James Madison Papers

To James Madison from William Prentiss, 7 March 1817

From William Prentiss

City of Washington, March 7th. 1817


I take the Liberty of enclosing you a prospectus of a Reading Room for the Metropolis of the Union upon an improved plan,1 and respectfully to solicit your patronage for the Institution.

From the countenace at present shewn to the undertaking, the establishment promises soon to be in a prosperous condition.

In retirement from public life—I pray you may enjoy health, with the pleasing consolation of having faithfully discharged your duty to our beloved country—yours with great respect

Wm Prentiss2

RC (DLC). Partial cover addressed by Prentiss to JM at Washington; docketed by JM.

1Prentiss enclosed a broadside, Reading Room, Continued on an Improved Plan (1 p.; DLC: Madison Collection, Rare Book and Special Collections Division; 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 41874), dated 4 Mar. 1817, in which he noted that he had “taken a more convenient place,” and intended “to supply coffee, &c. at moderate prices.” He offered subscriptions to his establishment which would carry “papers from all parts of the Union, European publications, Maps, &c.,” for ten dollars a year.

2William Prentiss (ca. 1755–1831) had been a “fiscal and building agent” in Washington for John Nicholson (Daily National Intelligencer, 29 Jan. 1831; Allen C. Clark, Greenleaf and Law in the Federal City [Washington, 1901], 125).

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