copy of the same information; and (3) Jefferson to Jackson, 15 Sept. 1804, acknowledging receipt of the letter and a duplicate and stating that he would “use their contents in due time and place for the benefit of our country.” For a discussion of the incident, see Brant, Madison description begins Irving Brant, James Madison (6 vols.; Indianapolis and New York, 1941–61). description ends , 4:209–11.

3JM later filled in the blank to read: “Casa Yrujo.”

4Valentín Foronda González de Echavarri (1751–1821) was a Spanish diplomat and author who wrote largely on economics. He was named consul general to the United States in 1801, became chargé d’affaires in 1807, and returned to Spain in 1809. During his stay in the United States, he lived in Philadelphia, where he became a member of the American Philosophical Society. After the reestablishment of the monarchy, he was imprisoned in 1814 because of his liberal writings. In 1815 he was sentenced to ten years’ exile in Pamplona, where he died (Gonzalo Díaz Díaz, Hombres y documentos de la filosofía española [7 vols.; Madrid, 1980–2003], 3:270–71; 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 , 3:493 n. 1).

5An editorial in the Philadelphia United States’ Gazette of Saturday, 15 Sept. 1804, described essay No. 1 by “Graviora Manent,” which was printed in the same edition, as having been printed in the Philadelphia Gazette on the previous day. No. 2 was printed in the United States’ Gazette on 17 Sept., and No. 3, which was unsigned, on 19 Sept.

6For Tench Coxe’s request that JM obtain a room for him at Dorothy and Vandine Elsworth’s boardinghouse, where JM lodged in New York, see PJM description begins William T. Hutchinson et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison (1st ser., vols. 1–10, Chicago, 1962–77; vols. 11–17, Charlottesville, Va., 1977–91). description ends , 13:188, 297 n. 1.

7This was probably John Dawson, who arrived in Washington on 24 Sept. 1804 (see Jacob Wagner to JM, 25 Sept. 1804).

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