James Madison Papers

George Tucker to James Madison, 7 October 1826

University. Oct. 7, 1826


It is not without reluctance that I obtrude my individual concerns on your notice at any time, & more especially when your duties have been so laborious & impatent as at present. I can only say that if the business with which I am about to trouble you should interfere with higher objects, I should wish it postponed.

In the course of the last year Mr. Brockenbrough informed me that the rule prescribed to him by Mr. Jefferson in the payment of the Professor’s salaries, was to consider them as beginning at the date of their "Commissions," or Certificates of appointment. Finding that mine was dated in May, about two months after I had accepted the appointment, I was actively engaged in preparing to remove with my family, and about three months after Mr. Jefferson had formally announced to me my appointment, I took occasion to mention the subject to him towards the last of the year, when he told me that he considered that the salaries should commence only from the time that the Professors came to the University & entered on the performance of their duties—I suggested to him that from the time of my first visit here in March I had been employed in preparing for my removal, and that I had understood the Professors from England had received their salaries more than 4 months before they had entered on the duties of their office, to which he replied that there had been a special contract with them. It was my first intention to have asked him to have laid the matter before the Board at the preceding meeting in the Spring, but when the time approached I felt too much repugnance to have the appearance of appealing to the Board from his decision, for so small an object. I declined it therefore, and should probably have never mentioned it again, if subsequently Mr. Lomax, to whom the same rule has been applied, had not professed himelf very much disappointed & dissatisfied, and had not determined, as he informed me, to address the Board on the subject. If he has not done so, I am confident it has been because he was not able to be here—

I will beg leave to add that I presume the special contract would not have been made with the foreign Professors, if it had not been reasonable—and that if it was reasonable in their case, it is equally so in ours--That with reference to analogous cases, the salary should commence from the time of appointment & of making preparations to perform its duties. & in my own case I was actually chosen chairman of the Faculty for the year, before my salary began to run—The Board is now in possession of the facts, & the matter is respectfully submitted to their consideration by their respectful & obedt. Sert.

George Tucker

RC (ViU). Addressed to the Visitors of the University of Virginia.

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