James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Robert Watts, 21 September 1813 (Abstract)

§ From Robert Watts

21 September 1813, Somerville, New Jersey. “On my recommendation forwarded to the War department at the last session of Congress [not found] I received notice of my appointment of Captain in 41st Regiment of fencibles under date 1st. Ultimae. On my reporting to the War office my Acceptance I received for Answer that the Appointment was intended for a different person residing in N.York.1 I have made every enquirey in the City and find no person Who Will Acknowledge the Appointment—and feeling as I do persuaded the appointment is for my Self and that my Application Alone Stands on the files—am induced by the Advice of friends to Apply in this Way to your Self that I may be placed on that ground Where I aught to Stand and Which I am in Virtue of my recommending Letters intitled to. I am Advised that a Certain Robt. J Watts did Apply for a majority but this is a different Case both in person and Application.2 Will you be So Good and Give this business a little of Your Attention—and I Shall rest assured of receiveing my Just rights—and So soon as may be give me a Copey which will be Esteemed a peculiar favour.”

RC (DNA: RG 94, Letters Received, filed under “Watts”). 2 pp. With JM’s note at the head of the letter: “Mr. Parker will be so good as to give the proper explanation in this case. J.M.” Docketed by Parker, “This man has been Is [sic] informed he is not the man.”

1Watts wrote to John Armstrong from Somerville on 19 Aug. 1813 to accept the appointment. On 31 Aug., having been informed that he was not the intended appointee, he sent a letter arguing his case to the adjutant and inspector general’s office, on which Daniel Parker noted: “Some villainous fellow writes for him and wants to impose him upon us” (DNA: RG 94, Letters Received, filed under “Watts”).

2In a letter dated 10 Oct. 1813 (ibid.), Capt. William S. Radcliff of the Forty-first Regiment of Infantry replied to Parker’s inquiry on the matter, reporting that he had applied to Rufus King for information and enclosing a 7 Oct. 1813 reply from King which stated that the Senate had recently confirmed the appointment of “Robert Watts, son of John Watts Esqr,” as a captain in the Forty-first Regiment. Radcliff wrote that Robert J. Watts “was intended by the Senate, and not R. Watts of Newjersey, and if Watts of N. Jersey was intended, the appointment would have been sent to him at Somerville … and not to New York.” He had been told, Radcliff added, that Robert J. Watts intended to decline the appointment.

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