James Madison Papers

From James Madison to Samuel Harrison Smith, 28 July 1813

To Samuel Harrison Smith

Wednesday morning July 28 (1813.)

If it be not inconvenient for Mr. Smith to ride to the City, J. Madison will thank him for an interview.1 The forenoon of today is preferred, & the earlier the hour the more agreeable.

RC (DLC: J. Henley Smith Papers).

1Smith recorded his conversation with JM of 28 July as follows: “Having this morning received a note from the President of the U.S. requesting an interview I waited upon him. He said he had desired … to speak to me respecting an object, wch., if it gave offence to me, he should be sorry for. That Congress had just established an office of Commissioner of the Revenue, wch. he thought my talents and qualifications would fill to the public benefit, & to wch. he would nominate me to the Senate in case of my agreei[n]g to accept it. He said the salary was 3,000 dols., wch. he thought was too low, that it ought to be placed on a footing with the Comptroller. That all the other offices connected with the internal revenues were limited to the duration of the war, excepting this, wch. was perma[ne]nt. That he thought the labor would not be great, as ample provision was made for good clerks. I, in reply, expressed my sense of the offer thus honorably & unexpectedly made; and that as any appointment was altogether foreign from my thoughts I felt a difficulty in immediately making up my mind. That so far as public motives applied I felt no hesitation, as I was ready at all times, in any honorab[l]e way, to aid in promoting the public interests. But that so far as the appointment involved personal considerations it would make such a change in my habits & prospects of life that it became me to reflect & consult my family before I came to a decision. I asked whether a residence in the City would be requisite. The President answered, that he supposed a general residence would be necessary, but not all the year. I then withdrew, with the promise to make him acquainted the ensuing day, by 11 a. m., with the result of my reflections” (DLC: J. Henley Smith Papers).

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