James Madison Papers

To James Madison from David Howell, 28 November 1810

From David Howell

Providence Nov. 28. 1810.


The Letter to our mutual friend, of which copy is enclosed1 was intended to bear on Subjects of instant concern: & lest its effect should be delayed by the Distance from Washington to Monticello I have thus far trespassed on the forms of proceeding.

That you may learn the manner in which I discharged the high trust confided to me by General Washington in his lifetime I have enclosed copy of a Letter from the late Governor Sullivan to me on that Subject.2

On a review of the incidents of my life I find cause of Gratitude to my fellow-citizens for their favors to me; but more abundant reason to recognize the blessings of Heaven. For the last two years I have not been sick a day, nor an hour, and have yet thirty years before I shall reach the period of my fathers life—to this I have not, however, like the Emperor of France, the assurance to file a claim. Whatever may depend on you towards rendring my future days comfortable & happy, I assure myself will receive a candid & liberal consideration & decision. I pray you to believe that I am with the highest respect, Sir, your obedient Servant,

David Howell


1The copy enclosed to JM has not been found, but Howell’s 27 Nov. 1810 letter to Jefferson repeated at greater length the substance of his 26 Nov. letter to JM. After denouncing Asher Robbins as a monarchist by virtue of his association with Federalists, Howell urged Jefferson to write a letter in support of Governor Fenner, which Fenner and his fellow Republicans could then use to advantage in the next elections. He also hinted that Jefferson advocate the nomination of David Leonard Barnes to the vacant seat on the Supreme Court (DLC: Jefferson Papers).

2The copy of James Sullivan’s letter to Howell has not been found, but it was probably a copy of a letter written on 9 Jan. 1798 and later misidentified in the lists made by Peter Force as a letter to JM (DLC, series 7, container 2). The subject of the letter almost certainly was Howell’s work on the St. Croix boundary commission, to which Washington had nominated him in May 1796 under article 5 of the Jay treaty. Sullivan at that time had acted as agent for the U.S. in the management of the commission’s business (see 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 , 1:210).

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