James Madison Papers

From James Madison to James Madison, Sr., 9 October 1771

To James Madison, Sr.

RC (LC: Madison Papers). Addressed to: “Colo. James Madison Orange County Virginia. To be left at Fredericksbg.”

Princeton October 9th. 1771

Hond. Sir

In obedience to your requests I hereby send you an answer to your’s of the 25th. of Sept. which I recieved this morning. My Letter by Dr. Witherspoon who left this place yesterday week contains most of what you desire to be informed of.1 I am exceedingly rejoiced to hear of the happy deliverance of my Mother2 & would fain hope your rheumatic pains will not continue much longer. The Bill of exchange was very acceptable, Though I cannot say I have been as yet very much pressed by my creditors. Since I got the Bill I have been making a calculation of my past & future expences & find it nothing more than a bare competency the reason of which I dare say you will not ascribe to extravagance when you read my letter of last week. If I come home in the Spring the purchase of a horse & travelling expences I am apprehensive will amount to more than I can reserve out of my present Stock for those purposes so that it would not be amiss perhaps if you were to send a few Half-Jos: by Dr. Witherspoon or Colo. Lewis’s sons3 if they return, or some safe hand afterwards as best suits you. I should be glad if your health & other circumstances should enable you to visit Dr. Witherspoon during his stay in Virginia.4 I am persuaded you would be much pleased with him & that he would be very glad to see you. If you should not be able to see him nor send to him[,] Colo. Lewis or any other Gentleman in Fredericksburgh would advance what money I am to have at the least intimation from you. If you should ever send me any Bills hereafter, it will be best for you to make them payable to Dr. Witherspoon, which will give him an opportunity to endorse them, & greatly help me in selling them, if it should so happen that you see him, please to mention it to him[.] I was so particular in my last with regard to my determination about staying in Princton this Winter coming that I need say nothing more in this place, my sentiments being still the same. I am sorry Mr. Chew’s Mode of Conveyance will not answer in Virginia. I expect to hear from him in a few days by the return of a man belonging to this Town from New London & shall then acquaint him with it and get it remedied by the methods you propose.5 Mr James Martin was here at Commencement & had an opportunity of hearing from his Brothers & friends in Carolina by a young man lately come from thence to this College however I shall follow your directions in writing to him immediately & visiting him as soon as I find it convenient. You may tell Mrs. Martin he left his Family at home all well.6 If you think proper that I should come back to this place, after my journey to Virginia, in the Spring, & spend the Summer here, you may send the Cloth for my coat which I am extremely pleased with & could have wished it had come time enough to have used this Summer past, if you chuse rather I should remain in Virginia next Summer it will be unnecessary.

I am Dr. Sr. Your Affecte. Son

James Madison

1Neither of the letters mentioned in these two sentences has been found.

2Reuben Madison (1771–1775) was born on 19 September 1771 (Patricia P. Clark, ed., “Madison Family Bible Records,” Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, LXVI [1958], 82).

3JM probably refers to Colonel Fielding Lewis (1725–1781), brother-in-law of George Washington, a burgess and prominent Fredericksburg merchant. No one of his eleven sons seems to have been graduated from the College of New Jersey, but two of them did attend that institution or its academy early in the 1770’s (Merrow Egerton Sorley, Lewis of Warner Hall: The History of a Family … [Columbia, Mo., 1937], pp. 131–265, passim; Jane Taylor Duke, Kenmore and the Lewises [Garden City, N.Y., 1949], pp. 80–81).

4See JM to his father, 30 September 1769, n. 14. Witherspoon preached in Fredericksburg on 13 October 1771 (Virginia Gazette [Williamsburg, Purdie and Dixon], 24 October 1771).

5Joseph Chew (ca. 1725–1798), born in Orange County, the son of Thomas and Martha Taylor Chew, was a first cousin and intimate friend of James Madison, Sr. Leaving Orange about 1745, he thereafter engaged in mercantile enterprises in port towns, including Annapolis, New York, New London, Boston, and Montreal. Because of loyalist sympathies, he probably moved out of the United States in 1776. Letters from him to JM and James Madison, Sr., are in the Madison Papers, LC, and the Presbyterian Historical Society. See also Horace Edwin Hayden, Virginia Genealogies: A Genealogy of the Glassell Family of Scotland and Virginia … (Wilkes-Barre, Pa., 1891), p. 672. Chew’s “Mode of Conveyance” and James Madison, Sr.’s substitute for it are not known. It was probably a legal paper.

6James Martin was a brother of Thomas and Alexander Martin and “Mrs. Martin” was Thomas’ widow (JM to Martin, 10 August 1769, nn. 1, 2, and 9). The “young man” from Carolina has not been identified.

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