James Madison Papers

Josiah Quincy to James Madison, 22 February 1829

City of Washington 22. Feb. 29.


Circumstances of a very unexpected character having recently connected me with Harvard University in the relation of its President and some general views having brought me to this City, it was my intention to have visited the University at Charlottesville, for the purpose of gratifying my curiosity in that respect and also for the sake of the advantage and pleasure I anticipated from a personal acquaintance with the distinguished men, who have the superintendance of that seminary.

on my reaching this City I was advised of the sickness prevalent in that vicinity, of the dispersed state of the Students of the University and that a visit to it under these circumstances would be inexpedient. I have, in consequence abandoned the idea for the present.

My wish, however, is to make myself acquainted with all that relates to the origin, history, constitution, discipline & general regulations of that institution; and I am informed that you will be more able than any other person to point me to the documents, which contain this information.

Although I am very sensible, Sir, that I have no right to ask this favor of you, yet as my object is not personal, but of a public & general character and to acquaint myself with all that the thoughtful and able men of our country have devised, or taught on the subject of the general policy of management, discipline & objects of such Seminaries, I hope you will pardon the request I am about to make, which is that you would have the kindness to give to some bookseller or person you may select a list of all official publications relative to that University & direct him to collect and transmit them to me at Boston, as soon as practicable. The expenses of which collection & transmission I will pay either to his correspondent in that City, or elsewhere as he may direct. In this list I wish particularly to have included all official reports relative to that seminary from its commencement and all publications having a tendency to indicate the principle on which it was established, its instruction and discipline conducted and its present state. I shall also be obliged by having included a publication made by Mr Jefferson, if I mistake not in the form of a report on the establishment of a school at Charlottesville, and in which the inexpediency of including Sectarian theology among the objects of instruction in universities is particularly canvassed.

You will easily perceive by these general statements the objects of my pursuit and will oblige me by giving your directions accordingly.

Again asking your pardon for the liberty assumed in this application and requesting to be respectfully presented to Mrs. Madison, in which I know Mrs. Quincy, from the general sentiment of respect she entertains for your lady would if present, very cordially unite I am your most obedt. & hb. St.

Josiah Quincy

RC (owned by Morris Login, Bronx, N.Y., ). Docketed by JM.

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