James Madison Papers
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To James Madison from Thomas Read, 1 November 1820

From Thomas Read

1 Novemr. 1820.

Very dear Sir,

This will be handed by Mr. Helme a late Graduate of Brown University in the state of Rhode Island, who at this time lives with me in the Character of a family teacher of the languages &c. Mr. Helme, has at this time a small Vacation & he & my young son Landon C. Read1 are visiting the upper country for amusement and instruction. Any civilities which you may please to shew them sir, will be acknowledged, both by them & by me.

This sir is a liberty which I trust you will readily pardon from me who am not intimately acquainted with you.

Tho’ Sir I had the honor in the year 1799 & 1800 to be a member with yourself in the Virginia legislature, when the great struggle for liberty was made, & when the resolutions called Madisons2 was received; which Resolutions, no doubt gave birth to the political preponderance which has since prevaled in the United states.

Any assistance, which you may render Mr. Helme & my son in viewing the upper Country will be acknowledged with Unusual thankfulness by Very dear sir Yr. mo. obt. & Hble St.

Thomas Read3

RC (DLC). Docketed by JM.

1Landon Cabell Read (b. 1803) was the son of Thomas Read and his first wife, Anne Haskins (Alice Read, The Reads and Their Relatives … [Cincinnati, Ohio, 1930], 296, 304). Read and Nathaniel Helme did visit Montpelier on 9–10 Nov. 1820, and Helme’s recollections of the visit were first published in the Providence Patriot and republished on 13 Jan. 1821 in the Amherst, N.H., Hillsboro’ Telegraph: “You will of course suspect that our curiosity could not be gratified before visiting the illustrious Patriort [sic] of Montpelier, Mr. Madison, whom, I am also happy to say, we found in good health. The view from Mr. Madison’s residence is variegated and delightful; his person though small, is highly interesting; an amiable gravity and dignity sit enthroned on his brow; affability & politeness characterize his deportment. The paintings in his house are elegant; his dress is black, his hair powdered and tied behind. Mrs. Madison is a very pleasant, accomplished lady. We dined, supped, lodged and breakfasted with Mr. Madison; and having taken leave of our hospitable hosts, departed on the 10th inst.”

2For JM’s Virginia Resolutions, see PJM description begins William T. Hutchinson et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison (1st ser., vols. 1–10, Chicago, 1962–77, vols. 11–17, Charlottesville, Va., 1977–91). description ends 17:188–90.

3Thomas Read (1768–1834) of Ash Camp, Charlotte County, Virginia, not to be confused with his uncle, Col. Thomas Read (1741–1817), longtime county clerk, served with JM in the Virginia House of Delegates, 1799–1800 (Read, Reads and Their Relatives, 296–99, 541–42; 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 , 52).

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