James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Thomas Jefferson, 4 August 1805

From Thomas Jefferson

Monticello Aug. 4. 05

Dear Sir

On my return from Bedford two days ago I recieved your favor of July 24 and learnt with sincere regret that mrs Madison’s situation required her going to Philadelphia. I suppose the choice between Physic & Baynham1 was well weighed. I hope the result will be speedy & salutary, and that we shall see you in this quarter before the season passes over.

A letter from Charles Pinckney of May 22.2 informs me that Spain refuses to settle a limit, & perseveres in witholding the ratification of the convention. He says not a word of the status quo, from which I conclude it has not been proposed. I observe by the papers that Dulton is arrived with the public dispatches, from which we shall know the particulars. I think the status quo, if not already proposed, should be immediately offered through Bowdoin Should it even be refused, the refusal to settle a limit is not of itself a sufficient cause of war, nor is the witholding a ratification worthy of such a redress. Yet these acts shew a purpose both in Spain & France against which we ought to provide before the conclusion of a peace. I think therefore we should take into consideration whether we ought not immediately to propose to England an eventual treaty of alliance, to come into force when[e]ver (within3 years) a war shall take place with Spain or France. It may be proper for the ensuing Congress to make some preparations for such an event, and it should be in our power to shew we have done the same. This for your consideration.

Mr. Wagner writes me that two black convicts from Surinam are landed at Philadelphia.4 Being on the spot you will have a better opportunity of judging what should be done with them. To me it seems best that we should send them to England with a proper representation against such a measure. If the transportation is not within any of the regular appropriations, it will come properly on the contingent fund. If the law does not stand in the way of such an act, & you think as I do, it may be immediately carried into execution. Accept for mrs Madison & yourself my affectionate salutations & assurances of constant esteem & respect.

Th: Jefferson

RC (DLC); FC (DLC: Jefferson Papers).

1This was the “celebrated” Dr. William Baynham (1749–1814), an Essex, Virginia, physician who received his initial training in Virginia then went to England in 1769, where he studied and worked at St. Thomas’s Hospital. Disappointed of a promised professorship in 1781, he became a fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons and practiced surgery in London before returning to the United States in 1785. He developed an extensive practice and was skilled at operations for “stone, cataract, and extrauterine conception” (Wingfield, History of Caroline County, Virginia, 346).

2Jefferson received Pinckney’s 22 May 1805 letter on 2 Aug. 1805, DLC: Jefferson Papers.

3Left blank in RC and FC.

4For this incident, see Turell Tufts to JM, 13 June 1805, PJM-SS, description begins Robert J. Brugger et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison: Secretary of State Series (10 vols. to date; Charlottesville, Va., 1986–). description ends 9:467–68, and JM to Peter Muhlenberg, 19 July 1805. Wagner reported the convicts’ arrival in his 27 July letter to Jefferson, DLC: Jefferson Papers.

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