James Madison Papers

To James Madison from J. Dunham, 28 April 1812 (Abstract)

§ From J. Dunham1

28 April 1812, Windsor. Describes himself as having been a “Federal Republican” for twenty years, and for ten years he has studied the duties “necessary to form the scientific soldier.” Has served presidents Adams and Jefferson “with equal fidelity” and “with equal, & … entire, approbation.” “That War, with either Belligerent, might now be just, I have never doubted; but, under existing circumstances, I have doubted its expediency. Nay—I have doubted, whether war were seriously intended. But the storm is fast gathering, & I cannot now see, but war must actually ensue.” Under these circumstances, “the Government, losing sight of party,” must enlist the nation; “And it will be no less the duty of every good Citizen to put his Shoulders to the Wheels, & to aid the Government, the only constitutional judges of expediency in this case—in bringing the conflict to a just and honorable issue.” Therefore offers “to Mr. Madison (it might be deemed indecorous thus to address the President)” his “most faithful services,” adding, however, that “at present” he could not accept a commission which might subject him “to the command of any Officer of recent appointment in this state” without degrading himself. Is known to generals Dearborn, Wilkinson, Gansevoort, and Hull and believes them to be personal friends. Seeks no influence in his favor and makes this communication “To Mr. Madison alone,” as he will “appreciate the delicacy of its nature, as well as the confidence, in which it is made.”

RC (DLC). 4 pp. Docketed by JM.

1Josiah Dunham of New Hampshire had been commissioned by President John Adams as a captain of infantry in December 1798. President Jefferson retained him in the Military Peace Establishment after March 1802 as a captain of artillery and engineers. He resigned his commission in April 1808 (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 , 1:299, 411; 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 , 1:388).

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