James Madison Papers

Gales & Seaton to James Madison, 29 July 1833

Washington, July 29, 1833.

Respected Sir:

We have at length made a beginning of a Work which we long since projected, the object of which is to preserve the Debates & Proceedings of Congress, constituting in fact the History of the country—the only History as yet, & of course the best—from the adoption of the Constitution until the Session of 1824-7, with which our Register of Debates begun. Of this new work we do ourselves the pleasure to enclose you the two first half sheets.

The Debates & Proceedings of the First Congress it becomes every day more & more important to have collected & preserved in a durable form. They have in fact become a text-book already. The Debates however were often unavoidably imperfectly reported; & having ourselves only the volumes of Lloyd, & Fenno’s Gazette, with the Journals, to compile from, it has appeared to us possible that you may have some materials which you would spare to us for the purpose of embodying in this work. If you have no Manuscripts, perhaps you could indicate to us other printed reports of Debates or single Speeches in the first Congress than those which we have named; and we might obtain them in the Philadelphia Repositories. The Library of Congress is surprizingly deficient in such memorials.

Materials are also wanting, if they exist in any acceptable form, beyond Fenno, Brown, Dunlap & Duane, for the History of the 2d, 3d, 4th, & 5th Congresses. Would you have the goodness to advise us to what other Sources to apply for these. The Journals are always to be relied upon for facts; but much important business is done in committees of the whole, of which the newspapers alone give any account.

We pray you to excuse this Letter intruding on the sanctity of your retirement. Instead of writing, we should have intruded on you in person, once more to tender you our personal respects, but that we know how often your privacy is disturbed, to your great inconvenience. With assurances of the most profound respect for yourself & lady, we are Your faithful Servants

Gales & Seaton


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