Madison, James (1751-1836) to John Brown
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Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC01742.01 Author/Creator: Madison, James (1751-1836) Place Written: New York, New York Type: Autograph letter signed Date: 26 September 1788 Pagination: 3 p. : address : free frank ; 24 x 20 cm.
Writes to Brown, then a Kentucky lawyer and later a senator, to promise further communication of his thoughts on making Kentucky a state. Also comments cryptically, because he has no cypher established with Brown, about his sentiments regarding "our confidential conversation just before your departure." Indicates that he has anticipated "every political calamity," probably referring to Spain's efforts to get Kentucky to become an independent state. Includes two resolutions passed by Congress on 16 September 1788 relating to American rights to the Mississippi River.
Signer of the U.S. Constitution.
New York Sepr. 26. 1788
I have been duly favored with yours of the 26th ulto, from Pittsburg. I believe you are already pretty well acquainted with my ideas of government so far as they vary from the plan chalked out by Mr. Jefferson But in compliance with your request on that subject I will take the first convenient reason of explaining them in writing. The delay can not I presume be national as the formation of a Government for Kentucky must be already concluded, or dispensed for reasons which will not occur immediately. On the other subject, which employed our confidential conversation just before your Departure, you are also possessed of my sentiments. It has been frequently since in my mind as it importance made unavoidable, and the first impressions have been in no degree weakened by my reflections. Having us cypher concerted with you it would perhaps be improper to commit my thoughts to [struck: paper] letter which is to pass through so precarious a conveyance it will be sufficient to say in general that I anticipate every political calamity from the event which was for the first time suggested to my contemplation; and that I can not but persuade myself that  it will by degrees be visible in all quarters as no less unnecessary than it certainly is critical and hazardous. Besides a variety of considerations which encourage this persuasion, find which [inserted: being] [struck: are] well known, send not the mentioned. I add with pleasure the two following resolutions lately passed in Congress, which wear a very different aspect from some former proceedings, and which I seriously believe are the result of the reel opinions which now prevail on the subject.
In Congress Sepr. 16. 1788
On the report of the Committee &c. to whom was referred the report of the Secy of F. Affairs on a motion of the Delegates of North Carolina. Stating the uneasiness produced by a report "that Congress are disposed to meet with Spain for the surrender of their claim to the navigation of the River Mississippi" and proposing a Resolution intended to conquer such apprehensions.
ResolD that the said report not being founded in fact the Delegates be at liberty to communicate all such circumstances as may be necessary to contradict the same & to remove misconceptions.
Resold that the free navigation of the River Mississippi is a clear and essential right of the United States & ought to be conceived and supported as such.  The terms of the last Resolution, and particularly the word essential which was not insisted with [inserted: to] attention to its force, marking strongest in an [text loss]ight in which the subject is now regarded. In addition to those acts, [text loss] another entered on the secret journal certaintly allowed to be confidentially annunciated, which explicitly forbids any further negotiation with Spain, and sends over the business with the assertion of right, to the ensuring Government.
We have no late intelligence from Europe, nor have I any thing further to add at present than I am with the sincerest esteem and attachment your friend & part. Js. Madison Jr.
John Brown Esqr.
Atty at law
Kentucky via Pittsburg
Js. Madison Jr
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