James Madison Papers

To James Madison from David R. Williams, 12 June 1812

From David R. Williams

Washington 12th June 1812


I called on you yesterday, at the request of Mr Halsey, but found you were engaged: indeed, I am not insensable that, the pressure of great public interests must necessarily occupy you every moment; and it is therefore, with a view to trespass less that, I seek to make an explanation which, I have not been able to deny to friendship, in this mode, rather than by personal interview.

I am satisfied, the character and recommendations you have received of Mr Halsey, are so perfectly satisfactory, no reason whatever will bar him the appointment he solicits,1 but such as ought, and such, I have no wish to oppose; but he considers that, an explanation, relative to the priority of application, which alone seems to stand in his way, with which the Chief Clerk in the Department of State is acquainted and has promised to state to you is necessary. Mr H. apprehends, Mr Graham may be constrained, by more important occupation, to delay that explanation ’till your determination has been taken, and thus in fact, deprive him of an advantage, supposed to be possessed by Mr Miller,2 when in truth, it is peculiarly his. If you have not decided against Mr H. and Mr Graham has not been able yet to wait on you, I solicit in Mr H’s behalf that, you hear the explanation of his case, as affected by the priority of application, before you do decide.

I am informed by Mr H. that a contingent promise of the consulate of Buenos Ayres, on the withdrawing of Mr Pointsett, if no appointment can be made now, will be acceptable, and that such is Mr Miller’s situation, not being established at Buenos Ayres, if it is wished by the President to appoint him a consul, Montevideo may be a desirable place to him; which is not so to Mr H. because he is already established at Buenos Ayres not only as a merchant, but having realized an establishment there and the necessary equipage for its comfort.

I beg you to be assured, I have not considered it in any possible degree necessary that, I should attempt to assist your judgement in it’s decission, but the interest of a gentleman and early friend are too near my heart, to deny myself to him, as the medium thro’ whom you should be made acquainted with his real case; in this view, I am confident no appology is necessary for this trouble caused by Your very obedient and most humble Servant

David. R. Williams3

RC (DLC). Docketed by JM.

1For these recommendations, see Jonathan Russell to JM, 23 Dec. 1811, and n. 1.

2JM nominated William G. Miller of Pennsylvania to be U.S. consul at Montevideo on 16 June 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 , 2:277).

3David Rogerson Williams (1776–1830) was born in South Carolina. He attended Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, after which he studied and practiced law in that city from 1797 to 1800. Following his return to South Carolina he was engaged in newspaper publishing, cotton planting, and manufacturing before he was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1805. He was elected thereafter to the House of Representatives in the Tenth and Twelfth Congresses (1807–9 and 1811–13), and during the first session of the Twelfth Congress he served as chairman of the House military affairs committee. Generally Williams supported JM’s administration and its policies of preparedness, and in July 1813 JM commissioned him as a brigadier general in the U.S. Army. He saw active duty on the Canadian frontier over the summer of 1813 but resigned from the army in December 1813, after he was disappointed in his hope to be assigned to the campaign against the Creek Indians. From 1814 to 1816 Williams served as governor of South Carolina, and he remained prominent in state politics until his death following an injury he sustained while building a bridge (Bailey et al., Biographical Directory of the South Carolina Senate, 3:1730–32).

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