James Madison Papers

To James Madison from John G. Jackson, 12 October 1809

From John G. Jackson

Monte Alto Clarksburg P O Octr 12th 1809

My dear Sir.

Have the goodness to enclose the within Packet to Mrs. Washington.1 We hear very little now of the movements of the British Cabinet towards us, & still less of Jackson’s course—the public expectation has so long been abused that a state of Apathy and indifference has in some degree succeeded the excitement produced by British perfidy. They do not now contemplate the evils inflicted by G B with more concern than the subjugation of Austria & the contests in Spain—that is to say not as immediately affecting us but probably doing so in their consequences. I would now as soon attempt to move the rocky top of the Allegany to battle as make war with G B for existing differences without some new crisis to aid me. We must therefore play ⟨a⟩ cautious game if we avoid yielding some important right. The Elections have recently been favorable & rather confirm than shake my position: the people were drawn astray by popular tumult, they are returning to a state of quiet & acquiescence, & if they are maintained in it, earth & Hell cannot shake them. But go to War—or lay embargoes—Taxes &c & my life on it we kick the beam.2 Excuse these reflections. I wanted to say something & they obtruded on me. With love to my dear Sister M & yourself yours sincerely

J G Jackson

RC (DLC). Docketed by JM.

1Lucy Payne Washington (1777–1848) was the widow of George Steptoe Washington (ca. 1773–1808) and the sister of Mary Payne Jackson (John G. Jackson’s deceased wife) and Dolley Payne Madison. During JM’s presidency she and her three children frequently stayed at the executive mansion (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 , 15:358 nn. 6, 7; Moore, The Madisons, p. 227).

2Kick the beam: “(of one scale of a balance) to be so lightly loaded that it flies up and strikes the beam; to be greatly outweighed” (OED description begins Oxford English Dictionary. description ends ).

Index Entries