Thomas Jefferson Papers

From Thomas Jefferson to James Madison, 3 November 1798

To James Madison

Nov. 3. 98.

Your’s of Oct. 31. has been duly recieved and the corrections suggested are thankfully adopted. the petition will be offered for signature at our court the day after tomorrow. Richardson has been in a great measure prevented doing any thing this week by the weather, which has been too cold for laying mortar. he has still 2. or 3. days work of that kind to do, which is indispensable, and about as long a job in kilning some bricks which we must secure in an unburnt state through the winter. we must therefore beg you to put off sending for him till Saturday next.

Yesterday’s papers bring us an account of Lyon of Vermont being indicted before Judge Patterson under the Sedition act. possibly your papers may not mention the issue. he was found guilty, fined 1000. D. and adjudged to 4. months imprisonment. he was immediately committed. the words called seditious were only general censures of the proceedings of Congress & of the President. affectionate respects to mrs Madison your father & family. Adieu.

P.S. your nails are ready

RC (DLC: Madison Papers, Rives Collection); unaddressed, but entered in SJL as a letter to Madison under this date.

TJ’s petition advocating the election of jurors in Virginia is printed immediately above. On 19 Oct. the Philadelphia Gazette carried a brief notice on the sentencing of Matthew Lyon of Vermont, the first prosecution under the Sedition Act, and four days later published a fuller account of charges against him and details of the trial. The Fredericksburg Virginia Herald carried the news on 23 and 26 Oct. For an analysis of the case and its political reverberations, see Smith, Freedom’s Fetters, 225–46. Running for reelection to the House of Representatives, Lyon conducted the remainder of his campaign from the jail in Vergennes, Vermont, and received almost 4,500 votes, a majority of nearly 600 over the rest of the field (same, 241).

Index Entries