To Wilson Cary Nicholas
Nov. 29. 98
Th:J to Colo. W. C. Nicholas
The more I have reflected on the phrase in the paper you shewed me, the more strongly I think it should be altered. suppose you were to instead of the invitation to cooperate in the annulment of the acts, to make it an invitation: ‘to concur with this commonwealth in declaring, as it does hereby declare, that the said acts are, and were ab initio—null, void and of no force, or effect’ I should like it better. health happiness & Adieu.
Paper you shewed me: TJ had examined the Virginia Resolutions that Madison had left with Nicholas for presentation to the Virginia General Assembly. Where Madison noted that the “acts aforesaid are unconstitutional” Nicholas added the phrase “and not law, but utterly null, void and of no force or effect,” thus incorporating TJ’s suggestion for change. With this addition the resolutions were introduced by John Taylor on 10 Dec. and published in the Philadelphia Aurora on 22 Dec. During the debate from 13 to 21 Dec., however, the House of Delegates cut TJ’s alteration and passed the resolutions with Madison’s more moderate language (Madison, Papers description begins William T. Hutchinson, Robert A. Rutland, J. C. A. Stagg, and others, eds., The Papers of James Madison, Chicago and Charlottesville, 1962, 27 vols. Sec. of State Ser., 5 vols. description ends , 17:185–91).