James Madison Papers

To James Madison from David Jones, 12 March 1816

Eastown Chester County. March. 12. 1816

Dear Sir,

I have been confined this winter, but not to my Bed, for part of the Time, I could not even sit, but was obliged to walk my floor to prevent Suffocation. I got releif by blistering and some internal Medicines. I am now in a Comfortable State. I have ardently wished for an hours Conversation. The first Subject is a national Bank, which will be a national Curse & will be followed with every bad Consequences. This is not my opinion only, but nine Tenths of the citizens are of the same Mind; I mean of honestly good Sense. I do not be beleive that Congress can pass a law for it constitutionally; but I beleive too many of them have no Qualms on the Subject. It is in your Power to Stop it, & if you do not, your name will be cursed, while it remains on paper. If you shew yourself a friend to the Rights of Citizens, your fame will descend to the Latest Posterity. But perhaps you will Say that some thing must be done to give us a circulating medium I grant it; but it is better to do nothing than to do mischeif. Cannot we have a paper currency without acting a villa nous part? I assert we can. If we are a government, we can issue paper money, or Treasury Notes as small as half a Dollar receivable in payment of Debts to the united States. I mean Taxes, imposts, & all other Duties. There is only one reason against this plan, & that is plainly Rascals cannot speculate on it. This is the Truth before god & man. Such has been the Conduct of Congress for some time past, that they are dispised & abhorred by all honest good men. During the revolution, Congress were adored by the people. In Philadelphia, they were honoured with Bans of musick before the Doars, where they lodged. Sed Tempora mutantur but Times are changed. I shall now dismiss this Subject and make some remarks on the report of the President of the mint.

The President said, there were so many pieces of gold coined, which made so many Dollars. Was there ever such a Silly or crafty report made before? Why was not the Denomination given? Why was it not said, So many Eagles, so many half, & so many Quarter Eagles? All which remain in the Bank or mint, subject to the orders of government? The same method is pursued in giving an account of the Silver coined; but nothing not one word is said, wheither they were all Dollars, or half Dollars, or Quarters. Had there been the exercise of reason, the Coinage would have been Quarter ten & five cents. This would releive the country from the great embarrassment under which we labour. We cannot travel the Turnpike for want of Small change, for the Tickets issued, will not pass only a small Distance from their Bank. I do not know that one Cent was coined. It is said it was for want of Copper. Well it is said there are plenty now, but pray Sir where are they? In the mint, and not one makes its appearance. Are we releived? No. Some thing is rong Some where, I hope you will try to put it right. There are many other Subjects, I wish to mention; but perhaps more has been said, than will be agreeable. I leave all things to god, & we ought to do our Duty; while I was in the army, I endeavoured to give you a true Statement of all things which came under my Notice. I have continued your faithful Friend except the pardon of hull, which was the worst act, I hope you ever will do. Wishing god may give all the wisdom, which is necessary for your exalted Station, I remain your affectionate Friend and humble Servt.

David Jones


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