James Madison Papers

To James Madison from the Indiana Territorial Legislature, ca. 18 February 1813 (Abstract)

§ From the Indiana Territorial Legislature

Ca. 18 February 1813. “The memorial of the Legislature of the Indiana territory respectfully sheweth, that it is addressed with due deference and respect to the Chief Magistrate, whose virtues have given him pre-eminence and chief magistracy over the only independent people upon earth, and who, with a proper caution, selects officers of government whose principles are congenial, not only with our republican institutions, but with the feelings of those amongst whom the duties of their respective offices have to be discharged.

“We therefore, sir, prompted to a confidence that almost amounts to an assurance, that your Excellency will appoint or nominate, no man to the office of Governor of the Indiana Territory, who is in favor of the principle or practice of slavery; would respectfully beg leave to suggest, that the ordinance of Congress for the government of the Indiana territory, the laws of Congress and the minds and habits of our constituents, all go to make it necessary, that the man vested with such extraordinary powers as the Executive of the Indiana Territory, ought to be one whose mind upon all occasions should a[s] much as possible accord with the wishes of the people he is appointed to govern—otherwise a degree of heat, confusion and dissension of course prevails.1

“Accept the best wishes of this Legislature for your prosperity and welfare, and that of the nation over which you preside.”

Printed copy (Daily National Intelligencer, 29 May 1813). Signed by James Scott, speaker of the Indiana Territory House of Representatives, and James Beggs, president of the Legislative Council. Undated; date assigned here on the basis of the Legislative Council’s concurrence on 18 Feb. 1813 with amendments to this memorial by the House of Representatives (“Journal of the House of Representatives of the Indiana Territory,” Records of the States of the United States of America [DLC microfilm ed., Ind. A.1a:b, reel 1]).

1JM nominated Thomas Posey as governor of the Indiana Territory in a message dated 26 Feb. 1813, and the Senate confirmed the appointment on 3 Mar. A native Virginian, Revolutionary War veteran, and former slaveholder known for his unsuccessful effort to bring slaves into the Northwest Territory in 1799, Posey took no action in favor of slavery during his governorship, which lasted until Indiana became a state in 1816 (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 , 2:329, 333; John Thornton Posey, General Thomas Posey: Son of the American Revolution [East Lansing, Mich., 1992], 5, 209–10, 226–28, 257).

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