James Madison Papers

From James Madison to the House of Representatives, 28 February 1811

To the House of Representatives

February 28th 1811

Having examined and considered the Bill entitled “An act for the relief of Richard Turvin, William Coleman, Edwin Lewis, Samuel Mims, Joseph Wilson, and the Baptist Church at Salem Meeting House, in the Mississippi Territory” I now return the same to the House of Representatives in which it originated, with the following objection:

Because the Bill, in reserving a certain parcel of land of the United States for the use of said Baptist Church, comprizes a principle and precedent for the appropriation of funds of the United States, for the use and support of Religious Societies; contrary to the Article of the Constitution which declares that Congress shall make no law respecting a Religious Establishment.1

James Madison.

RC (DNA: RG 233, President’s Messages, 11A-D1). 1 p. In a clerk’s hand, signed by JM.

1The bill had been introduced in the House of Representatives by Jeremiah Morrow of Ohio on 7 Jan. 1811 and had passed both houses of Congress by 20 Feb. The first five sections entitled its beneficiaries either to receive preemption rights to land in the Mississippi Territory upon their producing proof of their entitlement or, in the case of Edwin Lewis, to receive preemption rights to five acres of land in return for land that had been used as an encampment by U.S. troops. Section 6 reserved five acres of land, including the Salem Meetinghouse, for the use of the Baptist church (see ASP description begins American State Papers: Documents, Legislative and Executive, of the Congress of the United States … (38 vols.; Washington, 1832–61). description ends , Miscellaneous, 2:154). On 2 Mar. both houses of Congress reconsidered the bill. The House of Representatives failed to override JM’s veto, then passed the bill after removing section 6. The Senate concurred on 3 Mar. (Annals of Congress description begins Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States … (42 vols.; Washington, 1834–56). description ends , 11th Cong., 3d sess., 125, 127, 150–51, 329, 508, 900, 906, 1098, 1103, 1105, 1106).

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