James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Samuel Latham Mitchill, 23 January 1813

From Samuel Latham Mitchill

Capitol Hill: Jany 23rd 1813


At the request of the Governor of Newyork, I have the honour of submitting to the eye of the President Judge Tiffany’s Description of the peninsula of Upper Canada.1 Though I have personally visited the region which lies between the great Lakes, I must confess, the present writer has given me much additional information. My persuasion that it may be relied upon for its genuineness and authenticity, determines me to forward it, without a day’s delay; knowing that in the arrangements necessary for the ensuing campaign, every article of sound information is valuable. I have the honour to renew the assurance of my high respect

Saml L Mitchill

RC and enclosures (DLC). RC docketed by JM. For enclosures (docketed by JM, “Tompkins D. D. (Govr) / Jany. 12. 1813 / inclosing I. H. Tiffany’s information as to Canada.”), see n. 1.

1Mitchill enclosed a letter from Gov. Daniel D. Tompkins to Mitchill of 12 Jan. 1813 (2 pp.), covering a letter from Judge Isaac Hall Tiffany to Tompkins of 3 Jan. 1813 (3 pp.), which enclosed a copy of a letter from Tiffany to Tompkins of 30 June 1812 (3 pp.) as well as Tiffany’s description of Upper Canada (21 pp.). Also enclosed was a “Millarium” (2 pp.) or list of distances between points, including the distances from Niagara and Albany to several destinations in the Michigan Territory and Upper Canada. Tiffany’s detailed description, portions of which were printed in the Daily National Intelligencer on 26 Jan. 1813, contained observations on the boundaries, soil, produce, climate, geography, population, manners, policy, government, and Indian allegiances of the peninsula of Upper Canada. He stressed the economic importance of the region: “Upper Canada is peculiarly valuable to the British as it can afford great supplies of provision for the garrisons at Quebeck, Halifax & in the West Indies for the navy ⟨at⟩ the American Stations as also Staves & lumber for the Indias when not furnished by the U. States.”

In his 3 Jan. 1813 letter, Tiffany remarked to Tompkins that this description was based “upon actual & intimate observation” and that all of his character was “pledged to the fidelity of the remarks & my confidence in the schemes or projets of invasion submitted.” He noted that in his June correspondence with Tompkins, he had suggested a plan which “in its season, would have been deemed adviseable, nay self evident, to most of them who have travelled that country with a forecast to war.” “But under the present disposition of the forces of the U. S. that plan may not be preferable. The reduction of U. Canada will familiarize, your legions, in some degree to danger before they approach Quebec or Halifax. Exercise & manouvre may be taught; but veterans are only made by the fatiagues [sic] & perils of the field. But in Whatever manner & time an invasion of that province may fall, the observations are, in many instances, calculated to interest those from among whom the ranks of the army are to be filled.”

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