James Madison Papers

To James Madison from James Kirke Paulding, 3 January 1814

From James Kirke Paulding

Newyork 3rd. January 1814.


The assurances of friends in whose judgement I place confidence, having persuaded me that the little work which accompanies this, is not altogether unworthy of the motive which induced me to undertake it, I now take the liberty to offer it to your acceptance, as the only proof it would be proper for me to give, of my respectfull attachment to your publick & private character.1

I dare also use the freedom to make one request of your Excellency. The choice of the people ought to be the father of the people, and you Sir, I may be permitted to Say have never forfeited that character. A Young man, an orphan, of most respectable family, but destitute of any near connections, to Speak for him, is anxious to Enter into the Navy as a midshipman, in one of the vessels now fitting out at this port. His name is William Langford Howard, by birth, education & talents, a Gentleman, fully qualified to Serve a noble Country, in a noble cause, and in a glorious profession.2 If no motive of policy or propriety, nor any established rule of etiquette, militates against it, your Excellency by granting his wishes, may brighten the future prospects of a worthy young man, and ensure the lasting gratitude of one who seldom asks favours except for his friends. I am, with perfect respect Your Excellency’s Obedt. Servant,

James K. Paulding3

RC (MH: Autograph File, P).

1Paulding probably forwarded a copy of The Lay of the Scottish Fiddle (New York, 1813; Shaw and Shoemaker description begins R. R. Shaw and R. H. Shoemaker, comps., American Bibliography: A Preliminary Checklist for 1801–1819 (22 vols.; New York, 1958–66). description ends 29455), a narrative poem taking the British to task for their attack on Havre de Grace, Maryland. The poem was a parody of Sir Walter Scott’s popular Lay of the Last Minstrel (Ralph M. Aderman, ed., The Letters of James Kirke Paulding [Madison, Wisc., 1962], xvii, 40).

2Howard was appointed a midshipman on 10 Jan. 1815. He served in the navy until his resignation in 1852, rising to the rank of commander (Callahan, List of Officers of the Navy, description begins Edward W. Callahan, List of Officers of the Navy of the United States and of the Marine Corps from 1775 to 1900 (New York, 1901). description ends 278).

3James Kirke Paulding (1778–1860), a native of Westchester County, New York, produced the magazine Salmagundi with William and Washington Irving in 1807 and 1808. His satire The Diverting History of John Bull and Brother Jonathan, which JM recommended to Thomas Jefferson, appeared in 1812. Paulding contributed essays on naval topics to Washington Irving’s Analectic Magazine, 1813–14, and in 1815 published The United States and England, a defense of American struggles against British domination. That same year, JM offered him a position as secretary to the Board of Navy Commissioners, which he held until 1823. Paulding continued his literary work while serving as navy agent at New York, 1824–38, but relinquished it during his tenure as secretary of the navy, 1838–41 (Aderman, Letters of James Kirke Paulding, xvi–xviii, xx, xxii–xxiii, 40; JM to Thomas Jefferson, 14 Oct. 1812, PJM-PS, description begins Robert A. Rutland et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison: Presidential Series (7 vols. to date; Charlottesville, Va., 1984–). description ends 5:392–93, 394 n. 9; 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 5:135, 138).

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