James Madison Papers

From James Madison to Wilson Cary Nicholas, 2 August 1789

To Wilson Cary Nicholas

N. York Aug: 2. 1789.

Dear Sir

My last inclosed a continuation of the printed Journals of the H. of Reps. I now add two sheets more. They are no otherwise valuable than as they serve to make up an entire sett.

The commercial bills are at lengths off our hands. They have been so long delayed that an interregnum of a day or two will take place even in this & the adjacent ports, and an inconvenient one in the distant ports. The Judiciary bill comes next into consideration. The subject itself is full of difficulties and the bill as sent from the Senate has left many of them to be contended with by the H. of Reps. The utmost that can be hoped will be to avoid in the first essay fundamtal [sic] and obnoxious errors. Time alone and the aid of the Judges after some little experience, will be able to render the system tolerably correct.

The proposed amendments of which I sent you a copy have since been in the hands of a committee composd of a member from each State. Their report is inclosed.1 [Some] of the changes are perhaps for the better, others for the worse. From the concord of the Come. and the language used in the House on the last discussion, I indulge a confidence that something will be effected. For the Senate I can less answer, but I have no reason for distrust in case the plan be kept within its present limits. I am Dr. Sir Yrs.

Js Madison Jr

RC (NNPM). Docketed by Nicholas. Enclosure not found (see n. 1). Brackets enclose word missing owing to a tear in the Ms. Boyd published this as a letter to Jefferson, but noted that Jefferson did not record it in his Summary Journal of Letters (Papers of Jefferson, XV, 324–25). Jefferson never acknowledged the letter, nor did JM include it in his list of letters to Jefferson. The docket, compared with others by Wilson Cary Nicholas, is undoubtedly in his hand. The opening sentence, when compared with the first sentence of JM’s letter to Nicholas of 18 July 1789, is another circumstance favoring Nicholas as the recipient.

1See JM to Johnston, 31 July 1789 and n. 1. JM probably enclosed a printed copy of the report: Congress of the United States, In the House of Representatives, Tuesday, the 28th of July, 1789.… ([New York, 1789]; Evans description begins Charles Evans, ed., American Bibliography … 1639 … 1820 (12 vols.; Chicago, 1903–34). Roger P. Bristol, Supplement to Charles Evans’ American Bibliography (Charlottesville, Va., 1970). description ends 22200). The report is also printed in Dumbauld, Bill of Rights, pp. 210–12. A preliminary draft, in the hand of Roger Sherman, is in the Madison Papers (DLC) under date of July 1789.

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