James Madison Papers

John Cox to James Madison, 1 February 1828

George Town D. C 1st February 1828

Dear Sir,

Your goodness will, I feel assured, pardon me for troubling you with this letter—Since your retirement from office I have met with a sad reverse of fortune—By the vicissitudes of trade and the depreciation of real estate, I have been reduced from opulence to total ruin, and having transferred my entire effects to my creditors, now have no support but a very inadequate stipend, derived from the office of Mayor, which the confidence of my fellow Citizens has conferred on me—From the embarrassment of my affairs and from the stagnation of business here, I am precluded from a further recourse to commerce and have no prospect of adding to my resources but in the patronage of Government. I may be permitted however to say that although I have lost my fortune, I have not lost with it, my good name, as is evidenced by the enclosed letters among others written in my behalf, and by my fellow Citizens having for seven successive terms elected me Mayor of this Town. The salary of the office is not, however, adequate to the support of my family, being only six hundred dollars per annum—During the trying period of the late war it is known among my friends, and perhaps to yourself, that I supported the operations of Government with unwearied zeal, and shrunk from no pledge or sacrafice of person or fortune when I could serve my Country—I will say that my exertions in her behalf have been entirely disinterested, emanating solely from a sense of duty which amid the defection of so many, claimed the strenuous aid of her friends. At that period my circumstances were affluent, and seeking no return but an approving concience, I then made my zeal the grounds of no claim on Government and never wished to mention it. I am induced now to obtrude myself on your notice, believing that I possess your goodwill and that you would be willing to serve me—Congress is about to create the office of superintendant of the Capitol, with a respectable salary—My wish is to prevail on you to give me a letter to the President of the United States, saying what you know of me, and of my exertions during the most trying time of the last war—I am aware, Sir, that you must feel reluctant to be disturbed in your retirement, and would not now urge upon your kind feelings to do me this favor, but that the situation is so desirable for the support of my family and that I am aware of the influence an expression from you in my favor would have with the President—I know how delicately you are situated, and were it understood that you would favor your friends in this way, how much you would be importuned, I will assure you that your letter, if you favor me with one, will be handed to the President by a friend who alone shall know of it and who will not mention the circumstance, if so desired by you, With the greatest respect I am, Dear Sir, your ob Servt.

John, Cox

NB. I pray you to favor me with an answer as early as your convenience will permit. you will find enclosed a letter to Mrs Madison from Mrs Cox

RC and enclosures (DLC). Docketed by James Madison. Enclosures are testimonies re character of Cox.

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