James Madison Papers

To James Madison from James Taylor, 30 May 1812

From James Taylor

Camp Miegs May 30th. 1812

My dear sir

I have the honor to inform you that having been honored by the Hon Secy. of War with the charge of furnishing the transportation & supplies for the Ohio Troops to Detroit & the Pay Master having requested me to advance the Troops their pay as it may be due,1 and in consequence of the Warm solicitations I have recd. from Gov Miegs & Genl Hull I have concluded to accompany the Ohio Troops to Detroit, I shall endeavor to be as useful as possible.2 The Troops appear to have every disposition to proceed right but There are very few among us who have any Knowledge as to the practical regulations in an army.

I do my self the pleasure to inclose you the address of Gov. Meigs to the Troops in delivering up the command to Genl Hull and the Gen: Answer or rather his address on receiving the Command.3

We are under marching orders for Monday Morni[n]g 1st May.4 It is no doubt highly necessary that we should get out to Detroit as soon as possible, and I do assure you that every exertion shall be made to facilitate the March as much as possible.

Mr. Coles informed me that you had done me the honor to nominate me to the Senate as one of the purchasing commissaries. I have no Certain account of what has been Done with the nomination, but have had a Hint that the Senate rejected it.5 If so I should have liked to have Known the Cause or the objection. I am not concious of having deserved such treatment, but there are few of us who have not some enemies particularly when our interest comes in contact with those of their more particular freinds. Again I may have given some umbrage to the feelings of one of our senators for his intemperate speach during the last session & his illiberal expressions of your self.6 Again there was a seven years lawsuit between myself & the father of one of the senators to whom the first remarks I expect applies Mr B.7 and the Matter is not yet closed & this may have had some influence. Again one of the brother in Laws of the Senator may be much displeased with me, he Gabrial Lewis of Va. (formerly) was the agent of Robt Patton of Frebg he had some law suits of great importance in Ky which he thought were badly managed but indeed, I did not Know his Ideas on this subject he mearly wrote me to Pay his Taxes in Ky & Ohio & attend to his business as Mr. Lewis had removed to a remote quarter of Ky. I have just h[e]ared that Mr L is much mortified & has written Mr P. a very abusive letter on the subject. I declare in the most positive terms that I never solicited the agency & Knew nothing of it till I was requested to do the business; and under Mr. P. Land was sold before, the letter got to hand, but I got it all fixed back for him. Mr P. can testify to all this. I have always endeavoured to do all the service to my County I could & I flatter my self that some characters high in office are sensible of this disposition. How far I have succeeded is not for me to say. If my exertions to make property has been an objection there are few men of any interprize to whom the same objection would not apply. Let the Pay Master & Acct say what is the Commission allowed me on the business I have done for the Govt. for two years past or more 1½ P Cent on my expenditures yielding me I think $180 P annum & upon my honor I could make tenfold attending to my private business. Indeed I wou’d not do the public correspondence for double the sum, but I thought some thing better might turn up. If the thing has eventuated as I fear If there was not a delicacy in it as to your self I am sure my brother wd be glad to receive the appointment or his son in law Wm: N. Lane of Winchester Ky but I would not wish by any means to involve your feelings for your freinds—but such8 People ought to be punished in their own way. Please to accept with Mrs. M my best respects & have the honor to be your obt.

Jas. Taylor

P S.

I have the honor that my Brigade has furnished considerably more men than was called for. My Brig: consists of 3 Regts and small Regts. too and two of these furnished each a full Company & the other nearly so & I am told by this has a full company.

Indeed I hope there will be sufficient patriotism in our whole state to prevent the necessity of drafting any men

J T.

RC (DLC). A note on the cover indicates that the letter was “recd under Cov⟨er⟩” and forwarded by Robert Brent. For the enclosures, see n. 3.

1On 2 May 1812 Secretary of War Eustis directed Taylor to furnish the militia and regulars bound for Detroit with camp equipage, transport, and such other supplies as were necessary. Taylor was also to advance the militia money for their clothing and pay. If time permitted, Eustis added, Taylor could consider having tents for the troops made from “country Linen” as well (DNA: RG 107, LSMA).

2For an account of Taylor’s activities during the Detroit campaign in the summer of 1812, see Robert C. Vitz, “James Taylor, the War Department, and the War of 1812,” Old Northwest, 2 (1976): 107–30.

3JM evidently forwarded these enclosures to the National Intelligencer, where they were published on 13 June 1812. Their contents described the scenes that occurred at Dayton, Ohio, on 25 May when Governor Meigs handed over the command of the state militia volunteers to Brig. Gen. William Hull. On behalf of the president of the U.S. the governor thanked the volunteers for their service, and the general in response expressed his appreciation for the patriotic exertions of Meigs. After warning the troops of the hardships they were about to endure, Hull informed them that in a few days their numbers would be augmented by regular soldiers from the Fourth Infantry Regiment, the veterans of the Battle of Tippecanoe. “That harmony and friendship may pervade this army, and that glory and fame may attend it in all its movements, are wishes,” Hull concluded, “in which I am confident all will … heartily join.”

4Taylor no doubt intended to write 1 June. The first of June 1812 was a Monday; the first of May was a Friday.

6Taylor was probably referring to a speech delivered in the U.S. Senate on 15 Feb. 1811 by John Pope of Kentucky in support of the recharter of the Bank of the United States. Pope remarked that JM had voted against the establishment of both the Bank of North America in 1781 and the Bank of the United States in 1791, adding that while he had great respect for the virtues and wisdom of the “present President … it is not pretended that he ever was a practical financier.” “No State,” he continued, “can boast of more genius, eloquence, and talents than Virginia; it will, however, be conceded, that no people are more deficient in practical knowledge of finance and the nature of moneyed institutions.” Pope hoped therefore that “some great men of Virginia” had “got rid of their errors and prejudices” on the subject (Annals of Congress description begins Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States … (42 vols.; Washington, 1834–56). description ends , 11th Cong., 3d sess., 225–27).

7Taylor referred to George M. Bibb of Kentucky.

8Here Taylor placed an asterisk at the foot of the page and completed the letter in the left margin of the first page.

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