James Madison Papers

Charles J. Ingersoll to James Madison, 26 December 1829

Philadelphia 26 Dec 29

Dear Sir

No one hereabouts seems able to explain satisfactorily a matter of early practice under the present federal government—for which I hope you will allow me to apply to you. In Genl Hamilton’s letter of the 4 August 1793, a circular, to the Collectors, 1. Vol. of Waite’s State Papers page 45, 6, in Mr. Jefferson’s letter of 30 June 1793, same Vol. p. 112,13, Mr. Jefferson’s letter dated 5 Sep 1793 same Vol. p. 166 and Governor Clinton’s of 21 Nov. 1793, same Vol. 205—it appears to have been then deemed constitutional, under the high sanction of Washington, Jefferson, Hamilton, and Clinton, for the President of the US to instruct the Governors of States to perform within their respective jurisdictions acts of federal cognizance, in the instances in question, to examine, sieze and hold Vessels accused of violations of our neutrality, which were afterwards given up by the President to the claimants of them without the authority of any Act of Congress, or judicial process—What I desire to learn, is, upon what principle this was done, particularly the using Governors of States in aid of federal exigencies: and I shall be much obliged by your explanation—Mr. Rawle, of whom I have enquired cannot tell me; tho’ he remembers that Gov. Mifflin, with Mr. Dallas’ and perhaps my father’s advice, afforded his Executive aid just as Governors Clinton and Lee did

Here, as no doubt throughout the Union, your Convention proceedings are followed with great interest, and especially your part in them—With every cordial wish for your constant health and happiness I remain your most humble servant

C J Ingersoll

RC (DLC: Rives Collection, Madison Papers). Docketed by JM.

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