James Madison Papers

James Madison to Walter Jones, 9 September 1828

Montpellier Sepr. 9. 1828

Dear Sir

I have recd. the answer you have been so good as to prepare to the Bill in Chancy. which makes me a party.

I know not that in a sound construction there is any part of the answer not reconciliable with the state of facts; but that you may the better judge, I take the liberty of submitting the following Statement; being conscious of the perfect fairness of my intentions throughout, and anxious that they should not be open to a shadow of imputation or suspicion from any quarter.

At the close of my public life, I left in the hands of Mr. Cutts a sum of money which it was not my purpose to draw for immediately. Before it was drawn, Mr. C.s affairs compelled him to resort to the law of insolvency; his debt to me, and one more sacred could not exist, being unsatisfied, and to an amount beyond the value of the property sold me by the Bank. Under these circumstances, it was suggested that I should purchase that property; Mr. Cutts being of [op]inion that by reducing to the minimum the support of his family, he could save out of his future salary, such partial payments of his debt to me as would enable me to make mine to the Bank. By adopting this course, I obtained not only the chance of receiving part at least of what was due to me, but the further chance of a rise in the value of the property, of which many were sanguine. It was not without reluctance however that I entered into the engagement; being aware of the casualty of Mr. C.s death, and of the loss of his office, the discontinuance of which was regarded as not improbable; in either of which events, the purchase might be very inconvenient to me and even expose me to loss by the sacrifice of the property purchased, or of some other property. It may not be amiss to remark that when the purchase was made, I was unacquainted with the particulars of Mr. Cutts’ affairs, and under a general impression that his debts, with the exception of mine, were in the main, centered in the Bank or Banks, to which his property had been bound.

What I would wish to be particularly considered is, whether some passages in the answer to the Bill might not be made more clearly consistent with the circumstance, that payments were made to the Bank by Mr. Cutts, but on my account, out of the fund of his salary.

If Mr. C. had a right to set apart, a portion of his income towards discharging his debt [ ] became no doubt in reality my fund in his hands; and whether he made the payment to me, the Bank receiving it from me; or directly to the B. on my account, it would seem to be equally a payment from my funds. But it is very desirable that there should be nothing in the phraseology of the answer of which the suspicious or the captious might make a handle.

On the vital points charged, that of collusion for covering a fraudulent provision for Mr. C. or his family, the answer can not be too explicit that the property in question was to be as absolutely & exclusively mine as the House in which I dwell; without any pledge promise or understanding in favor of Mr. C. or any part of his family, or of any other person or persons whatsoever.

Writing with some remains of bilious indisposition upon me, I am obliged to say less than the occasion might prompt. I hope my object will sufficiently appear, & that I may be favored with a few lines when you can make it convenient. I beg you to be assured, Sir, of my high esteem, & of my best regards,

James Madison

I enclose the answer to the Bill, which you may wish to look over.

RC (owned by Mr. and Mrs. George B. Cutts, Brookline, Mass.); FC (DLC).

Index Entries