James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Albert Gallatin, [3 March] 1812

From Albert Gallatin

Tuesday [3 March 1812]

Dear Sir

I never have, from personal considerations, interfered with appointments, but for once feel compelled to do it. It appears to me that Mr Eustis has a rooted aversion for my friend Chrystie.1 He is one of the very few for whom all unite: the New York delegation was in common with others requested to recommend jointly. However discordant on other points, all the members present, with the exception of Mitchill, have recommended him for Lieut. Colonel. Mr Eustis places him on the list only as Major, and without judging for himself, I had rather that he should not re-enter the army than not have the rank for which he is recommended. When from the want of agreement between the members, it becomes necessary to nominate a less number than the State is entitled to, why reject an almost unanimous recommendation, and a man in whose favor the Vice President & John Smith2 unite! I could add more from my knowledge of the city of New York where it will be a better received appointment than any other. The reason why I feel on this occasion is because I apprehend that I am the innocent cause of Chrystie’s being obnoxious to Mr Eustis. It cannot be concealed that he (Chrystie) is a favorite of Gen. Wilkinson & much attached to him. The enclosed letter which I had suppressed is a sufficient proof of it.3 And it was certainly owing to Mr Chrystie’s connection with Mrs. G.’s family that Wilkinson first noticed him & took him in his family. That a young man of warm feelings should have gratitude for the kind treatment he thus received from the General, was a natural consequence and for which no one would at least impute blame. It is however the only cause of prejudice; and I will much regret that my friendship instead of aiding him, should ultimately have produced such a contrary effect. Pardon this intrusion, to which I will only add that notwithstanding what I felt, I would not have made it, had I not seen on the lists many names who are nominated for Lieut. Colonels & in every point of view are inferior to Chrystie. Respectfully Your obedt. Servt.

Albert Gallatin

RC and enclosure (DLC). RC undated; date assigned here by comparison with Gallatin to JM, 5 Mar. 1812, and on the basis of information in n. 1. Docketed by JM, “1812.” For enclosure, see n. 3.

1John Chrystie of New York entered the U.S. Army as a lieutenant in May 1808 and resigned his commission in November 1811. JM nominated him to the rank of lieutenant colonel on 10 Mar. 1812, after which he went on to serve in the Niagara campaign of 1812. In March 1813 he became colonel of the Twenty-third Infantry Regiment. He died on 22 July 1813, shortly after the Battle of Beaver Dams in Upper Canada (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 , 2:230, 377, 380; Heitman, Historical Register description begins Francis B. Heitman, Historical Register and Dictionary of the United States Army, from Its Organization, September 29, 1789, to March 2, 1903 (2 vols.; Washington, 1903). description ends , 1:300).

2Gallatin referred to John Smith (1752–1816) of Mastic, New York, who represented New York in the U.S. Senate from 1804 to 1813.

3Gallatin enclosed a two-page letter he had received from James Wilkinson, dated 27 Jan. 1812. The general confessed that he had used his influence to persuade Chrystie to resign his commission in order to return to the “more profitable persuit” of studying the law; however, he added, Chrystie’s “military propensities are again awakened by the prospect of War, and … he is desirous to resume the sword.” Wilkinson endorsed this wish, adding that Chrystie’s abilities justified his reappointment at a high rank and that if he could be given a leading regimental position “he may hazard the suspension of his present studies.” “If we have no War or a short one,” the general continued, Chrystie could “return to his Books with weight & distinction in Society, such was the case of Hamilton & Burr,” while in the event of a long conflict “his sword will elevate Him to national distinction & perhaps something more, before he shall reach his thirty fifth year.”

Index Entries