New York 6th. March 1831
The kindness with which you have always treated me, encourages me to consult you on the subject of an undertaking I have in contemplation.
It has been proposed to me to write the Lives of some few of the most distinguished men of this country, in a manner somewhat different from what has been hitherto attempted by mingling more of their domestic habits and character, & confining the details to such parts only of the History of the United States, as they were more especially connected with. Such a mode I think would enable me, with the care and Labour I should undoubtedly bestow, to produce a series of Lives, much more interesting, and more accessible from their size to the people at large, than by encumbering them with a mass of History.
Should I survive you Sir, it is my intention in this series to do justice to your character & services, so far as I shall be competent to the high duty; and the object of this Letter is to present a respectful request that you will kindly enable me to do some little credit to the subject and to my own feelings, by furnishing me with a little sketch or memorandum of the principal incidents of your Life, with some notices of the characters of your principal associates, such as Washington, Jefferson, Franklin, Adams, Hamilton &c.
As I am aware that age requires repose, and that you, almost before any other man living, are entitled to remain undisturbed, I prefer this request with much hesitation, intreating you frankly to decline complying with it without the least Apprehension that I shall have any other feeling on the subject, than that of Regret at having asked of you, what it was inconvenient, or improper for you to grant, in case you should think it so. On the contrary, should my request have the good fortune to be granted, I beg to assure you that you may rely on my discretion, as well as my gratitude.
I avail myself of this opportunity to offer my sincere wishes for the health and happiness of Mrs. Madison, and yourself, intreating her and you to believe me Your gratefull and affectionate friend & Servant
J K Paulding
RC (NRU). Docketed by JM.