James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Henry Foxall, 10 October 1812 (Abstract)

§ From Henry Foxall1

10 October 1812, “Spring Hill, near Geo. Town.” “Sence I had the Honour of Speaking to you on the Subject of the Situation of the poor unfortunate John Ryan,2 now in Buffaloe Jail I have endevoured to Obtain some evidence of what I then communicated to you respecting the time he came to this country, the place where he landed, and as fare as could be obtained, of his Carrecter and conduct, sence he landed in America.” Encloses letters to prove that Ryan “was not settled in canada, nor has no wife, nor family there.”3 Expresses his belief that Ryan “came to this country with the most pure Intentions, of filling up any Sittuation Providence might place him in, as a good and faithful Citizen.”

RC and enclosures (NN). RC 1 p.; docketed by JM. For surviving enclosures, see n. 3.

1Henry Foxall (1758–1823) was a British-born Methodist lay preacher who emigrated from Ireland to Philadelphia in 1797. Foxall relocated to Georgetown in 1800, where he established the Columbia Foundry, an important source of government munitions during the War of 1812 (Madison Davis, “The Old Cannon Foundry above Georgetown, D.C., and Its First Owner, Henry Foxall,” Records of the Columbia Historical Society 11 [1908]: 38–41).

2On 13 Aug. 1812 British subject John Ryan was convicted of being a spy and sentenced to death by a general court-martial in Lewiston, New York. JM granted him a pardon on 14 Nov. 1812 (DNA: RG 59, PPR).

3Enclosed are a 1 Oct. 1812 letter (1 p.) from the Reverend Thomas Sargent to Foxall, marked “No. 3,” promising that Sargent was making every effort to gather information concerning Ryan’s case, and a 6 Oct. 1812 letter (2 pp.) from Sargent to Foxall, marked “No. 4,” transmitting three certificates (not found) testifying to Ryan’s good character. Foxall claimed to have also enclosed letters from himself to Ryan and Sargent.

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