James Madison Papers

To James Madison from John Geddes, 26 September 1812

From John Geddes


Charleston September 26th. 1812.


By this days Mail you will receive the Unanimous Address of both branches of the Legislature of this state approbatory of your political Conduct as Chief Magistrate of the United states.1 I, at the same time, take the Liberty of stating to you, that the result of the late proceedings of our Legislature, at our Extra Session evidence a determination on the part of this state, to aid the General government, in the prosecution of the war which has commenced, with vigour and spirit. And to the utmost of their power, to meet the views of government, and to assist in placing the state in a respectable posture of defence—liberal appropriations were made, and every munition of war, was ordered to be procured, with zeal and alacrity.

It may not be deemed improper, to remark, that the federal party have recently held federal Caucus’s in this City, and that they have already agreed on opposing the re-Election of our distinguished member Mr. Cheves,2 by bringing forward Col. Rutledge3 in opposition to him. The friends of Mr. Clinton have not been inactive in their endeavours to promote a change in the friendly opinion of the Citizens of this state towards you—and the present administration of the United States. They have lately forwarded and distributed the Address of the New york corresponding Committee—to which a reply is preparing for the Members of the Legislature of this state previous to the choice of Electors of President & Vice President. Major Noah4 of this City with much Zeal and talents, has manifested his attachment to the Republican cause, and has written several members in support of your re-Election, in opposition to Mr. Clinton. I have been induced, to take the Liberty of mentioning the name of this gentleman to you, from a conviction that you are at all times desirous of knowing those political friends who have laboured in effecting the permanent Security of Republican Interest.

The failure of General Hull, and the subsequent disasters which have occur’ed to his Army, it is believed, will stimulate the Citizens of the United States under the direction of the government, to carry on the War with additional vigour, in order to regain by strong, decisive, and successful operations the ground we have unfortunately lost. The failure, notwithstanding the efforts of your enemies to the Contrary, will be attributed to its proper cause, and there is a firm persuation that no blame can attach itself to the Administration. I think myself warranted in Stating to you, and I state it with great pleasure, that you will unquestionably receive the Unanimous Vote of South Carolina. In this procedure you will at once observe, that we never desert those Citizens who have served us faithfully, and whose sole object is to secure the rights, maintain the honor, and promote the prosperity of the Union. I have the honor, to be with great respect & Esteem your obedient Servant.

John Geddes.

RC (DLC). Docketed by JM.

2Langdon Cheves (1776–1857) was a Republican representative from South Carolina to the Eleventh, Twelfth, and Thirteenth Congresses. A successful planter who had already enjoyed a distinguished career in South Carolina politics before his arrival in Washington, Cheves served as chairman of the committee on naval affairs during the first session of the Twelfth Congress and as chairman of the Ways and Means Committee and as Speaker of the House during the Thirteenth Congress. He turned down JM’s offer of the office of secretary of the treasury in 1815. Returning to South Carolina, Cheves took up a career on the bench. He then became the director of the United States Bank in 1819, relocating to Philadelphia. He served on the commission to settle War of 1812 claims from 1823 to 1827 and retired from public life in 1852 (Edgar et al., Biographical Directory of the South Carolina House of Representatives, 4:111–14).

3Col. John Rutledge Jr. (1766–1819), son of John and Elizabeth Grimké Rutledge, was a Federalist representative from South Carolina to the Fifth through Seventh Congresses. At the urging of Harrison Gray Otis, Rutledge organized a campaign to oust JM from office in the fall of 1812 and made an unsuccessful bid for Cheves’s seat in Congress (ibid., 4:500–502; Archie Vernon Huff Jr., Langdon Cheves of South Carolina [Columbia, S.C., 1977], 66–68).

4Geddes referred to Mordecai M. Noah, whose anti-Clintonian views were published under the pseudonym “Diodorus Siculus” as A Letter Addressed to the Members of the Legislature of South-Carolina, Examining the Claims and Qualifications of Dewitt Clinton, to the Presidency of the United States (Charleston, 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 25274) (Sarna, Jacksonian Jew, 11–12, 165–66).

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