James Madison Papers
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To James Madison from Catherine Johnson, 1 May 1809

From Catherine Johnson

May the 1st 1809

Sir, having Received the enclosed Letter1 from New Orleans, from the best of Sons, with a Request that I shou’d Present it to you Sir, I am induced, Perhaps beyond the bounds of Strict Propriety, in assuming A liberty, which can only be forgiven, by the Philantrophy and benevolence of your own heart, to the humanity which marks your Private Character, do I Sir make My Appeal, Conscious that you will at least lend the Ear of Pity, to the Petition of a young Man, whose only Pride, is to emancipate an unfortunate Parent from a State of Dependence. If by your influence and Kindness he Cou’d Procure a Situation under the general Government in any of the Offices in Washington, with A Salary Just Sufficient to enable us to live with a small Share of Respectability, you Shall ever Sir find Gratitude, to your self and Principles, the Prominent Feature of him who is already devotedly attached to your Family and Interest. With the Constant Prayers of her—who has the Honor to subscribe Herself with Respect and Esteem

Catherine Johnson2

RC (DLC). Docketed by JM.

1The enclosure was probably Thomas B. Johnson to JM, 3 Apr. 1809 (DLC). Johnson moved from Washington to New Orleans in 1807, becoming a bank clerk and later postmaster there. He sought an appointment as a commissioner of the land office for the Orleans Territory eastern district (John Mason to Monroe, 22 Apr. 1814 [DNA: RG 59, Letters of Application, 1809–17]; see also Catherine Johnson to JM, 11 Sept. 1809, and Thomas B. Johnson to JM, 11 Feb. 1810 [DLC]).

2Catherine Johnson was the widow of Joshua Johnson, former U.S. consul at London and brother of Justice Thomas Johnson. Her daughter, Louisa Catherine Johnson, married John Quincy Adams in 1797.

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