James Madison Papers

From James Madison to Thomas Jefferson, 1 May 1781

To Thomas Jefferson

RC (LC: Madison Papers). Endorsed, “Madison Jas.,” by Jefferson.

Philada. May 1st. 1781

Dr. Sir

On the receipt of your request as to the map I procured a copy with one of the pamphlets & have put it under the care of Col. Febiger who will have it conveyed. it is effectually secured against injury on its passage.1

I inclose your Excellency a letter from Mazzei although indeed its contents are of no great moment. I have not recd. the antecedant one referred to in it. The Executive have probably received more particular information from him relative to the object of his mission.2

Congress have recd. a good deal of information from Europe within a few days past. I can only say in general that it is favorable. Indeed whatever consideration the powers of Europe may have for us, the audacious proceedings of our Enemy in all quarters must determine them to abridge a power which the greatest dangers & distresses can not inspire with moderation or forbearance.3

I hope your Excellency has recd. my letter inclosing a copy of a plan reported to Congress for arming them with co-ercive authority. Your first leisure moments will I flatter myself favor me with your idea of the matter.4

With great respect, I am Dr Sir Yr. Ob friend & servant,

J Madison Junr.

1Jefferson’s request was probably made in his missing letter of 7 April 1781. He noted in his Account Book under that date, “inclosd to Jas. Madison Philada. to buy Hutchens’s map £150” (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 , V, 585). The map, which JM entrusted to Colonel Christian Febiger, was “A New Map of the Western parts of Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland and North Carolina” by Thomas Hutchins. Congress appointed Captain Hutchins the “geographer to the southern army” on 4 May 1781. He later served as chief surveyor of the public domain in the Northwest Territory (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XX, 475–76). The pamphlet was probably Hutchins’ A Topographical Description of Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and North Carolina, comprehending the Rivers Ohio, Kenhawa … Illinois, Missisippi, &c. (London, 1778), containing the map which Jefferson desired. The Pennsylvania Packet of 7 April 1781 advertised Hutchins’ brochure as “just come to hand and to be sold.” In the portions of his Notes on Virginia dealing with the area west of the Allegheny Mountains, Jefferson acknowledged his indebtedness to Hutchins’ “Description” and map (William Peden, ed., Notes on the State of Virginia by Thomas Jefferson [Chapel Hill, N.C., 1955], pp. 10, 102–6).

2This was almost certainly Philip Mazzei’s letter of 7 December 1780, in which he refers to his earlier letter of 30 November, eventually received by JM (Papers of Madison description begins William T. Hutchinson, William M. E. Rachal, et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison (2 vols. to date; Chicago, 1962——). description ends , II, 211–13, 229–30).

3See Mathews to Greene, 30 April 1781, and nn. 1–4.

4See JM to Jefferson, 16 April 1781. Jefferson did not answer the present letter. In his note of 30 September 1781 to JM (q.v.), he remarked that he had “not … written to you these five months before, and … the same space has occurred since I heard from you.” On 15 January 1782 JM again asked in vain for Jefferson’s opinion of JM’s “proposed amendment of the Articles of Confederation” (above, 12 March 1781).

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