James Madison Papers

From James Madison to Thomas Jefferson, 26 September 1780

To Thomas Jefferson

RC (LC: Madison Papers). Although the cover sheet is missing with the name of the addressee, “Madison Jas.” is written above the date in Jefferson’s hand.

Philada. Sepr. 26[t]h. 1780

Dear Sir

I am at length able to give you some answer on the subject of the map in the hands of Dr. Smith. As the Docr. lived out of Town and it was difficult to know when he was to be found in it, and as I supposed the request would go with greater weight through Mr. Rittenhouse1 I asked the favor of him to speak to the Docr. on the Subject. Through forgetfulness or want of opportunity he failed to do it till lately and brought me for answer that the Docr. although anxious to oblige you was unwilling to let it go out of his hands, but wd. suffer any transcript to be taken from it at his house and would even assist in it himself. Yesterday evening I had an opportunity of being introduced to him and renewed the application, that he would spare it till I could get a copy taken; which he again declined by politely assuring me that he was proud of an opportunity of obliging you and that he would have a correct & authentic copy made out by his son for you.

I am Dr. Sir Yrs respectfully

James Madison Jr

1William Smith, formerly provost of the College of Philadelphia, whose home was at the falls of the Schuylkill River, and David Rittenhouse, an astronomer, were prominent members of the American Philosophical Society. As late as 1782, Jefferson was still waiting for Smith to fulfill his promise to send a copy of what was probably Nicholas, John, and Virginia Ferrar’s “Faithfull Map of Virginia in America,” dating from 1651. Although Smith was a “difficult” man with whom to deal, his unreliability in this instance may have been occasioned by his move, shortly after JM saw him, from Philadelphia to Chesterton, Md., where he established Kent School and continued as its rector for several years (Dictionary of American Biography, XVII, 353–57). On 18 March 1782, JM informed Jefferson that a copy of the Ferrar map was in the book collection of the Library Company of Philadelphia (Boyd, Papers of Jefferson description begins Julian P. Boyd et al., eds., The Papers of Thomas Jefferson (16 vols. to date; Princeton, N.J., 1950——). description ends , VI, 169–70). For further information on this map, see Coolie Verner, “The First Maps of Virginia, 1590–1673,” Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, LVIII (1950), 13–14.

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