James Madison Papers

To James Madison from George Luckey, 25 April 1813

From George Luckey

Harford April 25. 1813

Dear Sir

Instigated by the feelings of sympathy I write. Who that is human can be insensible to the evils of the present day—Our bleeding tho inoffending country as to our enemies—a free Just & Virtuous government compelled by every Agression & mall-treatment to fight for every thing dear to man against the most covetous, corrupt & revengeful nation which aims at nothing less than universal subjugation—whose constant work is shedding blood & indiscriminate extermination of the American people—whose thirst is insatiable to bind our citizens in slavery, to enjoy our property & make Europe & America tributary at their Will—Yet amidst all these threatning evils We have reason to expect that the omnipotent arm that has saved & delivered & given us the Victory over this same nation, Will Yet be our aid & our shield: Nil desperandum Christo duce & auspice1—I trust You will be directed & assisted in every emergency & the happy instrument to save the republic. I hear the Vain talk of foolish men Who thro cowardice to say no worse would put up With every thing & crouch under the Yoke & seem not to tremble at the gauling remediless chain ready to be rivetted on their necks. Liberty or death was the motto during the American war. I hope heaven may frown upon tyrants & their agents that our inestimable liberties & priviliges may be preserved inviolate—for our encouragement we know that infinite Wisdom can & often has brought good out of evil & made calamities useful by humbling & uniting people. It is said when Judgments are Abroad the inhabitants Will learn righteousness.2 Continued peace & prosperity beget luxury & lead to Idleness, effeminacy & disipation; and Alarming providences, difficulties & dangers are as needful for the moral; as thunder; storms & tempests, to the natural world. But I forbear—I must not preach. With high esteem & regard I am ever Yours

George Luckey

RC and enclosure (DLC). Cover docketed by JM. The enclosure was a two-page satirical essay in Luckey’s hand, entitled “Buonaparte the tyrant!” Written in the voice of a Federalist, the essay abjured “French atheists” and declared that “we moderns have more sense than the antients; more wisdom & patriotism than all that went before us: we excell them out of sight in virtue and religion.” The American statesmen who signed the treaty with France during the Revolutionary War “knew nothing—were under French influence.” Efforts by the southern states to send much-needed food to Boston when it was blockaded during the same war elicited no gratitude from this Federalist of 1813, who also dismissed democratic rule: “all who are skilled in government know that we ought to act each one like the Mogul; every mans will to be law & we know the scripture says so & we are christians.”

1“Never despair under Christ’s lead and auspices.” Luckey adapted “Nil desperandum Teucro duce et auspice Teucro” from Horace, Odes, 1.7 (Horace: Odes and Epodes, Loeb Classical Library [1978 reprint], 24).

2Luckey referred to Isaiah 26:9: “For when thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world learn righteousness” (Revised Standard Version).

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