James Madison Papers

To James Madison from James V. S. Ryley, 7 September 1811 (Abstract)

§ From James V. S. Ryley1

7 September 1811, Schenectady. Has been informed by “A Gentleman Just arrived from Detroit,” that his son, John, is bound for Washington with a deputation of Ottawa chiefs “on subjects of National Concern.”2 In the present crisis of foreign relations “it behoves every real American … to exert himself for the public good”; suggests that the chiefs be sent via Schenectady on their return home, as he knows that nation well and can talk to them in their own language. Wishes to do good for his country and to see his child. In a postscript requests an acknowledgment of his letter and to be informed of the destination of the deputation.

RC (DNA: RG 107, LRRS, R-157:5). 1 p. Docketed by a War Department clerk as received 24 Sept. 1811.

1James Ryley (Riley) was originally from Schenectady, New York, where he had married a Mohawk woman and may have been a deputy postmaster. Both he and his son, John, were Indian interpreters in the employ of Gabriel Godfroy, the Indian agent at Detroit (Michigan Pioneer and Historical Collections, 13 [1888]: 337; Carter, Territorial Papers, Michigan, 10:477).

2In seeking permission to travel to Boston and other places on the East Coast in the fall of 1811, Michigan territorial governor William Hull had suggested that he bring with him some of the sons of the “most influential Chiefs, of the Ottawa, Chippewa, Pottawattamie, Shawnese and Wyandot Nations, who are destined to be Chiefs themselves” (Hull to Eustis, 6 Apr. 1811, Carter, Territorial Papers, Michigan, 10:348).

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