James Madison Papers

From James Madison to George Wythe, 15 April 1785

To George Wythe

Orange April 15th. 1785


I have been honoured with yours of February accompanying the Testimony which the University of William & Mary have been pleased to bestow on me.1 A distinction which is rendered so flattering both by the characters of those from whom it is received, and of those with whom it associates me calls for acknowledgments, which I should feel greater satisfaction in expressing if I had less reason to distrust my title to it. Regarding it however as a proof that those who so worthily minister in the Temple of Science, are disposed not only to reward the merits of her illustrious Votaries, but to patronize in the humblest of them a zeal for her service I find in the sincerity of mine, an offering which they will not refuse, and which I beg you, Sir, in the most respectful manner to present to them. With great esteem and attachment I am &c

J. M.2

Draft (DLC). Docketed by JM.

1In Feb. 1785, the honorary degree of LL.D. was conferred upon JM by William and Mary College. Wythe informed JM in a missing letter that the honor had also been bestowed upon David Rittenhouse, John Page of Rosewell, Benjamin Franklin, and Edmund Randolph (WMQ description begins William and Mary Quarterly. description ends , 2d ser., XXII [1913–14], 297–98). News of this honor was slow to reach the public, for not until 23 Apr. did the Va. Gazette description begins Virginia Gazette, or, the American Advertiser (Richmond, James Hayes 1781–86). description ends note that JM and “Attorney-General” Randolph had “lately been presented by the University, with honorary degrees of Doctor of Laws.”

2The initials were later added by another hand.

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