James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Matthew Livingston Davis, 14 July 1812

From Matthew Livingston Davis


New York July 14 1812


I inclose you a letter recd. two days since from Mr. Nathl. W. Strong.1 You will perceive, Sir, that it is a private letter, and not intended for the inspection of any person but myself. I have, however, deemed it the most correct and honorable mode, to let you understand explicitly and frankly, how far I am interested in the appointment of Mr Strong.

Should our affairs be settled with Great Britain (which I fear will not be the case) the commercial advantages and facilities which Mr Strongs residence in Lisbon, would afford the house of Strong & Davis, are very great.

Should the war continue, and the trade to that country be permitted under Spanish & Portuguese flags, we should also derive an advantage from his situation, by his having an opportunity to procure consignments to me. Thus far my interest is concerned. My feelings are also deeply engaged in the prosperity and success of my friend.

I pray, however, to be understood, that it is not my wish, nor the wish of Mr Strong, to supplant Mr. Jefferson. The present application is predicated upon a firm conviction that Mr. J. does not intend to return to Lisbon; and this information I derive from what I consider a highly respectable and authentic source in this City, well acquainted with the feelings and views of Mr. J.

I have been nearly nine years the copartner of Mr. Strong—consequently, know him well.

He is a native of Orange County, in the State of New York. The son of Capt. Strong, of our revolutionary army. He is, and has ever been, a decided republican, of irreproachable character. He is an intelligent, discriminating merchant: Not ignorant of our foreign relations. He has travelled much. Has resided nearly two years in the French West India Islands; Three years in London, and has been in Portugal and Sweeden. He possesses a degree of energy and promptness, which, in my opinion, at this crisis, adds to his other qualifications for the situation to which he wishes to be appointed. On the whole, I think he would make a good public officer, and most sincerely hope he may receive your approbation. With sentiments of respect & Esteem Your friend

Mat. L. Davis

P. S. Nothing new, except what is to be found in the Eastern papers.

RC and enclosure (DLC). Docketed by JM. For enclosure, see n. 1.

1Davis enclosed a four-page letter from Lisbon, dated 3 June 1812, in which Strong reported a shortage of bread and high wheat prices in the city, which he supposed had been caused by the American embargo. He noted that he would “not be surprised if the people here, in case bread gets much higher, … should turn against the English and force them to leave the Country,” an event that he believed would lead to a “speedy redress for all our complaints against England.” In response to the departure of the U.S. consul, Strong requested that Davis solicit the position for him. JM received a further letter on Strong’s behalf from Isaac Clason, dated 30 Oct. 1812 (DNA: RG 59, LAR, 1809–17, filed under “Strong”), and on 31 May 1813 nominated him to be consul at Saint-Barthélemy (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 , 2:347).

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