James Madison Papers

From James Madison to Tench Coxe, 7 April 1804

To Tench Coxe

Department of State 7 April 1804.


Mr. Matthew Cary of Philadelphia has offered to sell to government 400 complete copies of the laws of the United States at one dollar per volume in sheets and thirty one cents in addition for binding. This price appears to be high, and I must therefore request you to cause enquiry to be made whether among the other booksellers they could be furnished for less. If they can and Mr. Cary will take the price, you will be pleased to engage them. I should prefer to have it fixed by the judgment of Mr. Dobson1 and any other bookseller Mr. Cary may name, what they are worth. If he will agree to receive what they may decide, you may engage to take them, provided it be not more than his present offer. There is no objection to the 31 cents for binding, provided it be good. It is not intended that any of the laws passed at the last session should be included in the negociation.2

The sales of the Drugs &c. form a subject distinct from Genl. Stevens draft. The former ought therefore to be separately accounted for.3

A letter written to your Predecessor at the time of the purchase of the trunk of stationery4 gave directions to forward it to Governor Harrison: but this has been lately explained to Mr. Mifflin. I have the honor to be, Sir, Very respectfully Your most obed. Servt.

James Madison

RC (MH-H); letterbook copy (DNA: RG 59, DL, vol. 14); partial Tr (DNA: RG 46, Committee Reports and Papers, Various Select Committees, 8A-D1). RC in Wagner’s hand, signed and franked by JM; docketed by Coxe, with his notation: “ansd. Apr. 21.”

1Thomas Dobson (1751–1823) was a Philadelphia printer and bookseller whose establishment was located at 41 South Second Street (Bear and Stanton, Jefferson’s Memorandum Books, 2:867 n. 52).

2Partial Tr ends here.

3See Coxe to JM, 3 Feb. 1804, and JM to Coxe, 1 Mar. 1804, PJM-SS description begins Robert J. Brugger et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison: Secretary of State Series (7 vols. to date; Charlottesville, Va., 1986–). description ends , 6:427 and nn., 526.

4See Coxe to JM, 3 Apr. 1804, and n. 3.

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