James Madison Papers

James Madison to John Hartwell Cocke, 18 March 1827

Montpelleir, March 18th. 1827—

Dear Sir

I have recd. from Mr Key the tender of his resignation as authorized by the resolution of the Board of Visitors. He is very desirous at the same time that it may not take effect till the middle of August, which will not only give him the opportunity of being present at the examination of the Students but free him from the expence of waiting for a London Packet from N. York or of going by land with his family from Liverpool. This alternative it seems is produced by the periods at which the Packets respectively sail. As the 4th. of July was changed to the 20th. after the communication was made to him, and there is a propriety in his being present at the Examination, the indulgence he wishes as far as it extends to the close of the Session seems unobjectionable. And as the further indulgence to the middle of August will not swell the cost to more than half a quarters Salary; it may be overbalanced by the desire that he may leave us with the best feelings, and by the advantage of cherishing a confidence in our liberal dispositions in a quarter where we may be obliged to seek occasional supplies for our vacant Professorships—My answer to him does not entirely commit the Board. But if you concur in my view of the subject it may be well to favor his expectations, as his preparatory arrangements may be influenced by them.

The question now is how we shall fill the vacated Chair—I shall take the liberty of writing to Mr. Gallatin, and requesting him to aid us with his enquiries, and let us know as soon as possible whether we can rely on a good successor to Mr Key from G. Britain. Let me ask of you to take occasion to gather any information on the subject which the English professors at the University may be able to give. I know of no qualified natives who are attainable—The only foreigners among us who occur for consideration, are Mr. Hassler and the State Enginner. Both of them are I presume Scientifically qualified, but how far possessing the other fitnesses I cannot judge. I have heard of a Mr. Nuttal [Nulty], as being well spoken of as a man of science; he also may be a proper object for enquiry & consideration.

We must all turn our thoughts to the subject, and collect & interchange what ever information we may obtain, that can prepare us for a decision at our next meeting, or even sooner, if it be found that we can sooner unite in a choice.

It appears that the Board is authorised to borrow as far as $25,000, I have not yet seen the law. If any thing can be done without a meeting of the Visitors I rely on the Burser with your sanction, to prepare and forward whatever may require mine.

Our Colleagues who were together at Richmond protest I find agst. a called Board, to which I presume Mr Monroe, to say nothing of yourself is as averse as I am. With great esteem & regard

James Madison

RC, with enclosure, Joseph Coolidge Jr. to Nicholas P. Trist (ViU); draft (DLC).

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