James Madison Papers

To James Madison from William Jones, [ca. January 1814]

From William Jones

[ca. January 1814]

No man has been more conversant with Banking Institutions, monied operations, and Stocks, than Mr Fox.1 He was employed in the accounting Depmt. of the U S during the revolution and in digesting and liquidating their accounts few men participated so largely.

He was the first Cashier of the Pennsylvania Bank from its establishment to the yellow fever of 1793 on which account he left it as well as on account of the President (John Barclay) who afterward behaved so scandalously and whose schemes he endeavourd to counteract.2 He has a sound clear analytical head and there is no man on whose judgement I would so soon rely on the question of a National Bank3 and this is the opinion entertained of him in Philada.

He is a man of sterling integrity—an old steady Republican and warm supporter of the Government.

RC (DLC). Undated; conjectural date assigned based on evidence in n. 3.

1Edward Fox (1752–1822) was born in Dublin, emigrated to Maryland, where he studied law, and in 1780, audited the accounts between Congress and the state of Pennsylvania. He served as secretary and treasurer of the University of Pennsylvania and its precursor, the University of the State of Pennsylvania, from 1788 until his death (Joshua L. Chamberlain et al., eds., University of Pennsylvania: Its History … with Biographical Sketches … of Founders, Benefactors, Officers and Alumni [2 vols.; Boston, 1901–2], 1:297–98).

2John Barclay (d. 1816), a native of Ireland, established himself as a merchant in Philadelphia after 1779. He served as mayor of that city in 1791 and as a member of the Pennsylvania state senate, 1810–14. The “schemes” to which Jones referred probably had to do with insider lending practices by the Bank of Pennsylvania that in 1796 led to a collapse of the bank’s stock and to Barclay’s removal as president (John H. Campbell, History of the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick and of the Hibernian Society for the Relief of Emigrants from Ireland, March 17, 1771–March 17, 1892 [Philadelphia, 1892], 95; Robert E. Wright, “Bank Ownership and Lending Patterns in New York and Pennsylvania, 1781–1831,” Business History Review 73 [1999]: 41, 51–52).

3On 5 Jan. 1814 John G. Jackson proposed a resolution in the U.S. House of Representatives to amend the Constitution to establish a national bank. He addressed the issue again on 28 Jan. In the meantime, on 10 Jan. 1814, John Wayles Eppes of the House Ways and Means committee had reported on a petition from residents of New York City for an act of incorporation to establish a national bank. Eppes stated that “the power to create corporations within the Territorial limits of the States, without the consent of the States, is neither one of the powers delegated by the Constitution of the United States, or essentially necessary for carrying into effect any delegated power.” On 4 Feb. 1814 the House passed a resolution introduced by John C. Calhoun, requesting that the Ways and Means committee investigate the possibility of establishing a national bank in the District of Columbia, which would sidestep the constitutional objection stated by Eppes. A bill to this effect was reported in the House on 19 Feb. but did not become law (Annals of Congress, description begins Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States … (42 vols.; Washington, 1834–56). description ends 13th Cong., 2d sess., 849, 873, 1186, 1191–95, 1235, 1578–85).

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