James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Joel Barlow, 25 April 1810

From Joel Barlow

Kalorama 25 April 1810

Dear Sir

Mr. Carey who is probably well known to you desires an interview with you on the subject of Mr. Tench Cox whose present office will probably be vacated by the passing of the Bill respecting a quartermaster’s department.1 Mr. Cox’s political character, his official talents & his mode of conducting the office he now holds are doubtless much better known to you than to me. But his domestic affairs are somewhat within my knowledge, his family is large & now at the most expensive time of life. I believe a great degree of distress would follow his being dismissed from his office, unless that of the projected department of quartermaster could be given him. With great respect & attachment yr. obt. Sert.

J. Barlow


1Secretary of War Eustis favored a reform of his department that would create a quartermaster general to handle purchases previously left to the purveyor of public supplies, Tench Coxe. On 16 Apr. the Senate had passed a bill to implement that proposal, and Coxe believed his political enemy, Senator Michael Leib of Pennsylvania, was excessively eager to see it become law. Coxe asked his friend Mathew Carey to intervene on his behalf, but Congress adjourned without further action on the bill. Leib reopened the issue when Congress reconvened, but Coxe survived as purveyor until the position was abolished in 1812 (Jacob E. Cooke, Tench Coxe and the Early Republic [Chapel Hill, N.C., 1978], pp. 470–72, 478–79; see also Coxe to JM, 28 Apr. 1810).

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