James Madison Papers

To James Madison from George Keyser, 25 June 1811

From George Keyser

Baltimore June 25th. 1811.


You will please to pardon the Liberty, I have taken, by forwarding you a Copie of An address, to the people of the United States, Under the Signature, of Robt. Smith Esq. late Secretary of State.1 I May appear to you to be Officious, but Sir, to adopt a Sentiment of Mr Smith to Mr Jefferson, I never did abandon a freind, so long as he was worthy of Confidence.2

I pray you Sir to Accept My hearts Best wishes for your Health and Happiness. I remain Sir, your Most Obt. and Verry humble Sevt.

Geo Keyser3


1Keyser no doubt forwarded a copy of Robert Smith’s Address to the People of the United States, which appeared both in pamphlet form and in installments in the Baltimore Whig on 24, 25, 26, and 27 June 1811. In the 24 June issue, the editor of the Whig anticipated that the publication of Smith’s pamphlet would “make a deep impression on the mind of every honest man” as well as bring about “a correction of the abuses which have crept into executive practice.” Among the latter, the Whig specifically criticized JM for holding cabinet meetings on the grounds that the Constitution “recognizes no presidential cabinet. It invests the president with certain powers, and makes him responsible for their exercise.” The editorial conceded that the president could require written opinions from departmental heads but maintained that the formation of an executive cabinet was an abuse of the second section of article 2 of the Constitution insofar as it could lead to “contemning useful advice, and making disagreement in opinion a ground for censure.”

2Keyser alluded to the appendix of the Address where Smith had published a series of letters exchanged with Jefferson to show “how unfounded are the tales with respect to Mr. Jefferson, to which certain underlings of Mr. Madison, for the purpose of sustaining him, have found it expedient to resort.” In a [5] May 1811 letter to Jefferson, Smith had concluded by thanking the former president for his conduct toward him, adding “that however disposed I may be to forgive an enemy, I never did abandon a friend.”

3George Keyser was the owner of a china store on the corner of North Liberty and Baltimore Streets (The Baltimore Directory for 1810 [Baltimore, 1810; Shaw and Shoemaker description begins R. R. Shaw and R. H. Shoemaker, comps., American Bibliography: A Preliminary Checklist for 1801–1819 (22 vols. to date; New York, 1958—). description ends 19415], p. 108).

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