James Madison Papers

Robert Jennings to James Madison, 19 November 1829

Norfolk Novr 19th 1829

Dr Sir

As a Citizen of the Union, & more particularly as a Native of Virginia, I rejoice to see you again engaged in settling, & improving the constitutional rights, & privileges of our countrymen I hope Your Labours will be as profitable, as they were in earlier days, that posterity may have new reasons for remembering You—

Presuming upon our former acquaintance, and believing that you may still bear in mind the laborious part, which I performed as contractor, & Deputy commissary during the war I have taken the liberty to ask for such a letter upon the matters connected with these offices, as may aid me in the settlement of my public accounts—During the war the treasury Notes of the United States were at a very depreciated Currency, from fifteen to twenty per cent discount. No Allowance has been made me on this Score, altho’ I was paid at one issue about $400.000.

The Government at the time I was acting as commissary, contractor, & agent for the paymaster Department was particularly embarrassed in its finances, & the treasury empty: all the operation of these Departments, & they were very extensive were carried on by my own Negotiations in various Banks, the discounts upon which were of course deducted from my own Bills without any remuneration, or allowance from Government. These Transactions so far as they relate to discounts & depreciated Treasury Notes were so interwoven with my mercantile concerns, that it would be exceedingly difficult to produce the positive evidence of Loss upon any certain Sum, & the object of this is to ask such a statement from you in reference to those Times the duties I performed over, & above those which strictly pertained to my offices; the difficulty of raising Funds; the depressed value of Treasury Notes, & drafts on Government, & such other circumstances, as You may think may aid me in appearing before either the Auditor or Congress

I am sorry to disturb your very valuable, & important Services in the Convention by drawing your attention to this private matter, but the great amount I have at stake, & this being the very moment of Preparation, I am obliged by circumstances to Make the present application—This will be handed by my Son, who will receive any communication: You may make—I beg to be kindly remembered to Mrs. Madison, & with the best wishes for your health & happiness. With great esteem & respect, I remain Yr obt Servt

Rob Jennings

RC (DLC). Docketed by JM.

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