James Madison Papers
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From James Madison to Tench Coxe, 3 November 1823

To Tench Coxe

Montpellier Novr. 3. 1823

Dear Sir

I have recd. yours without date but postmarked Ocr. 27.1 I thank you for your kindness in dispensing with answers to your favors. Occupations & attentions belonging to my situation will probably oblige me to avail myself much of this privilege. I am very sensible also of your great kindness in what you say of a malignant attack on me.2 Why I should be made a target for poisoned arrows now, I can not well see. Withdrawn as I am from the public theatre, & holding life itself by a short thread, it would not be an unreasonable expectation that hostilities of every sort & from every quarter should cease. It has been my practice thro a long career to leave the various calumnies which I did not escape to die a natural death, and the successful examples of others also are in favour of the policy. You tell me more than I knew of the masses of materials which have been hoarded by the curious or malicious for good or bad uses. It is to be hoped that the friends of truth will have provided adequate correctives for errors of the former & libels of the latter, as time may bring them to light. Your solicitude for the memory of Franklin is highly praiseworthy.3 I can not say what particular knowledge Mr. Jefferson’s files or recollections may possess that could aid in securing posthumous Justice. A future day may unlock the former: but his great age & his devotion of what remains of time & strength to the establishment of a University, forbid I believe any present expectations from him. You have eno’ of both, & funds of information to draw upon for that as well as other important & benevolent purposes. The papers which I happen to have preserved are considerable & some of them doubtless very valuable, but they are for the most part suited rather for general & future use, than for occurrences of the day. Health & every other blessing

James Madison

RC (CtY: Alfred Van Sinderen Collection); draft (DLC). RC addressed and franked by JM; postmarked Orange Court House, 6 Nov.; docketed by Coxe. Minor differences between the copies have not been noted.

1Letter not found.

2Coxe may have been referring to the article on the “transactions of ’98” first published in the Boston Patriot, 12 Sept. 1823, and republished in the Salem Gazette, 3 Oct. 1823, in which the author excoriated JM and Thomas Jefferson for supporting James T. Callender, who wrote a “scurrilous lampoon on President Adams,” how Jefferson “paid him money for his services … and how Madison paid Callender a Joe for 15 copies of ‘The Prospect before us.’”

3In the draft this sentence reads: “Your solicitude for the memory of Franklin, to whom his country & the human race owe so much is highly praiseworthy.”

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