James Madison Papers

James Madison to Thomas Jefferson, 15 December 1824

Decr. 15. 1824

Dr. Sir

I return Mr Gilmers two letters to you & that of Mr. Emmet to Mr Colhoun, inclosed in yours of the 10th.

I have so much confidence in the Opinion of Mr. Gilmer, & respect for the testimony of the father, with every abatement for partia<lity> that I can not doubt the chemical & other merits ascribed to young Emmet. As a letter however such as you propose, would be viewed by him as equivalent nearly to appointments & preclud the Visitors from the freedom of decision, some of them might wish there might be some hazard in the step. For myself I should allow but little weight to the circumstance of foreign nativity, agst. superior qualifications in the other scale, especially where naturalization & a fixture in the Country had taken place. But <so>me of our Colleagues, to say nothing of the public <as> may vary from our way of thinking, and prefer <a>n arrangement giving Chemistry to Dunglison <w>ith Natural History & rural Economy, in the ha<nds of> a Native, to a change which would leave but a single professorship for a native, in cas<e> the Ethical Professor should be of foreign birth.

Something may depend on the comparative fitness for the Chemical Chair, of the two <Cand>idates, and the probable effect of a disappoin<tment> on Dunglison; who tho’ having no stipula<tion> <o>r pledge, may feel it in his profits, as well a<s> his wishes & hopes, and it may be well as he appears to be a great acquisition that he enter on his career with all the satisfaction that can be secured without a sensible sacrifi<ce> of the interests of the University. Suppose instead of writing to Emmet, or otherwise mak<ing> a commitment, you were to drop a line to <G>ilmer, who may not have, left N. Y. with a view prevent Young Emmet from disposing of himself, should there be any immediate, danger of it. This may probably be done for a very short but sufficient time in a way not even commiting Mr. G. himself. <As> you, after all, think it best to take the step you sugg<est> I am very willing to take my share of the responsibility.

I am glad to learn that the result of your enquiries concerning Mr. Tucker strengthens my favorable view of his fitness for the Ethical Chair. I wish Mr. Cabel, who doubtless knows every feature of his character could have be<en> consulted on the subject. Would it not be better to request Mr. C. if you <concur> wi<th> us to sound him, than to write directly yourself. The delay will be trifling; Mr. T. being now at Washington.

Draft (DLC).

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