Thomas Jefferson Papers

Spencer Roane to Thomas Jefferson, 20 June 1821

From Spencer Roane

Richmond, June 20th 1821.

Dear Sir.

The enclosed numbers, on a most important subject, were written by me, and published in the Enquirer.—Mr Ritchie promised me to strike a few Copies, in a more eligible form, to be sent to my most particular, and most distinguished, friends: but his indisposition, and the negligence of his foreman prevented it.—I now doubt whether I ought to venture to send them to you, as taken from the Columns of a newspaper. Yet the subject is worthy of your attention. I was particularly desirous, too, of placing them before the Eyes of that illustrious citizen, whom power could not seduce, nor dangers appal, in the great object of his life,—which has been to secure the liberty, and advance the happiness of his native Country.

With great consideration, respect, and Esteem, I am, Dear Sir,

Your friend & servant

Spencer Roane

RC (DLC); at foot of text: “Thomas Jefferson Esq.”; endorsed by TJ as received 28 June 1821 and so recorded in SJL.

The enclosed numbers, which were critical of the United States Supreme Court’s decision in the case of Cohens v. Virginia, were written by Roane under the pseudonym “Algernon Sidney” and published in the Richmond Enquirer on 25, 29 May, 1, 5, and 8 June 1821. They were reprinted as a whole in the John P. Branch Historical Papers of Randolph-Macon College 2 (1906): 78–183.

On this day Roane also sent James Madison and James Monroe similar letters with the same enclosures (Madison, Papers, Retirement Ser., 2:339–40; NN: Monroe Papers).

Index Entries

  • Cohens v. Virginia search
  • Madison, James (1751–1836); works sent to search
  • Monroe, James (1758–1831); works sent to search
  • Richmond Enquirer (newspaper); prints S. Roane’s essays search
  • Ritchie, Thomas; as editor ofRichmond Enquirer search
  • Roane, Spencer; andCohens v. Virginia search
  • Roane, Spencer; letters from search
  • Supreme Court, U.S.; andCohens v. Virginia search