James Madison Papers

To James Madison from John G. Jackson, 8 December 1811

From John G. Jackson

Washington1 Decr. 8th 1811

Dear Sir.

It was very gratifying to learn from your letter that Harrison had arrived at Vincennes without any other rencontre with the indians than the battle near the Prophets town.2 I greatly apprehended that encumbered by his wounded, & badly supplied with provisions they might follow on his heels & gall his army in the most distressing manner. Their forbearance augurs well of their conduct during the winter, & with a proper display of force & decision will prevent any considerable assemblage or concentration of the tribes in the next year. Fear alone be assured will destroy the latent spark which has been disclosed: their habits conspire to make them fond of War & there are not wanting base incendiaries who add to their predilection.

The Assembly here have not done or agitated any thing which has not been communicated thro the papers. It is said that the denial of the right of instruction by Mr. Giles will produce some resolution asserting the right & consequently censuring the advocates of a contrary doctrine.3

I am apprehensive that the Congress will disappoint your hopes & the nations just expectations. They are too tardy for decision & vigor.

I am very desirous to procure a copy of the Census of Virginia as printed for Congress & ask the favor of you to send it to me.4 Offer my affectionate regards to Mrs. M & Mrs. W. At a more favorable moment I will do myself the pleasure to write them. Your Mo. Obt

J G Jackson

RC (DLC). Docketed by JM.

1The Washington location given here is probably an error on Jackson’s part. After his failure to receive a judicial appointment in April 1811, Jackson was returned as one of the delegates from Harrison County to the Virginia General Assembly. He traveled to Washington in mid-November, where he visited JM and his family before going on to Richmond for the General Assembly session that commenced on 2 Dec. 1811 (Brown, Voice of the New West, pp. 101–4).

2The news that William Henry Harrison and his army had returned safely to Vincennes after the Battle of Tippecanoe was reported in the National Intelligencer on 5 Dec. 1811.

3The resolutions anticipated by Jackson were written by Benjamin Watkins Leigh. Accompanied by a report defending the right of state legislatures to instruct their U.S. senators, they formed the basis for the decision of the Virginia General Assembly on 20 Feb. 1812 to censure both Richard Brent and William Branch Giles for failing to follow instructions to vote against the recharter of the Bank of the United States in 1811. Brent had voted for recharter while Giles, although voting against the bank, had denied the legislature’s right to instruct him. The assembly’s report maintained that the senators were bound either to obey instructions in all cases or to resign (see Clement Eaton, “Southern Senators and the Right of Instruction, 1789–1860,” Journal of Southern History, 18 [1952]: 304–5).

4Jackson was referring to census data JM had forwarded to Congress in his second message of 13 Nov. 1811. The figures for Virginia were printed at pages 54–56 of the accompanying document.

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