James Madison Papers

From James Madison to Caesar A. Rodney, 22 October 1809

To Caesar A. Rodney

Washington Ocr. 22. 1809

Dear Sir

I have duly recd. yours accompanied by the pamphlet of T.1 on the Batture. You are right I think in your ideas on the subject, and wd. do well in writing to Poydras as you suggest.

Onis could not as you anticipated, be recd.2 Whatever noise may be made on the occasion, the thing can not admit of doubt with men who consult their judgments, not their sympathies with Spain, nor their enmities towards the administration. Is Ferdinand or the Junta, in actual possession of the Govt.? This is the sole question for us, a question of fact, which all the most recent & authentic information decides in the negative.

Jackson & Mr. S. have been breaking a lance. When shall we have the pleasure of your aid in our deliberations? Accept my affectionate respects.

James Madison

RC (NjP).

1Probably J. B. S. Thierry (see Rodney to JM, 17 Oct. 1809, and n. 3).

2Luis de Onís had arrived in Washington on 19 Oct. as the minister of the Supreme Junta of Spain to the U.S. JM’s reluctance to recognize him grew out of the accession of Joseph Bonaparte to the Spanish throne, which led to rival groups’ claiming to be the de facto government in Spain. Since the British backed the Supreme Junta, ruling in the name of Ferdinand VII, Onís sought aid from Francis James Jackson, whose younger brother, George Jackson, was secretary of the British legation to the Junta. On 24 Oct. Onís and Jackson chanced upon the president at the Georgetown races, where the British minister introduced Onís to JM. As Francis James Jackson reported: “I have done what I could for Onis, but Madison refuses to receive him. This resolution was taken, it appears, some time before his arrival.” Onís became persona non grata because of his indiscretions, but JM finally recognized him as Spanish minister late in 1815 (Samuel Flagg Bemis, ed., American Secretaries of State and Their Diplomacy [10 vols.; New York, 1927–29], 3:260–61, 275; Brant, Madison description begins Irving Brant, James Madison (6 vols.; Indianapolis and New York, 1941-61). description ends , 5:98–99, 494 n. 19; Jackson, The Bath Archives description begins Lady Jackson, ed., The Bath Archives: A Further Selection from the Diaries and Letters of Sir George Jackson from 1809 to 1816 (2 vols.; London, 1873). description ends , 1:29; ASP description begins American State Papers: Documents, Legislative and Executive, of the Congress of the United States ... (38 vols.; Washington, 1832-61). description ends , Foreign Relations, 3:404).

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