James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Anthony Charles Cazenove, 30 September 1814

From Anthony Charles Cazenove

Alexandria Septr. 30th. 18[14]


Enclosed I have the honor to hand you the check of Jas. L. McKenna Cashr. of Bank of Alexa. on Cashr. of bank of Columbia this date in my favor which I endorse to yours for $428.75 being for the followg. parcels of your Merino Wool

170 lb Full blood $1.25 $212.50
85   . ¾ do $1 —   85—
150  . ½ do .87½  131.25
together $428.75

You will observe that the weights are the same as stated in your favour of 13th. ulto. & 14 lb short of those stated in my respects of 15th. ulto; but the last include the wrappers, which being very coarse, I believe to weigh fully that much, & should there be a small difference to your prejudice, it is amply made up by the half blood, the quantity of which compared to the whole parcel is much greater than Messrs. Dupont would wish to have, & I have put it @ 87½ /100, not having yet ascertained if that price or 75 /100 is what they intend to pay for that quality.

The old addage “from the fulness of the heart the mouth speaketh” & the certainty that your goodness will not take amiss any observations that you are convinced can not be intended as such, will I hope be my apology for venturing to say here a few words upon two public measures now contemplated, which can not but excite the liveliest sensation on every person who feels any interest for the final issue of our present contest.

The one is the motion lately made in the house of Representatives to grant a bounty of 100 acres of land to every British deserter settling the same;1 the other the paper money which the necessities of the State has made it necessary to issue under some shape.2

Nothing has exceeded my astonishment on seeing the former brought forward in so respectable a body as the house of Representatives, for it appears to me of so Jacobinical a cast as to have put even the Central Clubs & the Revolutionary Tribunals of revolutionary France & Geneva to the blush. Independent of the ill effects of such a motion on negociations still pending, nothing can be better calculated to enlist at all times all the now settled governments of Europe against us, & nothing could be more unfortunate than the actual settlement of our frontiers by people of that cast; in time of war particularly. In addition to these considerations & a million of others of equal force, I would beg leave to ask what is to be the situation of the inhabitants accessible to the enemy, & particularly wherever a black population is to be found, if such a dreadful measure was ever adopted?

That paper money under some shape must be issued appears but too evident; the main question therefore is, will it be legal tender or not?

In my humble opinion the subject does not admit of a doubt. Make it legal tender, & that consideration alone carries to every body’s mind the conviction that it has no intrinsic value, & it is hardly issued that every body is obliged in self defence to depreciate it, by getting rid of it on the best terms they can, But if all the security is given to it that can be given by pledging the present & future resources of the nation & above all it is made the interest of people to take it, there can be no doubt of its value keeping up like bank notes, much better & much longer by volontary than by forced means; especially if they should be made to go any further than in payment of debts on which suits have been brought. Would there be no danger in this case that New England would reject it in toto, & their Legislatures bear them out in it? I am in hopes I am exagerating the danger from a naturally disponding disposition, & a sincere wish to prevent being overtaken by it. With my repeated apology for intruding these desultory observations upon you I remain with highest regard Sir your most obedt. Servt.

Ant Chs. Cazenove

RC (DLC). Cazenove’s dateline damaged by removal of seal; year supplied based on evidence in n. 1 and comparison with Cazenove to JM, 12 Aug. 1814, and W. H. Miller to JM, 15 Aug. 1814. Docketed by JM.

1On 28 Sept. 1814 James Fisk of Vermont introduced a resolution instructing the House Committee on Public Lands to consider this proposal, and after debate, it was adopted by a vote of eighty to fifty-five (Annals of Congress, description begins Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States … (42 vols.; Washington, 1834–56). description ends 13th Cong., 3d sess., 326–34).

2For the suspension of specie payments by U.S. banks following the British attack on Washington, see PJM-PS, description begins Robert A. Rutland et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison: Presidential Series (8 vols. to date; Charlottesville, Va., 1984–). description ends 7:310 n. 4. Amid widespread speculation that the U.S. government would respond to the crisis by establishing a paper currency, a group of New York residents petitioned Congress to incorporate a national bank. Jonathan Fisk of New York presented the petition in the House of Representatives on 23 Sept. 1814, where it was referred to the Committee of Ways and Means. Three days later, Congress received Treasury Secretary George W. Campbell’s annual report, which laid out the abysmal state of the federal government’s finances and called on the lawmakers to put “the currency of the country on a more uniform, certain, and stable footing.” Campbell’s only suggestion as to how this should be done, however, consisted of the observation that Treasury notes might function better as a medium of exchange if they bore higher interest, and if the payment of interest and principle on such notes was guaranteed by “an adequate revenue pledged for that purpose.”

Alexander J. Dallas, Campbell’s successor in the Treasury Department, provided much more extensive recommendations in a 17 Oct. 1814 letter to Committee of Ways and Means chairman John Wayles Eppes. Establishing a national bank, Dallas asserted, would address the nation’s currency woes more effectively than issuing Treasury notes, the most obvious alternative. But he disavowed any intention of making paper money legal tender, declaring that “whether the issues of a paper currency proceed from the National Treasury or from a National Bank, the acceptance of the paper in a course of payments and receipts must be forever optional with the citizens.” The national bank should have a capital of $50 million, he wrote, with the government subscribing $20 million of that sum in stock. Of the $30 million to be subscribed by “corporations, companies, or individuals,” a minimum of $6 million only should be in specie, with the bulk of the remainder in stock and a small proportion in Treasury notes. Three-fifths of the bank’s total capital, or $30 million, should then be loaned to the government. In addition, Dallas proposed that Congress raise taxes. Eppes submitted the letter to the House of Representatives the following day, and after lengthy debate, primarily on the tax question, on 28 Oct. that body authorized the committee to draft legislation in accord with Dallas’s recommendations. A “bill to incorporate the subscribers to the Bank of the United States of America” accordingly came before the House for consideration on 14 Nov. 1814 (Boston Columbian Centinel, 3 Sept. 1814; New-York Evening Post, 30 Sept. 1814; New Haven Connecticut Journal, 3 Oct. 1814; Annals of Congress, description begins Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States … (42 vols.; Washington, 1834–56). description ends 13th Cong., 3d sess., 308, 311, 399–410, 419–81, 491–99, 557–61; Letter from the Secretary of the Treasury, Transmitting His Annual Report … [Washington, 1814; Shaw and Shoemaker description begins R. R. Shaw and R. H. Shoemaker, comps., American Bibliography: A Preliminary Checklist for 1801–1819 (22 vols.; New York, 1958–66). description ends 33279], 14–15).

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