James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Edmond Kelly, [ca. 30] October 1817

From Edmond Kelly

Columbia Tennessee [ca. 30] Octr. 1817


It is almost unnecessary for me to mention that the diligence with which I am watched by the friends of England Caused that Inspection of all I write by which Traitors found themselves discovered. I find it has only encreased their Caution but not stopped their progress their hopes from recent promises of an Invasion seem to have encreased their Confidence. General perhaps Lord A Jackson has Declared the certainty of war his imperious Irritable ungovernable Temper scorning the rules of discretion & moderation impelled him to promulgate it1 this fiend of disaffection more violent in his passions than Arnold2 & is hostile to republicans is doing much evil. Orangemen alone are Eligible with him & the Nashville Ascendancy none else is countenanced or endured and a man of rank wealth and respectability a Col Campbell3 a Democrat and an officer in the Revolutionary war this day lost his cause which was Tried before a Traitor called Searcy or Judge Sercy4 and a Jury partly orangemen who refused to find Campbells grant for Military Service dated in 92 or 3 valid against a warrant of 1811. If I recollect right—Judges Sercy & White5 and Genl perhaps Lord A Jackson form a Trio of Traitors who deserve attention & is it to be suppozed 3 such men or 20 such backwoodsmen would have the audacity to Conspire the overthrow of the great & virtuous Republic of America if they only expected the Cooperation of England & the Harford Convention. I apprehend that much wisdom fortitude and penetration are necessary to discover the extent of the danger & to Counteract it—but as in Arnolds case a hasty censure endangered the life of Genl Washington & american Independence sure & secret Intelligence caution & prudence & deliberation should conduct the Councils of patriots—to subdue such dangers it is necessary to know them.

I do not like to dwell on the weakness of the country but a little attention to east Florida by a majority of Congress (not like Marr6 of this District orangemen) would be desirable & a purchase of it at double the value preferable to any aggression on Spain Direct or indirect—one Gibtr is sufft for England for unless all the republic from Savanna to Pittsburgh is abandoned you Cannot permitt her to occupy east florida—as to what I recommend respecting th⟨e⟩ Estabt of Manufactures of Cotton Woollen cloths Delf7 & Hardware it is unnecessary for me [to] argue to a Statesman that self preservation require them—british monopoly is the sword which murders freedom & what freeman would not break it—it is a good Example which others may follow—as my ruin is Identified with the success of british Intrigues I hope you will excuse this obtrusion of my sentiments I seek no confidence or Emolument & anxious only to defend myself no traitors Censures can affect your obt st

E Kelly

RC (NN). Day of month not indicated; conjectured day assigned on the basis of the cover date. Cover addressed by Kelly to JM “Virginia N Washington.” Marked “Columbia Ten Oct. 30th 1817.” Docketed by JM. Damaged by removal of seal.

1For Maj. Gen. Andrew Jackson’s 22 Apr. 1817 general order, to which Kelly probably referred, see James Monroe to JM, 18 Oct. 1817, n. 1.

2Benedict Arnold (1741–1801) was a Revolutionary War major general and hero of the Battle of Saratoga whose attempt to hand over West Point to the British, and his subsequent service in the British army, made his name synonymous with treason.

3This was probably David Campbell (1753–1832) of Campbell’s Station, Tennessee. Born in Virginia, Campbell was a veteran of the American Revolution. Commissioned a captain in the Tennessee militia in 1792, he attained the rank of lieutenant colonel in 1800. He also served two terms in the Tennessee General Assembly, 1801–5. In 1822 he sold his Knox County lands and moved to large landholdings in Wilson County, Tennessee (Robert M. McBride and Dan M. Robinson, Biographical Directory of the Tennessee General Assembly [6 vols. to date; Nashville, Tenn., 1975—], 113–15).

4This was Bennet Searcy (ca. 1764–1818), a judge of the Fifth Judicial Circuit of Tennessee (Daily National Intelligencer, 6 Feb. 1818).

5Robert Whyte (1767–1844), a Scottish-born Nashville lawyer and planter, sat on the Tennessee Supreme Court of Errors and Appeals from 1816 until 1834 (Enoch L. Mitchell, “Robert Whyte, Agrarian, Lawyer, Jurist,” Tennessee Historical Quarterly 10 [1951]: 3–24).

6George Washington Lent Marr (1779–1856) was born in Virginia, educated at the University of North Carolina, and served as a Tennessee representative to the U.S. House of Representatives, 1817–19.

7Kelly probably referred here to English “delf ware,” tin-enamelled earthenware similar to Dutch “delft.”

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