James Madison Papers

James Madison to James Barbour, 18 December 1828

Montpellier Decr. 18. 1828

Dear Sir

I had the pleasure of duly receiving your interesting favor of Sepr. 29. The agricultural scenery which charmed you so much has had the same effect on other strangers surveying it with an equal taste for such improvements. I wish you may have as much reason to be pleased with the countenance of the Cabinet when your objects are presented to it. We think here it is high time for a relinquishment of the theoretic fallacy, and practical folly of their colonial doctrine; and for a discovery of the inconsistency of refusing our claim to the use of the St. Lawrence with theirs to that of the Mississippi; and what is more, with a reasonableness and a usage amounting to a Law of Nations in such cases.

The view you give of the harvest and market in G. B. confirmed the accounts which had begun to raise the price of our flour; and those which followed soon after carried it up to $9 & even more. This however was very fugitive; and succeeded by a considerable depression. Latterly it has risen & fallen, according to arrivals from Liverpool & London, within the extremes of $8. & 6 1/4. At present it seems to be going up a little, under the influence of arrivals bringing information to the 2d. of Novr. In the Fredricksburg Market flour is at present a fraction above $7; but the Sellers hold back more than the buyers. The price of Tobo. is yet to be conjectured. The Crop is short, & the character generally not good. Hopes are indulged that the Market will be favorable especially for the best qualities. I take for granted that everything relating to your individual concern in these matters reaches you from other & better sources.

I need not repeat to you the issue of the Presidential contest, which Fame with her thousand trumpets has already proclaimed. Of the Cabinet in Embrio, and of the course that will be steered by the new Palinurus, with respect to the stormy questions and baffling expectations, in the midst of which he will take the helm, I know as little as the least knowing, and must refer you for the various speculations afloat to the Metropolitan fountain from wch. they flow.

I am sorry to say that the ferment produced in S. Carolina by the tariff subsides more slowly (if at all) than was to be expected. The Legislature is now in Session, and the difference in opinions seems to be confined to the modes of effectuating its repeal or its nullification; all concurring in the unconstitutionality and intolerable oppression of the measure. As Georgia however does not back her neighbour in the extent that was probably expected, & N. C. will certainly not do so, whilst Virgina frowns on every symptom of violence and disunion, it may be confidently, presumed that a favorable change is not very distant; such as will satisfy our Illwishers abroad, that our free System of Government however liable to local & acute maladies, has a chronic health & vigor that is sure to expel the cause of them. You will see that the Legislature of Virgina has re-elected Mr. Giles, and that he continues, tho’ with a lowered tone, to denounce the tariff. It is not probable that the subject will produce a reiteration of the language held at the last Session. But I will not venture to be a prophet.

Your connections & neighbours are as far I have heard all well.

I have taken the liberty since your departure, of writing you two letters one relating to the University, the other requesting a favor for myself. I enclose copies of both; the risk of the Sea, added to other risks, suggesting the precaution Health & all other blessings to yourself & those around you; a wish in which Mrs. Madison cordially unites with me

James Madison

RC (courtesy of Robin Kaller, Kaller Historical Documents, 2007); draft (DLC).

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