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The Papers of James Madison
Secretary of State Series, Volume 12
1 June 1806–31 October 1806
James Madison. Edited by Angela Kreider, J. C. A. Stagg, Mary Parke Johnson, Anne Mandeville Colony, and Katharine E. Harbury
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Volume 12 of the Secretary of State Series covers June through October 1806, during which Madison waited in vain for his diplomatic initiatives with Great Britain, Spain, and France to yield results, and received mounting evidence of Aaron Burr’s suspicious activities in the West. Tensions with Great Britain over impressments and attacks on U.S. shipping persisted, as efforts to negotiate met with delays in London. Spain and France threatened U.S. territories to the south and west, while Napoleon hedged on his agreement to pressure Spain into selling the Floridas to the Americans. Spain avoided the issue by complaining about the U.S. government’s treatment of its minister and the handling of Francisco de Miranda’s expedition against Venezuela. Madison faced criticism at home for his role in these matters, multiplied by his refusal to testify at the trials of Samuel G. Odgen and William Stephens Smith for aiding Miranda. His patience was also tested over the summer and fall by unexpected difficulties in getting the capricious Tunisian ambassador, Soliman Melimeni, out of the country. Returning to Washington in October from a two-month visit to Montpelier, Madison prepared to address the additional complications in domestic and foreign policy created by Burr’s alleged conspiracy.

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