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From James Madison to William Eustis, [ca. 31] March 1817

To William Eustis

Washington [ca. 31] Mar. 1817

Dear Sir

I cannot take my final leave of Washington, without calling to mind the epistolary debt remaining due to you. On consulting with Mr. Monroe some time ago, it was understood that your stay in Holland would be prolonged untill next fall, if not next Spring, by a joint negociation with the Govt. of the Netherlands, on the subject of a commercial Treaty.1 You will have received the communications relating to it from the Department of State. With respect to your situation on your return to the U.S. I can only express the gratification I shall feel, if a satisfactory one should offer itself, and my confidence that you enjoy the friendly dispositions of my successor. How far he may be able to give effect to them, will of course depend on circumstances.

I can add nothing by way of public information to what goes to you from the official source, and from the press. From the latter, it is probable, accounts will reach you of later date than this would convey.

I am hastening my preparations to become a fixture on my farm, where I anticipate many enjoyments; which if not fully realized, will be a welcome exchange for the fatigues and anxieties of public life. I need not say that I shall carry with me, among other recollections, the affectionate ones left in my breast by the official and personal intercourse which existed between us. Mrs. M. would gladly say what would equally express the feelings she retains for Mrs. Eustis; but she is obliged, by intense occupations in the packing and other arrangements, to refer to me the pleasure of doing it for her. I avail myself of the occasion for tendering my own respectful regards, along with the assurances which I pray you to accept for yourself, of my cordial esteem and best wishes.

James Madison

P.S. If this should not be delivered it will be followed by Mr. Wm. Preston, son of Mr. F. Preston formerly a member of Congs. and nephew of Col. Preston late of the army of the U.S. and now Governor of Virginia.2 He is said to be a youth of promising talents, and excellent principles; and on that account as well as from respect to his valuable Connections, I ask the favor of your politeness to him. He is anxious to take a peep at the Old World, & his father being very rich, indulges his curiosity.

RC (MHi: W. Eustis II Papers); draft (DLC). Day of month not indicated; conjectural day assigned based on the assumption that the letter was written shortly before JM’s departure from Washington on 6 Apr. Minor differences between the copies have not been noted.

1William Eustis (1753–1825), Revolutionary War veteran and U.S. representative from Massachusetts, served as secretary of war during JM’s first term as president. JM appointed him U.S. minister to the Netherlands in 1814, a position he held until he resigned for reasons of ill health in 1818. Eustis served again in the U.S. House of Representatives, 1820–23, and was a two-term governor of Massachusetts, 1823–25 (Sobel and Raimo, Biographical Directory of the Governors, 2:697–98).

2William Campbell Preston (1794–1860) was born in Philadelphia, where his father, Francis Preston, a colleague of JM in the U.S. Congress, represented a southwest Virginia district. William Preston’s European tour included the study of law at Edinburgh. On his return to the United States, he moved to Columbia, South Carolina, where he practiced law and launched a political career in which his anti-tariff and nullification views eventually propelled him to the U.S. Senate, 1833–42. His uncle, James Patton Preston (1774–1843), a veteran of the War of 1812 who was severely wounded at the Battle of Chrysler’s Farm, served as governor of Virginia from 1816 to 1819 (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 , 15:8 n. 9; Sobel and Raimo, Biographical Directory of the Governors, 4:1632).

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