James Madison Papers

Nicholas P. Trist to James Madison, 20 August 1834

Edgehill, Aug. 20. ’34

Dear Sir,

Since my return here (last friday) I have been engaged in the examination of Mr. Jefferson’s papers, for materials to put the measures of ’98-’99 in their true light, and thus to vindicate his memory & that of his co-laborers from the deep reproach of having given birth to the doctrine of Nullification as now understood. I have found several precious things, among which is the memorandum of which I enclose a copy. The great importance of securing the letter itself is obvious. My first idea was, to write immediately to Mr. Gouverneur; but reflexion has satisfied me, that the better course, by far, is to beg you to do so, loth as I am to put you to any trouble of the sort.

I have found letters from John Taylor which throw a favorable light on the subject. Were you in correspondence with him at that period? If so, I doubt not his letters to you would prove a valuable auxiliary, and I would beg you to permit me to examine them during the visit which we shall make before we go. (We shall probably not leave here till this time next month, and then stop a day or two at Montpellier)

Many of Mr. J’s letters are illegible from the fading of the ink on the press copies. Many others could be read only after great trouble in tracing over the faded marks with a pencil. Among those in this condition are two to you, of Aug. +28 ’99 and Nov.* 26. ’99. The former is referred to in his (published) letter to W. C. Nicholas, Sep. 5. ’99. There is a passage towards the end, valuable as showing that he saw no middle ground between acquiescence under the laws, and separation. I should be glad to learn if you possess these two letters. Otherwise I must take the trouble of making them out: if indeed that be practicable. Mrs Madison can in a single line answer this question, without putting you to the trouble of even writing your frank, which is altogether unnecessary in any case, to me: and might well be omitted to others, as the sight of your name on the back of a letter, conveys to many who would otherwise not be aware of it, that you are in correspondence with some; whence it is inferred that you might as well be with others.

*no such date found

+Augst. probably 23 same [ ] Copy 28 sent to Mr. T

The envelope covering a piece of Mr. J’s writing followed me to Washington, and found me confined to my back (to say bed would convey an erroneous idea of general sickness) by a slight strain which developed an affection of the Spinal nerves that was lurking there, and might have become more serious had it not betrayed itself in time. It was attended with great pain for a day or two; and great caution was enjoined. I bore the ride up quite well, however, and my health is now very good, as is that of the family here generally, though among so many (now including Mrs Coolidge & her 5 children) there is always some complaining. Affecte regards to Mrs Madison, and friendly remembrance to the young ladies & to Mr. Todd if he be returned

N. P. Trist.

Eppington May 26. 1800

wrote an answer to Govr. Monroe’s [expansion sign]re of May 27 (for May 25)

expressed my approbation of not attempting the Union dinner of  [expansion sign] which a project had been conceived.

my disregard of the calumnies of the Exve, Legislative &  Judiciary & of all their minions, & particularly of  Chase’s of atheism

my opinion that Callender should be substantially defended, but  whether publicly or privately till the legislature should  meet, before whom he might lay it, & who might on that  occasion shew their respect to the Union, & at the same  time do justice in another way to those whom they could  not protect without committing the public tranquillity.

probability of a short trip to the Fed. city on arrival of  treaty from France. will [gi]ve him notice when Dupont  arrives at Monticello.

(The above is just copied from the original in Mr. Jefferson’s handwriting. The original is on a slip of paper, and is to be found in one of the volumes of press-copies of T. J’s letters, between the letter of May 14 1800 to Saml. A. Otis, Secretary of the Senate, and the letter of June 13. 1800 to Amos Alexander. Copied by N. P. Trist at Edgehill, Aug. 20. 1834.)

Extract from Governor Monroe’s letter referred to in the foregoing.

"The Grand Jury of which McClung was foreman presented Calender under the Sedition law, and Chase drew the warrant & despatched the Marshal instantly in pursuit of him. This was to-day at 12. since which we have not heard of either. If taken I hope the people will behave with dignity on the occasion and give no pretext for comments to their discredit. If I could supppose the contrary I would take proper steps to aid in bringing him forth. I mean to prevent any popular meeting to the contrary. Will it not be proper for the Executive to employ counsel to defend him, and supporting the law give an eclat to a vindication of the principles of the State? I have only time to add my best wishes for your welfare."

RC and enclosure (ViHi: Nicholas P. Trist Album Book). Enclosure is some extracts from Jefferson’s correspondence with Monroe.

Index Entries