James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Thomas Jefferson, [ca. 30 March] 1790

From Thomas Jefferson

[ca. 30 March 1790]

Th: J. to mr. Madison

I forgot to take your final opinion last night as to the mode of conveying official communications from the states through the channel of the President to the two federal houses. Whether it will be best to do it

1. by message from the presidt. through mr. Lear?
2. by do. through Th: J. appearing personally?
3 by do. through do. by way of letter?

Be so good as to say what you think. I must be troublesome to you till I know better the ground on which I am placed. Indeed this consultation is by the desire of the president.1


RC (DLC). Addressed by Jefferson.

1JM’s reply to Jefferson’s queries has not been found but is embodied in Jefferson to Washington, 1 Apr. 1790: “Th: Jefferson has the honor to inform the President that Mr. Madison has just delivered to him the result of his reflections on the question How shall communications from the several states to Congress through the channel of the President be made?

“‘He thinks that in no case would it be proper to go by way of letter from the Secretary of state: that they should be delivered to the houses either by the Secretary of state in person or by Mr. Leir [Lear]. He supposes a useful division of the office might be made between these two, by employing the one where a matter of fact alone is to be communicated, or a paper delivered &c. in the ordinary course of things and where nothing is required by the President; and using the agency of the other where the President chuses to recommend any measure to the legislature and to attract their attention to it’” (Boyd, Papers of Jefferson description begins Julian P. Boyd et al., eds., The Papers of Thomas Jefferson (19 vols. to date; Princeton, 1950—). description ends , XVI, 287).

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