James Madison Papers

Henry Lee to James Madison, 4 June 1833

Paris 5th. June 1833


It is some time since I submitted to the public certain observations on the writings of the late Mr. Jefferson, intended to vindicate my fathers memory from a gross and virulent slander contained in that mass of misrepresentations. Many of these observations were suggested by a letter of the 28th. Decr. 1794, addressed by Mr. Jefferson to yourself. Its first paragraph I did not refer to, as I had no means of understanding it. With a view to come at its meaning, I have lately corresponded with a son of Mr. John Jay—Peter A. Jay Esqr. of New York—and have asked of him a copy of the letter from his father, which appears to have been addressed to yourself or to Mr. Jefferson and to have accompanied a Copy of Chalmers’ treaties. I have recd two letters from Mr. Peter A. Jay—the second dated the 11th. April 1833. In this he observes, "No letter to or from either of those gentlemen"—that is Mr. Jefferson or yourself—"dated in 1794 or at any time after, is to be found among my fathers Papers. I am not able to conjecture what letter it is to which Mr. Jefferson refers."

As it appears from Mr. Jeffersons letter of the 28th. Decr. 1794. that he returned Mr. Jays letter to you, "not to delay your answer to it," I infer that it is in your possession, and feel authorized as well from the importance of any document which can be traced to Mr Jays pen, as from the national property which his memory constitutes, and to which the humblest citizen has an undeniable claim, in asking of you a copy of that letter. The letters which his son has written to me justify me in taking this step, in my opinion; but in order to make sure of having his sanction for the application, I enclose this letter to him, to be read & forwarded.

Should the publication to which I have alluded ever have been honoured by your perusal, & have been found to contain either Statements or inferences which you deem incorrect, I shall hold myself obliged by any suggestions to that end which you may think proper to make, and bound to give them the fairest & fullest consideration I have the honour to be Sir Yr most obt Sert.

H. Lee


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