James Madison Papers

From James Madison to John Mitchell Mason, 5 February 1810

To John Mitchell Mason

Washington Feby. 5. 1810


I have recd. your letter of the 29th. January. The Form of a Constn. delineated by Genl. Hamilton, & put by him into my hands, being among my papers in Virga. a copy of it cannot be furnished till I shall have made a trip thither. I shall then not fail to make good my promise.1 The general mass of manuscript materials which I possess relative to the Convention, being under the circumstances intimated to you, I must yield to the restraint they impose;2 notwithstanding my confidence in your capacities to do justice to them, & the additional motive to comply with your wishes which I might find in the delicacy wth. which they are manifested.3 Of the various printed Materials, which are connected with your object, I recollect none, that are not probably already known to you, or that do not lie within the sphere of your obvious researches. Should any not within this description occur to me, I shall take a pleasure in referring you to them. Accept my respects.

J. M

Draft (DLC); partial Tr (NN).

1JM made a considerable effort to fulfill his promise to Mason, writing to both Jefferson and John Wayles Eppes in the summer of 1810. He did not find the copy of the document Mason sought and evidently wrote two letters to Mason (not found) to inform him of this failure. JM found the copy of Hamilton’s plan some years later (JM to Jefferson, 17 July 1810; John Wayles Eppes to JM, 1 Nov. 1810; Mason to JM, 20 Dec. 1810 [DLC]; William Eustis to JM, 28 Apr. 1819 [DLC]; see also Henry D. Gilpin, ed., The Papers of James Madison … [3 vols.; Washington, 1840], 3: appendix, p. xvi).

2Tr ends here.

3JM jealously guarded his Federal Convention notes and later declared a desire to have their publication “be a posthumous one” (JM to John G. Jackson, 28 Dec. 1821, Madison, Writings [Hunt ed.] description begins Gaillard Hunt, ed., The Writings of James Madison (9 vols.; New York, 1900-1910). description ends , 9:71).

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