James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Alexander Smyth, 23 April 1812

From Alexander Smyth

Washington City Apl. 23d. 1812.


Some weeks since my feelings compelled me to address to you a note offering some justificatory evidence. I now present it.1

I beg you to be assured, Sir, that there is no man who would with more reluctance give you a moments trouble, or pain; but it is a duty I owe to myself, and a family whose interests I have sacrificed to the nation, to enable you fairly to appreciate my pretensions. I have the honor to be, With most perfect respect, Your Most Obt.

Alexander Smyth

RC (DLC). Mistakenly docketed by JM with the date “Apl. 23. 1813.”

1On 28 Mar. 1812 Eustis had named Smyth to be inspector general of the army, although the nomination did not go to the Senate until 1 July 1812 (see Smyth to JM, ca. 6 July 1812; 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 , 2:281). The note Smyth now presented to JM was probably a two-page, undated statement to the effect that Smyth, having learned that his name had been mentioned for promotion, wished to declare “his attachment to the Administration, and his perfect friendship for the President,” but did not wish that “he should be the subject of an improper appointment.” He therefore offered to justify his appointment by proving “affirmatively” that he was “as incorruptible, disinterested, patriotic, and brave, as any man in the nation” and stated that he was ready to do this “tomorrow.” He further offered to explain in three weeks’ time any act that his enemies “might feel disposed to misrepresent.” Smyth also mentioned that four years earlier a majority of the Virginia congressional delegation had recommended him as a field officer and that at the same time he had been elected to the Senate of the state in which he had resided since 1775. He deemed any inquiry prior to that date unnecessary, since from that period onward he had endeavored “to render his conduct faultless” and had “labored incessantly for the honor of the government and the army.” For the truth of these assertions he referred JM to the secretary of war (DLC).

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