James Madison Papers

To James Madison from J. A. P. Poutingon, 2 January 1813 (Abstract)

§ From J. A. P. Poutingon

2 January 1813, “Criminal residence,” Washington. Reports having been sent by JM five times to the office of the secretary of war: “and when I go for Justice in that office, I am ordered out by a Clerk.” Repeats his appeals to “Generous James Madison,” seeking a five-minute audience with JM to prove himself.1 “When I loosed all what I had, I lost the Key, who open the mouth of the Attornies.” “If I was rich, I should not be in goal.… If I was to appears at this Court, I should wait for Justice, but I have nothing to wait, when I am confined only, but because I am a poor.” Requests that JM “order my liberty.”2

RC and enclosure (DLC). RC 4 pp.; undated; date taken from enclosure. Notes on cover in Poutingon’s hand read: “To be forwarded immediately it comes from a man yet alive and in the grave” and “Your Excelency, will be bail for me I am confident, because I do not know nobody.” For enclosure, see n. 2.

1James Monroe, acting as secretary of war, wrote to Poutingon on 1 Jan. 1813, informing him that JM had appointed him riding master in the Second Regiment of Light Dragoons. Monroe noted that if Poutingon received and accepted the nomination, which was contingent on the consent of the Senate, “you will immediately repair to Albany, report yourself to Colonel Burn, & receive his orders” (DNA: RG 107, LSMA). That there is no record of the Senate’s ever considering this nomination might suggest that Monroe and JM changed their minds after reading the contents of Poutingon’s letter.

2In the two-page enclosure Poutingon offered thoughts under the heading “Discovery or Service” on militia service and also on the constitutional extension of the territory of the Union. He included a brief piece for the Boston Columbian Centinel, addressed to the American government, on harbor fortifications. For a similar piece for the same newspaper, see the note Poutingon enclosed with his letter to JM of 30 Jan. 1811 (PJM-PS description begins Robert A. Rutland et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison: Presidential Series (5 vols. to date; Charlottesville, Va., 1984–). description ends , 3:142 n. 3).

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