James Madison Papers

To James Madison from David Meade Randolph, 9 July 1811 (Abstract)

§ From David Meade Randolph

9 July 1811, London. Offers JM some “political remarks—emanating from some interesting communications with several distinguished characters” on both the ministerial and opposition sides of the policy questions agitating Great Britain. Makes some comparisons of “National Greatness”; finds that in Great Britain it is measured by “Wealth and power” and in the U.S. by “National equality of Rights & community of happiness!” Regrets that “garbeled extracts” of the most violent American party prints have persuaded John Bull and the ministers of America’s “deadly hostility” but believes that the people of Great Britain “possess similar doctrines of Liberty and religious tolleration” to those held in the U.S. Has obtained information from “certain distinguished characters” in Ireland that has persuaded him “their feelings, policy, ultimate views, and the unceasing leaven forming the basis of the Irish character, are not only congenial, but aspire to be identified with our more fortunate Countrymen; whose hopes are kept down by contemplating the vast difference of space across the Irish Channel, and the Atlantic!” These remarks are prefatory to enclosing a communication from Sir Jonah Barrington,1 “which has resulted from personal interviews I had been honored with, by the celebrated Mr. Grattan2 and others.”

RC and enclosure (DNA: RG 59, ML). RC 6 pp. For enclosure, see n. 1.

1Randolph enclosed a 6 July 1811 letter he had received from Jonah Barrington, formerly an Irish member of Parliament and at that time an admiralty court judge in Dublin (7 pp.). The judge expressed his wish that American concerns in Ireland, particularly in Dublin, be better regulated, and he claimed that many “Embarrassments” resulted from the want of “an efficient consul in Dublin.” Specifically, he believed that trade in Ireland was suffering from the “misconduct” of American ship captains, most notably their failure to observe their articles of agreement with their crews, and he even cited cases where American captains had procured press gangs “to impress their own American sailors to avoid the payment of their wages.” Barrington doubted whether his admiralty jurisdiction extended to these problems, lamented the lack of consular appointments throughout Ireland generally, and declared that both he and his friend Grattan agreed that these issues could not be managed under the articles of union between Great Britain and Ireland. Barrington further mentioned that he had forwarded a recommendation to the president “last year” (not found) for a consul in Dublin because communication with such an official was essential for him on many occasions.

2Henry Grattan (1746–1820), member of Parliament for Dublin, was well known for his sympathy to American independence, parliamentary reform, Catholic emancipation, and opposition to the union of Great Britain and Ireland.

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