James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Edmund Foster, 8 June 1812

From Edmund Foster

Littleton Mass. June 8th. 1812

Dear sir,

In the present crisis of our public affairs a respect for your person and approbation of your administration by whomsoever expressed and from whatever part of the union they may come, cannot, I trust, be unacceptable.

Enclosed is a discourse lately delivered before the Legislature of Massachusetts.1

In ordinary times I should not think of presenting to the Chief Magistrate of the United States so inconsiderable a production. And in doing it at this time I am not actuated by any motives of vanity; but merely by a desire of making known to you the sentiments held by some in this part of the union. If they should be found so correct in themselves and so applicable to the present times as to meet your approbation I shall be gratified. A single line from your own pen expressing your opinion would be very acceptable. With sentiments of high consideration, I am Sir, your most obet, & very humble servt

Edmund Foster2

RC (NN).

1While it is possible that Foster enclosed a copy of the address delivered by Caleb Strong, the recently elected Federalist governor of Massachusetts, to the state legislature on 5 June (printed in the National Intelligencer on 16 June 1812), it is more likely that he sent JM a copy of his own tract, A Sermon, Preached before His Excellency the Governor, His Honor the Lieutenant-Governor, and the Two Branches of the Legislature of Massachusetts, May 27, 1812, Being the Day of Annual Election (Boston, 1812; Shaw and Shoemaker description begins R. R. Shaw and R. H. Shoemaker, comps., American Bibliography: A Preliminary Checklist for 1801–1819 (22 vols.; New York, 1958–66). description ends 25444). Foster’s sermon was a twenty-two-page discourse on the nature of republican government, civil obligation, and the relationship between religion and public morality. In addressing the issues of the day, Foster warned against the dangers of party spirit, foreign influence, and the risks of a division of the Union. He also declared that the U.S. had been grievously injured by Great Britain, that the prospects for reconciliation with that nation had been exhausted, and that America ought “to make a stand” (p. 17). Reminding his audience that Congress was rightfully invested with the powers of peace and war and that its decisions were binding on citizens, he called for union in the event of war and cautioned those who disagreed against taking their opposition too far in such circumstances.

2Edmund Foster (1752–1826) was a Congregational minister in Littleton, Massachusetts, and the author of a number of published sermons and tracts (American Antiquarian Society, comp., Index of Obituaries in Massachusetts Centinel and Columbian Centinel, 1780 to 1840 [5 vols.; Boston, 1961], 2:1665).

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