James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Littell & Henry, 24 September 1821

From Littell & Henry

Philadelphia 24 September 1821.


The enclosed prospectus of an edition of Blackstone’s Commentaries, is respectfully submitted to your examination by the publishers.1

As it is of much importance to attract to it as early as possible the attention of the public, and as nothing would so certainly secure this as an expression of the favourable opinion of those who are most competent to judge of its utility, we have been induced to trouble you with this letter, and to take the further liberty of requesting from you an answer containing your opinion of the plan which is proposed.

We are aware, Sir, that the time of men who are distinguished in public life, is often unwarrantably encroached upon by the eagerness of publishers to procure recommendations that will guide the public opinion, but we beg leave to assure you that we should not have ventured thus to intrude ourselves upon you for the purpose of promoting our own interest, had we not believed that it is, in this instance, connected with the public good. With the highest respect, We are Sir, Your Most Obedt. servts.

Littell & Henry2

RC (DLC). Cover addressed by Littell & Henry to JM, and franked. Docketed by JM.

1Sir William Blackstone, Blackstone’s Commentaries: Proposals by Littell & Henry … for Publishing by Subscription, a New Edition of Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Laws of England, with Notes and Additions; Exhibiting a General View of the Principal Diversities between the Laws of England, and … the United States … (Philadelphia, 1821; Shoemaker 5832). JM’s copy is in the Madison Collection, Rare Book and Special Collections Division, Library of Congress.

2The partners Eliakim Littell and R. Norris Henry conducted business as booksellers and publishers at 74 South Second Street, Philadelphia (H. Glenn Brown and Maude O. Brown, “A Directory of the Book-Arts and Book Trade in Philadelphia to 1820 Including Painters and Engravers,” Bulletin of the New York Public Library 53 [1949]: 568).

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