James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Edwin Lewis, 21 November 1810 (Abstract)

§ From Edwin Lewis1

21 November 1810, “Franklin near St. Stephens.” Complains of “injuries and oppressions” from local federal officials, “subjects on which I adressed you while you were Secretary of State2 which is the reason I address you now as President.” Is disappointed that there has been no inquiry into the conduct of Captain Swain3 or into the decisions of the land commissioners. Requests that Governor Holmes be instructed to make inquiries into his complaints and also into the conduct of the assistant agent of the Choctaw trading house, who pulled down a kitchen and made off with lumber belonging to Fort St. Stephens. Requests that further inquiries be made about Judge Toulmin, Capt. Edmund Pendleton Gaines, George Gaines, Thomas Malone, and others, stating that “I have been oppressed by officers of Govt. for no cause except a firm resolution to maintain the laws of the land.” Expresses indignation about “foreigners who are promoted to offices in my Country, [which] is not the inheritance my father expected to transmit to his unborn childred [sic].” Refers JM to Thomas Blount and Willis Alston, members of Congress, the former of whom “lives in the Country I was raised in.” Mentions in a postscript that he sent George Poindexter a transcript “shewing how Capt. Swain a Country man of Judge Toulmins was dismissed and never called to answer has he power to Dispence with the laws of the land.”

RC (DNA: RG 107, LRRS, L-126:5). 3 pp. Docketed by a War Department clerk as received 21 Dec. 1810.

1Edwin Lewis was a settler in the Mississippi Territory, where as early as 1803 he had participated in the agitation for a more liberal federal land policy to encourage immigration. He evidently quarreled with U.S. officials over conflicting land titles, especially in cases where a judicial decision was required to resolve overlapping British and American claims. His enthusiasms led him to support filibustering expeditions from Mississippi against the Spanish authorities in Mobile, an issue that only increased his hatred for Judge Harry Toulmin, whose conduct he was still protesting as late as 1816 (Carter, Territorial Papers, Mississippi, 5:279–82, 438–40, 693, 6:184, 220, 265–67, 698–99; Cox, The West Florida Controversy, pp. 478, 639–40; Lewis to JM, 10 Dec. 1810).

2No earlier letters from Lewis to JM have been found.

3Possibly Thomas Swaine, a captain in the Fourth U.S. Infantry, who had died in 1808 (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 , 1:938).

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