James Madison Papers

To James Madison from James Leander Cathcart, 30 June 1811 (Abstract)

§ From James Leander Cathcart

30 June 1811, Madeira. Has heard that Jarvis has resigned the Lisbon consulate and wishes to be considered for the post in the event of a vacancy. “The Consulate at Madeira is a paltry situation the emoluments trifling, not near sufficient to maintain my family.” All trade is engrossed by a few houses, there is no commission business, and he has been vegetating “in the same dull annual routine” with no prospects for betterment. “You know Sir, when I return’d from the Mediterranean that I return’d poor,… & I know that you were among those who most promoted the idea that Cathcart ought to be provided for; but in two years no vacancy occur’d but the Consulate of Madeira which I was induced to accept from want as I justly consider’d that half a loaf was better than no bread.” Laments that his circumstances obliged him “to publish the barreness of my purse.” Hopes his friends and JM will bear him in mind and, if the vacancy at Lisbon is already filled,1 requests that he be considered for the consulate at Liverpool if it becomes vacant. Refers to Jefferson’s 10 Feb. 1802 note to the Senate2 as proof of the regard in which he is held; seeks promotion to “insure the prospect of competency & the liberal education of my Children.”

RC and duplicate (DNA: RG 59, LAR, 1809–17, filed under “Cathcart”). 4 pp. Docketed by Monroe.

1On 2 July 1811 Cathcart wrote again to JM (ibid.; 3 pp.; duplicate, DLC), mentioning he had heard that George Jefferson had been appointed to Lisbon but that he might not accept owing to his health, “which is very delicate.” Cathcart suggested that Madeira was a better place than Lisbon for the restoration of Jefferson’s health as the Portuguese capital was in danger of being seized by the French, contained nearly one-eighth of the total population of the nation, and was never very healthy. “Mr Jefferson is in quest of health as I am of emolument,” Cathcart pointed out. “Should he be disposed to exchange situations we may both be suited to our satisfaction.” If Jefferson agreed to this proposal, Cathcart requested that JM not disapprove of the exchange.

2On 1 Feb. 1802 Jefferson had nominated Cathcart as consul at Tripoli (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 , 1:406–7).

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