James Madison Papers

From James Madison to Elbridge Gerry, 21 June 1811

To Elbridge Gerry


Washington June 21. 1811

Dear Sir

I thank you for your polite communication of the Speech to your Legislature.1 The solid & seasonable truths so emphatically inculcated in it, can not fail to do much good. The noise & anger which it is exciting, prove that the faction is deeply stung by the exposure of its guilt, and will increase the public indignation, by rousing a more diffusive attention to the subject. The delay of Mr. Pinkney & Mr. Foster continue to exercise our patience. From the arrival of the former, little not already known can be expected, as it appears that the latest communications from Paris did not reach England in time for him. The return of the John Adams which may now be shortly looked for, will supply that failure. With respect to Mr. F. there are obvious considerations forbidding much reliance on the purport of his mission. On the other hand, some hope is awakened by the reports that it proceeds from the decision of the Prince Regent, agst. the will of the Cabinet, and is meant to keep the path open for amicable arrangements. If this be really the case, it is possible that Mr. F. may have authority to do something on the more critical points depending, altho’ the mode will be awkward, and the result diletory. Be pleased to accept my great esteem & friendly respects.

James Madison

RC (owned by Mr. and Mrs. Philip D. Sang, Chicago, Ill., 1958).

1No letter from Gerry to JM communicating his 7 June address to the Massachusetts legislature has been found, but the National Intelligencer published the address on 15 June 1811. Its contents were almost wholly devoted to criticisms of the Federalists for their organization of petitions and public “assemblages” to oppose administration policies, most notably JM’s proclamation of 2 Nov. 1810 and the Nonintercourse Act of 2 Mar. 1811. In particular, Gerry took exception to Federalist arguments that justified forcible resistance and disunion as legitimate means of political opposition.

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