James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Thomas Rodney (Abstract), 7 March 1805

§ From Thomas Rodney

7 March 1805, Washington, Mississippi Territory. “Having made it a rule Since I have been Engaged in the Land business here not to meddle in the Local politics of the Territory—I can only be Induced by Considerations in favor of its general welfare to Communicate any thing that has respect to particular Individuals, and then only for the Information of the general government without feeling personally Interested in favor of One person more than another further than the Common Welfare of the Country dictates.

“As the Legislature has been Sitting three mos. in this Town & altho I have never been to the House but Once, Yet as the Members & Others frequently Call To See me I have unavoidable<y> become Acquainted in Some Degree with the adgitations which Party has Occasioned among them, and the delay and bad Effect it has had on Their business.

“The Whole Legislature<,> is Composed of 14. Members to wit 5 Legislative Coun<se>llors and 9 Representatives 4, of these only are Persons denominated Federalists and They all in the House of Representatives, the Rest are Republicans, but are Equally Divided into two parties; One Called the West party, the other the Claiborne party—The Judiciary System which I Mentioned in a former letter 1 has at last been Completed but with Some Defects owing to their party dissentions but the Measure which has Most Adgitated their parties has been Chusing a Deligate to Congress<,> and Nominating Legislative Councillors—The former is Not yet done but the Latter was Completed yesterday When the Following persons were Elected Towit, Col. Burnet & William Downs, for Claiborne County; Thomas Hinds & James Stewart, for Jefferson County; Alexr. Montgomery and Capt<n>. Joseph Sessions, for Adams County; Col. Hunter & Col. Baker, for Wilkinson County; and Lemuel Henry & Wm. Beauford, for Washington County. A good deal of disatisfaction has been Expressed out of doors at this Choice, and it is Said that the parties by Endeavouring to exclude the favorites of each other have Chosen persons that Neither preferred—but as they are nominated the More respectable part of the Community are desirous that the President Should Select the Fittest of them, to Compose the Legislative council. And Several of the respectable Inhabitants of the Territory have named To me the following Persons as The fittest among them for that purpose, Towit Col. Burnet for Claiborne; T. Hinds for Jefferson<;> Captn. Sessions for Adams; Col. Hunter for Wilkinson, and L. Henry for Washington2—but I confess I am not so well acquainted with them all as to distinguish Who are fitest, but have Mentioned those on the word of gentlemen In Whom I can Confide and Who Consider those Mentd. above as the best the list affoards. Yet the Whole Number, are Said To be Republicans, & friends to the Present administn.”

Letterbook copy (DLC: Rodney Family Papers).

1The letter has not been found, but for the proposed adjustment to the judicial system in the Mississippi Territory, see Rodney to JM, 24 Jan. 1805 (PJM-SS description begins Robert J. Brugger et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison: Secretary of State Series (9 vols. to date; Charlottesville, Va., 1986–). description ends , 8:501–2).

2On 20 Dec. 1805 Jefferson submitted the names of Joshua Baker, Daniel Burnet, Lemuel Henry, Thomas Hinds, and Joseph Sessions as nominees for the legislative council of the Mississippi Territory (Senate Exec. Proceedings description begins Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate of the United States of America (3 vols.; Washington, D.C., 1828). description ends , 2:9). Col. Joshua Baker, who served as president of the legislative council in 1807, later became embroiled in political infighting in Mississippi and was indicted for libeling Gov. Robert Williams. Daniel Burnet (d. 1827), the holder of large Spanish land grants, surveyed the boundary between the United States and Spanish Florida in 1798, was postmaster of Grindstone Ford in 1805, was a member of the 1817 Mississippi constitutional convention, and served in the state senate. Attorney Lemuel Henry also served as attorney general for Washington County and in November 1807 was named receiver of public monies for U.S. lands east of the Pearl River, in which post he was accused of improper conduct. Thomas Hinds (1775–1840), who was born in Virginia, served as a major in the War of 1812 until 1815, when he was promoted to brigadier general, and was elected to the 20th and 21st Congresses (1828–31). Joseph Sessions, a native of North Carolina, who came to Mississippi in 1801, was a member of the territorial council, 1806–8, and of the state legislature in 1811–12, 1814, 1817–19, and 1821–22, as well as a member of the 1817 constitutional convention (Rowland, Mississippi, 1:327, 870–71, 2:646–47; Carter, Territorial Papers, Mississippi, 5:493, 508, 577–78, 666, 738, 6:275–76, 280–82, 286–87, 289–90; Senate Exec. Proceedings description begins Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate of the United States of America (3 vols.; Washington, D.C., 1828). description ends , 2:57).

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