James Madison Papers

From James Madison to Thomas Jefferson, 30 September 1783

To Thomas Jefferson

RC (LC: Madison Papers). Cover missing. Addressed to “Honble Thomas Jefferson.” Docketed by him, “Madison James of Orange.” The brackets in the first paragraph signify words or parts of words which a water stain has obliterated.

Philada. Sepr. 30. 1783.

Dear Sir

My last was written on the supposition that Mr. Jones & myself would be on our way to Virga. by the middle of Ocr. and that my best chance of an interview with you might be at Alexandria at the time of the races.1 On further thought I fear that you may be led by that suggestion to suspend your setting out longer than you proposed, and that I may not find it practicable to leave this place finally before it will be practicable for you to reach it by pursuing your own plan. One circumstance which increases the uncertainty of my movements is a melancholy event in Mr. Jones family which may [a]ffect his plans, to which I shall as far as necessary make mine su[bservi]ent.2 It will rather therefore be my wish that you should ha[sten] than retard your journey, if it be a matter of indifference to y[o]u, tho’ not that you should do either if it be not so.3

I have laid a train at Princeton which I hope will provide as commodious quarters as could be expected.4 If these sd. become necessary in Philada Mrs. House’s disposition towards you will be a sure resource.5 Mrs. Trist concurs in your idea of a boarding school; that it may be expedient for Miss Patsey for hours of instruction but no farther. She will enquire and think for you on the subject as far as her preparations for a voyage to the Mississippi will admit.6 She & Mrs. House make a tender of their respectful regards for yourself & Miss Patsey. I have nothing to add to my last on public subjects, nor to the above any thing but that I am Dr. Sir

Yr. sincere friend & obt. Servt.

J. Madison Jr.

As the latest papers are very barren I inclose a former one containing No. 1. of N. American, leaving the Author to your conjectures.7

2Ibid., n. 7. The “melancholy event” probably was the death of Jones’s wife. Mary Waugh Dawson Jones.

4In his letter of 31 August to JM (q.v.), Jefferson stated that “a room to myself” would be “indispensable.” Whenever JM and Jones were together in Princeton, they uncomfortably shared a small room (JM to Jefferson, 20 Sept. 1783).

5Jefferson had lodged in Mrs. Mary House’s boardinghouse for over ten weeks earlier in the year (ibid., n. 8).

6Mercer to JM, 14 Aug., and n. 7; Jefferson to JM, 31 Aug., n. 13. “Patsy” was Jefferson’s spelling of the familiar name of his daughter Martha. Before Jefferson left Philadelphia in November 1783 to attend Congress in Annapolis, he had arranged for her to be tutored and to live in Philadelphia in the home of Mrs. Thomas Hopkinson, the widowed mother of Francis Hopkinson (Boyd, Papers of Jefferson description begins Julian P. Boyd et al., eds., The Papers of Thomas Jefferson (18 vols. to date; Princeton, N.J., 1950——). description ends , VI, 359–61).

7JM enclosed the Pennsylvania Journal of 17 Sept. 1783. See Note on “North-American,” 17 Sept. and 8 Oct. 1783, ed. n.

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