Circular Letter from Elias Boudinot
Burlington New-Jersey, November 5th 1819.
We have the pleasure of transmitting to you, a Copy of the proceedings of a Meeting held at Trenton;1 the objects of which are sufficiently explained in the Resolutions adopted—we can truly assure you, that whether we consider the number of the persons present, or their individual importance, a more respectable assembly has never been convened in this State: whether the subject of those resolutions is viewed in relation to the dictates of religion and morality, or those of sound policy and national reputation and security; it appears to us to have a most imposing importance. We refrain to enter at this time, into the reasons of this opinion; it being our intention now to call to our aid, the zealous co-operation of such of our fellow Citizens in the different parts of these United States, as unite with us in that opinion, and feel an anxiety to prevent the numerous and appaling evils that must result from extending and perpetuating slavery amongst us. We therefore take the liberty, most earnestly to call your attention to this interesting concern: leaving it to your own discression, in concert with such Gentlemen as you may associate with you in the design, to organize a plan of co-operation. Be pleased to correspond with us on the subject as speedily as possible, and your communications shall be immediately attended to. By order of the Committee,
Elias Boudinot2 Chairman.
RC (DLC: Rare Book and Special Collections Division, Madison Papers). A printed circular letter. Addressed in an unidentified hand to “James Maddison Esqr.” Postmarked at Newcastle, Delaware, 25 Nov. Docketed by JM.
1. The enclosure was probably a broadside entitled Public Meeting, Respecting Slavery, dated 29 Oct. 1819, a copy of which is in the Jefferson Papers, Library of Congress. The Trenton meeting included the governor, most of the New Jersey legislature, and other prominent state politicians. The meeting’s resolutions, unanimously adopted, called for a ban on the introduction of slavery into Missouri and requested Congress to “heartily unite with us in every measure calculated to arrest its [slavery] progress, and finally, extinguish its existence.” The correspondence committee sent copies of the proceedings throughout the nation, helping to create a wave of support against slavery in Missouri (Glover Moore, The Missouri Controversy, 1819–1821 [Lexington, Ky., 1953], 70–73).
2. Elias Boudinot (1740–1821), a political leader in New Jersey during the American Revolution, served in the Continental Congress, 1777–84, where he met JM. He supported the ratification of the U.S. Constitution and served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1789 to 1795, when he was appointed director of the U.S. Mint. He resigned from that post in 1805.