James Madison Papers

From James Madison to Thomas Jefferson, 5 October 1794

To Thomas Jefferson

Harewood Ocr. 5. 1794.

Dear Sir

On my return to Orange I dropped you a few lines on the subject of the deer. On my way into this part of the Country I passed Col. John Thornton of Culpeper,1 who has a Park, and will spare you with pleasure two or three, if you can not be otherwise supplied. He thinks he could by advertizing a premium of 10 or 12 dollars a head procure from his neighbors as many fawns to he delivered at Monticello as you would want.2 If you chuse to make use of his assistance, a line to the care of Mr. Fontaine Maury at Fredg. would soon get to hand.

This will be handed to you by Mr. Bond who is to build a large House3 for Mr. Hite my brother in law. On my suggestion He is to visit Monticello not only to profit of examples before his eyes, but to ask the favor of your advice on the plan of the House. Mr. Hite particularly wishes it in what relates to the Bow-room4 & the Portico, as Mr. B. will explain to you. In general, any hints which may occur to you for improving the plan will be thankfully accepted. I beg pardon for being the occasion of this trouble to you, but your goodness has always so readily answered such draughts on it, that I have been tempted to make this additional one.

I write at present from the seat of Mr. G. Washington of Berkeley, where, with a deduction of some visits, I have remained since the 15th. Ult: the epoch at which I had the happiness to accomplish the alliance which I intimated to you I had been sometime soliciting. We propose to set out in 8 or 10 days for Philada. where I shall always receive your commands with pleasure, and shall continue to drop you a line as occasions turn up. In the mean time I remain Yrs. Mo: affecy

Js. Madison Jr

RC (DLC). Docketed by Jefferson, “recd. Dec. 31.”

1John Thornton (ca. 1749–1822) of Thornton Hill, now in Madison County, rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel in the Continental line in 1778 and as a militia colonel commanded a regiment at Yorktown. He married Jane Augusta Washington, a niece of George Washington (DAR Patriot Index description begins National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution, DAR Patriot Index (Washington, 1966). description ends , p. 677; Stanard, “The Thornton Family,” WMQ description begins William and Mary Quarterly. description ends , 1st ser., 5 [1896–97]: 197).

2As part of his 1771 landscaping plans for Monticello, Jefferson planned a deer park, which he began to stock in 1776. During his visit to England in 1786, he took notes on several deer parks (Betts, Jefferson’s Garden Book, pp. 69, 96, 113–14).

3Isaac Hite was planning the construction of Belle Grove near Middletown in Frederick County. JM and his bride had recently visited Old Hall (the house that antedated Belle Grove on the site) for two weeks. Their stay was extended while Dolley recovered from an ailment (George M. Smith, “Belle Grove’s Olmstead Papers,” Historic Preservation, 24 [1972]: 26).

4Jefferson’s plan for the first floor of Monticello, circa 1771, included a “North Bow-room,” which created an exterior projection in the shape of a half-octagon. No similar room was built at Belle Grove (Fiske Kimball, ed., Thomas Jefferson, Architect [1916; New York, 1968 reprint], pp. 25, 29–30 and n. 1, drawings 24, 150; Frederick D. Nichols, “Belle Grove in the Developing Civilization of the Valley of Virginia,” Historic Preservation, 20, nos. 3–4 [1968]: 18 n. 3).

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