James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Alexander Smyth, 16 August 1810 (Abstract)

§ From Alexander Smyth1

16 August 1810. Encloses a letter stating some facts that the president should know. After reading the letter, JM is requested to seal and forward it.

RC and enclosure (DNA: RG 107, LRUS, S-1810). RC 1 p. Unsigned; undated. Enclosure (6 pp.) is Smyth to William Eustis, 16 Aug. 1810, Wythe, Virginia. In the letter, Smyth states the reasons for his refusal to serve under General Wilkinson and his reluctance to serve with General Hampton.

1Alexander Smyth (1765–1830) was born in Ireland and raised in Virginia where he practiced law in Wythe County. He served several terms in both branches of the Virginia state legislature before Jefferson, in 1808, commissioned him as colonel of the Eighth Rifle Regiment. In July 1812 JM appointed him as inspector general of the army with the rank of brigadier general, and shortly thereafter Smyth took command of the American forces on the Niagara peninsula. His subsequent mishandling of the invasion of Canada provoked such a reaction against him that he was legislated out of the U.S. Army in March 1813 (Heitman, Historical Register description begins Francis B. Heitman, Historical Register and Dictionary of the United States Army, from Its Organization, September 29, 1789, to March 2, 1903 (2 vols.; Washington, 1903). description ends , 1:905; ASP description begins American State Papers: Documents, Legislative and Executive, of the Congress of the United States ... (38 vols.; Washington, 1832-61). description ends , Military Affairs, 1:490–510; Senate Exec. Proceedings description begins Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate of the United States of America (3 vols.; Washington, 1828). description ends , 2:281, 288; Frank Severance, ed., “The Case of Alexander Smyth,” Publications of the Buffalo Historical Society, 18 [1914]: 224–41).

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