James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Thomas Appleton, 20 February 1802

From Thomas Appleton, 20 February 1802

Leghorn 20th: February 1802.


I had the honor of addressing you on the 15th. of January, inclosing at the Same time a list of American ships arrived in this Port during the year 1801, ⟨also⟩ the account of monies supplied to distressed seamen ⟨till⟩ the last of December. In my preceeding letter I have ⟨men⟩tioned to you that deputies from all the orders composing ⟨the⟩ Cis-alpine republic were assembled at Lyons, to concert ⟨wit⟩h the first Consul on the most eligible form, to be given ⟨to t⟩heir government. After the Splendid reception of Buonaparte ⟨was⟩ terminated and the accustomed Ceremonies were at an end, ⟨the⟩ general outlines of a Constitution were read to the ⟨As⟩sembly, and immediately accepted with great acclamations. ⟨Inst⟩ead of the Appellation of the Cis-alpine Republic, it is ⟨in⟩ future to be termed the Italian Republic. Hitherto I ⟨have⟩ not been able to procure an exact Copy of the Constitu⟨tion⟩, however I now enclose you the principal Articles which ⟨fo⟩rm the basis of it. The territorial limits of this republic have not as yet been divulged; but the title it ⟨has⟩ now assumed, would incline us to beleive they may b⟨e⟩ greatly extended. Indeed were every Kingdom and pr⟨in⟩cipality to the Utmost boundaries of Italy hereafter to ⟨be⟩ comprised in it, there Could be no opposition, and the King of Naples I am persuaded would as tamely surrender his Kingdom, as has already done the King of Sardinia.

The clergy alone would excite some apprehensions from their intrigues, but the high respect shewn of late by the government of france to the church, joined to the additi⟨onal⟩ testimony it has exhibited in the first article of the Constit⟨ution⟩ of the Italian Republic, and that extreme moderation it ⟨has⟩ shewn when having the power to depress, gives a fair rea⟨son⟩ to presume that it might diminish the formidable obsta⟨cle⟩ and silence the clamours of the priests. In short Sir that the whole of Italy is to experience an entire change in its mode of government, there cannot remain the sha⟨dow⟩ of doubt: for while it Continues under its present forms little solid advantage can be drawn from it by france. ⟨No⟩ well founded reason can be urged for the levying of ⟨ta⟩xes on the Monarchical governments; but should they be ⟨m⟩odified into republics, arguments would not be wanting ⟨to⟩ justify pecuniary compensations, when the services have ⟨bee⟩n so essential. The Cis-alpine republic however ⟨ho⟩norable a name it has been Called by, has never ⟨en⟩joyed for a moment even the Appearance of liberty. The Princes under that form held still the power ⟨&⟩ the means of oppression; while Commissaries ⟨an⟩d all the train of this rapacious race have unceasingly ⟨ra⟩vaged the fairest part of Italy. Their new government ⟨has⟩ been received with universal joy, since it reduces ⟨to⟩ their own level a priviledged order of tyrants, and ⟨shews⟩ to them the dawn of a free Constitution.

The New President has long been famed for his republican ⟨vir⟩tues, and their senators are acknowledged among the ⟨wa⟩rmest advocates for Democracy. Considering then that Tuscany is avowedly governed by the power of the french, ⟨tha⟩t the Pope holds his temporal power on a similar tenure, ⟨tha⟩t the fate of the Kingdom of naples has hitherto been suspended by favour, and on the whole that it is unquestiona⟨bly⟩ for the interest, and glory of france, I must then repeat what I have before mentioned, Vizt. that a total change must take place through the whole extent of Italy.

The single person of the Pope presents the greatest barier but I cannot hesitate to beleive that he who now governs an hundred millions of Men with so much Wisdom, Can find means to pacify his holiness. The history of his predecessors furnishes many, should not a new on⟨e⟩ Offer itself to the fertile imagination of Buonaparte.

Having Sir comprised in as few words as possib⟨le⟩ not only what has absolutely taken place in Italy since my last respects: but even hazarded opinions which although founded on the most rational probability must nevertheless be subject to those errors ever att⟨en⟩dant on conclusions drawn only from our reason, a⟨nd⟩ the judgment of those who are the most conversant in ⟨the⟩ actual policy of France, suffer me then to transcribe the latter part of my last letter to you, under the apprehension that the original may not have rea⟨ched⟩ your hands.

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