James Madison Papers
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To James Madison from William Thornton, 18 June 1817

From William Thornton

City of Washn: 18th: June 1817

Dear Sir

The Bearer of this, Mr: Thomas Freeborn,1 is desirous of visiting Mr: Jefferson & yourself, and has requested me to favor him with a line. He would have brought Letters from respectable Gentlemen of New York, where he is a very respected Character, as I have ample testimony of, but he did not think of going further South than this. He has no particular Business, but to see those great men of whom he has heard so much, and whose principles he has long admired & cherished. With the highest respect, & my best Complts. to your excellent Lady & Family. Yours sincerely

William Thornton2

RC (DLC). Addressed by Thornton to JM at Montpelier. Cover docketed by JM. On the verso of the RC, Thomas Freeborn wrote: “Respected Friend James Madison—I anticipated the pleasure of seeing mine & my Countrys Friend but have been disapointed—have only time to say I much regret it—am in hopes yet to have the pleasure Thy Friend Thos. Freeborn.”

1Thomas Freeborn was a New York Quaker merchant situated at 210 Front Street who became a director of the Franklin Bank which was started in 1818 (Walter Barrett, The Old Merchants of New York City [5 vols.; 1870; reprint, New York, 1968], 1:241; Longworth’s American Almanac, New-York Register, and City Directory [New York, 1817; Shaw and Shoemaker description begins R. R. Shaw and R. H. Shoemaker, comps., American Bibliography: A Preliminary Checklist for 1801–1819 (22 vols.; New York, 1958–66). description ends 41636], 206).

2William Thornton (1759–1828), a longtime acquaintance of JM, designed the U.S. capitol building and served as a commissioner of the federal district, 1794–1802. Jefferson appointed him patent office clerk within the State Department in 1802; he served as superintendent of the Patent Office until his death (PJM-PS description begins Robert A. Rutland et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison: Presidential Series (6 vols. to date; Charlottesville, Va., 1984—). description ends , 1:369 n. 2).

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