James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Tench Coxe, 18 March 1813

From Tench Coxe

Philadelphia March 18th. 1813


I really am unable to excuse myself, in my own mind, for the troublesome applications I have so repeatedly made to you. I have presumed far, in offering objects for my own benefit to your consideration. But the close of the busy and anxious session of congress, and the tranquil commencement of your new term, seem to make the present time a season of less pressing engagement, and I yield once more to the impulse of n[e]cessity in venturing upon an application, which perhaps I ought not to intrude upon you, and which I really make with the deepest regret and the utmost reluctance. If I could employ myself, in any way, to obtain income I would do so, and set once more about a course of life to relieve me from the public injury, which my second removal from office has, I presume, brought upon me, at least with the uninformed. But I cannot regain that ground in commerce, which I lost by too zealous a public spirit. I hope and trust in your consideration of what I may claim as to the past, and what I may be expected to do in future, in a time when the cause of good government wants indeed, the truest hearts, the firmest nerves, the strongest arms.

Since this late dispensation of Providence, with respect to my eldest Son, I remain with three, who are adult, and thoroughly educated in their professions. I do myself the honor to give your their names, as it may, in some respect or upon some occasion, facilitate that beneficence to me and mine, which I comfort and flatter myself, so far as to trust, would not be a matter of indifference to you. My eldest Surviving son is Francis S. Coxe, in his 25th. year bred with perfect regularity in Philadelphia with a great mercantile house, and employed in five or six of the principal European states, Russia, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, GBritain &ca. for three years in extensive matters.

Alexander S. Coxe, in his 24th. & Charles S. Coxe in his 23d. year, both regularly bred & in practice together in the Law.1

Besides the general course of Education, they have attended carefully to the living languages, the french in particular.

I believe their minds to be strong, their morals and manners sound & liberal.

My Sons all bear the name of Sidney, the seat of their maternal grandfather to distinguish them from the children of my brothers & cousins. Their principles are decidedly and faithfully constitutional. They can be supported by the most respectable testimonials.

It would be a matter of the utmost comfort to me if you could confer upon me, at an early moment, some duty, for which I am qualified, by which I might be relieved from no light or imaginary distresses.

I offer every apology, the best at least the strongest, in my real circumstances. With perfect truth, and respect I have the honor to be, Sir your most faithful friend

Tench Coxe
(private & personal)

RC (DNA: RG 59, LAR, 1809–17, filed under “Coxe”).

1Coxe mentioned four of his eleven children. Tench Jr., his eldest son, graduated from the University of Pennsylvania and in 1807 moved to Rutherford County, North Carolina, to manage his father’s property and practice law. He died there in February 1813 from tuberculosis. Francis joined the Philadelphia mercantile firm of Pratt and Kintzing and began his career with a three-year commercial tour of Europe. Alexander, with whom Coxe lived from 1813 until that son’s death in 1821, shared his father’s interests in economics and politics. Charles was admitted to the Philadelphia bar in 1812 and served as his father’s business and legal adviser. JM subsequently granted midshipman’s commissions to two of Coxe’s younger sons, Henry and James (Cooke, Tench Coxe, 407, 509–10, 521; Coxe to JM, 25 Jan. 1815 [DLC]).

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