From Wilson Cary Nicholas
[ca. 3 March 1809]
My Dear Sir
I have endeavoured to ascertain how the votes wou’d be in the Senate upon the nomination of Mr. Galatin.1 My information is that there are seventeen votes against him—ten gentn. will vote for him, some of them reluctantly, and that there are seven doubtful votes. This information is obtained through sources not friendly to Mr. G—— but I fear it is correct as to the number of votes he will lose, there is but one person in that number about who I have much doubt, and I have reason to believe if he does not vote against G—— it will be out of respect to you.
May I take the liberty to suggest If you do not mean to nominate Mr. G—— the sooner there is an end to the conversation about it the better—great consideration is due as to the manner in which it shall go off, both as it relates to yourself & Mr. G—— if it is believed you intended it, some degree of the responsibility of an unpopular appointment will attach to you. Every thing is due to the feelings of a deserving man and there shou’d be as little reason as possible to let it be supposed he was or wou’d have been rejected. I pray you Sir to pardon the liberty I have taken.2 I am with the greatest respect yours
W. C. Nicholas3
I have had but a moment to write this I fear you will not understand me.
RC (DLC: Rives Collection, Madison Papers). Docketed by JM, “Mar. 1809.” Date fixed by circumstances connected with JM’s nomination of Robert Smith to be secretary of state on 6 Mar. 1809.
1. At a later time, JM placed an asterisk here and wrote in the margin: “*to be Secretary of State.”
2. For the background of this letter, see Brant, Madison description begins Irving Brant, James Madison (6 vols.; Indianapolis and New York, 1941–61). description ends , 5:23–25. An undated memorandum relates a conversation between Giles and Nicholas on Gallatin’s chances for Senate confirmation. “I have … no scruple in saying Mr. Giles was one of the Senators with whom I did confer freely & frequently upon this subject. From the first Mr. Giles declared his determination to vote against G——n.” Nicholas added that he then called upon JM, reported the situation, and “expressed sincerely & fully my regret at his having so unpleasant and unfortunate an occurrence to encounter at the commencement of his administration” (DLC: Wilson Cary Nicholas Papers).
3. Wilson Cary Nicholas (1761–1820), a friend and political ally of JM’s, was a Republican congressman from Virginia, 1807–9.