James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Alexander McRae, 7 January 1810

From Alexander McRae

New-York 7th. Jan. 1810.


I fear that the frequency of my communications, on topics principally interesting to myself, may have some tendency to render them irksome to you; but it was my impression, that the Public had, and would properly feel, some concern (’tho I am a private citizen) in the treatment I received at Philadelphia, from Phineas Bond esqr. and I therefore performed what I beleived to be a duty, when I used the freedom of detailing to you, the particulars of that gentleman’s very strange conduct towards me.1 I have been no less surprized at the efforts made by another British Consul at this place, (Colo. Barclay)2 to compel me to ask of Mr. Jackson, a testimonial necessary for my protection, in his character of British minister.

I have beleived it to be my duty to communicate to you, the substance and the result of this conversation also; and have therefore obtained from Mr. Fay, a lawyer of this City, who was present, a minute and accurate statement of the substance of all that was material, in my conversation with Mr. Barclay; which statement I have now the honor of enclosing for your perusal.3 Mr. Fay’s indisposition, prevented him from handing me the enclosed paper, ’til to-day; or it should have been earlier transmitted to you. If I have acted improperly, in troubling you unnecessarily with these communications, I flatter myself that my sufficient apology will be found, in adverting to the motive which has induced me to give you this trouble. Indeed Sir I am sincere, in offering to you professions of my highest respect and esteem.

Al: McRae.

RC and enclosure (DLC). For enclosure, see n. 3.

2Thomas Barclay had been appointed consul general for the eastern states of America in 1799 (Mayo, Instructions to British Ministers description begins Bernard Mayo, ed., Instructions to British Ministers to the United States, 1791-1812, Annual Report of the American Historical Association of the Year 1936, vol. 3 (Washington, 1941). description ends , p. 171).

3A memorandum (7 pp.), dated 2 Jan. 1810 and signed by Joseph D. Fay, relates a conversation between McRae and Thomas Barclay. Barclay refused, Fay reported, to accredit McRae’s passport and asked him to apply to Francis James Jackson for accreditation. The ensuing conversation reached the same conclusion as McRae’s talk with Bond in Philadelphia. McRae and Barclay “seperated both evidently warmed, but each to the other very polite.”

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