James Madison Papers

William B. Sprague to James Madison, 5 July 1828

West Springfield, Massachusetts, July 5th. 1828.

Dear Sir,

I am about to make a request of you, for which I am well aware that I ought to be able to plead, at least, the apology, which might be furnished by an acquaintance; and yet I allow myself to hope that you will find an apology for me in the nature of the request, and the rather, as there is no one in this vicinity who has a personal acquaintance with you to whom I can apply for an introduction.

On a late visit which I have made in England, I was earnestly requested by a Gentleman of great respectability, who has long felt a deep interest in the fortunes of our country, to procure for him the autographs of Some of our most distinguished men, particularly of our Several Presidents, and of the Signers of the Declaration of our Independence. Will you allow me, Sir, on behalf of my friend, to request the favor that you would send me something in your own hand writing and with your Signature; and I would say too, that if you should happen to have any thing in the hand of either of the other Presidents, or of any of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence, which you can spare with perfect convenience, it would be most thankfully accepted. It would be desirable that it Should be a letter, or a note, or something entire in itself, though no matter how unimportant, as the hand writing is the principal thing that is desired.

I have again to ask that you will excuse the liberty which I have taken in making this request, and I have only to add that if you should have the goodness to comply with it, you would confer a great favor not upon me only, but upon a very distinguished & excellent clergyman on the other side of the Atlantic, who has a high veneration for your character, and an ardent attachment to our country.

As you can, of course, have no knowledge of me, permit me just to add that I am the Congregational clergyman of this place. I take the liberty to send with this letter a pamphlet or two of my own, not because I suppose they are of much value, but as a trifling expression of the high regard, with which, I am Dear Sir, Your mo: ob: serv:

William B. Sprague.


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