James Madison Papers

To James Madison from John Carroll, 29 October 1805

From John Carroll

Baltimore October 29th. 1805

Honorable and dear Sir,

I was very much concerned at my absence from home, when you did me the honor of a visit. Though it was late when I returned, I went to Bryden’s1 in hopes of finding you there, but understood at the bar that you had not put up there, and feared, as it was nine o’clock, intruding on the repose of a wearied traveller, if I had sought you elsewhere. I had spent the afternoon with Mr. Carroll of Carrollton, who was then here and would have been happy to see you, if he had known of your being in Baltimore. I am sollicitous to know, that Mrs. Madison has returned to the city in perfect health, and have often anxiously enquired of her during your residence in and near Philadelphia. Mr. Dubourg will assuredly have a place ready to receive Mrs. Madison’s son in a month from this date, and perhaps sooner. On the first mention of your request, he said it was impossible, there being above twenty on the list for admission, whom he could not accomodate. I urged, in behalf of your son in law,2 a claim, which has been mentioned heretofore in my presence, tho’ perhaps an unfounded one, but of which I made use; that Mrs. Madison had bespoken a place a year ago, and perhaps more. Mr. Dubourg then said, that such being the case, he would certainly make a proper provision within the time above mentioned. He could not furnish me with a copy of his regulations; they are out of print; but he promised to have them reprinted immediately, when I will have the honor of transmitting one to you. In the meantime, you may obtain every necessary information, and perhaps a printed prospectus from Mr. Brent, the mayor of Washington.3 On this and every other occasion, I shall be happy to execute your commissions, without considering them as any interruption to other business; and therefore hope you will often enable me to prove my attachment and esteem. I beg Mrs. Madison to accept the tender of my respectful wishes for her health and happiness. With the same sentiments I have the honor to be dear Sir, your most obedient servant

J. Carroll.4

Tr (owned by Mrs. George B. Cutts, Wellesley, Mass., 1982).

1Scottish native James Bryden (ca. 1762–1820) operated the Fountain Inn in Baltimore from 1795 until he leased it to John H. Barney in 1808 in order to move to New York, where he leased and operated the Tontine Coffee House. In 1812 he leased and operated the Greenwich Hotel two miles north of New York City. He later returned to Baltimore, where he died on 11 Apr. 1820 (Federal Intelligencer, and Baltimore Daily Gazette, 16 Sept. 1795; Baltimore North American and Mercantile Daily Advertiser, 1 Mar. 1808; New York American Citizen, 30 Apr. 1808; New York Columbian, 2 May 1812; Baltimore Patriot & Mercantile Advertiser, 12 Apr. 1820).

2JM’s stepson, John Payne Todd.

3Robert Brent (1764–1819), the first mayor of Washington City, was John Carroll’s nephew. Brent was appointed mayor by Jefferson in 1802 and was reappointed to the non-salaried post by both Jefferson and JM through 1812. He also served as justice of the peace for the District of Columbia from 1801 to at least 1817, was judge of the district’s Orphan’s Court from 1806 to 1814, and paymaster of the army from 1808 to shortly before his death in September 1819. He was also the first president of the Patriotic Bank (PJM-PS, 1:193 n. 1; James Dudley Morgan, “Robert Brent, First Mayor of Washington City,” Records of the Columbia Historical Society 2 [1899]: 236, 243–44, 247).

4John Carroll (1735–1815) was born in Maryland and educated at an English college in France. In 1753 he entered the Jesuit novitiate at Watten, France, and was ordained into the Society of Jesus at Liège in either 1767 or 1769. After the suppression of the Society in 1773, he lived in England before returning to America in 1774, where he lived quietly except for a brief trip to Canada with the American commissioners in 1776. In 1783 he joined in agitation for a reform of the American Catholic Church, was named prefect-apostolic shortly thereafter, and was consecrated bishop in 1790. He was raised to archbishop in 1808. Carroll was particularly interested in education and encouraged the establishment of several secondary schools and colleges. He supported JM’s administration during the War of 1812.

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