James Madison Papers
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To James Madison from James Monroe, 27 March 1824

From James Monroe

Washington March 27th. 1824

Dear Sir

I have the pleasure to inform you that the Senate has confirmd the nomination of Mr. Conway, to a land office in Alabama, as valuable in point of profit, as I am assur’d, tho’ not that, for which you recommended him.1 Of this be so good as to inform Mr Catlet Conway2 your neighbour.

The vacancy at Petersbg. gave me great embarrassment, as to the person, to be selected for it. Dr. Field had strong claims, as had several others within the town, & in the adjoining country. Among the friends of the Candidates, those here, became much excited against each other, especially those who favourd Dr. Field, Mr. Meade3 & Mr. Hinton,4 and those who favord M. Barbour5 whose son is in the H. of Reps. The pressure was painful to me. At length, I decided in favor of one, who held distinct ground, but whose standing is I presume such, as to sustain me in the measure. I nominated James Robertson,6 who is the present Register of the land office at Richmond.

I learn from Mr. Cabell, who is here, that you will have a meeting of the Trustees of the University, in about 10. days, & that the appointment of professors for the Institution will form one of the objects for consideration. The death of the professor of chemistry at West point,7 making it necessary to supply his place lately, many persons were strongly recommended, and among them Dr. Percival8 & Dr. Torney [sic].9 The recommendations in favour of these two, were so strong & equal, that it was difficult to decide between them. Percival was appointed, more from the necessity of making a decision, than the superiority of pretention. I mention this fact, that in case no person known to possess distinguishd talents, shod. offer, or occur, that you may know of the merits of this gentleman. I never saw him, nor does he know that I give this intimation respecting him. I shall hand to Mr Cabell, the paper forwarded to the dept. by the academic Staff.

We have nothing from ab[r]oad, more interesting than what the papers exhibit. Several letters to me from Genl. La Fayette, intimate that the message excited a feeling with the Bourbons & allies generally, but was well receivd by the friends of liberty, in France & elsewhere. Our best regards to Mrs Madison. Very sincerely your friend

James Monroe


1For JM’s recommendation of George Conway, see JM to Monroe, 21 Oct. 1823.

2Catlett Conway (1751–1827), JM’s first cousin, was proprietor of Hawfield in Orange County (Hayden, Virginia Genealogies [1973 reprint], 254–55, 264).

3Richard Kidder Meade (1803–1862), a Petersburg, Virginia, lawyer, served in the U.S. House of Representatives, 1847–53, and as U.S. minister to Brazil, 1857–61.

4John Hinton was mayor of Petersburg in 1816 and 1820 and for many years a director of the Farmers’ Bank of Virginia in that city (Lyon G. Tyler, Men of Mark in Virginia [5 vols.; Washington, 1908], 4:181; Norfolk American Beacon and Commercial Diary, 14 Jan. 1817; Baltimore Patriot & Mercantile Advertiser, 10 Jan. 1821).

5Mordecai Barbour (1763–1846), father of Virginia congressman John S. Barbour, was a Revolutionary War veteran. His second wife, Sally Haskell Byrne, was from Petersburg, Virginia (Green, Genealogical and Historical Notes on Culpeper County, Virginia [1978 reprint], 1:137).

6James Robertson Jr. of Amelia County, Virginia, was a member of the Virginia House of Delegates, 1807–9, 1811–15, and the Senate, 1815–23. He was appointed register of the land office in Richmond in 1824 but that year accepted the post of collector of customs for the district of Petersburg, in which he served until his removal in 1830 (Swem and Williams, Register description begins Earl G. Swem and John W. Williams, eds., A Register of the General Assembly of Virginia, 1776-1918, and of the Constitutional Conventions (Richmond, 1918). description ends , 423; Senate Exec. Proceedings description begins Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate of the United States of America (3 vols.; Washington, 1828). description ends , 3:367, 369; Niles’ Weekly Register 38 [1830]: 113).

7James Cutbush, physician and chemistry professor at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, died 15 Dec. 1823 (Boston Daily Advertiser, 23 Dec. 1823).

8James G. Percival (1795–1856), a Yale graduate, poet, physician, and former editor of the Hartford Connecticut Herald, served as assistant surgeon at West Point and professor of chemistry from March to July 1824. He made a geological survey of the state of Connecticut in 1835, and later was state geologist of Wisconsin (Boston Daily Atlas, 7 May 1856; Salem Gazette, 21 Feb. 1823; Edward C. Boynton, History of West Point, and Its Military Importance during the American Revolution: And the Origin and Progress of the United States Military Academy [London, 1864], 315; New Orleans Daily Picayune, 21 July 1854).

9John Torrey (1796–1873), physician, botanist, and chemist, was assistant surgeon at West Point and professor of chemistry, 1824–28, after which he became professor of chemistry at the College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York until 1854. He was one of the founders, and served a term as president, of the New York Lyceum of Natural History. Torrey was chief assayer in the U.S. Assay Office in New York from 1853 until his death (American Journal of Science and Arts 5 [1873]: 324; Boynton, History of West Point, 315).

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