James Madison Papers

Robert B. Randolph to James Madison, 24 April 1833

Alexandria April 24. 1833

Dr Sir,

I make no apology for the liberty I take of addressing a letter to you. Being a Virginian by nature, habit and character yourself, you will readily I am sure appreciate the feelings of one of her sons in surrendering to you the commission it was so much my honor and pride to receive from you: I was of course first commissioned as a midshipman and served with diligence and faithfulness until I received from you the appointment of a lieutenancy in the Navy of the United States; the duties of which I have in like manner discharged with all the ardor and integrity consonant with a man who has always loved his country, government and people. It has altogether occupied a period of twenty three years, ten or twelve of which have been consumed in the most active service. I have never disgraced the flag or character of my country in any shape, way or degree whatever; but I have uniformly sustained the dignity and honor of both, amid many arduous and very perilous engagements: It was my good fortune to be with Commodore Decatur in the Ship United States in the engagement with the British ship (captured) Macedonian 38. I was with him in a boat fight off New London and rescued a valuable vessel and cargo from under the guns of the enemy’s squadron, which was beleived to be one of the most hazardous enterprises. I was with him in the United States Frigate President with the British squadron, consisting of the Majestic 74, the Endimion 44 frigate, the Tenedos frigate 38, the Pomona 38 and a Sloop of war—the engagement commencing at day light in the morning, and lasting until 11 O’Clock P. M. I was with him in the frigate Guerrier against the Algerine admiral and frigate Medora in the Mediterranean and captured her, which led to the treaty between Algiers and the United States; and on the next day, captured an Algerine Sloop of war 22 Guns. And, finally, when taken prisoner in the frigate President by the British squadron before mentioned and carried to Bermuda, in consequence of reflections made upon the U. S. government and Com: Decatur, I was selected by my brother officers to chastise the editor of the King’s press; which I fully accomplished on the King’s square, at the hazard of being sent to England or imprisoned in the Island.

I have cruized in every sea and almost every latitude of the globe, and have always sustained the reputation of an officer devoted to his country’s service. It becomes now, after all those trying circumstances (for which every degree of character has been faithfully awarded to me by my superiors and comrades,) to be under the necessity of restoring to you the commission that it was your prerogative to give, and my honor to receive from you, as president of the United States. I return it to you, Sir, because I deem you so perfectly worthy of the respect which it is my view to pay you by the surrender of it: you worthily bestowed it upon me, and I have most conscientiously and faithfully fulfilled the obligations it imposed upon me.

Driven from any further service to my country by the most wretched injustice and by a spirit of persecution and gross tyranny unparalelled in the annals of the country, it is my province to assure you, tho’ dismissed myself from the Navy, it would be to me at least a comfortable reflection, if I could imagine that there is any thing like even the possibility of justice to be calculated upon, under the existing miserable administration, to those it has been so long my pride and blessing to have been associated with in the Navy of the U. S. I owe it however to truth and justice to say; that the link which holds them together is just as feeble and brittle in their hands, as mine has been: fidelity, arduous service and valor, are not now a days, such attributes as to weigh a feather in the scale with power and interest.

I consider the administration of Andrew Jackson as subversive of constiutional liberty at least; and utterly guided by feeling and passion; and altho my degredation and ruin have been long ago plotted by his malicious, invidious and utterly dishonest official subalterns, it has been his pride to connive at it all, and to make me the victim of their base and heartless injustice. I have the honor to be With profound respect Your most Obdn. Servant

Robt. B. Randolph

late of the U. S. Navy


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