** Newly Arrived In Ghent for Peace Talks, Gallatin Seeks Intelligence in France from the Ambassador **
In January 1814, President James Madison agreed to begin negotiations to end the War of 1812, and he followed up by appointing five negotiators. The head of the American negotiating team was John Quincy Adams, and Albert Gallatin (former Treasury Secretary) and Thomas Bayard were retained to assist him. Henry Clay, Speaker of the House of Representatives and a noted War Hawk, and Jonathan Russell, acting U.S. ambassador to Britain when war was declared and soon to serve as ambassador to Sweden and Norway, were also added to the team. Some of the American envoys, including Gallatin, arrived in Ghent in July 1814; the others followed soon after.
Earlier, William H. Crawford was sent to Paris as the new U.S. ambassador to France, and was also responsible for superintending the American consuls in Europe and keeping them informed of developments. More than that, he was an advisor to the President on the happenings on the Continent. As Ambassador to the Court of one of the two major adversaries in the conflicts in Europe, he was also actively involved in the upcoming negotiation process, advising the negotiators and responding to their confidential communiqués. He would later serve as Secretary of War and Secretary of the Treasury under Presidents Madison and Monroe.
Peter Irving was the brother of Washington Irving and was Secretary to the U.S. Legation in London until the summer of 1814. John Payne Todd was the son of Dolly Madison and was adopted by her second husband, James Madison. He failed as a student, and the Madisons sent him along with the peace mission under the tutelage of their reliable friend Gallatin, where he began accumulating debt.
In this letter, the newly arrived Gallatin introduces Irving, seeks the return of President Madison’s son, seeks for intelligence in France, and ends with a reference to Lafayette.
Autograph letter signed “Albert Gallatin”, Ghent, July 26, 1814, 7×9, to Crawford, in full:
Dear Sir, I beg leave to introduce you to Mr. Irving who acted for Mr. Beasley during his absence from London. He is brother of Washington Irving the member of Congress from New York; and you will find him worthy of such attention as you may please to bestow on him.
I will thank you to press on Mr. Todd the necessity of leaving Paris and joining us here in order to return as soon as possible to the United States. Neither his finances nor the wishes of his friends permit his remaining any longer in Europe and particularly at Paris; and I feel some personal responsibility towards his mother and Mr. Madison in that respect.
We are still here without any account of the British Commissioners, and without news. Those by the British and French papers are one month later than our American Gazettes. If you have anything new in your quarter, please to communicate it.
Gallatin adds a postscript: “Please remember me to General La Fayette.”
An incredible and RARE letter. Heavy show-through on both sides, partially impacting legibility.