James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Levi Lincoln, 12 April 1810

From Levi Lincoln

Worcester April 12 1810

Dear Sir

Permit me to congratulate you on the happy result of the recent elections in this State & in New Hampshire.1 Firmness, steadiness & united persevering efforts by the friends to the national government will complete our triumph, break down & scatter to the winds the mad & hopeless cause of the Northern Confederacy.

I am informed that Judge Cushing is about resigning his seat as Judge of the Supreme Court of the U. States. I need not state to you how important it is in the opinion of republicans that his successor should be a gentleman of tried & undeviating attachment to the principles & policy which mark your’s & your Predecessor’s administration of the national government. It will form in some degree a countervailing action to that overgrown yet still encreasing influence in which federalism is intrenched in this State. Your [sic] are sufficiently acquainted with the prominent legal characters in this judicial District. Mr Bidwell’s2 standing in society, patriotism, professional qualifications are known to you. Please to excuse the liberty I have taken. My apology is the importance of the subject; my only motive the general welfare.

Let me ask you to make my grateful recollections acceptable to Mrs Madison, & believe me to be with the highest esteem & most sincere attachment your most Obedient Humble Servant,

Levi Lincoln3


1The post-Embargo recovery of the New England Republicans led to Elbridge Gerry’s defeating the Federalist incumbent, Christopher Gore, in the Massachusetts gubernatorial election, while in New Hampshire the Republicans elected John Langdon to the governorship and won control of the state legislature (National Intelligencer, 18 Apr. 1810; Lynn W. Turner, William Plumer of New Hampshire, 1759–1850 [Chapel Hill, N.C., 1962], p. 195).

2Barnabas Bidwell was a Republican congressman from Massachusetts, 1805–7. Jefferson had encouraged him to replace John Randolph as floor leader and administration spokesman, but he resigned and served as attorney general of Massachusetts until 30 Aug. 1810. When an investigation of his accounts as treasurer of Berkshire County since 1791 exposed a shortage of about $10,000, he fled to Canada (Cunningham, The Process of Government under Jefferson, p. 189).

3Levi Lincoln (1749–1820) had served in Jefferson’s cabinet as acting secretary of state until JM took up his duties in May 1801 and as attorney general, 1801–4. Lieutenant governor of Massachusetts, 1807–8, he was an unsuccessful candidate for governor in 1809. After Associate Supreme Court Justice William Cushing died in September 1810, JM offered Lincoln the vacant seat on the court only to receive Lincoln’s refusal. Undeterred, JM placed Lincoln’s name in nomination before the Senate on 2 Jan. 1811 but still could not persuade him to accept (JM to Lincoln, 20 Oct. 1810; Lincoln to JM, 27 Nov. 1810 and 20 Jan. 1811 [DLC]; Senate Exec. Proceedings description begins Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate of the United States of America (3 vols.; Washington, 1828). description ends , 2:159).

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