Writings of James Madison, Volume 2

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Author: James Madison

To Thomas Jefferson.

ORANGE, Aug. 5th, 1797.

DEAR SIR,—Yours of the 3d arrived safe yesterday. I will converse with Col Monroe, as you desire, on the subject of his letter to you, and listen to all his reasons for the opinion he gives. My present Conviction is opposed to it. I have viewed the subject pretty much in the light you do. I consider it, moreover, as a ticklish experiment to say publicly yes or no to the interrogatories of party spirit. It may bring on dilemmas, not to be particularly foreseen, of disagreeable explanations, or of tacit confessions. Hitherto the precedents have been the other way. The late President was silent for many years as to the letters imputed to him, and, it would seem, deposited in the office of State only the answer which the zeal of the Secretary communicated to the public. Mr. Adams has followed the example with respect to Callender’s charge * * * * of advising the extermination of the Tories. Col. M. thinks that honest men would be encouraged by your owning and justifying the letter to Mazzei. I rather suspect it would be a gratification and triumph to their opponents; and that out of the unfixed part of the Community more converts would be gained by the popularity of Genl Washington, than by the kind of proof that must be relied on against it.

Wishing to return the "petition, &c." to your Court, as you recommend, I must be brief on that subject. It is certainly of great importance to set the public opinion right with regard to the functions of grand Juries, and the dangerous abuse of them in the federal Courts; nor could a better occasion occur. If there be any doubts in the case, they must flow from the uncertainty of getting a numerous subscription, or of embarking the Legislature in the business. On these points, the two gentlemen you mean to consult can judge much better than I can do. The Petition, in its tenor, cannot certainly be mended. I have noted with a pencil the passages which, perhaps, may be better guarded against cavil.

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Chicago: James Madison Jr., "To Thomas Jefferson.," Writings of James Madison, Volume 2 in James Madison, Letters and Other Writings of James Madison, 4 Vols. (Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott & Co.), P.118 Original Sources, accessed January 20, 2020, http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=4T1SZX4VLA5RYWA.

MLA: Madison, James, Jr. "To Thomas Jefferson." Writings of James Madison, Volume 2, in James Madison, Letters and Other Writings of James Madison, 4 Vols. (Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott & Co.), P.118, Original Sources. 20 Jan. 2020. www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=4T1SZX4VLA5RYWA.

Harvard: Madison, J, 'To Thomas Jefferson.' in Writings of James Madison, Volume 2. cited in , James Madison, Letters and Other Writings of James Madison, 4 Vols. (Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott & Co.), P.118. Original Sources, retrieved 20 January 2020, from http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=4T1SZX4VLA5RYWA.