James Madison Papers

To James Madison from William Lee, 4 April 1817

From William Lee

April 4: 1817.


Mr Capellano1 has decided to make you a visit at Montpellier in the course of the summer. He says he does not like to be hurried in a Work of this nature. In making you a visit he might extend his journey to Mr Jeffersons of whom we have no good bust. He will conform to your convenience, I presume before or after harvest will be most agreeable to you. I have the honor to be with great respect your devoted humble Servant

Wm Lee2

RC (NN).

1Antonio Capellano, a student of Antonio Canova, was an Italian sculptor who was employed on various projects in the United States during the period 1815 to 1827. In Baltimore he sculpted reliefs for St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, the Battle Monument, and the First Unitarian Church. In Washington, Capellano produced several works for the U.S. Capitol, including Preservation of Captain Smith by Pocahontas (Van Horne, Papers of Benjamin Henry Latrobe, 3:802 n. 4; Donald R. Kennon and Thomas P. Somma, eds., American Pantheon: Sculptural and Artistic Decoration of the United States Capitol [Athens, Ohio, 2004], 38, 40, 42–43, 59, 60, 64–71).

2William Lee (1772–1840) was born in Nova Scotia and educated in Massachusetts before launching a commercial career in France. Serving first as commercial agent at Marseilles, Lee was appointed by Thomas Jefferson as agent at Bordeaux in June 1801, a post he held until 1816, when he returned to the United States. In November of that year, JM appointed him to a clerkship in the War Department, but some months later he became second auditor of the Treasury, an office he held until Andrew Jackson’s purge of the Washington bureaucracy in 1829 (PJM-SS description begins Robert J. Brugger et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison: Secretary of State Series (8 vols. to date; Charlottesville, Va., 1986—). description ends , 2:18 n. 2; Mary Lee Mann, ed., A Yankee Jeffersonian: Selections from the Diary and Letters of William Lee of Massachusetts [Cambridge, Mass., 1958], 2, 157–59, 186, 212).

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